The 250 Best Free VST Plugins Ever [2023 Update]
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.
How to use this guide
There are a staggering 250 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 plugin VSTs by category.
- Best Free Synth VSTs
- Best Free Drum VSTs
- Best Free Guitar VSTs
- Best Free Compressor VSTs
- Best Free EQ VSTs
- Best Free Reverb and Delay VSTs
- Best Free Overdrive and Saturation VSTs
- Best Free Vocal VSTs
- Best Free Filter VSTs
- Best Free VST Effects
- Best Free VST Utlities
Best Free Synth VSTs
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.
Download it for free and get started with a handful of free loops and packs.
2getheraudio Cheeze Machine
2getheraudio Cheeze Machine is a free VSTi inspired by vintage string synths like the ARP/Solina String Ensemble. It’s perfect for those phasey, vintage, lo-fi strings.
Applied Acoustics Systems AAS Player
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 Guitar M LITE II
Ample Sound’s Guitar M LITE II is a realistic sounding acoustic guitar with impressive articulation and strumming options for a free plugin.
Ample Sound Ample Bass P LITE II
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
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
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
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.
Dead Duck Deducktion
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 Guitars
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
DSK The Grand sounds very convincing for a free plugin. A great option for moody and dramatic grand piano sounds.
Diginoiz Subdivine Lite
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
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
Full Bucket FB-3300 is an astounding VST reproduction of the rare Korg PS-3300 synthesizer from the late 70s.
Full Bucket ModulAir
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
Ichiro Toda Synth1 is a well designed VST polysynth that models the Clavia Nord Lead 2 hardware.
IK Multimedia Syntronik FREE
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 Plugin
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
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.
Love-Fi light is a sample based synth with a distinctly lo-fi sound. It comes with grainy keys, swirling pads and an effects bay to add the extra saturation and warmth that’s commonly associated with lo-fi music.
Matt Tytel Helm
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. Pretty cool!
Matt Tytel Vital
Building on his success with Helm, Vital is the newest synth from Matt Tyel. This time, Vital, focuses on wavetable synthesis, featuring a selection of oscillators to customize and a handful of excellent presets.
If learning wavetable synthesis is something that interests you, start here.
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.
Muon Tau Bassline
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
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
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.
Sample Science Cassette Roads
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.
Seaweed Audio Fathom Mono
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
Soca Labs PAPU emulates the sound hardware of the original Nintendo Gameboy for all your chiptune needs.
Sound Magic Piano One
Sound Magic Piano One uses a hybrid modelling technique to deliver the sound of the workhorse Yamaha C7 grand piano.
Spitfire Audio LABS
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
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
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
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.
UhhYou Light Pad
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
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
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
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.
Best Free Drum VSTs
Alan Vista Chau Gongs
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
Alan Vista Cymbalistic continues in the same vein with a realistic set of common drum kit cymbals with articulations and variable release times.
Alan Vista Royotoms
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.
BeatSkillz Beat Factory Drums
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
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.
Mix Project T.Rex 606
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
MT Power Drumkit 2 is a reastlc sounding acoustic drum kit plugin with sounds that can be used in all genres.
Real Drum Samples Line of Legends
Real Drum Samples Line of Legends is a single great sounding hip-hop drum kit in an unassuming package.
Sample Science Vintage Drum Elements
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 Drums Multi
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
Elektronic Sound Lab SL Drums 3 is drum rompler vst with 75 available drum kits and assignable outputs.
Steven Slate Drums SSD5 Free
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
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
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 Obsession SweetDrums
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!
EXC!TE Snare Drum
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.
Best Free Guitar VSTs
Analog Obsession KABIN
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.
Analog Obsession AMPER
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.
IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop
IK Multimedia Amplitube Custom Shop contains several of the paid version’s basic modules for free. Get your hands on the sounds of this classic amp sim.
Black Rooster Cypress TT-15
Black Rooster Cypress TT-15 is an impressive freeware emulation of the popular Orange Tiny Terror amp head.
Ignite Amps Emissary
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
Ignite Amps NadIR is a handy IR loader plugin for using speaker cabinet impulse response when recording an amp direct.
