2021 was a great year for free VST plugins. The proud tradition of giving away great software for music production shows no sign of slowing down.
And while there some incredibly exciting paid releases throughout the year, you had plenty of inspiring options available. In fact, we published a selection of our favorite free plugins every month this year to keep you in the loop of must-have effects.
But even among the highlights there were some standout devices that deserve a special mention. From analog classics and lo-fi nostalgia to futuristic percussion and synthesis, here’s our picks from 2021.
If there was one developer that stole the show with free tools in 2021, it was Analog Obsession. If there was one developer that stole the show with free tools in 2021, it was Analog Obsession.
Quality analog emulations are found in nearly every pro engineer’s tool kit.
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But the industry favorites are usually pricey—and sometimes even locked behind expensive proprietary hardware.
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That’s why usable, high quality analog-style processors are such a big deal on the free scene.
- You’ll find everything from workhorse compressors to vintage EQ and channel strips with classic voicings in Analog Obsession catalogue.
- Technically, the plugin suite is supported by a Patreon membership, but there’s no barrier to the full experience if you don’t subscribe.
- With that in mind, give the plugins a try—you might find them worth making a monthly donation.
- Modular synthesis is a bona fide musical movement at this point.
- In the years since the Eurorack format standardized module design, modular has taken over a unique corner of the gear world.
- But building out a capable modular rig is a project that can quickly turn into a black hole, swallowing your time and money.
- What if you could have all the best modules in whatever configuration you wanted, completely free?
- Well that’s what you get with VCV Rack 2.0. It’s a virtual module system with unlimited modules and patching modelled on the real behaviour of each unit.
- The catalogue features hundreds of modules from leading manufacturers.
- Hot tip: Want more free plugin roundups and gear guides?
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- Chromatic is LANDR’s first virtual instrument plugin.
- That made it the most exciting VST of the year for us!
- It’s a playable loop instrument that lets you go hands-on with artist-approved sounds and samples.
- Using a MIDI controller you can play and modify loops on the fly to get inspired fast.
- Each unique sound set is categorized by mood to get you thinking outside the box.
- While the full library of Chromatic sound content requires a subscription, there are plenty of free sounds available to get you started.
- Chromatic is LANDR’s first virtual instrument plugin.
- In fact, each mood features a free set to give you a taste of what Chromatic has to offer.
- If you’re looking for a different approach to using sampled loops or you just need a quick hit of inspiration, try Chromatic to experiment with its unique workflow.
- Spitfire LABS makes our year-end list every year—because it’s really that good.
- Spitfire is a developer that might not be known to every bedroom producer since they focus on libraries for composers and film score production.
- But don’t let that scare you away. Some of the most forward-thinking sound design comes from film and TV music.
- LABS shows how well the approach can crossover into pop genres as well as experimental sound.
5. TBProAudio GSat+
If you’re not familiar with the format, LABS is a sampled instrument platform with regular content releases—just like LANDR’s new Chromatic Plugin.
- While there are some enduring classic LABS sound sets like Soft Piano, there were plenty of standout releases in 2021—here’s my picks:.
- Guitar Harmonics. Saturation is an overlooked mixing tool that can have a powerful effect on your tracks.
- Saturation is an overlooked mixing tool that can have a powerful effect on your tracks.
- Last month we took a deep dive into what it is and how it works.
- Once you get over the idea of intentionally adding distortion to your sound, the possibilities get exciting.
- You’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever heard how subtle saturation can bring a sound forward in the mix and give it a more satisfying texture.
- There are hundreds of ways to introduce saturation into your tracks, and most of them come at a price.
- That’s why it’s so great when there’s a quality saturation plugin released for free.
- This year’s favourite was TBProAudio GSat+.
- With multiple clipping styles, customizable gain stages and harmonics types as well as oversampling up to 4x, GSat+ offers deeper control than many paid plugins.
- Luckily, it also sounds excellent. If you’re in need of a flexible distortion tool with smooth natural sound, GSat+ is worth a shot—it’s free after all!
7. Xfer Records: OTT
Lo-fi is eternal, but it was especially hard to ignore in 2021.
- This year we took an in-depth look at the many genres, styles and production techniques associated with the term.
- From rounding up the top plugins to capture the sound to breaking down the best chord progressions and even interviewing some of the genre’s early pioneers, we couldn’t get enough.
- Even so, capturing that perfect dusty, lived-in feel isn’t always easy, especially on a budget.
- That’s what made Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2 one the best free plugins of the year.
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It offers a fantastic take on everything there is to love about retro cassette audio including the subtle, warbling warp and flutter that seems to take you back in time.
