Bit-crushing is a unique and impactful technique widely used in music production.
Whether you’re an experienced producer or just getting started, understanding the intricacies of bitcrushing will help you create epic sonic textures.
Plus, incorporate monster distortion into your unique tracks with mind-blowing bitcrusher plugins.
Throughout this guide, we will be exploring:
- Bitcrushing fundamentals: What it is & how it works ✓
- The role of bitcrusher plugins in music production ✓
- An analysis of the 5 best free bitcrusher VST plugins available in 2023 ✓
- Detailed reviews of each unique plugin ✓
So, prepare to dive into the world of bitcrushing, uncover all its hidden secrets, and discover the best free bitcrusher plugins around.
Plus, discover how these digital tools can add a new level of depth and dynamism to your music production.
Let’s dive in…
Table of Contents
- What is Bit-Crushing?
- Sample Rate
- How Bitcrusher Plugins Can Enhance Your Music
- The 5 Best Free Bitcrusher VST Plugins of 2023
- #1. Krush by Tritik
- #2. Dizztroy 2 by Z3 Audiolabs
- #3. MBitFun by MeldaProduction
- #4. DeltaModulator by Xfer Records
- #5. IntelliCrusher
- Free Bitcrusher VST Plugins: Final Thoughts
What is Bit-Crushing?
Let’s kick things off by delving into the world of bitcrushing.
Bitcrushing is an audio effect that enables you to manipulate the bit depth and sample rate of an audio signal.
To truly grasp what ‘bitcrushing’ is, and what unique effect it produces, we need to get a little technical.
In digital audio, the bit depth is the number of bits of information in each sample, and it directly corresponds to their resolution.
Now, when you reduce the bit depth with a bitcrusher, you’re introducing quantization noise, or in simpler terms, distortion.
This distortion is your ticket to creating an array of unique, lo-fi effects.
Essentially, bitcrushing is like stepping into a time machine.
It’s all about recreating the sounds of older, low-resolution digital systems.
If you’re a fan of vintage video game soundtracks or any electronic music genre that heavily utilizes lo-fi aesthetics, you’re going to love bitcrushing.
Next up is the sampling rate, and what the sample rate affects.
The sample rate, or sampling frequency, is the number of samples of audio carried per second.
Higher sample rates give you a better representation of the original sound.
But, in the bitcrushing world, reducing the sample rate will give you a lower fidelity sound and that’s where the magic happens.
It’s all about the game of reduction.
Bit reduction, rate reduction… they’re like your music production superpowers.
Play around with them and you can add anything from subtle, analog warmth to more pronounced digital distortion effects.
How Bitcrusher Plugins Can Enhance Your Music
Bitcrusher plugins can be used to impart unique texture and color to your tracks.
One way bitcrushers enhance your music is through creative ways of distortion, as we touched upon above.
Basically, bitcrushing creates digital distortion, which can add character & a whole new level of grit to your sound.
NOTE: This can be particularly useful when you’re looking to add some edge to your synths or to make your drums punch throughout the mix.
Bitcrushers introduce a particular kind of noise that can fill out the audio spectrum and give your sound a raw, vintage feel.
This noise cross-modulator feature is a favorite among many music producers, including myself.
Bitcrushers should also be your go-to tool for rate reduction.
You can control the sample rate and reduce the high-frequency components.
Therefore, you can infuse your audio signal with a rare character that’s simply unachievable with any other audio effect.
The dry/wet control found in most bitcrusher plugins is another remarkable feature.
This allows you to blend the processed signal (wet signal) with the original (dry signal) 一 giving you the power to decide just how much of the bit-crusher effect you want.
It’s important to note that while bitcrushers are awesome for unique sound design, they can also be a valuable mixing tool.
For example, you can use them subtly on an entire mix (or mix bus), to glue the tracks together, or even to add a touch of unique character to certain instruments.
The 5 Best Free Bitcrusher VST Plugins of 2023
Now that you’re aware of what exactly bit-crushing is, as well as how it can enhance your tracks, let’s explore the 5 best free bitcrusher VST plugins of 2023!
