Free VST Plugins: 63 Must-Haves for EDM Production in 2024

free vst plugins

There are an insanely high amount of free VST plugins out there, and any of them can be a great addition to your production toolkit.

But sometimes it’s overwhelming. There are literally thousands of options.

And which ones do you really need?

Don’t worry – I’ve done the work for you and found 63 of the best free VST plugins that you can download today in 2024.

Let’s start 👇

Hot tip: VST – the most common plugin format – stands for Virtual Studio Technology 😉

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Table of contents

What Makes Good Free VST Plugins?

To narrow the thousands of free VST plugins out there down to 63, I had to be quite selective. There are a lot of great options out there. But also a lot of low-quality ones.

Here’s the criteria I used to choose plugins for this list:

  • Unique: these plugins aren’t easily replaced with stock DAW tools. So you won’t find basic EQ’s, compressors or other simple tools, unless they do something different.
  • Quality: just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s good. This is why I’ve only included plugins that sound good, are simple to use, and are on a similar level to a paid option.
  • Reputable: even if it’s not a popular plugin, the people who have used it highly recommend it.
  • Compatible: although compatibility changes with many factors, these plugins are compatible with most DAWs (namely FL Studio, Ableton Live, and Logic Pro) on most operating systems.

But before we dive in, you might want to check out this video… 😬

Synths: The Best Free VST Plugins

A lot of stock synths are great. But often third-party ones are better.

Why? More features, better interfaces and easier to understand. Let’s go.

Vital by Matt Tytel

Vital is a wavetable synth that has been making waves in the music production community. It positions itself to be a free alternative to Serum:

Matt Tytel Vital free VST plugin
Vital free VST plugin

It features 3 full customizable oscillators with multiple different stock wavetables. You also get 2 filters and endless modulation capabilities.

But what makes this synth truly unique are the visuals. Every process has a visual representation, which makes it a great choice for beginners. If you’re looking for a full, in-depth guide on Vital, we have you covered here.

Download Vital for free

Helm by Matt Tytel free VST plugin

The creator of Vital also has another great virtual instrument known as Helm:

If you’re wanting a simpler workflow and a more ‘classic’ sound but with plenty of fun modulation capabilities, Helm is a must-have.

Matt Tytel Helm free VST plugin
Helm synth plugin

It’s got quality oscillators, filters, LFOs and FX that are on par with many other paid synths on the market.

Download Helm for free

Tyrell N6 by u-he

Tyrell N6 is a great synth modelled off the Roland Juno-6, a timeless classic:

u-he Tyrell N6 free VST plugin
The free VST plugin Tyrell N6

But of course, they’ve made some great changes and additions.

You’ll get great analog sounds out of this one with plenty of modulation options and great presets. It also will open you up to the world of u-he’s great line of paid plugins.

Download Tyrell N6 for free

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Dexed by Digital Suburban

As far as FM Synthesis is concerned, Dexed will have you covered. It sounds great and can handle a plethora of FM sounds:

Digital Suburban Dexed free VST plugin
Dexed free VST plugin

Granted, its interface is a bit daunting.

However, it features 6 quality operators. It functions basically like the original Yamaha DX7 – the world’s first digital FM synthesizer. So if you like those cheesy bells, warbly pads and plucky basslines, Dexed could be your go-to.

Download Dexed for free

VCV Rack free VST plugin

Okay, so VCV Rack isn’t exactly a plugin. But it’s an insanely good tool if you want to get into the world of modular synthesis:

VCV Rack free VST plugin
VCV Rack

Modular synthesis can get very expensive. So if you want to find out if its something for you, check out VCV Rack.

Be warned though – once you’re sucked into it, there’s no coming back.

Download VCV Rack for free

Pendulate by Newfangled Audio

Occasionally a synth comes along that truly does something groundbreaking. Pendulate is one of those virtual instruments:

Newfangled Audio Pendulate free VST plugin
The free VST plugin Pendulate

Pendulate is “a chaotic monosynth that uses a brand new double-pendulum-oscillator to create previously unheard sounds.”

Basically, it utilizes a unique synthesis engine to create unheard of textures. Check it out if you want to create some really unique sounds. Beware however that its interface takes some getting used to.