- Even if you don’t produce in a strictly lo-fi genre, this plugin is a perfect tool for creating unique tonal shifts in sounds that need a little extra something.
- Speaking of tape—there may be no better way to experience its magic than a vintage-style tape delay.
- While the coveted classics have all gotten their due in digital emulations, the quirkier, lesser known units are just making it to many producers’ attention.
- One great example is the Watkins Copicat. Unlike other tape delays of the time, the Copicat used a variable speed motor to alter the delay time rather than changing the position of the playback head.
- That gave it a unique sound—as well as some distinct drawbacks.
- But that’s part of the fun isn’t it? GSI certainly think so.
- They’ve expertly modelled the Copicat IC400 to replicate it’s special sound and behaviour directly in your DAW—for free!
- The snare is an incredibly important element of any mix. If you’re anything like me, you know how hard it can be to find the perfect sound—whether it’s searching endlessly for samples or sculpting with EQ.
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That’s why the EXC!TE Snare Drum‘s unique approach is so interesting. It’s based on physically modelling, a type of synthesis that uses signal processing techniques to replicate the real behaviour of sound sources.
That means you can manipulate deep features of the sound directly in ways that are impossible with other sources. For example you can change the hardness of the stick tip used to strike the drum or adjust the snare tension in real time.
2. YouLean: Loudness Meter
Plugins finally earned a seat at the table for guitarists in the last few years. You might find these unique parameters help you get a snare sound that sits even better in the mix.
Last but not least, plugins finally earned a seat at the table for guitarists in the last few years. Upstarts like Neural DSP changed the game with their massively popular Archetype series and IR technology became more common in gear of all kinds.
Of course, IK Multimedia has been in the amp modelling space since the beginning with their Amplitube plugin.
Even so, the classic VST has been keeping pace with the rest of the guitar software world and now offers one of its strongest models for free.
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After all, there’s a certain flavor of bruising high gain that can only come from the legendary Mesa Triple Rectifier. If you want to revisit the days of nu-metal, post-hardcore and other heavy styles indebted to the Triple Rec, now’s your chance to do it for free.
Every new year seems to push the boundaries on the quality of music production software released for free. If you haven’t scooped up any of the excellent entries in our 2021 list, now’s your chance to grab them. New sounds and tools can be great sources of inspiration—especially when they don’t cost a fortune to use.
So here’s to another year of amazing free plugins in 2022! Jan 14, 2022• Proven solutions. With the release of different VST plugins, it has become more convenient and inexpensive for a music producer to mix a track.
Instead of buying expensive music instruments, they can install dedicated plugins and get the same results without any hassle.
Of course, with so many available options, it can get a bit hectic to evaluate which VST plugins are worth installing.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of 10 best free VST plugins so that you can pick the best ones to fulfill your requirements.
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So, without any further ado, let’s start the list. You might also like: 8 Best DAW for Chromebook to Make Music. Native Instruments has done a remarkable job by releasing KOMPLETE START.
It’s a complete audio-mixing bundle that contains a variety of VST plugins, virtual instruments, thousands of audio effects, and several other free resources for music production.
Earlier all these elements were available individually. However, music producers can now access all these elements with a single product bundle, making the entire audio-mixing process more convenient and quick.
You can use the KOMPLETE START audio bundle with any VST, AU, and AAX plugin compatible DAW (Digital Audio Workstation). Get Access to 2,000 sounds and more than 6 GB of content.
Perfect for Beginners as KOMPLETE START has everything to step-up your music production game.
6. Caelum Audio Tape Cassette 2
Compatible With Windows as well as Mac OS. Spitfire Labs is yet another complete package if you’re looking for different types of sounds. It would have been an injustice to exclude Spitfire Labs’ audio project from the list of best free VST plugins as it contains some of the unique audio effects one can integrate into their audio track.
What separates Spitfire Labs from other VST plugins is that every sound is composed of musicians and sampling experts in London, which means there’s no compromise on the quality whatsoever. And, since it features a wide variety of sounds, ranging from drums to actual natural sounds from the Northern Hemisphere, you’ll have no limitations on expressing your creativity.
Get a Variety of instrumental and natural sounds in one package. Experts compose each audio effect/sound. Sonatina Orchestra is a suitable free VST plugin for people who have just started their career as a music composer and are looking for pretty necessary investment.
It’s an orchestral sample library that contains pretty much all the elements you’ll need to create an orchestration virtually.
1. Analog Obsession
The library contains an array of audio samples, which have different amounts of stage ambiance, based on the placement of an instrument on the stage.
