Garageband can be found on all Apple devices, including their iPhones and iPad, and is their version of a DAW, which stands for digital audio workstation.
It is already jam-packed with different instruments and effects that you can find on the application. But, if you’re like me, there can never be enough effects or instruments. This is where plug-ins come in. They are essentially add-ons that you can install and use inside Garageband, giving you an infinite amount of sounds, effects, and samples to work with.
There is an almost endless amount to choose from, which is why it can be daunting to find quality plug-ins among the ocean of sub-par ones. That’s why I decided to take a look at the 10 best plug-ins that you can use with the DAW in my in-depth review of the Top Free Garageband Plug-Ins.
So, let’s go through them, starting with the best…
- Guitar Plug-Ins
- Looking for a quality recording interface?
- Top Free Garageband Plug-Ins Conclusion
Tonebridge IOS, iPadOS and MAC
Coming from one of the busiest and most well-known websites and now its own now app, Ultimate Guitar, is Tonebridge. This plug-in can be used on any Apple device and is an amp-sim. It allows you to pick any song or band that you like, and instantly gives you the tones from their most famous songs to choose from.
It can be linked up with Garageband when you plug your guitar into your device.
I have spent hours upon hours messing around with Tonebridge, especially when I just want to quickly plug in and play. With over 9000 different presets, I never found myself searching too long for a tone I like.
Bias Amp 2
Bias Amp 2 is an excellent amp sim that is packed with 36 vintage, modern, and even boutique amps. This allows you to craft a large variety of different tones by swapping out tubes, preamps, tone stacks, and even microphones.
There is no other free app that is as realistic and versatile as Bias Amp 2. Where Stonebridge allows for quick and decent sounding tones, I find myself using Bias Amp 2 for proper recordings instead of practice. Hours can be spent trying to dial in that perfect tone.
This synthesizer is easily the best sounding synthesizer of all the free synths currently available. U-he is well known for crafting some excellent vintage synths based on classic synthesizers from the past.
This specific synth has been made to mimic that of a Roland Juno that can be heard on famous songs like A-ha’s “Take on Me” and Madonna’s “Borderline.”
This semi-modular synth has been designed to feature subtractive synthesis as well as frequency modulation. It also gives you control of 90 different parameters, which can each be modulated with a slew of options like filters, delays, multi-stage enveloping as well as tempo syncs of envelopes, delays, and flowrates.
This synth also comes with MIDI support as well as MIDI learn, sequencing, and granular synthesis. It is a superb option for synth lovers.
Synth1 by Daichi Laboratory (MAC only)
Synth1 is a comprehensive, fully realized synthesizer. At first glance, especially if you aren’t used to working with synths, it might seem a little scary. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs of programming a synth, as well as realize how easy and quickly you can sculpt a great sound from this synth.
It also boasts 128 presets, but there is a large amount of user-made presets that you can find online as well.
AudioKit Synth One (iPhone and iPad only)
Not to be confused with Synth1 by Daichi laboratory, Audiokit’s Synth One is an insane-sounding synth that delivers industry-standard sounds.
Created by volunteers, it is a completely free and open-source synth that not only supports MIDI input, but will also support MPE devices such as the ROLI Seaboard. This makes it the best and only synth you will ever need on your iPad.
It comes with a hybrid Analog/FM poly synthesizer, 16 step sequencer, 5 oscillators, classic 16 step arpeggiator, and even has accessibility functions for the blind.
Tha finally, on our rundown of the Top Free Garageband Plug-Ins, let’s take a look at some high quality free effect plug-ins…
SonEQ (MAC only)
Sonimus’s SonEQ is an excellent, vintage-inspired equalizer. It is a 3-band equalizer consisting of low, mid, and high frequencies. It also has a low-pass and high-pass filter.
The EQ also comes with a preamp stage and bass booster if you need some extra low-end.
Valhalla Super Massive (MAConly)
If you need to add some serious space or ambiance to your music, Valhalla has got the answer for you. Super Massive was designed with the sole purpose of bending time and space with it as you play or sing your tune.
It is jam-packed with excellent, professional-sounding delays, reverbs, and swells that will send shivers down the spines of all who dare to use it.
LRC5 (IOS and iPadOS only)
This is a 5-band equalizer that you can use on Garageband on your iPad or iPhone. It includes three parametric filters as well as a high and low pass filter. The filters are able to be boosted or cut by 24 dB.
Although not as precise to be able to cut or boost very small frequencies, it is best used to color the signal to your preference.
DLYM is a flanger and chorus effect that works on MAC and IOS. This plug-in is perfect if you’re looking to add some extra depth, or just drastically morph them completely into something else. There are 20 presets to start with, but messing around with the dials is way more fun.
There are two different processing modes, namely the analog emulation or dimension style. The analog mode gives you a very straightforward chorus and flanger sound. The dimension option creates a heavier-handed dose of flanger and can get really crazy sounding.
Looking for a quality recording interface?
You may also want to upgrade your preamps; if so, then take a look at our reviews of the Best Microphone Preamps currently on the market.
For more recording essentials, take a look at our in-depth reviews of the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Kick Drum Mic, the Best Wireless Microphones, the Best USB Microphones, or the Best Dynamic Microphones available at the moment.
Top Free Garageband Plug-Ins Conclusion
Whether you are making music on your iPad on the go or crafting music in your studio on your MAC, there is always a new plug-in on the horizon to elevate and get those creative juices flowing.
And it’s amazing the quality of what you can get for free. Sure paid plug-ins have their place and if you want to spend your hard-earned cash on them, go for it; they sound great. But if you’re on a budget or just starting out, these free plug-ins are well worth experimenting with.