What are VST Plugins?
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizers and effects units into digital audio workstations (DAWs). VST plugins use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software.
Introduced by Steinberg in 1996, the Virtual Studio Technology and VST plugins have made a massive impact on the way we produce music today. The technology allows music producers to expand their digital audio workstations with third-party audio effects and virtual instruments.
There are hundreds of free VSTs online, and finding good ones takes time. To help you focus on making music instead of testing audio plugins, we have listed the best VST plugins for your digital audio workstation.
The list below features the best free virtual instruments and effects for your digital audio workstations.
Vital by Matt Tytel
If you want the best free synthesizer at this moment, then you should choose Vital Vst plugins by Matt Tytel. It is the best spectral warping wavetable vst plugin.
One of Vital’s best features is its user interface. Vital comes with high-quality oscillators that generate clean sounds. This vst loads .tun, .scl, and .kbd files so you can play microtonally.
More info: Vital
Surge by Surge Synth Team
If you’re producing any electronic music, Surge VST plugin is one of the free VST plugins you should try!
Surge is an open-source synthesizer especially made for sound designers. The plugin looks a little complex, but the surge synth team offers a wide selection of synth modes, a robust modulation engine, and numerous filter types.
The surge comes with 2,285 presets, if you’re not interested in designing sounds from scratch then you can go with presets.
More info: Surge
LABS by Spitfire Audio
LABS is a free vst plugin by Spitfire Audio. LABS is a sample-based instrument platform with an ever-growing collection of high-quality sound banks.
Since we already covered virtual synthesizers (Vital and Surge), it’s time to focus on sample-based instruments and acoustic sounds.
Spitfire Audio constantly releases new fantastic expansion libraries for LABS. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but we highly recommend trying Soft Piano, Synth Strings, Bass Guitar, etc.
More info: LABS
Komplete Start by Native Instruments
Komplete Start comes with the hand-picked collection of almost 1,500 loops and samples by Native Instruments. Expansions are genre-specific sound packs that work with a range of Native Instruments products and can be used in any DAW.
Kontakt Player is one of the most widely-used sample players on the market. Komplete Start is the free version of Kontakt. To help you get started, we created a list of free Kontakt libraries for Kontakt Player.
The free Komplete Start collection also comes with a set of NI Reaktor instruments and the Supercharger compressor effect.
More info: Native Instruments
TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Labs
TDR Nova is a free parallel dynamic equalizer plugin developed by Tokyo Dawn Labs. It is the ultimate EQ and one of the best free VSTs for mixing.
A user-friendly WYSIWYG drag and drop display paired with a classic “knob” interface gives quick and smooth access to the various parameters driving NOVA’s powerful processing capabilities. With its four dynamic EQ bands and additional high-pass and low-pass filter sections. Intuitive equal loudness functions help find the optimal setting without getting distracted by loudness differences.
TDR Nova can handle Parametric equalizationDynamic equalization, Frequency selective compression, Multi-band compression, Wideband compression. It’s user-friendly, versatile, and freeware.
More info: TDR Nova
Limiter №6 by Vladislav Goncharov
Limiter №6 is the best free limiter plugin developed by Vladislav Goncharov. It features five stages (compressor, peak limiter, HF limiter, clipper, protection), each designed to slightly reduce the signal’s dynamic range.
Limiter №6 have 5 modules (RMS compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, true peak limiter). It can handle high-quality signal processing to use for mastering purposes.
If you’re looking for a powerful mastering limiter then Limiter №6 is a freeware VST plugin worth it for you.
More info: Limiter №6
Frontier by D16 Group
Frontier is a free compressor plugin by D16 Group. It is an easy-to-use compressor for boosting the loudness of individual tracks. Frontier is a straightforward mixing tool. Threshold knob to compress the signal and increase the Output Level control to get the desired loudness.
If you’re looking for a dependable compressor/limiter tool Frontier is a freeware VST plugin best for you. It will speed up your mixing workflow and help you compress the individual tracks in your mix.
More info: Frontier
Valhalla SuperMassive by Valhalla DSP
Valhalla SuperMassive is a free delay and reverb effect designed by Valhalla DSP. If you’re looking for huge reverbs, massive delays, and endless echoes then valhalla supermassive is best for you.
Valhalla SuperMassive’s every mode offers a massively different reverb character, ranging from abstract chambers to sci-fi atmospheres. ValhallaSupermassive has been designed to get a lot of sonic complexity with a relatively simple set of controls.
Valhalla SuperMassive is one of the best reverb effects vst plugins currently available. You can check out Valhalla DSP’s others freeware VST plugins too.
More info: Valhalla Super Massive
FerricTDS mkII by Variety Of Sound
FerricTDS mkII is the best free tape saturation effect VST plugin by Variety Of Sound. It simulates some dynamic effects as can be obtained with some high-quality tape gear.
It works great on VA synths to add some slight crunch and presence. Also, Use it in the chain for electric guitar: Subtle compression (Density II), Fender-style ampsim, FerricTDS (Dynamics high, Saturation low, SC high, rest to taste), optional FX with slightly different settings it works for crunch amps, too.
FerricTDS mkII is now compatible with all 64-bit plugin hosts on Windows.
More info: FerricTDS mkII
Krush by Tritik
Krush is a free distortion effect by 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.
The sound palette produced by Krush ranges from the dirtiest digital effects to crunchy modulated colors, with all the classic and weirdest bit-crushing effects in between.
If you’re looking for a versatile sound design tool, Krush freeware VST is best for you.
More info: Krush