The Best Free VST Plugins You Must Have

Getting together your own home recording setup can be expensive enough even without splashing out on expensive add-ons and plugins to your DAW.

Thankfully, there are a whole host of free VST plugins out there for you to get to grips with and start pushing your mixes to the next level.

Virtual Studio Technology (VST) modules are essentially a digital version of classic equipment you’d usually find in a studio, that sits within your DAW.

While most DAWs come with decent enough versions of plugins pre-installed, using a VST plugin that’s been developed solely for the purpose that it was built for can give you an even more professional product.

Free VST plugins are also ideal for beginners who can use presets and easy user interfaces to shape and shift sounds to suit their own mixes.

However, with so many on the market you don’t want to clutter your hard drive with bulky, processor-heavy add-ons, and knowing what to prioritise can be tricky.

So, we’ve picked out a few of our favourite free VST plugins to experiment with that won’t cost you a penny but will make a huge difference to your tracks.

Free Equalizer VST Plugin

The Best Free VST Plugins You Must Have | Dust Equalizer by Signaldust

Your EQ is a vital tool to help you shape your sounds by tweaking low, medium and high frequencies across the entire range that will make your mix sound more professional.

Whilst it can take years to master as a skill, using a plugin or preset can give you a head start on learning what to boost and what to cut, particularly when you’re just starting out.

With an uncluttered and unfussy UI, Dust Equalizer by Signaldust benefits from a less is more approach by getting you right down to it quickly. High and low cut filters, mid frequency bell filters and high and low shelf EQs help you carve out the exact frequencies that you need, with a low CPU usage making it kind to your processor.

Download Dust Equalizer by Signaldust here

Free Compressor VST Plugin

The Best Free VST Plugins You Must Have | Stereo Buss Compressor

Simply put, a compressor reduces the overall level of your mix by reducing the range between the loudest sound and the quietest. Too much compression makes your mix sound deadened and flat with no dynamic changes, while too little compression can make your more intricate parts lose their place in the mix.

Minimal System’s Stereo Buss Compressor is a great first step into compression for Windows-based DAW. Taking inspiration from the classic analogue consoles, this simple looking compressor provides a simple interface giving you total control over attack, release, gain and managing your thresholds and ratios with ease.

Download Stereo Buss Compressor here

Free Echo / Delay VST Plugin

The Best Free VST Plugins You Must Have | Valhalla Freq Echo

Echo can make the world of difference to vocal lines, and a lot of your favourite tracks probably have a low level of delay that you wouldn’t even notice unless you were looking for it. A good delay or echo plugin will allow you to pan left and right as well as positioning the sounds further back or forward in the mix.

The Valhalla Freq Echo for Windows and Mac gives you the range you need for creating psychedelic sounds, wide sweeping flanging and phasing to more subtle chorus effects and beyond.

Download Valhalla Freq Echo here

Free Reverb VST Plugin

The Best Free VST Plugins You Must Have | TAL Reverb II

Reverb adds to your mix by giving your sounds context within a space. That might be a massive cathedral or stadium or an echoey bathroom with loads of short, sharp resonance.

Available for Windows and Mac, TAL-Reverb II is based on the classic plate reverbs of old, which are ideal for creating in-depth and effective ambient sounds. With controls for high, mid and low frequencies, pre-delay and room measurement this handy plugin also comes with 10 presets for you to tweak and tailor exactly how you like.

Download TAL-Reverb II here

Free Autotune VST Plugin

The Best Free VST Plugins You Must Have | MAutoPitch

While autotune had a phase in the last 10 years of being completely overused in almost every hit record, when used sparingly it can be really useful for correcting any minor pitching issues or syncing multiple parts to ensure they harmonise.

While some DAWs already come loaded with a pitch correction tool, Melda’s MAutoPitch plugin is one of the better free autotune plugins out there, with multi parameters, MIDI controller compatibility, stereo expansion and a load of other features perfect for vocal recordings and monophonic instruments.

Download MAutoPitch here

Summary

The main thing to be mindful of when looking for a new VST module is to make sure that it does the job for you. You don’t want to be wasting processing power or money on a huge reverb unit that you’re not using to the best of its ability when a less intensive free version will do.

Similarly, layering up on plugins can not only cause your computer to lag when recording and during playback but spending more time installing, removing and tweaking new modules can start to take the fun and creativity out of making music.

Got a plugin or VST module you swear by? Let us know your recommendations on Facebook or Twitter.

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