It means you give your audio track a real orchestral vibe using different audio samples. Different Types of audio samples including strings, brass, keys & choir, etc.
Perfect for Beginners as well as slightly experienced music composers. Keyzone Classic is a piano-based plugin that provides acoustic samples from different pianos.
The plugin can be installed on any operating system, be it Mac or Windows, and works with the majority of DAWs. If you want to add a piece of soft piano music in the background of your audio track, Keyzone Classic is the perfect option.
Unlike the previous best free VST plugins in our list, Keyzone Classic isn’t a complete bundle, which makes it lightweight and easy-to-use.
How to use this guide
Get a variety of presets including Yamaha Grand Piano, Steinway Grand Piano, Basic Electric Piano. Lightweight and easy-to-install. Sforzando is one of the most powerful sample players that’ll free you from relying on proprietary formats for creating your own SFZ file formats.
With Sforzando, you can create and share instruments for free, as well as commercial purposes. Although it might not be a suitable option for beginners or even intermediate composers.
Because there is no fancy UI that’ll help you navigate through different elements. Everything needs to be done from scratch, that too, at the SFZ file level itself.
In a nutshell, you must be a skilled and highly experienced composer to operate Plogue Sforzando.
2. VCV Rack 2.0
Uses SFZ file format, which is royalty-free, which means you can create and distribute instruments without any restrictions. As the name implies, Simple Sound Delay is a virtual signal delaying AAX and VST plugin.
It can be used in any DAW to delay audio signals with extremely accurate precision. The plugin allows you to postpone time by setting a time-frame in milliseconds or using the samples.
However, being one of the standalone and free VST plugins, Sound Delay can only be used to delay audio signals. Apart from this, it doesn’t provide any functionality whatsoever.
Sound Delay is an appropriate option for music composers who have already installed dozens of individual VST plugins and want a new one that’ll help them delay audio signals as well.
Freedom of sound
Delay Audio Signals in milliseconds or using samples. Delay mid & side-channels separately. Tube Amplifier is a VST plugin that applies asymmetric tube triode overdrive to your project.
By no means, TubeAmp is the right choice for a beginner as one must be familiar with tube-triode. However, if you’re an experienced music composer, Tube Amplifier will fit your studio perfectly.
As we mentioned earlier, it can be used to apply asymmetric tube triode overdrive, which is usually found in single-tube microphone preamp boxes. It also contains a low-pass filter that’ll help you imitate a low-quality tube-triode.
Asymmetric tube triode overdrive. Two processing modes. Additional output saturation stage. Stereo and multi-channel processing. Ozone Imager V2 is probably one of the best free VST plugins as it allows a music composer to have full control over the width of the sounds.
The tool has three different vectorscope meters that instantly show the stereo width and help you widen or narrow the sounds precisely as per the project requirements.
What are the best free VST plugins out there right now? Everyone has a favourite. We’ve found 6 top free plugins to bring something new to your music producing.
Ozone Imager also has a dedicated “Stereoize” feature that’ll help you turn mono sounds into stereo without any reverb.
This will make it easier to enhance the overall audio effects and give a professional touch to your tracks. Stereoize the sounds with no need for doubling. Visualize the sounds using vectorscope meters to precisely adjust their width.
RS-W2395c is a classic Baxandall equalizer that’s perfect for creating audio effects for your rock band. It offers an extremely straightforward UI, which will make it easier for all the hobbyist music composers to switch low and mid-bands without having to dive deeper into the “Settings” menu.
The dedicated high-shelf will give you the liberty to carve darkening instruments and voices. This will help you compose audio tracks that stand out in the crowd.
Extremely Flexible UI. Easily Control Mid & Low Bands for your track.
Unlike other free VST plugins in our list, Sound Recovery is specifically tailored to repair low-quality audio tracks to make them sound better and reach the professional level.
11. iZotope: Ozone Imager
The plugin will help you adjust mid & high frequencies to an optimal level or add them if they’re missing in a soundtrack.
So, if you have any tracks that require a slight polishing, Sound Recovery will help. Erase Unwanted Noises from an Audio Track. After repairing a track, save the preset for future use.
by Benjamin Arango Jan 14, 2022 16:29 PM . by Benjamin Arango Jan 14, 2022 16:29 PM . by Benjamin Arango Jan 07, 2022 17:00 PM . Producers of all kinds are lucky to be living at a time when there’s so many delicious free plugins available to download, ripe for stuffing any DAW fill to the brim.
Falling into a rabbit hole hunting out free VSTs can get overwhelming, fast.
8. EXC!TE Snare Drum
It’s sometimes hard to separate the good from the bad and the ugly – while there’s thousands of free music software plugins out there for producers and musicians, they need to be stable and from a reliable source.
