Ultimate List Of The Best VST Plugins In 2017

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Finding the best VST plugins is quite a challenge in 2017.

Picture walking into the world’s biggest mall.

With hundreds of stores to choose from, how in the world would you know which ones are best suited to your needs?

You’re overwhelmed and flustered, with no way to know where to start.

But luckily for you, a friendly stranger gives you a list of the best stores in the mall – narrowing your options down to a manageable number.

We are that stranger, here to act as a saving grace in the overwhelming world of plugins.

After spending countless hours with thousands of plugins, we’ve narrowed down a list of just over 100 of the BEST ones we’ve used.

And it doesn’t end there…

We have also included over 100 of the best FREE VST plugins we know about.

Some of these free VST plugins can be compared to premium plugins you would buy from some of the biggest companies.

The best of both worlds in one place!

Click HERE to instantly jump to the free VST plugins section of this list.

So here it is, our Ultimate List of the Best VST Plugins — premium and free  for 2017!

Download thousands of free synth presets, samples, and more: Click Here

Best VST Plugins – Synths

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Serum by Xfer Records [189 USD]

The dream synthesizer did not seem to exist: a wavetable synthesizer with a truly high-quality sound, visual, and creative workflow-oriented interface.

Even if you’re not experimented with sound design, the interface is so friendly that you won’t even have to reach for the manual to start experimenting with it.

Massive by Native Instruments [149 USD]

The synth that defined bass music, this powerhouse synthesizer is an uncompromising sonic monster and one of the go-to choices for bass music and electro producers.

Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics [499 USD]

This is one of the best VST plugins you could possibly ever get!

Omnisphere brings many different types of synthesis together into one amazing-sounding instrument that will inspire a lifetime of exploration.

Sylenth1 by Lennar Digital [139 €]

Sylenth1 takes the definitions of quality and performance to a higher level. Until now only very few software synthesizers have been able to stand up to the sound quality standards of hardware synths.

Retrologue 2 by Steinberg [99 €]

Retrologue 2 emulates the warmth and fatness of classic analog synthesizers. Three virtual analog oscillators and a first-class set of filters produce a wealth of rich and inspiring sounds.

Trillian Total Bass Module by Spectrasonics [299 USD]

Trilian is designed from the ground up to be the most versatile bass virtual instrument available today with a new level of expressive, real-time performance for acoustic and electric basses – plus cutting-edge synth bass tones with powerful editing and extraordinary sound quality.

Z3TA+2 by Cakewalk [99 USD]

Z3TA+2 is designed to suit any and all of your electronic productions. From pop to rap, energetic to atmospheric, you’ll have the sounds you need at your fingertips.

LuSH-101 by D16 Audio [149 €]

LuSH-101 is a synthesizer created from modules that can be found in many modern virtual synthesizers, all combined into a single compact and logically intuitive design.

However, this basic simplicity combined with its multilayer architecture turns it into an easy-to-use but extremely powerful instrument that can be programmed and tweaked quickly, almost effortlessly leveraging its maximum potential.

Razor by Native Instruments [99 USD]

The groundbreaking additive synthesis powerhouse, RAZOR, delivers powerful sound and cutting edge sonic control.

SLOO by Tim Exile [49 £]

Whether you’re into hardware, virtual analog, digital wavetable or eurorack, a synth should be a unique and agile beast: tightly controlled for composition, hands-on for jamming, unpredictable for inspiration and sound like nothing else on earth.

FM8 by Native Instruments [149 USD]

FM8’s powerful audio engine generates breath-taking, brilliantly dynamic FM sounds in pristine quality. With its emphasis on ease-of-use, the FM8 brings a high degree of simplicity to the otherwise intricate process of FM synthesis.

Phobos by Spitfire Audio [299 USD]

Phobos is a must-have synthesizer for composers writing epic, cinematic electronic and hybrid compositions conceived by renowned composer and electronic music pioneer BT.

Diva by u-he [179 USD]

The oscillators, filters and envelopes closely model components found in some of the great monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers of yesteryear.

Modules can be mixed and matched so you can build hybrids, but what sets Diva apart is the sheer authenticity of the analogue sound.

Lounge Lizard EP4 by AAS [199 USD]

Lounge Lizard EP-4 is an electric piano plugin delivering authentic Rhodes and Wurlitzer sounds in an everything-you-need package.

Addictive Keys by XLN Audio [79.95 USD per module]

Addictive Keys brings the world’s most inspiring and interesting keyboard instruments into the studios of songwriters, producers, and music makers.

Rapid by Parawave Audio [180 €]

Combine multiple synthesis layers to achieve powerful and dynamic sounds.

Oberheim SEM V by Arturia [149 US]

Oberheim’s legendary SEM – Synthesizer Expander Module – is back for the first time as a high-end software emulation powered by Arturia’s exclusive TAE technology.

Bazille by u-he [129 USD]

Bazille is a large modular system combining digital oscillators with analogue-style filters and modelled effects, with a flexibility that only modular patching can provide.

Nexus 2 by reFX [249 USD Starter Edition]

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding this “synthesizer”, but this is actually a ROMpler.

If you’re a dance music producer who wants great sounds out of the box as a foundation to mangle with or simply layer, this is the tool you’re looking for.

