List of best free VST and AU plugins you should try out!

List of best free VST and AU plugins you should try out!

When it comes to selecting audio plugins, there is a myriad of choices and decisions to make. Everyone has their favorites and everyone is trying to find the right combination of plugins to create that great sound on stage. If you are a guitar player or a singer, you will be leaning more towards the effect plugins.  If you are a keyboard player then you are likely to pay more attention to instrument plugins.

A great write-up of what audio plugins a pro keyboards player is using these days comes from our own David Jameson. Read his “Go-to plugin list” here.

Easily combining, inserting and tweaking those plugins is essential for any serious musician. That’s why a great audio plugin host application (hint: Gig Performer😀) is a must. Otherwise, you might very well try a plugin and a few of its presets but then give up on it before you explore all the cool options it might offer.

When it comes to pricing, usually you get what you pay for. Creating a great sampler plugin for example takes a lot of development and studio time, using great instruments and great players to capture a particular instrument faithfully. Then some serious development time to actually allow players to play those samples back properly. 

Having said that, there are some hidden gems that are absolutely free! Typically they are used as promotional tools for other commercial plugins made by the same company.

Anyway, you can never have enough plugins – right?

Most of the plugins listed here will have an installer so all you have to do is install them and restart Gig Performer. Some, however, come only as compressed files so you will have to manually drag the files to the appropriate folders. These will usually have instructions within the archive. Check out this blog article to get you started with plugin installation on Windows.

Without further ado – here is my go-to list for some of those free VST and Audio Unit plugins.

Youlean Loudness Meter free VST plugin

Youlean Loudness Meter. This is one of the best, if not the best, free loudness metering plugins. It earned the top spot in the KVR development challenge for Dec 2016


Download and more information


Melda Production, Free VST Effects Bundle Melda Production “Free Effects Bundle”. This is one of the most popular collections with more than 30 free plugins. If you don’t have this yet,  you should definitely check out their website.


Download and more information


Acon Digital Multiply, free VST plugin Acon Digital “Multiply” is a great chorus effect that may just be all you need as far as chorus effects go. Clean user interface and clear sound.


 Download and more info


AMAZONA Tyrell N6, free VST plugin AMAZONA “Tyrell N6” is a synthesizer that looks great, is versatile and comes with plenty of presets. You should give it a try. The site is in German but you can probably find your way around it regardless. There is also a manual in English should you need it.


 Download and more information


Klangehelm Audio Plugins MJUC jr. , free VST plugin Klangehelm Audio Plugins “MJUC jr.” is a variable-tube compressor. Compressors change the character of your sound quite a bit. This one is a vintage style smooth but can also “pump up” quite a bit.

 Download and more info


Klanghelm IVGI free VST plugin The same company, “Klanghelm”, also has a nice saturation and distortion plugin “IVGI”. Great looking and has the capability to create some nice distortion effects, just tweak the “Drive” knob and experiment


 Download and more info


Matt Tytel Helm, open source, synth VST plugin Matt Tytel “Helm” is an interesting open source synth.


 More info and download


Digital Suburban, dexed, FM synth plugin, Yamaha DX7 Digital Suburban “dexed” is an FM synth plugin modeled on the Yamaha DX7


 More info and download


TAL Reverb 2, reverb VST plugin TAL “Reverb-2” is, as you can guess, a reverb plugin. Reverbs are particularly personal things. Almost like guitar picks so you will have to download this one and try it. I like it. It sounds good and it has a low CPU usage.


 More info and download


Tunefish Synthesizer, analog synth, FREE VST plugin “Tunefish Synthesizer” is an analog synth worth experimenting with.


 More information and download


Tokyo Dawn Records TDR Nova, free VST plugins Tokyo Dawn Records “TDR Nova” is a dynamic EQ and one of the best available. User friendly interface. Somewhat CPU taxing – you should check it out on your system.

 More info and download


I hope this list was useful.


Related topics:
Top websites for free audio plugins and how to use them in Gig Performer
My go-to plugin list
What are the best plugins to get?
Never-ending quest for a better reverb/delay (completed)
List of free VSTs 


Scaling Curves

Scaling curves allow you to control the shape of the output of a widget or convert an incoming note velocity to a new velocity. Various predefined curves are available and they can be tweaked as necessary. You can also just draw your own curve as well to achieve the effect you require.


