Modulation may not be a go-to for producers, drummers, and bassists. But let me tell you – it’s well-used by guitarists and keyboard / synth players.
With chorus, phaser, and flange being the three basic types of modulation, these effects can offer subtle doubling, robotic warble, and a variety of other types of oscillating movement to tracks.
Here we’ll be looking at the best free flanger VST plugins – a great effect to add to any track you want to create more sonic interest in.
Valhalla Space Modulator by Valhalla DSP
Valhalla DSP’s creations are often earth shattering in terms of sound quality, performance, and popularity. So, whenever they’ve got something new, in any category, we pay attention (especially if it’s free).
While they may be best known for echo-based effects, that doesn’t mean we don’t trust them to create other goodies.
Valhalla Space Modulator is their unique take on flanging, designed with infinite flange and doubling in mind.
The plugin comes with a whopping 11 algorithms, including through-zero flanging, barberpole flanging, detuning, doubling, strange echoes, reverbs, and more.
Not surprising that echo-based effects are also onboard, because, as I said, it’s something Vahalla DSP is known for.
From modern to vintage, I’m not sure there’s too much this baby can’t do. Check it out in the video below.
Download: Valhalla DSP
Blue Cat’s Flanger by Blue Cat Audio
Designed as a vintage 70s and 80s flanger effect, Blue Cat’s free flanger is great on just about any track – vocals, synths, drums, guitars, or otherwise. Of course, you can take it from subtle to extreme depending on the exact result you’re going for.
Blue Cat’s Flanger comes with stereo spread control, sine or triangle LFO shapes, as well as in or out of phase feedforward and feedback paths.
As the graphical user interface shows, you’ve got parameters for gain, delay, depth, rate, spread, dry, feedforward, feedback, and shape.
Blue Cat’s Flanger is also Windows and Mac compatible, offers full MIDI control and automation, MIDI Learn, customizable user interface (with transparency and zoom), smooth bypass, undo / redo, presets manager, copy / paste state of plugin between instances, and support for any sample rate.
While it’s a little old school, Blue Cat’s Flanger can still cook!
The video below is not a good demonstration of the plugin, but it might give you some idea of how it sounds.
Download: Blue Cat Audio
TAL-Flanger by TAL Software
While it doesn’t seem to be supported by TAL Software anymore, TAL-Flanger is a free, capable, easy to use, stereo flanger effect. And as with Valhalla DSP, when TAL Software comes out with a freebie, we like to give it the attention that’s due.
TAL-Flanger’s sound is driven by some asymmetric analog like components in the feedback corner, per the developer.
Overall, TAL-Flanger features syncable LFO speed, delay knob for static chorus adjustment or manual control without LFO, depth, delay, and width parameters for smoothing, asymmetric modeled components in the feedback path, default presets, and support for all sample rates.
The interface basically reflects these features, with controls for speed, depth, delay, width, feedback, dry / wet, and volume.
Again, the video is not a great demonstration of the plugin, but it gives you at least a faint idea of how TAL-Flanger sounds. For best results, try it yourself. It is free, after all.
Download: KVR Audio Software
MFlanger by MeldaProduction
You can generally count on MeldaProduction to come up with a usable freebie, and MFlanger sure sounds good. It might even be better than some premium flangers out there.
This versatile flanger offers up great sound quality, variable oscillator shape, and even an integrated tube saturation for added flexibility.
MFlanger also features a stylable, resizable, GPU accelerated advanced GUI, smart randomization, MIDI controllers with MIDI learn, multiparameters, automatic gain compensation (AGC), safety limiter, adjustable upsampling (1x – 1024x), global preset management, adjustable oscillator shape, and more.
MFlanger is Windows and Mac compatible and is available as part of the MFreeFXBundle, complete with 37 effects in the categories of analysis, saturation and distortion, dynamics, equalizer, filter, mastering, mixing, pitch, reverb, and stereo.
It’s a great bundle. The only downside? Well, if you ever want to extend the functionality of the plugins, you will have to upgrade for a nominal fee. But even the free versions are quite stellar.
Give the MFlanger a try, and if you’re sold on it, give the MFreeFXBundle a go too.
DD Flanger by Dead Duck Software
Dead Duck Software’s DD Flanger is a simplistic multi-stage flanger with parameters for rate, delay, range, feedback, and depth.
This flanger offers a period specific vibe, referencing a time when effects primarily came in rackmount and half-rack sizes. From the design to the sound, it comes quite close to the source material too.
While it may appear a minimal plugin (forgotten somewhere among the internet desert where digital tumbleweeds roll lazily on), if a classic sounding flanger is what you’ve been looking for, then you should not pass up the opportunity to download DD Flanger.
If you’re looking for a modern flanger with infinite flexibility, do look elsewhere. But if a classic vibe flange would complement your projects, don’t hesitate to give this one a go.
