Best Audacity Plugins – 2020 Buyer’s Guide

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Professional audio software may be an overwhelming experience for a newbie that may turn them down from doing music.

That’s why software such as Audacity has an important role in the development of every music producer out there and we’re going to check if you can use it for creating your first tunes.

Our Top Picks for Audacity Plugins

  • Best mastering VST
  • Master Assistant module
  • Easiest way to improve sound
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  • Complete vocal channel strip
  • Automated Vocal Assistant
  • Pitch correction module
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  • Melody and rhythm sample pack
  • 364 loops & 240 one-shots
  • Ideal for hip hop and RnB
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Comparison of the Best Audicity Plugins 

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best mastering effect on the market
  • Revolutionary Master Assistant module
  • Easiest way to improve your overall sound quality
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  • Affordable vocal strip plugin
  • Useful Vocal Assistant, ideal for beginners
  • Pitch correction module
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  • Melodic and rhythmic loops and one-shots
  • 364 loops and 240 one-shot samples
  • Ideal for hip hop and RnB genre
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  • Best Audacity Autotune Plugin
  • Hard Tune effect available
  • Incredibly easy to use it
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  • Best Audacity Sample Pack
  • 6,900 loops and one-shot samples
  • Ideal for downtempo and 90’s hip hop revival
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  • Best Audacity Noise Gate Plugin
  • Up to 200ms of attack and 500ms of release time
  • Frequency selective gating
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  • Best Audacity Reverb Plugin
  • Extended maximum decay time
  • Optimized reverb algorithm for low CPU load.
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  • Best Audacity Karaoke Plugin
  • Able to remove content from the mid and sides
  • Can be used as vocal extractor
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  • Best Audacity Voice Changer Plugin
  • All-in-one vocal manipulation software
  • Optional deep-editing that doesn’t break the workflow
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  • Best Audacity Distortion Plugin
  • 30 Amplifiers and 45 Guitar and Bass Effects
  • Unique Guitar Match algorithm
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What is Audacity?

Audacity is a free, open-source DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

It’s designed to make audio recording simplified compared to the rest of the software on the market and that’s why it could be the first choice not just for beginners, but for those who are more interested in other types of audio recording such as podcasts thanks to the multi-track recording option.

It also allows you to apply some basic audio editing operations such as trimming the recorded audio and thanks to the ability to load VST plugins those tracks can be polished further.

Are Plugins Hard to Use in Audacity?

Using plugins depends a lot on your experience. Some plugins require trained ears in order to get most of it, others require a lot of practicing while there are plenty of those who can work in a simple “set and forget” environment.

Although most of those plugins can be used instantly without any prior experience, it still might be a good call to learn a thing or two about music production before you can utilize the benefits of good plugins in total. Luckily, with so many video tutorials out there, it shouldn’t be so tough.

Pros and Cons of Using Plugins in Audacity 

In general, plugins are used the same way in all DAW software, so we’re going to review are the pros and cons of Audacity plugin experience instead.

Pros

It’s FREE

Unlike many other DAWs, Audacity is completely free. This may play a huge role for any beginner who is not sure if the music is the right call for them. Once you decide to go further many different DAWs are waiting for you.

Same Experience

Whether Audacity might not be the ideal DAW for advanced users, the good thing is that plugins will work the same way just like they work on any other premium DAW out there. This will come handy when you feel it’s time to migrate to something more advanced as the workflow will remain the same.

Linux Support

Promoting its free nature, it’s somewhat logical to find out that Audacity works for Linux as well including Nyquist, LADSPA and LV2 plugins specially made for this platform. Who said it’s not possible to compose on Linux?

Cons

No VST Instruments

As Audacity doesn’t support MIDI notation, unfortunately, it’s not possible to use any kind of VST instruments. So, in case you want to add some synths or drum machine grooves, you will have to go and pick sample packs instead.

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Audacity Plugins

Here are our best recommendations for Audacity plugins. We hand-picked those products having in mind, especially what could be the optimal effects for a beginner’s mindset.

PROS

  • Bunch of very useful presets
  • Best mastering effect on the market
  • Revolutionary Master Assistant module
  • Maximizer, Imager and Equalizer audio modules
  • Easiest way to improve your overall sound quality

CONS

  • Might be too expensive for beginners
  • Its modules are designed for professional use

Features and Specifications

Ozone 9 is probably the best mastering suite on the market currently. It comes in 3 versions and Elements is the most affordable one, suitable for users on a budget. 

While it may lack certain advanced modules available in more expensive versions, it provides you with not just a bunch of presets that you load instantly and improve your audio track, but it also comes with the revolutionary Master Assistant module which will calculate your audio track and edit it based on the choices you have selected upon loading it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Mastering is a process that polish already completed song. Think of it as a cherry on the top. But, if you’re a beginner, Ozone can be much more than applying subtle changes and you’re going to be impressed by what the Master Assistant will do for your tracks. It will be almost like having an automated professional at your home helping you to make everything sound so much better.

