“What are the best free VST plugins out there in 2022?”.
In 2022, there are hundreds of free VST plugins out there, from fully-featured wavetable synth plugins, to detailed, authentic virtual instruments.
Third-party VST plugins are an essential part of the music production process, so it’s important you know which plugins are worth your time.
If you’re a beginner, or you’re looking for some new free VST plugins to add to your collection, you’re in the right place.
Last year we released our rundown of the best VST plugins of 2021, which received a hugely positive response.
Best Free VST Plugins For Guitar
So without further ado, let’s dive into this list of the best VST plugins 2022.
In last year’s rundown we gave the number 1 spot to the incredible wavetable synth Vital. So if you haven’t already downloaded Vital, make sure you check it out here.
But another free, fully-featured synth plugin you should know about is Surge.
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Surge is undoubtedly one of the most underrated synths in 2022, especially given its seemingly endless amount of onboard controls and effects.
One of the best things about Surge is its ability to create almost any sound you can think of. The Surge engine features 3 oscillators, each with 12 unique algorithms to choose from.
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It also features 2 filter units (with feedback loop capabilities), 12 LFO units and 8 effect units with 24 versatile effect options such as 2 reverbs, a vocoder and a ring modulator.
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You may be wondering: between Vital and Surge which is the better plugin? In all honesty, Vital has way more features than Surge, and its wavetable functionality is better than almost any paid plugin out there.
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However, Surge is noticeably lighter on CPU, and many users have reported their older systems struggling when working with Vital.
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Plus, Surge has significantly more presets than the free version of Vital, so its often better for instant sonic inspiration.
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However, they are both completely free, and are absolutely essential tools for any producer in 2022. Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit.
Any Other FREE VST Plugins I Should Grab?
Another example of a highly underrated synth plugin is Pendulate from Eventide Audio. This plugin is refreshingly unique and is capable of creating some really interesting, electronic sounds.
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The interface features a double pendulum oscillator, with controls for adding instabilities, detuning, overtones and sub bass. It also features a unique wavefolder section for editing the tone and harmonics of the sound, as well as a ton of options in the lower section for adding modulation, ADSR, and other useful parameters.
The Best FREE VST Plugins 2022: Similar Articles
I’d definitely recommend this synth to electronic producers looking for grittier, more intense sounds to add to their tracks. It’s worth mentioning this plugin requires you to sign up before you can download it but it takes less than a minute and it’s definitely worth it.
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Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit. Wider from Polyverse is a free VST plugin that can be used to expand the stereo image of a mono signal, giving it a huge amount of width.
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Now you might be thinking: “I already have a stereo widener control built into my DAW, why do I need this plugin?”. From my experience this free VST plugin is one of the only stereo width plugins that is completely mono-compatible.
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For example, many other plugins tend to knock the signal out of phase which can make the result sound strange and unbalanced. Whereas Wider creates a natural stereo image that will always remain in phase with itself.
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It’s worth mentioning that this stereo algorithm comes from the insane plugin Manipulator, which Polyverse created with the legendary electronic duo Infected Mushroom.
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Manipulator is probably the best plugin out there for warping and manipulating your sounds to create truly unique, inspiring effects.
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It’s not a free plugin but if you are interested in that one you can check it out here. Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit.
Top Free VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
Voltage Modular Nucleus by Cherry Audio is an another absolutely essential download for any producer in 2022.
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This plugin contains a free collection of 22 modules with over 130 presets. It is also the perfect beginners introduction to this style of modular synthesis.
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The free version of this plugin is meant to act as a “starter kit”, however it really has everything you need to get started (and more!) Not only does it have a gorgeous design and workflow, but it’s also capable of creating some genuinely breathtaking sounds.
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Its modular-style workflow can be quite confusing for beginners, which is why it’s best to maybe start experimenting using the presets as a starting point.
Best Free Stereo Width Control VST
Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit.
Best Free Bass Instrument VST
Cloudrum by Ample Sound is a virtual instrument that allows you to perfectly sample a steel tongue drum with a range of 3 octaves.
A common pitfall for modern music production is to consistently use the same sounds as other producers in their genre.
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The best producers in 2022 all use sounds in new and creative ways, which instantly sets them apart from everyone else. With that in mind, Cloudrum gives you access to a gorgeous-sounding instrument you may have come across before.
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The tone and colour of the sound is extremely pleasant to the ear, and you also get some handy mic parameters and an ADSR control to finetune the sound as well.
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Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit. The next free VST plugin on this list is Signal (Free) by Output.
Output are an acclaimed audio software development company with a fantastic range of instrument and effect plugins, as well as Kontakt libraries. Signal Free is the free version of their incredibly popular Signal library: an expansive, rhythm-focused collection of instruments ideal for creating evolving, atmospheric sounds.
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Even the free version remains extremely versatile, and can be used to create synth stabs, melodic, spacious piano tones and a huge range of ambient soundscapes.
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However it works in the free version of Kontakt Player as well, so I’d definitely recommend trying it out even if you don’t have the full version.
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Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit. SuperMassive by Valhalla is a stunning, surprisingly-powerful free reverb plugin.
Best Free Frequency Analyzer VST
Valhalla are a renowned plugin company best-known for their insanely high-quality reverb and delay tools. Super Massive is no different, and it can be used to create huge, spacious, evolving reverb tails.
The MODE control is probably the most powerful Supermassive control, as each algorithms in this list has very decay characteristics. Combining these long delays with the unique WARP control, and the results range from echoes that slowly fade in, to cascading harmonic echoes, to lush, evolving reverbs, and more.
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If you’re looking to spice up your reverb effects, Supermassive is an absolute no-brainer. Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit.
If you’re looking for some instant vintage keys, you should definitely check out the free keys plugin Sweetcase from NoiseAsh.
Sweetcase is designed and recorded with vintage analog equipment, and has a really authentic, retro sound.
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The controls are fairly basic, but you do get a reverb control and a couple of modulation controls as well.
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Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit.
When it comes to free compression plugins, everyone knows about OTT. Another free alternative for compression is Rough Rider by AudioDamage.
Rough Rider is easily one of the most popular free compression plugins of all time, and for good reason.
Best Free Guitar VST
For a free download, the quality is very rounded and professional-sounding. The interface is also very easy to use and makes compressing your sounds a quick and uncomplicated process.