DD Flanger is available as a 32- and 64-bit Windows VST plugin.
Dead Duck Software, like some of the other developers mentioned, has multiple freebies, so if you’re looking for more effects, be sure to check them out.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
DH-Flanger by DTM Hacker Plugins
DTM Hacker Plugins has several free offerings worth checking out, including DH-TransientShaper, DH-Chorus, DH-Phaser, DH-Vibrato, and of course, this – DH-Flanger.
DH-Flanger comes with two modulator waveforms (sine, triangle), left / right phase offset, positive / negative feedback, high-pass / low-pass filter to wet signal, stereo width control, and a resizable plugin window.
This flanger has got a transparent vibe to it that’s sure to appeal to producers who don’t want to corrupt their signal chain with too much coloration.
Download: DTM Hacker Plugins
DLYM by Imaginando
Imaginando’s DLYM is a modulator specializing in flanger and chorus style effects. From subtle to extreme, you have full control over the intensity of the effect, which comes with 20 presets you can experiment with.
Overall, DLYM features two processing modes (analog emulation and dimension style), six time-syncable modulation waveforms (sine, square, saw, triangle, sample & hold, filtered sample & hold), adjustable stereo spread, crossover / cutoff to control the frequency range, and a preset / patch manager.
This modulator is a lot of fun and it’s quite flexible too.
DLMY is available for Windows and Mac in a variety of formats – VST, AAX, and AU.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
Flanger by Kilohearts
Available as a standalone plugin and as a snapin, Kilohearts’ Flanger is a compact flanging effect with just enough controls to offer solid customization capabilities.
If you aren’t familiar with snapins, you should know that Kilohearts snapins can be used alongside hosts like Phase Plant, Multipass, and Snap Heap. You can combine and modulate a variety of effects to create your own instruments and effects.
Anyway, at heart, Kilohearts’ Flanger is a sweeping comb filter that mixes your signal with a slightly delayed version of itself to create a flanging effect. The delay can be adjusted and modulated, and you can even phase shift between dry and wet signals for barberpole flanging (upwards or downwards).
Flanger comes with controls for delay, depth, scroll, spread, rate, offset, motion, mix, and feedback. Every parameter can be automated.
One of the things we love most is the pastel themed flat vector design of Kilohearts plugins. Simple but very effective.
Svep by Klevgrand
Not a mere flanging effect, Klevgrand’s Svep is a full-on stereo modulation machine, handling phasing, flanging, and chorusing, all from one convenient central control station.
Svep is a seamless hybrid effect (with chorus, flanger, and phaser), it’s simple and easy to configure, it comes with a stereo link switch, and its CPU footprint is minimal.
From subtle to goofy, wobbly to circular, dialing in different sounds is easy and fun with this flanger.
Svep is available for Windows and Mac. There’s also an iPad version that looks like it would be a ton of fun to mess around with.
Flanger by Recluse-Audio
In the developer’s words, the distinct looking Flanger will add “shimmering warble” to your tracks.
This effect can add some sparkle to an analog synth, turn a generic mono synth sound into an epic lead, transform a voice into otherworldly sensation, and more.
This thing sounds about as weird as it looks, but there are certainly some usable sounds onboard. If in doubt, dial back the intensity and you should be in business.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
TheChorus by TheZhe
As the name would suggest, TheChorus is a chorus effect. But it’s capable of doing so much more because it combines digital chorus with a hybrid analog inspired bucket-brigade / ladder filter stage. That makes it usable as a chorus, flanger, vibrato, stereo widener, and even as a doubler.
The plugin features standard chorus controls (rate, depth, width), non-standard chorus controls (delay, mode, cutoff), mixing controls (mix, pan, makeup volume), optimized anti-aliasing, and modulatable knobs.
Overall, I find TheChorus to be a very pleasant, complementary, and versatile effect. Catch it in the video below.
TheChorus is available for Windows and Mac.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
HY-ChoFla by HY-Plugins
As the name would suggest, HY-Plugins’ HY-ChoFla is a hybrid chorus / flanger effect.
You can flip between the two effects using the mode section. It’s clear when you’re using which because each effect has a different colored interface.
The chorus effect has a blue interface, and you can control how it sounds using the chorus section (rate, S, dep1, dep2, FB, width, delay, LFO, and smooth).
There’s also a filter section with HP and LP filters, and an output section with dry and wet parameters. These remain consistent from one effect to the other.
Flip the mode switch to flanger, and the interface turns green. The mode, filter, and output sections stay the same, but in the flanger section, you can control rate, S, depth, FB, width, mode, LFO, and smooth.
To me, the effects have an agreeable vintage quality to them that would make them perfect for guitar, synth, and who knows – maybe some other tracks too!
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
Tonic Juice 2.0 by Sonic XTC
Sonic XTC’s Tonic Juice 2.0 is effectively a studio effects chain you can use to get your background tones to meld with your mix.
