10 Great Free GarageBand Plugins & How to Install Them

Today we explore some great free plugins to enhance your sound using Garageband. We have also included an easy guide on how to install them later in the article.

GarageBand has been a go-to app for many music producers and singers on Mac and iOS.

VSTs for Garageband?

VST plugins are not compatible with Garageband. When looking for Garageband plugins, you need to look for AU plugins (Audio Units).

Many popular music plugins are available in both VST and AU formats, as well as others.

10 Best Free GarageBand Plugins

In this section, we’ll equip you with some best of the best GarageBand plugin that are free of cost yet packs a serious punch in terms of performance.

1. Ambience by Smart Electronix

This lightweight, free plugin that adds some great quality reverb to your sound productions.

Ambience delivers in terms of performance and offers excellent sound quality i.e. crisp, warm, and crystal clear. The plugin allows reverb with gating options that gives the users ample room for creativity. For a freeware plugin, Ambience offers a variety of options from general-purpose reverbs to metallic based reverbs and everything in between.

Up to 60 presets
Extremely sharp and high-quality sounds
Stable plugin

2. MFree Fx Bundle

If you are looking for an effect plugin that delivers in terms of qualitative results and does not cost a dime, then look no further.

MFreeFX Bundle is all that you need. Although the free bundle comes with a pretty big set of plugins, it requires a paid upgrade for consumers to access the full set. The free plugins still are extremely valuable. Melda Production has put great effort into a making stable and extremely customizable effects plugin all in a single bundle.

From mixing, pitch adjustment, to filter, master, equalize, distort or saturate the sound, this plugin is a music producer’s dream bundle. The extensive list of plugin bundle in the bundle requires a whole article of its own. Therefore, we will only mention some of our favorite free effects plugins among the many from this bundle.

MCompressor: It is an insanely awesome tool for compressing and is extremely intuitive. The effect plugin promises vivid and clear sounds.

MAutopan: It is all you need to create a range of sound from subtle, natural, or an out & out sonic blast.

MAutopitch: It is your go-to, intuitive pitch adjustment plugin for vocals and monophonic instruments alike.

Conclusively, MFreeFx Bundle deserves a place in your GarageBand for all its brilliance

Free of cost
Equipped with a huge variety of effect plugins

3. Synth1 by Daichi Laboratory

Synth 1 is an amazing synthesizer known for its intuitive, fast, and efficient workflow.

Although the interface isn’t something to write home about and takes a while to get used to it, the plugin delivers what it promises. Synth 1 as a free plugin is pitched against big names like Nord lead and Virus, which definitely proves its mettle as a great plugin.

The humble plugin is a real deal in terms of sound and performance. Get your hands on this little efficient synth plugin.

Up to 128 presets (and a massive library of presets can also be found online)
High quality filters, arpeggiator, oscillators, and modulators.
One of the best freeware synth plugins.

4. Vinyl by iZotope

This is great for making your music sound less digital.

Izotope deserves a round of applause for providing this plugin free of cost.

Since it’s a must-have plugin even if it was put on a price. Vinyl adds the vintage spin to your creations. What’s amazing is the fact that the final result does not come out superficial. From instruments to vocals add the soft, vintage vibes with this amazing plugin. Vinyl utilizes low CPU resources and it’s efficient and easy to understand user interface is definitely a plus point. Vinyl is the ultimate lo-fi tool for producers, as well as many other genres.

Authentic vintage effect
Light on the processing system

5. Vocal Doubler by iZotope

This next free plugin by iZotope, Vocal Doubler is a great addition to your GarageBand selection.

The plugin enhances and adds a certain depth and character to your vocals. It utilizes the natural doubling effect to the vocals that brings out an element of richness and definition that can brighten up any dullness or flatness issues. Additionally, the simple UI requires no learning curve.

Suitable for beginners
Enhances the vocal quality of the tracks
Efficient workflow

6. TDR Nova

This plugin is designed to take away all of your equalizing and compression worries.

