Macquarie University
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To pay or not to pay: how do free virtual studio technologies compare to their paid counterparts?

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:35 authored by Kendall King
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) has played a pivotal role in the recording revolution and has allowed producers to move away from analog equipment, giving them the tools to mix and master music solely inside the computer. There is significant literature describing the process of mixing, mastering and the free software movement. However, there is little to no research on free vs commercial music software. This study tests the differences between free and commercial VST Plugins for mixing and mastering through the production of two versions of a creative work; one using free plugins and one using commercial plugins. The results are based on an ABX blind test, survey and interview with five music industry professionals. Participants describe the qualitative differences between the free and commercial plugins. An analysis of the results and interviews reveals the perceived differences and opinions of professional mixing and mastering engineers when it comes to free and commercial music software. In addition, this study identifies the different perspectives that each engineer has when it comes to mixing and mastering, and the use and place for free plugins in professional music production.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction --- 2. Literature review -- 3. Background to freeware -- 4. Methodology -- 5. Creative component -- 6. Discussion 7. Conclusion -- 8. Reference list -- Appendix.


Bibliography: pages 43-48 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Sarah Keith


Copyright Kendall King 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




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