Download Pendulate for free

Ribs by Hvoya Audio free VST plugin

I’m a huge fan of sample-based and granular synthesis. The textures and sounds you can get are just impossible to get with regular subtractive, wavetable or FM:

Hvoya Audio Ribs free VST plugin
Ribs free VST plugin

Ribs is a great free VST plugin because it’s half synth, half FX unit. You can drag in audio or turn on the FX mode when on an existing audio track. You’ve also got endless modulation options and lots more.

Download Ribs for free

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Alter/Ego by Plogue free VST plugin

If you’re a fan of vocaloid-type vocal sounds, then this is your one-stop-shop:

Plogue Alter/Ego free VST plugin
Alter/Ego free VST plugin

Alter/Ego is a text-to-voice synthesizer that is surprisingly convincing and a lot of fun to use.

Simply type what you want it to sing, choose your voice and play notes, with a few other parameters you can tweak while you’re at it.

If you want to learn more about vocoders, check out our full guide here.

Download Alter/Ego for free

OB-Xd by discoDSP

When I’m looking for an analog feel, BX-Xd is my go-to:

OB-Xd  free VST plugin
OB-Xd free analog synth

The OB-Xd is based on the Oberheim OB-X. It attempts to recreate its sound, although some modifications were brought.

I find myself often coming back to this synth for several reasons:

  • It features a MASSIVE amount of quality presets
  • The interface is intuitive and easy to use
  • It just sounds good 😅

The only downside is that there is no FX section. So you might need to route it directly into some delay or reverb. Otherwise some patches sound a bit dry.

Looking for more analog-modelled virtual synths? Check out our full guide here.

Download OB-Xd for free

Regency by nakst Audio Plugins

In the world of free audio plugins, Regency stands out with its slick design:

Regency free vst plugin
Regency free VST plugin

I know, hard to believe this one is free 😅

Regency is a phase-distortion synth with 2 generative layers. Each layer features 3 fully-customizable curves that distort the phase of the generator.

On top of this, you get:

Regency offers a unique way to create new sounds. I find it works best when creating thich, layered chords. Oh, and it’s also extremely low on CPU 😉

Download Regency for free

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Samplers and Instruments: The Best Free VST Plugins

Samplers and instruments can take a long time to develop, and are usually not free.

This is because of the laborious nature of recording individual samples. However, there are a few options nowadays. Let’s explore the best free sampler VST plugins for you to try out.

LABS by Spitfire Audio free VST plugin

LABS has truly made multisample instruments available to the masses:

Spitfire LABS free VST plugin
The free LABS plugin

Previous libraries like Kontakt by Native Instruments were always behind a paywall. But Spitfire has put out LABS for free. And bets of all: it’s constantly updating it!

To this day, I still reach for LABS on the regular. In my opinion, it’s awesome for 2 things:

  • realistic sounding pianos and other real instruments (especially acoustic instruments like the Peel Guitar)
  • Haunting atmospheres (the whole London Atmos section is amazing)

Go check it out right now. I use this on a LOT of tracks these days.

Download LABS for free

M Lite 2X by Ample Sound

Looking for a convincing guitar free VST plugin? Then M Lite 2X is your best bet:

Ample Sound M Lite 2X free VST plugin
M Lite 2X

You can shape the exact tone of your guitar and choose between different playing styles to get a pro-level sound out of it.

Of course, it won’t replace recording an actual guitar. But it’s pretty damn close.

Download Ample Guitar M Lite 2X for free

Steven Slate Drums free VST plugin

If you want a high-quality virtual drum kit with a few bells and whistles, this is probably the best free option out there:

Steven Slate Drums free VST plugin
SSD5 free VST plugin

Personally I love to make drum loops and add further processing with this plugin.

It’s also the gateway to their full paid version, so be warned that you might dive even deeper.

Get Steve Slate Drums Free

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MT Power Drum Kit 2

Sometimes simple is good. And that’s what MT Power Drumkit 2 is:

MT Power Drum Kit 2 free VST plugin
MT Power DrumKit 2

Featuring a standard drum kit, this is great for traditional drum sounds without having to dial in so many different parameters.

It’s major advantage is the amount of grooves available. Grooves come in different tempos, and include numerous fills:

free VST plugin
An amazing number of preset grooves and fills

However, one of its drawbacks is that you cannot swap out samples.

It has a bit of a dirtier feel to it than other drum kits though, so if that’s your thing, go nuts.

