One of the goals of mixing music is to create clarity. But adding a little distortion can be the secret sauce you need for your tracks.
An easy way to add distortion is with a bitcrusher plugin. And while most DAWs come with one, you might want to experiment with others.
We’ve found some free bitcrusher VST plugins you can try right now. Using these can add some lo-fi crackle to your tracks and truly make them sparkle.
TAL Software’s free bitcrusher VST is simple and easy to use. Its no-nonsense design offers all the basic functionality you need in a bitcrusher:
- Bit Depth and Sample Rate adjustments
- Low- and High-shelf EQ
- Noise cross modulator
- Dry/Wet and Volume settings
If you’ve never used a bitcrusher plugin before, TAL-Bitcrusher is a tool that’s easy to learn.
At first glance, the PCM2612 Retro Decimator Unit doesn’t look like much. But it’s a surprisingly powerful plugin with a unique legacy.
It’s derived from Inphonik’s virtual instrument, the RYM2612 Iconic FM Synthesizer — a recreation of the Sega Genesis sound chip.
The Retro Decimator Unit is derived from the synth plugin and offers a special FM crunch that takes you back to the ’90s.
PCM2612’s design is simple and easy to navigate, so you can get the perfect sound right away. And as a bonus, you can choose between two GUI form factors. I like the more compact box display, but others might prefer the wider rack display.
Krush is a favorite among many producers. It combines digital bitcrushing power with analog warmth, giving you effects that sound dirty, distorted, and delightful.
The interface is simple enough to navigate, and offers everything you’d want in a free bitcrusher VST:
- Drive staging
- Bit depth and sample reduction
- Resonance filters
- Free or tempo-synced modulation filters
Use it to add some sparkle to your drums, give your leads an extra crunch, or make some weird and wacky sounds.
On the surface, DeltaModulator looks like a pretty simple plugin. It offers the standard bit depth and downsampling controls you’d find on every other plugin from this list.
But under the hood, it’s doing something different than other bitcrushers.
This free bitcrusher VST uses delta modulation to perform its downsampling effect. In simplest terms, it’s a digital-to-analog audio conversion.
The technique is similar to how the Nintendo Entertainment System would process samples. As a result, you can get a close approximation of the NES DCPM channel.
As the name suggests, HomeCorrupter makes your audio sound “corrupted” like it’s coming through an old computer. In igorski’s words, it takes you back to when “computers weren’t actually that good at handling audio.”
This free bitcrusher VST degrades your audio resolution by changing the bit depth and sample rate — pretty much like any other bitcrusher.
But we’d say that HomeCorrupter’s most interesting feature is the “computer clock speed” reduction. It slows down and degrades your audio even further, giving you a more vintage computer vibe.