Cubase 5 from Steinberg comes bundled with some great instrument and effect plugins. From Loop Mashers to reverb units, filters, compressors... But, I'm a firm believer that you can never have too many options, and in this case, plugins! The common misconception is that good plugins will empty your wallet. However, there are some hidden gems available for free. Compiled here is a list of 7 of the best I have found. Where possible I've tried to include ones that are available in the Audio Unit format too so all you Logic users can dig into these too. Enjoy!
Audio Damage have created in the free Rough Rider what they call "a modern compressor with a bit of "vintage" style bite and a uniquely warm sound." I tend to agree. It looks great but is also intuitive and simple to use. Works great on all material like Drums, Bass, Vocals and guitars.
When you want to really fine tune the levels on a channel or adjust the phase and pan settings or monitor the Pre- and Post-levels, many Hosts come up short. Either that or they require more than one plugin or area to achieve these results. FreeG comes to the rescue by providing extensive and customizable settings for metering. One particular feature I love is the Flip Phase button. The Preferences panel will allow you to configure the Pan law, Metering Law and Fine scale to offer you greater control over the signal flow!
So, you're looking to Master your track? You need a decent limiter to bring up the loudness? Well, this plugin may look simple, but give it a spin in the VST host of choice. It was originally designed and created by George Yohung and is one of my go-to Limiters.
There are a lot of Delay based Effect plugins available. From multi-tap delays, to ping pongs to stereo delays to analogue style tape delays... The list could go on and on. I've chosen to share Glitch from klanglabs as it is slightly different to the other effect plugins out there. This one is triggered by MIDI and creates random Delays! They also offer Deelay, OverDubber and P-Deelay that will cater for a wide variety of delay/echo needs.
Smart Electronix have a varied and useful library of free effect plugins. This one is described as "a paragraphic equalizer that does not suffer from the treble warping that most digital equalizers do. Also it never clicks, and it handles deep bass well.' Try this out and listen carefully to how this EQ plugin shapes your sound compared to your existing EQ. You might be pleasantly surprised.
I used to spend hours starring into a Vector scope display when younger and playing with the stereo controls to modify the visual feedback... (ok my secret's out now!)
Stereo Tool from Flux:: offers a visually accurate plugin to both monitor and precisely control the stereo stage. Included are Peak meters, phase correlation meters (and switches) and did I mention the glorious visual display?
The TAL-Vocoder by Togu Audio Line is a Vocoder that takes us back to the 80's. It features 11 bands, is easy to adjust the harmonic control, and has a stereo chorus. It' includes "Analog-modeled components in combination with digital algorithms such as the SFFT (Short-Time Fast Fourier Transform)", it's a great plugin to add the increasingly retro and popular vocoded sound to your tracks.