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The Velvet Shadow

Free Saturation VST Plugins

31 Best Free Saturation Plugins

Regularly updated list of free saturation vst plugins.

The best free saturation plugins!

This article lists the best free saturation plugins available to download. Below there’s a table of contents, then a description of each saturation plugin, a link to download and where possible video and audio examples.

I have more articles on free music production tools, including free Ableton Packs and free VST plugins on the Free Stuff page. Or you might also like:

Best Free Synth VSTs
200+ Free Packs for Ableton
Best Free Reverb Plugins
List of Free Drum Machine Plugins

Free Saturation Plugins

Audio Tools - Leveling Tool- free saturation plugins
ADHD Audio Tools Levelling Tool - free saturation plugin

Levelling Tool is not specifically a real saturation plugin but a gentle compression tool. However, it’s not a transparent compressor which means it will colour any audio you send it with subtle saturation. That means you can bypass the compression and use this plugin for its warmth and character. 

Available for Windows & Mac.

Free Plugin Download HERE

Analog Obsession - PreBox- Free saturation plugins
Analog Obsession - Prebox Preamp Plugin

Analog Obsession Pre Box is a preamp modeler which can be used to add saturation to your audio. The plugin’s multi preamp simulator offers 11 preamps models which each provide their own character, transient response and dynamics.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Analog Obsession TUBA

Analog Obsession - TUBA

TUBA is another offering from Analog Obsession that can be used as a saturation effect. TUBA emulates preamps from a DIY hardware console with mods to create complex harmonic generation. The emulated preamps will add colour and character to your sound. 

Saturation Plugin Free Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Analog Obsession - Steq

Analog Obsession - Steq

Steq is an emulation of a console EQ from a ‘well known tape machine brand’. This little console plugin will add harmonic content to your audio as soon as you add it to your signal chain. Its designed as a colouration EQ that also includes a one knob opto compressor. This channel strip will add that warm analog saturation that you’re looking for – especially if you drive the pre-amp.  

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Audio Assault - HeadCrusher

Audio Assualt - Headcrusher

Head crusher is an analog saturation plugin that will work well on any of your instruments or mix busses. It has the power to gently saturate or destroy an input signal – as the ‘torture’ switch hints at.

Free Saturation VST Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

BPB- Saturator

BPB- Saturator - Lovely tape and tube distortion

Saturator is a lightweight plugin from Bedroom Producer’s Blog (BPB). It’s a colorful analog-style saturation that will add warmth to your tracks without hitting your CPU load. You can use the tube distortion and tape style saturation independently or together to get some really nice complex harmonic generation. Also features a transparent low and high pass filter for extra frequency sculpting. The other controls are simply the input gain knob and output knob.

The best free saturation vst for lightweight CPU use. Check out the video below for audio examples.

Saturation VST plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Caelum Audio - Tape Cassette 2- free saturation plugins
Tape Cassette 2

Caelum Audio – Tape Cassette 2 gives you the classic vintage warmth and character of real tape cassettes. Tape cassette has also improved their saturation algorithm, wow & flutter engine and added sampled noise to improve the sound quality of the tape emulation.

To further emulate the tape movement and texture you can adjust the modulation depth via the wow and flutter knobs. Also features a low pass filter and a noise knob.

Free Saturation effect Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows)

 

CODA Labs - Szechuan Saturator

CODA Labs - Szechuan Saturator - free saturation plugins
Szechaun Saturator - the perfect free saturation vst for drum buss, guitar and synths

Szechaun Saturator’s design is based on the McDonald’s Szechaun Sauce. It’s design alone should make it one of the best free saturation plugins! Coda labs have taken the idea of a ‘secret sauce’ and applied it to saturation. The plugin will fit neatly in your DAW to give you “sexy harmonics that will fill a hole in your life”.

The saturation algorithm offers a range of saturation modes and has been designed to modulate the saturation function continously as the input signal changes. This can create heavy distortions or subtle warmth to your tracks. The modulation rates can also be adjusted to provide tremelo effects to your input signal. The vst also includes subtle compression that will be applied to your processed audio. Perfect for the drum buss, guitars or synth.

