Why spend thousands on fancy instruments if you don’t have to? You can make incredible music without spending a penny.
These 19 FREE VST instruments in 2021 all deserve a place in your DAW. With sound quality on par with premium offerings, it’s a wonder they’re all free of charge!
You don’t need expensive gear, connections, or god-like knowledge to kickstart your career. This free Masterclass reveals the key steps you ACTUALLY need to make a reliable income doing what you love in 2021.
Catch the full Masterclass here:. But if you just want to learn about VST Instruments specifically, keep reading.
Ample Sound Ample Guitar M Lite II
The better your recordings sound, the better your final mix will be. Which is why VST (Virtual Studio Technology) instruments can level up your songs immediately.
Let’s take a look at 19 incredible VSTs you might want to grab! So the first thing I want to talk about is Spitfire LABS. This is one of my all-time favorite instruments, and I use it on 99% of songs.
LABS is an entire collection of free sample instruments put out by Spitfire Audio. Each of these instruments could sell for 50 to 100 dollars and no one would bat an eye, it’s really high quality stuff.
Do you want to make money from your music?
Soft Piano is my personal favorite. It’s got a beautiful, mellow tone. There are also some free string libraries.
There’s also a drum kit that fits a niche that a lot of other drum instruments don’t. There are a lot of studio drum samples that sound really processed and slot well into a pop or metal track.
But for more intimate stuff, this LABS drum set works nicely because it sounds less produced. There’s a wurlitzer, a charango, tons of amazing sounds that you can do a lot with. If you make music on your computer, you should get it.
It’s really that good. LABS is available for Mac and PC. Next up is Komplete Start from Native Instruments. Komplete Start is also a collection of instruments rather than just one VST.
But it’s all free and worth checking out.
You’ll get 7 synths, 9 sample instruments, and a couple of FX. The synths and samples alone are reason enough to download this one. There are some drum kits, vintage synths, a digital modular synth, and more.
You’ll also get the KONTAKT 6 and REAKTOR 6 players. KONTAKT is a sampler that’s used by tons of developers to house sample libraries. And REAKTOR 6 is a synth engine. They’re both incredible tools with lots of resources out there.
For example, the REAKTOR Community has tons of different synths and effects you can download for free to experiment with new sounds.
Komplete Start is available on Mac and PC. Sound Magic’s Piano One samples a Yamaha C7 grand piano. It’s got a very trebley sound. So while the Soft Piano from LABS is great for really moody, dark stuff, this one will be great for brighter tones.
The velocity settings can be a little finicky.
If you want a light and subdued piano sound, you may have some trouble.
But if you’re looking for grandeur, Piano One has that in spades. It’s a beautiful VST for Mac and Windows. I really recommend you check it out!
Next up is Dexed. Dexed is a clone of the Yamaha DX7, an FM synthesizer that defined the sound of the ‘80s. In fact, it’s such a faithful recreation you can actually load real DX7 patches into Dexed.
Ever wanted that vintage electric piano sound from Whitney Houston and Prince songs? Or that synth bass from “Take on Me”? With 3,000 presets (wow!), Dexed will keep you busy for a while.
Those presets can be tricky to load though, so watch this video if you can’t find them. Why spend thousands on fancy instruments if you don’t have to?
You can make incredible music without spending a penny.
Best Free VST Instrument Plugins – Similar Articles:
These 19 FREE VST instruments in 2021 all deserve a place in your DAW. With sound quality on par with premium offerings, it’s a wonder they’re all free of charge!
But if you just wa. Dexed is available for Mac and PC. Spitfire is back on the list again with their BBC Symphony Orchestra library. This is a super high-quality orchestra library. And at least for the time being you can get it for free.
All you have to do is take a short survey and they’ll send it your way. These are some absolutely gorgeous sounds. There aren’t as many articulations as a paid library would have, but there’s still plenty to work with.
I’m particularly fond of the strings and woodwinds. They have a rich, full tone that many paid libraries would be jealous of.
BBC Symphony Orchestra is available on Mac and PC.
Surge by Vember Audio is here for all your synthesizer needs. Surge used to be a premium synth, but not too long ago, Vember made it open source.
The interface looks a little dated, but don’t let that fool you. This is still a really powerful synth with enough features to keep you content for years. It’s a hybrid synth allowing subtractive synthesis as well as wavetable and FM. It’s really a sound design powerhouse!
With 1,010 preset patches, 183 wavetables, and tons of effects, it’ll be a long time before you get bored of Surge. Surge is available on Mac, PC, and Linux.
Need a solid electric bass for your track? Ample Bass P Lite II is an incredible electric bass instrument.
The sound quality is top notch.
And Ample Bass has realistic details you’d hear in real recordings, like hammer-ons and and slides. As a bassist myself, it sounds better than a lot of paid bass plugins I’ve heard.
Ample Bass P Lite II is available for PC and Mac. If you want some old-school synth sounds, TyrellN6 is here for you. It was made by u-he and released by an online magazine called Amazona Deutschland.
