There are an insanely excessive quantity of free VST plugins on the market, and lots of of them is usually a welcome addition to your manufacturing toolkit.
However generally it’s overwhelming. There are actually hundreds of choices.
And which of them do you actually need?
Don’t fear – I’ve achieved the be just right for you and located 50 of the most effective free VST plugins you could obtain as we speak in 2021.
Let’s begin 👇
Desk of Contents
- What Makes A Good Free Plugin?
- The Finest Free Synth Plugins
- The Finest Free Samplers & Devices
- The Finest Free EQ & Filter Plugins
- The Finest Free Dynamics & Compressor Plugins
- The Finest Free Amp, Distortion & Saturation Plugins
- The Finest Free Reverb & Delay Plugins
- The Finest Free Refrain & Stereo Plugins
- Different Free Impact Plugins
- The Finest Free Plugin Bundles
- Some Closing Ideas on Free Plugins
What Makes A Good Free Plugin?
To slender the hundreds of free VST plugins on the market all the way down to 50, I needed to be fairly selective. Though there are plenty of nice choices on the market, there are additionally plenty of low-quality ones.
Right here’s the factors I used to decide on plugins for this record:
- Distinctive: these plugins aren’t simply changed with inventory DAW instruments. So that you received’t discover primary EQ’s, compressors or different easy instruments, except they do one thing totally different.
- High quality: simply because it’s free doesn’t imply it’s good. This is the reason I’ve solely included plugins that sound good, are easy to make use of, and are on an identical degree to a paid choice.
- Respected: even when it’s not a well-liked plugin, the individuals who have used it extremely advocate it.
- Appropriate: though compatibility adjustments with many elements, these plugins are appropriate with most DAWs (particularly FL Studio, Ableton Reside, and Logic Professional) on most working methods.
With all that being stated, let’s dive in.
The Finest Free Synth Plugins
A number of inventory synths are nice. However typically third-party ones are higher.
Why? Extra options, higher interfaces and simpler to know. Let’s go.
Matt Tytel Very important
Very important has been making waves within the music manufacturing group, because it positions itself to be a free various to the powerhouse wavetable synth Serum.
It options 3 full customisable oscillators with a number of totally different inventory wavetables, 2 filters and limitless modulation capabilities. Nice for those who’re wanting an choice that opens you as much as your complete world of synthesis without charge.
Matt Tytel Helm
The creator of Very important additionally has one other nice synth generally known as Helm. For those who’re wanting a less complicated workflow and a extra ‘traditional’ sound however with loads of enjoyable modulation capabilities, Helm is a must have.
It’s acquired high quality oscillators, filters, LFOs and FX which can be on par with many different paid synths available on the market.
u-he Tyrell N6
Though they received’t immediately say it, Tyrell N6 is a superb synth modelled off most of the options on the Roland Juno-6 – a timeless traditional. However in fact, they’ve made some nice adjustments and additions.
You’ll get nice analog sounds out of this one with loads of modulation choices and nice presets. It additionally will open you as much as the world of u-he’s nice line of paid plugins.
Digital Suburban Dexed
So far as FM Synthesis is anxious, Dexed may have you lined. It sounds nice and may deal with a plethora of FM sounds.
It options 6 operators and features mainly like the unique Yamaha DX7 – the world’s first digital FM synthesizer. So for those who like these tacky bells, warbly pads and plucky basslines, Dexed may very well be your go-to.
Okay, so VCV Rack isn’t precisely a plugin, however it’s an insanely good software if you wish to get into the world of Eurorack and modular synthesis, with out spending bucketloads and discovering bodily house for all of it.
Be warned although – when you’re sucked into it, there’s no coming again.
Newfangled Audio Pendulate
Often a synth comes alongside that really does one thing groundbreaking and distinctive. Pendulate is a type of synths.
Using a singular synthesis engine, Pendulate is “a chaotic monosynth that makes use of a model new double-pendulum-oscillator to create beforehand unheard sounds.” Mainly, for those who’re wanting some new textures in your sound design, try Pendulate.
Hvoya Audio Ribs
I’m an enormous fan of sample-based and granular synthesis. The textures and sounds you will get are simply unattainable to get with common subtractive, wavetable or FM.
Ribs is a superb as a result of it’s half synth, half FX unit. You may drag in audio or activate the FX mode when on an current audio observe. You’ve additionally acquired limitless modulation choices and much extra.
