Pro Tools uses a proprietary plug-in format called RTAS (Real Time AudioSuite) which is equivalent to the open source VST plugin format used in other sequencers such as Logic and Cubase. As anyone can create their own VSTs and release them to the public, there are literally thousands of VST plugins out there, ranging in price from free to remarkably expensive. As there is no quality control system on these plugins, their usefulness also varies a lot – but at least for the free plugins, you don’t have much to lose by giving them a go. For Pro Tools users, however, there are still a few ways to expand your RTAS plugin arsenal on the cheap…
Free RTAS Plugins – Yes, They Do Exist
Pro Tools does come with some nifty plugins out of the box, but if you want to grab a few more then try these:
- Izotope Vinyl
- Nomad Free Bundle RTAS
- The Bad Habit RTAS Plugin List
- Cycling 74 Pluggo
- Massey Plugins
- Don’t Crack Plugin List
- Blue Cat Audio Freeware Plugin Pack Nice bundle, including a useful analyser.
- Brainworx – bx_cleansweep Free filtering goodness.
Brainworx – bx_solo Mid/side processing tool.
- Digidesign – Structure Free – Free sampler.
Digidesign/Bomb Factory – Free Bomb Factory Plug-ins – Bomb Factory plug-ins now free for Pro Tools users.
Digidesign/TL Labs – TL Utilities – Metering and monitoring utilities.
Digidesign/TL Labs – TL AutoPan – Panning effects.
- Elysia – Niveau Filter – Another filtering option for your arsenal.
- Flux – BitterSweet II – Transient designer with a sweet sound.
Flux – Stereo Tool – Get your panning in order.
- FXpansion – Orca – Free synth with some good options.
FXpansion – ClapOMatic – Not exactly essential, but an interesting addition.
- Izotope – Vinyl – Make your recordings sound like olde vinly.
- JK Plugs – JK-Pipe – Utility for Macs.
- Massey – Massey Tools – Massey RTAS plugins.
- Native Instruments – Kontakt Player – plays Kontakt sound packs.
Native Instruments – Kore Player – Sadly discontinued, but still useful.
Native Instruments – Reaktor Player – Plays Reaktor soundpacks.
Native Instruments – Guitar Rig 4 Player – Guitar effects processor.
- Ohm Force – Frohmage – Cheesy filter sounds.
Ohm Force – Cohmpost – For some sound decomposition.
Ohm Force – Symptohm: Melohman PE – More synth fun.
- Pleasurize Music Foundation – Dynamic Range Meter
- Prosoniq – NorthPole – 4 pole filter.
- PSP Audioware – PSP Vintage Meter – Metering.
- RNDigital – Inspector Free
- Sonalksis – FreeG
- Sonoma Wire Works – DrumCore Free – Free drum kit action.
- SoundHack – Delay Trio
- SoundHack – Freesound Bundle
- SPL – FreeRanger
- SPL – Attacker – Transient designer.
- Studio Devil – Studio Devil BVC – Amp modeling.
- UVI Sound Source – UVI Workstation – Sample playback.
- ValhallaDSP – ValhallaFreqEcho – Frequency shifter and echo.
Some of these are actually demo or trial versions, but it’s a start.
Free RTAS Plugins From VST – Time To Wrap Up
If you really want to use VST plugins with your Pro Tools rig, there is a way – you can get yourself a wrapper program that acts as an interface between the VST and Pro Tools itself.
You can buy this program from FXpansion for about €75, and once it’s installed then you can call up your VSTs in Pro Tools just like you would your usual RTAS Plugins.
You can read about my experience with the Fxpansion wrapper program in this post about my VST to RTAS wrapping adventures.