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The 16 Best Free VST Effects Plugins of 2024

Welcome to the ultimate list of the best free VST plugins of 2023!

 

This carefully curated selection of VST plugins covers everything you’ll ever need in your music production journey.

 

We’ve made sure to include only the most outstanding, efficient, and useful VST plugins in the game (by far).

 

Considering these VST plugins are absolutely free, you’ll be truly blown away by their capabilities and functions.

 

In this article, you’ll learn about:

 

  • The definition of VST and its importance in music production ✓
  • The 16 best free VST effects plugins in all categories ✓
  • Standout features & functions of the included VST plugins ✓
  • Expert techniques to help excel your workflow ✓
  • Advanced tips to make the best out of these VST plugins ✓

 

So, join us as we uncover the best free VST plugins that shouldn’t even be free because they’re so legendary.

 

They can stand with pride against paid plugins, as their versatility and flexibility are unmatched.

 

Let’s dive in…

 

Table of Contents

What is a VST? 

 

What is a VST - Unison

 

VST, or Virtual Studio Technology, is a software interface that integrates audio synthesizers and effects plugins with digital audio workstations (DAWs).

 

VST plugins are essential tools for music producers, as they allow us to extend the functionality of our digital audio workstations with VST instruments, audio effects, and other creative tools.

 

Whether you’re looking to create unique sounds, enhance your mixes, or simply experiment with new audio processing techniques, there are free VSTs for you.

 

In addition to their practical applications, the best free VST plugins are also a cost-effective alternative to expensive hardware equipment.

 

By using virtual studio technology, music producers can access a wide range of high-quality audio tools without investing in physical gear.

 

This not only saves money but also offers greater flexibility and ease of use, as plugins can be quickly added, removed, or adjusted within digital audio workstations.

 

Speaking of DAWs, if you’re looking for 5 free DAWs that are too good to be true, we’ve got you covered.

 

The 16 Best Free VST Effects Plugins of 2023

 

Now that we’ve covered what VSTs are, let’s get to the fun part: 16 of the absolute best, most precise (and shocking) VST effects plugins of 2023.

 

The following list of the best VST plugins will absolutely blow your mind, guaranteed.

 

#1. Zen Master by Unison Audio: Best All-Around

 

 

free vst effects

 

Every beat maker in the world knows the crucial role of free VST plugins in achieving that perfect sound and unique vibe.

 

Zen Master by Unison Audio is one such game-changing free plugin that’s got every music producer talking.

 

Zen Master is an exceptional tool designed to infuse a warm, vintage and Lo-Fi feel into your music 一 effortlessly transforming any sound into a nostalgic, retro masterpiece in just under 3 seconds.

 

It has a simple and easy-to-use interface, equipped with only five knobs, but don’t let that fool you.

 

Each knob is a world of sound transformation unto itself.

 

#1. The Hypnosis knob 一 Your ticket to a world of mesmerizing sound alteration.

 

Hypnosis 2 e1687307037396 - Unison

 

This knob applies a one-of-a-kind detune and width effect, a product of meticulous testing and refining.

 

Turning this knob feels like twisting your reality, as you hear your beats morph into something entirely new.

 

This is how Zen Master reels you into its magic, turning an ordinary sound into a transcendent experience.

 

#2. The Imbalance knob 一 Designed to add a human touch to your beats.

 

Imbalance 2 - Unison

 

This knob applies tape-modeled pitch wobbling, transporting your sound back in time.

 

It makes your beats dance with a retro feel, so every note you play sounds like an old vinyl record spinning on a classic turntable.

 

#3. The Electrify knob 一 A ticket to the classic Lo-Fi style.

 

Electrify 2 - Unison

 

This knob applies calculated bit-crushing, degrading your sounds to perfection.

 

It brings an element of rawness to your music, making your beats feel gritty and edgy.

 

#4. The Vinyl knob 一 Offers three distinct signature noises: vinyl, crackle, or white.

 

Vinyl 2 - Unison

 

Each noise has a unique personality and adds a vintage vibe to your sound.

 

It’s like pouring old-school magic into your music, instantly transporting your listeners back to another era.

 

#5. The Ascend knob 一 Applies majestic reverb, the perfect blend of spacious, warm, and clean-sounding.

 

Ascend 2 - Unison

 

This is the finishing touch to your Lo-Fi sound, adding an ethereal feel that makes your music resonate on a deeper level.

 

All around, this plugin is revolutionizing the game when it comes to Lofi plugins, and for good reason.

 

Even the former best VST plugins would be impressed.

