There have been some wonderful new library releases lately. Some of my recent favourites include Spitfire’s amazing London Contemporary Orchestra, and I’m hearing great things about Strikeforce Cinematic Percussion. That said – I often find myself using free plugins – and I’d like to share some of them today. This is by no means a full detailed list of the hottest free plugins of 2017 –  but instead, a list of instruments & fx that I’ve found myself using time and time again, as well as some gems that will suit those who are new to production/composition or cannot afford to make the leap to bigger libraries just yet.

All of the Kontakt libraries require the full version – but there are some here that do not require any third party tools.

Instruments

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VSCO 2 Community Edition – One for those who don’t own Kontakt. A great starting orchestra – the sounds are really quite good, and if you aren’t ready to splash out on anything yet, this is a good place to start with orchestral sounds.

Blakus Cello – An absolute steal. There are two patches, Legato and spiccato. Both really great sounding. The Legato patch is really good to add some extra life to your string parts (as well as sounding great as a solo instrument). The Spic can help add a lot of bite to your spiccato patterns if you layer it on top of the cello section. Embertone has a more extensive version of the cello on their website, for a very reasonable price – but the free versions will take you quite far!

Strezov Taikos –  Everybody likes Taikos. These sound great, and it’s free!

Ivory Wind – A great free tenor recorder by Embertone. Has a lot of character, really playable too. Great for RPG’s or folky soundtracks!

Wooden Percussion  – Unique wood sounds. Great for adding an extra edge to your tracks. I used some of these sounds as hits and rhythm tracks on a recent trailer track to add some different character to the piece. Really useful sounds.

 

Synths

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There are heaps of these out there. But here’s two to get you started:

Synth1 by Ichiro Toda – Full of features, great presets, and easy to use. I used this on Gravastar’s Battle theme.

Zebralette  – The Mini version of Zebra, one of Hans Zimmer’s go-to Synths. Basically it gives you one of Zebra’s oscillators for free. Loads of control and features, as well as some nice presets. Great for learning synthesis.

 

Effects & SFX

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Softube Saturation Knob – Really good for thickening up vocals, drums, guitars, whatever. If you’ve never messed with saturation before, or you just want something different, this is worth trying.

Valhalla Freq Echo –  This is an amazing delay/echo plugin for making all kinds of wacky delays and echoes. I use this on so many of my tracks, in styles ranging from hip hop to orchestral. It’s super useful and a good way to make interesting background textures, as well as create ear catching foreground delays. One of my favourite freebies.

99 Sounds Cinematic SFX – Great pack of SFX by Joshua Crispin for cinematic music and beyond. These can be useful for other genres too. Really nice sounds, packed full of atmospheres, risers, hits, etc.

Audio Imperia Trailer SFX – Another freebie by Joshua – really good cinematic sounds, especially useful for Trailer composers. If you’re interested in writing music for trailers but haven’t played with any SFX or hits before – this is a great place to start.

 

Final Thoughts

That’s it for now. I’ll probably come back and post a part 2 at some point, but for now, these are some of the free sounds I’ve been playing with in my music. On a final note, I often see the question ‘Which library to start with’ from beginning game & film composers, and I would recommend checking out the Composer Collection subscription by EW. Though not free, for $25/month you get access to a huge range of sounds. It’s a great place to start and you can always expand once you know what you are looking for.

 

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