Since there are so many VST plugins out there, it can be overwhelming to choose from the multitude of great plugins. We’ve done the research for you; this list provides you with reviews of the 30 best VST plugins to have in your arsenal in 2021.
Here are the best VST plugins 2021:
1. FabFilter Pro-Q 3
Smart flexibility for all your EQing needs
FabFilter has a fantastic EQ that is very easy to use and provides an innovative way to mix your individual tracks so that they fit right into your mix. FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3 features a large interactive EQ display with a dynamic EQ, optional auto gain, EQ match, mid/side processing per band, and even a fully customizable spectrum and collision analyzer.
Pro-Q 3 is very easy to use and allows you to solo each band so you can pinpoint the problem frequencies in your mix if you struggle to hear them otherwise.
The plugin has a lot of little goodies including general EQ presets for vocals, drums, and guitar, as well as a piano roll display to match EQ frequencies with different musical notes. Pro-Q 3 is great for both mixing and mastering as you can change the display ranges from 3 and 6 dB ranges for mastering and 12 and 30 dB for mixing.
2. Waves API 550A & 550B
Analog modeling for a classic sound
Waves plugins are an industry standard and the Waves API 550A and 550B EQ plugins are loved by many producers. These EQs come as a pair so that is why I have included them in the same review. They are modeled after analog API EQs from the 60s, with the 550A having a bit less flexibility than the 550B, but still being an extremely amazing analog modeled EQ.
The 550A offers repeatable equalization at 15 frequency points and 5 different boosts that are then divided into 3 overlapping bands. High and low EQ can be selected as either shelving or peaking, and you are also able to insert a band pass filter.
The 550B is more of a sweetening EQ but can also be used to solve frequency problems that the 550A might not be able to fix. The 550B offers 7 filter frequencies reaching up to 5 octaves per band (there are 4 bands) with bands 1 and 4 offering a shelf or peak filter if you so desire. The 550B also has a feature called ‘proportional Q’ which automatically widens the filter bandwidth at its minimum settings and narrows it at its highest settings.
Both of the EQs are great for getting that classic sound that only vintage EQs can provide. I highly recommend them.
3. Universal Audio Neve 1073
Bright EQ with a gritty sound
The Universal Audio Neve 1073 plugin is a channel amplifier that is one of the best preamp and EQ circuits to ever come out. The Neve 1073 is one of the most revered class A transistor mics and line amps that give total clarity, sheen, and bite to your recording. The 1073 is the only end to end Neve 1073 emulation.
With the plugin, you can emulate a Neve preamp and then use the EQ to change the frequencies in your recording. The 1073 has a 3-band EQ and there is also a post fader output. The plugin features all 10 clipping points from the preamp and EQ so you get harmonically rich, classic saturation along with plenty of grit but also a lot of clarity.
While this EQ may be the most limited in terms of capability, it has a classic analog sound that you only find in Neve gear, and that alone is what has made me consider it one of the best VST plugins.
4. Waves CLA-2A
Best for smooth, subtle compression
The Waves CLA-2A compressor is one of my favorites and it is one of the most popular plugins that Waves offers. The CLA-2A is a frequency dependent compressor that was modeled by an old, classic tube compressor called the LA-2A.
Because it is frequency dependent, that makes the CLA-2A slightly slower than other compressors, especially because there is no need for attack time or release, but that means it is smoother. It is not known for having any harshness and it colors the audio just enough to give it a smooth sound rather than overdoing it like other digital compressors often do.
There is also a limiter feature so if you want to do some subtle limiting as well, you will have no issue doing that, and you can sidechain mixer channels to the plugin too if you need to.
The CLA-2A is an ideal compressor for guitar, bass, and especially vocals. I use it for vocals a lot of the time to give it that analog sound and also smoothen out the vocals to where they are not peaking too much but some words are still defined.
5. Waves CLA-76
A compressor with super fast attack
The Waves CLA-76 is a compressor inspired by the mid 60s Class A limiting 1176 amplifier, and is well known for its extremely fast attack and release. The Waves CLA-76 VST plugin gives you both models of the compressor, known as ‘Blacky’ and ‘Bluey’ (hardware versions are the UREI/Universal Audio 1176 Blue Stripe and 1176 Blackface).
