Best VST Plugins
We can help you choose the best plugins for your creative digital audio needs.
This is the most comprehensive guide to the Best VST plugins online.
In this 101 guide you will get acquainted with different types of vst plugins:
...and if you want to know which plugins are solid workhorses, you can click the links in the description.
Whether you are into composing or mixing, plugins deliver convenience like:
- Emulate Analog Hardware
- Customize rich, incredible sound right inside the DAW
- Digital signal processing
- Cost-effective (free to moderately-priced and expensive option)
Their convenience, accessibility, and relative affordability explain the continued preference by amateurs and professionals alike.
If you are tired of searching around for useful quality plugins, this is worth your time.
Let's dive in.
Choose type of plugin
Also referred simply as VSTfx, effect plugins function as popular studio effects units. They are utilized to process audio signals to more desirable forms.
Unlike VST instruments, they do not produce audio internally; instead, they transform and adjust any incoming sounds.
For instance, you could use effect VST plugins to streamline frequencies in vocals or even optimize the pitch of a track and so on.
For every audio effect hardware, there is a matching VST alternative.
So effect VST plugins work just like typical hardware audio processors such as reverbs, delays, and EQ.
Again, they can be used in real-time (though not always) to change how audio sounds are heard or generated periodically to give specifically fancied results.
That said, let’s take another step further and look at the various effect VST Plugins.
EQ VST Plugins
EQ VST plugins are digital controls that give users the power to adjust the frequency of audio signals.
You can employ them, cut or shape incoming sounds in a linear fashion to suit your project demands.
In reality, there are different types of EQ plugins. As such, their use and effectiveness varies depending on equalizing requirements at hand.
All the same, it takes simple adjustments to customize and shape sounds to your exact needs.
EQ plugins have multiple filters, including high and low pass filters which boosts or cuts off higher and lower frequencies beyond set limits.
In a nutshell, they offer the power to help you cut out or make frequencies softer or louder much to your satisfaction.
Check out the best EQ plugins
Compressor VST Plugins
Just like their name suggests, VST compressor plugins are tools used to react to audio signals by condensing or decreasing the difference between loud and quiet sounds.
Unlike EQ, the effects are non-linear and acts by reducing the range of incoming sounds dynamically.
When it comes to how they are used, that depends on programming considering there are various types available.
As a standard, usually compressor plugins have six adjustment controls, namely threshold, ratio, attack, release, knee, and makeup gain. Each determines a particular aspect of sound signals compression.
Among other things they take care of the loudness, how much sound, and how long it takes to start or stop compressing after detecting volume peaks above or below set limits.
Application of compressor plugins translates to boosting of quieter parts of sound and attenuation of louder ones.
You could use them to lower the measure of loud peaks or evening out notes that stand out in a mix. This makes it possible to gain and enjoy sound with more punch near effortlessly.
Check out the best Compressor plugins
Reverb VST Plugins
Reverb VST plugins are digital tools used to create reflections or mimic the space where an instrument plays.
You may be wondering how this works.
Well, the plugins compute ideal delay, level, and response frequency and algorithmically generate echoes, ideally simulating certain natural settings.
Here is more, standard reverb VST plugins have reverb time, pre-delay, size, shape, and dry/cum controls.
They are applied to determine the timeline of ambience, period before you hear initial reflections, size, outline of mimicked space, and whether or not you get to hear the audio signal with ambiance respectively.
In real applications, you can use reverbs to sustain a sound, shape or create a mood of an instrument.
Depending on the specific digital reverb plugin at your disposal, you can also utilize them to give fullness and depth, not to mention smoothening out hiccups on sounds.
Check out the best Reverb plugins
Delay VST Plugins
Delays are VST effect plugins that records audio signal and replays the same after a set period of time until it fades out.
The plugins offers multiple possibilities and can therefore be applied in different ways to get certain effects on sounds. In most circumstances they form the foundation for other effects.
Every delay plugin will typically have dry/wet, delay time and feedback controls.
The dry/wet dictate whether you will hear the original audio signal with repetitions or repetitions only.
Similarly, delay time control provides for determination of timelines between replays while feedback regulates how long repetitions will keep going on.
You can use delay VST plugins to get sounds such as echoes that slacks off overtime or in achieving repeated effects that add extra layers to a recording.