#1. Krush by Tritik
Krush by Tritik merges the electrifying digital domain with the enchanting warmth of analog, all thanks to its remarkable bit-crushing and downsampling algorithms.
It’s like the perfect marriage between two sonic worlds.
The main course served by Krush is its bit depth reduction and sample rate reduction capabilities.
With the crunchy drive stage on one side and the analog-modeled resonant filters on the other, Krush allows you to explore a broad spectrum of textures.
It gives you the ability to paint your audio with the dirtiest digital effects or sprinkle it with crunchy modulated hues.
Dive deeper into Krush and you’ll find a modulation section that’s not just designed to give your sound a new lease of life but also to keep it pulsating with energy.
This section allows you to modulate any parameter 一 a feature that could unleash a whole new world of sound-shaping possibilities.
The resonant filters in Krush also deserve special mention.
Modeled after analog devices, these filters offer both low-pass and high-pass options, enhancing Krush’s versatility.
Whether you’re looking to eliminate some high-frequency content or clean up the low-end, Krush has got you covered.
One of the standout features of Krush is the ‘presets freezer’.
This dope little tool is your safety net, ensuring you can always create and recall your meticulously crafted settings.
With its array of features and the sheer quality of sound it can produce, Krush easily stands as a champion in the realm of free bitcrusher VST plugins.
It guarantees to add a fresh crunch to your tracks, making them feel alive and vibrant.
#2. Dizztroy 2 by Z3 Audiolabs
Dizztroy 2 by Z3 Audiolabs is a bitcrusher/overdrive/distortion VST effect plugin designed for soft and heavy audio distortion.
If you want to blow up your drum loops, create hardcore kicks, or distort your signal to resemble a broken FM radio, Dizztroy 2 is your ideal plugin.
This ‘dizztroying’ machine is packed with a wide variety of features.
It comprises a bitcrusher, sample rate reducer, 8 overdrive/distortion algorithms, a low- and high-pass filter, and a waveshape distortion with a peak filter.
It also has a filter with five different filter types and a global high-pass filter, rounding off its powerful arsenal.
Beyond its impressive list of effects, Dizztroy 2 also includes an envelope follower and a flexible multi-segment envelope generator for modulating different parameters.
The ability to place any FX in your preferred position in the signal chain via drag and drop further enhances its flexibility and user-friendliness.
One of the standout features of Dizztroy 2 is the ability to draw the waveshape of the distortion yourself.
Using the smooth button, you can incrementally refine your envelope to craft the perfect distortion.
Once you’re satisfied with your design, you can save the shape to one of the 4 snapshots or to your hard drive for future use.
And if you ever accidentally ruin a perfect waveshape, it allows for up to 10 undo steps.
While Dizztroy 2 was developed with a focus on drum distortion, it also excels in processing lead synths, guitars, and vocal tracks.
Its dirty and screaming sound design capabilities can add a unique touch to your tracks, from home studio recordings to live performances.
To top it off, every parameter in Dizztroy 2 is MIDI learn compatible.
Simply right-click on a controller and move any fader, button, or knob on your MIDI hardware controller.
This feature allows you to use Dizztroy 2 in your live performances, giving them the extra power and character they need.
#3. MBitFun by MeldaProduction
Coming up next is MBitFun by MeldaProduction, a plugin that takes the bitcrusher effect to a whole new level.
This beast is an absolute treasure for those who revel in the realm of extreme distortion.
MBitFun’s unique feature lies in its ability to convert audio into limited fixed-point precision form.
Whether it’s a single bit or up to 16 bits per sample, MBitFun gives you the keys to unlock every bit and apply numerous operations.
It’s also equipped with both minimum-phase and high-quality linear-phase upsampling algorithms (which helps in averting the aliasing effect).
This ensures that your bit-crushed sound retains its quality while still bearing the aggressive edge that we all love about bitcrushing.
MeldaProduction takes things a step further with an advanced GUI and a unique visualization engine, complete with classic meters and time graphs.
But the crown jewel has to be Melda’s state-of-the-art randomization system.
