Plugins are the best way to extend the creative features in Audacity, but if you’re new to this software, it’s hard to know where to start. With loads of fantastic free plugins to choose from, it’s worth starting with the essentials.
We’ve put together a collection that includes an equalizer, compressor, and reverb, which are must-have effects for producing everything from music to audiobooks to podcasts. On top of that, the FFmpeg plugin is needed to expand the type of audio/video formats you can import, and the ACX verification plugin is essential for comparing audiobook streaming standards.
Download the right plugin
Before downloading a plugin, it is important to verify that the version of the plugin matches both your operating system and the version of Audacity you have.
Choosing the right plugin version for your operating system is easy; just scan the download page for Linux, Windows, or Mac installers. If you don’t see your operating system, the plugin may not be available for you. The Audacity manual has more information on installing plugins if you’ve never done it before.
The next thing to consider is selecting the appropriate build architecture. For example, 64-bit plugins can only run on the 64-bit Audacity version of the software. Similarly, 32-bit plugins will only work in the 32-bit version of Audacity. If you have a Mac then it gets a bit more complicated, so we’ll cover that separately a bit later.
Check which version of Audacity you have
Quickly check which version you have by opening Audacity and using the menu bar to navigate to Audacity > about boldness. When the dialog window appears, select the Build Information tab. Under Type of constructionyou can see if you are running 64-bit or 32-bit Audacity.
Audacity Plugins for Mac Intel vs. Apple Silicon
As we said earlier, it can be a bit confusing when it comes to downloading Audacity plugins for Mac computers. The reason is that some people may have an older Mac with the Intel chip (x86-64), while others have the Apple Silicon Newer Mac (arm64).
Before proceeding, find out if your Mac uses Intel or Apple Silicon. Plugins that are regularly updated are likely to include a version for Intel 32/64-bit or M1/ARM, depending on their range of compatibility. Be sure to select the one that matches your computer.
This compressor is used by many Audacity fans and has been around for over a decade. The late Chris Capel was the creator of this enduring plugin, which is now hosted on The Audacity to Podcast website. Here you can find the installation instructions, although we would add that it is even easier to install using Audacity Instruments > Nyquist Plugin Installer.
Much like a reverb plugin, compression is widely used throughout audio production. The interface of this plugin is simple and gives you the key parameters worth playing around with. To learn more about this plugin, try reading the tutorial that comes inside the download folder.
When it comes to reverb plugins, sometimes it’s best to keep it simple. Valhalla Super Massive has a great interface that offers just what you need without extra distractions.
While its easy-to-use interface may seem simple, it offers plenty of complex sounds with 16 presets to help you get started; Hydra, Orion and Pisces are just some of them.
Unlike some plugins, Valhalla Super Massive is completely free, with no strings attached. What’s even better is that the website is packed with information about the plugin, which isn’t always the case with plugin developers, and includes plenty of audio examples for each preset/mode.
It’s the perfect gateway for beginners looking for their first reverb plugin. Use it to create long, luscious echoes, or turn down the mix knob to add just a touch of reverb to your track. Don’t think it’s just right for music, reverb is added to all kinds of audio production, from podcasts to sound design, voiceovers, and audiobooks.
Don’t forget that it also works with Audacity’s real-time effects feature, allowing you to adjust settings while listening to your track.
A lot of people use Audacity to produce audiobooks, which is where this handy little plugin comes in. ACX Check will run an analysis on your selected audio and compare it to the standard audiobook requirements needed to publish on popular audiobook marketplaces.
If your audio doesn’t meet the requirements, it will display a warning. Includes peak level, RMS level, background noise, and sample rate information all in one place. Simple and quick to use, it’s a time-saving plugin that you must have if you want to create audiobooks.
Since it is a Nyquist-type plugin, the installation process is slightly different than usual. You can install the file manually, but we recommend that you use Audacity’s built-in installer. In the top navigation bar, select Instruments > Nyquist Plugin Installerthen select Browse to locate the plugin file. Once done, click Apply then close and reopen Audacity.
Once installed, you can find ACX Check in the Analyze menu in the top navigation bar.
4. FFmpeg: import/export different audio formats
In order to import audio from video files or use different audio formats like M4A, AC3, AMR, WMA or MP4, you will need to download FFmpeg. It’s not exactly a plugin, but a library, but just like a plugin, it will give you more functionality in Audacity.
You can refer to the Audacity manual to find installation instructions for Windows, Mac, or Linux. While this is a fairly straightforward addition to Audacity, it will make your workflow even smoother. You no longer have to worry about converting audio files.
There are many types of EQ plugins, and it can get complicated quickly. However, the MEqualizer plugin makes things manageable by sticking to 6 adjustable frequency bands. This gives you enough headroom to roll off high or low frequencies, while also making adjustments to the midrange.
It comes as part of MeldaProduction’s MFreeFXBundle suite, which offers a host of effect plugins to choose from. Some are paid while others are free. During the installation process, you can choose which effects you want, so just look for MEqualizer in the free plugins section.
Free plugins do not have a time limit, although you will have to put up with the banner at the bottom of the plugin window. It’s a fair trade for a fully-functioning EQ plugin, and you can consider upgrading at any time if you want the message to go away.
Free plugins for Audacity
There’s no better way to get the most out of Audacity than with plugins. Since there are so many third-party plugins out there, it’s worth narrowing down the list. Some of the best free plugins were created by individuals, like Dynamic Compressor by Chris. While others are offered by dedicated plugin developers, such as Valhalla Super Massive.
It’s hard to believe that you can get such fantastic effect plugins completely free. Downloading some of these plugins will add a lot of creative and practical features to Audacity.