Whether you need a synthesizer or drum VST – or anything in between – you’ll find amazing options available. Hundreds of plugins are available which will help you transform an amateur track into a professional one.
How do you select plugins? What options are available?
Let’s find out.
Overview of VST Plugins
Music production plugins work alongside your DAW to allow you to fine-tune your productions. You’ll find VST plugins to add KICK, synthesizers and wavetables. If you find plugins to add effects, you’ll need to have a way to select the right plugin.
How do you make your selection?
The Criteria for Selection
Selecting your plugin is 100% up to you. You’ll find free and paid options available, and each has its place in music production. For example:
- New producers can start with free plugins that add effects even if they’re not as high-quality as premium plugins
- Paid plugins are a good option when you start taking your production more seriously
Whether using a free or paid plugin, you should spend time trying each. You can:
- Find YouTube videos with examples of the plugin
- See if the plugin’s page has sound examples
- Try a free trial of the plugin available
You can also go on Reddit or ask people on Quora about the plugins and which work best for them. When buying paid plugins, you can then compare presets and features to find the most feature-rich option in your budget.
Essential VST Plugins for Music Producers
What plugins should you purchase as a music producer? There are a lot of great options available, including but not limited to:
Synthesizer plugins add a lot of power to your production and are some of the most robust in the world of music creation. Some of the most powerful plugins are:
- ANA 2.5. Ana is a paid plugin that comes with 26 FX units, 500 presets, four macros, analog-modelled filters and so much more. If you’re delving into electronic music, this is a synthesizer that puts true power into every production.
- Xfer Serum. One of the best wavetable synthesizers in the world, this plugin is a tad expensive but allows you to create stunning productions. Clean oscillators, modulation and wavetable manipulation are available.
You’ll find other options, such as Kilohearts Phase Plant and Surge XT.
Do you want to add effects to your track? Everyone does. Your effects can keep people listening and truly highlight the highs and lows of your production. Some of the leading effects plugins that are available include:
- Boom-It by HAL Audio. Perfect for podcasts, tracks and games, you can recreate head movements and add distance to any production.
- ShaperBox 3 by Cableguys. If you want the most value for your money, ShaperBox 3 is the right plugin for you. This VST plugin includes pan, volume, width, noise and more effects, all built into a single plugin.
Mixing and Mastering Plugins
Plugins make mixing and mastering less intimidating and more accessible. There are so many mixing and mastering plugins out there, but some of the leading options include:
- Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain. Waves modeled this plugin after the iconic Abbey Road Studios sound. It features modular compression/limiting, input, tone, filter/EQ and output/stereo spread sections to give you more control over your masters.
- Elevate Mastering Bundle. This bundle includes four plugins, some of which use artificial intelligence algorithms to take your mixing and mastering to the next level.
Virtual instrument plugins allow you to use a variety of instruments in your arrangements, making it easier to create richer compositions.
You can find both free and paid plugins as well as single-instrument and bundle packs.
Some of the top free plugins include:
- Echo Soundworks Vinyl Guitar. This plugin is a sampled guitar using a vinyl record player.
- Piano in 162. This plugin features a sample library of the iconic Steinway Model B grand piano.
- Spitfire Labs. A leader in the free virtual instruments plugin space. They offer software instruments made by musicians for musicians.
Drum Machine Plugins
Drum VST plugins are essential, but with so many options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Here are some of the top drum machine plugins available:
- Roland Cloud Drum Machine Collection. This plugin has authentic recreations of five different Roland drum machines, which were some of the most revered rhythm machines of the ‘80s.
- XLN XO. XO is XLN’s first drum machine for electronic music production. This plugin has an AI-based sample scanner that uses machine learning to organize your samples in a visual way.
- Sonic Charge Microtonic. Microtonic is a unique drum synthesizer and pattern-based drum machine engine in one.
Sample Libraries and Sound Design Plugins
If you really want to diversify your options when creating new music, sample libraries and sound design plugins are great places to start.
Some of the top options include:
- LANDR Samples, which is an online marketplace with 2 million+ plugins from sample pack creators.
- SampleTank 4, which has 88 libraries and hundreds of instruments.
- Convex, which is a multi-effects processor that’s great for sound design experts and beginners alike.
Music production plugins help producers expand their creativity and improve the quality of their music. A wide range of VST plugins are available, but the tips above will help you find the ideal ones to use with your DAW.
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