For those who’re a fan of vocaloid-type vocal sounds, then that is your one-stop-shop. Alter/Ego is a text-to-voice synthesizer that’s surprisingly convincing and plenty of enjoyable to make use of.
Merely sort what you need it to sing, select your voice and play notes, with a couple of different parameters you’ll be able to tweak when you’re at it.
The Finest Free Samplers & Devices
Though samplers and devices can take a very long time to develop (because of the laborious nature of recording particular person samples) and are often not free, these days there are some superb free sampler VST plugins so that you can check out.
LABS has really made multisample devices obtainable to the plenty. When earlier libraries like Kontakt had been all the time behind a paywall, Spitfire put out LABS and by no means stopped updating it.
In order for you nice pianos, strings, guitars and lots of different strange devices, go test it out. I take advantage of this on a LOT of tracks today.
Ample Sound M Lite 2X
For those who’re after a convincing guitar VST plugin without spending a dime, M Lite 2X is your greatest wager.
You may form the precise tone of your guitar and select between totally different taking part in kinds to get a pro-level sound out of it.
Steven Slate Drums Free
In order for you a high-quality digital drum equipment with a couple of bells and whistles, that is in all probability the most effective free choice on the market. Personally I like to make drum loops and add additional processing with this plugin.
It’s additionally the gateway to their full paid model, so be warned that you simply would possibly dive even deeper.
MT Energy Drum Package 2
Typically easy is nice. And that’s what MT Energy Drumkit 2 is.
That includes an ordinary drum equipment, that is nice for conventional drum sounds with out having to dial in so many alternative parameters. It has a little bit of a dirtier really feel to it than different drum kits although, so if that’s your factor, go nuts.
The Finest Free EQ & Filter Plugins
EQs and filters will help form your combine in drastic methods. So it helps to have a great-quality choice.
Listed below are a number of the greatest free EQ and filter VST plugins.
Dynamic EQ has all the time been a paid-plugin-only realm. Till Nova got here out.
Not solely does it permit you to carry out dynamic EQ (a la Professional-Q 3), however is had 4 bands and an ideal interface with loads of customization choices.
TDR VOS SlickEQ
When this plugin got here out, I actually used it on every thing. Now I won’t, however it’s an insanely good EQ for coloring your combine.
The EQ saturation fashions (American, British, German, and Soviet) are modeled off varied analog EQs for loads of choices, relying in your style. Nice for busses, mastering, or sure functions.
Ignite Amps P-Teq X
When this primary got here out, I couldn’t consider how they managed to precisely mannequin the MQ5, PEQ1A, and HL3C EQs, all of that are classics.
And now you will get all of them without spending a dime in a single VST plugin. How neat! For those who’re seeking to colour your combine with a traditional EQ, look no additional.
Xfer Data DJM Filter
For those who’re a DJ, you’ll know the sound of this filter. It has a pleasant resonance, nice for sweeps, buildups and breakdowns.
The interface is straightforward – a cutoff, resonance increase and drive.
In case your low-end is missing presence within the sub vary, generally you would possibly wish to layer in a sub.
Or, you possibly can simply use bx_subfilter, which lets you precisely dial within the good quantity of sub frequencies.
SPL Free Ranger
Graphic EQs would possibly look outdated, however they are often extremely helpful and amazingly musical – working wonders to your combine.
Personally, a lot of these EQs are nice on combine or grasp busses whenever you wish to add a little bit of one thing with out overthinking or overanalyzing issues.
Advisable: EQ: The Final “” Information
The Finest Free Dynamics & Compressor Plugins
The appropriate compressor the job is usually a match made in heaven. And though it largely is dependent upon the producer behind the compressor, differing kinds will be good for various functions.
Listed below are some nice free compressor VST plugins from throughout the spectrum.
Audio Injury Tough Rider 3
This plugin acquired me effectively acquainted with parallel compression. As a result of with out dialing again that dry/moist combine, it sounds brutal.
Tough Rider just isn’t designed to be delicate, and the pumping results are excessive. So for those who’re after insane compression, don’t sleep on this.
Flux Bittersweet V3
Though it’s arduous to discover a respectable free transient shaper, Bittersweet might be the most effective of the bunch.
With one knob, you’ll be able to soften or emphasize the transient of your materials. There are additionally a couple of different controls to get it sounding precisely such as you need, akin to stereo results, transient interval, or response time.
Xfer Data OTT
OTT is a type of results that has really formed music manufacturing ceaselessly, because of its excessive compression sonics.