Best Free Compressor VST
This new and updated version includes this external sidechain input as well as your standard compression controls.
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Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit. Finally we have an incredible collection of plugins modeled on authentic guitar pedals.
The effects include various types of distortion, drive and a chorus as well. My personal favourite is the Ibanez® TS-808 modeling plugin, which provides a tube-style creamer effect with drive, tone and level controls, as well as a mod switch.
So if you’re looking for some free guitar tones, I’d definitely recommend checking this collection out.
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Click here to download.Available for both Windows / Mac and 32-bit / 64-bit. Last Updated on January 11, 2022 by . Yes, you read that right- 400 VST plugin tools completely free of charge (Audiounit versions for Mac OS are also available).
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EDITOR’S NOTE: Our list for best FREE VSTs is continually updated, so make sure you bookmark this page for future reference and share it with your friends.
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We’ve spent countless days digging through the web to find the very best free plugins – both VST and AU/Audio Unit.
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We found more than 400 free VSTs of all types, including one VST whose sole purpose is to crash your DAW. 👉 CHECK OUT THE LATEST DEALS AND DISCOUNTS ON VST PLUGINS AND DAWS. We did our best to group these plugins by category, but some VSTs were simply impossible to classify.
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This list includes effects too, but if you’re looking for a list of the best vst SYNTHS, you can find it here.
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But enough talk, without further ado, here is our list:. Traditionally used to emulate that vintage guitar sound that is unique to some old school amps, amp simulators can also be used with other instruments to achieve a unique sound.
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Interested in more AMP SIMULATION? Then check out our list of BEST AMP SIMULATORS ON THE MARKET. Below are our favorite free amp sim vsts.
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Blue Cat’s and Voxengo’s free amp simulators are some of the highlights. Manually changing the pan knobs is so last year. These plugins are free and will add some cool effects to your mix effortlessly.
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Also you should check our list of BEST Rent-to-own VST plugins here in case you want to get a lot of VSTs but are strapped for cash. Our favorite?Well, PanCake is pretty cool.
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Bass VSTs nowadays can be anything from 808s to Upright Jazz. Below, in no particular order, you’ll find a huge variety of bass sounds. Some come with interfaces, others don’t.
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Bitcrushers are all the trend right now. And to be honest, they’re not that hard to program. If you want to dive straight into world class VST SYNTHS (not free), here is our own list of BEST SYNTH PLUGINS right here.
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Also, our list of BEST FM SYNTH Plugins is handy. The plugins outlined below will give you some really good glitchy lo-fi sounds- for free, of course.
This section contains no one type of VST. Instead it aggregates all bundles.
A compressor is a must have plugin for any producer or engineer. Fortunately, some of the free plugins we’ve listed below are pretty much at the same level of the state of the art paid plugins made by waves and others.
Best Free Synthesizer VST Plugins
Our favorites are the Density mkIII and the Klanghelm MJUC Jr. Another essential plugin to have in your library.
Once again, the free options are almost as good as the paid ones. Voxengo Tempo Delay 2.0. is the pick of the litter for us.
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My mother always told me “march to the beat of your own drum”, but I guess she was wrong, because I found a bunch of really good free drum vsts.
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You should also check out this cool drum plugin by Loopcloud here. Amongst them, is the T.REX 606, a classic sound that could have easily cost hundreds of dollars, but for some reason is free: .
Best Free Piano Instrument VST
Are you processing your own voice? Then why not check out this list of BEST MICROPHONE ARMS AND STANDS listed on Amazon. We all need some balance in our lifes. And so do our mixes, that’s why you should definitively download a free EQ plugin.Our favorite here is TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Records.
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You should also check out our article on online mastering services here. Welcome to the most popular category of this article.
A good synth can make or break a song, and you’d be surprise how far a free synth can go. A great example is Synth1 by Daichi Labs. Artists such as Noisia have confessed to using it extensively and it sounds just amazing.
The Best Free VST Plugins 2022 (+ download links)
Check for yourself:. These are plugins that we could not categorized or still haven’t had the time to use and assign a category. And that’s it folks!
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If you’ve got any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below, or contact us. And remember, stay tuned on this article as there are constant updates!
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Jan 14, 2022• Proven solutions. With the release of different VST plugins, it has become more convenient and inexpensive for a music producer to mix a track.
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Instead of buying expensive music instruments, they can install dedicated plugins and get the same results without any hassle.
MT Power Drum Kit 2 By Manda Audio
Of course, with so many available options, it can get a bit hectic to evaluate which VST plugins are worth installing.
1. Native Instruments
That’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 best free VST plugins so that you can pick the best ones to fulfill your requirements.
TSE R47 By TSE Audio
So, without any further ado, let’s start the list. You might also like: 8 Best DAW for Chromebook to Make Music. Native Instruments has done a remarkable job by releasing KOMPLETE START.
8. Ozone Imager V2
It’s a complete audio-mixing bundle that contains a variety of VST plugins, virtual instruments, thousands of audio effects, and several other free resources for music production.
Earlier all these elements were available individually. However, music producers can now access all these elements with a single product bundle, making the entire audio-mixing process more convenient and quick.
You can use the KOMPLETE START audio bundle with any VST, AU, and AAX plugin compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Get Access to 2,000 sounds and more than 6 GB of content.
Guitar Rig 6 Player By Native Instruments
Perfect for Beginners as KOMPLETE START has everything to step-up your music production game.
5. Ample Percussion – Cloudrum
Compatible With Windows as well as Mac OS. Spitfire Labs is yet another complete package if you’re looking for different types of sounds.
OrilRiver By Denis Tihanov
It would have been an injustice to exclude Spitfire Labs’ audio project from the list of best free VST plugins as it contains some of the unique audio effects one can integrate into their audio track.
Blue Cat’s Triple EQ By Blue Cat Audio
What separates Spitfire Labs from other VST plugins is that every sound is composed of musicians and sampling experts in London, which means there’s no compromise on the quality whatsoever.
SPITFISH By Sascha Eversmeier
And, since it features a wide variety of sounds, ranging from drums to actual natural sounds from the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll have no limitations on expressing your creativity.
