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Looking for ways to improve your audio in your stream, YouTube video, or music? Then you need these free vst plugins for your audio process chain.
Streaming and other forms of video production rely heavily on high-quality audio, and it isn’t all hardware that you need.
Enter the VST or Virtual Studio Technology. This piece of audio processing technology is indispensable for anyone who works with video and audio production.
VST is a software effects processor that usually interfaces with a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation(Such as Reaper), but the folks who designed OBS intelligently integrated VST Plugin support into the audio filters.
For those who don’t know how useful these plugins are, get ready for a wild ride into the sea of audio engineering and music production.
The music industry tools of the trade: Hardware processing, and Paid & Free VST Plugins
Not all processing is done with a VST plugin on a DAW. In fact, most professional studios will employ the use of hardware effects processors, such as a DBX 286s. This particular processor has a built-in microphone pre-amp, compressor, de-esser, enhancer, an expander/gate, and a gain control knob. It is perfect for our needs but isn’t entirely necessary unless you want the highest quality audio you can get.
See Booth Junkies review for an easy to understand, detailed explanation of the DBX 286s and all its powerful features. His review is focused on voice-over, however, this is an amazing tool for any streamer or YouTuber. The explanation he provides also applies to equivalent function VST plugins.
The effects of this processor can be mimicked with free VST plugins. MeldaProduction in particular with their MFreeFXBundle. Most notably for microphone processing:
- MCompressor – Mimics the effects of the DBX 286s compressor with even more granular control, and can function as an expander
- MEqualizer – A full-spectrum equalizer, giving you complete control from 1hz to 20khz. This thing is amazing for tuning to your specific voice.
- MAnalyzer – A Spectrum analysis tool designed to find your problematic noise frequencies.
A powerful free de-esser would be the Tonmann De-esser, which functions exactly like the DBX 286s, with a bit more functionality built-in.
Next up, We have the Reaper suite, including the amazing reaplugs by Reaper, Which notably are Reafir and Reagate within that package.
To Streamlabs OBS Users
MeldaProductions MFreeFXBundle package does not appear to work properly with Streamlabs OBS. The plugins simply refuse to load. We have experimented with several versions of Streamlabs OBS, and not one loaded any of the MeldaProductions VST plugins.
This is not an uncommon occurrence in the VST world. Even the Reaper DAW crashes with some VSTi’s, such as the BigCat Iowa Piano or BigCat Skerrat Upright 1. (Both sound great for an upright piano) It has to do in the way the VSTs are made. They may work better in a different DAW, especially one they have been designed in mind with. Streamlabs OBS just wasn’t the one they were designed with it in mind.
Reaper does have some plugin substitutes that do the same job, albeit a bit more confusing of an interface, and no presets. ReaFir, ReaEQ, ReaComp, ReaGate all are fantastic alternatives that work in Streamlabs OBS.
The best part, these are all free! You can get the reaper VST plugin suite here: Reaplugs.
Order Matters in your chain
To get to your audio filters in OBS, click on the gear of your microphone source, and click “Filters”.
When setting up your Audio filters chain in OBS, the order matters:
Optional VST Plugin types
- Noise Suppression
- ReaFir is our recommended VST plugin for this purpose. Be very frugal with the use of this plugin. It works by eliminating Dynamic range, which results in a direct loss of quality.
- Some noise is OKAY!! You simply target the annoying noise and keep the bearable noise.
- Try to eliminate the source of the noise before using a suppressor! This usually means shutting off your AC, Fan, or other noisy electronics. This is considered best practice.
- Waveform Analysis (MAnalyzer)
- Used to tune Reafir to eliminate problematic sound frequencies that you can’t eliminate(Such as noisy neighbors, dogs barking in the distance, etc.)
- Remove this plugin once you have balanced your suppressor to save on CPU overhead.
- Noise Gates(optional)
- I recommend using Reagate for this, Note that this does not remove quality, but adds a volume threshold to “turn off input” from the microphone.
- These are all optional if you have ample room acoustic treatment
Recommended VST Plugin types
- Compression in reverse. Instead of turning down loud sounds at a peak threshold, it instead turns up quiet sounds at a trough threshold.
- MCompressor has an Expander preset you can utilize to perform this functionality.
- Based on user preference. I don’t use this in my chain as my microphone is only an inch and a half away from my mouth when speaking, meaning I never really get quiet.
- You can apply this to your game sounds to make things like footsteps more audible to your audience, increasing their immersion into your streams and creating hype.
- I use Blue Cat Gain Suite, just to gain a low processing power gain control that you can place anywhere within a chain.
- You can also implement gain on the Equalizer If you want to, or even need to.
- If you are using an audio interface, You can forgo gain entirely and utilize the microphone pre-amp, as this is the BEST time to apply gain.
- Finally, the last thing within our chain is MCompressor in “Sing 1” or “Sing 2” works best for my voice, but play with what is there.
Preview of the plugins
A note on Paid VST Plugins
Professional audio is extremely expensive, with some packages costing Thousands of dollars. Used in recording studios, and are generally beyond the needs of a streamer or YouTuber; They provide audiophile levels of quality and are tuned for a professional audio engineer who has years of experience working with these tools.
Cheaper paid solutions include some expanded functionality of free plugins. We have done extensive research into this subject to find these excellent free vst plugins, and we hope this helps you improve your audio.