TyrellN6 is an analog synth emulation. It has tons of bass, leads, keys, and effects ready to go, right out of the gate. It has an intuitive interface and plenty of effects. So TyrellN6 is a great addition to any synth fan’s arsenal. TyrellN6 is available for Mac, PC, and Linux. Next up is Sennheiser’s DrumMic’a.
There are tons of drum VSTs out there.
But DrumMic’a’s extra features set it apart.
DrumMica lets you actually change which microphones you’re using on each part of the kit. This is an incredible amount of control in a free plugin.
It also comes with a transient shaper, adjustable snare bleed, and many more in-depth features. Plus the drums just sound good right out of the gate. What more could you want? DrumMic’a is available for Mac and PC.
VCV Rack is an open source modular synth. It’s got tons of modules. Including some popular recent creations. By default, VCV Rack is a standalone program. You can’t use it as a plugin in your DAW. But VeeSeeVstRack will let you use VCV in your DAW.
If you’re totally new to modular synthesis, you’ll have a big learning curve. But what if you already understand modular? And maybe you want to experiment with new sounds (without spending a fortune)? VCV Rack is perfect for you!
VCV Rack is available for Mac, PC, and Linux. It’s not easy to make a solo saxophone plugin that sounds real.
In fact, I assumed there wouldn’t be any free options good enough for this list.
Native Instruments Komplete Start
But DVS Saxophone caught me by surprise. Right out of the gate. DVS Sax sounds lush and realistic. It’s a terrific addition to any musician’s collection.
Especially if you’re making jazz, or any music that requires solo saxophone. DVS Saxophone is available for PC. Ample Sound is on the list again with Ample Guitar M Lite II.
This is a high-quality acoustic guitar sound. The tone is a little tinny, which makes it perfect for busy mixes. I find it works especially well for pop or pop-adjacent tracks.
But if the acoustic is supposed to be a really focal part of your mix, it may not be the best fit. Ample Guitar M Lite II is available for Mac and PC.
Versilian Studio Chamber Orchestra 2 Community Edition is a full orchestral suite that you can get for free.
It has tons of instruments on hand.
So VSCO 2 has just about everything you need to add orchestral elements to your songs. You can mix and match sounds from multiple orchestral libraries.
That can go a long way in enhancing realism. So try combining VSCO 2 with the sounds from Spitfire to get even more out of both. VSCO 2 is available for Mac, PC, and Linux.
If you’re looking for weird textures and sounds, Sinnah is for you. It uses a single complex oscillator and three delays to make truly inspiring sounds. From swirling pads to super saturated strings, Sinnah is great at filling in the gaps of your songs.
It’s not the most conventional synth. It’s really geared towards experimental artists. Sinnah is available for Mac and PC, with a potential Linux build if there’s enough demand.
CollaB3 is a very recent plugin. Created to help musicians who are quarantining, CollaB3 emulates an old-school B3 organ.
From gospel to modern hip hop and indie rock, the B3 has been heard on countless classics.
Dream Vortex Studio DVS Saxophone
If you want to add some vintage flavor and soul to your songs, grab CollaB3 today! CollaB3 is available for Mac, PC, and Linux.
Sweetcase Vintage Electric Piano is a gorgeous emulation of old electric pianos. With a beautiful, warm tone, Sweetcase’s free piano is on par with expensive competitors.
It sounds great out of the box, but there are a handful of settings you can change to shape its tone. You can add tremolo, pitch effects, reverb or boost the bass and the bell tone of the piano.
Sweetcase is available for PC and Mac. Not every song needs a realistic-sounding drum kit. More electronic-inspired artists may want synthetic drums.
How to use this guide
MiniSpillage is an easy-to-use drum synth that sounds great. Many DAWs have something similar. For example, Logic Pro’s Drum Synth works just as well.
But if your DAW doesn’t have one, you may want to grab MiniSpillage. Right now, MiniSpillage is only available for Mac.
PC users will be happy to know that a PC version may be developed if there’s enough demand for it. U-he’s Zebra is one of the most popular synths on the market.
Zebralette is their self-described “trojan horse,” to get you hooked on Zebra’s sound. And it sure works! Zebralette may only have one oscillator, but it sounds amazing. There are 300 presets and tons of effects for more advanced sound design.
Zebralette is a must-have for any synth enthusiast. Zebralette is available for Mac, PC, and Linux. What I really love about Synister is its interface.
It’s clean, intuitive, and easy to use.
Many synths have really complex GUIs, which make them almost impossible to understand.
But Synister isn’t one of them. Despite its ease of use, Synister doesn’t skimp on the features. You can blend 3 oscillators together. And there are tons of envelopes, filters, and effects. You can easily apply them to different parts of the signal chain.
It’s a great synth for beginners and experts alike! Synister is available for Mac and PC. Even though these plugins won’t cost you a cent, they all boast premium sound quality. So if you’re making music on your computer in 2021, be sure should grab these free VST instruments:. Native Instruments Komplete Start. Sound Magic Piano One.
Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra. Vember Audio Surge. Ample Sound Ample Bass P Lite II. Sennheiser DrumMic’a. Dream Vortex Studio DVS Saxophone.
Ample Sound Ample Guitar M Lite II. Versilian Studios VSCO 2 Community Edition. NuSofting Sinnah.
Sampleson CollaB3. NoiseAsh Sweetcase Vintage Electric Piano.
Vember Audio Surge
AudioSpillage MiniSpillage. u-he Zebralette. You don’t need expensive gear, connections, or god-like knowledge to kickstart your career.
This free Masterclass reveals the key steps you ACTUALLY need to make a reliable income doing what you love in 2021.
Catch the full Masterclass here:. Producer and composer for film and video games. Helping you make music a little more fun and a little less tedious. Check out my work at Juniper Tapes. Free VST Plugins are one of the most exciting things about mixing.
In the past it was impossible to imagine that so many quality tools could be available at no cost.
Today there are more great free plugins than ever before, but the freeware scene is always changing.
How can you know which free VSTs are worth installing? We scoured the internet for the absolute best of the best free VST plugins available.
There are a staggering 247 free plugins listed on this page. To make sense of it all, we divided them into categories: Synths, Drums, Guitar, Compressors, EQ, Reverb and Delay, Overdrive and Saturation, Vocals, Filters, Effects and Utilities. Use the table of contents to see the lists of VSTs by category.
Brought to you by the team that built LANDR Samples, Chromatic is a loop-based virtual instrument that turns sampled sounds into playable parts at the touch of a key.
Using a MIDI controller, Chromatic lets you go hands-on with exclusive, artist-approved loops and manipulate them with effects in real-time.
2getheraudio Cheeze Machine is a free VSTi inspired by vintage string synths like the ARP/Solina String Ensemble.
WHAT ARE VST PLUGINS?
It’s perfect for those phasey, vintage, lo-fi strings. Applied Acoustics Systems AAS Player is a free player for AAS library instruments. It comes preloaded with some great sound banks to get you started.
Ample Sound’s Guitar M LITE II is a realistic sounding acoustic guitar with impressive articulation and strumming options for a free plugin.
Ample Bass P LITE II, is another great instrument from Ample Sound that brings the sound of a studio P-Bass to your DAW. Ample Sound Cloudrum is a digital version of the extremely sought-after melodic handpans you might have heard on a moody film soundtrack.
Audjoo Helix is a full featured, crisp sounding subtractive synthesizer.
WHAT CAN YOU USE VST PLUGINS FOR?
It’s huge collection of waveshapes and the ability to use any of them in a “super saw” style makes it amazing for modern electronic sounds.
Blamsoft VK-1 is a digital emulation of the sought after Moog Voyager hardware synth. All the classic flavour of the original is present in the excellent sounding VK-1.
Blaukraut Charlatan 2.0 is an uncomplicated, super fat sounding virtual analog synth. Its easy-to use interface makes it good for dialing up great sounds fast.
Bruce Sutherland JuceOPLVSTi is a VST version of the Yamaha YMF262 FM synthesis chip used to create the soundtracks of classic video games like DOOM.
Is a 32-voice subtractive synth with powerful options beneath its simple exterior.
NoiseAsh Sweetcase Vintage Electric Piano
Its comprehensive LFO controls and modulation matrix are perfect for creating evolving soundscapes. Dexed is a fantastic utilitarian FM synth engine that’s capable of loading any of the classic patches from Yamaha’s hardware FM synths like the DX7 and TX81Z.
discoDSP OB-Xd brings the enormous sound of the Oberheim OB-X to your DAW. The OB-Xd convincingly recreates the legendary pads and leads of the original. DSK Dynamic Guitar is another realistic guitar sample plugin with convincing articulations for strumming.
DSK Saxophones offers modes for both alto and soprano saxophone with onboard tone shaping options like ADSR and reverb.
DSK The Grand sounds very convincing for a free plugin. A great option for moody and dramatic grand piano sounds.
Subdvine is a sub-bass synth that’s mainly used for sub heavy 808 sound design. This a great free synth plugin if you’re looking to build a kick, a bass one-shot or subby bassline. Extent of the Jam Digits 2 is a unique phase distortion synthesizer inspired by the Casio CZ series.
Phase Distortion is a variant of FM synthesis that can produce some truly wild sounds. Full Bucket FB-3300 is an astounding VST reproduction of the rare Korg PS-3300 synthesizer from the late 70s.
Full Bucket Modulair is a capable, fully modular synth plugin available generously for free. HY-Plugins HY-Mono is an easy-to-use, fat sounding free monosynth. Ichiro Toda Synth1 is a well designed VST polysynth that models the Clavia Nord Lead 2 hardware.
IK Multimedia Syntronik FREE comes packed with 50 presents and 38 effects from the enormous library of the powerful paid version.
There’s a huge amount of classic synth tones to choose from.