Best VST Plugins – Kick Drum Synthesizers

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Kick 2 by Sonic Academy [66.90 USD]

Easily sculpt, shape, create, manipulate and mangle your way to the perfect kick drum.

BAZZism2 by Intelligent Sounds & Music [30 €]

If you create your kick drums building sine sweeps and EQ’ing them, you can get the same or even better results with BazzISM2 in a matter of seconds.

PunchBOX by D16 Audio [79 €]

PunchBOX easily brings together the best of the two worlds.

The expressiveness of synthesized sounds next to the richness and complexity of samples that end up delivering top-notch, never-heard of and dancefloor-crushing kick sounds.

BigKick by Plugin Boutique [65 USD]

BigKick makes kick drum design easy and enjoyable with a very simple and straightforward user interface.

Best VST Plugins – Compressors

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The compressors in this list are either multipurpose or meant to be used primarily in single tracks, but this shouldn’t stop you from experimenting with them either way!

Fabfilter Pro C [179 USD]

FabFilter Pro-C 2 is a high-quality compressor plug-in for the most demanding engineers.

Whether you need subtle mastering compression, an upfront lead vocal, that magic drum glue or deep EDM pumping.

CLA Classic Compressors by Waves [599 USD, on sale regularly]

True classics stand the test of time. The CLA-2A, CLA-3A, and CLA-76 are arguably the most famous leveling amps, compressors and limiters of all time.

Your production toolbox is simply incomplete without these ones.

Omnipressor by Eventide [149 USD]

Professional quality dynamic-modifier for gating, compression, limiting and expansion.

The Omnipressor is even capable of reversing a sound’s envelope, making loud sounds quiet and quiet sounds loud.

Gain Reduction by Joey Sturgis [59 USD]

Turn the knobs to tame or tighten your sound, crank the gain to saturate and distort, try it on drums and any other instruments you can think of.

Gain Reduction Deluxe will be your new go-to compressor.

Klanghelm DC8C-2 [20 €]

DC8C is one of the most flexible compressors around.

While making a lot of different compression styles possible, it’s general nature may be described as clear, smooth, open and distinct.

UBK1 by Kush Audio [149 USD]

UBK-1 embodies the philosophy that compression is not merely a form of dynamics control, it is the ultimate tool to create and shape the movement and groove of a sound.

Presswerk by u-he [129 USD]

Presswerk is a powerful dynamics processor with a musical soul. An easy-to-use interface and a rich feature set give you hands-on control over all details of your sound.

API-2500 by Waves [299 USD]

The API 2500 is a versatile dynamics processor that lets you shape the punch and tone of your sounds with absolute accuracy.

Its dual channel design lets the 2500 also function as two separate mono channels via a single compression setting.

Tube-Tech CL 1B by Softube [329 USD]

Softube’s Tube-Tech CL 1B is the prime example of what an optic compressor is capable of.

It is highly versatile and can go from soft and gentle to snappy and punchy by the twist of a few knobs.

Vintage Warmer 2 by PSP [149 USD]

Vintage Warmer 2 is a high-quality digital simulation of an analog-style, a single- or multi-band compressor/limiter.

It combines rich, warm analog processing with a straightforward user interface, and comes with a comprehensive library of presets.

Puigchild by Waves [349 USD]

Throughout the vinyl era, the original Fairchild 660 and 670 compressors were ubiquitous.

From the recording studio to the record lathe, the Fairchild was renowned for its advanced compression techniques and incomparable sound.

H-Comp Hybrid Compressor by Waves [179 USD]

H-Comp combines the modeled behavior of transformers, tubes, and transistors, together with the power and precision that only a plugin can provide.

Best VST Plugins – EQ’s

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Millenia NSEQ-2 by Plugin Alliance [299 USD]

Revered for its startling realism and transparent musicality, the Millennia NSEQ-2 is a go-to parametric EQ for many of the world’s leading studios and mastering houses.

Fabfilter Pro Q 2 [179 USD]

An equalizer is probably the tool you use most while mixing and mastering, so you need the best of the best!

With FabFilter Pro-Q 2, you get the highest possible sound quality and a gorgeous, innovative interface with unrivalled ease of use.

EQuilibrium by DMG Audio [179 £]

Massively flexible EQ suitable for all critical professional applications.

Q10 by Waves [99 USD]

Multiband paragraphic EQ with 10 bands of precision equalization for mixing and mastering – a go-to tool for both surgical repair and gentle coloring.

SSL G-Equalizer by Waves [Only available through selected bundles]

The SSL G-Equalizer includes a pre-boost dip and a pre-cut rise, as well as a broader Q for more extreme equalization.

That’s why many leading engineers use the E-Channel’s equalization for detailed problem-solving and mixing, and the G-Equalizer to shape and give character to the sound.

Pultec Passive EQ Collection by UAD by UAD [299 USD – UAD Soundcard needed]

Building on a decade of the world’s most intensive modeling research, UA has recreated the famed Pultec EQ experience as plug-ins – ones that are nearly indistinguishable from the original analog hardware.

Smart:EQ by Sonible [129 €]

The intelligent smart:EQ+ plug-in enhances the detail, clarity, and personality of your audio-track with a tap of the finger. What makes it special: the perfect mix is ready in a matter of seconds.

McQ by PSP [69 USD]

PSP McQ captures the sonic character and functionality of various classic console equalizers such as the versatile MCI console EQs.

