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21 High Quality Free Instrument & Effect Plugins

If you are anything like me, there is nothing better than goofing off with new toys. And if you love making music as much as I do, experimenting with free plugins is something you can get lost in for days!
If you haven’t received it yet, the link below will give you links to over 100 of my favorite Softsynths, Drum synths and effect plugins! Make sure to bookmark this page as we will be using some of these in future tutorials. Enjoy!
Here are some links to lots of free software so that you can do pretty much anything you need to even if you don’t have a huge budget! I will continue to add more VST’s as I come across them. Enjoy!

Instruments:

  • Tone 2 FireBird 2: Firebird was once a commercial synth that is now freeware. It has great sounds and most notable is its arpeggiator which is second to none.
  • Magix Independence Free: Independence Free is the freeware version of Magix Independence. It’s a powerful sample player which comes with some brilliant free sounds. Noteworthy is the free acoustic guitar and acoustic drumkits.
  • Native Instruments Kontakt Player: Kontakt is most likely the world’s most popular sample player, and for good reason; it’s a monster. The free version called Kontakt Player gives you some of the features of the software at no cost and comes with a great selection of sounds. You can also download a lot of free sounds all over the net.
  • Sound Magic Piano One: A good sounding piano VST is difficult to come by. Piano One is one of the few which delivers. It has a really powerful sound straight out the gate. You need to reduce the velocity and play around with the knobs a bit to get it to sound soft.
  • DSK Suite: The DSK line has over 50 free instruments ranging from drums, pianos, saxophones, guitars, strings, etc. 
  • Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra: This is by far one of the best free soundfonts out there. It contains all the major orchestra sounds; violins, cellos, violas, various woodwinds, percussion, etc.
  • Futu Craft Kairatune: This tiny synth is a beast to say the least. It produces clear, distinct sounds which can cut though a mix easily. It’s designed to be a lead and that’s exactly what I use it for. There are plenty of presets available too.
  • Synth One: When you first look at this synth it’s easy to underestimate it. But don’t let the unattractive interface fool you. It’s one of the most popular synths out there and can emulate thousands of sounds. There are also a lot of presets available all over the Internet and on forums.
  • u-He Zebralette: This synth is a toned down version of its big brother Zebra. Despite the fact that it has a fraction of the Zebra’s capabilities it’s a powerhouse in its own right.
  • IK Multimedia SampleTank Free: This is another sample player which comes loaded with great sounds. You get drums, a piano, guitars, bass, percussion, and other sounds. You can make a complete track with sounds only from this plugin.
  • Z-Doc Acoustic Piano (I, II, and III)Very few piano soundfonts can compare to the Z-Doc series. Version II of the Z-Doc piano is my personal favorite but all 3 releases are top notch. The sound is pristine and clear.
Effects:
  • Voxengo Suite: This is by far one of the best free VST effect suites out there. You can find a lot of great reverbs, a stereo-widener, several delays, guitar amp, EQ, and the darling of them all a spectrum analyzer called SPAN.
  • GVST Suite: This is one of the most popular free effects suites. It has the usual EQ, limiter, multiband compressor, chorus, etc. The compressor in particular is probably the one effect that stands out the most. The interface is generally clean and easy to use.
  • ReaPlugins: A nice bundle made by the Cockos team (REAPER developers). It has a brilliant gate, compressor, EQ, a pitch correcter, and a few other effects.
  • LePou Plugins Suite: This is arguably the best complete suite of freeware guitar amps, cabinets, and distortion effects.
  • iZotope Vinyl: This plugin is more for creative purposes than anything else. It makes your tracks sound like they’re playing on vinyl. 
  • Kjaerhus Audio Classic Series: The classic effects suite pack contains a compressor, delay, chorus, EQ, flanger, limiter, phaser, reverb, and auto-filter.
  • TAL Reverb: TOGU Audio Line plugins are generally awesome. They have 2 free reverbs which sound very good. I use them in majority of my production. If I could keep only one reverb in my library this would be it.
  • Magnus Ambience Reverb: One of the best reverb plugins out there. It can easily compete with its paid counterparts and it surpasses most of them by miles.
  • Fish Fillets Suite: A suite of 3 effect plugins; a compressor, a de-esser, and a gate/expander. These plugins are really good and should prove valuable to you when mixing your tracks.
  • MultiInspector Free: This plugin gives you the ability to analyze multiple signals at the same time so that you can see the frequencies which are clashing in your mix. There are several others out there, but this is one of the better free ones.

  Other Resources

  • Hammersound: this is the largest repository of soundfonts available on the Internet.
  • SF2Midi: another large repository of soundfonts. Plenty of free goodies here.
  • ADSR | A huge selection of free preset packs from leading sound designers.
    Rekkerd | A huge archive of free patches for virtual instruments.
    KVR Audio | Database of patches and sound banks submitted by KVR Audio members.
    AudioBombs | A fresh archive of free synth patches and sound banks.
    BigTick Zen | Manage and launch all your synth patches from a single plugin.

    Tutorials

    Music Production

    Introduction To Music Production | Free music production course by Berklee College of Music.
    How To Make Electronic Music | An epic intro to electronic music production.
    EQ Masterclass | In-depth series of EQ tutorial videos by ADSR.
    Thinking inside the Box | Great beginner’s guide to EQ.
    Compression 101 | Great beginner’s guide to compression.
    Compress to impress | Compression tutorial for the electronic musician.
    Kim Lajoie Blog Dump | PDF archive of Kim Lajoie’s music production tips.
    3 Mixing Secrets From The Legendary Andy Wallace | A reminder to keep it simple.


    Artist Toolbox

    Streaming Platforms

    SoundCloud | The most popular online platform for uploading and sharing your music.
    Bandcamp | Build your artist profile and share your music with your fans.
    sfx.io | The Imgur of audio, a quick way to upload and share your music.

    Online Marketplaces

    AudioJungle | The largest online marketplace to sell your music.
    iStock | Sell royalty free stock music and recordings.
    Pond5 | Another online marketplace for selling royalty free music.
    Synthmob | A marketplace for synth presets, audio loops and samples.
    Sampleism | Sell your samples and other sound design work.
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Item Reviewed: 21 High Quality Free Instrument & Effect Plugins Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Sweedy Luny
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