The CLA-76 looks more like what the stock compressors you would find in Logic Pro X, but it is far superior in terms of sound. The CLA-76 features input and output knobs, attack and release knobs, and ratio buttons. In the ratio section you will find a button that says ‘ALL’ which is a control that recreates the explosive mode that made the original piece of hardware so popular in tandem with its lightning fast attack.
The compressor also provides preamp distortion that helps make your drums stand out. That being said, the CLA-76 is best for drums, but also sounds great on guitar, vocals, and bass. It is very snappy and also adds the analog sound that is desired by many producers. I suggest that you use this specifically on drums or anything that has a percussive rhythm to it.
6. FabFilter Pro-C 2
Compression with flexibility and ingenuity
FabFilter has a theme of being very flexible and extremely intuitive in their plugin design. The Pro-C 2 is no exception. The Pro-C 2 offers 8 different types of compression (clean, classic, opto, vocal, mastering, bus, punch, and pumping) to meet your needs. Additionally you get a lookahead feature to preserve oncoming transients and an oversampling feature.
Auto gain and release is available so you can let your audio play and rely on Pro-C 2 to keep the audio level steady as you adjust the other knobs and controls to suit your taste. A hold feature and a range feature are also provided, which is something you do not usually see in your typical compressor plugin. Pro-C 2 also offers sidechaining and mid/side processing to adequately leave room in your mix for other instruments and vocals to peek through.
FabFilter’s Pro-C 2 compressor is ideal as a staple VST plugin in your arsenal and works fantastically. it is ideal for any users as it shows exactly how, when, and why the compressor is doing certain things at certain times, and the flexibility of the plugin makes it great for use with any instruments and vocals.
7. Waves C6
Great for controlling with precision and adding consistency
If you need consistency or to tackle some problems in your mix, it is always good to have a multiband compressor. The Waves C6 is a 6-band multiband compressor that has been developed from Waves’ C4, which is an award-winning multiband compressor with 4 bands.
Known as being a powerhouse, the C6 can be used to expand, limit, and compress to shape mixes dynamically. The C6 can also be used to tame plosives and de-ess with surgical precision.
Along with the 6 bands (4 crossover and 2 floating) that you have full control over, you get an internal and external sidechain per band. This can be especially handy when you need to control low frequencies like drums but do not want to take anything away from the bass guitar in your mix.
You also have the capability of listening to each band individually to hear what the compressor is doing to your audio. The C6 is definitely a tool you should be keeping in your arsenal.
8. Waves Renaissance Reverb
For dense, realistic vintage reverbs
The Waves Renaissance Reverb plugin is known as being the first reverb choice for many producers. It delivers dense reverbs with plenty of texture to fill your mixes, and provides a warm sounding tone that emulates a lot of vintage reverb sounds.
Renaissance Reverb has 12 different reverb types including: Hall, Room, Chamber, Church, Plate, Reverse, Gated, Non Linear, EchoVerb, and ResoVerb. There are multiple variations of each reverb type and you can edit and fine tune each to your own liking with the controls provided.
You can set the pre delay amount, change the time, size, diffusion, and linear decay, as well as the volume of the early reflections and the mix between the wet and dry signals.
Renaissance Reverb offers damping controls as well as a dual band EQ to help with any harsh tones that might result from using the reverb. It is very easy to dial in the amount of reverb you want and the included presets are a great starting point if you are not familiar with tailoring reverb to your own needs.
9. ValhallaDSP ValhallaPlate
Plate reverb for shimmer and shine
ValhallaDSP’s ValhallaPlate is a plate reverb plugin, as the name suggests. Plate reverb is good for use with many different instruments as well as vocals, so that is why I have included it as being one of the best plugins.
ValhallaPlate uses 12 different algorithms to emulate the sound of steel plate reverbs. There are 3 different reverb modes (Eternal, Shiny, and Chrome), and within those modes are other reverb presets.
Like a typical reverb plugin, ValhallaPlate has a pre delay knob, a wet/dry mix knob, a decay knob (with frequency dependent decay), and a size knob. Additionally, ValhallaDSP allows you control the width of the reverb which makes it wider or more narrow in the stereo field.
