Here’s our list of the best free VST plugins to have when you’re making music or mixing and mastering. This list only includes the VST effects and we will make a separate list for the VST instruments.
We thank and respect the developers for creating these free plugins. These plugins are not hosted on our servers – we link every product back to the original developer’s website.
Check out our pick of the top 15 VST effects plugins below –
Voxengo SPAN is a high quality spectrum analyzer and metering plugin that is very useful when you’re mixing or mastering a song. Using its intuitive and visual analyzers, you can quickly identify problems in your mix and thus enabling you to produce better results.
SPAN is a hugely popular plugin that is used by many producers and mix engineers around the world, and since it is free, everyone can afford it!
SPAN has some very useful features such as K-metering, internal channel routing, multi-channel analysis, A/B comparisons, Correlation meter, headroom estimation, true peak clipping detection, undo/redo history, mid/side analysis and much more. User interface window can be resized and different color schemes can also be used. It also offers a preset manager, allowing you to save your settings for instant recall.
SPAN is compatible with many Windows and Mac DAW’s such as Cubase, Logic Pro, ProTools, Ableton Live, Reaper, Presonus Studio One, FL Studio, Cakewalk, Nuendo, WaveLab, GarageBand, Vegas, SoundForge, Audition, Samplitude, Digital Performer, Mixcraft, Bitwig Studio, Edius and others.
iZotope’s Vinyl is the ultimate plugin to recreate the “vinyl” effect – to make your audio sound like it is being played through an old record player. You can add various types of distortion/noise to your audio such as mechanical noise and electrical noise. You can control how worn out the record is and also how much dust is on the record. You can also specify the amount of scratches on the record. The year of the record player can also be changed to 1930, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980 and 2000, allowing you to get a taste of how records sound like during those old times! If you want to create the Spin Down effect that is hugely popular with rap and hip-hop producers, you can easily do it with Vinyl by controlling the record’s RPM.
Vinyl is a really fun and creative tool that you can get for free and it is something you should have in your arsenal of plugins.
3. TDR NOVA
TDR NOVA is a gorgeous parallel dynamic EQ from Tokyo Dawn Labs, the makers of beautiful, awesome, high-quality plugins. A dynamic equalizer allows you to equalize a particular frequency only when it gets louder than the threshold set. In other words, you can precisely specify the frequency that you want to boost or attenuate when it gets to a certain level.
Some features of NOVA include parametric equalization, dynamic equalization, frequency selective compression, multi-band compression and wideband compression. In addition to the four dynamic EQ bands, it also has high-pass and low-pass filter sections. NOVA has a user friendly drag and drop display and a classic knob-style interface allowing you to quickly access its various parameters. NOVA can automatically adjust the loudness as you equalize, so that your ears won’t be deceived by the loudness introduced by equalization.
TDR NOVA is a great plugin to have in your studio and we recommend you to download this free product to get better sounding mixes.
4. FerricTDS Tape Dynamics Simulator
FerricTDS by Variety of Sound is a great plugin that recreates the smooth dynamic shaping capabilities of some high-end reel-to-reel tape recorders. It has a dynamics section which gently shapes the overall dynamic response, a saturation section which adds extra harmonic-related content and a limiting section which controls peak levels.
FerricTDS is a very useful plugin that you should have in your studio so get it today and hear the difference it makes to your mixes!
With an interface looking like an old Soviet military hardware device, it may at first seem daunting to tackle this plugin – however, rest assured that it is a nice product with a great sound which will give you the results you want once you’re accustomed to it
Molot is best used as a buss compressor placed in your instrument busses or the master buss but it can also be used in individual channels. Even though it is not an emulation of any piece of hardware, it has a very characterful sound which resembles some of the high-end popular compressors. Molot can be processed in dual mono, linked stereo and mid/side modes. It also allows for up to 8 times oversampling, Molot has a mid-scoop EQ to control the mid frequencies. It also has a built-in limiter for peak suppression.
Try Molot in your mixes and see the difference this free plugin makes.
6. TDR Kotelnikov
TDR Kotelnikov is a wideband dynamics compressor from Tokyo Dawn Labs, makers of the popular compressor plugin TDR Feedback Compressor. In fact, TDR Kotelinov has directly inherited several unique features such as a proven control scheme, individual release control for peak and RMS content, an intuitive user interface, and powerful, state of the art, high-precision algorithms. Although it is a very fast compressor, it does not color the sound and is able to produce natural sounding results.
TDR Kotelinov uses 64-bit floating point precision for all relevant calculations. It has a flexible sidechain highpass filter and advanced stereo linking options optimized for the stereo bus. It also comes with extensive documentation.
