Here are the best free saturation VST plugins to emulate the process of audio going through vintage hardware. This list includes free saturation plugins for Windows and Mac.
What Is A Saturation Plugin?
Saturation plugins allow you to apply audio saturation effects to digital audio to give it the feeling of going through vintage analog recording hardware. They are used to help create vintage-sounding audio.
Saturation software can replicate the process of audio playing through magnetic tape machines, tube amps, circuit boards, and transistors to add warmth to audio for a more pleasing sound.
Saturation tools can add harmonics to audio, which can make it sound warmer, more dynamic, and even more exciting.
Saturation plugins typically work by running an audio signal through a simulated analog circuitry that emulates how a physical device would react to an incoming signal. This process can add subtle or extreme harmonic distortion and compression to the signal.
Saturation plugins are often used on individual tracks, such as drums, bass, vocals, and guitars, or on an entire mix to add character and warmth to the sound. They can be handy in genres like rock, blues, and funk, where the sound of analog equipment is commonly used.
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There are several benefits of using saturation VST plugins in audio production:
- Add warmth and character: Saturation tools can add warmth, depth, and texture to a sound, making it more pleasant to listen to. This is especially useful for digital recordings that may sound sterile or lifeless.
- Enhances dynamic range: Saturation plugins can help enhance the dynamic range of a sound by adding subtle harmonic distortion. This can help make a recording sound more lively and expressive.
- Adds harmonics: Saturation software can add harmonics to a sound, making it sound richer and more complex. This can be especially useful for adding depth and dimension to vocals or instruments.
- Emulates analog equipment: Saturation plugins can emulate the sound of analog equipment, such as tape machines or tube preamps. This can be useful for adding a vintage or classic sound to a recording.
- Versatile: These plugins can be used on various audio sources, including drums, bass, vocals, guitars, and more. They can also be used in a variety of musical genres, from rock and blues to electronic and pop music.
Saturation VST plugins can be a valuable tool for adding warmth, character, and depth to audio recordings, making them more natural and pleasing.
Best Saturation VST Plugins
The plugins below are among the best free saturation plugins available. Each plugin has unique capabilities and features that make it different from the others.
- Saturation Knob
- BPB Saturator
- CHOW Tape Model
- Aux Saturation
- Tape Cassette 2
- FerricTDS mkII
- Voxengo VariSaturator
- Tube Saturator Vintage
- Voxengo Tube Amp
- Leveling Tool
- Szechuan Saturator
- HeadCrusher Free
- More Saturation Plugins
Instructions: Click the links below to visit each Saturation VST plugin. Look around each website for the download link or button. Do not install any suspicious software.
IVGI is a saturation VST plugin that can emulate tape or tube saturation, and reacts dynamically to the input signal, delivering very soft and subtle saturation to stereo tracks or dense and dirty tube distortion effects to spice up single tracks.
The plugin has an ASYM MIX knob that lets you alter the symmetry of the signal without affecting the harmonic content much.
The frequency response dependency of the saturation can be controlled with the Response Control.
If you’re looking for a saturation VST plugin that is subtle and versatile, IVGI is an excellent option. The plugin is available for both Windows and Mac.
- ASYM Mix
- Harmonic Distortion
- Low Pass Filter
- High Pass Filter
IVGI | PC / Mac
IVGI VST Plugin Preview
2. Softube Saturation Knob
Softube Saturation Knob is a subtle saturation plugin perfect for adding warmth and vintage saturation on Windows and Mac platforms. The plugin delivers three modes: high, neutral, and low.
Saturation Knob is perfect for fattening drums and bass, adding harmonics to vocals, and more.
With this plugin, you can also achieve a modeled output distortion if you’re looking for a more gritty saturation effect.
Saturation Types: High, Neutral, Low. Adjust low and high frequencies.
Saturation Knob | PC / Mac
3. BPB Saturator
BPB Saturator is a saturation plugin with high-pass and low-pass filters and tube saturation and tape cassette saturation.
The high-pass filter is excellent for removing the low end from your signal, which can help tighten up a mix’s sound or reduce the bass in a track.
The low-pass filter is excellent for removing high-end, which can help dull down a track or add warmth.
The tube saturation is modeled after the sound of a vintage tube amp, and it adds warmth and saturation to your audio.
The tape saturation is modeled after the sound of a vintage tape machine, and it adds saturation.
This plugin is a great free alternative to paid saturation plugins like the Virtual Tape Machines by Slate Digital, Soundtoys Radiator, and the Sonnox Oxford Inflator.
