- In a world abundant with VSTs, every single producer is competing to sound different
- We suggest some plugins for taking your productions to the next level
- Including the likes of Vital, Trash2, and many more…
With music production, you can often get a long way using the tools that are given to you with the core software.
However, even with these, you may be feeling underwhelmed when comparing your music to some of your favorite artists.
It’s almost guaranteed that your favorite producer isn’t using just the stock VSTs that you find in your DAW. This is because VST plugins open up a whole world of possibilities regardless of what DAW you use.
In this article, we are going to suggest some of the best
Whether you’re a rap, EDM, or DnB producer, these tools will help you elevate your
Take full control of your creativity with powerful and easy to use multi-track audio recording, MIDI piano roll editing, and over 80 plugins effects and VSTs.
What Are The Best VSTs For
Vital VST is the one of the best software synths out there – and it’s free! So every owner of
With its vast feature set and powerful wavetable oscillators, it is clear why it is such a hit. For those looking for a VST effect plug-in, the RC-20 color is a stand-out choice.
Used by the majority of industry producers, the multi-effect VST is a great way to spice up any track.
For professional producers on a larger budget, Omnisphere is one of the flagship synth VSTs. It’s incredibly rich and deep with limitless potential for design.
- RC-20 Retro Color
- Neutron 3
- Goliath V2
- Rift 2.0
- Trash 2
- Valhalla Shimmer
Vital is a versatile and deep wavetable synthesizer with a dizzying array of features. Vital is totally free to download and use!
Vital is an extremely powerful wavetable synthesizer that is quickly becoming one of the hottest synths on the market. Although market is perhaps a misleading word to use because it’s totally free!
With 3 wavetable oscillators and multiple modulation sources, Vital does everything you’d expect a more expensive synth like Serum or Massive to do.
The makers of Vital are able to stay afloat by selling presets and wavetables for their own synth. It’s a good business model that works for everyone.
- 3 wavetable OSCs
- 1 sample OSC
- 2 filters.
- 9 effects slots
- 8 LFOs
- 6 envelopes
- 4 “Random” generators
- 4 Macro controls
- Unique spectral warping modes for oscillators
Vital offers so much for free it’s ridiculous. You can use it for basic subtractive synth sounds, FM synthesis, sample playback, or advanced wavetable synthesis.
Vital is a great synth to learn synthesis on. It’s very intuitive and easy to use, but you’ll never outgrow it because it’s so powerful and diverse. So Vital is there for you every step of the way on your synthesis journey!
Of course, experienced synth nerds will get a kick out of Vital’s unique spectral warping modes, which can shape wavetables in some truly unreal ways.
Our vintage-flavored Analog Synth Wavetables also work very well with Vital, allowing you to emulate classic analog synth sounds all with a free VST synth.
(For a more detailed breakdown check out Vital Synth Review (Best Free Synth Of All Time?))
2. RC-20 Retro Color
RC-20 Retro Color is a creative effect plugin that adds life and texture to any recording.
- Sounds great on drums and keys
- Excellent at creating a vintage feel
- Very easy to use
The RC-20 is a very popular multi-effect plugin by XLN Audio.
There has been an influx of vintage-sounding hip-hop over the past few years and the RC-20 has proven to be the right plugin at the right time.
Used by popular producers such as Kenny Beats, it’s very useful in adding a warm vintage feel to a multitude of tracks and instruments.
- 6 effects modules
- Magnitude slider, controlling the level of processing to the track
- Flux sliders for injecting analog-style randomness into the controls
- A preset library built for drums, keys, guitars, basses, etc
The RC-20 is a great addition to anyone’s VST library regardless of genre. It’s a great and easy way of adding warmth and texture to a perhaps dry and generic sound.
If you’re mostly working in the box but crave some analog dirt and warmth, this VST has a vintage feel that adds life to tracks.
You may find yourself using less plugins overall after buying RC-20, as it has so much to offer and can replace many other VST plugins. This multi-fx plugin is a one-stop-shop for vintage and lofi sounds.
