VST Plugins, love them or hate them, are one of the most important tools available to the modern music producer and help speed up the production process.
These days, there’s a VST (virtual studio technology) for pretty much everything.
For any sound or music-related tasks, you can guarantee there’s a VST. The issue with this is that the VST market is saturated, there are so many plugins that do the same thing, it can be hard to choose the right one for your needs.
Thanks to developments in technology, creating VSTs is relatively easy, and has become a process available to anyone with an interest in music and some computer literacy.
This is great because it opens up access to the wider community, but it also means that there are some terrible, amateur-quality plugins on the market.
What Exactly are VST Audio Plugins?
I tested 20 products and found Native Instruments Kontakt to be the best.
This is one of the largest and most powerful plugins and sample libraries around. For any music producer, Kontakt is an essential tool. Not only is the plugin itself fantastic – a state-of-the-art sampler.
But the huge quantity of sample packs makes this an infinite universe of instruments.
It isn’t just a vst sampler, it can be any sound you want it to. Throughout my time as a music producer, I’ve tried countless plugins.
I’ve used some good ones and some bad ones. I’ve found lots of terrible plugins posing as the next best thing, and I’ve seen lots of underrated hidden gems.
Best Free Drum VST Plugins
The plugins in this guide are diamonds in the rough,. Because of the amount of variation in plugins and their use cases, we have split these into categories.
Audio Plugin Formats Explained
We put together this list to separate the diamonds from the dirt. Even the best Piano instrument VST will be no good as a compressor or reverb plugin.
How to Choose the Best VST Plugin
Plugins tend to be specialized to a particular task. For this reason, VSTs can be split into Instruments, Effects, and Other.
Instruments can include both synthesizers and samplers. Keep reading for our roundup of 20 of the best plugins available today.
Best Free VST Plugins For Bass
List all the products as a table of content. Native Instruments Kontakt is a professional sampling VSTs. It is highly developed, and one of the most feature-rich software samplers available.
This industry-standard tool allows you to drag and drop samples into the interface to quickly create your patches, with sample editing and instrument building tools.Besides the sampling power, and the tools it gives you to make your own patches, there are thousands of Kontakt Patches available to purchase to expand your sound library.
Best EQ Plugins 2022
Almost any kind of sound or instrument has been sampled and converted into a high-quality Kontakt pack, ranging from vocals to orchestras to random foley sounds.Perfect for both live performance or the studio, Kontakt is almost an essential plugin, that is found in all professional studios, and on most producers’ laptops.
It opens up new options in creative sampling and sound design that most stock samplers can’t. Huge Sound Library (Flexible install size: 5gb+ depending on samples included).
20 Best VST plugins Reviewed in Detail
Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, AU, and Standalone. 4 GB RAM (6 GB recommended for large KONTAKT Instruments). “More than a sampler” this is a sampling platform.
Best VST Plugins 2022
Huge amount of patches & expansion packs available. Super Powered Sampling Engine. Some packs are expensive, some are terrible. Kontakt is an essential sampling tool that most producers won’t leave home without.For both studio and live use, there aren’t many better tools.
The Different Types of Plugins
It is incredibly quick and easy to use, with a familiar and simple interface. Great for beginners who just need to find cool patches to quickly layer in, and even better for professionals who can go under the hood and make tiny adjustments and tweaks, or even use the scripting functions to manipulate sound with code in new and unique ways.
Here are the best VST plugins 2022:
The V Synth collection is a bundle of analog modeled Synthesizer and Sampler VSTs.The synths included are faithful recreations of famous and legendary models from history, including the MiniMoog, Juno, EMU, Synclavier, Fairlight, Buchla Easel, ARP Solina, and many more.
What Does VST Stand For and What Do They Do?
All the plugins use Arturia’s in-house technology to create amazing quality instruments that sound identical to the hardware units.
Best Mastering VST Plugins
The interface designs are awesome too, taking heavy stylistic inspiration from the original units, but packaging the controls into a 21st century friendly, fluid layout.The preset browser is very well organized and contains many categories,.
Best VST Audio Plugins to Have
These are easily some of the best synthesizer vsts around. If you have an interest in rare analog and vintage gear, this is the perfect bundle.
Top Free VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
I use this bundle all the time, most songs end up needing some of Arturia’s vintage spice. My favorites are Synclavier, Fairlight, and Mellotron.
Any Other FREE VST Plugins I Should Grab?
The original units of these are mega rare and expensive, so being able to play with a digital version is an honor and a joy! Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU.