Ignite Amps ProF.E.T.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Mercuriall Tubes Creamer 808 is a faithful adaptation of the Ibanez TS808 Tubescreamer in plugin form.
Native Instruments Guitar Rig Player
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
Nick Crow 8505 is a plugin version of the popular Peavey 6505 amp. Another fantastic option for virtual heavy tones.
Plugin Alliance bx_rockrack V3 Player
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
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
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.
Best Free Compressor VSTs
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
Audio Damage Rough Rider 2 is a nice warm compressor that’s great for adding pump to rhythmic material.
Analog Obsession SPECOMP
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
Analog Obsession BusterSE
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.
Analog Obsession LALA
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Best Free EQ VSTs
Analog Obsession FIVER
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 CHANNEV
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.
Analog Obsession LOADED
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.
Analog Obsession MASBAX
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.
Analog Obsession NCAR
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.
Analog Obsession LOVEND
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.
Analog Obsession STEQ
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.
Analog Obsession MERICA
MERICA re-creates one the most famous hardware EQs of all time—the API 550. 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
Black Rooster VHL-3C is a faithful emulation of the low and high filters of a renowned vintage EQ. 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
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
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
Ignite Amps PTeq-X is fantastic freeware emulation of legendary Pultec EQP-1A tube EQ. 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
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
Plugin Alliance Elysia Niveau Filter is an awesome sounding tilt-style EQ for balancing your frequencies smoothly and transparently.
Shattered Glass Code Red Free
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
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
Voxengo Overtone GEQ is a 7-band harmonic graphic EQ with tube-style character that’s great for processing buses or entire mixes.
Best Free Reverb and Delay VSTs
Audec Spread Delay Lite
Spread delay gives you a high degree of control over the panning of your delay bursts. 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
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
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.
Melda MConvolutionEZ is an impressively easy to use convolution reverb for modelling realistic spaces.
Musical Entropy Spaceship Delay
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
TAL Reverb 2 is a super diffuse and lush reverb effect that’s ideal for ambient reverb tones.
TAL Reverb 4
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
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
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.
SuperDSP Flying Delay
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.
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.
Don’t sleep on this incredible free offering from this well-respected plugin manufacturer.
Zynaptiq Audio Subspace
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.
Best Free Overdrive and Saturation VSTs
Audio Damage Fuzz Plus 3
Audio Damage Fuzz Plus 3 is an authentic model of a vintage fuzz pedal with tone-shaping filter and self-feedback.
Analog Obession PEDALz
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
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
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.
SNFK Music DirtyPumper
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
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
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
Wave Arts Tube Saturator Vintage is a free reissue of the original Tube Saturator plugin that used circuit simulation to model a tube preamp. The new version sounds just as good and is much easier on your CPU.
Best Free Vocal VSTs
Analog Obsession SweetVox
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
Auburn Graillon Free is a versatile pitch tracking and correction plugin with the power to transpose or robitify vocals.
iZotope Vocal Doubler
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. MAutoPitch can also create formant shifting and robotic voice effects.
TAL Vocoder is a vintage vocoder emulation with 11 bands that emulates the sound of vocoders from the early 80s.
Voloco is a free pitch correction plugin with options to set pitch correction strength, key and more.
For an entry point into pitch correction on vocals, this is definitely worth giving a try.
Best Free Filter VSTs
Filiterstep is an interesting way of adding filters to your instruments to give them an evolving texture.
The plugin uses a step sequencer that controls the amount of cutoff applied per step, making it easy to introduce evolving textures that change with every beat.
Analog Obsession PreBox
Here’s a great pre-amplifier emulation from Analog Obsession that makes it possible to model twelve classic analog preamps including Neve and SSL recreations.
PreBox also comes with controls for high pass and low pass filtering.
Filterjam is a multiband resonant filter with some great sounding capabilities for adding everything from subtle filters to completely mangled audio to your signal.
It has multiple settings for summing each of its bands and you can control the cutoff resonance using its emphasis parameter.
It’s a great option for simple but effective filtering and with lightweight demand on the CPU.
