9 Free Music Production Tools to Elevate Your Beats
As beatmakers and musicians, we have a tendency to perpetually lust over the next plugin or piece of gear on our wishlist. It’s no secret that music production tools can get pretty pricey, but fortunately, there are plenty of free ones out there to help you make more music.
Below, we’ll share 9 of our favorite music production tools so that you can start jamming out with these plugins and resources. From chunky synths to retro drum machines, there’s something on this list for producing any genre of music.
9 Free Music Production Plugins and Resources
Without further ado, here are some of the most impressive freebies we’ve tested out in our music production workflows:
1. Cheeze Machine By 2getheraudio
Adeptly named “Cheeze Machine,” this free VST recreates classic ‘80s synths and is entirely free. The virtual instrument includes over 60 presets sorted by leads, pads, plucks, and more, all with a warm, nostalgic feel.
With a built-in velocity knob and pitch wheel, this synthesizer has everything you need to create that cozy classic sound. Choose from the presets or work through the oscillator and effects panels to shape the sound to your liking.
2. Online Drum Machine by One Motion
Drums are at the heart of many songs, and One Motion’s free online drum machine makes it easy to kick off a new beat. This free drum machine can be used directly in your browser, allowing you to export both MIDI and audio files once you stumble upon a great groove.
Choose between classic drum kits or opt for the nostalgic sound of the Roland TR-808. This tool is great for anyone looking to build a cohesive kit, as it’s easy to audition different patterns with the plug-and-play sequencer.
3. DRIVE by UJAM
Looking for a more 21st-century sound? DRIVE by UJAM is a free synthesizer packed with presets designed for modern house music. This virtual instrument has three main components: a sequencer, a synthesizer, and a finisher.
DRIVE has built-in effects, modulation wheels, and a randomizer button to help you quickly switch up your sound. This free VST is great for making clean, crisp, lead lines, accents, and potentially, basslines.
4. Prisma by Unplugred
Shape your distortion across the spectrum of sound with Prisma by Unplugred. This fun freebie has a delightful user interface and provides multiband distortion spread out across low, low-mid, high-mid, and high-frequency sectors.
Each band can be adjusted with several sound design models including bitcrush, fold, hard clip, sample divide, and more. With multiband adjustment and cross/gain knobs, this plugin allows you to make your distortion as present or subtle as you’d like.
5. OTT by Xfer Records
A favorite of many engineers, OTT is a beloved compressor with plenty of power. This aggressive multiband compressor is well-liked by dance producers for its punchy, clean response, but OTT also proves to be helpful in many contexts.
Use depth control to adjust your compression, adjust the attack and release knobs, and tweak the output gain to arrive at the compressed sound you’re looking for. Simple yet effective.
Vital is arguably the best free wavetable synth available, offering plenty of control over your sound without the steep price tag. You can pay for additional presets and wavetables, but the free version comes with 75 presets and 25 wavetables, which is plenty to kickstart your song.
With this synth’s notable spectral warping capabilities, you have significantly more control over your waveform’s harmonics and overall shape. Best of all, BPM Create has a bunch of synth presets for Vital and just released a free Vital preset pack for Halloween to get your creative juices flowing.
7. Rasa by Mntra
Right off the bat, Mntra’s plugins have a very distinct look. Described as “Animistic Virtual Instruments,” Mntra’s plugins are as fun to look at as they are to play. Their free offering, Rasa, has 20 textured presets to help you create enchanting soundscapes.
Much like a video game, Rasa integrates keyboard keys to allow you to adjust the sound and accompanying animation while you play. While the presets sound great out of the box, you can switch to the control view to adjust each sound to your liking.
8. Fracture by Glitchmachines
Anyone who loves hyperpop or textured music in general should consider checking out Fracture by Glitchmachines. This sound design plugin is loaded with 100 factory presets to add glimmer, artifacts, delay, and textured modulations to any sound in your mix.
With three flexible LFOs, you can adjust the sound to your liking. This powerhouse of a plugin also has additional preset packs you can download for free via Glitchmachine’s website.
9. Fresh Air by Slate Digital
Slate Digital’s Fresh Air might only have two knobs, but its power is in its simplicity. This free plugin effortlessly creates a smooth high-end by adding a bit of shimmer and vibrancy to vocals, lead instruments, and more.
It’s an excellent plugin to add a bit more presence to your mix, and with the simple user interface, anyone can make great use of this freebie.
Bonus: The BPM Music Suite
BPM for Artists is a free platform for unsigned musicians that allows you to distribute music directly to top DJs and tastemakers. Tracks uploaded to BPM for Artists will soon be published directly to the BPM Supreme catalog, giving your music the potential to be discovered by other artists and music lovers from around the globe. Applying to the artist network only takes a couple of clicks.
Searching for a new track library for when you spin the decks? Browse BPM Supreme’s catalog for free. Plans start at $22.99 with DJ-ready music downloads to help you get the floor moving. You can also browse BPM Create’s royalty-free samples and sound packs with a quick sign-up. Plans start at just $4.99/month to help spark some creativity.
Make Music With What You’ve Got
Being a musician can be surprisingly costly. Hopefully, these resources make it easier for you to switch up your creative process without breaking the bank. While these tools can certainly help you on your journey to make better music, remember that the most important factor is the producer behind the screen. Have fun using these powerful freebies to make more music!
About the Writer
Kate Brunotts is an audio engineer and music producer from New York City. When she’s not writing about music, producing music, or singing and songwriting, Kate helps others realize their unique sound, whether through a fresh mix, new instrumental approach, or total rework of a particular sound.