Versilian Studios VSCO 2 Community Edition
Keyzone Classic gives you great sounding acoustic and electric pianos sounds in your DAW for free. LANDR Samples now has an accompanying plugin that makes it easy to audition, time stretch and pitch shift any sample on our marketplace.
There’s so many possibilities, especially because you can make any sample you find fit any key or tempo.
Get started with a big selection of free samples and free loops to try it out for yourself! Linplug FreeAlpha 3 is based on the same powerful synth engine as the paid version.
Its slimmed down feature set is easier to use and sounds great.
Ample Sound Ample Bass P Lite II
Matt Tytel’s Helm is an open-source VST synth. That means you’re free to install it anywhere on anything and tinker with the source code.
ML PG8X is a free emulation of the great sounding Roland JX-8P. Get all the classic sounds of this affordable vintage synth in your DAW.
The Muon Tau Bassline is modelled after the Roland TB-303. This small but powerful VST synth gives you that sweet sweet 303 bass we all know and love.
NUSofting Sinnah is a unique VST synth based on a simple oscillator that can create complex waveforms.
It’s modulation and effects routing options are extremely extensive. Ohm Force SymptOhm PE is the free version (“Performer’s Edition”) of Symptohm:Melohman.
It contains all the presets of the paid version with a slimmed down control scheme. If you’re interested in getting into the stranger realms of FM synthesis, here’s an interesting synth from open-source synth maker OctaSine.
It comes with four operators with a flexible routing feature that makes it easy to build your own synth path. OctaSine also features four assignable LFOs and an ADSR section for each operator.
One Small Clue Grace is a handy and lightweight VST sampler. Everyone needs a sampler! If OctaSine isn’t weird and crazy enough for you, Pendulate should do the trick.
Its waveforms are literally called “Chaos Shapes”.
The routable synth can send audio signals through a wave folder, a pitch mod section, ADSR and LFO. It comes with a clearly laid out mod matrix to bend your oscillator signal into any chaotic sound you desire.
Plogue Alter/Ego is a realtime voice synthesizer capable of creating incredibly interesting vocal sounds.
It’s “voice banks” have colourful personalities brought to life with art and design.
Plogue Sforzando is a simple standalone player for the non-proprietary SoundFont format of sampled instruments.
Here’s a super warm and cozy sample-based synth that re-creates the nostalgic and vibey sound of the Fender Rhodes.
Sample Science did a great job of recording the instrument onto cassette to create this lo-fi inspiration machine. Definitely try this one out if you’re looking to add Rhodes keys to your track. Fathom is a modular VST synth that excels at crafting original waveforms with advanced modulation.
The mono version of Fathom is available completely free. Soca Labs PAPU emulates the sound hardware of the original Nintendo Gameboy for all your chiptune needs.
Sound Magic Piano One uses a hybrid modelling technique to deliver the sound of the workhorse Yamaha C7 grand piano.
Spitfire Audio LABS packs a huge amount of extremely creative sounds into a user-friendly interface.
Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra
With unique libraries from modulated pianos to windswept strings to creative percussion, try LABS if you’re looking for something new. Steinberg Model E is a useful 3 oscillator bass station capable of pumping out great bass tones.
Synister is a great VST synth designed with practicality and ease of use in mind. If you’re new to synthesis this might be a great place to start!
TAL-NoiseMaker is the new and improved version of the legacy Elek7ro plugin with many more options and effects. It’s great to use and sounds fantastic. Tunefish 4 is an extremely lightweight synth that can produce professional quality sounds.
It generates its wavetables using a form of additive synthesis. U-He Triple Cheese generates it’s sound with comb filters rather than oscillators, wavetables or FM.
This unique synth produces sounds that are a little on the cheesy side, but usable and inspiring nonetheless.
U-he Tyrell N6 is a compact, effective virtual analog subtractive synth that sounds just right.
HOW DO VST PLUGINS HELP?
Its classic architecture feels familiar and its preset library has a diverse array of sounds.
Another freeware winner from German manufacturer u-he, Zebralette is the free version of the powerful Zebra. Zebralette features one of the same incredible sounding oscillators.
Light Pad is the lightweight edition of UhhYou’s Cubic Pad. Both are powered by Paul Nasca’s interesting PADSynth algorithm.
The best part is that you get to manipulate the waveshapes directly using a visual editor. If you’re tired of endless emulations of old analog hardware, Light Pad could be the futuristic computer synth of your dreams.
Uhhyou is a relatively new developer that creates unique software instruments based on concepts from math and physics.
IterativeSinCluster is an additive synth that can combine up to 512 sine waves for each to create otherworldly clusters of sound.
VCV is an impressive free virtual Eurorack modular system.
With emulations of many of the most popular modules supported, VCV rack is a creative powerhouse for synth tweakers. Vember Audio Surge is an incredibly powerful open-source synthesizer.
Surge features multiple “scenes” that can be layered for expressive timbres. Like all open-source software the source code is available for you to explore.
