It is possible to produce a high-quality song with free software and apps. You need to know how to get the most out of their features. Paid recording software will have most of what you need to make quality music. A complete software bundle with all the essential tools included will set you back about $200. For iPhone apps, $50 will probably be enough to get the best music production apps.
To make the most out of free recording software and apps, you have to know which ones to download. After downloading the apps, find out how they work, what are their features, and how it can be utilized to create high-quality audio or music.
For producing music with a computer, you will need:
- FREE DAW (GARAGEBAND/ AUDACITY)
- FREE VST PLUGINS
If you’re using a mobile device, you will need:
- FREE RECORDING APPS (GARAGEBAND/ CAUSTIC 3)
- AUDIO UNIT PLUGINS
Recording on a computer is on a much more elaborate scale than mobile recording. However, technology allows mobile apps to produce good quality music on mobile devices.
Recording music with computers is more convenient in terms of workflow, because of the keyboard, mouse or Trackpad, and the advantage of having a much larger display for multi-tasking and midi editing.
If you purchase software, you will have most of the essential tools needed for recording all in one bundle. For free software, you have to download selected software individually to produce a song or record with okay quality.
When you buy an Apple computer, it already has a full version of Garageband installed. You need to get familiar with all the features Garageband has to offer, is put in a little time to understand how it works. You can add in a couple of free VST plugins, and you can produce quality music. A Mac computer has fewer free software to choose from, but most of them are suitable for recording.
This DAW comes free with every Apple computer, a more advanced version of Garageband is called LOGIC X PRO, and it costs $200. Garageband is capable of producing quality music if you can get the most out of its features. This DAW has most of the effects that you’re going to need, but having a few third-party VST plugins will help in improving the quality of your music.
- Touch Bar Features for MacBook Pro
Garageband has more straightforward functions and shortcuts if you have the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. The Touch Bar is a nice feature that works as an extension of the keyboard and Trackpad.
The Touch Bar can be used to play the current patch and selected software instrument track. You can use it as a keyboard to play notes and use it to adjust octaves.
- Tons of Helpful Recording and Editing Features
Edit your track from right down from the note and decibel. You can fix any issues with rhythm with a click. A wide variety of effect plugins is included to finish and master your track like a pro with compression and equalization.
- Sound Library with Instrument Presets
It includes a whole library that is full of instruments such as violins, pianos, world instruments, and drums. In addition to this, the sound library consists of a sampler, unique effects on each instrument, and master track.
- Guitar and Voice Effects
Garageband has tons of different amps and effects for the guitar you can use to create tones for different types of genres. It includes amps from vintage clean sounds, jazz, ambient, to heavy metal. It also provides guitar pedals such as overdrive, delay, reverb, chorus, compressor, and many more.
You can record vocals like a pro with different effects, such as pitch, reverb, and even harmonization. To get the most out of these effects, you will need an excellent AUDIO INTERFACE.
- Intuitive Modern Design for Optimized Workflow
The user interface has a design that is very easy to understand and use. The recording process is very straightforward so that you can produce music and podcasts conveniently. The design may look easy to use, but you can create music like a pro.
You can polish your performance and fine-tune the sounds with the easy to use piano roll editor that works with the virtual instruments.
- 28 Beat Making Drummers
Creating drum track will not be much of a problem with a choice of 28 different drummers with different musical styles. You can change the pattern of each drummer to fill in your entire song.
The drummers included play in different genres like rock, EDM, hip-hop, Latin, metal, dubstep, and many more.
- Powerful Synths with Shape-Shifting Controls
Garageband includes Alchemy Synth, which is a sound module that has a library of powerful synths that sound fantastic. You can edit each of the synths in real-time with features like the transforming pad and X/Y pad.
The synth includes arpeggiators, octave shifters, and bright, punchy lead tones. There are over 100 editable presets such as leads, synth bass, and pads inspired by EDM and Hip-hop sounds.
- Easy Share and Rendering Tracks
One-click sharing and rendering of your tracks is a nice feature so you can share your records straight to your sound cloud and file explorer. Have your friends and followers listen to your produced track or podcast with one click.