What VSTs Do I Need?
13 Classic Analog Synthesizer Models. 5 Retro Digital Instruments (synths & Samplers).
9 Famous Pianos, Organs, and String Machines. Classic Analog Instruments.
What Are The Best VST Plugins For Beginners?
Beautiful Sound and feel. Payment split options. Relatively Expensive.
This bundle is ultimately one of the best out there for synthesizers. If you wanted to buy this combination of the original hardware synthesizers, you could easily be paying over $1million!
Best VST Plugins in our tests
Unbeatable quality and user interface. Thousands of usable presets made by professionals. Each one of these plugins is worthy of a place on this list due to its stunning quality.
They can be purchased individually but the bundle is the best value for money, and trust me, you’ll find yourself using every synth in the pack!
Our Tops Picks for Best VST Plugins
This is one of the best mastering plugins on the market, do any compressors come close to this?This is an analog emulation plugin that mimics the iconic Shadow Hills Compressor.
Brainworx’s talented engineers have meticulously studied and modeled the original hardware unit to capture its rich and smooth tone. In the world of hardware compressors, the Shadow Hills is known to be one of the top models, which is reflected in their rarity and price.
Best Free Virtual Instrument VST Plugins
This emulation makes no sacrifices or compromises in bringing you the original tools and tones of the unit.All the controls of the original model are included, and the emulation works by simulating the circuit at an individual component level for the most accurate and realistic analog sound.
Best Free VST Plugins For Vocals
This dynamic range plugin also includes some extra useful features which aren’t on the hardware, including a parallel mix control, sidechain filter, and external sidechain, which makes this even more powerful in a digital workflow.
Should I Buy VST Plugins?
Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. 3 Output Transformer Models. Separate Optical & Discrete Circuits. Stereo and Dual Mono modes.
Best Free VST Plugins For Trap Beats
Brainworx Plugin-Only Features:. Parallel Mix, Sidechain Filter, External Sidechain. Top Quality Analog Emulation. Faithful modeling of an unbeatable compressor design.
Best Reverb Plugins 2022
2 independent channels, with 2 compressor circuits (optical/discrete). Attack and Release times may not be flexible or fast enough for some uses.
Best Free Synthesizer VST Plugins
If you need an analog mastering compressor, this is tough to beat. The quality is god-like, and I’m not joking when I say I use this in basically every mastering chain I make.
The interface is a breeze to use, with some quality presets. It can produce a huge range of compression sounds and works well on individual instrument channels as well as the master buss.
East-West Play is the interface plugin for the fantastic East-West Composer Cloud Library.This plugin, provided through a subscription, is the portal for accessing East West’s Hollywood-grade sample libraries.
Best Piano VST Plugins
These libraries are super high-quality recordings of real instruments and performers and have been used in many professional TV, Films, and video games.
Best Free VST Plugins For Guitar
These are industry-standard orchestral sounds.The choral packs are insane, with one choir tool having the option to type in words, which are then sung back to you based on merging the individual vowel and consonant recordings into a single vocal line.
Super impressive and futuristic. The interface is a little clunky, but worth it for the sheer volume and quality of material contained.
With the Composer Cloud subscription, you get access to most of their libraries with a solid amount of mic position choices and articulations.
Best Free VST Effects For Mixing
Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. Huge amount of content & sounds available. Cutting edge sample libraries and interfaces. Flexible Sampling Tools.
Best Synth VST Plugins
Libraries have a large Install Size. Best to use with EW libraries rather than create your own patches.
Best Delay Plugins
For anybody who writes scores for film, TB, video game, or advert soundtracks, this is an ideal plugin.Any kind of epic instrumental performance, orchestral section, or vocal lines, can be found in this package.
The samples have been recorded with incredible organization and quality, so you can quickly find the sounds you need.
The sound quality is AAA and will be at home on Cinema screens and theaters.
Vocal Doubler By iZotope
The subscription beats Kontakt if you can afford the monthly payments. The actual sampling engine and the interface are geared more towards using the EW Packs than with your own samples, so bear this in mind.
7. Waves C6 – The Most Precise Compressor
This is probably my favorite reverb plugin ever made. Yes, it’s small, simple, with only a couple of controls, but they are all you need.
Fabfilter Timeless 2
This creates the perfect, washy plate reverb sound that is a great match for vocals, synths, and drums.
18. MeldaProduction MRhythmizer – Best Plugin for Rhytm Editing
The beautiful thing about this plugin is that it has an Infinite decay mode that creates stunning ethereal drones and atmospheres. Stick this on an AUX channel and get sending! Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU.
