Hey guys. It´s been a while after the previous message in this thread but I´ll chime in because making a new similar thread maybe doesn´t make sense.
Not sure if I can label the following list “the best” free plugins but certainly they get a lot of use in our studio. We have a vast selection of commercial plugins but somehow bunch of these freeware plugins end up being used on almost every mix we do.
Antress Modern Plugins
A great selection of equalizers, compressors and effects. Very nice emulations of classic studio hardware units. Some of our favourites are The Lost Angel (LA2A style compressor), The Seventh Sign (1176 style compressor) and Modern Exciter (Aural exciter style tool)
Variety of Sound
A few handy tools, for example BootEQ (a channel strip style eq), epicVerb (a versatile reverb) and of course the great FerricTDS (a tape dynamics/saturation tool). Try FerricTDS for example on your drum bus, it sounds great with rock and metal drums.
Digitalfishphones - Fish Fillets series
Nice dynamics tools. Spitfish de-esser is a common sight in our mix sessions. They also have for example an expander/gate and a compressors.
Camel Audio – Camel Crusher
This is an awesome distortion plugin full of character.
Solid State Logic – LMC-1
The legendary Listen Mic Compressor in software form.
Smart Electronix – DFX RMS Buddy
A handy and simple metering tool with RMS and peak volume information .
Fantastic guitar amp emulations. In style of e.g. Marshall, Mesa Boogie and Engl…they just couldn´t name the plugins like that because of license restrictions but you´ll know visually which real-life amp the plugin is trying to emulate. They also have the LeCab plugin that is a easy-to-use cabinet impulse loader.
The Serina Experiment
More great emulations for guitar and bass players. TSE808 is a good Ibanez Tube Screamer emulation and TSE BOD is a Sansamp Bass Driver DI emulation.
Lots of emulated guitar and bass amps and some mixing tools. There´s no official website or even a KVR audio page anymore but you can google your way to some sites where you can download the plugins.
A wide selection of nice plugins that are maybe a bit ”funkier” than many others. We like especially the PhaseBug which is a phase shifter that works in a “stepless” manner.
Also worth a mention are Voxengo as they have some freeware plugins available in addition to the commercial ones, you can check them out too.
I hope you find some of these plugins useful