Check out the best Delay plugins
Filter VST Plugins
Filters are VST effect plugins that helps tune frequencies over or below pre-determined limit otherwise known as cutoff frequency. In some way they work like EQ’s only that they have multiple bands to operate on.
Coupled with other parameters and settings, filter plugins can help you change the harmonics of sound to achieve certain creative effects.
There are three popular kinds of filters differentiated by their shape and slope.
A high-pass filter (HPF) allows frequencies exceeding the cutoff while disabling those below. A Low-pass filter (LPF) does the exact opposite while band-pass filters (BPF) accept frequencies in the required band and attenuates the rest that falls either above or below.
Most VST filter plugins feature a resonance control which emphasizes the frequency band around the cutoff.
And as far as their use is concerned, VST filter plugins meets their match either for creative or corrective needs. You could use them to create exciting build-ups and transitions besides shaping tones of your sounds.
Check out the best Filter plugins
Distortion VST Plugins
These are digital tools that are used primarily to simulate the non-linear reaction of analog components.
When applied they can intensify audio and help achieve higher harmonics thereby producing a fine analog feeling.
These days unlike in the past distortion plugins offer many parameters considering there are several categories including multi-band, phase, bit-crushers, dynamic distortions and more.
In reality, saturation and distortion plugins can be used to boost attitude and edge in mixes, warm up bare audio tracks or even adding touches of grit vocals or tracks.
Check out the best Distortion plugins
Autotune VST Plugins
Now, rarely will you have a perfect vocal performance or recording.
In most cases, a vocalist/singer will miss a note here and there.
Sometimes the pitch may also waver, hence delivery of audio with slight inconsistencies.
Wondering how to deal with such imperfections?
Well, autotune plugins save the day through vocal processing.
Ideally, autotune works just like an editor that corrects mistakes giving rise to a flawless copy.
In other words, autotune plugins are software devices for pitch correction.
In use, autotune measures and alters vocal or instrument recordings and performances and automatically fixes off-key pitches as necessary.
So if you need to fix, tweak, and polish vocals whether during live performance or in-studio recording, autotune is your go-to tool.
The best part is- autotune plugins achieve that without compromising the natural feel of sound.
Check out the best Autotune plugins
Vocoder VST Plugins
Talking of vocal processing VST effects, vocoder plugins are some of the most intriguing effects you can ever use.
For starters, a vocoder is simply a virtual tool designed to synthesize vocal recordings and performances.
A classic example of vocoders in action is robotic sounding vocals.
Of course, beyond treating vocals with a robotic touch, there are other areas of application.
For instance, you can use a vocoder to add vowels to bass patches or even include wordy textures to an audio piece.
So generally, if you want to make dull vocals lively, a vocoder should be your go-to tool.
Check out the best Vocoder plugins
Mastering VST Plugins
Looking to get the best of your overall sound?
You can be far from this reality with mastering plugins.
To be clear, mastering plugins are virtual tools for polishing the various sonic elements of audio post-production.
Usually, mastering is done as a final step to ensure each track in album is perfectly polished for a cohesive whole.
For one thing! Even after audio production is complete, not everything will be right on point.
Mastering VST plugins can be used to apply or alter different processors such as EQ, Compressors, Stereo enhancers, faders, or even adjust volumes for consistency.
Check out the best Mastering plugins
Waves VST Plugins
Until now, Waves range of plugins remains one of the comprehensive sources of pro-grade audio processing tools.
Talk of EQs, compressors, reverbs, delays, effects, and more, the collection has plugins to shape music in every way.
Although the bulk of the plugins are emulations of some of the most revered hardware, new simulation technologies make it possible to deliver almost similar authenticity.
In short, Waves VST plugins are available for use for almost any aspect of audio production.
Whether its dynamics processing, adding analog-like effects, or even enhancing sonic elements, Waves has something for the job.
Check out the best Waves plugins
Also known as VSTi’s, these are virtual tools that mimic actual musical instruments both in appearance and sonic capabilities.
Instead of physical knobs and switches they are operated via a graphical user interface that displays various controls or via the DAW.
Unlike effects, they produce sound on their own either through pre-recorded sounds or algorithmic.
VST instrument plugins are available in various kinds with each emulating matching sounds of live instruments with precision.
So what does all this mean?
By design Virtual Instruments allow users to enjoy the convenience of using virtual replicas conventional hardware that would otherwise be out of reach.
Want to know more about various Virtual Instruments?