We’re certain that this free of cost AU will become your go-to for equalizing and compressing the sound in no time. The free version allows you to utilize the equalizer, expander, compressor, and limiter all in one. The dynamic equalizer brings the imagination of sound to reality instantly. Not only the TDR Nova is meant to add depth and take away the dullness, but it enhances the crisp quality of your sounds as well.

Easy user interface
Utilize knob adjustment feature
Up to 4 dynamic EQ bands.

7. ValhallaFreqEcho by Valhalla DSP

A great sounding plugin for some crazy sounds!

The plugin is an analog style echo with knob adjustment interface. This interface is easy to understand for beginners and allows you to play with settings until you like what you hear. ValhallaFreqEcho allows you to delay, modulate, and adjust frequencies in a simple layout.

Suitable for beginners
Analog-style echo and delay
Applicable for low cut and high cut filters

8. Tyrell Nexus 6 by u-he

Another free synth that has great sound and features.

Tyrell Nexus 6 can offer some deep, enchanting, and masterful sounds. The synth plugin offers a dynamic, coarse sound that does not lose its essence in the mixing and editing process. The morphing oscillators, noise generators, and ring modulators in duophonic mode gives the user a range of control that many synths lack

Great sound quality
Impressive GUI

9. Saturation Knob by Soft Tube

Saturation is one of the most useful effects in a producer's toolkit.

This plugin might seem extremely simple at first sight but sometimes that’s all you need. A touch of simple sophistication.

The plugin is meant to saturate the sound with its simple three-setting knob to make the tweak and adjustments to your liking. From vocals to instruments, the Saturation Knob can enhance the quality many notches high. Grammy award winner, Michael Brauer, suggests to rename the Saturation Knob to “Attitude Adjuster,” which is saying a lot in itself.

You want your drums to sound mean, or guitar, aggressive or vocals richer and warmer, this plugin can do it all.

One stop solution to adjust saturation
Great for vocals and instruments
Extremely easy for anyone to use.

10. OTT by Xfer Records

The multifunctional plugin is meant for dynamic 3-band compression and expansion.

Xfer records are best known for 'Serum', their very popular synth plugin.

OTT adds a certain modern twist and mean punchiness to an otherwise dull mix or sound with its impressive compressor presets. With input and output gain controls and depth control, OTT offers the user great customizability to alter and enhance the sounds. All in all, or freeware OTT is a great, dynamic compression plugin for your DAW.

How to Install Plugins for GarageBand

GarageBand is a great audio production and recording app that allows you to add 3rd party plugins to add interesting sounds, effects, and instruments. GarageBand is compatible with Audio Units (AU) format instead of VSTs. Audio Units are broadly categorized as,

  1. Effects Plugins: This allows you to add different sound effects such as compression, equalizing, and reverbs.
  2. Instrument Plugins: This allows you to add any number and variety of instruments to your digital audio workstation.

You can add Audio Unit plugins in GarageBand through various internet resources, online marketplaces, and third-party vendors. All you need to know now is how to install your desired plugins for GarageBand. Just follow the few steps below and you are good to go.

  • Choose the plugin that you would like to download or install. The plugins can be free or paid.
  • Select the MAC AU version to download since GarageBand supports the AU format only. If the plugin is not available in AU format, then you will need to search for an alternative plugin.
  • Once your desired plugin is downloaded, begin the installation process.
  • Open the download plugin file and select the plugin installer to install the plugin on your computer.
  • Now open GarageBand, go to preferences from the options menu.
  • Navigate to Audio/MIDI option and enable the Audio Units option.
  • Load the track that you want to apply and open the smart control panel by clicking on the icon at the top.
  • Once you do that on the drop-down menu, you’ll find the plugins list installed and available for you to work with.

Conclusion

GarageBand is incredibly useful music software and the addition of right plugins not only enhances the functionality as a DAW but also makes up for any limitation that you might face as a user. Now that you are equipped and aware of the easy plugin installation process for GarageBand, the possibilities to play with sounds are endless. Find the plugins that match your desired requirements and add them to your plugin library today!

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