Digital tools came into our lives like never before in 2020. If you spent the year on video calls or collaborating remotely, it might have seemed like we had here one step closer to science fiction. However, technology still came through to benefit musicians in 2020—with a number of the best music production tools ever released for free. Here are the hottest free plugins we liked most this previous year – 2020.
Hottest Free Plugins in 2020
Some of the most usable plugins concentrate on simplicity and great results.
That’s the approach behind Fresh Air, Slate Digital’s new top-end sweetener tool.
Based on vintage style exciter circuits and up to date with trendy precision, Fresh Air makes it easier than ever to achieve the airy highs of polished pro production.
Fresh Air can brighten up individual tracks, busses, or whole mixes with just the right amount of brilliance and sparkle.
With only two simple parameters, Fresh Air opens up the clarity and presence your sounds need to stand out in a mix.
If you’re searching for a way to lift the blanket off sources that need a soaring top end to work, Fresh Air is the price a try.
2. TDR Molotok
There’s nothing quite like the smooth warmth and saturation of high-quality analog gear. However, you don’t have to spend money on a massive rack of outboard equipment to experience analog sound.
Modern plugins have made huge strides when it comes to capturing these highly sought after tones in your DAW.
There are plenty of useful options for analog sound in 2020, however, TDR Molotok is something special.
For Molotok, TDR took the DNA of the notoriously difficult to make use of VladG Molot compressor and turned it into a trendy, intuitive experience that sounds incredible.
The original Molot was famed for its ability to convincingly replicate a whole spectrum of compressor sounds from the vacuum tube era.
Molotok gives you a similar sonic signature in an extremely convenient free package.
Lo-fi music took over the world in 2020.
The important thing to the vintage sound that makes it so satisfying is lo-fi plugins.
We’re talking about tools that emulate the hiss, crackle, noise, and wow and flutter of old school recording gear.
Cassettes have been related to the lo-fi DIY recording since the start. However, capturing the heart and soul of their nostalgic sound isn’t always in your DAW.
That’s why Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2 is one of the best free tools for reaching the mood and texture needed for lo-fi.
With detailed controls for sculpting the exact flavor of lo-fi you need, Tape Cassette 2 brings the perfect of the cassette era to your plugin folder.
Spitfire LABS is the gift that keeps on giving.
The easy and powerful sampled instrument platform has become one of the top free resources for producers.
With new expansions being launched all the time, LABS hosts a number of the most creative sound design ever seen in free tool.
The sounds range from cinematic to experimental, however, they’re always playable and beautifully presented.
Fresh LABS releases like Arctic Swells, Guitar Harmonics, and Textural Pads are just as inspiring as classic patches like Soft Piano.
You must have LABS for your plugin folder in 2021.
Epic reverbs, cavernous delays, and impossibly massive spaces—ValhallaDSP Supermassive can do them all with style.
If you’re looking for a creative ambiance processor to explore the uncharted sonic territory, Supermassive is the price a look.
This combo delay and reverb are the newest in visionary DSP engineer Sean Costello’s line of affordable boutique plugins.
It’s built from the ground up to make enormous ambient soundscapes using a wide range of different techniques.
Each algorithm has its own unique textures and behaviors, with even more on the way in the future.
With names like Great Annihilator and Large Magellanic Cloud, every mode in Supermassive is a joy to explore.
Filters are some of the most basic tools in sound design.
However creative developers are still finding new ways to make them more inspiring and musical.
Audiomodern FilterStep is a unique sequenced rhythmic filter that can create any sound of this life.
By cycling through filter cut-off values in a sequence, the filter step can instantly bring a sense of action and development to static boring sounds at the same time.
If you’re finding ways to create thrilling momentary effects, animated textures, or left-field sound design, FilterStep is worth downloading.
For many synth fans, the Oberheim polysynths of the late 70s and 80s are the holy grail.
However, buying and maintaining one of these original machines in 2020 is just too expensive for all but the most well-heeled musicians.
Even modern plugin versions of synths from this era may be hard on your wallet.
That’s why DiscoDSP’s completely free OB-Xd synth plugin is so interesting. Ob-Xd is a faithful recreation of the legendary OB-Xa polysynth.
The sounds of this synth are fat, powerful, and can effectively use for any style of music.
If you’re looking for an analog-style polysynth tone with plenty of character, OB-Xd needs to be high on your list.
Free music production gear
Every producer needs quality tools to shape their sounds and build their mix.
However, you don’t need to pay a fortune to get plugins that will inspire you.
As you look forward to a better year in music in 2021, these top 7 hottest free plugins will allow you to stay creative and keep going.