Caelum Audio Flux Mini
Flux Mini is a combination filter and VCA effect with a unique visual pattern interface.
You can draw the shape of the wave to easily create complicated rhythmic curves not possible with a regular LFO–it’s great for creating unique tremolo and sweep effects.
It’s a refreshing alternative to painstakingly writing automating your synth parameters by hand.
BPB Dirty Filter
Dirty Filter is a fairly standard filter with HPF and LPF options and a mix knob for blending filtered sound with the original signal.
What makes it unique is its included overdrive parameter that adds extra saturation and resonances that sound great when brought into focus by the filters.
If you enjoy using sloping filters to sculpt squelching, chunky sounds this is a great free plugin to experiment with.
HY Filter3 Free
Here’s a powerful filter with a ton of capabilities, especially for a free plugin.
You get a lot of ability to customize each of its three bands, modulation parameters to add LFO, overdrive, attack and release and even an EQ section.
This is about as close to a fully fledged filter plugin as you can get without spending a dime.
Melda MBandPass is a filter plugin with high and low pass filters capable of extreme slopes. Using it’s two modulators it can be follow a simple LFO, react to input levels, MIDI notes or incoming pitches.
Melda MComb is a powerful multi-comb filter for shaping sound. Using it’s two modulators it can be follow a simple LFO, react to input levels, MIDI notes or incoming pitches.
Ohm Force Frohmage
This is a beloved cheese-themed plugin that you need to put in your plugins folder, even if just for its quirky design and sound.
The multiband, resonant filter comes with parameters for adding distortion and two routing schemes and delay stages to create unique phasing effects.
This plugin has a ton of sound design applications and easily qualifies as one of the weirder plugins on this list.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_cleansweep
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_cleansweep gives you high-end analog low and high pass filters for free. These incredible sounding filters are the perfect tools for cleaning up issues at the extreme ends of your mix.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_subfilter
Plugin Alliance Brainworx bx_subfilter is a handy tool for dealing with low frequency sources like bass and kick drum. It’s simple controls make it easy to sculpt low-end punchiness and filtering.
TAL Filter II
TAL Filter II is a versatile filter plugin with many different types of oversampled filters available. It can be synced to the host tempo to create all kinds of rhythmic effects.
Best Free VSTs Effects
Acon Digital Multiply
Acon Digital Multiply is an expressive digital chorus that includes a phase randomizing filter on each voice. The result is an incredibly natural chorus tone.
Adam Monroe Tremolo
Adam Monroe Tremolo is a simple but effective tremolo with stereo panning and wet/dry mixer built in.
Alex Hilton A1 Trigger Gate
Alex Hilton A1 Trigger Gate is a plugin for creating rhythmic gating effects. It’s comprehensive options make it perfect for creating patterned stuttering.
Aegean Music Doppler Dome
Aegean Music Doppler Dome is a stereo effect based on its namesake, the Doppler effect. Expect a creative, flexible and fun auto-panner, spatializer, pitch shifter and modulator all in one.
Auburn Couture Free
Auburn Couture Free is a free transient shaper plugin for level independent dynamics processing. Transient shaping can be a great alternative to compression.
Analog Obsession CHOPA
This is a very simple but great sounding tremolo plugin that works great with keys, vocals, guitars, bass and more.
The rate, depth and intensity of the tremolo is controlled with two knobs labeled chop and fade.
Flux BitterSweet v3
Flux BitterSweet v3 is a freeware transient shaper with a simple control scheme and great sound.
Blue Cat’s Chorus
Blue Cat’s Chorus is a capable chorus that can go from a light shimmer to sound mangling modulation.
Blue Cat’s Flanger
Blue Cat’s Flanger is a vintage BBD style flanger for those 70s and 80s jet-plane-taking-off sounds. Its stereo spread slider allows it to get truly wide and immersive.
Blue Cat’s Phaser
Blue Cat’s Phaser is an analog style phaser with impressive digital capabilities. With up to 32 possible phaser stages Blue Cat’s Phaser can go from subtle vintage throb to futuristic whoosh.