SEQ-ST by Nugen Audio [149 USD]

SEQ-ST gives you powerful sonic sculpting and EQ matching, with stereo mid-side operation and automated spectrum analysis.

Massage and correct any audio with incredible resolution that you just can’t get with a traditional parametric interface.

Puigtec EQ’s by Waves [299 USD]

The Pultec EQP-1A is renowned for its unique ability to boost and cut the same frequencies simultaneously, thereby creating a resonant shelf.

These EQ’s also have a remarkable replication of the original hand-crafted unit owned by iconic producer/engineer Jack Joseph Puig.

Renaissance EQ by Waves [79 USD]

Featuring real-time EQ graphing, vintage-modeled filter curves, and extended internal headroom, the Renaissance Equalizer is a versatile paragraphic EQ with warm, analog-style sound.

Maag Audio EQ4 [229 USD]

The Maag Audio EQ4’s unique design allows for exceptionally low phase shift across all EQ adjustments, which helps maintain the integrity of your mix’s original sound.

Vibe EQ by Stillwell Audio [39 USD]

This is one of those mythical plugins that makes things sound better just by plugging it in.

Best VST Plugins – Reverbs

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Altiverb by Audio Ease [595 USD, Regular Version]

Altiverb 7 is the industry standard convolution reverb plug-in. It features top quality samples of real spaces to create reverb, ranging from the Sydney Opera House to the cockpit of a Jumbo Jet.

Valhalla Shimmer [50 USD]

ValhallaShimmer is an algorithmic reverb designed for BIG sounds, from concert halls to the Taj Mahal to the Halls of Valhalla.

Valhalla Vintage Verb [50 USD]

ValhallaVintageVerb is a postmodern reverb plugin, inspired by the classic hardware digital reverbs of the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Blackhole by Eventide [199 USD]

Most reverbs are earth-bound and constrained by the physics of the real world. Eventide’s Blackhole reverb breaks the rules by allowing you to create virtual spaces that could never exist in reality.

Ultraverb by Eventide [199 USD]

9 high end hardware-based reverb algorithms bundled in a single native plug-in.

R4 by Exponential Audio [299 USD]

R4 offers all the class of historic hardware reverb units but with many new features only possible with modern plug-in development technology. R4 is pure class and for this reason, is destined to become a classic.

Fabfilter Pro R [199 USD]

A great reverb sounds natural and sits in the mix perfectly. At the same time, it should not confuse you with over-technical controls, but must be easy to set up and a joy to work with.

This is exactly what FabFilter Pro-R delivers.

Abbey Road Plates by Waves [249 USD]

State-of-the-art modeling of the four legendary reverb plates housed at Abbey Road Studios and used on recordings by the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Radiohead.

LXP Native Bundle by Lexicon [240 USD]

The LXP Native Reverb Bundle offers four algorithm based plug-ins along with over 220 of the most versatile and finely-crafted studio presets that are sure to change the way you color your mix, forever.

Toraverb by D16 Audio [39 €]

The concept algorithm implemented in the unit allows create practically any type of reverb.

TSAR-1 by Softube [269 USD]

The TSAR-1 is the better-sounding alternative to the established, traditional reverb products at a fraction of the price.

RP-Verb by Rob Papen [149 USD]

RP-Verb is the reverb you’ve waited years to have in your setup. Try it out for yourself and see why pros describe it with one word: amazing.

Best VST Plugins – Delays

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Replika by Native Instruments [49 USD]

Simple to use with a resonant filter and classic phaser built in, Replika is a versatile delay for anything from subtle slapback to warped sheets of noise.

UltraTap by Eventide [79 USD]

UltraTap is a unique multi-tap effect capable of rhythmic delays, glitchy reverbs, huge pad-like volume swells and extraordinary modulation.

Ohmboyz by Ohm Force [69 €]

More than a simple delay endowed with a variety of features, OhmBoyz is almost an instrument in its own right.

RP-Delay by Rob Papen [49 USD]

RP-Delay is a unique delay which is heavily focused on some very special features, including brand new fx routing.

EchoBoy by Soundtoys [199 USD]

EchoBoy wraps decades of echo device history and new forward-thinking features into one versatile effect that will find its way into every corner of your mixes.

Valhalla Ubermod [50 USD]

Ubermod can be used to create lush dimensional choruses, classic string ensembles, tape and BBD echoes, nonlinear and reverse reverbs, and a bunch of sounds that defy categorization.

MFM2 by u-he [79 USD]

The idea behind MFM was to give the musician as much control over 4 individual delay lines as possible, have them interact, and offer easy ways to modulate delay parameters in realtime.

H-Delay by Waves [179 USD]

From real old school PCM42-style effects like filtering, flanging, and phasing, to slap-back echo, ping-pong delay, and tempo-sync with modulation, H-Delay delivers the goods.

Sandman by Unfiltered Audio [49 USD]

The Unfiltered Audio Sandman is far more than just a delay plugin, it’s a wormhole to the dreamtime states of your sounds.

Best VST Plugins – Saturators & Distortion Units

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Decapitator by Soundtoys [199 USD]

The sound of tubes, transistors, and circuitry being pushed to the limit has long been the key ingredient in great-sounding analog recordings.

Trash 2 by Izotope [99 USD]

Take mangling your audio to the next level. Combine the power of multi-band, dual-stage distortions and advanced post-filtering for immediate sonic transformation.

