Posted September 22, 2011 by Stephan Earl in Round-Ups

FREE Virtual Instruments and Effects Plug-ins

Free VST Virtual Instrument and Effects Plugins - Home Music Production

If you’re just starting out with your home music studio, you may find yourself overwhelmed by an overcrowded sea of VST, AU, and RTAS virtual instruments and effects plugins.  There are so many to choose from of all different types, and it can be difficult to determine which ones are good and where are the best places to invest your hard-earned coin.

The good news is that many independent developers offer FREE VST instruments and effects as shareware, and many major developers offer free versions of plugins to allow you to test the product before upgrading to the paid fully-featured version.

There are thousands of free audio plugins on the internet. But be careful.  Some sites may contain links with harmful viruses and malware, so you should only download from reputable developers and companies.

Below is a list of free VST instrument and effects plugins that are worth looking into.  This list only includes free VST plugins by third-party developers and doesn’t include software bundled with popular DAW packages.  Not all free plugins are available in RTAS and AU formats, but you can purchase VST to RTAS Adapter or VST to AudioUnits Adapter by FXpansion to convert them into the desired format.



  • Independence Free (PC, Mac / VST, AU, RTAS) is the free version of Independence Pro by Magix (formerly Yellow Tools).  The free version includes VST effect plugin hosting, and 2 GB library of sounds selected from the the Pro version.
  • Kontakt Player (PC, Mac / stand-alone, VST, AU, RTAS) is the free version of Native Instruments’ flagship Kontakt  sampler.   Kontakt player includes 50 instruments / 500 MB library of sounds from the full version of Kontakt.


  • Alchemy Player (PC, Mac / VST, AU, RTAS) is the free version of Alchemy by Camel Audio.  [Warning: I am a huge fan of Alchemy.]  OK, since we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss the free version.  Alchemy Player includes a 1 GB library of 200 sounds (1,600 variations) from the Alchemy library.  Alchemy Player can also load any SFZ sample library to use as a sound source for its synth engine.
  • FMMF (PC / VST) is a free FM synth by de la Mancha.  It features 4 operator FM synthesis with 17 FM algorithms, and 64 presets.
  • Crystal (PC, Mac / VST, AU) is a free synthesizer by Green Oak that uses multiple sound generating methods including: sample playback, subtractive, granular, and FM synthesis.  Crystal is also now available as an iOS app for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch.
  • TAL (Togu Audio Line): (PC, Mac / VST, AU) TAL offers a few free VST plugin virtual analog synths.


  • Piano One (PC, Mac / VST, AU) is a hybrid sampled and modeled piano instrument by Sound Magic.  It’s modeled after a Yama C7 Concert Grand piano.  It features 32-note polyphony, paid add-on system for additional piano instruments,


  • MDrummer Small (PC, Mac / VST, AU, RTAS) is the free version of MDrummer virtual drummer by MeldaProduction.  Available in VST and AU formats for Mac and PC.


  • Voxengo: (PC, Mac / VST, AU) Voxengo develops several free VST and AU effects processors along with their collection of high-quality paid plugins.  Their Free VST plugin types include: reverbs, EQ, compression, spectrum analysis, delays and others.
  • BlueCat Audio: BlueCat Audio develops several free VST and AU effects processors along with their collection of high-quality paid plugins.  Their free VST plugin types include: chorus, flanger, phaser, spectrum analysis and EQ.
  • UpStereo (PC, Mac / VST, AU) is a free stereo widener by QuikQuak.  It has a very simple design with controls for gain, widening, bass boost and air boost.
  • Variety of Sound: (PC / VST) This site offers some interesting free VST effects plugins that are for PC only. Their free VST plugin types include: EQ, limiter, compressor, channel strip, saturation, tape simulation and others.
  • TAL (Togu Audio Line): (PC, Mac / VST, AU) TAL offers many free VST effect plugin types including: filter, reverb, vocoder, delay and other effects.
  • LePou Plugins: (PC, Mac / VST, AU) LePou Plugins offer some free VST plugins for guitarists including an array of amp emulation effects.


Here are some sites with extensive lists of shareware and free VST plugins.

  • vstplanet.com
  • vst4free.com
  • free-plugin-list.com
  • freemusicsoftware.org


Stephan Earl

Composing, recording and producing music in the home studio environment for over 25 years, musician and author Stephan Earl now enjoys sharing his home studio setup experience with other home studio recording musicians via HomeMusicProduction.com.