Mixing vocals is a crucial aspect of music production. It requires the use of quality plugins to achieve a polished sound.
However, if you’re on a tight budget, you don’t have to worry. There are numerous free vocal VST plugins available that can enhance your vocal tracks without breaking the bank.
In this article, we will explore the essential guide to free VST plugins for vocals. We will discuss the different types of plugins required for vocal processing and recommend the best options for you to download.
1. Vocal Tuning Plugins
Vocal pitch correction has become an integral part of modern vocal production. Before diving into the mixing process, it’s important to refine your vocals and achieve the desired sound. Vocal tuning plugins are perfect for this task. They allow you to enhance performance subtly or create dramatic effects. Here are some free options to consider:
- Auburn Sounds Graillon: Graillon is a live vocal changer that can transform your vocals using various effects. The free version provides access to pitch shifting and pitch correction features.
- Melda MAutoPitch: MAutoPitch is an automated pitch correction plugin with a straightforward interface. It offers subtle effects and classic hard tuning capabilities.
- Voloco: Voloco is a simple vocal tuning plugin that allows you to choose the key, scale, and tuning type. You can adjust the intensity with the correction amount.
2. Vocal Equalizer Plugins
Once you have tuned your vocals, it’s time to work on balancing them in the mix. A good equalizer plugin is essential for cleaning up any issues and sculpting the frequency balance to make your vocals more pleasing. Here are a few options that play different roles in a mix:
- TDR Nova: TDR Nova is a sophisticated digital-style EQ that allows for surgical sculpting and problem-solving. It is ideal for resolving any frequency issues before moving on to other mixing tasks.
- Ignite Amps PTeq-X: PTeq-X is an analog-style EQ based on the legendary analog Pultec EQP-1A hardware. Its gentle and musical curves are perfect for adding character, sparkle, or midrange cut to your vocals.
- Analog Obsession Britchannel: Britchannel brings a 1073-style channel to your DAW, complete with preamp gain modeling for extra sweet character.
3. Vocal Compressor Plugins
Compression is an essential tool for controlling the dynamics of your vocals and ensuring they sit nicely in the mix. Each compressor plugin has its unique character, and using multiple compressors in series can yield different qualities. Here are some favorite free options for vocal duties:
- Analog Obsession FETish: FETish is a plugin that emulates the classic sound of the 1176 FET compressor. It is fast, punchy, and perfect for controlling aggressive transients in an active vocal performance.
- Analog Obsession LA-LA: LA-LA models the optical LA-2A compressor, known for its smooth vintage sound. It has a gradual attack time and gentle release that beautifully complements a great vocal.
4. Vocal Saturation Plugins
Sometimes, vocals need an extra touch to sit properly in a mix. Saturation is a useful tool for adding gentle harmonic distortion, which can bring out midrange frequencies and make the vocals pop. Here are some great free saturation plugins to consider:
- Klanghelm IVGI: IVGI is a harmonic distortion plugin that adds a satisfying layer of distortion and brings dull vocals forward in the mix.
- Softube Saturation Knob: Saturation Knob is a simple yet effective plugin that adds smooth saturation and punch to your vocals.
5. Vocal Widener Plugins
To make your vocals stand out in the mix, you can use creative effects like vocal wideners. These plugins thicken the vocal sound and create a wider stereo field. Here are some free options:
- Acon Digital Multiply: Multiply is a chorus plugin that adds swirling stereo modulation to your vocal track. It allows you to add up to 6 voices of chorus and shape the sound with onboard EQ.
- Izotope Vocal Doubler: Vocal doubling is a technique used to thicken the vocal sound. Izotope Vocal Doubler provides a similar effect by simulating natural imperfections in the singer’s overdubs.
6. Vocal Delay Plugins
Ambience effects give your vocals a sense of space and dimension in the mix. Delay is a popular spatial effect used in most vocal mixes. It adds echoing repeats that fade into the background behind the main vocal. Here are some free vocal delay plugins to consider:
- ValhallaDSP FreqEcho: FreqEcho is a powerful delay plugin that offers pristine digital repeats as well as lo-fi filtered madness. It provides a wide range of control over the delay effect.
- TAL Dub-II: Dub-II is a retro-style delay plugin that models the dirty delays from old-school dub reggae. It allows for saturation and modulation, giving you the freedom to create any analog-style delay.
7. Vocal Reverb Plugins
Reverb is essential in any vocal mix as it simulates the reflections from rigid surfaces and situates the sound in its physical environment. The choice of reverb plugin can greatly influence the vibe of your vocals. Here are some free options:
- Dragonfly Reverbs: Dragonfly offers a bundle of free reverb plugins that cover various reverb styles, including rooms, plates, and halls. The suite provides a smooth and sophisticated sound.
- OrilRiver: OrilRiver is another popular free reverb plugin that delivers great sound with minimal CPU load. It is compatible with both Mac and PC.
- TAL Reverb-2: Reverb-2 is a classic reverb plugin with a dreamy, enveloping sound. It is perfect for creating larger-than-life reverberation with lush diffusion.
Mixing vocals on a budget doesn’t mean compromising on quality. With the wide range of free VST plugins available, you can achieve professional-sounding vocals without breaking the bank. From vocal tuning and equalization to compression, saturation, and ambience effects, there are countless options to explore. Experiment with different plugins and find the ones that work best for your vocal tracks. With the essential guide to free VST plugins for vocals, you have all the tools you need to take your vocal mixing skills to the next level.
Remember, it’s not about the cost of the plugins, but how you use them to bring out the best in your vocals. So, download these free plugins, get back to your DAW, and start mixing!