 

Standout Features:

 

Zen Master Stack TinyPNG - Unison

 

  • Unique Lo-Fi, Warm, and Vintage sound character
  • Instant Inspiration with real-time sound transformation
  • Simple & Easy to use with only five knobs
  • Hybrid of Analog/Digital Modelled Effects
  • Compatible with all DAWs, both Mac & PC
  • The best of the free VST plugins

 

#2. TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Labs: Best Dynamic Equalizer

 

TDR1 - Unison

 

The TDR Nova Plugin is a versatile dynamic equalizer that combines the capabilities of a parametric equalizer, a multi-band compressor, and a wideband de-esser.

 

This free VST plugin is perfect for music producers looking to fine-tune their tracks, tackle complex audio problems, and achieve professional sounds without breaking the bank.

 

In fact, it’s the only EQ (dynamic) free VST plugin of its kind, period.

 

If you’re looking for the 12 best EQ plugins of 2023, be sure to check out our article.

 

TDR Nova’s interface is intuitive and easy to navigate, making it simple to visualize and manipulate your audio.

 

The real-time frequency analyzer provides immediate feedback on the audio input, allowing you to make precise adjustments to your EQ curves.

 

The TDR Nova Plugin offers advanced features, such as dynamic EQ bands and sidechain functionality.

 

This is ideal for sound designers and audio professionals who like pushing the limits (like me).

 

Dynamic EQ bands allow you to apply equalization only when specific frequency levels are exceeded, providing a more transparent and natural sound.

 

It functions more on the order of an EQ multi-band compressor than a typical EQ.

 

The sidechain functionality enables you to apply external audio signals to control the equalization process.

 

This is particularly useful for tasks like de-essing or controlling the low-end in a mix.

 

Standout Features:

 

TDR Nova - Unison

 

  • Parametric equalization with dynamic EQ bands
  • Real-time frequency analyzer
  • Sidechain functionality
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Free version available

 

Bottom Line

 

TDR Nova 2 1 - Unison

 

TDR Nova is a great plugin for any mixing and mastering process.

 

Its precision and flexibility make it an ideal choice for both corrective and creative equalization tasks.

 

Plus, with its free software version offering a comprehensive feature set, it’s a must-have plugin for any music producer, engineer, or sound designer, as it’s equally suited for all duties.

 

#3. Valhalla SuperMassive by Valhalla DSP: Best Free Reverb Plugin

 

Supermassive - Unison

 

Valhalla SuperMassive is a truly impressive free VST plugin that delivers massive reverbs and delays, perfect for achieving lush, ambient soundscapes.

 

With a wide variety of algorithms 一 from classic reverbs to experimental, modulated echoes 一 it offers a diverse palette of sounds for music producers to explore and experiment with.

 

This free VST plugin’s user interface is straightforward and easy to use, enabling you to fine-tune your reverb and delay settings with precision.

 

You can adjust parameters like Mix, delay time, feedback, modulation, and more to create the perfect sound for your track.

 

Valhalla SuperMassive is known for its high-quality, professional sound and the ability to create dense, lush reverbs that can be used in a variety of genres.

 

Speaking of reverb, if you’re interested in the best reverb plugins of 2023, we’ve got you covered.

 

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Its unique “Warp” control allows you to add subtle or extreme modulation effects to the reverb tail, resulting in a wide array of sonic possibilities.

 

This ranges from shimmering reflections to otherworldly atmospheres.

 

Standout Features:

 

Supermassive 3 - Unison

 

  • Wide variety of reverb and delay algorithms
  • High-quality, professional sound
  • Unique Warp control for modulation effects
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Great sound for a free VST plugin

 

Bottom Line

 

Supermassive 2 - Unison

 

Valhalla SuperMassive should become one of your main free VST plugins for adding depth and space to your tracks.

 

Its incredible sound quality and versatility make it a valuable asset in any producer’s plugin collection.

 

If you’re looking for the best VST effects plugins (free AND paid) of all time, don’t forget to check it out, you won’t regret it.

 

#4. OTT by Xfer Records: Best Multiband Compressor

 

OTT Clear - Unison

 

OTT by Xfer Records is a popular free VST plugin that delivers powerful multiband compression and expansion, designed to add clarity and presence to your audio.

 

It’s based on the “Over The Top” compression preset from Ableton’s Multiband Dynamics device.

 

This VST plugin has become a favorite among electronic music producers for its ability to bring out the details in sounds and add a distinctive character to the mix.

 

Its interface is clean and simple, featuring three bands of upward and downward compression, along with controls for depth, time, and output gain.

 

  • Upward Compression Boosts the quieter parts of an audio signal, increasing their amplitude in order to bring out subtle details and nuances.

 

Upward 100 - Unison

 

  • Downward Compression Reduces the louder parts, controlling peaks and maintaining a more consistent dynamic range.

 

Downward Compression - Unison

 

Both processes work together to create a balanced and controlled sound (which is especially popular in electronic music production).

 

The depth control allows you to adjust the intensity of the compression, while the time control sets the speed of the envelope followers for each band.