- Tube & Tape Saturation Controls
- Simple User Interface
- Low Pass Filter
- High Pass Filter
BPB Saturator | PC / Mac
4. CHOW Tape Model
CHOW Tape Model is based on a digital emulation of a reel-to-reel analog tape machine.
It’s one of the most popular saturation plugins, and for a good reason – it can impart a beautiful warm saturation to your audio.
It also has several controls that let you fine-tune how the saturation effect sounds. For example, you can control the amount of saturation, the saturation type (tape, tube saturation, or transformer), the bias, and more.
If you’re looking for a saturation plugin that can replicate the sound of vintage analog tape machines, then this saturation plugin is a great option. Modify low and high frequencies.
- Input Gain
- Output Gain
Plugin | PC / Mac / Linux
5. Aux Saturation Plugin
Aux Saturation is a saturation VST plugin with features to enhance audio content. Aux saturation emphasizes the harmonics of any loop or sample you feed it, adding richness and life.
It is one of the best saturation plugins for emulating analog saturation.
The plugin is simple to use and has an excellent sounding interface.
Aux Saturation | PC / Mac
This is a popular saturation plugin for Windows and Mac. It is your perfect saturation effect, whether you need to warm up a sharp kick drum or add a little vintage saturation to vocals.
SGA1566 is easy to use and quickly dialed in a wide range of saturation effects.
Its mono and stereo modes make it perfect for various instruments and vocals.
The SGA1566 plugin is a great free alternative for the URS Saturation Plug-In, Soundtoys Decapitator Analog Saturation Plug-in, Waves Abbey Road Saturator, and the FabFilter Saturn plugin.
- EQ Controls
- Stereo or Mono
SGA1566 | PC / Mac
7. Tape Cassette 2
Tape Cassette 2 faithfully recreates analog tape recorders’ unpredictable and unique saturation effects.
The plugin’s dynamic saturation curve algorithm implements hysteresis and includes oversampling for ultra-realistic saturation effects.
Additionally, it has wow & flutter engines to focus on smoother saturation emulation so that you can achieve the desired saturation effects with ease.
Tape Cassette 2 | Windows / Mac
Burier is a saturation and filter plugin designed for use on various applications.
It has a saturation stage, followed by a pair of resonant filters, output attenuation, and dry/wet mixer.
You can go from light overdrive to a hard punchy saturation with Burier.
The filters have 12 dB of attenuation per octave and are IIR (Infinite Impulse Responses) filters with a topology-preserving transform structure.
Burier VST | PC / Mac
DirtyPumper is a saturation VST plugin made to emulate the sound of classic saturation equipment. The plugin will create warmer and fatter sounds when applied.
DirtyPumper can be used to process drums, vocals, or any other type of audio.
It is available for both Windows and Mac users, making it one of the most versatile saturation plugins available.
DirtyPumper | PC / Mac
10. FerricTDS mkII
FerricTDS mkII is a saturation plug-in for Windows. It aims to produce saturation effects with different saturation models, signal clipping, and tone controls.
The saturation models include saturation, soft clipping, and hard clipping.
Several tone controls help you shape the sound of the saturation.
The plugin is easy to use and has a simple interface.
It’s an excellent option for those looking for saturation effects that sound like they’re coming from analog hardware.
FerricTDS mkII | Windows
GSatPlus is a saturation VST plugin that offers three different tube-based character modes, clip protection, signal monitoring, and oversampling.
It has an extensive and easy-to-use, freely scalable GUI.
GSatPlus | PC / Mac
12. Voxengo VariSaturator
VariSaturator is a versatile saturation plug-in that excels in 2-band and broadband saturation.
It features a crossover steepness switch, allowing you to apply saturation to the lows and highs separately or together.
You can also choose between tube saturation/valve saturation and digital saturation, each with its unique sound.
There’s also stereo and multi-channel processing and internal channel routing. This saturation VST plugin can be used on mid/side material and supports up to 8x oversampling.
The plugin also has a preset manager for creating and managing presets and zero processing latency.
You can choose from several user interface color schemes, and the user interface is resizable.
Voxengo VariSaturator is a good alternative for paid plugins such as the Black Box Analog Design HG-2 by Plugin Alliance, Thermionic Culture Vulture, Analog LoFi Plugin by Waves, and the Vertigo VSM-3 plugin.
VariSaturator is one of the best saturation VST plugins available, and it is available for both Windows and Mac users.