AmpliTube 5 Custom Shop By IK Multimedia
Get a Variety of instrumental and natural sounds in one package. Experts compose each audio effect/sound. Sonatina Orchestra is a suitable free VST plugin for people who have just started their career as a music composer and are looking for pretty necessary investment.
LABS – Electric Piano By Spitfire Audio
It’s an orchestral sample library that contains pretty much all the elements you’ll need to create an orchestration virtually.
6. Output Signal
The library contains an array of audio samples, which have different amounts of stage ambiance, based on the placement of an instrument on the stage.
Stereo Touch By Voxengo
It means you give your audio track a real orchestral vibe using different audio samples.
VladG Molot Compressor By Tokyo Dawn Records
Different Types of audio samples including strings, brass, keys & choir, etc.
Perfect for Beginners as well as slightly experienced music composers. Keyzone Classic is a piano-based plugin that provides acoustic samples from different pianos.
2. Spitfire LABS
The plugin can be installed on any operating system, be it Mac or Windows, and works with the majority of DAWs.
If you want to add a piece of soft piano music in the background of your audio track, Keyzone Classic is the perfect option. Unlike the previous best free VST plugins in our list, Keyzone Classic isn’t a complete bundle, which makes it lightweight and easy-to-use.
Get a variety of presets including Yamaha Grand Piano, Steinway Grand Piano, Basic Electric Piano.
10. Best Free VST Plugins –Mercuriall Audio pedals
Lightweight and easy-to-install. Sforzando is one of the most powerful sample players that’ll free you from relying on proprietary formats for creating your own SFZ file formats.
With Sforzando, you can create and share instruments for free, as well as commercial purposes. Although it might not be a suitable option for beginners or even intermediate composers.
Because there is no fancy UI that’ll help you navigate through different elements. Everything needs to be done from scratch, that too, at the SFZ file level itself.
In a nutshell, you must be a skilled and highly experienced composer to operate Plogue Sforzando.
Uses SFZ file format, which is royalty-free, which means you can create and distribute instruments without any restrictions.
LABS – Choir By Spitfire Audio
As the name implies, Simple Sound Delay is a virtual signal delaying AAX and VST plugin. It can be used in any DAW to delay audio signals with extremely accurate precision.
Saturation Knob By Softube
The plugin allows you to postpone time by setting a time-frame in milliseconds or using the samples.
TSE BOD By TSE Audio
However, being one of the standalone and free VST plugins, Sound Delay can only be used to delay audio signals. Apart from this, it doesn’t provide any functionality whatsoever.
Blue Cat’s Chorus By Blue Cat Audio
Sound Delay is an appropriate option for music composers who have already installed dozens of individual VST plugins and want a new one that’ll help them delay audio signals as well.
Libra By IGNITE AMPS
Delay Audio Signals in milliseconds or using samples. Delay mid & side-channels separately. Tube Amplifier is a VST plugin that applies asymmetric tube triode overdrive to your project.
7. Best Free VST Plugins – Supermassive
By no means, TubeAmp is the right choice for a beginner as one must be familiar with tube-triode. However, if you’re an experienced music composer, Tube Amplifier will fit your studio perfectly.
3. Sonatina Orchestra
As we mentioned earlier, it can be used to apply asymmetric tube triode overdrive, which is usually found in single-tube microphone preamp boxes.
It also contains a low-pass filter that’ll help you imitate a low-quality tube-triode. Asymmetric tube triode overdrive.
NadIR By IGNITE AMPS
Two processing modes. Additional output saturation stage. Stereo and multi-channel processing. Ozone Imager V2 is probably one of the best free VST plugins as it allows a music composer to have full control over the width of the sounds.
Multiply By Acon Digital
The tool has three different vectorscope meters that instantly show the stereo width and help you widen or narrow the sounds precisely as per the project requirements.
7. Tube Amplifier Plugin
Ozone Imager also has a dedicated “Stereoize” feature that’ll help you turn mono sounds into stereo without any reverb.
OldSkoolVerb By Voxengo
This will make it easier to enhance the overall audio effects and give a professional touch to your tracks. Stereoize the sounds with no need for doubling.
Surge By Vember Audio
Visualize the sounds using vectorscope meters to precisely adjust their width. RS-W2395c is a classic Baxandall equalizer that’s perfect for creating audio effects for your rock band.
LABS – Synth Pads By Spitfire Audio
It offers an extremely straightforward UI, which will make it easier for all the hobbyist music composers to switch low and mid-bands without having to dive deeper into the “Settings” menu.
LABS – Wurli By Spitfire Audio
The dedicated high-shelf will give you the liberty to carve darkening instruments and voices. This will help you compose audio tracks that stand out in the crowd.
LABS – Strings By Spitfire Audio
Extremely Flexible UI. Easily Control Mid & Low Bands for your track. Unlike other free VST plugins in our list, Sound Recovery is specifically tailored to repair low-quality audio tracks to make them sound better and reach the professional level.
Graillon 2 By Auburn Sounds
The plugin will help you adjust mid & high frequencies to an optimal level or add them if they’re missing in a soundtrack. So, if you have any tracks that require a slight polishing, Sound Recovery will help.
4. Cherry Audio – Voltage Modular
Erase Unwanted Noises from an Audio Track. After repairing a track, save the preset for future use. by Benjamin Arango Jan 14, 2022 16:29 PM . by Benjamin Arango Jan 14, 2022 16:29 PM .
by Benjamin Arango Jan 07, 2022 17:00 PM . Every sound engineer, music producer, composer, and beatmaker needs access to powerful tools to be able to enhance and bring their music to life.
LABS – Soft Piano By Spitfire Audio
These days, recording is mostly done “in the box,” with VST plugins. And in recent times, even the free ones are starting to sound better and are quite versatile besides.
There are different categories of VST plugins you’re going to need to build out your library to handle the many things you want to be able to do.
LABS – Drums By Spitfire Audio
So, whether you need to build from scratch, supplement, or augment your toolkit, you’ve come to the right place.
In this guide, we look at the best free VST plugins of all time – essential instruments and effects. Effects like EQ, reverb, delay, chorus, compression, de-essers, distortion, and others are essential for individual tracks, as well as your overall mix.