Because plate reverbs are known for having high diffusion, ValhallaDSP does not include a diffusion knob. However, it does include four controls for high and low EQ and high and low gain. There is also a modulation knob and a control to adjust the rate of modulation.
ValhallaPlate is a fantastic reverb VST and each mode sounds incredible. I use it in a lot of my own personal work and the reverb fills out the mix very easily as well as adds a bit of color to whatever I use it on. Personally, I prefer it more than Waves’ Renaissance Reverb as it adds more of a shine and shimmer and creates brightness.
10. Universal Audio Lexicon 224
Transparent analog modeled reverb
The Lexicon 224 by Universal Audio is a digital reverb created back in 1978 and now has been digitized into plugin form. Like the hardware module of the Lexicon 224, the interface of the plugin is a tactile slider design. There are 8 different reverbs and 1 chorus effect that use the same algorithms as the original hardware so you get the exact sound as you would if you had access to the hardware.
The sliders allow you to adjust the reverb time, bass, treble, and mid frequencies in each reverb, as well as crossover, treble decay to roll off the high frequencies, a slider to change the depth of the reverb, and one for pre delay. There are buttons to adjust decay optimization, reverb diffusion, mode enhancement, the dry and wet mix, and to disable system noise, and you can even solo the reverb to hear how it is changing your track.
If you open up the plugin you will discover more features like the ability to pitch shift the reverb and change the input and output gain. I strongly suggest you try this one out if you want a natural and transparent reverb without coloration.
11. Waves H-Delay
Hybrid delay for old and new styled effects
H-Delay by Waves is a hybrid delay plugin that lets you add old school and more modern delay effects in your music. H-Delay’s interface is very easy to use and allows you to tailor your delay to the exact parameters and style you want it to have.
H-Delay allows you to incorporate PCM42-styled delays into your music as well as stuff like flanging, filtering, phasing, slapback echo, ping pong delay, and even delay that syncs with the tempo of your DAW, complete with modulation. The plugin gives plenty of analog character to your tracks and even has some LoFi modes if you are into that type of thing.
H-Delay has a good amount of starter presets if you do not know where to start, and from there you can fine tune the sound using the delay time knob, the feedback knob to adjust how much delay you want to hear, a knob to adjust the modulation depth and rate, one for the analog character, and even some for high and low pass filters.
Another handy feature is a tempo tap if you prefer to set your delay time that way rather than with the time knob. Waves gives you all the necessary controls to tailor your delay exactly how you want it in a hybrid plugin.
12. Soundtoys EchoBoy
The ultimate delay plugin
I would consider EchoBoy by Soundtoys to be the ultimate delay plugin. It is by far the most versatile delay plugin I have seen, and it is very popular. EchoBoy is an analog modeled plugin that channels 30 different vintage emulations of analog delay gear.
You get a ton of classic echo and delay tones including EchoPlex, Space Echo, Memory Man, and DM-2. Along with these analog options, Soundtoys also modeled some other gear to go beyond stompboxes.
You will need to know a small amount of music notation as EchoBoy’s timing is based on music notes because it was made with musicians in mind. However, there are knobs to control echo time, groove, feel, the various echoes, a high and low cut filter, and saturation, among others.
Along with delay and echo presets, you also can choose between different modes like a dual echo or ping pong delay. If you want to create your own delay rhythm, you can even do that. EchoBoy is extremely versatile and gives you a wealth of delay gear all in one.
13. FabFilter Saturn
Warm saturation for filling in the mix
If you need to make your mix thicker or add a little extra something to your instrument tracks, try saturation and/or distortion. FabFilter’s Saturn plugin helps you achieve this. Saturn was inspired by the vintage sound of tape, tubes, and guitar amps, and provides a warm, clean tone with plenty of color and harmonics without losing dynamics.
Although Saturn is a saturation plugin, it has a few distortion modes to crush and clip your sounds. Saturn has a multiband style interface (up to 6 bands) and you can control the dynamics, drive, tone, and level of each band. The plugin also has modulation, which, if applied correctly, can bring a great amount of tastefulness to your tracks.
All in all, Saturn has a total of 16 different saturation modes (including distortion). You have the ability to solo and mute each specific band in the multiband interface and change the parameters individually or use presets or MIDI information. As usual, FabFilter has provided a great plugin with plenty of versatility.