Bob Perry Gate
Bob Perry Gate is a smooth, great sounding gate plugin with three distinct algorithms and sidechaining.
Cable Guys Pancake 2
Cable Guys Pancake 2 is a versatile auto-panner plugin that can sync to your DAW clock, MIDI or modulation curves that you draw in yourself.
Eareckon FR-GATE 87
Eareckon FR-GATE 87 is a high quality analog-style gate using the same engine as their award winning ANALOG87 series.
Eugene Yakshin Ribs
Eugene Yakshin Ribs is a unique granular effect that stores incoming audio in its buffer and processes it as granular micro samples
Fine Cut Bodies La Petite Excite
Fine Cut Bodies La Petite Excite is an exciter effect that can add energy to the high and low extremes of your tracks.
Glitchmachines Fracture is another free glitchy processor for introducing stutters and other nonlinearities into your audio. Hit the randomize button to add a layer of unpredictability to your glitch-outs.
HOFA SYSTEM Basic
HOFA SYSTEM Basic is a suite of plugins with limited functionality to get you started with the offerings from HOFA. Simplified versions of some of their best plugins are included.
iZotope Vinyl is an instant lo-fi generator that can take your tracks back in time to the sound of the earliest forms of recording media.
Native Instruments Komplete Start
Native Instruments Komplete Start is an impressive free bundle of plugins with a huge library of VST synths, effects and sampled instruments.
LVC Audio ClipShifter
LVC Audio ClipShifter is a waveshaping plugin that functions like clipping-style limiter. From maximizing levels to creating all kinds of distortion, ClipShifter is a unique and useful tool.
Melda MAutopan is a classic autopanner with adjustable shape, automatic DAW sync and more.
Melda MBitFun is a unique distortion tool that works by converting the audio to a limited resolution and applying unique processing to each bit.
MDSP Smart Elecontronix Livecut Beat Chopper
MDSP Smart Elecontronix Livecut Beat Chopper a live beat-slicer and sample chopper for manipulating chunks of audio in the style of early jungle or drum and bass.
Melda MFlanger is an analog style flanger with tube-style saturation and top quality sound.
Melda MFreqShifter is an interesting frequency shifter plugin that doesn’t preserve harmonic relationships, allowing it to do everything from mild stereo effects to extreme processing.
Metric Halo MH Thump
Metric Halo MH Thump is a subharmonic synthesiser plugin for adding extra low end to your sources with a unique program dependent detector.
Melda MPhaser is an advanced phaser effect with adjustable oscillator shape, onboard saturation and up to 100 filters.
Melda MRing Modulator
Melda MRing Modulator is an easy-to-use ring modulator with a simple interface for creating interesting ring modulated textures.
Melda MTremolo can cover all your amplitude modulation needs with its editable waveform, adjustable shape and DAW synchronization.
Melda MVibrato is easy to dial in and sounds for great for everything from subtle warble to seasick lurch.
Melda MWaveFolder is an analog-inspired distortion with unique character that can completely mangle your audio at extreme settings.
Melda MWaveShaper takes traditional wave-shaping to a new level by letting you construct your own shape instead of using predefined patterns.
PechenegFX Pecheneg Tremolo is a simple but effective tremolo with just enough controls to get you started with great trem sounds right away.
Flux Stereo Tool v3
Flux Stereo Tool v3 is a precision tool for monitoring and controlling the stereo information of a signal. Use it to analyze and correct stereo issues on stereo channels or your entire mix.
T-RackS 5 Custom Shop
T-RackS 5 Custom Shop is a great way to get started with some of the best presets from IK Multimedia’s respected T-Racks platform.
TAL Chorus LX
TAL Chorus LX is an emulation of the unique chorus circuit found on the Roland Juno-60 synthesizer.
TDR Kotelnikov is a high quality and musical sounding dynamics processor worthy of professional applications. This unique processor doesn’t emulate existing processor, it’s its own thing!
TDR Proximity allows you to simulate changing the distance of a microphone to the source. Ever wished you could dial in a bit more proximity effect? That’s exactly what TDR Proximity is for!
