The Best Free VST Plugins of 2023

The Best Free VST Plugins of 2023

music production Sep 06, 2023

It’s always great to get some new sonic weapons in your arsenal but the vast array of new VSTs can seem overwhelming and costly. Here is our guide to some of the best free plugins out there in 2023.


Starting out in music production can seem like an increasingly expensive business with a constant wave of new plugins proclaimed as game changing editions to your workflow, not to mention the ever-expanding repertoire of pricey hardware units that adorn the studios of many pros. Fear not, for there is an amazing range of free plugins out there that can punch well above their weight in terms of cost and compete with the big boys when it comes to sonically enhancing your productions. After all, who doesn’t like a good freebie?



What is the best free reverb VST plugin? 

Valhalla Supermassive

Valhalla are one of the most reputable brands when it comes to high quality and good value reverbs. Valhalla Room and Vintage Verb are often dotted across the projects of the pros. These effects are known for their flexibility and deep lush sound but when Valhalla decided to release their new reverb plugin Supermassive back in 2020 for free, many simply could not believe the quality this unique (not to mention huge sounding) reverb could produce. The reverb combines reverb and delay modes to create everything from infinite drones and lush washes to cavernous cathedrals of sound.  Fast forward to 2022 and the generous ladies and gents at Valhalla graced us with two new reverb/delay modes (Scorpio and Libra) in their latest update, adding yet more sonic variation to this gargantuan sounding verb.         


What is the best free synth VST plugin? 

Tyrell N6

u-He the brainchild of soft synth wizard Urs Heckman are responsible for some of the best analog emulations on the market. The company’s flagship synth Diva has become an absolute go to all-rounder for many pros with its huge sonic range and incredibly authentic 'Dinosaur Analog' modelling. However, this beast does come cheap. Fortunately, Urs and his crew have been kind enough to give us Tyrell N6, a completely free but sonically powerful synth available from their website. The synth was developed following a dream synth concept developed by members of the forum and has its core a pair of dual oscillators, twinned with some seriously snappy ADSR envelopes. Back that up with a twin filter design taken from an early prototype of the Diva, nearly 500 presents and a pair of host-syncable LFOs and you have some serious power. If this wasn’t enough u-He also offer a baby brother to their flagship wireless modular Zebra synthesizer (as endorsed by the likes of Hans Zimmer) called the Zebralette. Put simply these are both complete no brainers.      


What is the best free saturation or distortion VST plugin for adding some grit? 

Softube Saturation Knob

A good dose of saturation or distortion can do wonders to breathe life and colour in to tracks produced exclusively in the digital domain. No longer is adding analog warmth the exclusive preserve of those owning extortionately priced analog tape machines. Coming to our rescue in this instance are Swedish ‘Rock and Roll Scientists’ Softube. The company are responsible for truly incredible analog emulations in the shape of their moderately priced Model 84 and Model 82 virtual synths, but their free Saturation knob plug in is the gift that keeps on giving. A personal favourite, the name in this case tells you pretty much what you need to know. Simply dial in saturation on the giant (ahem) knob and switch between three modes to alter the colouration of sound. Plonk this on your drum bus for instant fatness, saturate and sculpt kick drums or add harmonics to those vocal tracks. Again, this is one used by the pros and for good reason. It sounds superb. 


What is the best free extreme compressor VST plugin?

Xfer OTT

Xfer the company behind the mighty wavetable behemoth Serum are also responsible for the turbo charged OTT compressor. A recreation of a popular upwards/downards multiband compressor, the aggressive sound of this unit has made it popular with electro and EDM producers. Whilst its sound is often extreme and can be used to transform your waveform into one ultra-loud (not to mention ultra-squashed sausage) should you wish, the compressor can also be used to create unusual effects and sonic tricks. Alternatively, use the wet dry knob to dial in more subtle texture and fatness to your productions.  


What is the best free delay VST plugin? 

Valhalla FreqEcho

Back once again are those boys and girls at Valhalla. This time with the ‘skull melting chaos’ of the FreqEcho delay plugin. From dubscapes to pitch-shifting modulation madness this plug in delivers some serious mangling to your audio. Featuring a Bode-Style Frequency Shifter and an Analog Echo Emulation, this plugin is a regular on my sends inside Ableton. There it waits armed and dangerous like a brutal henchman ready to eject any audio it encounters into orbit. Also worth checking out, is it’s equally deadly partner in crime the Space Modulator (which comes under the guise of a flanger) but also produces all manner of detuning, doubling and strange effects that defy description.