14. Camel Audio CamelCrusher
Color and compress your mix
Camel Audio’s CamelCrusher is one of the free plugins on this list. It is another plugin for coloring and adding saturation to your mix, but also what it can do is compress or expand your mix. It has an extremely simple user interface with very few knobs, making it incredibly easy to use.
There are several base presets that are included in the VST plugin, but you can also start from scratch, or use the random generator to consistently get various randomized settings to keep your flow fresh.
The distortion section of the plugin allows you to add distortion and pleasant saturation, while the filter and compressor sections of the plugin aid in keeping the signal clean and controlled. The distortion section offers two different types of saturation: tube and mech. Tube provides more of an analog sound, while mech provides a mechanical sound.
The only downside to this great plugin is that it was discontinued a few years ago when Apple bought out Camel Audio, but you should still be able to find CamelCrusher online or in Apple’s Logic Pro X DAW.
15. Antares Auto-Tune Pro
Vocal tuning made easy
If you struggle with keeping your vocals in tune or you just really like the T-Pain effect, Antares Auto-Tune Pro is a great autotune plugin that is incredibly simple to use. I use it to smoothen out my voice in my own songs and give my vocals a crisp, bright tone that can not be achieved with an EQ.
Antares Auto-Tune Pro has only a few controls on its main screen but you can go more in depth with a few clicks. On the main page, you can choose what range and key to sing in, and there is a keyboard that lets you tailor the autotune to accept certain notes in a scale and leave out others.
You will also find a retune speed that controls how fast the autotune works, FlexTune, and humanize to make your vocals sound more natural and transparent, as well as controls for transposing and formant correction.
Going more in depth, in Graph Mode, once you have recorded you can edit the notes of each of your words individually to correct the pitch and timing if the automatic autotune needs more changing. I highly recommend Antares Auto-Tune Pro, it is one of the best autotune plugins out there, if not the best.
16. Celemony Melodyne
More complex vocal tuning
If you need a little something more complex than Antares Auto-Tune Pro, Melodyne by Celemony is another top option. Melodyne focuses around a graph mode like Antares Auto-Tune Pro does, but unlike Auto-Tune Pro, there is no fast track option to get you started off fast with just a few knob adjustments.
Melodyne is a smart tool that detects the tempo, scale, and tuning of your recording automatically, unlike Auto-Tune. It not only allows you to make adjustments in terms of pitch, but also allows you to shorten or stretch notes out and change the velocity of notes as well. You can also adjust vibrato, volume, and other timing elements.
Individual notes are what you are manipulating in Melodyne, rather than waveforms. Melodyne has a polyphonic mode as well, so you can use it with piano and guitar and other polyphonic instruments, and you can edit as many notes as you want at the same time.
Melodyne is a great option if you have a lot of time on your hands to edit and manipulate the notes in the plugin and if you want to get really complex with editing.
17. MeldaProduction MMultiAnalyzer
Analyzing your mix with ease
MeldaProduction has a lot of great tools that allow you to mix and edit your music, and MMultiAnalyzer is definitely one of the best ones. MMultiAnalyzer is a multitrack analyzer that is incredibly easy to use.
It is made up of several spectral analysis graphs that allow you to compare multiple audio tracks in your DAW and check for collisions in the frequency spectrum, analyze the loudness, wideness of your instruments in the stereo field, and even pitch.
The most helpful section of this analyzer plugin is easily the Collisions section. I use it a lot to make sure each of my tracks has enough room in the mix and are not fighting against each other to find a spot in the frequency spectrum in my songs.
If you do not have an EQ with a graph to check your frequencies, MMultiAnalyzer’s Sonogram section detects each level of frequencies among the tracks you have selected in your DAW, and from there you can look at that while changing your EQ to suit your needs. MMultiAnalyzer is a must have in your plugin arsenal.
18. MeldaProduction MRhythmizer
Adding rhythmic effects to your songs
Another great tool by MeldaProduction is MRhythmizer. If you are familiar with FL Studio, you may be aware of their stock plugin, Gross Beat. MRhythmizer is Gross Beat for people who do not use FL Studio.
