Here’s our round-up of new freeware that has sparked our interest this month. It’s an eclectic bunch that includes an acid bass synth, a lightweight VST host, a playable Handpan instrument, a cat-based, vocal saturator and a fun and powerful granular synth with added rainbows.
midilab – JC-303
macOS& Windows & Linux
VST3 / AU / LV2
Just when we think we might be getting bored of the 303 sound, we hear a squelching acid riff and all is forgotten. JC-303 is a Roland TB-303 clone that ports Robin Schmidt’s Open 303 DSP engine into a range of plug-in formats.
It’s part of an ongoing open-source project that aims to deliver a faithful emulation of the revered acid bass synth. The plug-in currently features the main sound controls, but updates for preset support, step sequencer, and deep editing of internal parameters are set for the future.
Download at https://midilab.co/jc303/
Digital Brain Instruments – vPlayer 4 Lite
macOS & Windows
If you’re performing live, setting up a sound installation, or just want to quickly try out a virtual instrument without loading up a weighty DAW, then you might find vPlayer 4 Lite a handy solution.
It’s a standalone 64-bit VST/AU host that can load a single virtual instrument for you to jam out on. It also has an external audio input, which can be from a microphone or any third-party software via virtual audio loopback. On top of this, there are built-in audio and MIDI players and recorders, a Master Rack that allows you to load up to 2 VST/AUs to process the output, a built-in metronome, and a brick wall limiter. If you want a more complex setup, then there’s a paid version for a mere $6 that adds up to eight instrument layers.
Sample Science – Virtual Handpan
macOS & Windows
VST / VST3 / AU
A handpan is a unique, melodic percussion instrument with a beautiful and soothing sound. However, it’s quite restricted as a compositional tool, as there are a limited number of notes available.
Sample Science’s free, sample-based instrument plug-in uses physical modelling and sound design to expand the range of playable notes up to 57. It features poly, mono and legato voice modes, an amplitude ADSR, multi-LFO, HP/LP filter, and distortion, delay, chorus and reverb effects.
Vox Samples – Fat Cat
You could argue that the GUI for Fat Cat takes up too much space, given that it only has three controls, but the cute cat pic could brighten up any studio session so we’ll let it slide.
Vox Samples’ Fat Cat is a saturation and distortion plug-in that has been fine-tuned to add colour, warmth and fatness to vocals. It’s modelled on a modern analogue tube preamp and can add pleasing harmonic distortion, or be cranked for more aggressive sounds. You get simple controls for increasing the drive, blending the wet and dry signals, and then balancing the final output volume.
Strange Loops Audio – gRainbow
VST3 / AU
This open-source, cross-platform synth puts the fun into granular synthesis, with its colourful graphics yet surprisingly deep sound design potential. Its unique feature is that it uses pitch detection powered by Spotify’s BasicPitch machine learning to analyse and match the pitch of longer, more complex samples. This means you can get creative on a more diverse range of material whilst enjoying less audio artefacts.
You can have up to 100 grains playing at once, with controls for grain envelope, tilt, rate, duration, pitch, pan, direction and more available at global, per note or per-generator level. There’s also bpm-sync, three envelopes, three LFOS and four macro dials.
Download at https://strangeloopsaudio.gumroad.com/l/gRainbow
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