The best free VST plug-ins for Music Production
If you have already build your home recording studio, it’s time to look in the market for the best free VST plug-in instruments and effects.
I won’t disagree that drum machines and synthesizers are in every recording studio and surely give a better feeling than making music with your keyboard and mouse. If you are that person take a look at The best Drum Machines and The best Synthesizer keyboards.
In our days the case is not the same. VST plug-ins are now at the top of the list of most music producers around the world. Think of them as really affordable ways to make your home studio sound like you use a really expensive professional equipment.
What is the VST plug-in
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in that integrates software synthesizer, effects, and editors that your MIDI controller uses to create music.
The VST will run to your favorite DAW such as Ableton Live, FL, Logic Pro, and many others. You can read more about music production softwares at The best DAWs in the market.
There are three types of VST plug-ins
VST instrument: Each VST has its one custom design and interface that displays controls similar to physical switches, keys, and knobs on audio hardware. In other words, VST plug-ins emulate the look and sound characteristics of the original hardware equipment. This lets producers and musicians use virtual versions of devices that otherwise might be difficult and very expensive to buy.
VST effects: process audio instead of generating it. They function like hardware audio processors such as compressors, reverbs etc.
VST MIDI effects: MIDI plug-ins process MIDI messages and send MIDI data to other VST instruments and hardware.
What to consider before downloading a free VST plug-in
In 2019 you can find hundreds of VSTs to purchase. Some might be for free, some very expensive and some will cost you just a few bucks.
Most music software has its own built-in instruments and effects, but if you properly learn how to use external VST plug-ins, it will provide you with thousands of tools to experiment and take your sound to the next level.
There are a few things to consider before buying any VST plug-in, but as long as we do not spend any money to use the software’s below, there is no point to dig into it deeper. You download, you use, you experiment and if you don’t like you delete.
Just remember the world of freeware plugins is tricky as you can end up with a hundred freebies that you don’t use. This is bad for your workflow and productivity.
What you will need to use VST plug-ins
If you are not a newcomer in our website and you have read articles similar to “Build your home recording studio for under $600, you already know or own the basics to get started.
For those who do not know yet what they will need, don’t worry, you most likely have it already.
- Laptop or PC – As long as your home computer is not a decade old or 95% of its memory is full it will be able to run your favorite DAW and some free VST plug-ins. If however you are in the search for a new PC or Laptop check The best computers for music production.
- DAW – As mentioned above, your VST plug-ins can open inside any DAW by going to the Devices menu and choosing Virtual Instruments.
- Midi Keyboard – If you are a tiny budget you can ignore the midi keyboard and use your computer keys and mouse to play, edit and record your sounds. However, with these prices in the market is now more affordable than ever. Read more at The best cheap midi keyboards and you will find controllers for around $100.
If you’re looking for some free useful tools to make and edit music here are 10 worth having VST instruments and effects.
The 10 best free VST plug-ins
1. Dexed FM VST instrument by Digital Suburban
Dexed FM is ideal to create lush, melodic pad sounds. It’s a multi-platform, synth emulation of the Yamaha DX7, and it captures the synth’s classic FM sound as well as a paid virtual instrument.
The 6 operators are all easily located on one single interface. It also offers 144 DAW automatable DX7 parameters to create your own daydreaming melodies. Dexed FM can be used for making bright keys and bold plucked sounds.
It fully supports MIDI and DX7 input and output Sysex messages which means that you can use a real DX7 or TX7 as a patch editor.
This free plug-in instrument is available to download at kvraudio.com.
2. Tyrell N6 u-he VST instrument
Tyrell N6 u-he is developed by German online magazine Amazona.de. It was originally intended to be an affordable hardware synth inspired by Roland’s Juno-60, instead is a great free digital replica of this legendary instrument.
Tyrell N6 features 2 oscillators, noise, ring modulator, 2 LFOs with 8 waveforms, host-sync and over 580 presets for you to start with.
It is available for MAC, WIN or Linux users and you can download it for free at Amazona.de official website.
3. TAL Noicemaker / TAL Elek7ro VST instrument by Audio Line
TAL-Elek7ro is a virtual analog synth with some special features like hardsync oscillators (saw, rectangle, triangle, sine), effects, and LFOs. It is available only for Windows, while the NoiseMaker is for Mac users only.
TAL NoiseMaker is an improved version of Elek7ro and has a completely new synth engine and a lot of improvements in sound and usability. The synth plug-in offers 3 Oscillators with up to 6 voices. It also includes a filter section with a reverb, chorus and a crusher effect.
Both available to download at tal-software.com, along with a few more great free and commercial plug-in instruments such as TAL Bassline, TAL Sampler and many more.
