Top 15 free VST Instruments in 2023
In the world of music production, having access to high-quality instrument plugins is crucial for achieving professional-sounding recordings. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to sift through and find the right ones for your setup. That’s why I have put together a list of the top free instrument VST plugins that every music producer should have a look at. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned producer, these plugins offer a diverse range of sounds and versatility that will enhance your music making process. So sit back, grab your digital audio workstation, and let’s dive into the best free instrument plugins on the market.
1. Natives Instruments Komplete Start
Native Instruments Komplete Start is a free bundle of software instruments and effects from Native Instruments, a leading manufacturer of music production software and hardware. The bundle includes a selection of virtual instruments, synthesizers, and sound effects, and is designed to give musicians and producers a taste of the full Komplete software suite. It is a great starting point for those who are new to music production and want to explore the world of virtual instruments and effects.
2. ToneZ by Retornz
3. Cassette 808
Cassette 808 is a free 808 drum plugin that features top-of-the-line 808 drum sounds recorded by Gregor Zemljic in his mastering studio. To add a unique touch, these sounds were resampled from an audio cassette, creating a crunchy and distorted sound.
With three different 808 drum kits to choose from (Clean, Saturated, and Distorted), you can find the perfect sound for your music production. The Clean kit provides pristine sounds, while the other two kits offer more character and edge. This plugin is easy to use, requiring no setup and allowing you to start playing 808 sounds immediately in your DAW.
BD-808 is a plugin that recreates the classic 808 bass sound. Synsonic Instruments claims that BD-808 is built on an accurate digital representation of the original hardware 808 circuit. The plugin offers Tune, Fine-Tune, Accent, Level, Decay, and Tone controls, along with a Long Decay mode for generating 808 basslines.
Another feature of BD-808 is its ability to control the Tune and Accent controls via MIDI notes, enabling users to play the 808 bass drum in a chromatic manner. BD-808 is compatible with both Windows and macOS operating systems and is available in 64-bit VST and AU plugin formats
Layers is a free VST instrument for orchestral sounds, offering an effortless way to incorporate orchestral elements into your compositions and productions. It features recordings of strings, woodwinds, and brass to choose from. The one-touch simplicity allows for the creation of full chords. The layering feature enables blending of tonal colors and dynamics with a MIDI controller. Layers provides high-quality orchestral sounds without any cost.
Layers is a versatile tool that can be used to enhance any kind of music. It’s great for generating ideas for soundtracks, adding orchestral elements to pop songs, or incorporating cinematic textures into electronic tracks. The recordings were made in the Teldex Scoring Stage in Berlin, a hall with excellent acoustics. The engineers used hand-picked musicians from contemporary Berlin orchestras and selected microphones in various positions and configurations to achieve a pristine sound.
Vital is a fantastic, free synthesizer created by Matt Tytel that utilizes wavetable synthesis in an aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly way. The interface of Vital is visually appealing and provides immediate feedback for most controls. The highlight of Vital is its Spectral Oscillator Warping, which can add a unique character to sounds by acting directly on the waveform’s harmonics. There is a vast number of preset packs and tutorials available for Vital, making it a well-known and popular synthesizer. Despite its depth and complexity, Vital remains simple and easy to use, making it an excellent choice for a free virtual instrument.
Vital is available in four differently-priced editions:
- Vital Basic – Free
- Vital Plus – $25
- Vital Pro – $80
- Vital Subscription – $5 per month
7. Tyrell N6 by u-he
U-He transformed the Amazona.de forum’s hardware synthesizer blueprint into a highly-regarded software instrument called Tyrell N6. Tyrell N6 is considered one of the best software synthesizers, and has a classic “virtual analog” style. It offers a wealth of analog-like sound and is simple in its design, making it a favorite among analog synth enthusiasts. Tyrell N6 has a variety of sounds and features that make it stand out from other analog synth plugins. It’s a must-try for anyone interested in analog-style synthesizers.
8. Spitfire Labs
Spitfire Audio offers LABS, a collection of high-quality sample instruments available for free. The Soft Piano is a personal favorite with a mellow tone. The free string libraries and drum kit in LABS cater to a unique sound compared to other drum instruments. The LABS drum kit has an intimate sound that works well in more intimate music. The collection also includes a wurlitzer, charango, and other great sounds that can be utilized in music production. LABS is available for both Mac and PC.
9. Piano One by Sound Magic
Piano One by Sound Magic samples a Yamaha C7 grand piano, offering a bright and trebly sound that is ideal for brighter compositions. Although it has slightly finicky velocity settings for lighter, subdued piano sounds, Piano One excels in delivering grand and powerful piano tones. It is a highly recommended VST for Mac and Windows. If you’re looking for a beautiful and grand piano sound, give Piano One a try.
Dexed is a software instrument that perfectly recreates the iconic Yamaha DX7, an FM synthesizer that shaped the sound of the 1980s. It’s so accurate that you can load original DX7 patches into Dexed. For fans of classic 80s music, Dexed offers the chance to replicate the vintage electric piano sounds from Whitney Houston and Prince tracks, as well as the synth bass from “Take on Me”.
With an impressive collection of 3,000 presets, Dexed provides ample opportunity to experiment and create. Though finding the presets can be a challenge, a helpful video is available to guide users. Available for Mac and Windows, Dexed is a must-try for anyone looking to capture the classic sound of the 80s in their music.
11. DVS Saxophone by Dream Vortex Studio
Creating a solo saxophone plugin that sounds authentic is a challenging task, and I initially believed that finding a free option of suitable quality for this list would be unlikely. However, DVS Saxophone proved me wrong, delivering a rich and lifelike sound right from the start. This plugin is a great asset for any musician, especially those producing jazz or other genres that feature solo saxophone. DVS Saxophone can be used on a PC.
12. DVS Bass by Dream Vortex Studio
A bassline synthesizer with a unique single knob A.D.S.R. envelope control and straightforward design that allows for the fast creation of a diverse array of bass sounds.
13. Ample Sound Ample Guitar M Lite II
Ample Sound has made the list with their Ample Guitar M Lite II, a top-notch acoustic guitar sound. With a slightly tinny tone, it is ideal for crowded mixes and shines in pop or pop-related tracks. However, if the acoustic guitar is meant to be a prominent aspect of your mix, this may not be the ideal choice. Ample Guitar M Lite II can be used on both Mac and PC.
14. Zebralette by u-he
U-he’s Zebra is a highly sought-after synth and Zebralette serves as their way to entice you with its sound. This strategy is successful as Zebralette, despite having only one oscillator, still delivers incredible sound. It comes with 300 presets and a wealth of effects for advanced sound design, making it a must-have for synth enthusiasts. Zebralette can be used on Mac, PC, and Linux.
15. Sampletank by IK Multimedia
SampleTank 3 is a groundbreaking mobile sound and groove workstation that offers a comprehensive collection of over 2,300 high-quality samples, instruments, patterns, and grooves. This 8-part multitimbral workstation enables you to create rich, dynamic, and expressive musical arrangements on the go, by giving you quick and easy access to a wealth of sound resources. Whether you’re a composer, producer, or performer, SampleTank 3 is an indispensable tool for anyone looking to expand their sonic palette and take their music to the next level.