So you’re looking for the best free Oscilloscope VST Plugin? Well you’re in luck, I’ve scoured the internet far and wide and found the best ones, tested them and organized them into a nice little list for you!
Hint: The best free Oscilloscope VST (in my opinion) is the MOscilloscope. Keep reading to find out why!
If you weren’t already aware of the benefits of using an oscilloscope in your projects – here are just a few.
- You can monitor your waveforms in real-time and correct any phase issues between overlapping sounds – like your kick and bass for example.
- Being able to visually inspect the amplitude of your master waveform in real-time also allows you to spot and fix unwanted peaks.
- It can help you better understand how different sounds in your arrangement are interacting and thereby help you improve your mixdown.
So yeah, it’s certainly a great idea to pick up an oscilloscope, especially as these ones are completely free. Anyways, lets move on to the list!
S(M)exoscope by Smartelectronix is one of the more popular free Oscilloscope VSTs around, and from first impressions it’s easy to see why. It has a clear, attractive (if you like orange) interface with a large waveform display area and various intuitive controls located on the right-hand side. Starting at the top, the display controls allow you to adjust the display time and waveform amplitude.
Four different retrigger modes (Rising, Falling, Internal, Free) can be easily selected via the display mode button. Rising and Falling modes retrigger the display each time a waveform peak passes above or below the level set by the retrigger threshold knob. Internal mode resets the display at a frequency determined by the internal trigger speed control knob. Free mode with no re-triggering is selected by default.
At the bottom of the control panel are four further option buttons: Sync Redraw which controls how quickly the display refreshes, Freeze which freezes the display, DC-Kill to compensate for DC offset, and Channel to toggle between the right and left audio channel. In addition to these features, S(M)exoscope includes an excellent waveform analysis tool. Based on where you place a marker on the display, the tool can be used to calculate waveform amplitude, length and frequency. S(M)exoscope is available to download for both PC and Mac.
MOscilloscope is free as part of the MFreeFXBundle. It has a professional uncluttered looking User Interface which has a premium feel to it, and the UI is also completely resizable. All sections of the interface have tool tips which helpfully explain all the control options. The controls themselves look simplistic at first glance, but this appearance belies some pretty powerful functionality.
The main standout feature of this VST is the built-in pitch detector. In testing, this appeared to work like magic when put on a variety of different audio sources by successfully locking onto the waveform with no additional mucking around required! If this is not working as expected you can use the Detector Panel to control the maximum and minimum detection thresholds to limit the frequencies in which the detector operates. This helps ignore irrelevant signals and improves detection.
The main waveform window has controls that allow you to zoom in and out, position the view and normalize the display so that the waveform will always fill the whole area vertically. The global meter view to the right of the interface works as a classic level indicator or can be used in time graph mode. The plugin also includes a powerful Channel Mode which includes various options to monitor your Left/Right, Mid and Side channels separately. Lastly, once you’ve set up the tool to your liking, you can save your preset to load again at a later date. MOscilloscope is available for both PC and Mac.
occularScope by Bom Shanka Machines is one of the new kids on the block. The plugin is free; however, you are invited to make a donation to a charity funding research into Type 1 diabetes, in memory of Finbar “Occular” Dodd whom this plugin is dedicated to.
The plugin is minimalist in appearance with the entire UI taken up by the waveform view, however hovering your mouse over the top left of the display reveals the controls. The three main buttons allow you to easily switch between bar and beat mode, freeze the input and combine the primary and side-chain inputs.
An options menu allows further adjustments such as switching the scope style between line and filled, changing the colour scheme and resizing the UI. occularScope is tempo synched which makes using it a breeze compared to some other VSTs in this list. The main standout feature is the ability to overlay a side chain input which could prove incredibly useful. occularScope is available for both PC and Mac.
Oscilloscope by Socalabs is another solid free Oscilloscope VST option. The graphical interface is perhaps not as attractive as other VSTs in this category, although it is resizable. I also found the controls rather less intuitive to understand; it took me a good ten minutes for instance to work out how to manually adjust the waveform to sync with my track tempo.
Controls include the ability to shift the waveform position and zoom in, as well as trigger modes (up, down, and off) set by the corresponding trigger level control knob. The feature that sets this VST apart however is the ability to control a different Y-axis offset for each of your left and right channels and display them simultaneously. Oscilloscope is available for both PC and Mac.
Oscarizor by Sugar Audio comes in both a Pro and Free version which has more limited functionality. First impressions of the User Interface are a little overwhelming, with many control knobs and switches to get your head around. The experience is helped however by handy popup tooltips which explain how each of the controls function.
Oscarizor is essentially three tools in one, with three different modes to select from (Scope, Spectrum Analyser, and Goniometer), which is pretty cool for a free VST. All the usual controls that you’d expect are there such as adjusting the length and position of the waveform, vertical and horizontal zoom, display freeze, gain adjustment etc.
In addition, the colours of the interface can be personalised which is a nice feature, and the GUI is also resizable. The main drawback for me is that you need to buy the Pro version to automatically sync the tempo to your track. Oscarizor is available for both PC and Mac.
Oscilloscopes really aren’t that scary. In fact, they are down-right useful! During the writing of this post, I’ve been experimenting with using an oscilloscope to take a look at what my compression plugins are actually doing to an audio waveform, and even using them as a guide in FM synthesis to visually examine how a waveform is being changed and modulated. I feel I have only just scratched the surface in how they can assist me in my production workflow.
So, which free Oscilloscope VST is the best? – Although all of the VSTs listed above have their own merits, for me the built-in pitch detector of MOscilloscope, together with the intuitive, professional looking interface makes it stand head and shoulders above other similar VSTs in this category. It’s also worth checking out some of the other freebies available within the MFreeFXBundle. At first glance it seems a really impressive bundle of effects and tools for zero cash outlay.
I hope you’ve found this review useful. Have a great day, and happy producing!