Ohmnicide by Ohm Force [117 USD]

Ohmnicide takes the concept of multi-band distortion further thanks to a new, more versatile technology as well as a modern interface and live performance-oriented features.

Fabfilter Saturn [154 USD]

From subtle, clean and warm tube or tape saturation to the wildest multiband guitar amp effects.

Karacter 500 by Elysia [199 USD]

The karacter plugin is a box full of vibrant colors for your DAW. It covers a complete spectrum including mastering-grade saturation, tube-inspired distortion and glorious destruction, creating manifold highly desirable styles of tonal coloration.

SPL Twin Tube [199 USD]

SPL’s TwinTube is one of those magical devices that make subtle changes that result in a huge improvement in your tracks.

Simply adding a bit of TwinTube’s analog tube warmth can dramatically improve vocal and instrument tracks.

Redoptor by D16 Audio [39 €]

Precisely modeled tube distortion module, which doesn’t focus on the tube only, but also models the rest of the co-functioning circuits.

Virtual Tape Machines by Slate Audio [149 USD]

Big, fat, warm, deep, rich and exciting are just some of the terms used to describe what recording onto a piece of magnetic tape sounds like. To those that know, tape is simply more musical.

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio [79.95 USD]

RC-20 Retro Color is a creative effect plugin that adds life and texture to any recording. It easily recreates the warm, cozy feeling of vintage recording equipment, but also works perfectly in any modern production setting.

SDRR by Klanghelm [20 €]

SDRR was built to satisfy almost all of your saturation desires. It provides a comprehensive set of controls to manipulate the character of the saturation to make it fit exactly.

Best VST Plugins – Mixing & Mastering Tools

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Bombardier Buss Compressor by Stillwell Audio [59 USD]

Tailored for smooth and musical processing of complex audio such as drum groups, vocal stems and your full stereo mix, The Bombardier Buss Compressor lends a controllable sense of weight, fluidity and cohesion.

The Rocket by Stillwell Audio [49 USD]

The Rocket is a character audio compressor, singular in its extraordinary speed, responding in mere microseconds to variations in program level.

Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor by UAD [299 USD – UAD Soundcard needed]

The Shadow Hills Mastering Compressor plug-in for UAD-2 and Apollo interfaces provides everything from a velvet touch to an iron fist, making it a go-to on records by Muse, Green Day, Gnarls Barkley, and more.

Izotope Neutron [Price varies depending on version, 349 USD]

Achieve unprecedented focus and clarity in your mixes with Neutron. This new mixing plug-in combines the latest innovations in analysis and metering with award-winning audio processing.

Izotope Ozone 7 [249/499 USD]

Glue a mix together, control dynamic range, and add rich character with the critically acclaimed music production tools in Ozone Advanced, including the new Vintage EQ, Vintage Compressor, and Vintage Tape modules.

Invisible Limiter by A.O.M [119 USD]

The Invisible Limiter’s limiting algorithm minimizes the difference between the original and the limited signals.

Fabfilter Pro L [199 USD]

A brickwall limiter is an essential tool for every mastering or mixing engineer. Fabfilter Pro L is a professional, feature-packed limiter that is loud and transparent at the same time.

Oxford Inflator by Sonnox [115 £]

A unique and powerful limiter to increase loudness, without sacrificing sonic quality or dynamic range. Add power and presence to your mix without the pumping of compression, or use on individual channels to bring them forward and add weight.

L3-16 Ultramaximizer by Waves [549 USD]

A 16-band peak limiter delivering unparalleled loudness with unprecedented control, the L3-16 maximizes your sound with pinpoint precision and breathtaking detail.

SSL 4000 Collection by Waves [749 USD]

Developed under license from Solid State Logic, the SSL 4000 Collection includes four plugins meticulously modeled on the legendary SSL 4000 mixing consoles.

Elysia Alpha Compressor [299 USD]

The gold standard in analog M/S mastering compressors.

VSC-2 Compressor by Brainworx [299 USD]

The VSC-2 Quad Discrete Compressor is so named because it uses 4 VCA’s built by hand using only discrete components. Its design is a nod toward the best VCA based compressors of the 70s and 80s.

Clariphonic DSP Parallel Mastering EQ [199 USD]

Re-modeled from the ground up using all new algorithms and filters, the Clariphonic DSP MkII sounds markedly smoother than the original plugin, and is considerably more powerful thanks to 3 processing modes: Classic Stereo, Dual Mono, and Mid-Side.

Vertigo VSM-3 Saturation & Distortion Unit [199 USD]

Vertigo VSM-3 delivers the beloved badass harmonic generators of Vertigo Sound’s acclaimed VSM-2 Mix Satellite in plugin form.

EQuivocate by Eventide & Newfangled Audio [99 USD]

EQuivocate uses filters which are modeled on the human ear. Each of the 26 critical bands tickles a different part of your inner ear, making any combination of settings sound as natural as possible.

Combining this with a linear-phase filter shape that reduces pre-echo makes EQuivocate an EQ with a difference you can hear.

Limitless by DMG Audio [149 £]

Cutting edge peak limiter to complete your mastering chain.

Oxford EQ by Sonnox [350 £]

A plug-in that traces its heritage to the original EQ section on the acclaimed Sony OXF-R3 digital console.