It’s a multiband compressor (modeled off the OTT preset in Ableton Reside’s Multiband Dynamics) with each upwards and downwards compression, giving it any sound a really ‘squashed’ really feel. Easy dial within the ‘depth’ and you’ll mix to style.
ADHD Leveling Device
For those who’re searching for a free emulation of the 1176 compressor, the ADHD Leveling Device is it. Nevertheless it’s extra than simply an ordinary emulation.
Past the traditional 1176 options, you’ve acquired a dry/moist management, a extra adjustable ratio knob, drive, and an enter filter. Sounds nice on vocals, drums, or absolutely anything that wants colourful, musical compression.
Kotelnikov solves the distinctive downside of grasp buss compression. It helps tame transients and dynamics in a clear manner, giving it a really pure sound.
This makes it nice as a pre-limiting compressor, because it helps to regulate the combination earlier than the limiter does all of the arduous work, permitting you to get a silky clean but well-balanced grasp.
Advisable: Compression: The Definitive Information for Producers
The Finest Free Amp, Distortion & Saturation Plugins
It may be useful to have a wide range of totally different distortion sorts at your disposal, so try a few of these free VST plugins to provide your mixes a grittier edge.
Softube Saturation Knob
This was one of many first free plugins I ever acquired, and it sounds nice for gnarly distortion and delicate saturation alike.
Merely dial within the knob till you get the specified impact. Plus you’ll be able to relegate it to the low finish or excessive finish of the frequency spectrum.
Within the vein of one-knob plugins comes Freeamp. This impact combines each tape and tube saturation to get a full-bodied sound you could dial in as you want.
It’s acquired a easy interface with minimal controls, so tweak and also you’re set.
Mercuriall Tubes Creamer
Mercuriall are identified for his or her stable guitar pedal results, and the Tubes Creamer is one in every of their free choices.
This explicit VST plugin designed to mannequin the TS808 guitar pedal, and it sounds actually crunchy, which will be nice for getting tough guitar-like tones out of something.
In addition they have another nice free pedals on their web site, which it’s best to try.
Camel Audio CamelCrusher
I’ll be sincere – I nonetheless use this plugin on each tune I make. For some purpose, the mix of distortion, compression, and filtering simply transforms something into one thing enormous and thick.
Sadly, Camel Audio went underneath fairly a couple of years in the past and all of their stuff was acquired by Apple. CamelCrusher is and was free, however it’s not up to date. And plenty of customers report compatibility points (the interface personally doesn’t load for me, however I can management it by way of Ableton).
IVGI is likely one of the greatest saturation plugins for managed buss saturation. I wish to drive it slightly bit and tweak the knobs to style.
Sounds nice on bass, drums, devices and even the entire combine.
Krush is much less of a distortion plugin and extra of a downsampler and bitcrusher with added saturation. Much like CamelCrusher, it’s the mix of included results modules that make this plugin shine.
Merely dial within the quantity of the three distortion sorts, and modify the filter and modulations to style.
Advisable: The Full Information to Distortion and Saturation
The Finest Free Reverb & Delay Plugins
I’m a sucker for reverbs and delays as a result of every can have its personal traits. So listed below are a number of the greatest free reverb and delay VSTs, from easy echoes to mountainous reverbs.
Valhalla Freq Echo
Freq Echo is a grossly underrated free delay VST. Not solely does it sound good and ‘stretchy’ out of the field, however the shift knob provides good a pleasant frequency modulation to the delay tail.
You may management the delay time, suggestions, and filtering like all delays, however don’t mistake this for ‘simply one other delay’. It’s not. Plus the longer suggestions quantities are nice for crunchy-driven sounds.
When Valhalla launched this plugin in the beginning of lockdown final yr, I used to be instantly hooked. This can be a reverb, echo, delay, refrain and extra multi function.
I can’t actually provide you with a selected use case for it, however in order for you trippy or spacey sounds, that is your factor. I take advantage of it on a regular basis for creating atmospheres.
Xfer Data Dimension Expander
This little free VST plugin is modelled of NI Large’s Dimension Expander impact – a wanted sound for large leads and plucks.
It’s mainly a really quick slapback delay with an enormous reverb tail. Easy however efficient. Management it with the scale and dry/moist.
That is an attention-grabbing one – Protoverb features off a randomized reverb mannequin. All you management is the dry/moist and the reverb decay time.
By randomizing the mannequin and delays, you will get any mixture of loopy reverbs, one in every of which could occur to sound superb. Or horrible.
One more underrated reverb – TAL-Reverb-2 is a creamy free VST that sounds nice on any kind of ethereal or dreamy sounds.