TyrellN6 By u-he
Without these, you’re going to be quite limited in what you can do to your tracks (volume and pan, maybe?), and unless you’re 100% happy with what you’ve captured, you’re going to be severely limited in achieving a different result.
In this section, we’re going to be looking at several plugins in the categories already mentioned. In addition to mixing and mastering, these can come in quite handy for shaping the tone and sound of individual tracks.
Odin 2 By TheWaveWarden
EQ is a must-have when it comes to mixing and mastering alike, and Blue Cat’s Triple EQ is considered one of the best free options available.
4. Keyzone Classic
This is a three-band semi-parametric equalizer. It can be controlled with a single filter, with a customizable shape. Features also include dual mode (independent left and right or mid and side channels control), multiple channels linking modes, +-40 dB range per band, automatic gain compensation, no latency, real-time display of frequency response, and on-graph filter shape control.
Emissary By IGNITE AMPS
Overall, Blue Cat’s Triple EQ is quite simple, and unlike some EQ VSTs, the effect is quite noticeable, letting you mold sounds to your heart’s content.
10. Sound Recovery
Download: Blue Cat Audio. Reverb is essential to most mixes, and unless you’re happy with your DAW’s built-in reverb (which in some cases can be quite good), you’ll probably want to supplement your plugin library.
Helm By Matt Tytel
The OrilRiver reverb comes highly recommended by certain users. This is an algorithmic stereo reverb with 12 variations of early reflections, five variations of reverb tail, and three-band equalizer for wet signal.
ProF.E.T. By IGNITE AMPS
Which means this – you can even shape the tone of your tracks with this plugin.
TSE 808 By TSE Audio
With OrilRiver, you can add a natural sounding high-quality reverb to your tracks.
Valhalla Super Massive By Valhalla DSP
I don’t think any producer should be embarrassed adding this plugin to their toolkit. OrilRiver is compatible with Windows and Mac. Download: KVR Audio Software.
The moment I heard OldSkoolVerb I fell in love with it. I’d tried a few reverb VSTs to that point, but most of them were quite basic or mediocre sounding.
OldSkoolVerb comes with a lot of great presets (bright studio, warm hall, drum room, etc.) that help you get up and running fast.
6. Simple Sound Delay Plugin
Most of the time, I just start with a preset I like and tweak a little until I’m happy with the sound. In most cases, you will probably want to turn down the out gain on the reverb, though, because the presets can be quite intense.
Tokyo Dawn Records
A lot of reverb can be nice, but sometimes too much is too much! There are several reverbs on this list, and they’re all worth trying, but you probably won’t find me without this one.
9. Rough Rider
Download: Voxengo. I didn’t even know about stereo-widening/vocal doubling effects until my producer told me about them a couple of years ago.
Pendulate By Newfangled Audio
I was already sold on Voxengo’s OldSkoolVerb, so when I found out they had Stereo Touch, I was quick to download it and test it out.
Unsurprisingly, I was quite impressed with the results. It’s capable of making your vocals stand out in a mix without boosting their volume.
Again, there are several presets built in (vocal space, surround, stage, etc.), and they offer a great starting point for the sounds you’re looking to create.
LABS – Dulcimer By Spitfire Audio
And while the tendency will be to add this effect to vocals, it can work quite nicely on guitar too!
Download: Voxengo. Valhalla Super Massive is kind of like a hybrid delay and reverb plugin. Which means you can get quite a bit of utility out of it.
Its user interface and design? But sometimes that’s all you need. It comes with controls for mix, width, delay, warp, feedback, density, mod rate and depth, and EQ high and low.
Frontier Self-Adaptive Versatile Limiter By D16 Group Audio Software
It comes with a lot of presets, so if you aren’t sure where to start, you’ll appreciate that feature.
Super Massive offers a great sounding delay and reverb, and as a creative tool for harmonic echoes, space sounds, and huge reverbs, it shines.
9. RS-W2395c by Fuse Audio Labs
A good VST to keep your inspiration alive. Valhalla Super Massive is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Download: Valhalla DSP. Klanghelm’s DC1A is a simple two-control compressor. It’s got controls for input, output, deep, relaxed, dual mono, and negative.
SHB-1 By IGNITE AMPS
It also features a tasty, professional design. While it looks quite straightforward, its versatility might just surprise you.
It works on vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, or keyboards – just about anything! This compressor is quite possibly one of the most effective free ones I’ve seen.
It makes it incredibly easy for you to alter the dynamics of your track without coloring it.
TSB-1 Tyrant Screamer By IGNITE AMPS
You don’t even need presets to operate this baby – just work the input and output dials until you’re happy with the results, and experiment with the additional controls for full effect.
DC1A is supported on Windows and Mac. Download: Klanghelm. While some will appreciate the simplicity of a compressor like the DC1A, others will want more control over the dynamics and sound of their tracks.
Tokyo Dawn Records’ VladG Molot compressor gives you superior control of your tone.
That said, if you’re new to compressors, you might want to skip this one, because it’s hard to tune your tracks to perfection with this baby.
DC1A By Klanghelm
The graphical user interface? I admit it’s a little intimidating even to me. Still, it is beautifully designed, in a vintage kind of way.
You’ve got controls for filter, attack, release, ratio, threshold, knee, makeup, dry mix, limiter, mid scoop, mode, upsampling, on/off, alpha/sigma, and input/GR.
DRUM PRO By Studio Linked
The VladG Molot, unlike certain compressors, will color the tone of your instruments.
Proximity By Tokyo Dawn Records
You will need to experiment yourself to get a better sense of what that means. The point is – if you’re looking for a compressor that’s more transparent, this isn’t it.
Vocal Doubler By iZotope
Blue Cat’s Chorus is a vintage style single voice chorus effect that allows for a wide range of sounds, from light ensemble, all the way to a deep, destructive modulation effect.
Eareckon FR-EQUA 87
Its main features include stereo spread control, sine or triangle LFO shapes, and in or out of phase mix control.
Ignite Amps PTeq-X
Included are multiple presets to help you get started. Just as advertised, I find it to be a highly usable vintage style effect that can work on just about any instrument you want to add some energy to.
Blue Cat’s Chorus is compatible with Mac and Windows. Download: Blue Cat Audio. We’ve covered a range of free de-esser effects on MIDINation before.