If you are not familiar with Gross Beat, it is a plugin that uses a sequencer to control time, volume, and various filters to add rhythmic effects to your tracks. MRhythmizer is exactly the same, and offers even more options than Gross Beat.
MRhythmizer has 36 sequences over 3 sequencers so you have plenty of options when manipulating time, volume, and filters. Modulators in the plugin allow you to incorporate record scratching and enable you to automate any filter in any way.
MRhythmizer handles mono and stereo signals with ease, and also allows you to do even more stereo field processing with mid/side encoding. With MRhythmizer, you can take your songs from static and boring to another level, creating movement and excitement.
19. Soundtoys Little AlterBoy
Vocal formant and pitch shifting
Soundtoys’ plugin, Little AlterBoy is a monophonic vocal formant and pitch shifting plugin. You can change the pitch of a voice, change the formant to change the singer’s gender, or even make vocals sound like they are being sung by a robot. You can even hard tune vocals.
While this plugin is very simple, it can do a lot and it is a great way to get new ideas. Along with pitch and formant controls, Soundtoys has added a Drive knob that happens to be from their Decapitator plugin to add warm tube saturation to the vocal effect if you so desire.
Little AlterBoy is compatible with MIDI, so if you have a MIDI keyboard or controller, once you have set up the plugins parameters to your desired taste, you can use MIDI to control the pitch for vocoder or harmony effects.
Little AlterBoy is a solid plugin. I have found that when using the formant shifting control, the effects that you can get sound a lot more natural than pitch and formant shifter plugins like those from Waves and other big plugin companies.
20. Polyverse Music Wider
Great for widening the stereo field without phasing issues
As the title states, Wider is a free, fantastic little plugin made specifically for widening the stereo field of a track without causing annoying phasing issues. Created by Polyverse Music and the electronic producer duo Infected Mushroom, Wider was created to solve many problems that a lot of producers struggle with when it comes to stereo widening.
Wider is a plugin that creates the illusion of an expanded stereo image of a mono signal. Wider is unique in the sense that any audio signal that has been expanded will always remain in phase with itself even if it is made into a mono signal.
Phasing issues are a big problem when it comes to widening audio signals, and a lot of stereo widening plugins out there do not provide a plugin (or even a solution) for these phasing issues. Wider has a special algorithm that solves these phasing issues.
It is an extremely easy to use plugin as all you have to do is slap it on a track and click and drag left or right to narrow or widen the signal of the track. You can widen a signal all the way up to 200% if you want.
I use Wider in almost all of my projects and it has never let me down. If I find that reverb or delay is not making my track wide enough, I slap Wider onto it and it always does the trick.
21. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
The most powerful synthesizer
If you have been in the production industry for a while, you have probably heard of Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics. It is an incredibly powerful synthesizer plugin used by many producers today. Omnisphere has a huge library of over 14,000 sounds sampled from many instruments like bells, chimes, drums, ethnic instruments, other synthesizers, and more.
Omnisphere has been used in award-winning films, hit songs, and best-selling games as it is extremely versatile. Along with the giant sound library, Omnisphere has a total of 58 FX units, from EQs to Delays and more, that can be paired with each sound to make them sound even better and fit right in your mix with no problem.
Omnisphere is a synth that allows you to use multiple sounds at the same time and layer them according to your taste and edit them with the ADSR. Not only can you layer instrument sounds, but you can also layer sine, square, saw waves, etc.
The synthesizer is MIDI compatible with certain keyboards and controllers listed on their website and the included arpeggiator and oscillators as well as a granular synthesis ring can be tweaked and edited while playing with the MIDI keyboard. The features and flexibility just keeps on coming. I strongly suggest you check Omnisphere out.
22. Spectrasonics Keyscape
Hyper realistic keyboards and pianos
Keyscape is one of my absolute favorite plugins. In order to use Keyscape, you will need Omnisphere, as Keyscape is essentially just a whole different library that can be used within the Omnisphere plugin. Keyscape was made with pianists in mind. The library took 10 years to make, as 36 different collector’s keyboards and pianos were painstakingly sampled at different note velocities to create a superbly realistic piano library all in one plugin.