Versilian Studios Chamber Orchestra 2 Community Edition is a sampled chamber orchestra that throws typical orchestral sampling traditions to the wind. VSCO 2 focuses on the unique sound of real people playing real instruments in real spaces.
The Nordic-themed Odin2 synthesizer from TheWaveWarden is a new contender for the most advanced free synth plugin.
Sound Magic Piano One
With an editable wavetable oscillator, loopable envelopes, multiple filter models and extensive modulation matrix, Odin2 pushes the boundaries of freeware while sounding great!
Wavosaur VST Speek models the old school speech synthesis engines of retro hardware like the Amiga 500, Commodore 64 and Atari ST for those classic robot voice tones.
Alan Vista’s unique sampled VST instruments run the gamut of orchestral percussion from traditional hand crashes to this cinematic collection of Chinese gongs.
Alan Vista Cymbalistic continues in the same vein with a realistic set of common drum kit cymbals with articulations and variable release times.
Royotoms is a unique sampled instrument of pitched “rototoms” tuned to the notes used in the intro to Pink Floyd’s “Time.”. AudioSpillage MiniSpillage is a compact drum synthesizer capable of creating big drum sounds using subtractive synthesis and physical modeling.
Beat Skillz Beat Factory Drums is a simple VST packed with essential sounds from classic drum machines like the the TR-808 and 909.
Decomposer Sitala is a free drum plugin that focuses on simplicity and ease-of-use.
With only six controls, Sitala let’s you dial in the sounds you need fast.
Dub Turbo DrumTroop is a big sounding drum VST with 16 individual outputs and 20 free kits.
Each pad has options for volume, pan, attack and release. Melda MDrummer Small is the lite version of Melda’s comprehensive MDrummer plugin. Mdrummer Small features the same excellent drum machine and virtual drummer capabilities with a more utilitarian feature set.
Mix Project T.REX 606 is a compact rompler modelled after the iconic Roland TR-606 drum machine.
It’s interface is super simple to get you started with TR-606 sounds right away.
MT Power Drumkit 2 is a reastlc sounding acoustic drum kit plugin with sounds that can be used in all genres.
The Best Free VST Instrument Plugins in 2022 (+ Download Links)
Real Drum Samples Line of Legends is a single great sounding hip-hop drum kit in an unassuming package.
Sample Science Vintage Drum Elements gives you the authentic sounds of the old school Yamaha RX5 drum machine for all your lofi vintage drum needs.
Sean Pandy’s Drums Multi is a quick and dirty way to get heavy drum samples onto your tracks. It’s great for metal or aggressive genres.
Nick Crow 8505
Elektronic Sound Lab SL Drums 3 is drum rompler vst with 75 available drum kits and assignable outputs. Steven Slate Drums SSD5 Free is the freeware edition of Steven Slate Drums flagship SSD5 plugin.
Everything about the popular drum tool is there, with a single great kit. Studio Linked Drum Pro is a virtual drum machine that comes with 20 kits and built-in effects to get you started creating great drum sounds right away.
Teragon Kick Maker is a bass drum synth dedicated to sculpting unique and massive kick sounds. SimpleRecorder DjinnDrum is a no-nonsense plugin version of the legendary Linndrum drum machine.
Analog modelled processor for adding more life and energy to your drum tracks.
Shattered Glass Audio Ace Amp
SweetDrums comes with controls for input, output and processing. Put this on your drum and hear it come to life! Here’s a drum VST that focuses exclusively on one instrument—the snare drum.
It’s capable of creating convincingly realistic snare sounds with a handful of parameters for very specific variables like stick tip hardness, snare tension and hit position.
If you’re struggling to get real sounding acoustic snares using digital plugins, give this one a try. Kabin is a guitar cabinet modeler that makes it possible to create the sound of any guitar cab in your DAW.
The plugin comes with options for setting speaker and cabinet size up to 1×12”, settings for character to adjust mid-response and dynamic response, and a tube mic placement option. If you’re looking for a great way to model your dream amp and get better direct-in guitar tone give Kabin a try.
This amp simulator is a high gain metal-inspired amp with a tube sound modeled after classic Soldano amplifiers.
It also comes with some extra volume settings for adding extra drive before the master channel.
Extent of the Jam Digits 2
IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop contains the several of the paid versions’s basic modules for free.
Get your hands on the sounds of this classic amp sim. Black Rooster Cypress TT-15 is an impressive freeware emulation of the popular Orange Tiny Terror amp head.
Ignite Amps Emissary is a software version of Ignite Amps flagship gain machine. Emissary brings bone crushing distortion to your DAW with style.
Analog Obsession NCAR
Ignite Amps NadIR is a handy IR loader plugin for using speaker cabinet impulse response when recording an amp direct. Ignite Amps Pro.F.E.T is a plugin version of a popular high gain stompbox that’s a great option from getting heavy distortion into your tracks.
Ignite Amps SHB-1 is a plugin version of a custom “extreme bass head” built by Ignite Amps.