Get MT Power Drum Kit 2 for free

Poise by One Small Clue

Remember how I said you cannot swap out samples with MT Power DrumKit. This is where Poise comes in:

free VST plugin
Poise sampler

Poise is an MPC-style percussion sampler. With a bit of work, you can link it to the MT Power DrumKit. That way, you take advantage of the grooves, but you can easily swap out samples!

Poise features 16 pads, with up to 8 layers per pad. Each layer has its own ADSR envelope, volume, pitch and more.

You even get some randomization settings to create humanized drum patterns.

Get Poise for free

Decent Sampler by Decent Samples

The Decent sampler was developed as a free alternative to the all-too-famous Kontakt by Native Instruments:

The Legacy Knight library in Decent
The Legacy Knight library in Decent

The Decent sampler works much like Native Instrument’s Kontakt, offering a different interface based on the library you load. This sample player plugin allows you to play sample libraries in the DecentSampler format.

The great thing about it is that there are a bunch of free libraries that you can download to try it out.

You can even create your own sample libraries and share them with others!

Get Decent for free here

EQ and Filter: The Best Free VST Plugins

EQs and filters can shape your mix in drastic ways. So it helps to have a great-quality option. And although FL Studio has the mighty Paramtric EQ 2, and Ableton Live has EQ 8, let’s look at some other free options.

Nova by TDR free VST plugin

Dynamic EQ has always been a paid-plugin-only realm. Until Nova came out:

TDR Nova free VST plugin
TDR Nova free VST plugin

Dynamic EQ’ing allows to cut or boost frequencies dynamically. Practically, you can cut a certain frequency only when it crosses a certain threshold.

But Nova is much more. Practically, it covers:

Additionally, it features 4 EQ bands, high-pass and low-pass filters and an equal loudness function.

If you’re looking for high-end (yet free) EQ’ing, this one is for you.

Get TDR Nova for free

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SlickEQ by TDR

When this plugin came out, I literally used it on everything:

TDR VOS SlickEQ free VST plugin
TDR Slick EQ

Honestly, it’s an insanely good EQ for coloring your mix.

The EQ saturation models (American, British, German, and Soviet) are modeled off various analog EQs.

This gives you plenty options depending on your taste. Great for busses, mastering, or any sound that needs a bit of coloring.

Get TDR VOS SlickEQ for free

P-Teq X by Ignite Amps

When this first came out, I couldn’t believe it. This EQ manages to accurately model the MQ5, PEQ1A, and HL3C classic analog EQs:

Ignite Amps P-Teq X free VST plugin
PTEq-X free VST plugin

And now you can get them all for free in one VST plugin. How neat! If you’re looking to color your mix with a classic EQ, look no further.

Download PTEq-X for free

DJM Filter by Xfer Records

By the makers of Serum and OTT comes the DJM Filter:

Xfer Records DJM Filter free VST plugin
DJM Filter

If you’re a DJ, you’ll know the sound of this filter. It has a nice resonance, great for sweeps, buildups and breakdowns.

The interface is simple – a cutoff, resonance boost and drive.

Download DJM Filter for free on Splice

bx_subfilter by Brainworx free VST plugin

Sometimes, your low-end lacks that presence. This is where bx_subfilter comes in:

Brainworx bx_subfilter plugin interface
bx_subfilter free VST plugin

Or, you could just use bx_subfilter, which allows you to accurately dial in the perfect amount of sub frequencies.

Its filtering unit is designed specifically for cutting problematic frequencies in bass-heavy tracks. The resonance selector lets you control how much “punch” vs “rumble” you need in your sub.

Grab this one if you work with 808s.

Download bx_subfilter for free on Plugin Alliance

Free Ranger by SPL

Graphic EQs might look old, but they can be highly useful and amazingly musical:

SPL Free Ranger plugin interface
The Free Ranger free VST plugin

Personally, these types of EQs are great on mix or master busses when you want to add a bit of something without overthinking things.

Download SPL Free Ranger for free on Plugin Alliance

Vastaus by Wavegrove

Ever heard of soothe2, the automatic dynamic resonance suppressor? If you have, then you probably also know it’s not the cheapest plugin on the market 😅 That’s why we have plugins like Vastaus:

Free plugin VastAus
Free plugin Vastaus

In a nutshell, Vastaus tames and cuts out excessively harsh hi frequencies. This works particularly well on vocals and guitars.

With React mode enabled, Vastaus will let some transients through, resulting in more clarity.