4. Waves CLA-2A – Precise Live Innsturments’ Compressor
Simple but effective Interface. Infinite Decay Mode. Limited to “Plate” sounding reverb.
If you are looking for a plate reverb VST, this is one of the best value for money in terms of quality and design options.
Stereo Touch By Voxengo
It won’t do much other than a plate sound but is still fairly flexible, and worth buying for the infinite drone setting itself.
A sampling plugin that is perfect for trap, EDM, RnB, and Hip-Hop producers. It has a massive bank of quality presets, with pads, arpeggios, and bass sounds.
The plugin is easy to use and will feel familiar to anybody who has used Kontakt or similar sampler plugins before. The presets are sorted so it’s easy to find different types of sound, you start by selecting a broad category and then make narrower more detailed selections.
#6 Nexus 3
It has some solid effects and filters that can be added to the patch. AudioUnit, VST, VST3, and AAX. macOS 10.11 and above. 14GB+ Hard drive space. Pentium class 2.0 GHz processor with SSE3 support.
#4 East West Composer Cloud PLAY
8GB of RAM (16GB or more highly recommended). Huge sound library. lots of great trap sounds. Resource friendly. Over featured for DAW users. Nexus is another sample library player with a huge wealth of sounds.
#19 Addictive Drums Complete
The external libraries are themed for all styles of genre and make it easy to find a new bunch of sounds.
This is a free version of Spitfire’s world-class sound library. Packaged in a simple interface, this sample library player is completely free to use.
Spitfire Audio adds new instruments to the library every month, the count currently stands at 39.The soft piano patch is very usable, other favorites include the AutoHarp and Tape Orchestra.
For a free plugin, the quality is not compromised, these sound fantastic and have a special vibe to them.Labs is a huge palette of sounds, so get stuck in!
Over 39 high-quality patches including strings, guitars, pianos, brass, drums, vocals, percussion, synths, and experimental sounds.
Download each pack individually to save hard drive space. Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. High-Quality instruments. Wide selection of sounds.
Guitar Rig 6 Player By Native Instruments
Each sound has limited or 1 articulation. We included Spitfire Labs because it’s one of the best free plugins around. It isn’t as flexible or deep as other sampling plugins, or Spitfire’s paid vst instruments, but for free – what can go wrong?
#9 Antares AutoTune
Download Spitfire Labs now. The output bundle is so huge that we had to include it on this list. It includes all of Outputs’ 10 engines, 22 expansions, and effects, known to be used by artists such as Rihanna, Coldplay, and Diplo, and used on-screen for Black Panther and Stranger Things.
9. ValhallaDSP ValhallaPlate – Best Reverb Plugin
This can kickstart inspiration for a new beat or instantly lock in new sparkly layers and grooves for existing tracks.
The presets are sorted into specific categories so producers will be able to find exactly what they need very quickly. Everything is customizable so presets can be tweaked and adjusted to fit.
What is an AAX Plugin?
The vocal samples are particularly great. Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. Includes 10 Instruments: Analog Brass & Winds, Analog Strings, Substance, Exhale, Thermal, Portal, Movement, Signal, Rev x-Loops, and rev.
LABS – Drums By Spitfire Audio
Includes 22 Expansion packs: Adrenaline, Airlift, Ambient Vocals, Barely Vocals, Base Bass, Beautiful Pads, Beyond 4/4, Booty Bass, Brass Knuckles, Chaos, CInematic, Classic Analog, current, Desolation, Dystopian Bass, Glow, Indie Vocals, Modern String Beds, Neon Strings Spacetime, Tape Loop, Translucence.
Pitch Manipulator Plugins
Includes a huge amount of plugins. Contains any sound you need. The vocal samples are used a lot by other producers so need editing to sound unique.
TSE R47 By TSE Audio
Each of the plugins included in this package could have been ranked on this list in their own right, so we chose to post this bundle.
These are well designed, with brilliant interfaces, the preset browser makes finding the right sound a breeze. Each plugin can be brought separately, or the bundle costs £760, at a 65% discount from the individual prices.Arcade is Output’s subscription product that gives access to their sounds at a more affordable price.
LABS – Strings By Spitfire Audio
Antares are one of the industry’s biggest names in auto-tuning and vocal music technology. Their Antares plugin is arguably one of the most iconic and powerful autotuning plugins available and has been used on countless number 1 hits.
This is an incredibly flexible and well-engineered plugin that does more than just auto-tune, it is a one-stop powerhouse for vocal sound designers.