Try it if you’re looking for aggressive metal bass tones. LePou LeCab 2.0 is another fantastic free cab IR loader that lets you stack up to six virtual cabs at once.
LePou Amp Suite is a collection of virtual amps that can cover a diverse range of guitar tones from vintage to modern. Mercuriall Chorus WS-1 is a stompbox style chorus VST that can bring the classic shimmer of analog chorus to your DAW sessions.
Mercuriall Greed Smasher is a digital model of the Mesa/Boogie Grid Smasher overdrive pedal.
It’s perfect for pushing a hot amp plugin into aggressive overdrive. Mercuriall Tubes Creamer 808 is a faithful adaptation of the Ibanez TS808 Tubescreamer in plugin form.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig Player comes bundled with NI’s free plugin suite. This stripped down edition still packs a ton of functionality and the great tones Guitar Rig is known for.
Nick Crow 8505 is a plugin version of the popular Peavey 6505 amp.
Another fantastic option for virtual heavy tones.
Caelum Audio Flux Mini
Brainworx/Plugin Alliance entry into the guitar amp simulation scene is a fantastic option with 8 well emulated amps to choose from.
The free V3 Player gives you a sample of some of the presets from the paid version. Blue Cat’s Free Amp offers three distinct amp models inspired by legendary tones.
You can even load your own IRs to take advantage of your favourite cab/mic models. Voxengo Boogex is a guitar amp and speaker cabinet simulator with a versatile sound for realtime guitar processing.
Get anything from jazzy cleans to heavy crunch at almost zero latency. Shattered Glass Audio Ace Amp is a faithful recreation of the classic 1950’s low-wattage tweed amplifier used on thousands of records.
It includes emulation of common mods to the 5 watt tweed circuit and IR based speaker modelling. Acustica Tan is a VST compressor based on Acustica’s unique and comprehensive modelling technology.
Tan has a fat VCA compression sound and additional control for modulating the shape of the attack curve. Audio Damage Rough Rider 2 is a nice warm compressor that’s great for adding pump to rhythmic material.
SPECOMP is an S-Type console compressor from Analog Obsession. If you’re looking to re-create the sound and magic of classic spectral analog compressors in your mix definitely give this one a try.
The compressor has fairly simple settings but it’s a great tool for gluing everything together with a genuine re-creation of the original’s circuitry.
BusterSE is an excellent (and free) recreation of the classic SSL bus compressor on the G-series console.
BusterSE is a stereo compressor, meaning it can work on multiple sources at once. That’s why it works so well on the master bus and is known for gluing a mix together in the final stages. LALA is Analog Obsession’s take on the classic LA2A compressor.
It’s got all the trappings of the original compressor including an enhanced high frequency setting that will set the sensitivity of the compressor to act on high frequencies.
Beatskillz MAX1 is an “intelligent” automatic compressor with program dependent attack and release times. Try MAX1 if you’re looking for an extremely easy to use compressor. ADHD Audio Tools Levelling Tool is an LA-2A style optical levelling amplifier with a warm analog sound.
It sounds great on vocals or other compression duties. Eareckon FR-COMP 87 is a high quality analog-style compressor using the same engine as their award winning ANALOG87 series.
Eareckon FR-LIMIT 87 is a high quality analog-style limiter using the same engine as their award winning ANALOG87 series. Klanghelm DC1A is an analog modelled compressor with two simple controls and a warm, vintage sound.
The little brother of the acclaimed DC8C. Klanghelm MJUC Jr. is a another two-knob wonder modelled on classic variable-mu tube compression.
Melda MCompressor is a versatile compressor with an adjustable compression shape.
Voxengo Old Skool Reverb
Vladg Molot Compressor is an analog style compressor plugin that doesn’t shy away from obvious colouration and distortion. Molot is great option when clean just won’t do.
Here’s a very unique way of thinking about compression from Semantic Audio. SAFE compressor works by reading descriptive keyword entries by a user and adjusts compressor settings accordingly.
For example, you could type in a command like “bright” or warm” and the compressor will adjust its settings to fit those semantic descriptions. Thomas Mundt Loudmax is a freeware brickwall lookahead limiter designed to retain the source material’s original character as much as possible.
George Yohng W1 Limiter is a clone of the popular Waves L1 limiter that performs just as well as the original.
W1 is a great choice for general limiter tasks. Xfer OTT is a free version of the aggressive multiband upwards/downwards compression technique favoured by dubstep and EDM producers.
Analog Obssession’s FIVER EQ is an excellent recreation of the classic SSL G-series console EQ.
This is definitely a go-to workhorse EQ you can reach for anytime you reach the EQ stage of a mix. It’s remarkable that these convincing analog recreations are coming out completely free—unless you feel like supporting on Patreon!
Analog Obsession is possibly one of the best new entrants into the free plugin scene. Their model for getting pro-quality plugins to the masses is working and CHANNEV is just one example of their ever-growing free pro-audio tool collection.