Download Vastaus for free

Filterstep by Audiomodern

Looking for something more… sequenced? Check out Filterstep:

Filterstep free VST plugin

Filterstep is a motion filter plugin. This means you can set each step to have a different filter shape.

Check it out:

Original loop
With Filterstep

Oh, I also love the fully-resizeable GUI. Not enough plugins have it 😅

Download Filterstep for free

Fresh Air by Slate Digital and Kilohearts

Although not technically an EQ, Fresh Air still probably belongs to this category:

The free plugin Fresh Air
The free plugin Fresh Air

Fresh Air is a dynamic high-frequency processor. Basically, it adds a touch of “air” to any sounds, but works particularly well on vocals and claps.

You get two basic knobs: Mid Air and High Air. Both can be adjusted separately or in tandem by clicking the Link button.

Fresh Air is based on vintage exciter circuits as well as advanced dynamics processing. You can even throw it on an entire mix to give it that extra little shine.

Download Fresh Air for free

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Dynamics and Compressor: The Best Free VST Plugins

Finding the right compressor can be a challenge. FET, Vari-MU, Opto… Where do you even start?

That’s why I would recommend getting different types of compressors. You can then trial them on different sounds to see which one sounds best.

Here are some great free compressor VST plugins from across the spectrum.

Rough Rider 3 by Audio Damage free VST plugin

This plugin got me well acquainted with parallel compression. Because without dialing back that dry/wet mix, it sounds brutal:

Audio Damage Rough Rider 3 plugin interface
Roughrider3 free VST plugin

Rough Rider is not designed to be subtle, and the pumping effects are extreme.

So if you’re after insane compression, don’t sleep on this.

Download Rough Rider 3 for free

Bittersweet V3 by Flux

Free transient shapers come in many different sizes and flavors. Bittersweet sits in the more “extreme” camp:

Flux Bittersweet V3 plugin interface
Bittersweet free transient plugin

You can choose to make your sound either more “sweet” or more “bitter”. “Sweet” will remove some attack and lengthen the release. And “bitter” will do the opposite.

There are also a few other controls to get it sounding exactly like you want, such as stereo effects, transient period, or response time.

The effect can be quite extreme. So try using it for minimal processing 😉

Download Bittersweet V3 for free

Transient by Sleepy-Time Records

This free VST plugin was my go-to transient shaper for years:

Free Transient plugin
Free Transient plugin

For a free transient shaper, you get an amazing amount of control. Controls include:

  • External sidechain input
  • Solo mode
  • Adjustable volume range
  • Adjustable frequency range
  • Link mode

This is definitely one I would recommend grabbing TODAY 😁

If you want to learn more about transient shaping, we have a full guide over here 🔥

Download Transient for free

OTT by Xfer Records free VST plugin

A guide on free VST plugins wouldn’t be complete without the almighty OTT:

The free OTT plugin
The free OTT plugin

OTT is one of those effects that has truly shaped music production forever. This is thanks to its extreme compression sonics.

OTT is a multiband compressor modeled off the OTT preset in Ableton Live’s Multiband Dynamics.

It features both upwards and downwards compression, giving any sound a very ‘squashed’ feel. Simply dial in the ‘depth’ and you can blend to taste.

We’re huge fans of OTT, and we use it a ton in our flagship course for beginners, EDM Foundations. We also have a full guide on how and why to use OTT here 🔥

Download OTT for free on Splice

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Leveling Tool by ADHD Audio Tools free VST plugin

If you’re looking for a free emulation of the 1176 compressor, the ADHD Leveling Tool is it:

ADHD Leveling Tool plugin interface
ADHD Leveling Tool plugin

But it’s more than just a standard emulation.

Beyond the normal 1176 features, you’ve got a dry/wet control, a more adjustable ratio knob, drive, and an input filter. Sounds great on vocals, drums, or just about anything that needs colorful, musical compression.

Download Leveling Tool for free

Kotelnikov by TDR free VST plugin

Kotelnikov solves the unique problem of master bus compression. It helps tame transients and dynamics in a transparent way, giving it a very natural sound.

TDR Kotelnikov plugin interface
TDR Kotelnikov

This makes it great as a pre-limiting compressor, as it helps to control the mix before the limiter does all the hard work, allowing you to get a silky smooth yet well-balanced master.

