Free VST Plugins are the bread and butter of our electronic studio. VST stands for Virtual Studio Technologies, and essentially these are the software versions of our hardware friends, which reside in the worlds best studios, and are generally out of reach for the up-and-coming musician.
Without these virtual instruments, synthesizers, and audio effects, we would be restricted to using samples for all of our audio content, and also would be forced to rely on whichever plugins and synths come stock, which would lead to a massive reduction in the creative possibilities available to the producer in the modern era. These Free VST Plugins open up entirely new possibilities to what sounds can be made and replicated!
There are so many incredible free VST Plugins out there, so we had to focus on the best few. We have included several different types of plugins in our list to make sure you have a diverse range of new tools at your disposal the next time you want to hit the studio!
Firstly we have our software synths, or soft synths. Examples of paid versions of these include the ever popular Serum by Xfer Records, and then of course every bass music producers favorite, Massive by Native Instruments. These are the virtual synthesizers and sound modules that give the electronic music producer the power of virtually unlimited creativity, and unmatched portability.
Our second type of plugins are our Audio Effects. An audio effect plugin is any plugin that manipulates sound, and is placed after the audio source in the signal chain. Paid examples of these include Valhalla Room, an extremely flexible and clean reverb plugin, as well as a personal favorite, the Waves SSL Collection, which is a flawless suite of compressors and EQ’s modeled after the famous SSL and SSL-G mixing consoles.
Hopefully this background helps give some necessary context in regard to the wide world of plugins. Now that you are familiar with these different types of VST’s, you will hopefully be able to better identify what you need to help move your next project forwards!
Here is the list:
- Camel Crusher – This workhorse of a plugin is one of the best known, and simplest distortion effects units available. This plugin is perfect for adding raw grit to a lead, and even some subtle harmonics to a mellow bassline. The “British Clean” preset is particularly powerful, and can used to add some pristine tube-style warmth to your sounds.
- Xfer Records OTT – Xfer Records, the makers of Serum, have released their version of one of Ableton’s most popular compressor presets. This is an aggressive upwards/ downwards multi-band effects unit, which is favored by many dubstep and electro producers for its special aesthetic. It is ideally used to add a unique range of harmonics and distortion bass lines, and to overall assist in making track elements richer, and hotter.
- TyrellN6 – This is a software synth modeled to sound similar to the iconic Roland Juno, and is a perfect multipurpose polyphonic synth to have in your collection.
- Helm – This is a powerful synthesizer which is designed to be at the helm of your productions. When just starting out, buying soft synths, on top of a daw, can be an expensive undertaking, so use this plugin to get unique and powerful sounds, right from the get go.
- Dimension Expander – Also made by Xfer Records, this plugin is modeled after a chorus, and expansion unit from the 1980’s and is a unique and powerful way to manipulate the stereo image of your songs elements.
- Ambience Reverb – This is a powerful reverb plugin which truly rivals many other free, and for purchase options on the market. A solid reverb is an essential studio tool, which makes this excellent plugin not to overlook.
- BC Triple EQ 4 – A detailed graphic EQ is essential to manipulating your tracks sounds, and even more important for achieving a clean, and proper mix down. This EQ is somewhat reminiscent of Fabfilter’s popular Pro-Q, which ultimately says it all.
- RoughRider – This is an excellent compressor unit which can be used to add some pump, and warmth to your entire track, or specific elements. Try this compressor just on the kick, and be amazed with how it will help your kick cut through the mix.
- LoudMax Limiter – When mastering, a solid limiting plugin is the only true way to achieve maximum loudness without peaking. Instead of using the stock limiter in your DAW of choice, try this on your mastering chain and be surprised at the heat you can get out of your track!
- Piano One – An often overlooked, but essential sound to dance music is the piano. This is an impeccably recorded sampled instrument is built from recordings of a Yamaha C7 Concert Grand. This plugin is a true winner, and an absolute must have.
Finding free vst plugins to take advantage of isn’t the only way you can improve your productions either! I find experimenting with edm sample packs or incorporating vocal chops (either with a melody or looping) can also really enhance the overall quality over your music. The important part is to not copy & paste however where I think a lot of people get it wrong.
To truly make music that will stand out, you need to do things that stand out. Meaning you need to experiment in ways other people are not willing to. Create new genre’s others are not doing. Make your sound unique so that they can only come to you for that sound. If there are already tens of thousand’s of producers making a specific genre, what will make people want to listen to your music? Give them a sound that they can only find within your productions and you’ll have some hardcore fans on your hands.
Hopefully in this free vst plugin list, you will come across something you truly need. Constantly updating plugins is essential to keeping your productions current and diverse, so this list is a great place to start!
Good luck, and happy producing!