We know that the price may be too high for your start, but the benefit you’re getting from such a plugin is so significant that we couldn’t pick any other plugin for the best overall category.

PROS

  • Pitch correction module
  • Affordable vocal strip plugin
  • Useful Vocal Assistant, ideal for beginners
  • Modern user interface with beautiful graphics
  • Reverb, EQ, Compressor, De-Esser effects inside

CONS

  • Delay and Gate is missing
  • Pitch tracking could be included in total

Features and Specifications

Nectar Elements is a slimmed-down version of the full Nectar 3 software that comes at a very affordable price. It’s a vocal strip coated in a beautiful modern user interface packed with the reverb, EQ, compressor and de-esser effect along with the basic pitch correction module.

In case you like what you see, there is an option to upgrade anytime you want to a full version which will unlock the real potential that lies inside of this plugin along with some additional software that comes bundled.

Why it Stands Out to Us

If you’re a complete beginner and you want to make your vocals sound good, we must say you’re really lucky. Unlike so many years ago, software such as Nectar Elements will make your vocals stand out even if you don’t know a thing about music editing thanks to the Vocal Assistant module.

Vocal Assistant is organized as a personal helper that will apply certain changes to your vocals based on your answers to several simple questions. While it may not be as good as the result you would get manually it will still create wonderful results for most Audacity users.

Best for the Money:
Loopmasters Lo-Fi Soul

PROS

  • Ideal for hip hop and RnB genre
  • Drum content packed into drum kits
  • 364 loops and 240 one-shot samples
  • Vocal Phrases and Loops also included
  • Collection of melodic and rhythmic loops and one-shots

CONS

  • Not so impressive synth content
  • Downbeat vibe my not be appealing for all users

Features and Specifications

This sample pack is organized into 364 loops and 240 one-shot samples of various melodic and rhythmic content ranging from 88 to 95 BPM. 

There are dozens of jazzy guitar licks organized in loop format along with a bunch of melodic one-shot samples and funky bass lines. 

Vocal content is provided in form of chopped loops of soprano and alto female voices or complete phrases ideal for lo-fi genres while drums are packed into loops or one-shot samples organized as custom drum kits and it could be loaded directly into any kind of modern sampler.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Given the fact that you’re getting so many useful loops out of it and that you can create dozens of songs just by combining those samples together, this is an excellent bang-for-buck bargain. 

Guitar loops sound organic and can put your songs into that soothing vibe you’re just looking for.

Whether you need a drum or melodic loops suitable for both hip hop or RnB songs, you will definitely find something here. And if you try and think outside the box you may find drum content to be suitable for trap music as well.

Best Audacity Autotune Plugin:
Antares Auto-Tune Access

PROS

  • Incredibly easy to use it
  • Hard Tune effect available
  • CPU friendly with very low latency
  • Simple voice editing with Retune Speed and Humanize knobs
  • Budget-friendly version of the best auto-tune software on the market

CONS

  • Doesn’t support 32-bit system
  • Auto-Key would be a great add-on

Features and Specifications

Auto-Tune Access is a basic version of the best Auto-Tune software on the market. It comes with the narrowed options that allow simple and basic vocal editing.

First you will have to define the key and the scale your singing is. Based on the scale you selected certain notes will be excluded from a chromatic scale and you can include or exclude any additional note later.

The rest of the interface is organized in the form of two knobs from which you can determine how fast and how organic pitch correction will sound. 

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the most usual issues that amateur singing encounters are pitch correction. Correct pitch singing is mandatory if you want to go pro.

Luckily, it’s not so hard to fix it in post-processing, and software such as Antares Auto-Tune can solve these issues. As a matter of fact, many professionals are using such plugins every day.

Also, if you’re into hip-hop music you should know that with this plugin you can get Hard Tune effects as well and if you may be concerned about how good it will sound, let’s just say that Antares is the company that invented the whole auto-tune effect.

Best Audacity Sample Pack:
The Premier Beats Super Pack

PROS

  • 6,900 loops and one-shot samples
  • Ideal for downtempo and 90’s hip hop revival
  • One of the best groove sample packs on the market
  • Samples processed by MPC unit and hardware samplers
  • Drums available in full groove format and individual parts

CONS

  • All content is generated at 90 BPM
  • Small amount of guitar licks provided

Features and Specifications

The Premier Beats Super Pack comes with 6,900 loops and samples packed in 4.6 GB of content recorded at 90 BPM. It comes with 1,000 drum beats, 400 music loops, and 1,251 chord samples. Also, it provides you with the individual drum instruments such as 848 kick and 349 snare samples along with 349 bass samples.

