Looking for the best free plugins in 2024? Check out Kilohearts Essentials!

Upgrade your music production and sound design with the Kilohearts Essentials bundle of free plugins. Essential studio quality tools. Zero cost. Read this article to find out more...

The Kilohearts Essentials collection of plugins includes work-horse studio-quality effects for your sound design needs as well as a few of the most highly regarded tools in the music production industry. And even better, they’re FREE!

You didn’t know that? Let us tell you more…

The Kilohearts Essentials collection is made up of over thirty plugins, with more being added over time. They can be roughly split into utilities, mixing tools, and creative effects, with plenty of crossover between those categories. Some are super simple and some are a little more fancy but they are all incredibly useful and benefit from a consistency of design which means that once you’ve got the hang of one, you’ll find them all very easy to use.

These plugins function as individual effects across any DAW (VST/AU/AAX) and come with the added bonus of being available as Snapins. This compatibility allows for integration into any of our Snapin Host plugins, such as Snap Heap, Multipass, or Phase Plant, enabling you to combine and modulate them to your heart’s delight.

That’s like… unlimited power to create your own unique effects! That’s rather wild.

Let's take a closer look at some of these handy little units.

Essentially Awesome Effects

The following plugins may be a part of the “Essentials” collection but many consider them to be luxury items and are amazed that they’re genuinely available for free. Maybe we are a little too generous but we really do believe that these tools should be available for everyone.

Tape Stop

Kilohearts Tape Stop has been the go-to plugin for achieving the iconic tape stop effect in countless releases. It simulates the sound of a tape machine halting or starting, with an intuitive Play button to toggle the effect on and off.

The plugin features Stop Time and Start Time knobs to control how quickly the tape motor stops or reaches full speed, allowing for precise timing adjustments. The Curve parameter further refines this effect, enabling you to customize the speed curve for both starting and stopping phases. This flexibility opens up a wide range of creative possibilities, from gentle decelerations to abrupt stops, enhancing the dynamic and emotional impact of your music.

Transient Shaper

Music producers love the simplicity and effectiveness of Kilohearts Transient Shaper for adding (or removing) just the right punch to their drums and synths. Note the distinctive "Pump" control that offers a unique way to enhance your transients without a knock-on effect on your levels, saving the day (and the mix) on many an occasion.

Kilohearts Transient Shaper also offers controls for shaping the dynamics of your sound, with Attack and Sustain knobs to adjust the transient and sustained portions, and a Clip feature to maintain the output at 0dB. Additionally, it includes a Sidechain function for transient detection from a secondary source and a Speed parameter to find the sweet spot between snappier or smoother transient modifications.

Trance Gate

Once you recognise the sound of Kilohearts Trance Gate you will hear it everywhere. Sure, you could achieve the same effect with some tediously handcrafted automation but this choppy little wonder will get you where you want to be in seconds. Also fantastic for making your drum tracks super toight!

Kilohearts Trance Gate features the ability to switch among eight pattern slots and a Pattern Editor for editing and customizing steps within patterns. It also includes ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) controls for envelope shaping, Resolution to set the step length in the sequencer, and a Mix knob to blend the effect with the original signal.

Nonlinear Filter

For those who like their filters a little… unclean. Kilohearts Nonlinear Filter offers a range of filter modes and a dial to crank the overdrive in each, adding movement and flavour to your sounds. Recently updated with a unique “All Pass” filter type that adds the character without the filtering, but can still have the cutoff modulated for filter-like effects.

You need to give this one a try, it may well become your go-to filter… and, of course, it sounds amazing in Phase Plant patches!

Dual Delay

Why settle for one delay, when you can combine two and have something bigger, better, and way more spacier?!

Kilohearts Dual Delay allows for the creation of voluminous delay effects, with a Delay Time that can be set in milliseconds or tempo-locked beats, and a Tone knob to shape the echo's character. Feedback creates an exponentially decaying echo, while the Duck knob lowers the delay's volume in response to input levels, to keep it out of the way of the original signal.