SPITFISH is just one among half a dozen or so you may find especially effective. A de-esser can help remove harsh vocal sounds, also known as sibilants – “s,” “z,” “sh,” “teh,” ch,” and so forth.
Plugin Alliance SPL Free Ranger
It’s a must-have, especially if you’re working with a variety of vocalists and clients. In addition to removing unwanted noise and hiss, de-essers are also often used on mixes, to round off the corners and remove the harsher, high frequency sounds that can result from boosting those frequencies (it’s common practice to add some sparkle to vocal tracks).
Plugin Alliance Elysia Niveau Filter
The beautifully designed SPITFISH is simple, effective, and easy to use. It offers controls for sense, tune, depth, listen, bypass, stereo, and soft.
Shattered Glass Code Red Free
Be sure to add a de-esser to your toolkit. Most professionals find they use de-essers on 60 to 80% of the tracks they produce.
Download: Sascha Eversmeier. If you’re planning to make electronic music of any kind, or pop, hip-hop, and in some cases even rock, you need synthesizers.
TDR Slick EQ
Synths tend to be quite versatile, and with them you can create leads, pads, bass, drums, effects, and more. So, whether you’re looking to add some atmosphere to your track, or want to play a blistering synth solo, having a few synth VSTs at the ready is best practice.
Voxengo Overtone GEQ
Break out that MIDI controller, because you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time having fun and experimenting with these.
Audec Spread Delay Lite
There’s not a whole lot we can say about the free, open source, award-winning hybrid synthesizer known as Surge that we haven’t already said. That’s because we’ve covered it in other guides, including the one on the best free synth VST plugins.
Surge is known for its quality sounds, its versatility, its customizability, and more.
It even comes with over 2,000 patches. If you want to get a better feel for it yourself, have a listen to samples on their website, or watch the video below.
Fair warning – you’ll be watching and listening for a quite a while before you even start to get a sense of all this plugin is capable of!
E-phonic Tape Delay
Honestly, if you like synths, you’d be crazy not to download it and give it a whirl.
You can download it for Windows, Linux, and Mac. Download: GitHub. Pendulate is great because, quite honestly, it’s a little different from a lot of synths out there.
This free synth comes with a novel “chaotic oscillator” based on the double pendulum. That gives you access to a lot of unique sounds you may have never heard before (let’s face it – a lot of synths are emulating the same thing, so this is refreshing).
With Pendulate, you also get wavefolder based on the Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator with mix and cutoff, low pass gate with poles and resonance, 169 simultaneous modulation routings, MPE support, envelope and LFO, up to 221 modulation points, animations for the double pendulum, wavefolder, and low pass gate, three unique color schemes, 136 presets (including artist presets), and more.
Classic synths are great, and they are often emulated for a reason. But if you’re looking for something new or different, you should give Pendulate a try.
You can get Pendulate for Mac or Windows in exchange for your email address on the Eventide Audio website. Download: Eventide Audio. Again, as with Surge, there’s not a whole lot we can say about Helm that we haven’t already said at one point or another.
Hotto Spring Reverb
Helm is highly versatile and amazingly designed, with plenty of awesome, high-quality sounds reminiscent of video games in the 90s.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of video game music, which of course means Helm is right down my alley. This isn’t to say there aren’t synths that specialize in video game sounds, but with Helm you kind of get all that and more.
Helm works on GNU/Linux, Mac and Windows. Download: Matt Tytel. u-he’s TyrellN6 was originally going to be a hardware analog synth.
For a variety of reasons, it got turned into a VST instead. Clearly, a lot of love and care went into its “sporty,” quality design, with all the knobs and faders you’ve come to love as a synth aficionado.
If not, don’t be intimidated, because TyrellN6 comes with over 580 factory presets(!).
Musical Entropy Spaceship Delay
That should be more than enough to get you started. Besides, there are plenty of tutorials online. This VST is capable of just about anything, with plenty of classic and modern sounds.
TyrellN6 is compatible with Mac, Windows, and Linux. If you love tweaking, then I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t enjoy Odin 2. You can draw a multitude of sounds out of this baby, and it works on Windows, Mac, and Linux besides.
TAL Reverb 2
But if you can’t see yourself spending all your time tweaking, that’s okay.
TAL Reverb 4
Odin 2 comes with a diverse preset library too. This 24-voice polyphonic synth comes with endless modulation capabilities and is quite possibly one of the best free plugins to come out in recent years.
Download: TheWaveWarden. I’ve been getting into Spitfire Audio’s LABS series plugins as of late, as they are all quite high quality.
Voxengo Tempo Delay
LABS – Synth Pads is one of the first I tried, because I happened to have a song in which I wanted to use a great sounding synth pad.
Voxengo Old Skool Reverb
And that’s exactly what I got with this VST. It sounded a little sparse and quiet to my ears, though, so I combined it with another synth, and that felt good to me.
LABS – Synth Pads is a one trick pony, and a big download besides, but there’s no denying how great it sounds.
Download: Spitfire Audio. Although guitar isn’t utilized in every genre of music these days, it’s still a popular instrument, and let’s face it – you would be hard pressed to find a genre where guitar doesn’t work.
SuperDSP Flying Delay
Whether you play a bit of guitar yourself, or plan to have paying clients in to record at your home studio, you should be prepared for a variety of eventualities (even if you already have great guitar amps and microphones at your studio).
Here is some must-have free VST plugins for guitar. Emissary is near legendary in its status as a metal amp sim. And, as you would expect, it’s perfect for metal and other heavier genres.
I would not call it a versatile amp by any means, but what it does, it does with authority. And its user interface? It looks just like a real guitar amp head, so even guitarists should feel at home with this plugin.
Glenn Fricker of Spectre Sound Studios even called the Emissary one of the best free amp sims for metal, and we don’t have any reason to disagree.
Just remember to use it alongside Impulse Responses (IRs) as Emissary and other amp sims mentioned here can sound kind of gnarly all on their own.
Zynaptiq Audio Subspace
We won’t be covering what IRs are or how they work in any detail here, but they are kind of essential for use with amp sims.
For some seriously heavy tones, give Emissary a try. Download: IGNITE AMPS. I’ve talked briefly about IRs already.
Well, to use IRs, you generally need an IR loader of some kind. The thing about Libra is that it’s basically like the Porsche of IR loaders.