If you want more synths, effects, and instruments, there are several excellent free VSTs that you can download. However, Garageband does not support a lot of free plugins. You can download alternative DAWs like Audacity or REAPER because they have more compatible free plugins.
Here are some of the best VST Plugins for Garageband:
IZOTOPE VOCAL DOUBLER
Recording excellent vocals can be tricky as it has to blend in well in the mix. Vocals have to stand out in the mix without compromising the sound of the instruments. Good thing there is a free plugin like the Vocal Doubler. This plugin is perfect for recording vocals and adding a touch of spacey reverb. You can use this plugin to create multiple vocals and harmonies to enhance the sound of vocals on a track.
VINYL BY IZOTOPE
This free plugin is a vinyl simulator. It is excellent for creating lo-fi hip-hop tracks. It features advanced filtering, modeling, and resampling. It creates an authentic vinyl simulation. It’s like listening to audio straight from a record payer.
The Tyrell N6 is a German-made free synth plugin that contains futuristic tones and presets that are so good to be free. You wouldn’t think that the Tyrell N6 is a free to download VST plugin bundle. The Tyrell N6 Features:
- Virtual Analogue
It is a virtual analog synthesizer, meaning it can work like analog synthesizers like the KORG MICROKORG or NOVATION MININOVA. You can create your sounds by tweaking oscillators, waveforms, and ring modulation.
- 2 oscillators, noise and ring modulation
It has two built-in oscillators that can create a powerful synthesis suitable for electronic music. You can generate distinctive rhythmic patterns, ambient tones, and cutting-edge leads and bass.
- 2 LFOs and 8 waveforms
This free plugin has two low-frequency oscillators at eight kinds of waveforms so you can create different types of shapes for the tones you make. From saw wave to a triangle and just pure noise, this free plugin has it all.
- Audio source mixer
The Tyrell N6 has its mixer so you can mix presets and user patches. The mixer can be adjusted so you can record the sounds to blend well in the current mix you are working on in your DAW.
- Over 580 factory presets
Unbelievably, a FREE VST plugin can contain over 500 good-sounding presets. From dark, ominous tones, science-fiction sounds, to electronic music.
MFREE FX BUNDLE
Melda Productions offer a variety of modulation effects for free. Garageband may have most of the effects and plugins built-in, but it wouldn’t hurt to try something else. All the effects in this bundle are free to use, and you won’t believe how well they are.
Here are some of their free effect plugins:
This plugin is an auto pitch software perfect for vocal tweaking. You can adjust the peaks of vocal tracks to stay in tune, so you do not have to go and record it all over again. It does not sound so robotic and digital that it would be obvious. It is not like the autotune. It has a more natural pitch correction.
Auto Pan is an excellent effect for modulating the stereo sound of your audio track. You can make your tracks warp around from left to right or the other way around through surround sound or headphones. This effect adds a little spice to your tracks.
This effect explores different textures and distortion. It is a distortion effect not only for the guitar but for other instruments as well. It is a fun distortion that has different parameters to explore, unlike the traditional distortion for guitar.
The MFLANGER is an excellent free flange effect that creates spacey tones for your recording. This effect has several parameters like mix, tone, pattern, and many more.
You can bring your monotonous clean tones to life with this phaser effect. It is not only suitable for guitar, but it is also great for vocals, bass, and synths as well. You can go and try to experiment with different instruments with this as well.
The MTREMOLO isan interesting tremolo effect that will sound great with guitar tracks. It can give your guitar tracks a cool stutter effect.
You can add dynamic range to your tracks with this cool vibrato effect. You can adjust the mix and level to match what you want to hear. Almost every effect of this free bundle sounds fantastic.
MT POWER DRUM KIT 2
This drum plugin is an amazing acoustic drum simulator. This plugin is excellent for creating rock and roll drum tracks. You can adjust the velocity of the drum tracks to make it sound more realistic. It comes with several drum patterns if you’re experiencing writer’s block.
The drums on this plugin are already pre-mastered and mixed to sound well in any mix.