TDR Kotelinov standard edition is available for free. There’s also an improved Gentleman’s Edition which can be purchased directly from Tokyo Dawn Labs.
7. Valhalla Freq Echo
Valhalla Freq Echo is a frequency shifter and an analog echo emulator. It is the first plugin made by Valhalla DSP who are famous for their reverb plugins such as Valhalla Vintage Verb and Valhalla Shimmer.
FreqEcho features low cut and high cut controls for the feedback path , allowing for finer control over the echo decay. The delay time can also be synced to the tempo of the track. With FreqEcho, you can create a variety of psychedelic, evolving sounds and dub echos that constantly rise or fall in pitch. It is a great tool to have when you want to create these kind of effects and textures.
Emissary emulates a custom dual-channel guitar tube amplifier. It features a very versatile clean channel that has a pristine clean sound to slightly overdriven tones. It also has a lead channel that can output serious bone-crushing distortions. It is a fantastic product for the modern guitarist with its wide palette of tones.
Emissary uses a double precision 64-bit floating point mathematical model. It has a fantastic user interface which has been 3D modeled and rendered by Voger Design. Emissary supports up to 8 times oversampling rate as well as mono or stereo processing. The controls are fully automatable and the preset manager uses Ignite Amps’ proprietary preset management system with bank file import/export functions.
9. Bitter Sweet V3
BitterSweet v3 is Flux:: acclaimed transient processor used by hundreds of thousands of users for audio transient management with the simple turn of a knob – turning the knob to Sweet side reduces the transients which commonly decreases any transient-rich percussive sounds in the mix, and turning the knob to the Bitter side magnifies the transients which commonly increases any transient-rich percussive sounds in the mix.
Using a built in M/S Encoder/Decoder the Mid (Center) or the Side (Stereo) parts of the sound can be processed independently.
BitterSweet v3 is 100% freeware and does not require any dongles or registration.
Proximity is a collaborative effort by Tokyo Dawn Labs and Vladg Sound.
The plug-in is an easy to use distance “pan-pot” based on several psycho-acoustic models. The idea is to give mixing engineer a reliable tool which allows him to manipulate the “depth” of several sound source in a straight forward and convincing manner.
Several models can be combined:
- Distance signal delay by speed of sound
- Distance gain loss
- Absorption of high-frequencies in air
- Stereo width manipulation
- Proximity effect of virtual microphone
- Distance based early reflections
All models can be turned on and off to taste. Distance modulation options extend the creative possibilities even further. Units can be switched from metric (meters) to imperial (inches).
Frohmage by Ohm Force is a powerful filter that you will be likely to use very frequently in your tracks. Far from being cheesy, as its unique interface suggests at first sight, Frohmage delivers warmth, dirt and much more at a professional audio quality.
It can offer some unique sounds, from slow and deep filter sweeps to the most savage tones with high resonance setting and heavy distortion.
With its low CPU load, Frohmage can be used extensively in your projects without draining CPU resources.
LoudMax is a Look-Ahead Brickwall Loudness Maximizer Plugin with a clean transparent sound. It is designed to retain the original character of the music as much as possible even at high compression levels.
Some of the features of LoudMax are –
- True Peak Limiting.
- Supported Samplerates: 2kHz – 384kHz.
- Latency: 1.25ms (+ 6 samples with ISP).
- Look-Ahead and Attack Time: 1.25ms.
- Release Time: Automatic – depending on the input signal.
- No audible distortion.
- Possible Overdrive: 740dB.
- Very low CPU usage.
PanCake is a free plugin Cableguys that can create a variety of panning modulations, such as auto panning your signal left to right.
You can easily construct your own modulation curves by drawing using soft or hard control points, thus producing gentle transitions or sharp bends in the waveform. PanCake’s LFO can be beat-synced to your DAW, from a fast 1/128 note modulation up to 32 bars. It can also be set free-running from 0.02 Hz to 5.24 kHz, and can be triggered vie MIDI. A precise display of channel left/right volume provides helpful visual control.
PanCake is completely free! No login, no registration required.
14. Camel Crusher
Camel Crusher is a free multi-effects plugin (Compressor, Distortion, Filter) that is available for download on both Windows and Mac. It is a great sounding plugin that works well on guitar, drums as well as many other sources.
15. Klanghelm DC1A
Klanghelm DC1A is a simple yet powerful compressor and it is the little brother of Klanghelm’s monster compressor plugin DC8C.
DC1A can produce a smooth and warm sound and it is able to glue mixes together. Even though it does not have many controls, DC1A works well on many different audio materials.