Best VST Plugins – Vocal Production

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Melodyne by Celemony [99-849 USD, Price varies depending on version]

Melodyne is the one of the industry standards for vocal tuning, but Melodyne’s algorithms allow you to make anything from the subtlest to the most far-reaching enhancements to your audio material regarding pitch, timing and tempo, with sound quality being optimal in every case.

Auto-Tune by Antares [399 USD]

Building on 20 years as the overwhelming choice of professional musicians, producers and engineers, Auto-Tune 8 is the new generation of genuine Auto-Tune pitch and time correction.

VocALign PRO 4 by Synchro Arts [399 USD]

VocALign Pro 4 is the most advanced version of the legendary VocALign program, providing instant tight alignment of one audio signal to another.

Simply capture a Guide signal with the right timing, capture a Dub signal to be aligned, press one button, and a new aligned Dub is generated and returned to your DAW.

Revoice Pro 3 by Synchro Arts [599 USD]

Revoice Pro is used worldwide by top audio professionals for the fastest, easiest and best sounding adjustment and alignment of vocals, instruments and ADR as well as double track generation.

CHOIR Evo by Antares [69 USD]

CHOIR Evo is a unique processor that turns a single monophonic voice into 4, 8, 16, or 32 distinct individual unison voices, each with its own pitch, timing and vibrato variations.

Harmony Engine Evo by Antares [199 USD]

Whether you’re an experienced vocal arranger, a songwriter looking for that perfect backup vocal, or a composer experimenting with unique vocal effects, Harmony Engine Evo gives you entirely new ways to create the harmony parts you hear in your head.

Vocal Synth by Izotope [199 USD]

Manipulate your voice to create electronic vocal textures, robot sounds, computerized harmonies, vocoder and talkbox effects, thick octaves or doubles, and everything in between.

Nectar 2 by Izotope [299 USD]

Bring a vocal track to life with the only complete set of tools designed specifically for voice.

Add impact with modeled plate reverb, harmonic saturation, and a wealth of creative effects, and stay in tune with real-time pitch correction and remove distracting breaths without tedious, time-consuming editing.

Free VST Plugins – Synths

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Tyrell N6 by u-he

Based on a design similar to Roland’s classic Juno 60, a few modules and novel features were added by u-he be in this incredible free synth.

Podolski by u-he

Podolski is a simple, CPU-efficient virtual analogue synthesizer.

Essentially, the synth is a cut down version of FilterscapeVA with just one oscillator, one filter, one envelope, and two LFOs, it also features a Zebra-style arpeggiator/sequencer plus chorus and delay effects.

Helm Synth by Matt Tytel

Helm Synth is an incredibly good looking synthesizer developed by Matt Tytel. You can study and change the source code and redistribute exact or modified copies of Helm.

OBXD

Emulation of the famous OB-X, OB-Xa, and OB-8 synths.

T.Rex Bass by Max Project [Windows only]

T. Rex Bass is a bass synthesizer with a built-in arpeggiator and a step LFO. It features effect modules that let you control the reverb, delay and and an equalizer.

T.Rex ArgenSynth by Max Project [Windows only]

The T.Rex ArgenSynth is a simple subtractive synth plugin.

Dexed

Dexed is a multi platform, multi format plugin FM synth that is closely modeled on the Yamaha DX7.

Tau Bassline by Muon Software

Updated and upgraded for its 10th Anniversary, this exclusive 303 emulator plugin is only available for download directly from Muon’s Software facebook page.

Synth1

Synth1 is a virtual analog classic subtractive synthesizer with 2 oscillators, 2 LFO’s, a filter section, an arpeggiator, an EQ, and a couple of time based effects.

Make sure to use a web browser like Google Chrome that can translate websites in other languages, as the website is in Japanese and it might get tricky to download.

TAL-BassLine by Togu Audio

This plugin isn’t supported by Togu anymore, but you can still download 32 and 64-bit installers for windows, and 32-bit for Mac.

TAL-BassLine is a virtual analog bass synthesizer especially made for bass, acid sounds, and effects. It’s based on a robust core and has the usual controls of analogue hardware synthesizers.

Tunefish Synth by Brain Control

Tunefish is a tiny virtual analog synthesizer. It is developed to fit into about 10kb of compressed machine code while still producing an audio quality that can compete with commercial synthesizers.

Model E by Steinberg

Model E is a classic analog synth with ultra-low CPU load.

TAL-Elek7tro by Togu Audio

TAL-Elek7ro is a virtual analog synth with some special features like oscillator hard-sync and frequency modulation. It also has improved alias free oscillators, new developed fast envelopes, and LFO’s.

This synth is useful for a wide range of sounds from percussions to deep bass sounds.

Sinnah

Sinnah is a synth based on a single complex oscillator that includes five waveshapes with increasing spectral complexity, harmonic levels for all waveshapes, noise levels, and a delay matrix.

Ample Bass P Lite II by Ample Sound

Ample Bass P Lite II aims to bring the Fender Precision Bass sound to your studio in a digital format.

Ample Guitar M Lite II by Ample Sound

Ample Guitar M Lite II aims to bring the Martin D-41 Acoustic Guitar sound to your studio in a digital format.

Free Alpha 3 by LinPlug

FreeAlpha is the little brother of Alpha, sharing the same engine but with less features. It’s been around since mid 2000 and it’s free of charge.