MIDI File Player Plugin

You can load up to 128 MIDI song files in a single plugin instance. Switch from one song to another, mute tracks and/or change their channel numbers. Tempo can be controlled by individual songs or you can use the global tempo and tap tempo to control the BPM interactively.


Favorites and Presets

Create a sound by placing and interconnecting your desired plugins, such as a synth, some effects and perhaps a mixer. Select them all and then save the selection as a named favorite. The favorite will subsequently show up in all plugin insert menus, making it easy for you to recreate that configuration whenever you need it again. This feature is also very powerful for creating your needed sounds on your studio computer and then transferring them to your touring laptop.


Probabilistic Sound Designer

Parameters you select in an open plugin are captured into the Probabilistic Sound Designer dialog window. When you click Randomize, you're only adjusting those selected parameters. Each entry in the PSD dialog has a curve but unlike widgets where the curve controls scaling, in the PSD the curves are used to define the probability of particular values being selected. Make sure the filter cutoff never gets too slow so as to block all sound. Perhaps adjust the max range of the VCA attack parameter so that the sound doesn't have too much delay. Constrain the octave ranges of the oscillators, perhaps ensuring that 1/3rd of the time we select 8' and 2/3rds of the time we select 4'. The possibilities are endless.


More Widgets

Numerous new widgets are included in Gig Performer - a new sustain pedal, plastic knobs, drum pads and more colored sliders. Shapes can be colored with different borders and fill colors and morphed from rectangular to circular. Your creativity is now the limit to creating fabulous front panels in Gig Performer.


MIDI Message Helper

Select MIDI devices by name. Choose the MIDI message type and adjust the appropriate parameters for the specific type



Layout management

Gig Performer supports arbitrary resizing. Layout your widgets the way you want - resize the main window and the widgets will grow or shrink as necessary to maintain the same interrelationships. No matter what size screen you have, your front panels will still be neat and usable.


Undo Support

If you move your widgets around and/or resize them, or even delete them by mistake, the Undo facility will correct your mistake. Minor moves to a widget by mistake will no longer spoil your design


Plugin Channel Count

Some plugins support a large number of outputs and they depend on the traditional channel strip to control how many ports should be available.   When you only need a stereo pair, it is convenient not to have a large horizontal block. In Gig Performer, the number of available ports  is controlled by the channel count override, which can be applied to individual plugins and will be remembered when the gigfile is reloaded or if the plugin is saved as a favorite.


Input muting and output fading

Rather than a single audio length tail, Gig Performer 4 gives you the ability to control input muting and output fading separately. Input muting controls how much time it takes for audio input to be silenced when you leave the rackspace. Output fading controls how much time will be taken for audio to fade out when you leave the rackspace.


Faster Plugin Finder

Instead of searching through menus of perhaps hundreds of plugins (you know who you are!), the Quick Plugin Finder makes it easy to find the plugin you need by simply typing partial strings. For example, as shown here, to find the Modartt Pianoteq 7 plugins, it's enough to type pia mod 7 (in any order, by the way)  to restrict the list of available plugins to those matching your query. The Quick Plugin Finder also knows about manufacturers, presets and favorites.



Touch Friendly Input

Any entry field can be changed by either dragging your mouse (or finger) up or down, or by using the large popup touchpad where you can just tap on the squares to enter a value. The large popup keypad also does validation so you can't enter an invalid value. You can also just tap the BPM field to pop up a larger view where you can quickly change tempo, tranpose, trigger Tap Tempo and enable Ableton Link, the last allowing you to synchronize Gig Performer with any other application that also supports Ableton Link.


New Tuner Display

The tuner view makes it easy for guitarists to quickly check and adjust their tuning. You can toggle into the tuner view from any other view and toggle right back as soon as you're done. All output will be silenced automatically while you're in tuning mode. You can adjust the concert reference pitch from its default of 440 Hz to suit your own needs. The tuner view fills the entire screen so you can easily see it from a distance.