Best Free VST Plugins
When you're struggling musician or already spent your monthly budget on other plugins but they left you unsatisfied...
It’s the time of the year to update our Free VST Plugins resources. Each year there’s a bunch of excellent tools that turn out to be real alternatives to commercial VST plugins. As the below list grows each year, we will start breaking it down into smaller sections so you don’t get lost in all the options. We post a video for our three favourites in each section so you can quickly check out if it’s something for you, but the lowers numbers don’t imply a specific order to the plugins. We only list free vst plugins that are quality and in the end it is all about personal taste. Enjoy the downloads!
Free VST Reverbs and Delays
01 u-he Protoverb. Free.
This plugin is labelled as ‘researchware’ and encourages the community to get involved in the development. It is kinda of the opposite of most algorithmic reverbs, because it builds up as many resonances as possible to model a room – resulting in a very natural sounding reverb.
02 Voxengo Oldskoolverb. Free.
A lot of freeware is more about the sounds than the looks and Oldskoolverb sure looks dated. But it also has a lovely classic feel and vibe. It’s an algorithmic reverb as well as a plate reverb, which is best for non percussive sounds like vocals, pianos and pads.
03 Valhalla Freq Echo. Free.
Frequency shifters and their metallic sound character are a guarantee for fresh sounds. The Valhalla Freq Echo combines a frequency shifter and a characterful emulation of an analog delay capable of turning vanilla piano sounds into vibrant drones, simple synth sounds into warbling textures and the human voice into extraterrestrial sounds.
04 TAL-DUB 2. Free.
A simple but very effective dub delay that can be as dirty as you like. In a vintage way, thanks to a 4x oversampled distortion stage on the plugin.
05 TAL Reverb 4. Free.
Another TAL entry, this time it’s a straight up reverb in a simple but very effective package. A great sounding basic reverb for your collection.
06 HY Delay 2. Free.
With the HY delay you can easily dial in relatively clean delays to some great lo-fi effects, so it’s well worth checking out.
07 Surreal Machines Microfuse. Free.
Full disclaimer: I love the Surreal Machines VSTs and use the paid Modnetic and Diffuse regularly. Microfuse is their free offering and combines reverb and delay in a highly usable tool.
Free VST EQs and Filters
01 Audiothing Blindfold EQ. Free.
The premise of this plugin is awesome, because none of the controls has numbers listed, so you are forced to use your ears. Or how the product pitch says: ‘If you have no idea of what frequency you are boosting or cutting, it doesn’T matter what the number is. It matters how it sounds.’
02 Brainworx bx_subfilter. Free.
With the bx_subfilter you can achieve more clarity and definition of the bass range in just a few steps. This useful effect makes it obsolete to manually correct bass tones using an equalizer.
03 Fuse Audio Labs Neo Classic Baxandall EQ. Free.
Wow that name is a mouthful. Luckily it’s totally worth it and probably one of the best free EQs you can get. It has a pronounced mid range, a high shelf that gives you control of percussive sounds and a low end that lets you clean up those sub frequencies. It enhances everything you put through it in a very natural way.
Tokyo Dawn Records NOVA. Free.
TDR NOVA can be used not only as a parametric or dynamic EQ, but also as a multi-band, wideband or frequency-selective compressor. With its musical sound and flexible configuration options, it is a real secret weapon for mix and mastering!
Free Dynamic Processors VST
d16 Frontier. Free.
The Adaptive Limiter d16 Frontier is one of our favourite free VST plugins makes individual tracks, groups or complete mixes sounds larger than life. Threshold, release time and the output gain can be individually adjusted. Best thing: The automatic make-up gain reliably protects against clipping and hard limiting!
Audio Damage Rough Rider 2. Free.
Pumping effect compression is the specialty of Rough Rider. Exactly the right thing to give drums and other rhythmic signals as well as basses more assertiveness. Drastic settings provide a striking as well as musical saturation.
Slate Digital The Monster. Free.
The supercharger for massive drums and basslines. With strong effect compression, the transients of a signal are mercilessly smoothed out. Activate Punch to bring it back – ideal for drums and other rhythmic audio. The Monster also replicates the iconic all-button mode of the cult compressor / limiter Urei 1176.
Free VST Plugin – Synths
01 Mono/Fury. Free.
It’s not hard to guess that the synth emulated here is Korg’s classic Mono/Poly. This emulation delivers crisp basses, screaming leads, and sparkling arpeggios – just like the original hardware unit.
02 Togu Audio Line TAL-NoiseMaker Free.
TAL-NoiseMaker is a great virtual-analog synth with intuitive interface. Be sure to try the different filter modes of the powerful multimode filter. Another highlight is the Envelope Editor, where you can draw your own waveform. This can be used to control various parameters such as the filter frequency, making it a modulation monster.
03 discoDSP OB-Xd. Free.
The polyphonic Oberheim OB-X is known for its warm, wide and very lively sound. OBXD captures the charismatic sound character of the analog classic from 1979 and also offers useful additional functions such as a multimode filter.
04 Futurcraft Kairatune. Free.
Bass and lead synthesizer geared to fast workflow, all functions are directly accessible. The sound generator consists only of an oscillator with sub-oscillator, but thanks to MASS and SPREAD, it can easily be turned into a supersaw or -square and stretched out in width.
05 u-he Tyrell Nexus 6. Free.
The Tyrell was inspired by Roland’s Juno 60, but its tonal possibilities go far beyond the hardware model. Analogue standards are provided by the synth in excellent audio quality, and thanks to Osc sync and cross and ring modulation, even aggressive and metallic sounds are child’s play.
06 Martin Lüders PG-8X. Free.
The PG-8X emulates Roland’s 6-voice analog synth JX-8P from 1985. A great sound, which captures the typical Roland sound character very well – PG-8X is easily placed in our top ten best freeware synthesizers.
07 E-PHONIC DRUMATIC 3. Free.
Drumsynths usually sound thinner than drumsamplers, but they offer the much more dynamic sound. With Drumatic you get a complete synthetic kit with six drums, which is not only suitable for electro, but can enrich any electronic music style with a very own touch.
08 VCV Rack. Free.
Much more than a simple synth, VCV Rack brings an entire modular system to your DAW. It’s an open source modular environment made by many developers, making it one of the most exciting and complex free systems out there. The standalone version is free, but it’s worth buying it, because then you can use it as VST in your DAW.
09 Green Oak Crystal. Free.
Crystal is a classic semi modular synth with a quite simple operation but a powerful LFO and modulation section. In no time you create beautiful complex sounds out of Crystal.
10 Matt Tytel Helm. Free.
While some freeware looks dated, Helm looks as fresh as ever. Aside from the usual synth features, you will find a Coll step sequencer and superb effects which elevate your sounds to the next level.
Free VST Plugin – Instruments
Ample Sound AGM Lite 2. Free.
Here’s a virtual guitar VST which brings the rich sound of the Martin D-41 guitar with numerous articulations into your virtual studio. You can adjust sound parameters such as the microphone levels, pan position, and stereo width, as well as activate the artificial doubling function. The strummer page, where you can program your own rhythm patterns and chord progressions, is particularly exciting!
PLOGUE ALTER EGO. Free.
Although virtual singers have been around for quite some time, dealing with the tools is usually cryptic. Not so with alter ego: Simply enter text and play MIDI notes and the synth starts singing.
That’s it for our roundup of the best free VST plugins. Do you have any other ones we might have missed?