JuceOPLVSTi by Plainweave Software

The OPL2 is a simple 2-operator digital FM sound chip from the late 80s, used in PC sound cards like the Adlib and original Sound Blaster.

This VST instrument allows you to program an emulated OPL2 chip.

Synister

Synister is arguably one of the best looking free synthesizers out there. This 3 oscillator synthesizer is incredibly easy to use as well.

Speek by Wavosaur

This plugin for recreates the sound of the Commodore 64 Software Automatic Mouth vocal synthesis software.

Trilobite Free by Darwin Arts

This is a limited version for those who want to try Trilobite before purchasing the complete version, nonetheless this version can be enough for many users.

Trilobite is a modular synthesizer which features full visual patch editing, extensive parametric control, and an innovative patch breeding system to carry your creativity into unexplored territory!

Sforzando by Plogue

Sforzando is a highly SFZ 2.0 compliant sample player. Advanced sample hobbyists now have a powerful tool to experiment and share instruments without relying on proprietary formats.

Alter/Ego by Plogue

Alter/Ego is based on the award winning technology featured in chipspeech, but instead of targeting vintage voice technology, it focuses on more modern singing synthesis algorithms and research.

Triple Cheese Synth by u-he

Triple Cheese is a unique-sounding freeware synthesizer plugin.

This synth doesn’t use any of the classic synthesis techniques – subtractive, FM, or additive – but various forms of comb filtering instead.

The three cheese modules in a row either generate their own signal, or process the output of the previous module.

Symptohm by Ohmforce

Do you need a synth with a lot of good sounds to use without too much knob-tweaking complexity?

Try Symptohm: Melohman in a free Performer Edition. You get access to all of its mother’s factory presets and some other customizing possibilities.

Livecut by Smartelectronix

Livecut is a live beat-slicer. Instead of manipulating equal chunks of audio like most beatslicer do, it works on the notion of audio cuts. The length and number of repetitions depend on the context and the cutting procedure.

Thai Chromatic Gongs by Alan Vista

Thai Gongs is a sampled traditional chromatic gong set from Thailand.

Chinese Gongs by Alan Vista

This gong set features 3 Tamtam gongs (40, 28, and 20 inches) and a Wind gong (20 inches) organized in 3 different velocity layers.

Harsh Digital Nose by Piz

Harsh Digital Nose a synthesizer that converts two images into two oscillator waveforms and then mixes them in various horrible ways.

You can drag and drop images or draw them on the plugin in real time.

Hadron Particle Synthesizer by Partikkel Audio

The Hadron Particle Synthesizer is an open source synthesizer, sampler, and effect module.

Cobalt by Leslie Sanford

Cobalt is a synthesizer inspired by many of the hybrid synths of the 80s.

Free VST Plugins – Kick Drum Synths, Drum Machines, and Drum Kits

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LM-1 Linndrum Drum Machines by Jun’s factory, Simple Recorder and MH Music

Three different free VST’s that recreate the famous Linndrum LM-1 drum machine in the same place.

MT Power DrumKit 2 by Manda Audio

Free Drum Kit created for Pop, Rock, Metal, and Fusion – very similar to Native Instruments Studio Drummer.

DRUM PRO by Studio Linked

20 drum kits that spread over 12 pads with built-in effects.

T.Rex 606 by Max Project [Windows only]

The T-Rex 606 is a rompler of the classic 606 drum machine by Roland.

It has 7 of its classic sounds and a simple reverb.

Beat Factory Drums by Beat Skillz

Beat Factory Drums comes with 12 pads with samples from an original MPC 2500, created with high-end outboard gear.

Real Drum Samples by Line of Legends

Line of Legends features high quality drum samples from the eponymous free sample pack released by RealDrumSamples.com.

Sean Pandy Drums For Rock And Metal

Sean Pandy Drums is a drum rompler plugin with a Kick, Snare, 4 Toms – and a Sub Blower that will do exactly as its name suggests.

Vintage Drum Elements by Sample Science

Vintage Drum Elements is a virtual drum machine featuring the sound of the Yamaha RX5.

DrumTroop by Dub Turbo

DrumTROOP is just a straight out of the box weapon of mass production. No fussing around with too many on board options.

Every kit has been meticulously crafted into their respective genre/sub-genre.

Kick Maker by Teragon Audio

KickMaker is a synthesizer designed specifically to create good kick drum sounds.

It uses four independent oscillators and a wide range of effects, allowing one to create perfectly customized beats.

Free VST Plugins – Modulation & Time Based Effects

cymatics-free vst plugins-modulation

OldSkool Verb by Voxengo

This plugin implements a kind of classic stereo reverb algorithm which is technically simple yet optimal.

It also produces a very clear spatial image that blends well with the mix.

Pancake 2 by Cableguys

PanCake is a free plugin for most flexible panning modulations.

Protoverb by u-he

Protoverb is an experimental reverb based on the idea of a room simulator.

Most algorithmic reverbs try to avoid resonances or model the reflections of sound from a room’s walls.

Protoverb does the opposite.

Valhalla Freq Echo

Sonic results range from subtle chorusing and double tracking to barberpole phasing and flanging to endless glissandos and runaway echos.

