A taste of freedom
'If something seems too good to be true, it probably is', goes the saying, but when it comes to free VST/AU plugins for your PC or Mac, there really isn't much of a catch.
OK, some of the many freeware instruments, effects and other tools on offer might not be of what you'd call 'commercial quality', but if you restrict yourself to the good stuff, then you'll find that it really is the case that you can legitimately download some truly excellent plugins for nothing.
And that's where we come in. Rather than leaving you to make sense of the ever-growing free music making software marketplace, we've compiled round-ups of some of the best synths, effects, samplers and utilities that you can download today. There are other fine plugins out there, but these are some of our personal favourites.
To find out more, click through the gallery, which serves as a handy gateway to our specific plugin round-ups. So, dive in and get downloading.
12 of the best free VST/AU plugin synths
You'll find a multitude of free plugin synths on the internet, but it's fair to say that their quality can be variable.
Lucky for you, then, that we've cherry-picked some of the very best, and you can find out more about them and where they can be download if you click through to our round-up. We’ve got virtual analogues, both original and emulative, as well as purely digital offerings that have no precedent in the realm of hardware. Crucially, many of them rival even the most costly commercial offerings.
11 of the best free VST/AU mixing effect plugins
You've loaded your plugins folders with primo free synthesizers and other instruments and maybe even worked out some cool arrangements or tracked some material to your DAW. Imminently, then, you're going to find yourself staring at a mixer.
Getting a great mix is more than just a matter of throwing some faders around and setting levels and pan positions. A creative engineer will need additional tools in the form of equalisers, compressors, reverb, delay and other sweeteners.
Before whipping out that battered credit card or signing in to your PayPal account to splash out on the latest and hottest commercial plugins, though, why not take a look at some quality freebies first?
We've sifted through our collective effects folders and singled out a selection of our favourites for your due consideration.
7 of the best free VST/AU creative effect plugins
There’s nothing subtle about the sparkling selection of effects we’ve assembled here. These plugins aren’t meant to enhance, but rather to entrance; to ignite the spark of creativity into a conflagration. They exist to transform, transmogrify and transcend the ordinary. Some shake up your signals - others carry them aloft and away.
We encourage you to give each and every one a go, so click through to our round-up and get downloading.
4 of the best free VST/AU sampler plugins
The sampler was the first real casualty of the plugin revolution, and for obvious reasons: samplers have always been software-powered, even when they came in physical form.
The world of virtual samplers is reigned over by a handful of popular commercial products, but there are a few options on the freeware front. Thanks to SynthEdit and SynthMaker, the internet is peppered with free 32-bit, Windows-only sample-playback efforts, but there are far fewer coded-from-the-ground-up options.
However, we've ferreted out a few of the finest - click the link below to find out what they are.
6 of the best free VST/AU plugin utilities and tools
Some of the best free software out there is aimed not at generating or processing sounds, but aiding the process of making music.
This final selection of plugins may not be as glamorous as a new synthesizer or compressor, but each and every one is a must-try!