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.
Best Free Limiter VST
2getheraudio Cheeze Machine is a free VSTi inspired by vintage string synths like the ARP/Solina String Ensemble.
Best Free VST Plugins For Guitar
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Best Free Drum VST
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.
- 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.
Best Free Granular Effect VST
Its slimmed down feature set is easier to use and sounds great.
- 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.
Best FREE Tuner VST
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.
Best Free Orchestral VST
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.
Best Free Oscilloscope VST
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.
Best Free Bass Instrument VST
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. 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.
How to use this guide
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. 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.
Best Free Flanger VST
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.
Best Free Synthesizer VST Plugins
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.
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.
Best Free Piano Instrument VST
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.
Best Free VST Bundle
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.
Best Free EQ VST
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. 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.
Top Free VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
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.
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.
Best Free Pitch Correction VST
It also comes with some extra volume settings for adding extra drive before the master channel. 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. 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.
Best Free Drum VST Plugins
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. Brainworx/Plugin Alliance entry into the guitar amp simulation scene is a fantastic option with 8 well emulated amps to choose from.
Best Free VST Plugins For Vocals
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.
Best Free Gate VST
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.
Best Text Editor
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. Vladg Molot Compressor is an analog style compressor plugin that doesn’t shy away from obvious colouration and distortion.
Best Free Saxophone VST
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.