Pecheneg Tremolo by Pecheneg FX

The Pecheneg VST plugin is a tremolo effect, which has the possibility to adjust the shape of the tremolo modulating curve and to synchronize the frequency with a host, or set it manually.

TAL Chorus-LX by Togu Audio

TAL-Chorus-LX is a standalone version of the chorus implemented in the TAL-U-NO-LX.

T. Rex Delay by Max Project [Windows only]

T. Rex Delay is a simple and intuitive tempo-synced delay effect plugin with an integrated filter unit.

T. Rex Delay Mini by Max Project [Windows only]

T. Rex delay mini is a simple delay with a vintage analogue GUI design.

Multiply by Acon Digital

Acon Digital Multiply is a free and versatile chorus effect with a unique twist.

Each simulated voice is processed with a phase randomizing filter so that unpleasant comb filter effects are avoided.

A1 Trigger Gate by A1AUDIO

If you are looking for the right groove or just an interesting rhythmic pattern, this plugin will provide you with some random patterns that you might not would’ve been able to come up with otherwise.

Hysteresis by Glitch Machines

Hysteresis is a free glitch delay plugin geared toward creating robotic artifacts and abstract musical malfunctions.

Fracture by Glitchmachines

Fracture is a free buffer effect plugin geared toward creating robotic artifacts and abstract musical malfunctions.

Atom Dynamic Filter by Sine Vibes

Atom is a filter with focus on dynamic, tempo-synchronised modulation.

Sanford Reverb by Leslie Sanford

The Sanford Reverb is a versatile reverb capable of simulating many kinds of spaces.

Sanford Delay by Leslie Sanford

The Sanford Delay is a VST stereo delay effect.

It’s an easy to use delay that gets the job done quickly and efficiently.

TAL-DUB-X by Togu Audio.

AL-Dub-X is no emulation of a specific hardware delay effect and it has its own special sound. Don’t expect one of the very clean digital delays.

CREV-01 by Bc.Lab

The CREV-01 convolution reverb has advanced controls including pre-delay, frequency shaping, stereo balance, width, decay damping, and gate amongst others.

Space 360 by cytoSonic

Behind its no-nonsense interface there is a complex implementation of three distinct, yet interdependent algorithms for direct reflections, early reflections, and late reflections.

Free VST Plugins – Saturators & Distortion Units

cymatics-free vst plugins-saturators

Tube/Valve Overdrive by Voxengo

Tube Amp is an audio effect that applies asymmetric tube triode overdrive usually found in single-tube microphone pre-amp boxes.

Revival by Slate Digital [Requires an iLok 2]

Revival is a new type of Sonic Enhancer.

Borrowing aspects of tubes, tape, transformers, and world-class analog filters, it can be used on individual tracks – for adding air to pop vocals or fatness to drums, for instance – but it is also amazing during the mastering stage to bring out details in full mixes.

Delta Modulator by Xfer Records

Unlike traditional bit-crushers, Delta Modulator uses delta modulation, resulting in a sound similar to what you’d hear in Nintendo NES gaming console’s sampling channel.

IVGI by Klanghelm

IVGI can deliver very soft and subtle saturation that feels like home on the master buss, but it is equally capable of very dense and dirty distortion effects to spice up single tracks.

Guitar Gadgets by Music Entropy

Guitar Gadgets is a compilation of “false” analog guitar pedal simulations, made to be used mainly with electric guitars and guitar amp simulations, but which may be sound interesting in any situation.

Saturation Knob by Softube

The free plugin Saturation Knob is a modeled output distortion that can be used anywhere you need some grit.

Use it to fatten up bass lines, add some harmonics, and shimmer to vocals, or simply destroy your drum loop.

Thump 2 by Metric Halo

Thump is ideal for beefing up a kick drum, add low end to percussive tracks, recreate classic drum synth sounds, and more.

Tritik

With its bit crushing and downsampling algorithms, Krush combines the crispy taste of the digital realm with the warmth of its drive stage and analog modeled resonant filters.

A modulation section allows you to quickly add extra life to the sound by modulating any parameter.

SGA 1566 by Shattered Glass Audio

SGA1566 is loosely based on a single channel vintage tube preamplifier.

Ace Amp by Shattered Glass Audio

Ace is a faithful digital emulation of a legendary 1950s, American, all tube, tweed, 5W amp.

Greed Smasher by Mercuriall

Greed Smasher is a stompbox modeled after the Ibanez TS-808 with drive, tone, level, input gain, mod switch, mono/stereo, and quality switch controls.

FuzzPlus 3 by Audio Damage

FuzzPlus 3 is a vintage fuzz pedal model that includes a filter, self-feedback, and a modern procedural user interface.

Frohmage by Ohm Force

Far from being cheesy, as its unique interface suggests at first sight, Frohmage delivers warmth, dirt, and much more at a professional audio quality.

La Petite Excite

La Petite Excite is a small exciter plugin and it can lead you into a brighter future when used wisely.

Clipshifter by LVC-Audio

ClipShifter is a wave-shaping audio plugin that functions like a clipping-style limiter.

Free VST Plugins – Compressors & Limiters

cymatics-free vst plugins-compressors

Kotelnikov by Tokyo Dawn Records

TDR Kotelnikov is a wideband dynamics processor combining high fidelity dynamic range control with deep musical flexibility.