You have more control over parameter randomization, and you can use it in three distinct ways:
- Total randomization
- Subtle tweaks to your current state
- Smart randomization
MBitFun is not limited to handling just mono and stereo spread signals.
It can process mid/side encoding for stereo field manipulation, separate left & right channels, up to 8 channels of surround audio, and even 7th-order ambisonics with a staggering 64 channels.
#4. DeltaModulator by Xfer Records
DeltaModulator by Xfer Records is a free bitcrusher effects VST/AU plugin stands out from the crowd with its unique approach to bitcrushing.
Rather than following the traditional route, DeltaModulator leverages delta modulation, resulting in a sound reminiscent of the Nintendo NES gaming console’s sampling channel.
DeltaModulator’s charm lies in its simplicity.
It’s a straightforward bitcrusher plugin with a sole, distinctive feature: its exclusive algorithm.
This unique algorithm sets DeltaModulator apart from other bitcrushers, offering a sonic experience that’s just as unique.
When it comes to the types of sounds it excels at enhancing, DeltaModulator delivers a specific brand of bitcrushing that’s absolutely fantastic for synths and electronic drums.
It brings a touch of nostalgia and an unmistakable 8-bit flavor that can take your track to a whole new level.
The control scheme of DeltaModulator is as simple as it gets.
The SR and Bits controls let you dictate the intensity of the bitcrushing effect.
Additionally, you can also adjust the Input Gain, Output Volume, and the Dry/Wet mix, offering a decent level of flexibility in shaping your sound.
Compatibility is key when choosing a plugin, and with DeltaModulator, you’re covered.
Whether you’re a Windows or macOS user, you can freely integrate DeltaModulator with your DAW.
Speaking of DAWs, if you’re an FL user and are wondering about the absolute best FL Studio plugins, we’ve got you covered.
Bringing intelligence to the world of bitcrushing is: IntelliCrusher.
It’s not just a bitcrusher and a sample-rate reducer…
This plugin can be modulated by different envelopes such as volume, pitch, LFO, and Gate, and even by MIDI with an Arpeggiator.
One of the standout features of IntelliCrusher is that the LFO and Gate can also be modulated by pitch tracking of the incoming audio signal.
This makes IntelliCrusher one of the most dynamic and responsive bit reduction/bit crusher plugins out there.
IntelliCrusher doesn’t stop there… it’s paired with an amplifier, which adds plenty of drive to your signal.
Combine this with a filter to round things off or make them dirty.
As well as a waveshaper at the end of the path, and you have a full-fledged audio-shaping powerhouse at your disposal.
With 17 different shapes available in the waveshaper, IntelliCrusher can deliver everything from smooth modulation to glitchy soundscapes to heavy, raw distortions.
Whether you’re looking to polish your sound or to completely obliterate it, IntelliCrusher is ready for the job.
With controls for Bit, Sample Rate, Quantize, and Smooth, as well as various envelopes, this free plugin gives you a vast array of parameters to tweak to your heart’s content.
Free Bitcrusher VST Plugins: Final Thoughts
There you have it, the 5 best free bitcrusher VST plugins of 2023, hands down.
They each offer unique features/functions and can make your tracks crunch super hard.
From Krush, with its crunchy drive stage and resonant filters, to Dizztroy 2, a beast of a plugin that can turn your sounds into distorted masterpieces, this list covered it all.
However, while these free plugins are excellent tools in their own right and serve specific purposes, there’s another bitcrusher plugin that stands out above the rest: Mangler.
Mangler is the ultimate bit-crushing tool, delivering exceptional power to any sound and igniting an endless well of inspiration as you hear your sounds come alive like never before.
It pushes your music beyond the typical boundaries 一 combining the best of analog and digital distortion with compression for a truly transformative audio experience.
It stands as a staple of versatility and creative potential of bitcrushing in the modern music production world.
You’ll be blown away by its capabilities and the way it can completely transform your tracks.
Remember, mastering bit-crushing involves patience, persistence, and practice, so go ahead and give it a try!
Until next time…
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