As a taster, here are six of the best free VST plugins available now, from great virtual instruments to stunning effect plugins.
Lo-fi hip-hop and bedroom pop sounds are still all the rage. Luckily you can get the perfect vintage dreaminess and add a warm classic sound with the Tape Cassette 2 free plugin. An update on Tape Cassette 1, Caelum Audio’s free VST can be used on your entire track or on individual channels for a hit of nostalgia.
Mess around with your synths for added experimental textures and create cosmic soundscapes.
Selectable Type 1 Cassette Impulse Response (IR). Dynamic saturation curve algorithm implementing hysteresis and including oversampling.
Wow & Flutter engines rebuilt to focus on smoother emulation. Real sampled noise from a Type 1 Cassette. Low Pass range increased down to 5kHz. Get every exquisite sound of the BBC Symphony Orchestra within a simple free plugin from Spitfire Audio that’s compatible with all major DAWs.
No more tinny, fake-sounding virtual orchestral instruments. Fill in a simple survey and you’re on the list for a huge free 33-strong orchestral instrument library worth waiting the 14 day online delivery for.
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The sounds work as individual instruments in your DAW. Ever wondered how to be a classical music producer?
Now’s your chance. Whack your headphones on to experience the 3D capabilities of the DearVR Micro free plugin. A collaboration between Sennheiser and DearVR, the Micro is the redesigned successor to the previous AMBEO Orbit plugin.
The updated plugin has got full 360° panning, immersing you directly in the middle of your track.
Put your sounds anywhere in the stereo field – not just left and right but above your head and behind you. Freaky and completely free. Full 360° panner. Highest audio quality using Dear Reality’s advanced HRTF filters.
3. LANDR Chromatic
Azimuth and Elevation control. Adding spatial accuracy by defining shoebox-shaped binaural room reflections. Five different wall materials to control the reflection timbre.
Focus parameter using the patented AMBEO Clarity algorithm for a maximum spectral balance. HRTF selection to choose Sennheiser AMBEO Orbit HRTFs. Support for mono and stereo input signals. Cymatic’s Diablo Lite free plugin beefs up your 808s, enhancing drums to cut through your mix.
The Punch transient shaper and clipper features make the loudness of sounds hit so much harder, making your kicks smack just as powerfully as you dreamt they would, without affecting the .dB.
4. Vember Audio: Surge
Get your teeth into that. This collaboration plugin lets you work with anyone in any DAW at any time, so you can work together without bouncing tracks.
The audio or MIDI recorded into the Satellite Plugins 2.0 plugin automatically syncs between producers working within major DAWs. You can work together in real time and easily export audio.
Especially valuable at the moment, when remote working is the norm for so many musicians. Collaborate with anyone, anywhere, within your own DAW. Connect Ableton, Logic Pro X, FL Studio, Cubase, Studio One, Bitwig, Pro Tools, Reason, Reaper, GarageBand and Digital Performer DAWs through Satellite Plugins 2.0.
Invite collaborators to your session, record and export audio and MIDI.
Assign Host, Co-Host, VIP+, VIP and Viewer permissions to determine who can upload/download tracks and invite others to the session. Use Satellite Plugins 2.0 in your streams on Twitch and YouTube and invite your audience to collaborate.
Back-up your sessions seamlessly to the cloud. Perfect for remote session work, bands, and mixing/mastering engineers.
Satellite Plugins 2.0 is free for a limited time so grab it quick here – apologies if you’ve missed the boat! A cheeky little free VST. Small, simple but effective – turn the stereo width and wet/dry knobs and press the two buttons to recreate the chorus from the classic Roland Juno-60 synth.
Two settings, one to add a subtler texture and the other a richer sound, together faithfully recreating the much-loved synth.
Hungry for more free plugins? Of course you are. Check out these great free synth plugins, top free guitar and bass VSTs, best free mixing and mastering plugins and best free effects plugins.
8. iZotope: Vocal Doubler
And there’s far more besides… what’s your favourite free plugin? Show off your knowledge in the comments. Welcome 2021, a new year of amazing freeVST plugins. To get you ready and groovy for this year's ultra-productive studio sessions, let us introduce our top 11 best free VST plugins of 2021.
With our picks ranging from advanced synthezisers to essential mixing and mastering plugins, we're sure you're going to find them pleasing.
Let's dive in, shall we? Vital is an extremely anticipated release from Vital Audio.
It’s a spectral warping wavetable synth with a focus on both design and extreme customizability.
Let’s take the design and visuals for starters.