This virtual drum kit sounds very realistic; it seems as if you recorded authentic organic drums. You can choose over thousands of different rhythms in the comprehensive groove library. Sometimes you need a right drum track to start recording, and the MT POWER DRUM KIT 2 has you covered. You can adjust the levels of the drums individually—for example, you can make the bass or kick drum louder and more distinguished in the mix.
I recommended this VST plugin for rock, jazz, funk, and metal music. If you are more into making electronic music, all the drum presets on Garageband will work perfectly for you.
The Nova 67-P is a visual eq tool you can use for both compression and equalization. It is a suitable add on for Garageband and other DAW. This effect is not that easy to understand at first, but when you get the hang of how to use it, it will help you polish your tracks.
For recording music on Windows or PC, you can download Audacity for your DAW. Windows OS has a more extensive selection of free VSTs and Software. Because there are more choices of software for Windows, it is more difficult to find which the best software is.
A good PC for recording has to be fast enough to accommodate data-heavy software without crashing. Make sure you get a PC with at least 4-core processors and 8GB of RAM.
Audacity is a free DAW that is also capable of recording music. Audacity does not have as many instruments as Garageband, but it supports a lot of free VST plugins, so finding tools would not be much of a problem.
Audacity is a free source digital audio workstation that you can use to produce quality music and podcasts. Unlike other full-blown DAWs, Audacity does not have many instruments and plugins included. However, it will still work with most of the free VST plugins I will show you next.
Audacity can record audio from virtual and real instruments through an audio interface or digitize recordings from other media like Midi.
- Export/ Import
It is easy to import, edit, and combine sound files. You can export your tracks in several different file formats and multiple files at once.
- Sound Quality
Audacity supports 16-bit, 24-bit, and up to 32-bit sound quality. It converts sound formats using high-quality resampling and dithering.
Audacity supports most plugins in different formats such as LADSPA, LV2, Nyquist, VST, and audio unit effect plugins. You can even write your effect plugins in a text editor if you have experience in sound modeling and software development.
You can edit your tracks and takes quickly by cutting, copying, and pasting tracks in the editor. It has unlimited undo and redo to go back to steps.
You can preview any audio unit effect plugins in real-time. The plugin manager easily installs and removes plugins for your convenience.
You can manipulate tracks and selections with the long-range of keyboard shortcuts. You can also assign your keyboard shortcuts.
Audacity has a spectrogram view mode for visualizing and selecting desired frequencies. It also has a plot spectrum window for detailed frequency analysis.
Unlike Mac OS, there are so many more VST plugins available with Windows. The bad thing is because there are more, some are not that good. Good thing you have us to tell you which FREE VST Plugins are excellent for creating the best quality music and podcast audio.
- DSK DYNAMIC GUITARS
This plugin has three different guitars: nylon, steel, and acoustic. Each of the guitars sounds nice, as well as the effects included. You can adjust the attack, decay, sustain, and release. You can also add reverb to the guitar tracks to make them sound distant or spacey. The DSK is a simple plugin that has fantastic guitar sounds.
- TAL DUB III
The Tal Dub is a considerable delay effect plugin that you can download for free. This plugin has quick presets that can enhance the sound of vocals, guitar, and synth. It has a cooling ping-pong delay effect that sounds great.
Krush is a saturation distortion unit with built-in filtering and modulation. You can get the most out of this free plugin when you learn how to use it. Just use these free effects in creative ways, and you’ll be good to go.
Fracture is a glitchy rhythmic effect. If you are looking for glitchy robotic sounds, then fracture is your best bet. It has a massive selection of presets you can choose to enhance your tracks.
The OTT is a free compressor plugin that has a mixer, input, and output gain adjustments. This effect can fix all the levels of your track to make them sound coherent. This plugin will make sloppy recordings clean and tight.
- AMPLE BASS P II
This virtual instrument is a great sounding bass emulator. You can play this bass using the keyboard on your computer or midi controller. It sounds very realistic that no one will ever think that it was a virtual instrument.