Dynamics Effects Plugins
Auto-Tune Pro packs in all the features with, Auto and Graph mode, an Auto Key setting which detects the key and scale, Humanizing, even Formant Correction, and Throat modeling.
24. Native Instruments Kontakt – Best Plugin for Sample Mixing
This allows highly detailed vocal editing in pitch and time and gives you all the tools you need to make it an easy process. Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. Different versions for everybody’s Budget.
Modulation Effects Plugins
One of the Best Auto-Tune plugins around. Dedicated to vocals. The Antares Auto-Tune software is broken down into a few different purchasing options based on budget and needs.
30. Izotope Ozone 9 – Complete Easy-To-Use Plugin
The more expensive Pro edition boasts the most features but at the hefty price tag of $349.For a more wallet-friendly edition, Access is a slimmed-down version of the plugin that provides the bare-bones of the algorithm for $99.
#7 Spitfire Labs – Free
We included it on this list because it’s a top-tier auto-tuner that will be a valuable tool in most producers’ pockets.
Valhalla Supermassive (Best Free Reverb VST)
Pro-Q is an industry-standard plugin for filtering and equalization. This is an extensive and intuitive EQ tool that is nearly unmatched in quality and innovation.It allows effortless sculpting across the frequency spectrum, it has all the filter types you can imagine, including a bandpass filter, comb filters, even an eq match function, and linear phase setting for clean mastering use.
8. Waves Renaissance Reverb – Best Equalizer for Beginners
Mid/side band mode, dynamic eq settings,This is an extremely versatile filtering plugin that has too many features to list here!
#12 Slate All Access Pass
Windows 10, 8, 7,. VST, VST3, Audio Units, AAX Native and AudioSuite. One of the best vst plugins for filtering & EQ.
1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3 – Easy-to-use VST Plugin
Only good for eq tasks. If you can only buy one plugin for EQ tasks, this should be your first choice. For speed, quality and flexibility it can’t be beaten.
#11 Black Rooster Magnetite
It also includes a preset library with eq settings for different instruments and situations, some crafted by renowned audio engineers.
Native Instruments Kontakt
This is my favorite vst plugin for dynamic eq tasks. As far as tape emulations go, this is one of my faves.
26. Xfer Records Serum – Versatile DJ Plugin
Trust me, I love a tape emulation and have burnt through many different models until I found the ones I like.
The Magnetite is a saturation and tape emulation plugin that I keep on speed dial.
The simple interface hides a roaring beast of tone. Very realistic tape sound that adds that compressed retro crunchiness that tape machines are used for.
13. FabFilter Saturn – Plugin with Most Attractive Effects
The interface and control design make this plugin perfect to use for mixing and includes all the features you need to blend the perfect amount of saturation.
Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. 15 and 7.5 ips tape speed. Wow/Flutter controls and analog shaped noise. Simultaneous Input/Output gain adjustment.
Fantastic warm analog sound. A great sounding and reliable tape emulation plugin.
ProF.E.T. By IGNITE AMPS
This gives a fantastic analog sound, even better when pushed into its distortion. For the price, this rivals other tape sims and mixing plugins on the market like the softube, and even some UAD models.
Something is endearing in its sound quality that I find myself coming back for time and time again. As far as tape sounds go, this comes very close to the real thing and has a similar dynamic response to reel-to-reel machines.
Slate Digital produces high-quality audio plugins often with an analog emulating element.Focusing on sonic quality and familiarity, this broad selection of over 35 plugins gives users fantastic audio tools at a low cost.Many of the analog-style plugins are faithful to the original hardware units, both in sound and interface.
These are pro-grade plugins that are found in many commercial studios.The collection of preamp simulations and the sheer amount of color they add will prevent you from needing to buy another saturation plugin!There are 3 tiers of subscription, the higher tiers include bundles of Kilohearts, ANA-2, and TH-U plugins.
Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. Includes Educational Videos. Affordable Subscription.
Huge catalog of plugins. Fantastic & faithful analog emulation. At the low subscription cost, the Slate All Access Pass is a great starting point for producers looking to expand their toolbox.
#3 Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor
It covers all the stops from EQs, to compressors and most other processors, with solid and easy plugins.The subscription model means that even on a tiny budget, a producer or sound designer can access a full selection of professional tools.
What is an AU Plugin?
Melodyne is an essential tuning tool for any serious engineers and producers.Boasting one of the cleanest and most transparent pitch correction algorithms, and a well-designed interface that allows the most precise editing, Melodyne is a pitch and vocal editing tool that everyone should try.
