Glitch VST Plugins: 7 Free and Paid Options for Insane Effects 🔥

glitch vst plugins

Glitch VST plugins are a must-have in any producer toolkit.

Although Glitch is its own music genre, glitch effects can be used in any genre.

In particular, glitch effects work wonders for creating new, exciting transitions. But they can also work to create interesting layers to your main sounds.

So in this guide, we are going to cover our favorite glitch VST plugins! I’ve included both paid and free options here, so hopefully you find something you like 🙏

Without further ado, let’s jump straight in 👇

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What is a Glitch VST? 🤔

A Glitch plugin is essentially something that destroys your sound 😅

The idea is generally to combine multiple effects to create weird, distorted sounds. Common effects to achieve this include:

Any glitch VST plugin might combine a number of these effects. And the best ones will allow you to modulate them even further with automation.

It’s definitely possible to achieve some of these effects with a combination of stock plugins. But dedicated glitch plugins make it much easier (and faster) to generate cool, unexpected sounds.

Don’t want to bother with a bunch of text? 😅 Check out our latest video then 👇

Our 7 Favorite Glitch VST Plugins 👇

Now that we know what a glitch plugin does, let’s dive into the meat of this article. Here are my (personal) 7 favorite glitch VST plugins!

Glitch 2 by Illformed

Illformed has probably designed the GOAT Glitch VST plugin:

The Glitch2 glitch VST plugin
The Glitch2 glitch VST plugin

At first glance, it almost looks more like a Piano Roll. So let’s go over some of the features together.

Glitch2 offers 10 different glitch effects. Each one is color-coded, and has its own “Amount” knob:

10 effects are available in this glitch VST
10 effects are available in this glitch VST

Let’s listen to some individual examples to hear what they sound like:

Retrigger effect
LoFi effect
Stretcher effect

In all of those examples, I am triggering the effect on the 4th beat. This is controlled in the Sequencer:

Triggering a Stretcher effect on every 4th beat

In my opinion, this is where the true magic of this glitch VST lies. Not only can you trigger specific effects, but you can alternate between effects. You can even combine effects together into specific sequences!

In this example, I am combining the Lofi and Gater effect every 2 bars:

Combining 2 effects together

Using Scenes

But it goes even one step further! Each sequence you create is saved as a “Scene”. Each scene can then be directly triggered via your MIDI keyboard or controller:

This specific sequence is saved under Scene 3, triggered by the note D0
This specific sequence is saved under Scene 3, triggered by the note D0

This means this glitch VST is perfect for live performances as well as the studio. It also features controls for each effect. You can dial in precisely the amount as well as custom parameters for each effect:

The custom parameters for the Lofi effect

Finally, for each effect, you get a filter which can be switched between 4 modes:

  • Low-pass
  • Band-pass
  • High-pass
  • Band-stop

The most common use of this glitch VST is to create cool transitions. However, thanks to its great versatility, you can also use it to process sounds. You could for example create an echo layer to a vocal that is heavily processed and degraded.

Buy or try out Glitch 2 here

Kilohearts Plugin Suite (FREE)

We’ve talked about Kilohearts here before, and especially their standout synth Phase Plant.

However, Kilohearts also offers a range of FREE plugins (👀), including some glitchy ones:

The Kilohearts free plugins
The Kilohearts free plugins

All-in-all, Kilohearts offers 30 plugins (which they call Snapins) for free!

Some of those work particularly well as glitch VSTs. Here are some of my personal favorites.

Reverser

This is a simple glitch VST that will reverse any sound you put through it:

Reverser glitch VST
Reverser glitch VST

Listen to what it sounds like as I increase the “Mix” knob:

Applying some reverse effect

Using the “Mix” knob, you can subtly dial in some reverse echo. Or you can turn it to 100% to only hear the reversed signal. You also have the option to tempo-sync the effect to different beats. Or you can set it directly in ms.

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Tape Stop

This is a simple effect that re-creates a tape slowing down:

Tape Stop glitch VST
Tape Stop glitch VST

Using the “Stop Time”, you control how fast the “slowing down” occurs.