All content was produced using the legendary MPC hip hop unit along with vinyl decks and tape machines to provide additional saturation so you can use it directly into your mix.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Audacity can’t load virtual instruments. But, there is an interesting workaround for this “problem”. You can load sample loops and one-shots and generate something you can easily work on. That’s why we find Premier Beats a very handy content because it comes with thousands of useful loops for both hip hop and downtempo genres.

It may be expensive, but if you think of the number of pre-produced samples you’re getting, you’ll understand you’re getting a very valuable library at the bargain price and eventually you may end up with the outcome where you don’t need any virtual instrument at all.

Best Audacity Noise Gate Plugin:
Boz Digital Labs Gatey Watey

PROS

  • User-friendly approach
  • Frequency selective gating
  • Very handy look-ahead feature
  • Basic but very effective noise gate plugin
  • Up to 200ms of attack time and 500ms of release time

CONS

  • Could be a little bit cheaper
  • Release time could be longer

Features and Specifications

This plugin with the funny name is one really versatile noise gate plugin. It comes with two sliders, three buttons, and four knobs along with the dedicated bypass button which turns the complete effect on and off.

Sliders determine the threshold and the frequency range, buttons will define the mode the plugin is working in, while the knobs control how much you will turn down the input signal, attack and release time of the applied effect and very important look-ahead feature which will make the whole software much more responsive.

Why it Stands Out to Us

One of the biggest enemies of good music production is the noise that is generated in non-professional recordings. This issue can be solved manually but, it will be a tiresome job that requires a certain routine that you may not have. That’s why plugins such as Gatey Watey can help you not just to automate the whole job. 

While there are several good noise gate plugins, this one does more - it’s one of the rare that allows you to define which frequencies you’re going to remove. This way you can remove only hisses from your recordings while the rest will sound true to the original.

Best Audacity Reverb Plugin:
Audio Damage ADVerb2

PROS

  • Works on iOS devices as well
  • Extended maximum decay time
  • Optimized reverb algorithm for low CPU load
  • Simple and straight-forward algorithmic reverb plugin
  • Vintage-style user interface, fully vector-based resizable

CONS

  • No option to edit stereo imaging
  • High-end Reverb Time contour could have a boost

Features and Specifications

ADVerb2 is a basic algorithmic reverb that has a very straight-forward user interface with a fully resizable vector-based design. 

There are three knobs dedicated to Pre-Delay, Reverb Time, and Size parameters and every parameter have a specific button that allows you further editing such as Diffusion, Reverb Time Contour so you can bump or soften high or low range of the effect and 3 types of Roll-Off filter.

Input Mute button will allow you to monitor the reverb effect in solo and the Reverb Stop button will momentarily cut any unwanted reverb tail.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Decent reverb plugin can fix not just your vocal tracks but acoustic guitar and various synth tracks as well. It will add a certain depth and warmth to your recording.

However, most reverb plugins require a certain know-how approach before your mixes can benefit from it. That’s why ADVerb2 is our best pick for Audacity users. It is much more beginners-friendly oriented than the rest of the competition without compromising the sound effect quality.

It’s also good to know there is a very affordable version of this plugin available for iOS devices as well.

Best Audacity Karaoke Plugin:
2nd Sense Vocal Remover

PROS

  • Practical audio removal tool
  • Can be used as a vocal extractor, too
  • Simple and straightforward front panel
  • Adjustable width and cutoff frequency range
  • Able to remove content from the mid and sides

CONS

  • Could be cheaper given the fact it has one single purpose
  • Would be nice to hear in solo the portion you’re removing

Features and Specifications

This plugin is designed to remove or extract any audio content located at the center or the sides of the stereo tracks you have provided by simply selecting Remove or Extract Mode.

You can specify the width range for the center or side area which will determine how far the algorithm will go towards the rest of the content from the given audio track.

There is a dual low-pass and high-pass filter so you can specify which range of audio spectrum you’re removing with the dedicated compare button.

Why it Stands Out to Us

While the main function of this plugin is to remove vocals from the audio stereo track so you can use it for your karaoke parties, it can also work the opposite way in any means given. 

This means that the vocals can also be extracted from the audio and used as acapella for any kind of remixes you had in mind. Also, if you switch from the center to the side, the same method can be applied for the rest of the instruments - guitars, synths, anything placed on the sides can be isolated thanks to the filtering parameters provided within the plugin.

Best Audacity Voice Changer Plugin:
iZotope Vocal Synth 2

PROS

  • Beautiful visual interface
  • 7 stomp-box vocal effects
  • 5 voice-changing modules
  • All-in-one vocal manipulation software
  • Optional deep-editing that doesn’t break the workflow

CONS

  • Reverb is missing
  • Not our first choice for auto-tune effect

Features and Specifications

iZotope Vocal Synth is a modern plugin with a beautiful user interface and very colorful animation of your vocal signal. Apart from having a basic pitch correction and gate effect, it is organized in 5 modules dedicated to various vocal manipulations such as various robotic voices deriving from Vocoder, Compuvox, and Talkbox or more organic one found in Biovox and harmonizing Polyvox. 