- AMPLE GUITAR II
This plugin is an acoustic guitar virtual instrument. It has tons of features like reverb chorus. You can also change the position of the mic when recording so you can experiment with the sounds. Like the Ample Bass, it sounds like a real acoustic guitar.
The Tyrell N6, MT POWER DRUM KIT 2 and the MFREE BUNDLE, will also work on Windows.
There are a lot more excellent free VST plugins you can download. I guess I have to write a new post just for that.
Just like the computer, it is very much possible to record on your mobile device. Make sure your mobile device is suitable for recording and not crashing.
For iOS, almost every new iPhone is capable of recording good quality music. Personally, I would choose the iPhone 6s because of the availability of the headphone jack.
- GARAGEBAND iOS
Garageband is one of iOS’s staple apps, and it comes free for when you purchase your iPhone. It comes with a variety of different instruments and loops, Garageband will surely astonish you with its features.
It is effortless to play, record, and share your music with this fantastic app.
- Live Loops– One of my favorite features in Garageband is the live loops feature. With this feature, you can tap cells to launch beats and layer them. You can use it at parties to impress your friends and pretend you’re a professional DJ. With the live effects, you can easily manipulate the sounds with its filter, reverb, delay, and chop effects. Every loop you assign will retain the same key and tempo so you wouldn’t have to worry of sounding off.
- Drum Sequencer- the drum sequencer makes it easy for the user to program drums for their songs. The lines perfectly align with the tempo you set.
- AMP Collection– Garageband features a list of fantastic guitar and bass amps. From dreamy space reverb amps to your ROCK-AND-ROLL hi-gain amps, to your clean jazzy amps for whatever you’re in the mood to create.
- Synth Collection– Garageband includes Alchemy, one of the world’s most advanced synthesizers. Apple has hundreds of editable presets you will surely enjoy plus the classic synth sounds of the ’80s.
- Sound Library- Apple introduces the sound library. It contains over eight sound packs from different genres that are free. It features world music from Japanese instruments to your classic Roland 808’s.
AUDIO UNIT PLUGINS FOR iOS
The Nebulizer is a delay app that has numerous controls like level, feedback, filter, time, and mix. The Nebulizer is a free delay. It also has Midi learn so you can assign the parameters to your midi controller.
The Frobulator is a space reverb plugin that sounds remarkable. The spacey tone is perfect for the ambient sounds you want to produce. It is free in the app store.
The Muckraker is a massive dirt effect plugin that is perfect for Rocking. Try stacking it up on a synth lead sound, and you will surely get heads turning and faces melting. The Muckraker is also free in the app store.
- Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
(Price: $950 to $1,550)
The Galaxy S10 is a big improvement for Android devices. Normally android devices lack the power for recording music, but with the Samsung Galaxy S10, it is capable of producing music like the iPhone. Wireless charging can boost productivity, especially when recording music. This phone is a game-changer for Android devices. The Memory of this device is significantly higher than most computers.
- Large top-notch display
- Wireless charging
- Less latency with an upgraded processor
- High-speed internet
- Longer battery life
- 8 to 12GB RAM
- CAUSTIC 3
(Price: Free with in-app purchases)
The Caustic 3 offers different kinds of gadgets that contain hundreds of presets altogether. The Caustic 3 has everything you need for production as well as live music playing for the Android. This app also features effects which you can mount two per each device with a mixer and equalizer for each track and one master track. The song sequencer feature allows you to arrange a full-length song easily.
The Caustic 3 supports most of your favorite MIDI controllers and audio interfaces. For high quality, the sample rate supports up to 24-bit quality. That is the standard of excellent music quality.
The MasteringBox gives you the power to master your tracks in easy steps. It is an automatic mastering app that automatically adjusts the levels and equalizes your master tracks. You can also upload your tracks individually; for example, you only want to master your vocals. You only need to upload your vocal track, learn it, then take it back to your DAW.
- NUMBER OF TAKES
In digital recording, it does not matter how many takes you do to get that one perfect take. So do not stop at one or two takes, make sure you are pleased and contented with the take that you are going to produce. Take advantage of the technology in this digital world.
