It was a lot of change in 10 years. The 2010s can be remembered as the decade when music production really became available for anyone. The workstation was democratized and this was the first step to a creative revolution. Tons of plugins and other adjacent music software appeared, also the freeware segment became solid – meaning more power to producers. In the following, let’s take a look at the 31 best free VST plugins of the 2010s.
- T-Force Alpha Plus
- MT Power Drum Kit
- FAT Filter
- Tube Saturator Vintage
- Tunefish 4
- TDR Kotelnikov
- Kee Bass
- VK-1 Viking Synthesizer
- Synth 1
TAL-Noisemaker is an analogue/subtractive synthesizer with three oscillators and 2 LFOs. It includes a small effect section with a reverb, chorus, and a simple bit crusher effect. The features include filter & volume ADSRs, 4 self resonating oversampled filters, portamento in mono and poly mode and MIDI learn for all knobs.
More information: TAL Software
TyrellN6 is a compact, sporty synth. Based on concepts and ideas for a hardware synth: a few modules, novel features, analogue sound and low-cost. TyrellN6 is the software version manifestation of these ideas. Virtual analogue with classic architecture: 2 oscillators, noise, ring modulator, 2 LFOs with 8 waveforms, host-syncable.
More information: Amazona
Krush is a free bitcrusher plugin that 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 colours, with all the classic and weirdest bit-crushing effects in between.
More information: Tritik
Charlatan is a polyphonic, subtractive virtual analog (VA) synthesizer plugin with focus on sound quality and easy usability. It comes with a flexible, yet not overwhelming feature set which encourages artists to start tweaking instead of just relying on presets.
More information: BlauKraut Engineering
T-Force Alpha Plus
T-Force Alpha Plus is a subtractive/FM synthesizer with 3 multi-wave oscillators + 1 separate noise OSC, ADSRs for filter, amp & mod envelopes, adjustable drive function for saturation/distortion, two-band low freq/high freq equalizer, bit crusher, portamento and many more.
Sforzando is a free SFZ sample player, by far the best. It has become an important tool for many developers of commercial or free libraries. It has a powerful engine, it is simple to use and very flexible. There are already a lot of free SFZ libraries specifically built for Sforzando, you can take a look here.
More information: Plogue
Podolski is a free, straightforward, CPU-efficient virtual analogue synthesizer. Under its hood: one oscillator, one filter, one envelope and an arpeggiator/sequencer. It is simple, but allows creating high-quality sounds with ease.
More information: u-he
A1TriggerGate is a “sequenced gate” plugin to chop up any incoming audio signal. It is a well-known effect in electronic music and sometimes also known as the “Trance Gate” effect. A1TriggerGate features sequenced gate, 8 patterns, 4 beats, triplet mode and internal FX module.
More information: A1 Audio
VSTSID emulates the arpeggiated Commodore 64 sound. All module parameters are fully automatable for maximum flexibility. To get the archetypical Commodore 64 sound, VSTSID will arpeggiate chords when playing 3 or more notes simultaneously. The arpeggiators’ speed is synced to the tempo of the host for rock-solid patterns.
More information: Igorski
DC1A compressor plugin is the little brother of DC8C, another plugin (commercial) by Klanghelm. A few settings from DC8C and were comprised in a two control context. Sound-wise it’s comparable to the PUNCH mode in DC8C but offers a few additional features, such as negative ratio and stereo unlink.
More information: Klanghelm
MauSynth is a polyphonic analog-modeling subtractive synthesizer VST plugin with two band-limited oscillators, zero-delay feedback filter and audio-rate modulation. It sports a user-friendly interface with two optional skins.
More information: Pekka Kauppila
MT Power Drum Kit
MT Power Drum Kit is a free drum sampler offering the powerful, high-quality sounds of an acoustic, realistic drum kit. It differs from other expensive drum samplers in that the sounds are already pre-processed with compressors and EQs to make them a perfect fit for any mix.
More information: Manda Audio
FAT Filter is a free analog-style HP/LP filter by SoundSpot. It has only two knobs (cutoff and resonance) and a selector for low-pass and high-pass filtering modes. The developer says it is built using an ever-popular analogue modeled algorithm. If offers super smooth transitions, whilst being CPU friendly.
More information: SoundSpot
HY-Mono is a monophonic synthesizer emulating the structure of Oberheim SEM. It comes with 2 oscillators and sub/noise, a state variable filter, 2 envelope generators, 1 LFO and built-in effects (delay, drive and limiter).
More information: HY-Plugins
LABS is Spitfire Audio’s proprietary app (standalone and plugin) for freeware libraries. Launched in 2018, LABS already gathered an interesting collection of libraries, including strings, pianos, bells and much more. Also, each month a new instrument is added.