Keyscape is ridiculously realistic, from the LA Custom C7 Grand Piano to the MK-80 Digital Rhodes keyboard. This plugin is an absolute dream to use, and although it has a huge library that takes a while to load, everything about Keyscape is worth it. It is like having every single piano at your disposal without having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for it.
As for the features of Keyscape, the plugin allows you to play all the keyboards and pianos with your MIDI keyboard, and also has effects like reverb and performance controls that let you adjust how much percussion you want to hear from the keys, where the microphones are placed, and more.
If you are a pianist or even just a producer that wants to have realistic sounding keyboards and pianos, get Keyscape, it’s the best piano VST plugin you can get right now.
23. Spectrasonics Trilian
Realistic acoustic, electric, and synth bass
As you can tell, in my opinion, Spectrasonics really has something good going on with their plugins. It is true though – Spectrasonics is the one VST instrument plugin company that has the absolute most realistic instrument sounds. That is because of their dedication to sampling real instruments straight from the source.
With Trilian, Spectrasonics has done it again, sampling 34 GB worth of acoustic, electric, and synth bass sounds from classic instruments. The basses in this plugin are extremely expressive in real time and can be used in performances as well as when recording music in a DAW.
There are automatic articulations that can be selected, like hammer ons, pull offs, and trills to make your performances sound even more realistic. You can even seamlessly slide from one note to another and incorporate string squeaks and ghost notes into your performances. This is the ultimate bass plugin without a doubt.
24. Native Instruments Kontakt
For sampling instruments
Native Instruments is a well-known, reliable company that makes both software and hardware music gear. Kontakt is one of their most popular plugins, and it is likely that you have heard of it as it is easily the most popular sampler out there.
Kontakt is a sampler plugin that allows you to import your own samples or use the included library of over 55 GB worth of realistic instrument sounds to incorporate into your music.
The plugin is very simple: once you load your own sound or an included instrument library, you can use a MIDI keyboard or the onscreen keyboard to play the sounds.
Using the effects and controls included in each instrument suite, you can tailor the sounds to fit your needs. Kontakt also allows you to combine instruments for layering purposes, and even create hybrid instruments.
There are over 600 licensed manufacturers and plenty of other third parties that make instruments for Kontakt, so you are not limited to Native Instruments. If you like playing samples, this plugin is for you.
25. Native Instruments Massive
Analog synth for bass music and more
Massive by Native Instruments is an ideal choice for making bass music or anything electronic, although it is great for trap and hip hop as well. Massive is an analog style synthesizer plugin that excels specifically in the case of basses and leads. Everything you need is laid out in one page, and you can load instrument folders and libraries into the synth on another page.
Massive comes with a large library of sounds, but you are also able to create your own presets with the wavetable oscillators, modulation options, and add in plenty of filters and effects like reverb and drive.
Like Kontakt, many third party manufacturers make presets for Massive if you are not satisfied with its included 1300 presets. If you find that you are overwhelmed trying to search for the ideal preset, Massive allows you to intuitively search through the preset library on a different page of the plugin by name or even characteristics of the sounds. Massive is ideal for performances but also can be easily used in the studio.
26. Xfer Records Serum
Versatile synth ideal for electronic music
Xfer Records’ Serum is an extremely popular software synthesizer primarily used by electronic musicians, but with how versatile and customizable it is, it is great for anyone. Serum’s workflow is meant to be optimized for creativity, so sound design is way more fun with this plugin.
As for its features, Serum has a built in wavetable editor that allows you to import audio and create custom wavetables. You can also use the included wavetables or ones from third party creators. You can get extremely creative with wavetables, as Serum allows you to add fades, morph between wavetables, and modify existing ones, among other things.
Serum has a modulation system as well, and if you want to modulate a certain parameter, all you have to do is drag and drop an LFO control to the knob you want modulated. The plugin also offers plenty of filters, like flangers, phasers, and comb filters, as well as a host of effects, from distortion to reverb to EQ, that can be modulated or controlled with a MIDI keyboard. Serum provides you with all the tools to craft your sound exactly how you want it.
27. XLN Audio Addictive Drums 2
An easy to use virtual drummer
Addictive Drums 2 is a great drum plugin with a variety of drum kits and styles. I use it in some of my projects and it is incredibly versatile and easy to use. Addictive Drums 2 comes with 3 standard drum kits with a bunch of presets to use (130 in total), as well as over 5,000 grooves and beats.