Tritik Krush is a freeware bit crusher and downsampler with analog modeled resonant filters and syncable modulation options for all your creative bit crushing needs.
Here’s a versatile flanger with tons of ability to go into very psychedelic territory very quickly.
SpaceMod is the legendary plugin maker ValhallaDSP’s take on the flanger effect—it comes with parameters for mix, rate, depth, feedback and manual adjustment.
Xenakios PaulXStretch is the innovative time stretching plugin best known for its use in the “slowed down 800%” viral videos. Turn everything into whalesong!
Xfer 8BitShaper is a bit reduction and waveshaping plugin that’s great for creatively destroying anything you run into it.
Xfer DeltaModulator is a unique bitcrusher plugin that uses delta modulation in its downsampling process to create a sound similar to the Nintendo NES’s sampling channel.
Xfer Dimension Expander
Xfer Dimension Expander is a four voice chorus with extended delay times and two out of phase voices based on a chorus/spatial expander device from the 80s.
Best Free VST Utilities
Algae Software Tune it!
Algae Software Tune it! Is a powerful tuning plugin that can be used to tune instruments or monitor pitch during practice or performance.
Voxengo Anspec is an analog style 1/3-Oct spectrum analyzer for simple visual feedback with familiar analog metering.
Blue Cat’s FreqAnalyst
Blue Cat’s FreqAnalyst is a free spectrum analyzer for monitoring the spectral content of your audio in real time.
Voxengo SPAN is an FFT spectrum analyzer with stereo correlation, K level, peak and RMS metering built in.
Voxengo Latency Delay
Voxengo Latency Delay is a simple tool to compensate for the delay introduced by plugins that don’t report their latency accurately to the host.
Melda MAnalyzer is an advanced spectral analyzer and sonogram generator for creating detailed visual representations of your audio.
Melda MChannelMatrix is a matrix routing plugin for reassigning multiple channels on the fly via its sidechain inputs.
Voxengo MSED is a mid-Side encoder and decoder utility for splitting or combining stereo signals between L/R and M/S configurations and performing basic M/S operations.
Melda MLoudnessAnalyzer is a super accurate analysis tool for evaluating loudness.
Melda MNoiseGenerator is a simple pink/white noise generator for testing, analysis or adding to audio signals.
Melda MNotepad is a VST text editor for your DAW. Need to take notes or write down lyrics? Do it directly from your session.
Melda MOscilloscope is a classic waveform visualizer with pitch detection.
Melda MTuner is a simple audio frequency analysis tool designed for tuning guitars and other instruments.
Voxengo Correlometer is a multi-band correlation meter for detecting phase issues and mono compatibility.
Melda MUtility bundles a number of important utility tools into one plugin, especially for mastering. It can adjust gain, panning and delay, asses peak and RMS loudness and block DC.
Melda MStereoScope is a stereo field analyzer plugin for getting detailed info about your stereo spread.
Blue Cat’s Gain Suite
Blue Cat’s Gain Suite is a handful of helpful gain tools in a single plugin package. From decoding M/S signals to inverting phase and swapping channels, Blue Cat’s Gain Suite can do it all.
Plugin Alliance Brainworx Bx_solo
Plugin Alliance Brainworx Bx_solo is another great utility tool for dealing with L/R and M/S stereo signals. Try it to get started with mid/side techniques!
Puremagnetik Expanse is versatile texture generator. Perfect for adding body or background to your mix. Kick back and blanket yourself beneath a soft beautiful drone.
Melda MAGC is a simple tool that matches loudness of the input signal and sidechain. MAGC can help you evaluate loudness in your mix and signal chains.
Melda MFreeformPhase is a phase adjustment utility that allows you to change the phase relationships of individual frequencies in complex mixing situations.
Teragon ChaosChimp is something completely different. This one doesn’t do anything to your sound. It simply tries to crash your system however it can. Why would you possibly want this? To prepare you for the worst. How will you handle a complete system failure in a live situation or high pressure session? Teragon ChaosChimp will test your rig—and your composure!
Various contributors from the LANDR team of music mentors.
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