Tonic Juice 2.0 combines flanging and chorusing in a meaningful way, especially given that the two effects are so close to each other. There’s also an envelope follower filter, which is triggered by the input volume of your signal. This is great for creative effects.
Overall, the flanger comes with 128 user presets, MIDI automation, a 24 dB filter, and an envelope follower.
The way the modules are laid out is quite fun. There’s a Smoother section with rate, depth, pre-delay, mix, smooth volume, and an on/off switch.
The Spicer section comes with rate, depth, pre-delay, feed, mix, spice volume, and on/off switch.
Finally, there’s a Funkster section (the envelope follower) with env gain, attack, release, cutoff, res, track, and filter vol parameters.
While it isn’t much to look at, it’s nice to see some personality injected in the design.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
X-Flanger by JC Productionz
The stereo flanger effect, X-Flanger, will take a mono or stereo signal and grace it with a wider “pseudo” stereo field. It also comes with a four-pole low pass filter and LFO.
In total, there are controls for mix, shape, osc rate, feedback, LFO shape (sine, saw, ramp, triangle, pulse, white noise, pink noise), rate, level, filter res, cutoff, and volume.
The video below is not the greatest representation of what the plugin can do, but based on what I’m hearing, it’s capable of some serious warble. Trippy.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
HY-MBMFX2 by HY-Plugins
HY-MBMFX2 is super interesting! It’s a three-band multi-FX with 22 FX types. You can choose one effect per band with modulation on the master.
There are a total of 22 built-in FX types, 10 modulation units (four LFOs, two envelope followers, four macros), drag and drop modulation assignment and FX reorder, randomizer, preset manager, and scalable GUI.
It’s kind of a cool idea, because basically what it’s doing is letting you add an effect to the low, mid, and high bands. Each band has controls for input, width, pan, and output, so you have complete control over the intensity and placing of the effect in the stereo image.
Each effect also has its own parameters, which vary form one effect to the next. Overdrive, for example, comes with knobs for drive, HP, LP, level, and a mix control.
The 22 effect types are made up of the following categories – Delay, Filter, ModFx, Shifter, Nonlinear, Dynamics, and Reverb. There are five delays, four filters, four modulation effects, two shifter effects, three distortion effects, three dynamics processors, and a reverb.
You can, of course, find a flanger under ModFx.
So, while it’s not exclusively a flanger plugin, it’s just so cool that we had to include it here. You could easily combine a flanger with other great sounding effects in different bands, and that’s worth remarking on.
Also, while there is a free version, it appears that there’s also a premium version that lets you add five effects per band!
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
rf Destroyer by rf Music
Here’s another multi-effect VST plugin that caught my eye as I was trawling the legacy plugins archives for other entries you would be interested in.
To know what it does, you have but to look at its graphical user interface and its various sections.
That said, this thing is pretty crazy – it’s almost like a multi-FX pedal for guitar.
It includes a gate section with thresh, attack, and release, a distortion section with drive, bit crusher, distortion, and volume, and a pre filter with seven modes – LP, HP, BP, notch, peak, 303 LP, and 303 HP – along with cut and res controls.
There’s also a graphic EQ, master filter with seven modes (same as pre filter section) and cut and res controls.
Now for the fun part. There’s a flanger section with ratio, depth, predelay, feed, and mix controls, as well as a chorus section with ratio, depth, predealy, and mix.
But it doesn’t end there. You’ve also got a compressor / limiter section with in, out, ratio, attack release, and a off / GR / VU parameter along with a VU meter.
There’s also a dedicated delay section with delay, feed, mix controls for L, C, and R, as well as a reverb section with room, damp, width, and mix.
Finally, there are master input and output controls.
This thing is quite wild, and the developer says it’s ideal for sound design and for adding excitement to tracks. No kidding. You could easily do some weird stuff with this.
The video below shows the plugin being used on practically every track. Cool idea! That ought to give you a good idea what the plugin can do.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
Flaser by ConcreteFX
ConcreteFX’ humorously named Flaser might not be much to look at, but as the developer says, it’s a flanger, chorus, phaser, delay, “type thing.” So, the name certainly seems appropriate.
This effect takes advantage of multiple allpass delays in series. All you need to do is set the initial and final parameters, and the plugin will take care of everything in between.
You can also set the minimum and maximum values of the parameters with a LFO that moves between them.
Flaser features controls for wet, dry, stages (number of delays), phase, in delay, out delay, and limit.
Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE
Chorus? Phaser? Flanger? Which One Should I Use?
Chorus, phaser, and flanger are each a type of modulation effect with slightly different sonic characteristics. Sound wise – at least to me – phaser and flanger are the most similar of the three.
With experience, you will start to get a better sense of when to use each. Until then, it’s a good idea to experiment and explore, so you can begin to identify each on your own.