Download Kotelnikov for free

LALA by Analog Obsession

This free plugin is an emulation of the famous Teletronix LA-2A optical limiter / compressor:

The free plugin LALA
The free plugin LALA

LALA is a classic compressor/limiter with 3 EQ options:

  • HPF: remove any unwanted low frequencies
  • MF +MG: set the sensitivity of LALA to mid frequencies
  • HF/Flat: set the sensitivity of LALA to high frequencies

With an LA-2A style compressor, you don’t get any controls things like attack and release. All you get is a Peak Reduction knob, and a Output Gain control.

LALA works great on anything that needs a bit of warmth, such as vocals or bass.

Download LALA for free here

STFU by Zeek

The STFU plugin is a free alternative to LFO Tool:

The free plugin STFU
The free plugin STFU

STFU is a free volume shaper plugin. You can use it to quickly sidechain your kick and bass for example. What’s more, you can automatically sync STFU to the project’s BPM or to be triggered by MIDI notes. and it’s always sample accurate.

And if that’s not enough, you can draw 2 different volume envelopes and morph between the two for weird results.

Download STFU for free

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Amp, Distortion and Saturation: The Best Free VST Plugins

It can be handy to have a variety of different distortion types at your disposal. From subtle saturation to destructive distortion, here’s a list of these free options.

Saturation Knob by Softube free VST plugin

This was one of the first free plugins I ever got, and it sounds great for gnarly distortion and subtle saturation alike:

Softube Saturation Knob plugin interface
Softube free VST plugin

Simply dial in the knob until you get the desired effect. Plus you can relegate it to the low end or high end of the frequency spectrum.

Download Saturation Knob for free

Freeamp by Klevgrand

In the vein of one-knob plugins comes Freeamp:

Klevgrand Freeamp plugin interface
Klevgrand Freeapm

This effect combines both tape and tube saturation to get a full-bodied sound.

you can then dial in to taste with the MIX knob. For a no frills, yet effective saturation unit, look no further.

Download Freeamp for free

Tubes Creamer by Mercuriall free VST plugin

Mercuriall are known for their solid guitar pedal effects, and the Tubes Creamer is one of their free options:

Mercuriall Tubes Creamer plugin interface
Tubes Creamer free VST

This particular VST plugin designed to model the TS808 guitar pedal.

It sounds really crunchy, which can be great for getting rough guitar-like tones out of anything. They also have some other great free pedals on their site, which you should check out.

Download Tubes Creamer for free

Blowdio by Integraudio

Fresh off the shelves is Blowdio, a multi-style saturation plugin by Integraudio:

Blowdio free saturation plugin
Blowdio

You’ve got 4 different modes, ranging from Vintage to Lofi, plus a ton of controls to adjust the warmth, drive and overall tone of your saturation.

Download Blowdio for free

CamelCrusher by Camel Audio free VST plugin

I’ll be honest – I still use this plugin on every tune I make:

Camel Audio CamelCrusher plugin interface
CamelCrusher

For some reason, it transforms anything into something huge and thick. Probably thanks to its combination of distortion, compression, and filtering.

Unfortunately, Camel Audio went under quite a few years ago and all of their stuff was acquired by Apple.

CamelCrusher is and was free, but it’s no longer updated. And many users report compatibility issues (the interface personally doesn’t load for me, but I can control it via Ableton).

Download CamelCrusher for free via AudioPluginsForFree

IVGI2 by Klanghelm

IVGI is one of the best saturation plugins for controlled buss saturation:

Klanghelm IVGI plugin interface
IVGI2 free VST plugin

I like to drive it a little bit and tweak the knobs to taste. Some of these include:

  • Asym Mix: manipulates the character of the saturation
  • Response: lets you alter the frequency response of the saturation

Sounds great on bass, drums, instruments or even the whole mix.

Download IVGI2 for free

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Krush by Tritik free VST plugin

Krush is less of a distortion plugin and more of a downsampler and bitcrusher with added saturation:

Tritik Krush plugin interface
The free VST plugin Krush

Similar to CamelCrusher, it’s the combination of included effects modules that make this plugin shine.

Simply dial in the amount of the 3 distortion types, and adjust the filter and modulations to taste.

Download Krush for free

Looking to learn more about saturation and distortion? We have a complete guide over here 🔥

Reverb and Delay: The Best Free VST Plugins

I’m a sucker for reverbs and delays because each can have its own characteristics. So here are some of the best free reverb plugins and delay VSTs, from simple echoes to mountainous reverbs.