Voxengo VariSaturator | PC / Mac
13. Tube Saturator Vintage
Tube Saturator Vintage is an accurate tube preamp simulator that adds warmth to audio. It features analog-style VU metering and has no latency. You can use this plugin in mono or stereo.
Tube Saturator Vintage | Mac
14. Voxengo Tube Amp
This saturation plugin offers two processing modes, stereo and multi-channel processing, internal channel routing, channel grouping, up to 8x oversampling, a preset manager, zero processing latency, and user interface color schemes.
The plugin also has a resizable user interface for both Mac and Windows users. So, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, this saturation plugin is excellent for all users.
Voxengo Tube Amp | Windows / Mac
TubeDriver is a saturation VST plugin that recreates warm, saturated sound tube amplifiers.
It can add saturation effects to vocals, guitars, drums, and other instruments.
The plugin has a simple and easy-to-use interface.
TubeDriver | PC / Mac
16. FreeAMP Tape Saturation
FreeAMP is a carefully trimmed combination of modeled tape and tube algorithms. It has a super-simple, pleasant interface with Windows and Mac compatibility.
If you’re looking for a saturation plugin with an easy-to-use interface, FreeAMP is one of the best saturation VST plugins out there.
FreeAMP | PC / Mac
XPressor is a saturation VST plugin perfect for adding saturation and warmth to your audio.
It features a soft clip, hard clip, and wavefolder saturation algorithms.
Additionally, it has a built-in dynamics processor to help control the saturation amount.
It also has low and high cutoff filters to help shape the saturation tone.
It offers up to 8 times oversampling for a higher quality saturation.
XPressor | PC / Mac
18. Leveling Tool
Leveling Tool is a fantastic VST plugin for saturation and adding warmth to your audio files.
The tool provides 4x oversampling for top-quality results. It is a simple plugin with a straightforward interface, making it easy to use.
Leveling Tool | Windows / Mac
19. Szechuan Saturator
If you’re looking to add some edge to your tracks, look no further than the Szechuan Saturator.
This unique saturation plugin changes its saturation function continuously as the volume of the input signal changes, giving you some extraordinary saturation effects.
Szechuan Saturator is one of the best saturation plugins for adding edge and attitude to your tracks.
Szechuan Saturator | PC / Mac
20. HeadCrusher Free
HeadCrusher Free gives your audio an extra power boost. It’s perfect for drums, vocals, bass, and master tracks.
You can use it to add some saturation to give your audio a more vintage sound.
HeadCrusher Free | Windows / Mac
21. Analog Obsession LALA
Analog Obsession is a simple compressor plugin that recreates the sound of the legendary Teletronix limiter/compressor.
Analog Obsession | PC / Mac
Additional Free Saturation Plugins
Now that we’ve covered the best saturation VST plugins, let’s look at some additional saturation plug-ins that you may want to consider.
- OCS – The Obsessive-Compulsive Saturation unit was inspired by analog behavior.
- OrangeFlavor – Analog principles are applied to digital audio.
- Code Red Free – It replicates preamp circuits, EQ curves, and the cta, punchy character of the classic 60s all-tube console.
- DR VOS SlickEQ – An easy-to-use, musically flexible saturation plugin.
- ACE – This amp is a faithful imitation of the legendary hardware from the 1950s.
- MJUC JR. – Capable of both smooth leveling and heavy pumping.
- DC1A – Unlike DC8C, DC1A has a smaller compression ratio.
- GreenEugene – The drive function can be helpful to add some color and dynamics to the mix when used gently without the drive function.
- Amplio – This is a 3 band equalizer for drum loops with adjustable bands.
- TesslaSE mkII – It does not utilize tube distortion but rather aims to bring all the subtle saturation and widenings from analog to digital.
- TesslaSE – A mild and pleasing saturation effect is added to the audio input.
- Tape Bus – The Tape Bus is a tape machine emulation plugin that emulates the characteristics of a magnetic tape cassette recorder and its compression and saturation.
- TAL-Tube – The characteristics of a vintage tube.
- Saturate – This plugin cuts the waveform to create the saturation effect.
- Sat – Emulation of saturation from a console.
- PhreePhuzz – There are four different saturation settings in PhreePhuzz.
- W2395c – W2395c is a beautiful and powerful mid-band EQ by Baxandall.
- TSClip – A boost module raises the input level, while a saturation module compensates for low-frequency loss with a bass booster.
We hope you found this list of free saturation VST plugins helpful.
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