TyrellN6 By u-he
The perfect tool for pitch correction and vocal tuning, without a doubt this is found in every serious studio.
Tokyo Dawn Records
Melodyne comes as both a vst plugin and a standalone application. Enabling producers to completely reshape sounds in both pitch, time, and harmonics, Melodyne can be used to correct any performance mistakes, or creatively enhance already good sounds.
Fab Filter Pro C2
Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU. Transparent Pitch & Time correction. Innovative interface. Scale and Key Detection.
25. Native Instruments Massive – Plugin with Largest Library
Available at 3 price points, Essential $99, Assistant $249, Editor $399, and studio $699 there is a version of Melodyne for everybody.
This is a vital tool and has both corrective and creative uses. For anyone working with vocals or live instruments, Melodyne is a must-buy!Even the simplest version of the vst plugin, Essential, has a solid set of features and can make a huge difference to the professionalism of productions.
3. Universal Audio Neve 1073 – Most Revered Preamp
Ozone is a mastering suite that provides high-quality mastering tools, including eq, compressor, limiter, analysis tools, saturation, mid/side, and more.
Some Good Keys
This is a go-to tool for producers looking to quickly master tracks with a competitive and polished sound. Assisted by artificial intelligence, the detection mode helps to automatically identify and correct issues, or match the sound of a track to a reference track.
20. Polyverse Music Wider – Cleanest Sound Plugin
The plugin is used across the industry, by professional producers and mastering engineers worldwide.
6. FabFilter Pro-C 2 – Vocal and Instruments Compressor
The analysis tools help take some of the guesswork out of the mastering process and will help you create clear and solid sounding tracks. Mac and Windows, VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU.
Fabfilter Pro R
A suite of tools including. Top-Quality mastering tool. Great preset selection. Limited to mastering & some mixing tasks.
Helm By Matt Tytel
This is a very powerful mastering tool, it makes tracks sound professionally mastered very quickly. The sonic quality is very high and worth buying for anyone who produces and releases their own music.
Waves 550a & 550b
Being able to match the master sound to a reference track is a powerful tool for beginners. Omnisphere could be one of the greatest vst synths yet!
MT Power Drum Kit 2 By Manda Audio
Created by Spectrasonics, a renowned instrument specialist brand, Omnisphere packs in over 500 waveforms and 14,000 sounds to inspire and drive music producers.The state-of-the-art synthesis engine is easily navigated and can be customized for live performance.
The deep customization possibilities unlock an infinite amount of sound, with an additional 58 FX units which are flexibly integrated.It also connects with hardware synths to allow hands-on control of hemispheres parameters.
Soundmagic Piano One
The full list of features is nearly longer than this article! Exploring this power synth vst plugin will keep artists busy for a long time and will enhance music from all genres.
5. Waves CLA-76 – Best Retro-Style Equalizer
Over 14,000 sounds. up to 20 oscillators per patch. Over 500 wavetables + import custom wavetables.
TSE 808 By TSE Audio
Endless sonic potential. great for studio and live settings. Huge collection of presets for instant inspiration. Takes over 64GB hard drive space. Omnisphere is doubtlessly a top contender in the battle of virtual instruments.The enormous quantity of incredible sounds makes this superpowered wavetable synthesizer a superb tool for electronic musicians.
For guitarists, this is a dream plugin. You may find yourself never needing to buy an effects pedal or guitar amplifier ever again!
Is Serum The Best VST?
Native Instruments Guitar rig is a flexible effects processing environment for guitar and bass.
Its modular design allows virtual amps and pedals to be arranged in any way. It opens up a huge amount of creative options for guitarists. Even the simple delay and reverb effects sound great on their own.It includes multiple delay modes and even the classic sound of a space echo type effect which I love to use on dub guitar tracks.
Graillon 2 By Auburn Sounds
It’s even more flexible than the original unit, with a dual-echo to provide bouncing stereo signals.
Mac Intel Core Duo OS X 10.5 or 10.6. Guitar tone power house. Modular design creates endless choices. Stand alone version. You need a guitar.
Easily in the top 5 best plugins for guitarists – from indies to psychedelics to the heaviest of metalheads.Native instruments guitar rig processes your guitar’s audio signal in a very realistic way.
#17 Spitfire Audio Labs – Free
Many of the presets are indistinguishable from recording through real guitar amplifiers. But you have the bonus of a digital workflow.This helps you find and refine your own unique sound for guitar.