ValhallaFreqEcho by ValhallaDSP

Freq Echo is a grossly underrated free delay VST:

Valhalla Freq Echo plugin interface
ValhallaFreqEcho free VST plugin

Not only does it sound nice and ‘stretchy’ out of the box, but the shift knob adds a nice frequency modulation.

Controls include:

  • shifting (controls the amount of frequency shift in the delay tail)
  • delay time
  • feedback
  • filtering

But don’t mistake this for ‘just another delay’. It’s not. Plus the longer feedback amounts are great for crunchy-driven sounds.

Download Freq Echo for free

Recommended: Pitch Shifting & Time Stretching – 9 Unique Tips

ValhallaSupermassive by ValhallaDSP

When Valhalla released this plugin at the start of lockdown last year, I was immediately hooked:

Valhalla Supermassive plugin interface
ValhallaSupermassive free VST plugin

This is a reverb, echo, delay, chorus and more all in one.

I can’t really give you a specific use case for it. But if you want trippy or spacey sounds, this is the plugin for you. I use it all the time for creating atmospheres.

Download Supermassive for free

Dimension Expander by Xfer Records

This little free VST plugin is modelled of NI Massive’s Dimension Expander effect:

Xfer Records Dimension Expander plugin interface
Dimension Expander free VST plugin

The Dimension Expander within Massive was a sought after sound for big leads and plucks.

It’s basically a very short slapback delay with a big reverb tail. Simple but effective. Control it with the size and dry/wet.

Download Dimension Expander for free on Splice

Protoverb by u-he

This is an interesting one – Protoverb functions off a randomized reverb model:

u-he Protoverb plugin interface
Protoverb free VST plugin

All you control is the dry/wet and the reverb decay time.

By randomizing the model and delays, you get a combination of crazy reverbs. Some can sound amazing. Other downright horrible. Up to you to find out 😅

Download Protoverb for free

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Reverb-2 by TAL

Yet another underrated reverb, TAL-Reverb-2 is a creamy free VST:

TAL-Reverb-2 plugin interface
TAL-Reverb free VST plugin

It sounds great if you’re going for ethereal or dreamy sounds.

It’s a plate reverb but just sounds so good – you’ll see what I mean.

Download TAL-Reverb-2 for free

OldSkoolVerb by Voxengo

Closing this section off with one last reverb is OldSkoolVerb:

OldSkoolVerb free VST plugin
OldSkoolVerb free VST plugin

Granted, the UI isn’t the most attractive. However, it does give you a great vintage sounding reverb. Its settings allow you to achieve either plate, room or even hall reverb tones.

You can even custom design your own reverb mode. Not bad for a free plugin, right?

Download OldSkoolVerb here

Chorus and Stereo: The Best Free VST Plugins

Getting full, wide, and fat mixes is truly an art form. And chorus in particular is probably one of my favorite audio effects. Let’s take a look.

Wider 2.0 by Polyverse

Given the importance of mono compatibility, stereo imagers have had to up their game:

Wider free VST plugin
Wider free VST plugin

Not only do they have to sound good, but preserving the mono signal is paramount.

That’s where Wider comes in. A simple knob allows you to widen the stereo image of any sound.

However, mono compatibility will always be guaranteed. In addition, a Low Bypass knob lets you control the frequencies affected.

Download Wider for free

Vocal Doubler by iZotope

In wide and lush mixes, a mono vocal can sound quite thin and out of place:

iZotope Vocal Doubler interface
Vocal Doubler free VST plugin

That’s why vocal doubling has become widespread. The result is a thick, moving vocal, without overdoing the stereo image.

Vocal Doubler allows you to blend the exact amount of the doubling effect that you want. You can also control the amount of pitch and stereo separation, plus any randomness you want to add via the variation knob.

Download Vocal Doubler for free

Magic Switch by Baby Audio

If you want instant chorus that sounds incredible on any sound, look no further:

Baby Audio Magic Switch interface
Magic Switch

The best thing about this free plugin is that all you have is a button and a mix knob.

The chorus sound in Magic Switch is warm, thick and vintage. It’s truly magic.

Download Magic Switch for free

Ozone Imager 2 by iZotope

Ozone Imager 2 is a free VST plugin version of the multi-band imager included in the full version of Ozone:

iZotope Ozone Imager 2 interface
The free plugin Ozone Imager

The only difference here is that there is only one band.

You control the level of the stereo signal with the width knob, but you can add a stereo effect to anything with the ‘Stereoize’ button. Simply enable it, select mode I or II (I tend to prefer I for drums, and 2 for subtle pad/lead widening), and dial the miliseconds amount to taste.