More information: Spitfire Audio
Tube Saturator Vintage
Tube Saturator Vintage is a free reissue of the original Tube Saturator. It uses circuit simulation technology to faithfully reproduce the sound of a dual triode preamp. Use Tube Saturator to add a bit of analog warmth to recordings, or increase the drive for some distortion. You can use it as a saturating peak limiter too.
More information: Wave Arts
Tunefish 4 is an additive/wavetable synth. It was developed as a smaller replacement of Tunefish 3 with roughly the same power, it is however not compatible and uses different synthesis algorithms. It was developed for the 64k intro “Turtles all the way down” by demoscene group Brain Control and is available as VST/AU.
More information: Tunefish Synth
Beat Zampler is a freeware sampler workstation based on Synapse Audio’s Dune synthesizer plugin. It loads SFZ patches and imports REX loops and comes with additional features such as multi-mode filter, three LFOs, three ADSR envelopes, and a complex modulation matrix. As content, you can download 9 high-quality libraries specifically built for Zampler.
More information: Beat Zampler
OTT is a re-creation of a popular aggressive multiband upwards / downwards compressor setting used by many dubstep and electro producers. It features depth control to scale the amount of compression, time control to scale the attack/release times of all bands, Input and Output gain controls, as well as a visual display of input and gain reduction over the low/mid/high bands.
More information: Xfer Records
Lynx is a subtractive synth with a powerful Wave Editor, Drawable Waveforms and two Stacked Unison Oscillators. It is meant to have a limited set of features but still allowing for a lot of variety in sound.
More information: Xenobioz
TAL-Reverb-4 is a high-quality plate reverb with a vintage 80’s character. It is the standalone version of the high-quality reverb implemented in TAL-Sampler. The sound is very diffuse, with a fast build-up time, and TAL describes it as a “modulated vintage reverb sound”.
More information: TAL Software
Dexed is a multi-platform, multi-format plugin synth that is closely modeled on the Yamaha DX7. Dexed is also a MIDI cartridge librarian/manager for the DX7. It features 144 DAW automatable DX7 parameters available from one single panel.
More information: Dexed Project
TDR Kotelnikov is a wideband dynamics processor combining high fidelity dynamic range control with deep musical flexibility. With a sonic signature best described as “stealthy”, Kotelnikov has the ability to manipulate the dynamic range by dramatic amounts, while carefully preserving the original tone, timbre and punch of a musical signal. As such, it is perfectly suited to stereo bus compression as well as other critical applications.
More information: Tokyo Dawn Records
Helm is a free, cross-platform, polyphonic synthesizer with powerful modulation. Helm is open source and you are free to run it anywhere, study and change the source code, and redistribute exact or modified copies of Helm.
More information: Matt Tytel
The Mono/Fury is a virtual instrument simulating the classic KORG Mono/Poly analog synthesizer of the early 1980s. It is written in native C++ code for high performance even on “lighter” systems.
More information: Full Bucket Music
Multiply is a 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. The effect can be used to simulate the effect of several performers playing the same tones simultaneously, to widen the spatial image or to create special effects for sound design.
More information: Acon Digital
Kee Bass is a faithful emulation of one of the first monophonic string bass simulators, the Rheem Kee Bass. It is based on the original electronic schema and an actual physical Kee Bass (no sampling). It brings a few modern features to make it more versatile and unique, such as an extended range, a filter, and modulation.
More information: Martinic
Riviera is a hybrid algorithmic-convolution reverb plugin for modeling specular acoustic reflections in N-dimensional orthotopes. e.g. string, plate, room, tesseract, and up (vooms or volume+room for short).
More information: NuSpace Audio
OB-Xd is a virtual synthesizer based on the Oberheim OB-X. It attempts to recreate its sound and behavior, but as the original was very limited in some important ways a number of things were added or altered to the original design. The OB-Xd was designed to sound as good and as rich as the original. It implements micro random detuning which is a big part of that sound.
More information: discoDSP
VK-1 Viking Synthesizer
VK-1 Viking Synthesizer is an authentic emulation of a classic monophonic analog synthesizer. It has three continuously variable wave oscillators, two ladder filters with a Dual Lowpass or Highpass/Lowpass configuration, a multi-wave LFO, and two modulation busses. VK-1 uses state of the art DSP technology to accurately reproduce the sound of the hardware.
More information: Blamsoft
Synth1 is a software synthesizer modeled on the Clavia Nord Lead 2 Red Synth. It has 2 OSC, FM modulation, ring modulation, sync, modulation envelope, 4 types of filters, distortion. It also features 2 LFOs and an arpeggiator, both sections synchronizable with the host. Synth1 benefits by a very large fan base, hence the immense collection of soundbanks designed for it.
More information: Daichi Laboratory
Please note, this is not a chart, it is just a list of the best free VST plugins from the 2010s. If you have more suggestions, please use the comment form below and let us know.
We wish you a happy new year!