3. Neutron 3 Elements
From the makers of popular audio plug-ins like RX and Ozone, Neutron 3 is designed to bring your mix workflows into the 21st century.
- Amazing value for the quality (+ often on sale!)
- Intuitive controls
- Great visuals
Neutron 3 Elements is a very smart mixing tool that has 4 professional-grade mixing plugins for the price of one.
Make mixing fast and easy by having all you need in one place. With machine learning, Neutron can listen to your track and create a preset based on your preferences.
Also, the modern and satisfying visualizers of each of the tools help make mixing fun and easy.
- 4 mixing tools – compressor, EQ, exciter, and transient shaper
- Track assistant that creates custom presets for your tracks
- A smart EQ that detects frequencies that it thinks require attention
This collection of mixing plugins is fantastic and is excellent for mastering and shaping sounds.
With its machine learning capabilities to create presets, it’s a great way for those starting out to learn how to process tracks.
Ironically, Neutron almost eliminates the need to do this, I only find myself tweaking the presets very slightly and they sound great.
With PORTAL, granular synthesis takes your sounds to another dimension.
- Extremely fun
- Easy to use
- A great way of achieving granulation on any track.
Portal is a granular synthesis plugin that can completely morph and texturize a sound.
With its main granular pad, you can freely and easily perform granular modulation at the click of a button.
On the surface Portal looks like a very basic VST, however, when you go under the hood to the advanced set up this is where you can go beyond the presets.
With 7 built-in effects, there’s a lot of potential to develop incredibly complex and elaborate sounds.
- Tempo synced time stretch to slow down and stretch sounds
- Visualizer modulation pad
- Humanize to add natural-sounding variations
- 7 built-in effects
- Built-in compressor and filter
Portal is a great plugin, making granular synthesis fun and easy.
I found myself constantly performing on the pad to create evolving textures throughout my tracks.
Yes, it is a bit expensive for an effect plug-in. But the price is right as it offers something really unique and it sounds fantastic in the process.
(You can learn more about granular synthesis in What Is Granular Synthesis? (Everything You Need To Know))
5. Goliath V2
Goliath V2 is a truly revolutionary and “analog” sounding tool. Be prepared to be pleasantly surprised!
- A true vintage analog feel
- Great value
- Plenty of features
Goliath is an analog-inspired dynamics tool with 4 saturation models: alloy, tube, tape, and vinyl.
Featuring an interface that is very much analog-inspired, Goliath has all that you would expect from a dynamics plugin.
The punchy and hard-hitting compressor accompanied by the 3 band EQ and low-cut filter all make Goliath a very useful tool for adding some OOMPH to your tracks.
- Analog processing chain
- Drive control
- Envelope-EQ mix control
- 3 band EQ and low-cut (highpass) filter
This is a great addition to your effects chain. Tone Empire has done an excellent job of creating this analog-sounding tool.
I often use this on my basses and drums to give them that extra weight. But this compressor also sounds great for softer compression with vocals and keys.
6. Rift 2.0
Rift's groundbreaking effects, extensive modulation, and all-around musical mindset put sought-after sounds at your fingertips.
- Well structured and extensive presets
- Beautiful design
- Amazing sound
Rift 2.0 is a new and exciting bipolar distortion plugin with 30 high-quality distortion types.
Also, there are extensive amounts of modulation capability, allowing for some incredibly detailed sound design.
Rift 2.0 has multiple stages of distortion which you can dial in leads to extremely gritty and elaborate basses, ideal for DnB and EDM producers.
Popular EDM producer The Glitch Mob says “Rift is one of the most comprehensive and versatile distortion plugins.”
- Multi-polar distortion with 30 distortion types
- Staged distortion, allowing you to stack effects
- Smart randomization
- The in-depth sequencer allows you to draw custom modulation shapes
The multistage distortion is an amazing feature of this VST.
Blending different distortion types with different modulation sounds fantastic. And the detail in which you can draw modulation shapes easily is similar to complex synthesizers like Vital and Massive.
Also, the smart randomization tool I found was an excellent way of sparking inspiration on a track. This is an all-around fantastic plug-in that can cover a lot of ground when it comes to distortion.