 

OTT excels in bringing out the nuances of your audio, making it particularly well-suited for processing synths, drums, and vocals.

 

If you’re looking for the absolute best vocal effects VST of 2023, we’ve got you covered on that end too.

 

By carefully adjusting the depth and time settings, you can achieve anything from subtle compression to aggressive, in-your-face dynamics processing.

 

Standout Features:

 

OTT2 - Unison

 

  • Powerful multi-band compression and expansion of both downward and upward compression (rare)
  • Based on Ableton’s “Over The Top” compression preset
  • Simple and clean interface
  • Great for enhancing synths, drums, and vocals
  • Completely free VST plugin

 

Bottom Line

 

OTT bar - Unison

 

OTT is an invaluable tool for giving tracks the right amount of punch and energy.

 

Its unique character and ease of use make it an essential free VST plugin for any producer looking to enhance their sound.

 

#5. Krush by Tritik: Best Bitcrusher

 

Krush - Unison

 

Krush by Tritik is an outstanding free VST plugin that offers a powerful Bitcrusher, downsampler, and multi-mode filter.

 

They’re perfect for creating distinctive digital distortion and lo-fi effects.

 

With its intuitive and easy-to-use interface, Krush allows you to quickly dial in the perfect amount of grit, warmth, or crunch to your tracks.

 

This free plugins “Bitcrusher” section provides controls for bit depth reduction and sample rate reduction.

 

Which, in turn, allows you to precisely degrade the audio quality for creative purposes.

 

The multi-mode filter offers 2 different modes:

 

  1. Low-pass
  2. High-pass

 

Krush Filters - Unison

 

They all come equipped with resonance control, which makes it easy to shape and sculpt the sound further.

 

Krush also includes a modulation section with an LFO and an envelope follower, providing even more creative possibilities for sound design.

 

Try modulating different parameters such as:

 

  • Bit depth
  • Sample rate
  • Filter cutoff

 

By doing so, you can create unique and evolving textures that can add character and interest to your music.

 

Standout Features:

 

Krush3 - Unison

 

  • Powerful Bitcrusher and downsampler
  • Multi-mode filter with resonance control
  • Modulation section with LFO and envelope follower
  • Intuitive and easy-to-use interface
  • Completely free VST plugin

 

Bottom Line

 

Krush2 - Unison

 

Krush is essential to have in your production and sound design arsenal.

 

Its flexibility and range of creative options make it perfect for adding character and warmth to synths, drums, and other audio elements.

 

With its high-quality sound and user-friendly interface, Krush is a must-have free VST plugin for any producer looking to explore the world of digital distortion and lo-fi effects.

 

#6. Softube Saturation Knob: Best Tape Saturation

 

Saturation Knob - Unison

 

Softube Saturation Knob is a fantastic free VST plugin that provides a versatile and easy-to-use tape saturation effect.

 

Speaking of saturation, if you’re curious about the best saturation plugins of 2023, we’ve got the ultimate list.

 

This free VST plugin is perfect for adding warmth, depth, and subtle harmonic distortion to your tracks.

 

It mimics the pleasing characteristics of analog tape machines.

 

Saturation Knob Saturation - Unison

 

The interface of Softube Saturation Knob is extremely simple.

 

It features just one large knob that controls the amount of saturation applied to the audio signal.

 

Despite its simplicity, this free plugin offers 3 different saturation modes:

 

  • Keep High   Focuses the saturation on the lower frequencies while preserving the high frequencies.

 

Keep High - Unison

 

  • Neutral Evenly applies saturation across the entire frequency spectrum.

 

Neutral - Unison

 

  • Keep Low 一 Saturates the mid & high frequencies while maintaining the low end, providing different tonal characteristics and harmonic distribution for each mode.

 

Keep Low - Unison

 

For instance, if you’d like to squash a drum while leaving the kick drum intact, this is a perfect way.

 

By carefully adjusting the saturation amount and selecting the appropriate mode, you can achieve a wide range of sonic results.

 

It ranges from subtle tape warmth to more aggressive distortion, and everything in between.

 

Saturation Knob works wonders on individual tracks or even on the master bus, helping to glue your mix together and add a touch of analog character.

 

Standout Features:

 

Saturation Knob 3 - Unison

 

  • Versatile tape saturation effect
  • Simple, one-knob interface
  • Three different saturation modes
  • Great for adding warmth and depth to tracks
  • Completely free

 

Bottom Line

 

Saturation Knob is supreme at effortlessly enhancing tracks with a warm and cohesive sound.

 

Its simplicity and effectiveness make it an essential free VST plugin for any producer looking to infuse their music with the charm of analog tape saturation.