It’s a plate reverb however simply sounds so good – you’ll see what I imply.
The Finest Free Refrain & Stereo Plugins
Getting full, extensive, and fats mixes is really an artwork kind. Because of the big variety of free stereo VST plugins obtainable, these expertise will be developed with out blowing your funds on costly plugins.
Since everybody has turn out to be obsessive about ‘mono compatibility‘, stereo imagers have needed to up their sport.
Not solely have they got to sound good, however preserving the mono sign is paramount. That’s the place Wider is available in. Simply dial within the quantity of width and also you received’t have to fret about your stereo picture.
iZotope Vocal Doubler
In extensive and luxurious mixes, a mono vocal can sound fairly skinny and misplaced. That’s why vocal doubling has turn out to be widespread as a way to create a thick, transferring vocal, with out overdoing the stereo picture.
Vocal Doubler lets you mix the precise quantity of the doubling impact that you really want. You can too management the quantity of pitch and stereo separation, plus any randomness you wish to add by way of the variation knob.
Child Audio Magic Swap
In order for you instantaneous refrain that sounds unimaginable on nearly any musical sound, look no additional. The most effective factor about this free plugin is that every one you may have is a button and a mixture knob.
The refrain sound in Magic Swap is heat, thick and classic. It’s really magic.
iZotope Ozone Imager 2
Ozone Imager 2 is a free VST plugin model of the multi-band imager included within the full model of Ozone. Besides right here it’s only a single band.
Not solely are you able to management the extent of the stereo sign with the width knob, however you’ll be able to add a stereo impact to something with the ‘Stereoize’ button. Merely allow it, choose mode I or II (I are likely to want I for drums, and a pair of for delicate pad/lead widening), and dial the miliseconds quantity to style.
For those who can’t inform by now, I’m an enormous fan of straightforward but efficient plugins. The TAL-Refrain-LX is simply that – a easy refrain plugin but once more modeled off the notorious Roland Juno-6.
This one extends the unique performance by permitting you to regulate the stereo width, in addition to the dry/moist.
Alex Hilton A1StereoControl
That is in all probability probably the most in-depth stereo shaping plugins on the market, and it’s weirdly free. Whereas it doesn’t ‘add’ any new stereo data to an current sign, it’s nice for shaping what’s already there.
You are able to do any variety of stereo changes, together with mono-ing bass, growing the quantity of stereo data, swapping the left and proper, inverting section, altering pan legal guidelines, and extra.
Different Free Impact Plugins
Typically you simply want a sure software for a sure job. These strange free VST plugins might just do that for you.
Cableguys Pancake 2
That is a type of nice inventive plugins you could load up and see what occurs.
In a nutshell, pancake 2 applies manually-drawn pan curves to a sound over a specified time frame. That is nice for including stereo curiosity to any sound.
One thing about outdated vinyl could make a sound really feel nostalgic and dusty. Fortunately for you, that not requires you to press a file, play it on repeat and wait 50 years.
iZotope Vinyl lets you select the period of file, plus dial within the quantity of achieve, mud and scratch and any floor noise you’d discover on a daily vinyl file.
Alex Hilton A1TriggerGate
Alex Hilton delivers once more with A1TriggerGate – a MIDI-triggered ADSR envelope you could apply on any sound to get enjoyable rhythmic results.
Personally, I like to tug up any of the presets and see what works – there’s all the time one thing you need to use.
I’ve put each Hysteresis and Fracture within the one itemizing as I really feel they’re fairly related and are nice companions.
Each are designed to create good glitchy results by means of superior modulation and routing. Actually, you’re greatest simply to verify them out and see what they do.
For those who’ve ever watched a YouTube tutorial, you’ve in all probability seen Span getting used sooner or later.
It is because it’s a stable choice for a spectrum analyzer and provides you all the knowledge you want.
Youlean Loudness Meter 2 Free
In order for you a contemporary software to measure your LUFS, then that is your greatest wager. It safely sits on the finish of my grasp buss for each tune I make.
It provides you the quick time period and built-in values, in addition to different useful measurements like your loudness vary, dynamics, and max/min LUFS.
I haven’t but discovered even a paid model of a plugin that may do what s(M)exoscope does. It’s an ideal waveform analyzer that lets you see precisely how your combine and grasp interprets.
You should utilize the ‘Time’ and ‘Amp’ knobs to zoom out and in, permitting you to see all of the element you’ll want.