Download Ozone Imager 2 for free

TAL-Chorus-LX

If you can’t tell by now, I’m a huge fan of simple plugins:

TAL-Chorus-LX interface
TAL-Chorus-LX

The TAL-Chorus-LX is just that – a simple chorus plugin yet again modeled off the infamous Roland Juno-6.

This one extends the original functionality by allowing you to control the stereo width, as well as the dry/wet.

Download TAL-Chorus-LX for free

A1StereoControl by Alex Hilton

This is probably one of the most in-depth stereo shaping plugins out there, and it’s weirdly free:

Alex Hilton A1StereoControl interface
A1StereoControl free VST plugin

While it doesn’t ‘add’ any new stereo information to an existing signal, it’s great for shaping what’s already there.

You can do any number of stereo adjustments, including

  • mono-ing bass
  • increasing the volume of stereo information
  • swapping the left and right channels
  • inverting phase
  • changing pan laws
  • and more

I personnaly like to use it on my master to add that little bit of width.

Download A1StereoControl for free

Recommended: How To Use Chorus, Phasers & Flangers

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Other Effects: The Best Free VST Plugins

Sometimes you just need a certain tool for a certain job. These weird and wonderful free VST plugins may do just that for you.

Pancake 2 by Cableguys

This is one of those great creative plugins that you can load up and see what happens:

Cableguys Pancake 2 interface
Pancake 2 free VST plugin

In a nutshell, Pancake 2 applies manually-drawn pan curves to a sound over a specified period of time. This is great for adding stereo interest to any sound.

Download Pancake 2 for free

iZotope Vinyl

Something about old vinyl can make a sound feel nostalgic and dusty:

iZotope Vinyl interface
iZotope Vinyl free VST plugin

Luckily for you, that no longer requires you to press a record, play it on repeat and wait 50 years.

iZotope Vinyl allows you to choose the era of record, plus dial in the amount of gain, dust and scratch and any surface noise you’d find on a regular vinyl record.

Download Vinyl for free

A1TriggerGate by Alex Hilton

Alex Hilton delivers again with A1TriggerGate, one of my favorite free plugins:

Alex Hilton A1TriggerGate interface
A1TriggerGate free VST plugin

A1TriggerGate is a MIDI-triggered ADSR envelope/noise gate plugin that you can apply on any sound to get fun rhythmic effects.

One classic examples is the trance-gate effect that you hear on a lot of modern techno tracks.

Personally, I love to pull up any of the presets and see what works – there’s always something you can use.

Download A1TriggerGate for free

Hysteresis/Fracture by Glitchmachines

I’ve put both Hysteresis and Fracture in the one listing as I feel they are quite similar and are great companions:

Both are designed to create nice glitchy effects through advanced modulation and routing. Honestly, you’re best just to check them out and see what they do.

Download Hysteresis / Download Fracture

Span by Voxengo

If you’ve ever watched a YouTube tutorial, you’ve probably seen Span being used at some point:

Voxengo Span
Voxengo SPAN free VST plugin

This is because it’s a solid option for a spectrum analyzer and gives you all the information you need. Honestly, it’s a must-have for pre-mastering and mastering. I especially like the correlation meter to ensure mono-compatibility of my mixes.

Download Span for free

Loudness Meter 2 Free by Youlean

Another MUST if you’re mastering your own tracks:

Youlean Loudness Meter 2
Youlean Loudness Meter

If you want a modern tool to measure your LUFS, then this is your best bet. It safely sits at the end of my master buss for every tune I make.

It gives you the short term and integrated values, as well as other helpful measurements like your loudness range, dynamics, and max/min LUFS.

Download Youlean Loudness Meter 2 for free

MAutoPitch by Melda Production

Sometimes, you just need to quickly tune some vocals without messing with each individual syllable. This is where MAutoPitch comes in:

The free plugin MAutoPitch
The free plugin MAutoPitch

For a free plugin, MAutoPitch gives you a surprising amount of control. The most important one is the scale mode. Simply select the key of your track (let’s say G# Minor), and MAutoPitch will automatically pitch every note it detects to the closest note of that scale.

You also get Depth and Speed knob which control the intensity of the tuning.

Finally, the effects section allows you to shift the formant, adjust the Dry/Wet amount as well as add some stereo widening.

