In February 2022 plugin developer Audio Damage made some of their discontinued and legacy products available for free downloading with the caveat that they are not able to offer customer support or any guarantees that these plugins will work on the latest Windows/Mac computers so you’ll need to see for yourself which of this once commercial plugins will work on your system.
At the time of writing there’s now a library of 33 Audio Damage plugins you can download and use for free including powerful and unique effects and quirky synth instruments. Audio Damage have been in the music plugin business for over 20 years now and have built up a well earned reputation for quality so there’s plenty of great stuff to be found here including filters, reverbs, distortion effects, drum synths and more.
Audio Damage reckon most, if not all, of their Windows plugins will work in a DAW that is capable of hosting both 32- and 64-bit plugins and some of the more recent products should run in Rosetta 2 on an M1 Mac.
Free Audio Damage Tattoo Drum Machine Synth
For all you beat makers out there, the Audio Damage plugin you should check out first is the Tattoo drum machine, Audio Damage’s first ever software instrument.
Tattoo features 12 synthesized drum sounds (kick, two snares, three toms, closed/open hi-hats, cymbal, rim shot, clap and cowbell). All of the drum parts have dedicated controls. The kick drum features Saturation and Envelope settings, Tune and Clock Level, while the clap has just Tone and a basic decay style faux-reverb. Some drum parts have two envelope controls for manipulating the volume and pitch independently.
With the synth controls it’s easy to tweak parts to taste and make unique kits. In terms of synthesis and versatility there’s less here than you get with something like SonicCharge but given the fact Tattoo is now 100% free you can’t complain!
Tattoo features multiple outs and controls for levels and panning for each drum. You can easily route parts to any one of six outputs (labeled A to F) and Output A features a simple compressor for quickly adding punch and weight.
Tattoo also boasts a very useful Modulation section enables you to create sequences for just about every parameter Tattoo has to offer. Simply choose a drum part to open its editing parameters, then as you click on each parameter control in turn, you’ll be confronted with its modulation lane. When you’re feeling too lazy to draw in your own sequences Audio Damage have created a number of ready to use preset shapes and random variations which can be applied with a click of the mouse – nice!
Tattoo’s pattern sequencing is done in a programming grid which can handle up to 32 steps and 16 different patterns and it’s an easy to use, no thrills sequencer – simply click on the blocks to pencil in where you’d like to place each drum hit.
Click on the Random Beats slider control to quickly add drum hits at random (you can set up the grid so that drum hits only appear on, say, quarter-notes or eighth-note triplets) and click on the Selected slider to determine if all hits are played or skipped at random.
Tattoo also features a ‘Rand’ button – press it and the pattern for the selected drum part gets randomly scrambled – and a Step Size which lets you adjust pattern lengths.
Finally, in the ‘Global’ section you’ll find settings for swing control, transport buttons and syncing options.
Overall Tattoo is a capable and easy to use drum machine. It’s a real shame that Audio Damage haven’t yet got round to updating it to work on the latest systems. Providing your system can actually run it, Tattoo is an essential download. If Tattoo can’t run on your computer never fear – check out these other free drum machine plugins.
Tattoo is a rather excellent plug-in, and well worth a look for anybody who employs electronic drums– Music Radar, Tattoo review, March 2010
Axon – Neural Network Drum Machine plugin
Also worth downloading from the free library is the Axon ‘Neural Network’ synthesiser and sequencer. This quirky plugin is designed for producing percussive FM based drum sounds via a collection of ‘neurons’ each of which can be connected to all the others and can send and receive ‘pulses’.
Each neuron powers an FM synthesis-based sound generator and rhythmic patterns is therefore defined by the interaction of Axon’s neurons.
I’m only scratching the surface here so if you’re into plugins that can be used to generate interesting and experimental sequences with little effort then Axon is well worth checking out.
Axon VST (but not AU format) can also run in MIDI mode where it sends out MIDI triggers that can be routed to other instruments.
Anybody involved in electronic music, especially dance and ambient, will find much inspiration here.– Music Radar Axon review, September 2010
Note that there’s a more advanced Axon 2 plugin available for sale in the Audio Damage store.
Free Audio Damage Rough Rider Compressor Plugin:
While you’re on the Audio Damage website be sure to grab a copy of their Rough Rider plugin – a free compressor for VST, VST3, AudioUnits, and AAX (Windows 7 or later, MacOS 10.12 or later) and also check out their store to see what instruments and effects they have for sale.