The Finest Free Plugin Bundles
These bundles function quite a lot of totally different results, devices, and synths that may provide help to degree up your music manufacturing sport without charge.
Though many bundles function too many superfluous plugins, these ones don’t.
The MeldaProduction VST plugins are fairly presumably my favourite free FX bundle on the market. From waveshaping to vibrato to auto-tune, these plugins are an ideal addition to your arsenal.
In addition they all share an identical consumer interface, so when you perceive one the remaining will likely be straightforward to navigate.
Airwindows is a singular plugin developer as a result of none of their plugins have a consumer interface. They’re only a mixture of sliders that permit you to have an effect on the audio sign in any manner.
To make issues extra attention-grabbing, their suite of plugins ranges from utilitarian to unusual. I like to make use of a few of their unusual FX choices just like the GllitchShifter to get loopy FX.
Native Devices Komplete Begin
Keyboards, samples, synths, and FX – Komplete Begin is a wholesome introduction to the world of Komplete, and music manufacturing generally.
Included within the bundle are plugins like Kontakt Participant, Reaktor Participant and Guitar Rig participant – 3 lite variations of their powerhouse gadgets. You’ll additionally get plenty of libraries for all 3 of these gamers – together with Hybrid Keys, Analog Desires, and extra.
IK Multimedia T-Racks 5 CS
The T-Racks 5 Customized Store is a set of IK Multimedia’s free plugins, however greater than that it’s a gateway into their world of nice plugins.
The advantage of the Customized Store is that you simply get a few free plugins (the Basic Equalizer and the metering part) but in addition demo and buy all of their different paid plugins in the identical interface.
Some Closing Ideas on Free Plugins
There are some superb choices on this record that could be precisely what you’re searching for. However maintain up earlier than you go plugin-crazy.
There are 3 issues it’s best to contemplate earlier than diving in:
#1: Don’t get ALL of them
There are 51 plugins on this record, and chances are high you presently know learn how to use zero of them.
Every plugin you add to your library must be one thing you plan on a minimum of fixing a difficulty you’ve come throughout.
In any other case there’s no level to downloading them.
#2: Free just isn’t higher than paid
On this record there are numerous plugins that compete on the identical degree as most of the paid choices on the market.
However that doesn’t imply it’s best to assume the free variations are higher. Typically a high-quality paid plugin will be way more helpful & save much more time.
#3: Updates are usually not assured
Let me be clear – plenty of these free plugins come from hobbyists or small corporations. They don’t have enormous budgets and infinite time.
So, because of this updates are more likely to trickle by means of rather a lot slower, or may cease at any time.
For those who turn out to be overly reliant on any free VST plugin they usually cease updates, it may show irritating to your workflow.
That almost wraps issues up. To summarize, listed below are all of the plugins we talked about on this article!
- Softube Saturation Knob
- Polyverse Wider
- iZotope Vocal Doubler
- TDR Nova
- Audio Injury Tough Rider
- Cableguys Pancake 2
- Klevgrand Freeamp
- Voxengo Span
- Xfer Data OTT
- Valhalla Freq Echo
- iZotope Vinyl
- u-he Tyrell N6
- Ample Sound M Lite 2
- MT Energy Drum Package 2
- Mercuriall Tube Screamer
- Flux Bittersweet V3
- Child Audio Magic Swap
- Ignite Amps P-Teq X
- Spitfire LABS
- Matt Tytel Very important
- Matt Tytel Helm
- Camel Audio CamelCrusher
- iZotope Ozone Imager 2
- Valhalla Supermassive
- MeldaProduction MFreeBundle
- Xfer Data Dimension Expander
- Xfer Data DJM Filter
- Digital Suburban Dexed
- Youlean Loudness Meter 2
- TAL Refrain LX
- Native Devices Komplete Begin
- u-he Protoverb
- Alex Hilton A1StereoControl
- Alex Hilton A1TriggerGate
- VCV Rack
- Newfangled Audio Pendulate
- Steven Slate Drums Free
- Hvoya Audio Ribs
- Plogue Alter/Ego
- ADHD Levelling Device
- Glitchmachines Hysteresis/Fracture
- Klanghelm IVGI
- Brainworx bx_subfilter
- SPL Free Ranger
- IK Multimedia T-Racks 5 CS
- TDR Kotelnikov
- Tritik Krush
- TDR VOS SlickEQ
Need extra free stuff? Try our free pattern packs roundup, or go to our free downloads page.
Missed any free VST plugins? Let me know at [email protected].