Recently some friends looking to get in to music production asked me about what sites / samples I use when producing music so I thought I’d put together a post with some links to some of my fave sites and plugins for creating and producing music. Please note I am not affiliated with any of the sites and services below and I am not responsible for any damage caused to you or your computer by any of the sites and software I have linked to below. Hopefully they might help though
One general word of advice to new comers – before going down the plugin rabbit hole, use the plugins / fx that come with your DAW and get used to the workflow / layout. I’m a big fan of Ableton’s Wavetable, Analog and Operator synths and Reverb, Echo, Saturator, Glue Compressor and Drum Buss fx and I often prefer them to external plugins but plugins do give you more options.
General sites / software
Ableton Live – I’ve been using Ableton Live as my DAW of choice for years so I know my way around it pretty well for both track creation and live performances. I upgraded to the Suite version a little while back which comes with a bunch of extra instruments and fx and max 4 live built in and if you can afford I would suggest you do to.
Bedroom Producers Blog – Arguably the best resource for free / low cost links to sample packs, fx and instruments.
Spitfire Audio Labs – Amazing FREE virtual instruments covering choirs, guitars and various atmospheric sounds. Also worth picking up the BBC Orchestra instrument while you’re there, especially if you can still get it for free.
Synths / Instruments
Vital Audio (Free) – A relative newcomer, this wavetable synth is effectively a free version of the amazing Serum. Great for gritty synth sounds and bass lines.
Surge (Free) – A powerful free and open source synth
Massive (Paid) – Almost a cliché in electronic music circles but it’s a very powerful synth and especially good for pads and lead sounds. I haven’t bothered upgrading to Massive X yet though especially as it’s not backwards compatible.
Xfer Serum (Paid) – As per Massive, almost clichéd but great for basslines, leads and sample mangling.
Tyrell N6 (Free) – A great sounding Juno-ish synth great for all sorts of sounds especially electro stuff.
Dexed (Free) – It may look a little intimidating but if you like Mega Drive / Genesis FM style synth sounds, this is the plugin you need.
Redtron (Free) – One of my favourite mellotron emulator plugins. Like Beatles style string and choir sounds? Get this. Note: Available as a 32-bit only plugin so you’ll need to use it with a 32 to 64 bit plugin adapter with most modern DAWs. I’ve been using jBridge for years to do this with Ableton live and generally it works well.
Zampler (Free) – a sample based instrument with a straightforward interface, I’ve found some great bass and pad sound packs.
Arminator 2 (Free) An emulation of the Yamaha CS80, the author says that it’s not a “faithful” reproduction but trust me it is perfect for Vangelis style synth patches. 32-bit only though I’m afraid.
JuiceOPL (Free) – Basically the adlib sound emulator from DosBox / ZDoom in a plugin. The interface is a little quirky but great for late 80s / early 90s style game sounds.
Fracture (Free) – weird glitchy goodness.
DevilLoc (Paid) – Great distortion effect especially on drums.
LittleAlterBoy (Paid) – Formant and pitch shifting effect for vocals (although I’ve used it on guitar and other things as well in the past)
CamelCrusher (Free) – Still one of my favourite effects for loud, distorted drums (especially 808s and Acoustic / studio kits). The Brit Clean pre-set is a great starting point.
Sausage Fattener (Paid) – Another plugin so overused it’s practically clichéd but for thick bass sounds on 808 kicks and bass synths it’s great and doesn’t cost much. Pick it up as a pack with Endless Smile for quick and easy EDM style drops that make you smile.
Mishby / Backmask (Paid / “steal”) – Both from Freakshow industries, crazy interfaces, amazing sounds.
Izotope Vinyl (Free) – One of the best lofi / vinyl reproduction plugins available
Waves plugins (Paid) – I’ve acquired many Waves plugins over the years but here are a few that are go to’s in most of my projects. Note: DO NOT pay full price! Waves plugins are almost always on some kind of sale / offer especially around holidays so get them then if you can.
Kramer Master Tape – One of my favourite tape machine emulator plugins. Great slapback delay sound too.
Infected Mushroom Pusher – Want to do a quick and dirty master on a new edit you’ve just created or want to make your drums wide and loud? Get this.
Sibilance – A great easy to use de-esser plugin particularly good on vocals.
So there you go. I hope that’s useful. I may come back and update this from time to time when I think of new things I think it would be good to mention but this is a good start.