19. Soundtoys Little AlterBoy – Best Plugin for Voice Transformation
Spitfire Audio produces some of the best vst plugins on the market. For anyone serious about music production, their vst plugins are a must-buy.
Blue Cat’s Triple EQ By Blue Cat Audio
Labs is their free sampler and is my favorite free vst plugin.It has a huge library of sounds, from standards like drums, bass, and piano, to quirky and unusual instruments and textures.
The interface is simple to navigate so sounds can be found quickly. Mac Intel Core Duo OS X 10.5 or 10.6 . Enormous library of free sounds.
2. Waves API 550A & 550B – Great Analog Equalizers
Updated monthly. Can’t import own sounds. Limited Articulations per instrument.
Fabfilter Pro L2
This is one of those plugin instruments that everybody should try.
Harmonic Effects Processors
There’s no reason not to. It’s one of the best free sources of sound directly in your DAW. Serum is a synthesizer we’ve mentioned before in our best vst for trap beats.
Libra By IGNITE AMPS
It’s a super flexible wavetable synth. It has a polyphonic mode, tonnes of oscillators, envelopes, filters, effects, and racking them in a modern display.
It has internal effects including a bit crusher, ring modulator, two filters, four LFOs, and more making it a beast for sound design.
Native Instruments Massive X
Windows 7 SP1, or Mac OS X 10.8 or greater. 4, AU or AAX compatible host software. Synthesis Powerhouse. Huge modulation options.
AmpliTube 5 Custom Shop By IK Multimedia
Sampling Synthesis mode. effects are limited. This synth is a great purchase for anyone interested in electronic sounds, it’s at home in hip hop, trap, techno, EDM, house, and bass music.
#16 Native Instruments Guitar Rig Pro 6
This is a powerful virtual instrument and a huge synth in plugin form. This is one of the best plugins for synthesis and synth bass.
An Orchestral Sample Player
This vst plugin from XLN Audio is the ultimate tool for drum production. Addictive drums feature a huge amount of drum kits and processors for the drum audio signals.
Addictive drums contain a detailed mixer for handcrafting the microphone balance, convolution reverbs, and effects.
There is a tonne of expansion packs to find the perfect drum tone.This plugin sends drum sound straight to your DAW, or speakers when working in standalone mode.
Sonible smart:EQ 3
Standalone, VST, AU, AAX. Intel Core 2 Duo /+, 4GB RAM minimum. Mac: OS X 10.9 or later.
One of the best vst plugins for drums. Huge amount of kits and customization. Studio Quality drum sounds. Limited selection of drums compared to Kontakt.
Everybody loves drums, but not everyone has enough room for a drum kit, that’s why we have drum machine vsts like xln addictive drums.
Proximity By Tokyo Dawn Records
This is the next generation of drum machine tools and will help any producer create the perfect drum track for their song with ease.
If you need a vst plugin to get those beats pumping, this is a great choice. This is a tasty reverb plugin from Fabfilter that has a huge amount of entropic potential.
TSE BOD By TSE Audio
The interface allows for both natural and abstract reverb creation. Having good reverb plugins to hand is essential in any production environment.Pro-R applies a musical approach to the interface, with non-technical descriptions like Character, Brightness, Distance, to help non-experts quickly get to grips with the reverb.
VST, VST3, Audio Units, AAX Native, and AudioSuite formats. Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista. macOS 10.10 or higher (64-bit only). Unique Reverb Plugin.
#8 Output Bundle
Quick, easy to understand. Spectrum analyzer to help crafting. This is a cracking vst plugin for reverb.
Few reverb plugins come close in terms of flexibility, usability, and value for money. Fabfilter Pro-R is a deep-reverb plugin that any serious producer should consider bagging.
What to look for when buying this type of product. Several sections talking about Features, Problems, Use Cases, etc.
#13 Celemony Melodyne
The best VST for sampling is probably Kontakt, it has all the tools and features, and the insane amount of expansion packs opens a portal to an infinite dimension of sound creation.
The sound design and customization options allow you to shape and layer sounds efficiently and precisely.For synth vsts with a vintage sound, the Arturia V collection is unbeatable.
What are the best VST plugins?
It’s a time machine into the nostalgic sounds of the past, all the little quirks and nuances of historic synthesizers have been digitized for your musical pleasure.
For a more modern take on synthesis, Serum or Omnisphere are top contenders.
14. Camel Audio CamelCrusher – Versatile Free Plugin
They can produce sounds for many styles of contemporary music and are used by big names in the music production scene.