MJUC jr. by Klanghelm

MJUC jr. is a mix of the Mk1 and Mk2 of its big brother, the MJUC.

It combines very natural, dense compression characteristics of the early 1960’s with a more forward sounding approach and more harmonics.

DC1A by Klanghelm

The DC1A looks like a one trick pony. But don’t get fooled by its lack of additional controls.

You may be surprised on how well it works with different input signals. The DC1A is heavily program dependent and so is the saturation.

Molot Compressor by Vladg

Are you looking for a free VST compressor that adds coloration to your signal?

Then this is the plugin that you have been looking for.

Loudmax

Brickwall Loudness Maximizer Plugin with a clean transparent sound.

It is designed to retain the original character of the music as much as possible even at high compression levels.

Limiter Nº6 by Vladg

The Limiter Nº6 comes with 5 modules: RMS compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, and a true peak limiter with a very high-quality signal processing to use for mastering purposes.

Free VST Plugins – EQ’s

cymatics-free vst plugins-eqs

MQ57 EQ

MQ57 is a parametric equalizer designed for mastering.

Marvel GEQ by Voxengo

Marvel GEQ is a linear-phase 16-band graphic equalizer plugin with multi-channel operation support for professional music production applications.

TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Records

NOVA is a parallel dynamic equalizer and it comes with a similar layout to a parametric equalizer.

Each band also includes a full featured dynamics section allowing the processor to cover an impressively wide range of applications.

Ochre by Acustica

Ochre is an EQ with 3 parametric bands, individually switchable.

SonEQ by Sonimus

SonEQ is a digital equalizer that takes parts from some vintage gear and combines them into one.

SonEQ has 3 bands: bass, middle, and treble and it also comes with a pre-amp section.

TDR VOS SlickEQ by Tokyo Dawn Records

TDR VOS SlickEQ is a mixing/mastering equalizer designed for ease of use, musical flexibility and impeccable sound.

Nova-67P by Vladg

Nova-67P is a parallel parametric equalizer plugin combined with a compressor.

The compressor can optionally operate in frequency dependent and split-band modes. In this case the plugin operates as a parallel dynamic equalizer.

Luftikus by Ikjb

Luftikus is a digital adaptation of an analog EQ with fixed half-octave bands and additional high frequency boost.

As an improvement to the hardware it allows deeper cuts and supports a keep-gain mode where overall gain changes are avoided.

Baxter EQ by Variety of Sound [Windows only]

BaxterEQ – transparent mastering and mix buss shelving EQ.

Free VST Plugins – Vocal Production

cymatics-free vst plugins-vocal production

TAL Vocoder by Togu Audio

TAL-Vocoder is a vintage vocoder emulation with 11 bands that emulates the sound of vocoders from the early 80’s.

Pitchproof by Aegian Music

Pitchproof is an audio plugin that can shift the pitch of the input.

The effect is meant to combine old styles of pitch shifting with the quality you expect from modern plugins.

The result is this pitch pedal simulation that has most of what is great about guitar harmonizer pedals, and still preserves the signal’s integrity.

MAuto Pitch by Melda Production

MAutoPitch is a simple but great sounding automatic pitch correction plugin designed for vocals and other monophonic instruments.

Vocal King by Routenote

Vocal King is a plugin built to bring out the presence and clarity in your recorded vocals.

Proximity by Tokyo Dawn Records

The plugin is an easy to use distance “pan-pot” based on several psycho-acoustic models.

The idea is to give mixing engineer a reliable tool which allows him to manipulate the “depth” of several sound sources in a straightforward and convincing manner.

Duet by Martin Eastwood

Double-tracking/harmonizer effect developed to enhance vocals or instruments, such as guitars, by thickening the sound and adding a rich glossy sheen to your audio material.

Free VST Plugins – Mixing & Metering Tools

cymatics-free vst plugins-mixing

Stereo-Widener by Voxengo

This professional audio plugin implements a classic technique of transforming a monophonic track into spacious stereophonic track by means of mid/side coding technique.

Panipulator by Boz Digital Labs

Panipulator is an essential tool for checking how your mixes will translate to different systems.

And the best of all, it’s available for free.

Mucoder Hypercyclic

Mucoder Hypercyclic is a an LFO-driven MIDI arpeggiator, gate effect, and step sequencer for mangling sustained MIDI input chords.

SPAN by Voxengo

SPAN is a free real-time “fast Fourier transform” audio spectrum analyzer plugin for professional music and audio production applications.

mV Meter by TB Pro Audio

mvMeter is a multivariable meter including RMS, EBUR128, VU, and PPM measurement.

StereoTool V3 by Flux

StereoTool V3 offers ultra-precise control of input gain and individual pan for left and right channels and accurate visual feedback reflecting the signal.

LFX-1310 Multi Effector by Sonic Cat

LFX-1310 is a free plugin multi-effector including 24 types of algorithm and 3 serial slots.

This freeware is the stand-alone version of Effecting Module of Ravity-S & Ravity-R.

Every algorithm realizes the very effect you have on your mind, and is fully optimized for low CPU load.

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Conclusion

If you know about any other incredible plugins that we might have missed, and that you believe should be included in this list, let us know in the comments – we’ll keep updating this list!

Don’t forget to bookmark this to stay updated!

Also, if you are looking to get even more software, check out this huge list of the Best Kontakt Libraries in 2017! 

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