Some DAWs have quantization that automatically lines up the beats and midi track so that they stay in tempo. I like to take advantage of this feature, do not think that this is cheating; this is a way to get good-quality music out of free software and apps.
Good quality recording does not always come with paid software. Recording tracks perfectly makes them sound better even without mastering.
- BETA TEST
Always ask for constructive criticism from the people in your life that are willing to help by listening to your tracks. Give them copies or upload them on SoundCloud or YouTube. Try to mix it up by having your non-musician friends listen to the track and hear what they have to say, and have your musician friends have a listen as well.
Lastly, take in all the constructive criticism and rebuild and reclaim.
- MAKE USE OF LOOPS
Another good thing to take advantage of is the Apple loops in Garageband or any loops in different DAWs. Those loops are paid for when you downloaded the app, so there aren’t any royalties to pay.
Sometimes those loops sound well and mastered so they will look great without having to equalize them. You can chop them up and edit the to make it your sound. You can reverse the tracks and add effects. Whatever you want to do is up to you. Just be creative.
FREE RECORDING SOFTWARE
Reaper is a semi-free software that is available on Mac and PC. I say semi-free because you can download it for FREE and use the Demo for as long as you like. You would not get all the features, but that is why you will download other free third-party software.
The basic version is suitable for recording full albums already, but of course with the help of other VST software.
Reaper does not have any other instruments like synths and drums. It has the essential record, play, edit, and piano roll, which is sufficient enough for recording. Reaper is an excellent recording software assuming you have all the necessary hardware such as a guitar, mic, drums, and an audio interface.
An audio interface is what you need if you want to record external instruments like guitar and vocals. In other words, it translates the sound to something your computer would understand and record. Here are a couple of excellent audio interfaces that you can buy for $100.
- IK MULTIMEDIA iRIG PRE HD
Besides the compact size, it can record fantastic audio. It can also connect it to your mobile phone and record music wherever you are if inspiration strikes. This audio interface is a small but powerful interface for computer and mobile recording.
- M-AUDIO M-TRACK 2×2
This device is a high-quality signal capturing audio interface. It is compact so; it won’t take a lot of space on your desk, and you can also use it for mobile recording. The low-noise feature is essential for getting the most out of your record.
- FOCUSRITE SCARLETT SOLO
This brand has been well-known throughout most professional music producers. It has low latency, a preamp, and outstanding qualities for its low price. The 24-bit sample rate is best for recording guitars and vocals.
Midi controllers are nice to have in a home recording studio. These controllers can help you record virtual instrument tracks easier with piano feel. Rather than programming the notes on a piano roll, you can use a Midi controller to play the notes you want. After recording, you can fine-tune the notes on the piano editor for more precision. Here are a couple of excellent Midi controllers:
- NOVATION LAUNCHKEY MINI
The Launchkey Mini is an excellent choice for more electronic-driven music. It is a combination of a midi keyboard controller and Novation’s Launchpad. If you purchase one of these, you can download the included software and get more sounds.
- 16 fully assignable, LED indicating trigger pads
- 25 velocity-sensitive keys
- Eight fully assignable knobs
- Free Software included
- AKAI MPK MINI MK II
The Akai MPK MINI has incredible features like most analog synthesizers. Most beginner and intermediate producers use this product for creating music or recording live music. To edit the pads, you still need to connect to a computer. This product comes with free software such as MPC essentials which is a DAW, and WOBBLE, which is an excellent plugin with fantastic presets for electronic music.
- 25 velocity-sensitive keys
- Eight fully assignable trigger pads with two banks
- 16 fully assignable knobs
- Four user programs
- Octave switch
- Modulation and pitch joystick
- Free software included
The good things in life come free if you learn how to use them properly. For recording, it is indeed possible to create radio-quality tracks by putting and applying yourself to the task. There are no limits to a person’s creativity; only the person who limits themselves. I hope you go out and try to utilize what these free software and apps have to offer. If you decide to, don’t forget to share your music with your friends and us.