Check out a demo in the video below:

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

 

CHOW Tape

Chowdhury - Chow Tape- free saturation plugins
CHOW Tape - Tape Saturation Plugins

CHOW tape is and emulation of an old reel-to-reel analog tape machine. Originally built to emulate the Sony TC-260, the algorithm has since been developed to model a wider variety of tape machines.

This tape saturation plugin emulates all the vintage warmth of an old analog tape machine. Including the ability to control harmonic distortion, analog saturation, drive and dynamics.

As well as providing saturation, CHOW Tape Model also emulates the degrading of analog tape. This is great when used with the plugin’s high pass filter and wow & flutter settings to create old “vintage” tape cassette effects.

Initially the plugin was built for a Music 420 class at Stanford University. Chowdhury has made the source code availble via github, if you’re interested in audio programming or DSP check it out. 

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Plugin Source Code: GitHub

Creative Intent Temper

Creative Intent Temper

Creative Intent Temper is a phase distortion plugin that also provides rich saturation. The variable saturation curve will an add ‘edge’ and ‘warmth’ to your sound and the distortion a little clarity and energy to your mix. There’s also a resonant lowpass filter and a feedback path to drive the tone of your distortion.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Daniel Rothman - Roth AIR

Daniel Rothman - Roth AIR

Roth AIR adds airy, crisp saturation to your mix by  combining multiband compression with subtle saturation of the highs. Works particularly well with vocals, strings and synths. The plugin’s code is also available via github if you are interested in making your own VST plugins.

 

Free Saturation VST Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Fine Cut Bodies La Petite Excite

Fine Cut Bodies La Petite Excite

La Petite Excite is a free exciter plugin which can be used for its saturation effects. Featuring a very basic setup this little chap will add harmonic excitation to the high & lo end of your audio signal.  It’s also worth investigating the Fine Cut Bodies website as there is some great sound design, audio coding and Max/ MSP content on there.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Gsatplus

Gsatplus

GSatplus is taken from the saturation module on the TBProAudio CS5501V2 channel strip plugin. It features several different saturation modes, oversampling, clip protection and old school VU meters. 

TBProAudio teamed up with the Gearspace to provide a free plugin as a thankyou to the gearspace community. The community had provided  feedback and suggestions that were then developed into the making of GSat+.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Hofa System Basic

Hofa System Basic

HOFA SYSTEM basic is the freeware version of the paid HOFA system. Its an ‘all in one’ effect plugin that features 29 plugins with EQ, dynamics and effects. Tucked inside this plugin bundle is a saturation effect, it can be used as a stand alone plugin or as part of the HOFA basic system. 
If you’re after some more free plugins check it out. There are 150+ presets – You do have to purchase to the paid version to unlock more.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Klanghelm IVGI

Klanghelm IVGI

Klanghelm IVGI is one of the best free saturation plugins available! It’s a nice and subtle saturation plugin that is designed to provide soft saturation. IVGI can provide lovely analog warmth and very soft harmonic enhancement for your mixbuss or can be pushed to create dense and distorted effects.

Klanghelm Audio also made the DC1A compressor plugin, which is one of the best free compressor plugins available. You can find it in my article 100+ Free Effect VST Plugins.

Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Klevger - Freamp

Klevger - Freamp - Free Saturation Plugin

FreeAMP‘s saturation function taken from Klevgrand’s amplifying modeler plugin REAMP.  FreeAMP uses very striped down interface that gives you the sound of analog hardware tape & tube saturation at the same time. Adjust the amount of saturation with Drive and mix with the input gain via the mix knob. Simple yet effective.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

LVC Audio ClipShifter

LVC Audio ClipShifter

ClipShifter is a waveshaping plugin that works like a clipping-style limiter. ClipShifter can be used for clipping distortion, to help warm your mixes, or it can driven harder to add distortion to your individual channels. The clipping characteristics can be adjusted between hard brickwall clipping to a softer saturation with compression. There is also a paid version of this plugin. 