This award-winning software brings many different types of synthesis together into one amazing-sounding instrument that will spark a lifetime of exploration.
- HUGE factory library and FX
- Very well designed
- Extensive amounts of design capability
With over 14,000 sounds and 58 FX units, it’s hard to describe what Omnisphere is other than a remarkable piece of musical hardware.
In terms of versatility, it’s hard to compare this to any of the other synth VSTs, purely based on the size and scope of the product.
If you’re lacking inspiration you’ll be sure to find it somewhere within this enormous synthesizer. There is a galaxy of patches included with Omnisphere and you will always be finding new and interesting sounds. It’s also really easy to return to your favorite presets later on.
Aside from the literal library of sounds included, Omnisphere is a very powerful synthesizer that can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.
Used for music production by, musicians, artists, and composers alike, this VST is probably one of the most used to date, and with good reason. It’s been around for a long time and comes with a huge number of patches.
- Over 500 DSP wavetables
- 9000+ factory patches
- Granular synthesis
- 8 LFOs, 12 ENVs, 34 filter types per part
- Full FX Modulation
- Improved arpeggiator
This is an incredible piece of tech and it’s obvious why so many of the big artists and composers have been using Omnisphere for many years.
However, the major problem…the price.
For most amateur producers this is too hefty a price tag. And understandably so.
Therefore, I can only recommend this to you if you are serious about music. If so, a definite yes! As this is one of the best VST plugins for
8. Trash 2
Trash 2’s multi-band, dual-stage distortions, and advanced post-filtering enable immediate sonic transformation.
- Huge control over filtering and dynamics.
- Massive library of distortions
- Delay effects are great
As expected by the name, Trash is a sonic mangler which can really destroy whatever you put it on (in a good way).
The duel distortion module has endless amounts of distortion options. With analog features such as convolve allowing you to change impulse response and emulate the type of mic.
Accompanied by the distortions filter and 4 bands of compression, you can really fine-tune and tighten up a sound.
- Duel distortion module
- Multiband compression module
- Echo and slapback effects
- Spatial and object simulation
- Pre and post-distortion EQ
As a DnB producer, this is one of my all-time favorite plug-ins for music production.
This is almost always on all of my bass sounds in some way or another. It has the ability to be subtle but can also completely obliterate a sound.
With so much control over dynamics and filtering, you can easily dial in the sound you’re after.
9. Valhalla Shimmer
At its core, ValhallaShimmer is a high-quality reverberator, designed to produce a smooth decay, that is both dense and colorless.
- Pristine-sounding reverb
- Works well as a sound design tool
- Perfect for synthwave
Valhalla is a reverb inspired by film scores from the 80s such as Dune, which has these huge cascading soundscapes that fill the room.
This reverb has been made with the goal of capturing this immersion. However, compared to the methods used by the composers of the 80s, Valhalla delivers something much more advanced in this compact VST.
Shimmer is highly optimized so you can create these massive sounds without destroying your CPU.
- 4 reverb modes, mono, big stereo, medium stereo, and small stereo
- 4 pitch modes, single, dual, single reverse, duel reverse, and bypass
- Color mode which affects the overall tone
Shimmer is a great alternative to the stock
This reverb has the capability to create beautiful evolving soundscapes. The pitch shifting modes can create glorious cascading harmonies as well.
Because the VST is so well optimized you can automate the parameters and not experience any clicks or dropouts.
This is great for composing captivating soundscapes or for buildups and breaks. Overall, it’s a fantastic reverb plugin, and also great value for money.
What is a VST?
VST stands for virtual studio technology. This is technology pioneered by Steinberg in the 90s and it exists to this day.
VST plugins are audio effects, virtual instruments (like synths), and MIDI devices that can be used in your DAW to create music.
The great thing about the VST format is that it is supported by many different DAWs on different operating systems.
FL Studio Work On Mac OS?
Yes! Since version 20,
FL Studio Vs Ableton Live?
Ahh, the age-old debate. We take a closer look at this in FL Studio Vs Ableton Live (Which DAW Is Right For You?)