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Digital Subscriptions > MusicTech > Nov 2019 > THE ULTIMATE FREEWARE GUIDE


You can now produce complete pieces of pro-sounding music entirely in software and completely free of charge. From the very DAW you use to the synths, drum machines, guitars and orchestral instruments that run on it, there’s a huge range of amazing cost-free options out there. Welcome to the free music-production world!


If you’re a music producer who’s a bit short of cash, or one that just likes a bargain, you have come to the right place – welcome to the (almost) annual MusicTech round up of the best music-production freeware available in the world right now!

Before we get started, let’s just slightly contradict ourselves to say that freeware is not just the domain of the long-pocketed producer. Such is the quality of many of the latest titles out there – and on display over the next few pages – that the freeware scene has become almost a sub-industry in itself, with a range of fantastic options for everyone. So even if you think you have a hard drive stuffed to the gills with plenty of paid-for options, there will be something in this huge feature to tempt you to fill up just a few megabytes more.


Freeware is, for the uninitiated, created by a scene of developers, large and small, who produce software that is, well, free to download – it’s as simple as that. These titles might be produced by small developers who are doing it just because they are great at what they do – as a hobby or to advertise their programming skills. Or they might be produced by larger developers like Native Instruments or UVI as teasers for larger, paid-for apps; they still have full functionality, but might be limited in sounds, effects or other features.

Thirdly, some of the best freeware titles are simply older pieces of once paid-for software and there are some particularly amazing options here from the likes of Tracktion, Steinberg and Cakewalk by Bandlab, which we’ll come on to.

We’ve divided our freeware mostly into instrument categories, with six of the best titles in each one, but we’ll also cover some of the main DAW options in this feature. In terms of our chosen instruments, the world of the freeware synth, in particular, continues to fill us with awe with what you can get: everything from stunning recreations of classic analogues, to complex wavetable synths capable of delivering incredibly intricate sonics.

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About MusicTech

It’s pretty much certain that if you’ve bought this magazine, then you will have parted with some of your hard-earned cash on gear for your studio. And let’s be honest, it’s a safe bet you’re not done yet. Unfortunately, our wallets aren’t bottomless, but even though we might think we have to spend ever-increasing fortunes on new tech to enhance our studios, it’s actually far cheaper to branch into the world of free software. In 2019, there are near-mountains of free software available – tailored for each part of the production process. But it can be a time-consuming quest to amass (and test) the right tools for your needs. So in this issue, we’ve rounded up the very best freeware that you can download to create your own free virtual studio. You might have also noticed that this issue comes with an added extra! We’re celebrating a whopping 200 issues of MusicTech – and to mark the occasion, we’ve put together a brand-new, freshly written guide to mixing. We hope it will serve as a companion to you in the studio, should you need to refresh your knowledge of key principles, mixing approaches and more. Elsewhere, we’ve got the final part of our Synthesis Masterclass series, which details how the computer became the ultimate synth! We also speak to former Pulp bass player and now Grammy-nominated producer Steve Mackey about his diverse career and also to the astute people at Black Lion Audio, who have combined the very best of modern technology with vintage designs. In our reviews, we spend time with Behringer’s Odyssey and discover a faithful and competitively priced recreation of a classic. We’ve also got our usual in-depth tutorials, tips and guides, so I hope you enjoy our 200th issue!

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