In this example, I’ve set it to 1.6s (which is quite long):

Applying a long tape stop effect

Pro-tip: Try recording, then reversing a tape stop effect. This is a really effective way to create an intro to your song!

Creating an intro with a reverse tape stop effect

Pitch Shifter

Finally, Pitch Shifter by Kilohearts is another great plugin to create glitch effects:

kHs Pitch Shifter glitch VST
kHs Pitch Shifter

To create a glitchy sound, set the Grain Size to maximum, and automate the pitch. You can also automate the Mix to fade in the effect.

Here is what it sounds like:

Adding a glitch effect to a beat

In this example, I’ve also added the kHs Trance Gate plugin to add a bit of movement:

kHs Trance Gate glitch VST
kHs Trance Gate

If you want a deeper dive into the world of Kilohearts, check out our extensive guide here 🔥

Download the whole suite of free Kilohearts plugins here

dBlue Stretch Glitch VST (FREE)

Another really cool plugin that is free is Stretch by dBlue:

dBlue Stretch glitch VST
dBlue Stretch

dBlue is actually the same person as Illformed, i.e. the guy behind Glitch2.

On his website, you’ll find the old legacy plugins for free such as Stretch, Crusher, and TapeStop. These were the previous building blocks to creating the Glitch2 plugin.

Note however that these plugins only work with Windows, and are no longer maintained.

My favorite one to use is the Stretch effect. This is what it can sound like:

Stretch effect

Several parameters let you control the length and speed of the stretching. “Grain Size” in particular lets you adjust the number of samples, creating a “slower” or “faster” effect. The “Crossfade” knob smooths out the Attack to avoid any clicks:

Adjusting the glitch effect
Adjusting the glitch effect

You can also activate the “Hold” function. This acts a bit like a “freeze” button on certain reverb effects. Using this effect can be really useful to create soundscapes and atmospheres.

In this example, I’m playing with the Hold knob to freeze different points. I am then adding reverb and changing the Grain Size through my MIDI keyboard:

Creating weird soundscapes

Download the dBlue plugins here

Digitalis by Aberrant DSP

Let me present to you a wonderfully weird plugin:

Digitalis glitch VST
Digitalis glitch VST

The first thing that strikes you is the interface. Although it might look off-putting at first, it’s actually a lot of fun to play with.

The overall look is borrowed from the old Mac days. It features 3 central processing units:

  1. Data
  2. Corruption
  3. Time
The Digitalis glitch VST
The Digitalis glitch VST

The Data section first allows you to filter the sound in new creative ways. Don’t believe me? Start drawing a picture and see how it affects your sound 👍 You can also load custom images here to create unexpected filtering.

The Data section also has a Pitch part. This includes controls such as Pitch shifting, Formant shifting, and more.

Next is the Corruption section. This is where you can degrade your sound. Some of the degradation effects include:

  • Decimation (this will destroy your sound 😅)
  • Bitcrushing with multiple different modes
  • Bitrot, which emulates old digital media corruption

Finally, the Time section can create some cool glitchy effects. The Rythm Glitch and Pitch Glitch controls in particular will add chaos to your sounds.

You also have your very own step sequencer:

The Digitalis Step Sequencer
The Digitalis Step Sequencer

This opens up endless possibilities to create rhythmic sequences with multiple effects.

One last thing to mention is that you can re-arrange the order of the 3 processing units 😊

Buy or try out Digitalis here

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I Wish by Polyverse

We’ve talked about Polyverse before in our in-depth guide to Wider. I Wish is another must-have plugin by the same company:

I Wish glitch VST
Polyverse “I Wish “

I Wish is a unique tool that allows you to “pitch-freeze” anything you feed it. This then creates amazing stutter effects or robotic sounds.

Here’s what it sounds like on Drums:

I Wish on some drums

And here’s what you can create with vocals:

I Wish on vocals

What makes I Wish unique is the way you interact with it. Basically, you feed it audio, then play notes on your keyboard to pitch-freeze. This means you can instantly transform any sound source into a synth!

