Native Instruments' $50 retro synth plug-in is currently free

Analog Dreams recreates the instruments that gave new wave its iconic sounds.

The '80s had no shortage of massive-sounding synthesizers, but many of them have either gone out to pasture or are prohibitively expensive on the secondhand market. Software companies often try to digitally recreate those synths as affordable plug-ins, though, and to keep musicians busy while they're locked inside, Native Instruments has made its Analog Dreams software -- which usually costs $50 -- free to download. That means anyone with a USB keyboard or controller can work on their Duran Duran covers or an isolation-induced synth pop opus.

While "free" is a great price, it can be difficult to navigate Native Instrument's software ecosystem -- users can't simply download the Analog Dreams software and start playing. First, they need to download and install the company's Native Access management tool, followed by its free Kontakt Player plug-in. Then, they can finally download expansions like Analog Lab. Those just getting started with Native Instruments' offerings should consider downloading the company's Komplete Start package, which is a free bundle of instruments and effects, and comes with Kontakt Player.

Native Instruments isn't the first company to give away its music-making tools to keep people busy during the coronavirus pandemic. Both Moog and Korg have made some of their mobile apps free. The Analog Dreams giveaway seems to be a hit already -- the Native Instruments website is having difficulty loading pages and servings downloads, and can't even load its password recovery page at the moment. Musicians who want to download the software should be able to once the dust settles, but that could take some time.

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