 

#7. Native Instruments Komplete Start: Best All-In-One Bundle

 

Komplete Start 1 - Unison

 

Native Instruments Komplete Start is an incredible free VST plugin bundle that offers a comprehensive selection of virtual instruments, effects, and samples.

 

Speaking of virtual instruments, if you’re looking for the absolute best free VST instruments available, look no further.

 

This all-in-one package is perfect for music producers who are just starting out or those looking to expand their collection with high-quality sounds and tools.

 

Included in Native Instruments Komplete Start are:

 

  • Over 2,000 studio-quality sounds
  • 16 virtual instruments
  • 13 unique effects

 

They are all designed to cover a wide range of genres (like all the hip-hop subgenres) and production styles.

 

Some of the standout instruments in this bundle include the Mikro Prism synthesizer, the Kontakt Player sampler, and the Reaktor Player modular synth.

 

Komplete Start 2 - Unison

 

The effects range from compressors and equalizers to creative effects like reverbs, delays, and modulators.

 

What sets Komplete Start apart from other free VST plugins is the sheer breadth and quality of the included sounds and instruments.

 

With such a diverse selection at your fingertips, you’ll have everything you need to create professional-sounding tracks in any style.

 

Standout Features:

 

Komplete Start Instruments - Unison

 

  • A comprehensive selection of virtual instruments, effects, and samples
  • Over 2,000 studio-quality sounds
  • 16 virtual instruments and 13 effects
  • A wide range of genres and production styles covered
  • Analog-modeled resonant filters

 

Bottom Line

 

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Komplete Start is an invaluable resource for expanding sonic palettes and enhancing tracks.

 

Its extensive collection of high-quality tools makes it a must-have free VST plugin bundle, especially if you’re looking to up your game.

 

#8. Vinyl by iZotope: Best For Lo-Fi

 

Vinyl - Unison

 

Vinyl by iZotope is a unique and free VST plugin that lets you recreate the authentic sound and character of vintage vinyl records within your digital music production environment.

 

This impressive plugin is absolutely perfect for adding warmth, texture, and nostalgia to your tracks.

 

Basically, Vinyl provides a creative way to inject some old-school charm into your modern productions.

 

The plugin features a range of controls that allow you to customize the sound of your virtual vinyl, including:

 

  • Mechanical noise
  • Wear
  • Electrical noise
  • Dust
  • Warp depth

 

Vinyl3 - Unison

 

These controls give you complete control over the level of degradation and artifacts you introduce to your mix, from subtle warmth to full-on lo-fi crackle.

 

Speaking of mixing music, if you want to discover the best mixing plugins (the only mixing plugins you’ll ever need), we’ve got you covered.

 

Back to Vinyl: One of the standout features of this VST plugin is its built-in time-traveling capability.

 

It lets you choose a specific era for your virtual record, ranging from the 1930s to the 2000s.

 

Vinyl2 - Unison

 

This adds another layer of authenticity to the plugin and allows you to match the sound of your vinyl to the era of your production.

 

Or, simply experiment with different decades for creative effects, you never know what you could stumble upon.

 

Standout Features:

 

Vinyl5 - Unison

 

  • Recreates the warmth and character of vintage vinyl records
  • Customizable degradation and artifact controls
  • Time-traveling feature to select specific eras
  • Adds texture and nostalgia to your mixes
  • Perfect for creating lo-fi aesthetics or adding character to individual tracks

 

Bottom Line

 

Whether you’re looking to add character to a single track or create a cohesive lo-fi aesthetic across an entire mix, Vinyl by iZotope is a supreme candidate.

 

It offers an easy and effective way to achieve that authentic vinyl sound for any circumstance.

 

#9. Protoverb by U-he: Best Room Reverb Simulation

 

free VST effects

 

Protoverb by U-he is a unique reverb plugin that generates natural-sounding spaces with an innovative approach.

 

By simulating room characteristics and decay patterns, Protoverb delivers an organic reverb that captures the essence of real-world environments.

 

Speaking of patterns, if you’re curious about how to create the dopest hip hop drum pattern on the face of the earth, we’ve got you covered.

 

Perfect for adding depth and space to your mixes, this free plugin is a must-have for any music producer.

 

At the heart of Protoverb lies its room simulation algorithm, which creates realistic reverbs based on a variety of factors, such as room size, shape, and materials.

 

This algorithm generates a random string of numbers that correspond to different room characteristics, offering endless possibilities and ensuring you’ll never run out of fresh and inspiring reverb settings.

 

Protoverb2 - Unison

 

The user interface of Protoverb is minimalistic and easy to navigate, allowing you to focus on the sound rather than getting lost in a sea of parameters.

 

With just a few simple controls, you can easily fine-tune the reverb to suit your mix.

 

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can enter your own random string of numbers to create custom reverb settings.

