Dig Deeper For Rad Plug-Ins

Just because an audio plug-in is free doesn't mean that it's not amazing. Let's dig deeper to find some rad plug-ins to make novel sounds.

I received an e-mail from Native Instruments over this last holiday. They make awesome audio tools. They had announced that there was a new plug-in available called Skanner and that they were giving the plug-in away for free. Free NI plug-in? Yes, please!

I downloaded it and started playing around. Sure enough, it was great and seemed very powerful right off the bat. I made about 30 minutes of crazy source material that I've since used in several cool prototypes that I'm working on at Volition.

I added it to my favorites list of kick ass, free sound design plug-ins. It is now nestled between a bunch of killer tools from and a nice little pocket of goodies from

I've been using these free or relatively inexpensive tools quite a bit lately. More than most of these more expensive plug-ins, for sure.

Some of my friends even sort of scoff at the fact that I'm using free plug-ins in a professional capacity. Why would I use Cyanide 2 when I have Trash and Guitar Rig? The answer is because like anything else in audio land, these tools have their own distinct sound. Same reason I might want to break out the ol' SM 57 even when there are other, more exotic options available. It has its own sound.

Sure, it's a bit of a time investment up front to dig through the billions upon billions of plug-ins that are out there, but the giddy feeling of excitement when I find that rare gem after so much mining is glorious. I think I have a high tolerance (and indeed a love) for this mining. I used to buy craploads of books from Goodwill and would turn them around on eBay for a profit. Similar feeling when opening up a book at Goodwill and seeing the author's signature. A gem!

It has occurred to me after talking with some of my audio colleagues across the world that this behavior isn't really that common. I thought for sure this was standard practice. It's not.

So, I've already given you a couple of sites above where I've found some treasures. Now, go start digging yourselves and see what you come up with. And tell me about the good ones. I'll return the favor, I promise.

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