For mixing plugins, arguably Universal Audio are the best, they make very high-quality analog emulation, and their DSP hardware can process at the input signal, a unique and powerful feature.The issue with UAD is that their plugins only run on their DSP chips, so external hardware is required.
UAD is the highest quality but highest price. Professionals go to many brands for their plugins, there are some “blue-chip” names like SSL, Universal Audio, Waves, Izotope, Native Instruments, whose plugins have been used and loved across the board.Whilst bigger studios tend to rely on the industry names, many producers (and studios) have been known to use all kinds of plugins, and experiment with any plugin no matter how random or poorly made it is.
SPITFISH By Sascha Eversmeier
Plugins are just a tool for design, like a paintbrush. Most plugins can achieve similar results, but some are made in a way to save time. It depends on the use case, in terms of synthesizers, Serum is a serious contender.
27. XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2 – Best Plugin for Drums
Several features make Serum such a great synthesizer. One being its simplicity yet flexibility, it has a streamlined interface, but still packs in a huge amount of customization and tweakability.
Pendulate By Newfangled Audio
We chose Native Instruments Kontakt as our best plugin. Kontakt can achieve almost anything that other plugins on this can.
Multiply By Acon Digital
It can be used to perform any kind of instrument or sound. It is a powerful sound design tool, with endless modulation and transformation possibilities.
17. MeldaProduction MMultiAnalyzer – Best Plugin for Track Analyze
You will be able to find any sound or instrument or sample themes in the vast amount of expansion packs. If you only own one plugin, this should be it.You can buy Kontakt from the Native instruments website, alternatively, try out their free version Kontakt Player.
11. Waves H-Delay – Plugin With All Required Effects
Every sound engineer, music producer, composer, and beatmaker needs access to powerful tools to be able to enhance and bring their music to life.
Valhalla Super Massive By Valhalla DSP
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.
Saturation Knob By Softube
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.
So, whether you need to build from scratch, supplement, or augment your toolkit, you’ve come to the right place.
REFX Nexus 3
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.
Odin 2 By TheWaveWarden
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.
What is an RTAS Plugin?
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.
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. 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.
Slate Digital D16 Repeater
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.
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.
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.
Which means this – you can even shape the tone of your tracks with this plugin. With OrilRiver, you can add a natural sounding high-quality reverb to your tracks.
I don’t think any producer should be embarrassed adding this plugin to their toolkit. OrilRiver is compatible with Windows and Mac.
LABS – Dulcimer By Spitfire Audio
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. Most of the time, I just start with a preset I like and tweak a little until I’m happy with the sound.
OrilRiver By Denis Tihanov
In most cases, you will probably want to turn down the out gain on the reverb, though, because the presets can be quite intense. A lot of reverb can be nice, but sometimes too much is too much!
Time-Based Effects Plugins
There are several reverbs on this list, and they’re all worth trying, but you probably won’t find me without this one.
16. Celemony Melodyne – Best Plugin for Detailed Mixing
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.
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.
VladG Molot Compressor By Tokyo Dawn Records
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.
21. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 – Best Synth Plugin
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.
15. Antares Auto-Tune Pro – Plugin with Most Options for Vocal Mixing
It comes with a lot of presets, so if you aren’t sure where to start, you’ll appreciate that feature.
TSB-1 Tyrant Screamer By IGNITE AMPS
Super Massive offers a great sounding delay and reverb, and as a creative tool for harmonic echoes, space sounds, and huge reverbs, it shines.
#1 Native Instruments Kontakt
A good VST to keep your inspiration alive. Valhalla Super Massive is compatible with Windows and Mac.
#10 Fabfilter Pro-Q
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.
Goodhertz Mid Side
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.
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.
What VST plugins and VST instruments do professionals use?
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.
Arturia Pigments 2
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.
Waves Smack Attack
The VladG Molot, unlike certain compressors, will color the tone of your instruments. 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. VladG Molot is available for Windows and Mac through Tokyo Dawn Records.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records. Chorus can add some shine and sparkle to your tracks. In effect, it adds voices (as if a choir) to the track, regardless of what it is.
What makes serum so good?
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.
28. Steven Slate Drums 5 – Proffesional Drum Plugin
Its main features include stereo spread control, sine or triangle LFO shapes, and in or out of phase mix control.
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.
12. Soundtoys EchoBoy – The Most Versatile Plugin
A de-esser can help remove harsh vocal sounds, also known as sibilants – “s,” “z,” “sh,” “teh,” ch,” and so forth. It’s a must-have, especially if you’re working with a variety of vocalists and clients.
