Whether it’s a DIY developer having some fun, or a software company offering up a freebie to entice you into looking at their paid offerings, there’s free VST plug-ins coming out constantly. Finding out whether they’re actually useful or good can be a time consuming task. So rather than barrage you all with every single one that’s come out in 2018, here’s 5 that we think are genuinely inspirational and useful. 

PaulXStretch

If you’ve caught any of the viral internet excitement about the old Windows theme being slowed down 4000% and it becoming an ambient masterpiece, it’s possible you’ve investigated how it was done and heard of the Paul Stretch software. Now, a DIY developer by the name of Xenakios has taken the open source Paul Stretch code and built it into a VST plug-in, so you can stretch and smear audio to your hearts content – without ever leaving your DAW. There’s hours of fun to be had here, and if you’re at all interest in ambient music, or adding ambient textures to your productions, this is well worth a download.

Download here 

Regrader Degenerative Delay Processor

All your delay units too clean for your liking? Give this bad boy a go at adding some lo-fi texture to your sounds. With parameters named Gravel, Horror, Warble and Filthr, I’m sure you can get the gist of what the developer Igorski is going for. Genuinely useful for anything from lightly mangling your audio, right through to completely decimating it. Plus, the retro GUI looks bad-ass.

Download here 

Wider

Wider is a simple little plug-in that does exactly what it says on the tin – increases the stereo width of your track. It’s actually just a section of Polyverse’s flagship plug-in Manipulator, snipped off and repackaged as a freebie. However, where Wider differs from other methods of stereo width expanding is that it does so without mucking up your phasing – your track remains completely mono compatible, thanks to some very clever programming. A very handy tool to have in your arsenal.

Download here 

DLYM Delay Modulator

DLYM is a deceptively simple looking chorus/flanger type plug-in that’s actually quite powerful and can add some dramatic and/or bizarre effects to your sound. The onboard, DAW-syncable, LFO controls the Time parameter and features an unusually high number of waveforms – including Sample & Hold. There is also two modes – Analog and Dimension – for different stereo characters, Spread to control the stereo width, and Crossover to control the amount of your signal the plug-in effects. Pretty snazzy.

Download here 

Ambeo Orbit

Sennheiser snuck this little binaural panner plug-in out early in the year to support their Ambeo range of products, but it’s incredibly useful for all interested in adding a more three dimensional sound to their mixes. Put simply, if you want a track to sound like it’s coming from behind you and slightly to the right, this plug-in goes a long way to helping you achieve that. Some DAWs have binaural panning built in, however the user-friendly interface of Ambeo Orbit might make it a better option for many.

Download here