Don’t skip this great jack-of-all-trades channel strip EQ that comes complete with a compressor, limiter, overdrive, de-esser and mic pre-amp. Similar to CHANNEV, LOADED is a fully… err, loaded channel strip EQ that comes with a compressor, gate, de-esser and pre-amp,.
This six-band EQ is super useful for many applications, especially given its added tools and functionality.
Here’s another great three-band, mono and stereo, mid-side processing EQ plugin from Analog Obsession.
MASBAX comes with 6 frequency selections for low, mid and high EQing duties and adjacent high, mid and low boost and cut amounts to help you carve out the best sound. NCAR is a really cool way to introduce classic analog workflows into your mixing practice.
The summing analog mixer makes it possible to route different inputs through a master mix channel to add EQ cuts and boosts and level each input track in one area.
It sounds great and also looks great with its classic mixer-style interface.
Ignite Amps Emissary
This EQ plugin focuses specifically on bass frequencies, making it a great option for adding extra thickness to any track with weak low-end.
Its simple interface makes it easy to choose a specific low-end frequency and add the appropriate amount of boost.
This smaller console format EQ is inspired by the EQ of an unnamed tape machine. It comes with three bands and interestingly an optical compressor to add extra crunch.
MERICA re-creates one the most famous hardware EQs of all time—the API 550.
Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566
It’s been used on many classic records from the 70s.
Other re-creations of this EQ don’t come cheap, so definitely make sure to add this incredible freebie to your EQ folder.
Bee-Happy 550 is a freeware API-style console EQ. It’s a great plugin to get you started with API style EQ.
Black Rooster VHL-3C is a faithful emulation of the low and high filters of a renowned vintage EQ.
GUITAR AMP SIMULATION
These smooth, gentle, analog style filters are great for taming excess high and low energy with style. Blindfold EQ is a freeware EQ plugin that has 4 bands (LowShelf, LowMid, HighMid, HighShelf), but each knob is blind.
There are no indicators or numbers to show frequency values, gain values or Q values. Blue Cat’s Triple EQ is a simple three band, semi-parametric EQ that can be controlled with a single mouse click.
Triple EQ works like a single shapeable filter for your DAW. Eareckon FR-EQUA 87 is a high quality analog-style equalizer using the same engine as their award winning ANALOG87 series.
Ignite Amps PTeq-X is fantastic freeware emulation of legendary Pultec EQP-1A tube EQ.
Analog Obsession LOADED
It’s warm sound and gentle curves are great for broad tonal sculpting. lkjb Luftikus is an analog EQ modelled on the popular Maag EQ4 and featuring the unique 20 and 40 kHz “air bands” for boosting frequencies above the audible range.
Melda MEqualizer is a powerful 6-band equalizer with 7 different filter types, built-in tube saturation and for simulating a vintage tone. Plugin Alliance SPL Free Ranger is an analog-modelled graphic EQ with boost/cut points at the most important frequencies for musical EQing.
Plugin Alliance Elysia Niveau Filter is an awesome sounding tilt-style EQ for balancing your frequencies smoothly and transparently. Shattered Glass Code Red 3 accurately emulates the legendary EMI REDD console channel used by the Beatles at Abbey Road.
TDR Nova is an insanely high quality dynamic equalizer available for free.
TDR Nova can handle parametric EQ, dynamic EQ, multiband compression and more—it’s a must have! TDR Slick EQ is another highly musical audio tool from TDR.
This 3 band EQ is designed for useability and tone with 4 fantastic sounding subtle saturation options at the output stage.
Another classic free plugin. Voxengo Overtone GEQ is a 7-band harmonic graphic EQ with tube-style character that’s great for processing buses or entire mixes.
Spread delay gives you a high degree of control over the panning of your delay bursts.
Flux BitterSweet v3
It comes with a visual interface that lets you control exactly how wide your delay will ping-pong. For some interesting sound design applications this delay is a great free addition to your delay plugins.
Dragonfly is a collection of plate, hall and room reverb plugins—each coming with their own unique set of parameters and controls. It’s a bit unique because the plugin interface comes with a spectral analyzer that helps with analyzing which frequencies are getting reflected most prominently.
E-phonic Tape Delay is a free delay plugin that emulates the warm and warbly sound of tape delay.
Giant Verb is exactly what it sounds like—it’s a giant reverb that can go up to insanely long decay times, like up to an hour and longer. t’s a bit ridiculous, but when dialed back it can be useful for creating slow-moving ambient sounds and huge spaces.
Tape echo is one of the most beautiful delay effects out there. Vintage hardware like the Space Echo or the WEM IC-400 is still beloved for its nostalgic, saturated, lo-fi sound.
The GSi Varispeed is a convincing re-creation of the WEM IC-400, it opens up many echoey sonic possibilities for adding a tinge of tape-infused lo-fi goodness to your tracks all for free.
Glitchmachines Hysteresis a free glitch delay for creating robotic artifacts and “musical malfunctions.” It can create everything from reverse delays to raw granulation.
