One of the most crucial aspects of music production is mixing vocals.
However, if you’re new to producing or you’re on a tight budget, you might be scouring the Internet for the best free vocal mixing VST plugins to help you craft radio-ready mixes.
The good thing is that there are tons of awesome, completely free vocal mixing plugins that you can use without dropping a dime.
Of course, mixing vocals is a delicate skill that requires a few different types of plugins to create a clear, polished sound. In this article, we’ll take you through some of our favorite free vocal mixing plugins in different categories so you can fill up your entire arsenal.
Best Free Vocal Tuner - MAutoPitch
MAutoPitch from MeldaProduction is one of our favorite free VST plugins for pitch correction. However, what’s truly unique about MAudioPitch beyond its pitch correction capabilities are its built-in stereo expansion and formant shifting effects.
Even better is that this plugin is extremely easy to use. You can even resize and restyle the GUI to match your computer screen and your aesthetic. Whether you need subtle vocal tuning to tighten up you’re awesome vocal performance or a full-on robot effect a-la T-Pain, MAutoPitch can do the job.
While this tuning plugin doesn’t work manually, you can set the key and scale of your song so that it can do the work for you.
You can download MAudioPitch along with the MFreeFXBundle, which gives you tons of effects to pick from.
Best Free Vocal Parametric EQ Plugin - TDR Nova
One of the reasons we love TDR Nova so much is that it’s not your typical parametric EQ plugin. This unique EQ is a dynamic equalizer, meaning it has the ability to react to the dynamic changes in certain frequency ranges over the course of a song. It’s a great EQ plugin for beginner and expert producers.
The standout feature of this plugin is, of course, the dynamics section. You can select a band and choose compression-style parameters for that band, such as threshold, attack, release, and ratio, so that it reacts to your given signal as it changes.
For example, you might have a vocal that sounds harsh in the 3kHz range during the chorus, though sounds fine during the verse. With TDR Nova, you can pull down the threshold so that the EQ only dips out that 3kHz when it gets too loud in the chorus.
The plugin is wildly comprehensive, which isn’t something you see in many free plugins. It almost stands up to some of the best parametric EQ plugins on the market, such as the FabFilter Pro-Q3.
Plus, the real-time frequency display gives you an exact representation as to how your signal is reacting to your EQ choices.
Best Free Vocal Analog EQ Plugin - Ignite Amps PTeq-X
While parametric EQ plugins are great for surgical work, adding color and character to your vocals to make them exciting in a mix requires an analog-style EQ plugin. One of our absolute favorite free analog EQ plugins is the Ignite Amps PTeq-X. This plugin is a digital emulation of three iconic and vintage passive programs EQs.
The developers emulated the original hardware with tons of care, adding some circuitry improvements and added features along the way, making it more versatile than the original.
The beauty of this EQ plugin is that it delivers clean, crisp, and musical EQ. One of the best ways to get that crispy, expensive top-end on your vocal is with a high-frequency boost on the PEQ1A model, which models the old Pultec EQs.
For more refined and precise EQ moves, you can switch over to the HL3C and MQ5 models. The tube-stage modeling gives you a warm and vintage sound, while the switchable linear phase oversampling section makes the plugin easier on your CPU.
In our opinion, there is no better free analog-style plugin for getting studio-quality vocals out there.
Best Free Vocal Compressor Plugin - Klanghelm DC1A
One thing we love about the Klanghelm DC1A compressor is that it is a true all-in-one compressor that is great for adding a bit of magic and tons of control with only a few simple tweaks.
The DC1A compressor is the little brother of the Klanghelm DC8C compressor, which is the company’s flagship paid compressor plugin.
While the control on the DC1A might seem minimal, you never feel limited. The moderate compression ratio on the DC1A sounds great on plenty of instruments, especially vocals. You control most of the compression with the input knob, much like on an 1176-style compressor, though there are also threshold, attack, and release controls.
Many find that this approach makes compressing vocals much easier.
One special feature on the DC1A is the high-pass filter, which reduces low-frequency content before compressing, allowing for a more relaxed style of gain reduction that won’t clamp down as quickly and swallow up your vocals.
Best Free Vocal Saturation Plugin - Softube Saturation Knob
Many refer to this plugin as the one-knob magician, and we agree.