To import a beat into your DAW, you select a variation of a beat, and then drag and drop it into a MIDI track. The velocity of the hits and drums used will stay intact unless you change the drum settings in the plugin, and the tempo will match the tempo set in your DAW unless you choose otherwise.
You can change each drum in the kits including removing or adding elements, you can add an EQ or compressor, change the microphone position for each drum, or you can create a kit completely from scratch.
XLN Audio offers expansion packs on their website, so if you are not satisfied with the 3 drum kits and want to change things up and add more variation, you can buy expansion packs of drums and beats tailored to genres like rock, metal, jazz, funk, and even afrobeat.
The plugin is compatible with MIDI, so if you do not like any of the offered grooves and want to enter in your own drum beat, you can do that in a MIDI track in your DAW, as each drum will be assigned to a key on your MIDI keyboard. Addictive Drums 2 is a fast way to get radio ready drums and is truly an addictive way to add drums to your productions.
28. Steven Slate Drums 5
A professional, powerful drum suite
SSD5 by Steven Slate Drums is a very powerful VST drum plugin with a bit more professionalism than Addictive Drums 2. SSD5 allows you to create your drum kit from scratch and fine tune each drum’s articulation in terms of volume, velocity, and dynamics.
Steven Slate Drums 5 comes with 77 snares, 84 kicks, 58 toms, 11 hi hats, 14 crash cymbals, 6 rides, 4 splashes, 3 chinas, and 9 percussive instruments (including cowbell).
In the plugin, you have the choice between using analog processed drum samples and unprocessed drum samples based on your preference. When making your drum kit, there are slots for you to enter in up to 32 drums of your choice. SSD5 comes with some drum kit presets modeled by kits that professional artists and producers (like Steven Slate) love and use.
Overall the sound of these drums is much tighter and more professional, partially thanks to the ADSR controls as well as the microphone placement settings that change the distance from the drums as well as the pan of the microphone. You can get huge sounding drums out of this plugin, or make it sound like you are at a close up, personal performance.
29. Output Arcade
A loop plugin for those that struggle to compose
If you need more ideas or have a hard time composing, definitely take a look at Arcade by Output. Arcade is a new, loop based plugin made to shine in your productions or give you new ideas when you need them.
Arcade’s user interface is set up like a synthesizer. You enter in your key and select a certain pack and a preset within that pack. Each preset will have certain loops per key on the synthesizer’s keyboard, and there are sliders that change the character of each loop depending on whether you move the slider up or down. White keys play loops and black modify their structure.
Arcade offers new expansion packs all the time so you can keep up to date on all the latest loops they provide. If you prefer, you can use your own sounds and loops and manipulate them in Arcade. It has a built in sampler so you can pick and choose what parts of loops and sounds to use to make it fit your needs. Arcade is very versatile and will provide you with tons of ideas and little parts to fit into your songs.
30. Izotope Ozone 9
All the mastering tools you’ll need
Ozone by Izotope is a mastering tool suite type plugin that has all the tools you’ll need for mastering your songs. Izotope makes it very easy by providing you with various presets to get you started with mastering, but you can also start from scratch.
Ozone allows you to use a ‘learn’ function to analyze a track or whole song and then brings in the ideal modules for what it thinks your music is lacking in after you specify if you need the master to be for streaming or CD use.
Ozone consists of a master rebalance tool, a low end focus tool, a stereo imager, a tonal balance control, an equalizer, an exciter, a limiter, a maximizer, a dynamic EQ, a spectral shaper, a dynamics module, a vintage limiter, a vintage EQ, a vintage tape module, and a vintage compressor. You can use some or all of these tools to help master your songs, and they can all be rearranged to follow whatever order you want them to be in.
Additional features of Ozone include track referencing, EQ matching, and dithering. All of the modules can be used separately as plugins in your DAW or you can use them directly in Ozone. Ozone is the ultimate mastering suite and is so easy to use, even for a beginner.
The amount of plugins available to producers and musicians is incredible. Once you find some you like, you’re bound to find a whole suite of them that fit your production style and workflow. Be sure to look out for our future articles on VST plugins to learn more about plugins that you might end up using in your own production process.