What I’ve discovered on my own journey could end up helping you, so I’ll share some thoughts on each effect.
Let’s start with chorus.
The word “chorus” is essentially derived from the word “choir.” So, as its name would suggest, it adds multiple voices to your track with subtle pitch and timing differences. The great thing is you typically have control over the intensity of the effect as well as how it modulates.
Chorus, especially vintage chorus effects, can add a nice 80s vibe to a guitar track. It’s lovely on a clean guitar track because of the quality it imparts. A clean guitar can be a little raw. Chorus will tend to warm it up and give it a slightly ethereal quality too.
I love chorus on vocals as well. You don’t always see it on a vocal signal chain but depending on the settings, you can achieve a subtle doubling effect that also makes the vocals “pop” in a mix. Chorus can also cover pitchiness in a performance, to an extent. I avoid extreme effect wetness on vocals because it sounds weird.
On rare occasions, I have used chorusing on drums. There are some recordings, especially in the 80s, that seem as though they have chorus on the drums as well. Again, I typically use it in smaller doses, but it’s a good effect when you’re looking for a specific quality.
Next up is phaser.
It’s nearly impossible to reference phaser effects without mentioning Eddie Van Halen, because he made extensive and legendary use of it on tracks like “Atomic Punk,” “Eruption,” “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love,” and “Drop Dead Legs,” among others.
Phasers have a sound that lands somewhere between chorus and flangers. The main difference is that a phaser does not modulate delay time. A phaser passes your signal through an “all-pass filter” circuit.
I love to use phaser on guitar, especially for riffs, licks, and solos I want to emphasize, but of course, you can try it on just about anything.
Finally, there’s flanging.
Flangers have a sweeping, whooshing sort of sound, primarily heard in the higher frequencies. Makeup wise, it’s very close to chorus. The primary difference is flangers will use shorter delay times. This makes its sound akin to a sweeping comb filter.
The sound of a flanger can be heard on songs ranging from Heart’s “Barracuda” and The Police’s “Walking on the Moon,” to Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio,” and Van Halen’s “Unchained.”
The flanger is the perfect complement to the guitar track heard on “Barracuda.” There’s clearly a bit of overdrive on the guitar too, but the flanger adds that “swirling” quality, which makes those harmonics stand out even more.
We could get into more of the technical details of each effect, but as with most things music, you’re better off trusting your intuition and letting your ears guide you. The science is fascinating, but it won’t necessarily make you a better producer unless combined with real-life experience.
What Tracks Should I Use Flanging On?
A flanger doesn’t necessarily find its way into every recording. It’s not ubiquitous like reverb, or ever present like compression. Usually, the esthetic of the track naturally calls for it. It could be a vintage funk or disco vibe, sometimes psych rock or even pop.
Typically, you would hear flange on an instrument that sounds especially great modulated – synth, and of course, guitar.
Does that mean you shouldn’t use flange on other tracks or instruments? Avoid use with drums and vocals?
Not necessarily. There is certainly a time and place for modulation on vocals and drums too. But you may not want to use the effect for an entire three-minute song, or in overt ways. Subtle usually works best.
That said, you’re free to experiment to your heart’s content. You just never know what you might come up with, and in music, rules are made to be broken.
After all, there are plenty of artists using auto-tune and pitch shifting as an effect for entire tracks nowadays. Who says you can’t do it with flanger?
I Don’t Know About These Flanger Effects… They Sound Kind Of “Out There” To Me
Yes, and I know that you’re not just talking about the space-like quality that flanger effects have.
As with anything in mixing and production, tracks heard in isolation can sound a little weird. It’s only as you hear everything in context that each part starts to make sense.
If you’ve been mixing and producing for any length of time, then you know exactly what I mean. For instance, to get an acoustic guitar to cut through a busy mix, there are times when you’ve got to shave enough frequencies off to make it sound like it’s coming through a telephone.
So, when applying flanger to a track, it’s usually with the result in mind – how it’s going to sound in the mix.
Fortunately, flanger effects aren’t too hard to control. If it seems like too much, even in the context of a mix, first, play with the depth / intensity / wetness. Turning this down will make the effect subtler.
Also, sometimes the wobble can be overbearing. Try playing with the rate and slowing down the effect.
Just by tweaking these two parameters, you should arrive at a result that’s a more listenable.
Top Free Flanger VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
At this point, you probably have more flanger VST plugins than you know what to do with. Now that’s a first world problem!
Remember, though, that modulation doesn’t stop with flanging. There’s also chorus and phasers, and you’ll want those in your VST arsenal, too, if you don’t already have competent versions of each.
Either way, guitar and synth tracks are the most obvious places to use a flanger, but be sure to experiment with it on drums, bass, vocals, and other tracks as well, just so you know what it sounds like. Experiment lots and have fun!