Hotto Spring Reverb is a free physically modelled spring reverb for your DAW. OrilRiver is a pretty comprehensive algorithmic stereo rhythmic reverb that comes with a lot of functionality—it’s fairly competitive with higher tier paid plugins.
This plugin is great for simulating everything from a small room to a large hall with twelve options for early reflections and five options for reverb tails.
It also comes with gain and shelf EQ for controlling how much reflections get through.
LePou Amp Suite
Melda MConvolutionEZ is an impressively easy to use convolution reverb for modelling realistic spaces. Musical Entropy Spaceship Delay is a multimode delay plugin that can be used for adding a variety of time based effects to any aspect of your mix.
Bonus: engage the freeze function and you’ve got yourself a looper. Puremagnetik Driftmaker is a delay disintegration device with exceptional dimension and character, perfect for when you’re looking to invoke something extra from your track.
TAL Reverb 2 is a super diffuse and lush reverb effect that’s ideal for ambient reverb tones. TAL Reverb 4 is a high quality plate reverb with a vintage 80s character and the signature TAL diffusion.
U-he Protoverb is a natural sounding room simulator plugin that builds up resonances to model the body of air in a room.
Voxengo Tempo Delay is a stereo delay plugin with deep DAW synchronization for creating rhythmic delays and unique panning, filter and tremolo effects.
Voxengo Old Skool Reverb is a plate style algorithmic reverb that uses a tried and true stereo reverb algorithm that sits well in a mix.
SaschArt SweepDelay is a creative delay effect with a pair of filters to sculpt the repeats.
Its HPF and LPF filter types come with their own LFO rate and depth controls to animate your delay with stylish sweep effects. Here’s a clean and simple delay plugin that’ll fill out your basic delay needs.
Flying Delay comes with tempo-sync, saturation and high and low pass controls.
It’s a super easy-to-use plugin that gets uncomplicated delay tasks done right.
Analog Obsession LALA
Smartelectronix Ambience was one of the first quality free reverb plugins on the scene and it continues to be a great option for ambient algorithmic reverb. Supermassive from Vahalla does what it says on the tin.
This is a huge echo plugin that can create sprawling soundscapes, trailing echoes and much more.
Native Instruments Komplete Start
Don’t sleep on this incredible free offering from this well-respected plugin manufacturer. Here’s a minimalistic reverb with some important applications that are totally worth adding to your reverb folder.
Subspace uses re-synthesis technology to eliminate the harsher reflections commonly associated with most reverbs. The reflectionless sound is almost haunting and makes for a great option when creating moody soundscapes and stylish ambience.
Audio Damage Fuzz Plus 3 is an authentic model of a vintage fuzz pedal with tone-shaping filter and self-feedback. Here’s a great overdrive plugin from Analog Obsession that mimics the construction of typical, high-end overdrive pedals for guitar.
This plugin comes with five unique overdrive models each of which re-create the sound of classic pedals like the Big Muff, Guv’nor SD-1 and more.
For added tone control you get knobs to control bass, treble, pre tone, drive level and output.
Creative Intent Temper is a saturation plugin that creates unique digital distortion effects using a rich saturation stage and a unique phase distortion effect.
Klanghelm IVGI is an excellent analog saturation plugin that can go from subtle harmonic enhancement to heavy colouration. One of the best freeware saturators available!
Melda MSaturator is a smooth, tube-like saturation device with natural and pleasing sound.
Shattered Glass Audio SGA1566 is a digital emulation of a classic single channel all-tube mic preamplifier. SGA1566 is perfect for analog colouration and distortion.
DirtyPumper is a saturation plugin that does what it says on the tin. It’ll pump dirt and grit into your mix or track to add extreme saturation. Best used from drums to create extra punch and crunch, but definitely don’t shy away if you want to mangle and distort any audio source.
Softube Saturation knob is an incredibly simple one-knob plugin for adding analog output stage warmth and colouration. Here’s a well engineered plugin from Germany based TBProAudio.
It’s based on the saturator used within their paid CS5501V2 channel strip plugin, but with some extra design features added.
It comes with several different saturation modes, oversampling and a pretty cool old school VU interface. Voxengo Tube Amp is a simple tube style distortion that emulates the triode tubes generally found in tube mic preamps. Wave Arts Tube Saturator Vintage is a free reissue of the original Tube Saturator plugin that used circuit simulation to model a tube preamp.
Analog Obsession BusterSE
The new version sounds just as good and is much easier on your CPU.
This de-esser is a great option for cleaning up vocal takes and removing harsh high-end. If you need to sweeten up a hissing vocal take, try this one out. Auburn Graillon Free is a versatile pitch tracking and correction plugin with the power to transpose or robitify vocals.
iZotope Vocal Doubler can create a natural double tracked vocal sound with human-like variation and controllable stereo separation. Melda MAutoPitch is a simple automatic pitch correction plugin for vocals or monophonic instruments.