Drum VST Plugins
Simply put, these are software versions of typical hardware machines. You can think of them as alternative virtual solutions that deliver almost similar authentic sounds as actual drums.
At the moment there are countless VST drum plugins, however most models can be categorized in two main groups.
First, there those that mimic a particular hardware plus some features to help flex around the tones.
Then there are others that feature the original concepts and further innovations that provides for the generation of new sounds.
While the chances of producing the exact same sounds as the original analog drum machines may not be 100 percent, it’s close enough that it’s hard to tell the difference.
So instead of getting real professional drummer or machines you can use these in your DAW and still get desired results.
Check out the best Drum plugins
Bass VST Plugins
Just like any other VST plugins, these are virtual tools that deliver sound variations by emulating analog machines.
Today, there are so many bass VST plugins in the market optimized to produce all kinds of low-end variations with plenty customization options.
For example, there are multi-sampled instruments plugins, futuristic bass solutions, synth basses and more.
Most of these base VST plugins feature incredible libraries of sounds hence quite versatile.
And there is more.
Depending on the model you will also have plenty effect parameters and modulations which grants you the power to boost the energy in their audio.
Check out the best Bass plugins
Synth VST Plugins
As the name suggests, synth-based VST plugins are software tools that use varying digital waveforms to reproduce sound of typical classic hardware synth instruments.
They achieve intended results by manipulating and blending basic qualities of existing sounds to actualize something fresh.
Ideally, they employ common waveform synthesis techniques to generate the new sounds without relying on other tools.
Synth plugins imitate different sound sources including conventional musical instruments such as piano or even natural sounds from the environment.
Ideally, they can generate several types of sound independently.
It means, you could use this kind of instrument VST plugins conceive new and unique sounds for all your musical needs.
Check out the best Synth plugins
Piano VST Plugins
These are simply softwares that emulate real piano. There are two main types of piano VST plugins.
For one, there are the sample based models that feature pre-recorded sounds from real piano.
All the variations of each key is sampled from the real instrument and recorded by the manufacturer. In this case you will need a computer and a MIDI keyboard controller to if you want to simulate the piano in question.
Other plugins are modeled meaning they utilize algorithm or code that produce sounds that are as close as the acoustic piano it mimics.
Depending on your production style, you can always choose from the seemingly endless list of options.
VST piano plugins can function as a standalone program or alternatively can be hosted on a DAW.
With these you can customize sounds to suit your creative requirements without having to rely on a real device.
Check out the best Piano plugins
Guitar VST Plugins
As hinted by the name, these are virtual audio plugins that simulates traditional guitars via digital signal processing.
Guitar VST plugins recreates renditions from traditional and modern classics to give rich sounds either via a DAW or standalone VST hosting software.
There are various types of guitar plugins with varying control features and customization parameters. So how you can utilize them to meet an end is actually limited by your creative edge.
All the same, their innovative techniques allow music producers and sound engineers to reproduce lively and close to natural sounds thanks to their well-resourced libraries.
In essence, they allow users to enjoy legendary rigs without having the actual traditional gear.
Check out the best Guitar plugins
String VST Plugins
These function like stringed musical instruments such as guitars or violins that generate sound from string vibrations only that they are virtual.
String VST plugins allows users to enjoy extended options of sonic possibilities from imitations of realistic sound sources.
The various forms of reproduced emulations are mostly based in different landscapes with added uniqueness in tonal controls and variations.
All this is made possible thanks to reliable processors and parameters that allow advanced functionalities that may not be possible with hardware alone.
With string VST plugins, you can benefit from enhanced options of sampled recreations of stringed instrument sounds for a complete range of productive and creative requirements.
Check out the best String plugins
Orchestral VST Plugins
Perhaps these are the most unique VST plugins you could ever come across.
Orchestral plugins can be defined as software tools that simulates of a collection of instruments characteristic of classical music.
A typical mimicked ensemble blends different but collective output of musical instruments and ambience to produce sounds like in a real orchestra performance.
Usually popular instrument combo includes brass, percussions, strings, and woodwinds sections.
Orchestral VST plugins come in sampled libraries with reproduced sound that delivers powerful punches of both emotions and realism that can be applied to give music a touch of elegance.
Though these plugins appears to simulate close to an extra-ordinary blend each instrument section comes with customizable articulations among other functionalities.
The beauty of this is that you can get exact recreations of combined instruments that work for your project with investing on so many things.
Check out the best Orchestral plugins