 

Standout Features:

 

Protoverb3 - Unison

 

  • Unique room simulation algorithm for natural-sounding reverb
  • Endless possibilities with random string-based settings
  • Minimalistic, easy-to-navigate user interface
  • Customizable reverb settings for adventurous users
  • Ideal for adding depth and space to any mix

 

Bottom Line

 

Protoverb’s natural-sounding reverb is ideal for creating lush, immersive soundscapes or adding subtle depth to your mix.

 

Whether you’re working on vocals, drums, or synths, Protoverb’s organic reverb will enhance your tracks without ever sounding artificial.

 

#10. Spitfire Audio LABS: Best For Cinematic Sounds

 

Labs - Unison

 

Spitfire Audio LABS is a fantastic free VST effects plugin that provides a curated collection of high-quality cinematic sounds and instruments.

 

This virtual instrument is perfect if you’re looking to add a touch of cinematic flair to your tracks.

 

The Spitfire Audio LABS series features a wide range of instruments, including strings, pianos, percussion, and more.

 

They’re all meticulously sampled and recorded using Spitfire Audio’s renowned techniques.

 

The simple and intuitive interface allows you to easily tweak the sounds to fit your needs, with controls for dynamics, expression, and reverb.

 

Spitfire 1 - Unison

 

What sets LABS apart from other free VST plugins is the exceptional quality of the included sounds, which have been crafted with care and expertise by the team at Spitfire Audio.

 

These cinematic instruments can add depth, emotion, and atmosphere to your music productions, making them ideal for film scores, ambient music, and more.

 

All, of course, with their own unique vibe (such as added advanced processing techniques) which makes their instruments stand out from the average sample library.

 

Standout Features:

 

Labs2 - Unison

 

  • A curated collection of high-quality cinematic sounds and instruments
  • Wide range of instruments, including strings, pianos, percussion, and more
  • Meticulously recorded, sampled & processed using Spitfire Audio’s renowned techniques
  • Simple and intuitive interface with controls for dynamics, expression, and reverb
  • Completely free

 

Bottom Line

 

Labs3 e1682645491440 - Unison

 

LABS is an epic resource for creating rich, evocative soundscapes and adding that extra touch of cinematic magic to your tracks.

 

The wide variety of instruments available, combined with the ease of use and stunning audio quality, makes LABS a must-have Free VST Effects Plugin for any and everyone.

 

Especially if you’re looking to elevate their productions with ethereal sounds.

 

#11. Youlean Loudness Meter 2: Best Metering Plugin

 

Loudness Meter 2 - Unison

 

Youlean Loudness Meter 2 is an invaluable free plugin for accurately measuring the perceived loudness of your mixes,

 

It helps to ensure that they comply with broadcast and streaming standards, for submitting music.

 

With its comprehensive feature set and user-friendly interface, this free VST plugin is an essential tool if you’re looking for precise loudness control.

 

One of the key features of this free VST plugin is its support for various loudness standards, including:

 

  • EBU R128
  • ITU-R BS.1770
  • ATSC A/85

 

Loudness Meter e1682645718159 - Unison

 

This ensures that your mixes meet the requirements of different platforms (like Spotify) and regions, preventing unexpected loudness issues when your music is broadcast or streamed.

 

Loudness Meter 2 provides real-time loudness monitoring with visual feedback, including integrated, short-term, and momentary loudness measurements.

 

This allows you to quickly identify problem areas in your mix and make the necessary adjustments to achieve optimal loudness levels.

 

It also includes a histogram display, which shows the loudness distribution over time.

 

Histogram View - Unison

 

The histogram display helps you gain a better understanding of the dynamic range of your mix.

 

This allows you to make more informed decisions regarding compression, limiting, and other dynamics processing.

 

Speaking of compression, don’t forget to check out the absolute best compressor plugins ever.

 

Standout Features:

 

Loudness Meter 3 - Unison

 

  • Accurate loudness measurement for broadcast and streaming compliance
  • Supports various loudness standards, including EBU R128, ITU-R BS.1770, and ATSC A/85
  • Real-time loudness monitoring with visual feedback
  • Histogram display for loudness distribution analysis
  • Essential tool for precise loudness control in your mixes

 

Bottom Line

 

Youlean Loudness Meter 2 is essential if you’re searching for precision loudness control.

 

The histogram display is supreme at showing the loudness distribution over time, which gives you even more control.

 

It’s certainly a must-have in our book for all music producers and sound designers, and hopefully soon in yours as well.

 

#12. Valhalla Freq Echo: Best Free Delay Plugin

 

FreqEcho - Unison

 

Valhalla Freq Echo by Valhalla DSP is a fantastic free VST plugin that emulates the warm, organic sound of analog echo devices, but with a twist.

 

The twist is, it allows for modulation of the delay lines and their pitch/frequency.

