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 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.
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.
LANDR Samples now has an accompanying plugin that makes it easy to audition, time stretch and pitch shift any sample on our marketplace.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Best Free Drum VSTs
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
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.
Best Free Compressor VSTs
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
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.
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.
Best Free EQ VSTs
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 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.
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.
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.
Best Free Reverb and Delay VSTs
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Best Free Vocal VSTs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.