Yellow Tools is a German based company which is most famous for it’s Culture percussion instrument which can be heard on numerous movie soundtracks (Spiderman 2, Man on Fire) and televisions programs (24). Their products run the gamut of virtual instruments at pretty much every price point…including free.
Well, Independence Free is really more of a trial version to which the company hopes it can entice users to upgrade to the full fledged Independence Basic or Independence Pro sampling workstations. That being said, Independence Free is based on the same Independence 2 audio engine of their flagship products and is a full version! No bleeps, periodic silence, time limitation, or save limitations. Awesome!
I headed over to the site and began downloading the application and sample library to discover a whopping 2GB of content. Even with the content divided into 8 separate libraries; downloading everything took quite some time. For those with slower internet connections, they also offer the application on a DVD by mail for basically the cost of shipping.
Installing the product was a little confusing as there weren’t any instructions. The application installs with ease, but you need to also unzip the sample content and place the resulting .ytif files in the “image files” folder which is created when the application is installed.
Independence functions standalone or as a VST plug in with a host DAW. I fired up SONAR to test this baby out. SONAR didn’t have any issues auto configuring the plug in on start up other than prompting me to select the location of the “image files” folder I mentioned above.
I inserted an instance of Independence Free and was greeted with a somewhat overwhelming screen. I stared at it for a minute not knowing where to start. Fortunately, there is a very detailed 240 page pdf help file, a rarity in the realm of free audio software. After a little reading, I was ready to go. While the interface offers programming options to the nth degree, those (like myself) who just want to load a sound up and go can simply click the “click here to load instrument” link and select one of the presets. Additionally, the application defaults to the “module” view allowing deep editing and sound sculpting of your loaded samples. There is a much friendlier Quick Edit screen which the casual or first time user will greatly appreciate.
The extremely generous and impressive collection of samples covers acoustic and electric drums, basses, synths, ethnic percussion, and even arpeggiated and groove based instruments. Running through the presets, I was astonished at the overall high quality of content they are giving out for free. Especially the drum and bass instruments which as superb. For example, the electric bass presets are layered with the scratchy sounds of fingers sliding on a string and include a large collection of slides up and down the neck offering an incredible amount of realism. I could go on and on about how good they sound, but you really need to hear the sounds to believe it (head over to the clips page to hear some samples).
Equally impressive as the high quality samples is the excellent suite of effects. All the usual suspects are included and all are very good, but the special effects section which consists of convolution based preamp, cabinet, mic, and environment (reverb) effects are outstanding. For example, the cabinent modeling offers up six different types each with a center off-axis, and far variants well as color and output gain parameters.
Yellow Tools Independence Free is by far the best free sampling VST plug-in I’ve ever heard. This is bound to become a cult classic with solo guitarists on a budget for creating backing tracks. Do yourself a favor and download it now; you’ll thank me later.
Pros: Incredibly high quality samples and effects