Audio Damage Fuzz Plus 3
It allows you to load up to eight cab types at a time and mix them together! Once you’re up and running with Libra, you should never have to worry about thin sounding guitars in your mix ever again!
Analog Obession PEDALz
Download: IGNITE AMPS. NadIR is another IR convolver that can be used as cab sim for both guitar and bass.
Meaning – it’s essential. Now, you could get Libra, you could get NadIR, you could get both. You’re not going to hurt our feelings.
But you should have at least one. NadIR is basically the simpler version of Libra, with two channels.
Creative Intent Temper
You can load up to two IRs, use them simultaneously, and mix them how you want them to sound. Download: IGNITE AMPS. When it comes to guitar VSTs, there are a few different kinds – standalone effects and amp sims, IR loaders, effects suites, and virtual instruments.
falls under the category of standalone effect. But you can tell, from its appearance, that it’s basically a guitar pedal. It is, in fact, a digital emulation of a high gain distortion stomp box.
But it just so happens that it can be used as a preamp/amp sim as well. And just as its appearance suggests, this thing sounds mean.
Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566
But it’s also got a nice balance of warmth and clarity. Download: IGNITE AMPS. The TSB-1 Tyrant Screamer is like a more powerful Tube Screamer, and as any guitarist who’s used stomp boxes will know, this is a pedal that’s perfect for adding a bit of dirt to a clean tone (making it crunch), or for tightening up a high gain lead tone.
SNFK Music DirtyPumper
You wouldn’t necessarily want to use the TSB-1 as a preamp, but it can work perfectly alongside an amp sim or even the ProF.E.T.
If you don’t already have a tube screamer pedal, this is a must-have for every guitarist. Download: IGNITE AMPS.
Softube Saturation Knob
Speaking of Tube Screamer sims, we can’t ignore TSE Audio’s TSE 808, which more closely emulates the original.
Now, if you’ve got the Tyrant Screamer, you wouldn’t necessarily need this one too, but it can’t hurt to have alternatives (IGNITE AMPS, by the way, has another free standalone effect plugin that works a lot like the Tube Screamer – it’s called the TS-999 SubScreamer).
As the video below will illustrate, the TSE 808 is perfect for tightening up all your favorite tones, especially high gain metal sounds.
Voxengo Tube Amp
Plus, you just can’t argue with free. Download: TSE Audio. Here’s another standalone effect that I’m quite impressed with.
Wave Arts Tube Saturator Vintage
It’s the TSE R47, and it’s emulating the famous RAT Distortion that so many guitarists swear by. It’s a go-to, just as the Tube Screamer is, but for different reasons.
Analog Obsession SweetVox
Listening to the demo in the video should give you a good idea. It can turn a clean or half-distorted tone into high gain mayhem in a hurry.
That said, I find the TSE R47 usable for a variety of situations – blues, rock, metal, and more.
Auburn Graillon Free
It’s just a matter of messing around with the three knobs – drive, filter, and volume – to taste.
iZotope Vocal Doubler
I’m relatively certain the TSE R47 would work as a preamp too, assuming you use some quality IRs. Again, for free?
This is ridiculous. Download: TSE Audio. Before moving onto another category of free VSTs, we’re going to look at a couple of free guitar effects suites.
Typically, these are the “gimped” free versions that give you a taste of what the full effects suite is like to make you want to upgrade to the full version.
That said, these days, you get quite a bit even with the free effects suites. I’m quite impressed with AmpliTube 5 Custom Shop, which gives you access to 39 models including 10 stomp box FX and five amps with matching cabs.
That’s quite a bit of power you’re getting for free. Mixing and matching amp sims, IRs, and standalone effects can be fun, but with an effects suite, you get everything in one place.
There are a lot of quality tones built right into this bundle. You’ve got to try it for yourself.
Download: IK Multimedia. Guitar Rig 6 Player is another quality guitar effects suite with 21 amps, 13 effects, 50 presets, along with Native Instruments’ KOMPLETE START bundle with 2,000 sounds and 6 GB of content.
Analog Obsession PreBox
Whether it’s clean, crunch, distortion, or solo, Guitar Rig 6 Player has got it all, and it all sounds great besides. If you’ve got a good selection of great amps in your studio, you probably don’t need this.
That said, if you’re doing a lot of “in the box” recording (especially at home where you can’t crank up your amps to 10 without bothering your neighbors), this is a great VST to have at your disposal.
Download: Native Instruments. Bass is one of those instruments that can sound quite good direct or through a tube preamp. That said, it’s hard to capture its full punch and warmth without amp sims or a pedal of some kind (unless you mic up a bass amp instead).
It just feels like it’s missing something when you don’t. In this section, we’ll look at a couple of VSTs you can use to enhance the sound of your bass, even if it’s already recorded.
IGNITE AMPS’ SHB-1 is based on its hardware counterpart, the SHB-1 “Extreme Bass Head.”.
Caelum Audio Flux Mini
Its features include dynamic 12AX7/ECC83 coupled triode stages analog modeling, mono/stereo support, selectable oversampling rate (up to 8x), global input/output level controls, double precision (64-bit) floating point mathematical model, and fully automatable controls.
Its controls are quite straightforward – gain, bass, mid, treble, balance, volume, as well as switches for deep, bright, and shape. With the SHB-1, you can get all those gnarly, raunchy bass tones you’ve heard on metal recordings.
Download: IGNITE AMPS. TSE BOD is a SansAmp style DI in VST form, with controls for level, drive, low, high, blend, and presence.
BPB Dirty Filter
This is an excellent choice for most applications, as it gives you more control over your bass’ tone. And you can dial in a variety of sounds suited to different styles of music.
Better still, you can add a bit of crunch to your bass if you so desire, by taking advantage of the drive control. This thing sounds quite authentic to the real thing, if a little “warmer” overall.
Download: TSE Audio. Want realistic sounding drums? The only problem is that there aren’t many free VSTs that give us that.
HY Filter3 Free
Most of the time, you must pay for better drums. Fortunately, there are a couple of high-quality free drum plugins that can get you what you’re looking for.
Give these a try. Spitfire Audio has been making some serious waves with their free LABS series VST plugins, and wow – LABS – Drums couldn’t sound more authentic to my ears.