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Melda MSaturator

Free effects plugins MSaturator00.v1
Melda MSaturator

MSaturator is an emulated tube saturation plugin that can also double up as a distortion effect. You can also dial in the harmonics you want to add or remove from the saturation. Give it a whirl if you’re tired of your DAW’s default saturator. Melda also offer another free plugin that can be used for saturation called MWavefolder which is reviewed below.

MSaturator & MWavefolder are part of the excellent Melda MFreeFX Plugin bundle which contains 37 free plugins. You can read more about it in the article 100+ Free Effect VST Plugins.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Melda MWaveFolder

best Free effect plugin MWaveFolder00.v1
Melda MWaveFolder

MWaveFolder is a wavefolding plugin from the Melda FX plugin bundle. Although not striclty a saturation effect MWavefolder can be used creatively to gently saturate your audio signal. 

It’s inspired by analog distortion modules which provide a unique character and harmonic enchancement of your audio. It’s also capable of smashing your audio to death if you want.  

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Nick Crow Lab - Tubedriver

Nick Crow Lab - Tubedriver

Tubedriver is a tube saturation plugin that emulates the saturation of tube preamp hardware to give you the analog warmth within your digital audio workstation. This plugin offers a lot of control of your sound via filters and the bias, drive knobs. This allows you to sculpt the kind of saturation you want to apply. Also offers 16x oversampling when you render your audio.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Roxolder - Tomato Preamp

Roxolder - Tomato Preamp

Tomato Preamp reproduces a vacuum tube preamp with a two triode vacuum tube that will saturate and overdrive your audio. Tomato is the sort of plugin can easily dirty up your clean signals by introducing a lo-fi charcter to them. 

It features 3 distinct tube models, New, Aged & Fresh. Each of these has its own flavour of saturation, ranging from subtle warmth to a more distorted sound.

One limitation of the plugin is that there is no control over the saturation. The developer suggests including an equalizer in the effects chain to help shape the plugins timbre.

Free Saturation Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Sleepy Cat Audio - Crush

Crush - A unique saturation plugin

Crush has a slightly different layout for a saturation effect, but don’t let that fool you, this plugin can give you some intresting results.

Crush’s unique saturation models crossover distortion common in the analogue hardware class-b tube amplifiers. This emulation produces a very unique, crunchy sound which can be controlled using the alias and bias functions. 

The developer notes that if the plugin receives an impossibly high bias value, due to the way the crossover distortion was modelled, the alogrithm produces distortion similar to a 12-AX7 preamplifier tube. 

Check it out, this is one of the best free saturation vst plugins offering crossover distortion. 

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Shattered Glass Code Red Free

Shattered Glass Code Red Free​

Code Red Free isn’t strictly a saturation effect, but it’s worth adding to the list as it can add warmth and saturation to your audio. 

Code Red Free emulates the EQ and preamp circuit of the 60s all tube console used by the Beatles. If you want to add some punchy character and tube preamp saturation run your audio through this chap.

If you want more control over your saturation check out Shattered Glass Audio’s SGA1566 below.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566

Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566

Audio SGA1566 is an amazing emulation of a single channel, two stage vintage tube mic preamplifier. It creates a very good recreation of the analog sound through real-time high-performance circuit simulation.  The plugin also has two-band active Baxandall EQ which can be placed either before or after the preamp. This really helps you to sculpt the character of your saturation.

If SGA1566 requires too much DAW processing power you can change the cpu performance modes, not that the low CPU mode drops sound quality.

SGA1566 has a great saturation algorithm that offers to add authentic tube saturation sound or analog warmth to your signal.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

 Code Red  also by Shattered Glass 

Softube Saturation Knob

Softube Saturation Knob

Saturation Knob is the best free saturation plugin from Softube. This is one of my favourite plugins! It’s a simple one knob plugin for adding colour and analog warmth. 

The modeled output distortion has three different saturation settings, high ,neutral and low,  which allow you to prioritise the frequency bands you want to saturate. 