 

Freq Echo is perfect if you’re looking to add a touch of vintage-like character and warmth to your tracks with a high-quality delay effect.

 

The interface of Valhalla Freq Echo is simple and easy to use.

 

It features controls for delay time, feedback, mix, and a unique shift control that adjusts the frequency of the feedback signal.

 

Shift - Unison

 

This allows for a wide range of interesting and creative delay effects, from subtle slapback echoes to wild, resonant feedback loops.

 

What sets Valhalla Freq Echo apart from other delay plugins is its rich, warm sound.

 

It perfectly captures the charm and character of classic analog echo devices.

 

Another thing that sets it apart from other free VST effects plugins is its unique modulation of the delay-line signals.

 

This free VST plugin can add depth, space, and atmosphere to your tracks, making it a valuable addition to any music producer’s arsenal of audio effects.

 

Standout Features:

 

FreqEcho3 - Unison

 

  • Emulates the warm, organic sound of analog echo devices
  • Simple and easy-to-use interface with controls for delay time, feedback, mix, and pitch shift
  • Wide range of interesting and creative delay effects
  • A rich, warm sound that captures the charm and character of classic analog echo devices
  • Completely free

 

Bottom Line

 

Valhalla Freq Echo is amazing at adding that sought-after analog warmth and character, but with a little extra magic and flair.

 

It’s most reminiscent of a Shimmer reverb (except in the delay plugin variety).

 

Whether you’re looking to create a subtle sense of space or experiment with more extreme, psychedelic delay effects, Valhalla Freq Echo delivers the perfect sound every time.

 

#13. PanCake 2 by Cableguys: Best Creative Panner

 

PanCake - Unison

 

PanCake 2 by Cableguys is an incredible free VST plugin that adds life and depth to your tracks by automating the panning process.

 

With its intuitive interface and powerful customization options, PanCake 2 lets you design unique panning shapes that can breathe new life into your mixes.

 

This makes them way more dynamic and engaging.

 

The user-friendly interface of PanCake 2 offers a host of creative possibilities, allowing you to draw your own panning shapes and even sync them to your host’s tempo.

 

Additionally, the plugin offers a range of presets to get you started, from simple left-to-right panning to more complex and rhythmic patterns.

 

PanCake 2’s versatile LFO module offers a wide range of waveforms and modulation options, providing endless opportunities for sound design.

 

PanCake3 - Unison

 

By modulating panning with different waveforms, you can create intricate stereo-image movements that can enhance the spatial qualities of your mixes.

 

Plus, with PanCake 2’s smooth transition between waveforms, you can ensure that your panning effects sound natural and fluid.

 

Standout Features:

 

PanCake2 - Unison

 

  • Customizable panning shapes for unique stereo image movement
  • Intuitive interface with easy-to-use drawing tools
  • Tempo-synced panning patterns for rhythmic effects
  • Wide range of LFO waveforms and modulation options
  • Smooth transitions between panning shapes for natural-sounding effects

 

Bottom Line

 

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced producer, PanCake 2 by Cableguys is an essential free VST plugin to add to your set of music production tools.

 

Its innovative features and customizable nature makes it a powerful tool for enhancing your stereo field and taking your mixes to new heights.

 

#14. Couture by Auburn Sounds: Best Transient Shaper

 

Couture - Unison

 

Couture by Auburn Sounds is an impressive free VST plugin that offers a powerful transient shaper, perfect for adding punch, impact, and clarity to your tracks.

 

This versatile free VST plugin is ideal if you’re looking to tighten up your drums, add presence to guitars, or even enhance the attack of your basslines.

 

The interface of Couture is sleek and user-friendly, featuring separate controls for adjusting the attack and sustain of your audio signal, as well as a mix knob for parallel processing.

 

The free version of this plugin includes the transient shaping functionality, while the paid version adds a saturation module for even more sonic control.

 

Couture’s advanced transient detection algorithm ensures precise and transparent processing, allowing you to shape your audio with surgical accuracy.

 

Couture 2 - Unison

 

With its intuitive interface and powerful sound-shaping capabilities, this free VST plugin is an advantageous tool for any music producer looking to add punch and presence to their tracks.

 

Standout Features:

 

Couture - Unison

 

  • Powerful transient shaper for adding punch, impact, and clarity
  • Sleek and user-friendly interface with separate controls for attack and sustain
  • Advanced transient detection algorithm for precise processing
  • Parallel processing capabilities with the mix knob
  • The free version includes transient shaping functionality
  • Completely free VST plugin

 

Bottom Line

 

Couture is a perfect addition to add to your arsenal in terms of fine-tuning the dynamics of individual tracks and adding that extra touch of impact and energy to your mixes.

 

The precise transient shaping and ease of use makes Couture a go-to free VST plugin for shaping and enhancing dynamics.

