Free Plug-Ins: Xpand

April 2011: The Xpand Virtual Instrument plug-in is no longer available at the Avid site for free download. If you’re using Pro Tools 8 or Pro Tools 9 this won’t matter because your system will have shipped with Xpand2. If you are running Pro Tools 7.x and would still like to get your hands on Xpand, you can purchase the Pro Tools 7 version of the 101 Courseware, which happened to include Xpand on the DVD.

Xpand! was the first instrument to be released by Digidesign’s AIR group The AIR group is the team of people previously known as Wizoo, a pioneering developer of virtual instruments, sample libraries, and real-time effects led by three principals, including legendary film composer, Hanz Zimmer.

In August 2005, Digidesign acquired Wizoo and AIR was born.

The official blurb

Xpand! is a free RTAS sample-playback/synthesis workstation that provides fast, efficient ways to access and manipulate thousands of high-quality sounds directly from within Pro Tools.

It offers virtual analog, FM, and wavetable synthesis; sample playback; virtual tonewheels; and effects. Start with any of the more than 1,000 factory patches and then fine-tune the four component sound parts to craft anything from pristine-sounding acoustic instruments to complex synthesized soundscapes or loop-driven techno tracks. Built for songwriters, film composers, DJs, electronic musicians, music producers, and sound designers, Xpand! is a sonic powerhouse that will become an indispensable component of any Pro Tools environment.

You can download the Xpand! plug-in here at the Digidesign website. Then go to the DigiStore to purchase (for $0.00) the Xpand! CD-ROM. The plug-in and 600MB sound library are free. Shipping is $9.95.

Xpand! Features

  • Comprehensive sound factory for all musical styles and applications
  • More than 1,000 factory patches and 500 combinable part presets
  • Four layer-able parts for millions of combinations
  • Multi-synthesis engine
  • 64-note polyphony
  • Quick and easy sound tweaking
  • Sample playback and virtual tonewheels
  • Two built-in effect sections and four arpeggiators/phrase generators
  • Highly efficient on system resources

How do you get it?

Xpand! includes a 600MB library of samples. That can make for a lot of bandwidth expense on Digidesign’s part. So what they’ve done is put the plug-in in the Digistore where you can “buy” it for zero dollars. They’ll send you the CDROM with the library on it. You will, however, have to pay the $9.95 cost for shipping and handling. More than fair, if you ask me.


  1. Paul Vanderhoff says:

    The expand 2 plugin sounded really good on my friend’s Pro Tool 8 LE. Can the expand 2 plugin work on Cubase as well? Thanks

    • Paul ~ Nope. Cubase uses VST Plug-Ins, not RTAS plug-ins. But not to worry. All of the best sampler, synth, and sound module Virtual Instruments are typically VST compatible. So, there’s no shortage of great sounding instruments for Cubase.

      If you are looking for a free instrument I would recommend the Native Instruments KORE 2 Player. It’s similar to the Xpand2 Instrument in many ways in that it will enable you to play back a combination of Synth/ROM Samples with Effects within a single plug-in. And it’s got some killer sounds!

      Check Out Native Instrument’s Kore 2 Player