While it is a big download, it’s worth the trouble given the realistic sound it can provide you with.
All LABS series plugins basically have the same user interface and are quite easy to use, so there’s no reason not to give this one a try. Download: Spitfire Audio.
Manda Audio’s MT Power Drum Kit 2 is basically everyone’s go-to when trying to get realistic drum sounds, because for a long time, it was about the only option available.
This plugin is easy to use, it’s got a nice graphical user interface, and you can even mix the levels of individual drums and cymbals.
You can trigger the sounds using a MIDI controller, of course, but it’s probably far more practical to draw in your parts by creating a MIDI track and using your DAW’s piano roll.
With a little mixing wizardry (you don’t need to know a lot), you can make these drums sound spectacular, and if you want the parts you create to sound less robotic and more human, you can program little imperfections into the playing too.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_cleansweep
Your options are a little limited for realistic sounding free drum VSTs, so you might as well snag this one. Download: Manda Audio. We’ve already covered several plugins that could be applied to vocals, especially in the mixing section.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_subfilter
That said, it never hurts to have more tools at your fingertips. Even the best vocalists usually have three to five effects on their voices (if not more), as that’s how they sound best in a mix.
TAL Filter II
Here you’ll find vocal doublers, pitch shifters, and other plugins that can help you enhance the sound of vocals. Chorus is often an excellent effect for vocals.
Acon Digital Multiply
It can smooth the edges, and even hide some of the “roughness” and imperfections of takes. Depending on how you dial it in, it can even make your vocals stand out in the mix, in a positive way.
Adam Monroe Tremolo
Acon Digital’s Multiply is an award-winning free VST, and excellent choice for a variety of applications.
Alex Hilton A1 Trigger Gate
Multiply is kind of unique in that each simulated voice is processed with a phase randomizing filter to avoid unpleasant sounding comb filter effects.
Aegean Music Doppler Dome
Multiply can make one voice sound like many (like a choir), widen the spatial image, or create other types of effects depending on what you’re trying to achieve with your mix.
Auburn Couture Free
It can simulate up to six added voices and you can even modulate the pitch and loudness of these voices. The integrated equalizer gives you access to low cut, low shelf, high shelf, and high cut filters to shape the effect signal.
Analog Obsession CHOPA
The pre-delay section allows you to create modulated and diffuse echo effects too. Basically, it’s one of the more versatile choruses available, and it sounds great besides.
This VST works well on vocals and instruments alike. Multiply is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Flux BitterSweet v3
Download: Acon Digital. Well, you can’t talk about vocal VSTs without getting into pitch shifting and autotune.
Blue Cat’s Chorus
Auburn Sounds’ Graillon 2 does all that and a little more, and as you can see, its design is breathtaking, especially given that you can get it for free.
Blue Cat’s Flanger
Though it should be noted that the plugin is “freemium,” and to get access to all the features, you will need to upgrade for $29. You can still do quite a bit with the free version.
Blue Cat’s Phaser
Auburn Sounds describes this VST as a Vocal Live Changer. Its functionality includes pitch-tracking modulation, pitch shifting, and pitch correction, while also offering bitcrusher for unique “degraded” sounds.
Bob Perry Gate
The pitch correction function can go from natural sounding to robotic. So, if T-Pain is your hero, well, you can achieve a similar effect here.
Cable Guys Pancake 2
Bitcrusher is great for some flavor. Not necessarily something to use on the entire track, but in sections, it can be quite useful.
Eareckon FR-GATE 87
It can work on instruments too. So, with all this functionality, it’s hard not to recommend Graillon 2.
Eugene Yakshin Ribs
More than just an autotune, it can do just about anything you want to do with pitch. Graillon 2 is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Fine Cut Bodies La Petite Excite
Download: Auburn Sounds. As with several developer names that have come up to this point (like Voxengo, Spitfire Audio, IGNITE AMPS, etc.), Tokyo Dawn Records offers a lot of great VSTs for free.
So, it’s a good place to go if there’s something you need. Just thought I would mention that. Anyway, Tokyo Dawn Records collaborated with Vladg Sound to create the award-winning Proximity, which is a simple distance “pan-pot” VST.
HOFA SYSTEM Basic
This plugin gives you the ability to manipulate the depth of sound sources. It comes equipped to handle several models, including distance signal delay by speed of sound, distance gain loss, absorption of high frequencies in air, stereo width manipulation, proximity effect with virtual microphone, and distance based early reflections.
These models can be turned on and off depending on the desired effect. All that sounds well and good, but if I were to simplify what we’re talking about here, Proximity basically gives you the ability to bring your vocal tracks into the foreground or push them further into the background (which can be useful for backing vocals).
Native Instruments Komplete Start
Proximity can be used on instrument tracks as well, helping you enhance your mix. Such a versatile tool should not be left out of your toolkit, so grab it now!
LVC Audio ClipShifter
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records. We’ve already presented several stereo widening options, be it Stereo Touch or chorusing effects. But it certainly can’t hurt to have more options at the ready, especially when the developer is iZotope.
Vocal Doubler can enhance your vocals with a natural doubling effect perfect for lead vocals.
This plugin is easy to use, and is light on CPU resources too. As the user interface would suggest, there isn’t much to this plugin.
MDSP Smart Elecontronix Livecut Beat Chopper
It truly is easy to use. What’s cool is that you can have the doubled vocals slightly delayed and even varied in pitch by playing with the separation and variation controls.
This is an excellent plugin for enhancing the sound of your vocals. Vocal Doubler works in Logic Pro, Ableton Live, Pro Tools, Cubase, Nuendo, FL Studio, Studio One, Reason, Reaper, Audition, Premiere Pro, and Digital Performer.
Download: iZotope. We’re not going to beat around the bush here – the plugins that follow are all the creations of Spitfire Audio. But there is a reason for that.
Metric Halo MH Thump
Their free VSTs far and exceed just about anything else that’s out there in terms of virtual instruments. Sure, their plugins are kind of one trick ponies, but what they do, they do better than just about any other free VST available.
If you’re looking for versatility, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for quality, you’ve come to the right place.
Melda MRing Modulator
Fair warning – you will need to create a free account, download the Spitfire Audio app, and install the VSTs individually to use them.