What is the best free chorus VST plugin for width and presence?  


It would be remiss of me to mention high quality and pocket friendly plugins without name checking TAL. Those familiar with vintage synths will instantly recognise the TAL-Chorus-LX as a reworking of the chorus unit from the legendary Roland Juno-60. This plugin faithfully recreates the width and presence of the chorus unit built into the original synth without the thousand-pound price tag. Just hit the buttons and play on this little beauty.


What is the best free vocoder VST plugin? 

TAL Vocoder

Want to sound like a robot from 1984? Whilst vintage vocoder units can cost a small fortune, TAL are back at it again, providing us with a free solution in shape of the TAL Vocoder. Well capable of producing those vintage 1980s vocoder tones, you’ll be dusting of your mat and throwing breakdancing shapes before you know it. As mentioned previously, the TAL website is a veritable goody store of freebies so make sure you check it out. 


What is the best free VST plugin for realistic strings and organic sounds? 

Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover

Looking for strings to give your productions some organic realism and depth? Spitfire Audio has become one of the worlds premium companies for providing incredibly accurate string audio libraries. Their premium offerings are used by Hollywood film composers such as Hans Zimmer and Olafur Arnalds but the excellent Spitfire BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is completely free. Featuring the same detailed recording process as the professional libraries offered by Spitfire, this is an idea gateway into scoring and orchestral composition. If that’s not enough, Spitfire Labs another freebie, offers an ever-expanding collection of software instruments from organic textures, to obscure instruments from around the world. Add to this some gorgeously atmospheric piano and string instruments and it’s pretty astounding that this all costs zero pence. 


What is the best free glitch VST plugin? 

Glitchmachines Fracture

Glitchmachines are a plugin manufacturer focused unsurprisingly on making plugins that specialize in glitch and granular effects. If you are after this sonic aesthetic, then look no further than Fracture. A popular free VST that can bring glitch articulations and abstract textures to any project. This buffer effect creates ‘robotic artifacts’ and ‘musical malfunctions’ and brings a whole heap of glitchy fun to proceedings with its flexible LFOS and array of effects. If that is not enough to satisfy your need for glitch, then dig into Hysteresis a free glitch delay which can provide more sonic mayhem alongside traditional delay effects. 


What are the free VST synth plugins for FM and analog sounds?


What’s that? You want more free synths you say... Ok well lets start with a personal favorite in the shape of the PG-8X. The original Roland JP-8X can be found in the studios of heavy weight house producers such as Deetron. The GUI is pretty basic but intuitive enough to use, unlike the cumbersome and incredibly fiddly to program original. Granted Roland released a boutique version not that long ago, but this VST costs zero dollars and you will soon be dialing in everything from rasping basses to shimmering arps. If you are looking for some FM action and don’t want to shell out for the excellent Arturia version of the classic Yamaha DX7 then Dexed is well worth checking out. FM bells, Chicago House basslines and more will soon be at your fingertips. 


What is the best free VST compressor plugin for analog warmth? 

AudioDamage Roughrider 3

One more compressor? Go on then. This one is a popular beast. Roughrider 3 has had over half a million downloads and is best known for its warm analog style compression. The latest update brings a neutral mode for more transparent processing and its sleek modern GUI makes it a pleasure to work with.


What is the best free plugin VST to improve workflow? 

Audio Treasure by Max For Cats

Want to level up your workflow? While Audio Treasure by Max For Cats is not strictly a plugin but rather a Max For Live device, it is completely free and might save you hours of frustration. The basic function of this device is to constantly record audio in the background into a two-minute ring buffer on your master. Just had a happy accident or moment of inspiration but didn’t manage to capture it? Audio Treasure has you covered, saving thousands of bedroom producers out there from near nervous breakdowns or what can only be referred to as ‘room rage’. You can thank me later.


Too many talented DJs & Producers can't get signed to the record labels they need to be to break through.

MYT uses in-depth Track Feedback, Live Masterclasses, Personal Coaching and Courses, to support our Community to become full time Electronic Music Artists


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.