Download MAutoPitch for free

Pitchproof by Aegean Music

Following on the previous plugin, what if you quickly want to add some harmonies to a vocal? But you don’t have the original vocal on hand? Enter the free plugin Pitchproof:

Free plugin Pitchproof
Free plugin Pitchproof

Pitchproof lets you select the key of your vocal, and then automatically generates a harmony of your choice. Let’s hear it in action:

Raw vocal
Adding a minor 3rd
Adding a 5th harmony

Clearly, Pitchproof won’t replace an actual singer singing a harmony. But for heavily processed vocals, it’s a great way to add a bit of density and interest.

Download Pitchproof for free

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s(M)exoscope

I haven’t yet found even a paid version of a plugin that can do what s(M)exoscope does:

s(M)exoscope interface
s(M)exoscope free VST plugin

It’s a great waveform analyzer that allows you to see exactly how your mix and master translates.

You can use the ‘Time’ and ‘Amp’ knobs to zoom in and out, allowing you to see all the detail you’ll need.

Download s(M)exoscope for free

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Plugin Bundles: The Best Free VST Plugins

These bundles feature a number of different effects, instruments, and synths that can help you level up your music production game at no cost.

Although many bundles feature too many superfluous plugins, these ones don’t.

MFreeFXBundle by MeldaProduction

The MeldaProduction bundle is quite possibly my favorite free FX bundle out there:

MeldaProduction MFreeFXBundle examples
The MeldaProduction FX bundle

From waveshaping to vibrato to auto-tune, these plugins are a great addition to your arsenal.

Most of these are top quality plugins. You’ll see them recommended by a lot of top YouTubers. They also all share a similar user interface, so once you understand one the rest will be easy to navigate.

Download the MFreeFXBundle for free

Kilohearts Essentials

Kilohearts is mostly known for its ground-breaking modular synth PhasePlant. However, each effect of PhasePlant can also be used as a separate VST effect:

The Kilohearts Essential bundle
The Kilohearts Essential bundle

Inside this amazing you get a whopping 32 effects, including:

  • Different types of EQ and filters
  • Gating effects
  • Chorus, Flangers and Phasers
  • Bitcrushing
  • And more!

A lot of these effects come with a minimal amount of dials. But sometimes, simpler is just better. And in this case, I can whole-heartedly recommend each of these.

Downalod Kilohearts Essentials for free

Komplete Start by Native Instruments

Keyboards, samples, synths, and FX – Komplete Start is a healthy introduction to the world of Komplete, and music production in general:

Komplete Start
Native Instruments Komplete Start bundle

Included in the package are plugins like the Native Instruments Kontakt Player, Reaktor Player and Guitar Rig player – 3 lite versions of their powerhouse devices. You’ll also get a lot of libraries for all 3 of those players – including Hybrid Keys, Analog Dreams, and more.

Download Komplete Start for free

T-Racks 5 CS by IK Multimedia

The T-Racks 5 Custom Shop is a collection of IK Multimedia’s free plugins, but more than that it’s a gateway into their world of great plugins:

IK Multimedia T-Racks 5 CS
T-Racks 5 CS

The benefit of the Custom Shop is that you get a couple of free plugins (the Classic Equalizer and the metering section) but also demo and purchase all of their other paid plugins in the same interface.

Download the T-Racks 5 Custom Shop for free

Some Final Thoughts on Free VST Plugins

There are some amazing options in this list that might be exactly what you’re looking for. But hold up before you go plugin-crazy.

There are 3 things you should consider before diving in.

#1: Don’t get EVERY SINGLE free VST plugin

There are 51 plugins on this list, and chances are you currently know how to use zero of them.

Each plugin you add to your library should be something you intend on at least solving an issue you’ve come across.

Otherwise there’s no point to downloading them.

#2: Free VST plugins are not better than paid ones

On this list there are many plugins that compete on the same level as many of the paid options out there.

But that doesn’t mean you should assume the free versions are better. Sometimes a high-quality paid plugin can be far more useful & save a lot more time.

#3: Updates of free VST plugins are not guaranteed

Let me be transparent – a lot of these free plugins come from hobbyists or small companies. They don’t have huge budgets and infinite time.

So, this means that updates are likely to trickle through a lot slower, or could stop at any time.

If you become overly reliant on any free VST plugin and they stop updates, it could prove frustrating for your workflow.

Check out this video where I explore this problem more in detail:

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