Along with those modules, 7 stomp-box effects allow you to edit vocals further by applying Distortion, Filter, Delay, Chorus, Ring Mod, Transform and Shred rhythmical effect.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Vocal Synth is an extremely affordable and versatile plugin. Even if you don’t have so much knowledge about music production you will still have fun using this plugin thanks to the very intuitive and modern-looking user interface and very useful factory presets that come along with the software. As a matter of fact, it’s so intuitive that you can get professional results regardless of your current music production knowledge.

It can do a lot of things for your vocals, starting from plain and simple vocal tuning or that hip-hop hard tune effect up to some really creative effects such as vocoder and talkbox.

Best Audacity Distortion Plugin:
Positive Grid Bias FX 2 Standard

PROS

  • Works in standalone mode
  • Looper and Recorder modes
  • Unique Guitar Match algorithm
  • 30 Amplifiers and 45 Guitar and Bass Effects
  • The most affordable guitar and bass rig on the market

CONS

  • Limited selection of Guitar Match models
  • Too many routing options may confuse you at first

Features and Specifications

Bias FX 2 is a complete solution for all kinds of guitar and bass amplifiers and effects. The core of the interface is organized in the form of a splitter which allows you to have two completely different audio chains on the fly. Such routing is called scenario and every preset can have up to four instances stored for instant recall.

The audio structure is formed from various pedals such as drive, distortion, and fuzz, amps, EQs, modulation effects, and cabinets, all fully editable in a beautiful visual way emulating the appearance of the real guitar equipment.

Why it Stands Out to Us

Nowadays, the only thing that stops you from recording at your home is prejudices and ignorance. If you invest some time into this plugin you will be amazed how many possibilities you may have and how much you can abuse the Guitar Match feature. You can change your distortion from a single to a humbucker Gibson 57’ LP pickup with a simple preset change.

Bias FX 2 also has a very big community called ToneCloud which allows you to download more than 50.000 presets for your guitar palette and even load some custom pedals.

Audacity Alternative to Consider

At some point, you may find Audacity limitations slowing down your workflow. While it’s completely fine for beginners, it wouldn’t be fair to not recommend you one really affordable “next step” software to consider:

Reaper

Reaper is a full-featured DAW software that comes for free with 60 days of the evaluation license. It is equipped with all features premium software has and it’s also fully customizable for any kind of theme or interface editing. It even comes with some pre-installed plugins specially made for Reaper called ReaPlugs.

Both VST2 and VST3 plugins are supported, including real-time effects and virtual instruments and it comes with some advanced audio editing tools as well as MIDI notation interface.

To put it quite short, Reaper is capable of doing all the editing and recording available in premium software and it is our best pick for all seasoned musicians and beginners. It is the most affordable way to get into music production completely.

Speaking about the price, the best part is that it will allow you to use the program even after 60 days and the only change will be that it displays you 5 seconds “Buy Me” reminder.

Conclusion

To be honest, Audacity may not be our first recommendation for a DAW. But, if you aren’t fully devoted to your music career and it doesn’t cost a thing, there is no reason to turn you down from it as it will provide you with all support needed for a bunch of modern plugins.

People Also Ask

Next, we’re going to cover some of the basic questions that make people feel unsure regarding Audacity such as where to find and buy plugins, how is the Audacity file structure organized and can you use Virtual Instruments within this software at all.

Where Does Audacity Save Files?

By default, all Audacity audio files are stored in a temporary folder _data. While Audacity files are optimized for any kind of crash recovery that may occur due to power failure or similar events, it’s still recommended to periodically save your project especially by using the Save Lossless Copy of Project option.

How Do I Get Plugins For Audacity?

You can get them either for free or from specialized web stores such as PluginBoutique and Reverb. In both ways, installation is streamlined to a simple routine which shouldn’t be any different from installing a simple video game. Once installed, you will have to load it up from the Audacity interface.

Does Audacity Have Virtual Instruments?

No, Audacity doesn’t have the capability to load Virtual Instruments because it doesn’t support MIDI instruments. However, bear in mind that if a certain VST instrument supports stand-alone mode, it could be used with the Audacity in the same way you would record your guitar or vocals.

Where is the Audacity Plugins Folder?

The default folder is found at ~AppData\Roaming\audacity\Plug-Ins and it's a recommended folder for plugin installations if you’re not using any other DAW. But, it’s completely fine if you use different folders such as ~Program Files (x86)\VSTPlugins or ~Program Files\VSTPlugins.