XLN Audio RC-20
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).
Fabfilter Saturn 2
The beautifully designed SPITFISH is simple, effective, and easy to use. It offers controls for sense, tune, depth, listen, bypass, stereo, and soft.
LABS – Choir By Spitfire Audio
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.
Surge By Vember Audio
Synths tend to be quite versatile, and with them you can create leads, pads, bass, drums, effects, and more.
A Good Sampler
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.
Break out that MIDI controller, because you’re probably going to be spending a lot of time having fun and experimenting with these.
#2 Arturia V Synth Collection
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.
Blue Cat’s Chorus By Blue Cat Audio
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!
#5 Soundtoys Little Plate
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.
10. Universal Audio Lexicon 224 – Cleanest Reverb Plugin
Download: GitHub. Pendulate is great because, quite honestly, it’s a little different from a lot of synths out there.
Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.6
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).
#14 Izotope Ozone
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.
A Good Bass Module
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.
22. Spectrasonics Keyscape – Most Realistic Plugin
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.
Helm is highly versatile and amazingly designed, with plenty of awesome, high-quality sounds reminiscent of video games in the 90s.
Frontier Self-Adaptive Versatile Limiter By D16 Group Audio Software
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(!). 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.
SHB-1 By IGNITE AMPS
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. But if you can’t see yourself spending all your time tweaking, that’s okay.
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.
What is VST?
Download: TheWaveWarden. I’ve been getting into Spitfire Audio’s LABS series plugins as of late, as they are all quite high quality.
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.
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.
23. Spectrasonics Trilian – Best Plugin for Bass Mixing
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.
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).
NadIR By IGNITE AMPS
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.
What is a TDM Plugin?
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.
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.
#20 Fabfilter Pro-R
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.
Soundtoys Little Plate
The thing about Libra is that it’s basically like the Porsche of IR loaders. 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!
29. Output Arcade – Plugin You Can Add Samples To
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.
You can load up to two IRs, use them simultaneously, and mix them how you want them to sound.
A Good Drum Module/Machine
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.
Fabfilter Pro Q3
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.
Softube Tube Delay
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.
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.
Lindell Audio 7X-500
If you don’t already have a tube screamer pedal, this is a must-have for every guitarist.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5
Download: IGNITE AMPS. 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).
LABS – Electric Piano By Spitfire Audio
As the video below will illustrate, the TSE 808 is perfect for tightening up all your favorite tones, especially high gain metal sounds. Plus, you just can’t argue with free.
LABS – Wurli By Spitfire Audio
Download: TSE Audio. Here’s another standalone effect that I’m quite impressed with.
DC1A By Klanghelm
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.
UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor
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.
LABS – Soft Piano By Spitfire Audio
That said, I find the TSE R47 usable for a variety of situations – blues, rock, metal, and more. It’s just a matter of messing around with the three knobs – drive, filter, and volume – to taste.
Emissary By IGNITE AMPS
I’m relatively certain the TSE R47 would work as a preamp too, assuming you use some quality IRs.
OldSkoolVerb By Voxengo
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.
A Proper Synthesizer
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.
LABS – Synth Pads By Spitfire Audio
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.
DRUM PRO By Studio Linked
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.
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.”. 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.
Metric Halo MH Thump
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.
Melda MRing Modulator
Download: IGNITE AMPS. TSE BOD is a SansAmp style DI in VST form, with controls for level, drive, low, high, blend, and presence.
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. 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.
Flux Stereo Tool v3
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.
T-RackS 5 Custom Shop
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.
TAL Chorus LX
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Acon Digital’s Multiply is an award-winning free VST, and excellent choice for a variety of applications.
Multiply is kind of unique in that each simulated voice is processed with a phase randomizing filter to avoid unpleasant sounding comb filter effects.
Xfer Dimension Expander
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.
Algae Software Tune it!
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.
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.
Blue Cat’s FreqAnalyst
This VST works well on vocals and instruments alike. Multiply is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Download: Acon Digital. Well, you can’t talk about vocal VSTs without getting into pitch shifting and autotune.
Voxengo Latency Delay
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.
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. 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.
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. Bitcrusher is great for some flavor.
Not necessarily something to use on the entire track, but in sections, it can be quite useful. It can work on instruments too.
So, with all this functionality, it’s hard not to recommend Graillon 2.
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. 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.
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.
Blue Cat’s Gain Suite
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).
Plugin Alliance Brainworx Bx_solo
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!
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. 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.