 

#15. Fresh Air by Slate Digital: Best Harmonic Enhancer

 

Fresh Air4 e1682649682765 - Unison

 

Fresh Air by Slate Digital is a free plugin designed to add clarity and brilliance to your mixes with its intuitive and easy-to-use controls.

 

Inspired by classic Dolby noise reduction units, this plugin breathes new life into your tracks by enhancing the high-frequency content and adding subtle airiness to your mix.

 

Fresh Air combines two essential processes to achieve its signature sound:

 

  1. High-frequency enhancement
  2. Subtle harmonic saturation

 

By blending these two processes carefully, Fresh Air adds sparkle and presence to multiple tracks without ever sounding harsh or brittle.

 

This makes it an excellent tool for adding that final touch to your mix, ensuring it stands out among the competition.

 

The plugin’s user interface is simple and straightforward, with just two main controls:

 

  • Mid Air 一 Adjusts the amount of high-frequency enhancement and harmonic saturation in the midrange.

 

Mid Air - Unison

 

  • High Air 一 Specifically targets the higher frequency range, adding brilliance and shimmer to the mix.

 

High Air - Unison

 

These controls allow you to adjust the amount of high-frequency enhancement and harmonic saturation applied to your mix,

 

In turn, it’s super easy to dial in the perfect amount of airiness and brilliance.

 

Standout Features:

 

Fresh Air3 - Unison

 

  • Adds clarity and brilliance to your mixes
  • Inspired by classic Dolby noise reduction units
  • Combines high-frequency enhancement and subtle harmonic saturation
  • Simple, straightforward user interface
  • Versatile and suitable for a wide range of sources

 

Bottom Line

 

Fresh Air is versatile and can be used on a wide range of sources, including vocals, drums, guitars, and synths.

 

Whether you’re looking to add a subtle sheen to a vocal track or bring out the shimmering highs of a drum kit, Fresh Air has you covered.

 

#16. DC1A by Klanghelm: Best Digital Emulation

 

DC1A - Unison

 

DC1A by Klanghelm is a free, easy-to-use compressor plugin that delivers smooth and musical compression with minimal effort.

 

Inspired by the iconic sound of classic analog compressors, DC1A offers a transparent and natural compression that enhances your mixes without sacrificing their original character.

 

With only two main controls – audio input and output – DC1A offers a super simple interface.

 

This makes it an ideal choice for those who are new to compression or looking for a quick and effective way to control their mix’s dynamics.

 

Despite its simplicity, DC1A is capable of delivering a wide range of compression styles, from gentle leveling to more aggressive dynamic control.

 

DC1A3 - Unison

 

One of the standout features of DC1A is its program-dependent attack and release times, which automatically adapt to the incoming audio signal.

 

This ensures that the compression always sounds great, natural, and musical, regardless of the source material.

 

In addition to its ease of use, DC1A is also known for its transparent sound quality.

 

Unlike some compressors that can color the sound or introduce unwanted artifacts, DC1A maintains the integrity of your mix.

 

Therefore, you’re able to focus on the creative aspects of music production, which is what it’s all about.

 

Standout Features:

 

DC1A2 - Unison

 

  • Easy-to-use, intuitive compressor plugin
  • Inspired by classic analog compressors
  • Transparent and natural compression
  • Program-dependent attack and release times
  • Suitable for a wide range of compression styles

 

Bottom Line

 

DC1A 5 - Unison

 

If you’re looking for one of the best free effect plugins for compression, you need this epic, easy, and efficient music production tool.

 

It will shortly become one of your favorite musical weapons, so to speak.

 

10 Advanced Tips To Make The Best Out of These Free VST Plugins

 

Now that you’re aware of the 15 best free VST plugins, it’s time to discover how to maximize their usage with these expert tips.

 

  1. Learn The Plugins Inside & Out

 

Learn Plugins - Unison

 

To truly make the most of these free VSTs, take the time to explore and understand their features and capabilities.

 

This will allow you to unlock their full potential and apply them creatively in your music productions.

 

For example, if you’re using one of the free effects plugins, dive into the wavetable editor and learn how to create your own custom wavetables.

 

This can give you a unique sound that sets your productions apart from others using the same free VSTs.

 

Knowing the free VST plugins backward and forwards can be super beneficial if you’re going to be a master.

 

  1. Experiment With Automation

 

Automation - Unison

 

Many of the best free VSTs offer extensive modulation capabilities, so don’t be afraid to experiment with automation to create dynamic and evolving sounds.

 

For instance, you could automate the filter cutoff in Vital to create a sweeping pad sound or modulate the delay time in Valhalla Freq Echo for interesting rhythmic effects.

 

Automation can breathe life into your tracks and make your sounds more engaging, so make sure to experiment with the automation parameters within these free VST plugins.