Each VST is about 1 GB in size, so make sure you’ve got adequate hard drive storage available. There probably isn’t much I need to say about Spitfire Audio plugins at this point.
Basically, it’s has amazing sound + one trick pony + huge free download = LABS. That said, this VST is best for instances where you specifically need a softer sounding piano.
If you need aggressive piano, you should certainly look elsewhere. This VST is perfect for atmosphere, and quieter, softer melodies, making it excellent for composing work.
Also have a listen to it in the video below. Download:Spitfire Audio. How good can an electric piano VST sound? For all those who dare ask, there’s LABS – Electric Piano.
Obviously, this VST doesn’t do it all, but what it does is quite extraordinary, especially for a virtual instrument.
Flux Stereo Tool v3
If you’re looking for the best free electric piano VST, look no further. The entire range, from the bass to the treble, sounds great. Download: Spitfire Audio.
T-RackS 5 Custom Shop
Okay, an electric piano, sure. But not a Wurli, right? You can basically suspend all disbelief and skepticism with Spitfire Audio because everything they’ve created with LABS is great.
TAL Chorus LX
The Wurli is excellent for rock and jazz alike – anywhere you need its classic, groovy sound.
Download: Spitfire Audio. Strings are essential for composers, and incredibly useful for a variety of other purposes – hip-hop, rock, jazz, or otherwise.
They can add a lot of mood and atmosphere to your music. This VST isn’t velocity sensitive, so it will not respond to dynamics in your playing. It offers a relatively dry, gritty, direct sound of strings, which makes it excellent for layering.
That said, you can add some reverb and other effects to soften the sound of the strings if you so desire. Download: Spitfire Audio. Another sound a lot of composers (and others) might be looking for is that of a choir.
There’s nothing quite like recording a live choir, if you can, but that could easily blow your recording budget in one go.
LABS – Choir is bar none the best free choir VST available. And although you might not be able to control what the singers are singing, if you’re looking for some “ooh” and “aah” sounds, LABS – Choir will do the trick.
The sample quality of LABS – Choir is great, but it doesn’t work all that well for stabs and shots and stuff like that. It’s basically a “long build” the moment the sounds are triggered.
Good for some things, not for others. Download: Spitfire Audio. I suppose you could say we’re getting into a little more obscure territory, but I just couldn’t resist featuring another LABS plugin, especially one that sounds so good.
A dulcimer is kind of a niche, nuanced instrument, but it can work great in a variety of compositions, whether it’s for films or games. Check out the video below to get a better sense of what I’m talking about.
Xfer Dimension Expander
You’ll be impressed. Download:Spitfire Audio. Trap beats are all the rage right now, and they appear in a lot in pop and hip-hop tracks.
Algae Software Tune it!
Love them or hate them, if you’re going to be working with clients in any capacity, you’ve got to be able to make them.
In this section, you will find virtual drum machines, of course – but you will also find a couple of VSTs that can come in handy for mixing, mastering, and enhance the sound of your beats.
Blue Cat’s FreqAnalyst
Let’s get into it. Obviously, you need to be able to make your trap beats, and a lot of beatmakers prefer the sound of old school drum machines to real, authentic sounding drums.
This is a free drum machine VST, and it’s even marketed towards producers who make hip-hop, trap, and EDM.
Voxengo Latency Delay
Some producers say DRUM PRO is all you need to produce any kind of beat. So, you know we’re on point. This VST comes with 20 kits, sampling nine vintage drum machines (like the BOSS DR-55, Roland TR-808, 909, Novation DrumStation, and others).
DRUM PRO’s interface is simple and nicely designed, with ADSR, Vol, and Verb controls, 12 sliders and pan knobs to help you mix your drums exactly how you want them to sound.
If you aren’t happy with all that’s included, Studio Linked has expansion packs you can purchase on their website.
DRUM PRO is available for Windows and Mac. Download: Studio Linked. Limiters aren’t just great for trap, they’re also amazing for mixing and mastering.
Most music producers will probably want one in their toolkit. The Frontier Self-Adaptive Versatile Limiter, though, is highly usable in a variety of applications, be it single track, bus, or master out.
It comes with configurable control input, optional soft clip, and self-adaptive automatic gain make up.
Its graphical user interface is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen, and includes controls for control input, release, threshold, output volume, and soft clip.
Limiters are incredibly handy any time you need to set the threshold and output of any track, making them useful for bass, vocals, and more.
Download: D16 Group Audio Software. Here’s another powerful multipurpose plugin every producer should consider adding to their VST folder.
Softube’s Saturation Knob features three modes, and three kinds of distortion character (thus saturation).
That said, you’re probably going to find yourself using this baby on everything as a trap producer. It will fatten up the sound of drums and bass and add some harmonics to vocals too (you can do some of these things with the Frontier limiter as well).
Whenever you need to add some grit to a track, there’s always the Saturation Knob. Download: Softube.
Blue Cat’s Gain Suite
There are certain developers we’ve come to trust because of the quality of VST plugins they create. They’ve demonstrated, through longevity, as well as through the applicability of their plugins that most if not all of what they create is worth a look.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx Bx_solo
Here are the main developers of free VST plugins we think are worth following. IGNITE AMPS has among the best free amp sims (for guitar and bass), standalone effects, IR convolvers, and even the TPA-1 (digital emulation of a class AB tube power amplifier for guitar).
If you’re not a hard rock or metal player, you probably won’t be using all their plugins. But you will still find value in the IR convolvers (Libra and NadIR), standalone effects (ProF.E.T., TSB-1 Tyrant Screamer, TS-999 SubScreamer), and the TPA-1.
Honestly, even The Anvil amp sim’s clean and rhythm channels are great for a variety of purposes. The lead channel is mostly tuned for metal though.
IGNITE AMPS also has the PTEq-X plugin, which is a digital emulation of three famous vintage passive program equalizers. We don’t know what else they’ll come up with, or if they’ll come up with anything, but they’re a good one to watch.
One word – LABS. Their samples are just… so… good! Sure, they’re a little limited in scope. But you can easily build out your virtual instrument library with a lot of the essentials on LABS alone. They don’t have everything, but they seem to keep adding more to their collection, so they’re worth bookmarking.