Check out these videos here to set it up in Ableton Live, FL Studio or Logic.

Let’s quickly go over its interface. At the top, you’ve got the Pitch and Formant controls:

Pitch and Formant controls
Pitch and Formant controls

Next are the LFO and Envelope modules. These let you add movement by controlling either the Pitch or the Formant. In this example, I’ve turned the Pitch Envelope all the way up to 24 semitones:

Pitch Envelope
Pitch Envelope

This is what it sounds like:

Using the Pitch Envelope

Here, I am transforming the vocal into a synth. However, you can also use I Wish for glitchy transitions!

For this, try setting the LFO shape to random, and modulating both the Pitch and Formant:

Setting LFO to random
Setting LFO to random

Buy or try out I Wish here

Stutter Edit 2 Glitch VST by Izotope

Stutter Edit 2 is the upgrade to Izotope’s 2011 Stutter plugin:

The Stutter Edit 2 glitch VST
The Stutter Edit 2 glitch VST

Stutter Edit 2 works through two main controls: Buffer and Stutter. These controls cut the audio into small slices and play them back at various speeds:

  • Stutter controls how many slices are played back
  • Buffer controls which section of the incoming audio is played back

Stutter Edit 2 also includes a range of effects to process your sound further. These include:

List of effects in Stutter Edit 2
List of effects in Stutter Edit 2

A brand new feature of this V2 is the Time Variant Modifiers.

This is a fancy way of saying you can draw custom automation within the plugin. You can think of it as an advanced LFO module. Assign the envelope to any parameter you want within Stutter Edit 2, then draw a shape. This will instantly create moving effects.

Finally, each plugin preset you create is called a “Gesture”. Different gestures can be triggered directly with your MIDI keyboard. This makes it a perfect tool to jam in your studio or for live performances.

Buy or try out Stutter Edit 2 here

Fracture by Glitchmachines (FREE)

Fracture is a glitch-dedicated plugin. And it’s free 😍

Fracture glitch VST
Fracture glitch VST

For a free plugin, the possibilities of this plugin are mind-blowing.

Here are a few examples of a drum beat:

Fracture features 3 main processing units:

  • Buffer
  • Filter
  • Delay

The signal chain can be arranged through the main settings icon:

Re-arranging the signal chain
Re-arranging the signal chain

Like with most glitch VST plugins, the buffer controls the size and repetition of the slices. Delay controls how fast those slices are played back. Finally, the Filter can be set to Low-Pass, High-Pass, Band-Pass, and Band-Reject.

However, where Fracture truly shines is the modulation section. Each effect features its own LFO envelope, which can control any parameter of that effect:

LFO section of Fracture
LFO section of Fracture

Each LFO has 3 main controls:

  • Rate: the speed at which the LFO oscillates (beat division or ms)
  • Sync: Set the LFO to the tempo of your project
  • Wave: Choose the shape of your LFO (Sine, Square, Saw Up, Saw Down, Triangle, Sample and Hold, or Smooth Random)

If this sounds a bit confusing to you, make sure to check out our full guide on LFOs 😉

To assign an LFO to a parameter, simply turn the associated knob. In this example, the LFO is controlling the cutoff of my low-pass filter:

Controlling the filter cutoff with an LFO
Controlling the filter cutoff with an LFO

And this is what it sounds like:

Filter cutoff automation

Need one more reason to download this free plugin? The list of presets is HUGE 😍 It’s literally got everything you need to start creating insane glitchy transitions.

Download Fracture here

Get the headstart you need in music production with our EDM Starter Kit 🎛️

Get our collection of high-quality presets, samples and PDF guides – suitable for all genres of electronic music 👇

That’s It For This Guide on the Best Glitch VST Plugins!

That’s a wrap for this guide on our favorite glitch VST plugins! I hope you found it interesting and were inspired to create weird, twisted sounds 😈

Did I miss out on anything? What is your favorite glitch VST plugin? Let me know over at [email protected]

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