 

If you’re wondering how to automate different parameters, check out our article on creating unique music.

 

  1. Combine Plugins

 

Combine Plugins - Unison

 

Try using one free effects plugin in combination with another one in order to create unique and complex effects chains.

 

By combining different plugins, you can craft a distinct sound that elevates your production.

 

  1. Use Parallel Processing

 

Parallel Processing - Unison

 

Some of these free VST plugins, like Couture, offer built-in parallel processing capabilities with a mix knob.

 

This allows you to blend the processed and unprocessed signals, achieving a more balanced and natural effect.

 

For example, you could use parallel compression on a drum bus to add punch and impact while maintaining the original dynamics of the performance.

 

  1. Layer Instruments

 

Layering Instruments - Unison

 

Enhance your sounds by layering different virtual instruments from the included free VST plugins.

 

For instance, you could layer a piano sound from LABS with a pad from Surge XT to create a rich, textured sound.

 

Experiment with different combinations of instruments to find the perfect blend that suits your production style.

 

Speaking of music production styles, if you’re looking to make a little extra money from production, check out our article on how to make money as a music producer.

 

  1. Explore Presets

 

Explore Presets - Unison

 

Many of these free VST plugins come with extensive preset libraries that can serve as excellent starting points for your sound design endeavors.

 

Take the time to explore the presets and tweak them to your liking, then save your customized versions for future use.

 

This can help you build a unique library of sounds that are tailored to your specific production needs.

 

If you’re searching for the most professional, mind-blowing presets around, we’ve got you covered with the Unison YouTube Tutorial Presets pack.

 

  1. Use MPE MIDI Controllers

 

MIDI Controllers - Unison

 

To get the most out of these free VST plugins, consider using a MIDI controller that offers MPE capabilities in order to manipulate parameters in real time (polyphonically).

 

It can help you achieve a more expressive and dynamic performance, especially when working with virtual instruments.

 

This can be achieved using poly-aftertouch or, alternatively, with a standard controller.

 

Try routing different knobs and sliders to various plugin parameters and experiment with different ways of interacting with the plugin during your performance.

 

You can even do so after the face by programming your own automation as a modulation signal.

 

Don’t forget, in a DAW, Automation can easily be used as modulation on virtually anything, including parameters not assignable in the plugin/synth’s MOD Matrix.

 

Yes, even if it doesn’t have one.

 

Crazy how one free download can help turn your tracks into masterpieces.

 

  1. Save Your Favorite Settings

 

Save as Preset - Unison

 

When you find a particular sound or effect setting that you love, be sure to save it as a preset or template.

 

This will allow you to quickly recall your favorite extreme settings in future projects, streamlining your workflow and ensuring a consistent sound across your productions.

 

  1. Share & Collaborate

 

Share with Others - Unison

 

These free VST plugins can be a great way to collaborate with fellow producers, artists, and musicians.

 

Share your favorite VST plugins, presets, and techniques with others, and learn from their experiences as well.

 

This can help you expand your knowledge and improve your skills as a music producer.

 

  1. Keep Up-To-Date With New Updates & Releases

 

Updates - Unison

 

Developers frequently update their free VST plugins to fix bugs, improve performance, and add new features.

 

Stay informed about updates and new releases for your favorite VST plugins to ensure you’re always making the most of their capabilities.

 

Free Plugins: Final Thoughts

 

There you have it – the complete collection of free VSTs that cover everything you’ll ever need in your music production journey.

 

These incredible tools offer a diverse range of creative & mixing possibilities, allowing you to add depth, character, and professional polish to your tracks without spending a single dime.

 

Don’t forget to explore the exciting potential of these free VST plugins when processing the FREE Unison Essential Drum Loops pack for even more sonic possibilities.

 

Unison Essential Drum Loops 750x750 1 - Unison

 

It contains 12 professionally-crafted (and super hard) drum loops that you can incorporate into your own tracks.

 

For example, use any of the included best VST plugins, such as OTT, to completely mangle one of the drums found in this pack.

 

Then, incorporate an additional plugin like Fresh Air in order to boost the top-end in unique and creative ways.

 

To take it even further, you can use TDR Nova to sidechain the kick (in its own loop) and add some pumping with some dynamic EQ.

 

Therefore, you’ve utilized free VST plugins as well as free drum loops to create absolute masterpieces!

 

Remember, experimentation is key in the world of music production, so there are no limits.

 

Try playing around with different combinations of free VSTs and settings to discover your unique sound and take your beats to the next level.

 

With these powerful tools at your fingertips, you’ll have everything you need to achieve greatness in your music production adventures.

 

So go ahead, dive into these immaculate free plugins for yourself, and let your creativity run absolutely wild.

 

Until next time…

 

 

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