It’s a fairly low CPU hit too which means you can put it on quite a few channels. This is well worth getting!

Download Saturation Knob HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Vladg Molot Compressor

VladgG

Molot Compressor is actually a compressor plugin, BUT… you can use it for its saturation function. Although you won’t have as much control over your sound as the other saturation plugins. Molot is a very colourful compressor so will add a lot of harmonic distortion to your sound.  (Yes, you can change the GUI language to English)

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Voxengo Tube Amp

Voxengo Tube Amp - Best Free Saturation VST with a tube amp

Tube Amp is a tube style distortion plugin. Tube Amp gives you the drive and tube chartacter of a real tube preamp. 

It models the triode overdrive that can be found in single tube mic preamp boxes really well and will give you that crunchy, warm analog saturation. 

Its best used a nice warm overdrive or fuzzy distortion, though with subtle amounts you can saturate your input signal. 

Also features a -6dB/ oct low pass filter built into the plugin’s tube model, internal channel routing, output gain, 2 processing modes and a switchable output saturation.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Variety Of Sound FerricTDS Mk2

free tape saturation plugin
Variety Of Sound FerricTDS MkII - one of the best tape saturation plugins out there

Ferric TDS mkII is a tape saturation plugin that emulates high end reel to reel tape recorders. 

Ferric captures the lovely compression, saturation and dynamic shaping that tape can give your audio signal. It will add great warmth and character to your mixbuss or individual instruments.

One benefit of this saturation plugin is that it has been designed to remove unwanted traits of tape such as hiss, noise and pitch inconsistencies. 

MkII sees the plugin get updated to a 64bit edition, better compression and limiter algorithms for added punch, revised metering and improved analog signal path. These improvements help Ferric TDS to stay one of the best free saturation plugins out there. Highly Recommended!

Best Free saturation vst Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows
)

Wave Arts Tube Saturator Vintage

Wave Arts Tube Saturator Vintage - Free Saturation plugin

Tube Saturator Vintage is a highly accurate classic tube saturation plugin. The plugin emulates two 12AX7 triode preamp stages with three Baxandall band EQ. 

You can sculpt the saturation with EQ or completely bypass it. The plugin also feature a ‘Fat’ switch to beef up the output gain and saturation amounts. 

If you’re after a plugin that can give you tube amp saturation check it out.

(Tube Saturator vintage is a Big CPU guzzler)

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows & Mac
)

Yuri Semenov - Aux Saturation

Yuri Semenov - Aux Saturation

Aux Saturation is a saturation plugin with a bit of a difference. Unlike other plugins that emulate tape machines or tube amps, Aux Saturation has its own unique saturation algorithm which generates odd and even harmonics.  

You can adjust the amount of the odd and even processing modes, blending them together. It also features a low pass filter and a high pass filter to sculpt each processing mode. This approach gives this versatile saturation plugin a refreshing sound of its own.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows & Mac
)

E-Phonic XPressor

xpressor - free saturation plugins
XPressor - Free Saturation Plugins

XPressor is one of the best free saturation vst plugins capable of high quality saturation and dynamics processing. It features three saturation algorithms including a wavefolder algorithm.

It also features upto 8X oversampling, a high and low pass filter and a pair of filters. The GUI is straighforward and intuative providing you with a simple drive knob to dial in the saturation and a dynamics knob controls the amount of compression. The additional dynamic control helps this saturation plugin shine on your drum buss.

Free Plugin Download HERE
(32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin for Windows & Mac
)

If you want more free VSTs, samples & free Ableton Packs check out the Free Stuff page. The following articles feature free plugins & Ableton Packs:

List of the Best Free Synth VSTs
200+ Free Packs for Ableton
Best Free Reverb Plugins
Free Drum Machine Plugins

Free Ableton Templates

Best Free Ableton Templates

Collection of the best Free Ableton Templates. Includes Ableton templates for Techno, Dubstep, Hip Hop, House, Trance and more.