The Multiplier parameter shifts the delay time for the second delay line to put them slightly out of synch, Spread pans delays to the left and right, Crosstalk controls the bleed between delay lines, and the Mix knob adjusts the balance between the effect and the original signal.

Sound Design Power Tools

The Kilohearts Essentials collection features a selection of high-quality, reliable effects units that are essential for crafting your unique sounds. Available in VST/AU/AAX formats and completely FREE, these tools offer the versatility to work across different DAWs, enabling you to bring your creative vision to life wherever you are.

Among these, the following tools stand out as particularly highly regarded by sound designers and music producers worldwide. These effects have earned their reputation as solid tools for any project, making them a top choice for professionals in the industry.


If distortion is the spice of sound design, Kilohearts Distortion is like a whole spice rack. For free.

With distortion types such as overdrive, saturate, foldback, sine, and hard clip, you can find the exact taste you're after. The Bias knob ensures your sound is never bland, while the Spread knob subtly widens the stereo field for an enveloping sonic smorgasbord. Push the Drive for intense flavor, and use the Dynamics control to keep the essence of your ingredients intact.


Your go-to for lo-fi magic is Kilohearts nBitcrush. Dial down the Rate to feel the rawness of digital minimalism. Twist the Bits knob to explore the gritty frontiers of sound. The Dither knob is your secret weapon against harshness, smoothing out the edges with just the right touch of noise.

Navigate the nuances of analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion with the ADC Q and DAC Q knobs. Bitcrush invites you to eschew perfection and craft sounds that stand out in a world of hyper-polished productions.

Pitch Shifter

The Kilohearts Pitch Shifter plugin offers a concise yet powerful set of controls for altering audio pitch. Adjust the pitch in semitones via the Pitch display, while the Jitter knob adds randomness for a fuller sound, effective when Correlate is off.

Grain Size affects sound texture by changing the length of audio grains. Correlate introduces a clearer effect, though caution is advised with complex sounds. This tool enables both precise pitch adjustments and creative audio transformations, balancing simplicity with depth.

Frequency Shifter

Kilohearts Frequency Shifter is a simple but highly effective sound design plugin. With only one control you can shift all the frequencies of your signal up or down by a certain amount… but unlike pitch shifting, frequency shifting does not preserve the harmonic relationships within the signal, leading to all kinds of lovely dissonance.

And we all love dissonance, right! Sounds especially cool when automated and used in parallel with the original sound.


The Kilohearts Dynamics plugin streamlines dynamics processing with upward/downward compression and expansion, facilitated by an intuitive visual interface. You can adjust thresholds and ratios directly in the visualizer, which neatly shows the relationship between input and output levels.

Key features include customizable low and high thresholds for targeted compression and expansion, alongside adjustable ratios to fine-tune the intensity of these effects. The plugin also provides controls for attack, release, and knee settings to smooth transitions, as well as In Gain and Out Gain for level management pre and post-processing.

Pro Tip: Throw a few of these on separate bands in Multipass for some really over-the-top dynamic control.

Comb Filter

Another simple, yet surprisingly powerful tool in this collection of free plugins is the Kilohearts Comb Filter, which eliminates certain frequencies by mixing the original signal with its delayed counterpart. This process results in a pattern of alternating high and low frequency areas across the sound spectrum, adding depth and rhythm to the audio's overall texture.

The plugin includes intuitive controls for frequency spacing (cutoff), reversing frequency boosts and cuts (polarity), and adjusting for stereo width in a way that ensures mono compatibility, simplifying the creation of complex auditory experiences.

That’s not even nearly all…

That was just a selection of some of the most popular effects from the Kilohearts Essentials collection in general, you may have some favourites that we didn’t mention. Thats ok. We’re all different and that's amazing. With over thirty plugins included, there will be plenty for you to fall in love with and we are dedicated to adding more plugins over time, so watch this space* for updates.

Now go and get your FREE Kilohearts Essentials plugins right now. There’s really no excuse not to!

*Signing up to our mailing list is probably the best option to make sure you don’t miss out on anything new.

Kilohearts Press Team Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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