Honestly, even with the minimal design, it’s difficult to believe this plugin is free considering the fact that it is even used by Grammy award-winning producers. You’ll find a large saturation knob to dial in as much grit as you want, and a small switch below to choose the style of saturation.
With high, low, and neutral options, you can essentially decide which frequencies you want to keep in-tact. For example, if you set the switch to “high,” the plugin will keep your high frequencies from getting saturated.
It is truly one of the easiest plugins to use out there and it sounds great on just about anything, especially vocals!
Best Free Vocal De-Esser Plugin - Techivation T De-Esser
Compared to most free plugins, the GUI on the T De-Esser from Techivation is truly stunning. It’s sleek, modern, and only has a few but very purposeful knobs and buttons that have a significant impact on your audio source. Techivation was smart in making only the most important parameters visible on the GUI, giving you a fast and highly efficient sounds with only a few tweaks.
Whether you need to transparently control sibilance in your vocals, remove harshness from close mic’d vocals, or correct an uneven tonal balance from a poorly-recorded vocal, you can do it with the Techivation De-Esser.
Finding quality plugins that can streamline your workflow is a great way to save time and effort. Plus, not only does this de-esser plugin work well on single vocals, it also works well on group vocals too. Even beyond vocals, I often find myself using this plugin to tame harshness in overheads or distorted guitars.
Best Free Vocal Widener Plugin - Izotope Ozone
The Izotope Ozone Imager is a free standalone widener plugin that uses the same algorithm found in the progressional Ozone mastering suite. The paid counterpart has much more versatile controls, though it doesn’t stop the free version from being anything but great. Whether you need to widen or narrow your vocal sources with remarkable precision, this plugin gives you the ability to do so.
As with most the plugin components found in the Ozone mastering suite, Izotope’s vocal widener gives you visual feedback on your stereo widening, allowing you to set your parameters more intuitively. You’ll even find a correlation meter and a vectorscopre on this plugin, which can be extremely helpful in the sound-staging process of mixing or mastering.
There truly isn’t another free stereo widening plugin out there that has the same combination of quality sound and visuals. It’s a must-have for any producer.
Best Free Vocal Delay Plugin - ValhallaDSP FreqEcho
ValhallaDSP FreqEcho is hands-down our favorite free delay plugin for vocals. Valhalla is one of the coolest companies when it comes to time-based plugins, especially if you’re going for vintage or out-of-this-world sounds.
Whenever I need a dub delay or a long filtered delay tail, I immediately reach for FreqEcho.
The whole plugin is centered around a large frequency dial that you can adjust to to change each repeat in your delay feedback. While the interface is quite simple, it makes dialing in some high-quality metallic effects very simple, as well as long, floating echoes.
If you’re an advanced producer, you might not find tons of use for this delay plugin other than for easy-to-dial effects that are even easier on your CPU. However, in our opinion, the simplicity and unique sound are the two things that make this plugin a true standout.
Best Free Vocal Reverb Plugin - TAL Reverb-4
If you go on the TAL website, you’ll see that the TAL-Reveb-4 plugin is marketed as a plate reverb plugin. However, in our opinion, it is so much more than that. Of course, right off the bat, if you leave the plugin in default mode and send signals through it, you’ll get a beautiful, diffused, vintage sound, perfect for adding warmth to modern mixes.
Even with a vintage sound, the developers recently updated the interface to give users a fresh, sleek look that makes it easier to navigate. Now, it looks just as smooth as it sounds!
Because this reverb plugin is a modulation reverb, you can modulate the various parameters onboard, such as the diffusion amount, room size, and rate. For a bit of extra space and depth, you can even add some delay to the signal. Of course, if you’re trying to keep things clean, the added low and high-cut filters are a must.
Lastly, you’ll find wet/dry controls on the interface, which is great for using the plugin on individual tracks. With easy CPU usage, you can use it on several tracks without bogging down your system.
When all is said and done, there are several approaches you can take to mixing high-quality vocals. However, as you get deeper and deeper into producing and mixing vocals, you’ll likely find yourself using each of these types of plugins.
Whether you’re looking to experiment with some new plugins or build a quality vocal chain without dropping a dime, we highly recommend checking out the free vocal mixing VST plugins above.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into production and mixing, check out our FL Studio courses to learn more!