4. Ample Guitar M Lite II / Ample Bass P Lite II VST instrument
Both plugins are great free plug-ins to cover your basic bass and guitar needs. The sound quality is more realistic than any other free bass/guitar plugins out there and you can easily adjust all the parameters and settings on a user-friendly interface.
Ample Guitar M Lite II aims to bring the Martin D-41 Acoustic Guitar sound to your studio, while Bass P II is trying to imitate the Fender Precision Bass. You will also find elements, in both plug-ins, such as Sustain, Hammer On & Pull Off, Legato Slide, Palm Mute, Accent, Natural Harmonic and many more.
These two plug-ins are WIN and MAC compatible so you won’t have a problem to run them in any DAW out there. You can import a midi track and just draw your chords, lines, arpeggios, or you can use a midi controller and route any parameter.
You can download it for free at amplesound.net, and you download a trial version of their premium Guitar G/M and Bass P plug-ins.
5. Acoustica Nightlife VST instrument
Nightlife is a virtual synthesizer by Acoustica. It offers three oscillators with editable waveforms, dual filters, and five modulation sequencers. As well as four LFOs and fifteen filter types (including lowpass, bandpass, highpass, and more), all on one user-friendly interface.
In this virtual instrument, you will be able to produce deep basses, soft pads, arpeggiated patterns, and more. Ideal for any kind of electronic music, but especially for dance, EDM, and trance music genres.
Nightlife includes up to 140 evocative preset patches to get started and experiment to make your own sounds. It is however available only for Windows users and not for MacOS.
You can download it at the official website of acoustica.com.
1. Xfer OTT VST effect
Xfer OTT is a free multiband compressor plug-in, used by many electronic music producers and will work perfectly in your free VST effect library. A very useful compressor plug-in for sound design and to increase the volume of your tracks.
It is ideal to edit your vocals, guitars or synths, giving depth and character. Xfer OTT display gives you the opportunity to work with Low, Mid and High frequencies to adjust, reduce or pump up the frequencies you want.
Xfer OTT is Mac and Windows compatible and you can download for free at xferrecords.com.
2. VOS SlickEQ VST effect by TDR
TDR VOS SlickEQ is a mixing/mastering equalizer designed for ease of use, musical flexibility and flawless sound. A modern user interface with four filter bands arranged in a Low/Mid/High parametric EQ layout that offers extreme usability.
Four interesting presets (British, American, German and Soviet) and Five output stages (Linear, Silky, Mellow, Deep and Toasted) making it a useful effect plug-in for those who want something a little different than the usual EQ plug-in.
Available to download, for MAC and Windows environment, as well as user manual, and video tutorials, at tokyodawn.net.
3. TAL-Filter-2 / TAL-Reverb VST effect
TAL-Filter-2 is a host synced filter module which will give your tracks a nice vintage analog sounding. It offers 4 different TAL-NoiseMaker filter types, and volume editing possibilities you cannot afford to miss especially when its free.
TAL Reverb-II is a great reverb effect that will work to cretae an ambient and atmospheric vibe to your sounds.
Both are MAC and WIN compatible, and you won’t regret downloading them as these are VST effect plug-ins that will actually use. Available to download for free at tal-software.com.
4. Vladg Molot / Limiter N.6 VST effect
Molot is a feature compressor, ideal to use for loud and punchy instruments, such as drum sounds. It is a bit aggressive but adds a lot of coloring to sound. In the same interface, you can find Slick EQ, and a mastering equalizer with soft saturation modes.
Vladg Limiter N.6 offers a lot more options, including RMS compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, and true peak limiter. It is the perfect VST effect plug-in out there to master your tracks.
Both available to download among other free plug-ins at vladgsounds.wordpress.com.
5. Voxengo SPAN Analyzer VST effect
SPAN is a free real-time “fast Fourier transform” audio analyzer for professional sound editing and music production. This VST plug-in offers a very flexible mode system which you can use to set up your range analyzer preferences.
SPAN supports multi-channel analysis and can be set to display spectrums from two different channels or channel groups at the same time.
We often say that mostly you get what you pay for, but there is a difference between free or being bought. There exist paid plugins which definitely are not worth their price because of the sound, interface,etc., and there are also some pretty good free plugins with a sound or GUI, you could pay for.
It does not matter if you are a beginner music producer or you have been a few years in the game, you shall not ignore free plug-ins as they can help you produce, finish and polish your music productions fair well.
In case you are looking for music production guide, check How to become a music producer.
Feel free to drop your comments below and let us know what your favorite free Synth plugins are…