The 4 best FREE VST synth plugins

Discover a world of possibility with these incredible, diverse and awesome synthesizers that are free to download.

Now as many of you will know, there are a huge range of plugins free and paid for out there. These are the 5 top ones that we love and are available for free but that doesn’t mean there aren’t many more amazing free plugins out there that you may love more.

If you have some, share them with us all in the comments below!

For each plugin I’ve recorded 4 different clips of the plugin in action with wildly different presets or parameters so you can hear the range of possibility with each one. Below is the same MIDI pattern I’ve used with each plugin using FL Studio’s basic ‘Close Grand’ instrument so you can really hear the effects of the plugins on the same pattern.

Cherry Voltage Modular Nucleus

Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular Nucleus is a huge modular synth VST/AU plugin that is normally worth $150. It offers 22 modules with over 130 presets with an authentic build that recreates the essence of creating a modular synth build.

The phenomenal amount of wicked sounding presets give you a taste of exactly how this plugin was worth so much. Once you get into making your own unique sounds with it you won’t believe it’s now available for free.

Voltage Modular is cross-platform for Windows and OSX in AU, VST, VST3, and Pro Tools AAX formats, and also runs standalone on both platforms. User patches and cabinets are freely exchangeable across platforms.

Fury-800

The Fury-800 is a software instrument for Microsoft Windows (VST) and Apple macOS (VST/AU) simulating the KORG Poly-800 polyphonic synthesizer from 1983.

Like the Roland Juno, the Poly-800 had one DCO per voice, although it did feature a Double mode in which the oscillators could be stacked up for a fuller sound and only four voices of polyphony. The analog filter is a 24dB/oct low-pass which is shared by all voices (the Juno has separate filter chips for each voice).

There’s also a stereo chorus effect, chord memory, a simple built-in sequencer, three digital envelope generators (for the oscillators, the noise generator and the filter), and a funky joystick used to adjust the pitch, modulation and the filter.

Cheeze Machine

An extra cheesy, extra saucy string box in the style of the original vintage string machines. Cheeze Machine 2 includes an expanded oscillator section, convolution reverb, a vintage ensemble chorus, and 64 bit compatibility for VST, AU, AAX and Standalone applications.

Also included, bonus preview presets for Cheeze Machine Pro, an upcoming release with additional filters, pitch envelopes and performance controls.

Surge Synthesizer

Surge is a digital synth full of customisation and possibility. Whilst it may look overwhelming to start with it is full of incredible presets that offer a variety of great sound without even having to manually consider the open-source synth.

If you are knowledgeable about synths, read the manual, or just decide to give it all a go you will be pleasantly surprised with how intuitive and easy it is to customise and create an astonishing range of sounds that are both pleasing and unique.

Korg’s classic Poly-800 synth is now available as a free plugin

Who doesn’t love a classic synth, especially when you can download its sound for free and instantly use it in your music.

Back in the 80’s Korg launched an oft-forgotten, but much-loved at the time, synth called the Poly-800. It was, of course, a polyphonic synth with 8 voices released as Korg’s response to the popularity of Roland’s Juno-106.

At the time it was one of the trailblazing instruments to give MIDI to the masses and with in-built memory and 50 editable parameters it was a huge source of variety and creative possibility for creators at the time.

Here’s the ever-reliable Vintage Synth website on some of its features that made it so great:

Like the Juno, the Poly-800 had one DCO per voice, although it did feature a Double mode in which the oscillators could be stacked up for a fuller sound and only four voices of polyphony. The analog filter is a 24dB/oct low-pass which is shared by all voices (the Juno has separate filter chips for each voice).

There’s also a stereo chorus effect, chord memory, a simple built-in sequencer, three digital envelope generators (for the oscillators, the noise generator and the filter), and a funky joystick used to adjust the pitch, modulation and the filter.

This new VST/AU plugin version of the synth faithfully recreates that iconic synth, its sound and its control in a free offering that you can download right now on Full Bucket Music.

The Fury-800 is a software instrument for Microsoft Windows (VST) and Apple macOS (VST/AU) simulating the KORG Poly-800 polyphonic synthesizer from 1983. It is written in native C++ code for high performance even on “lighter” systems. Main features are:

  • Two band-limited DCOs with individual envelope generators
  • Two waveforms with additive harmonics (16′, 8′, 4′, 2′)
  • Single (paraphonic) lowpass VCF and Noise
  • On-board sequencer and Chord Memory
  • Pseudo-stereo Chorus effect
  • Tweaks:
    • Up to 64 voices polyphony with Velocity
    • “God Mode” for real polyphony
    • Continuous parameter values and direct access
  • MIDI Learn – all parameters can be controlled by MIDI CC
  • Plug-in supports Windows (32 bit and 64 bit) and macOS (64 bit)

Download the plugin for free here.

Get a free library of sounds for Ableton & more inspired by Kraftwerk

These sounds come from the inspiration of Kraftwerk to offer music-makers some fresh content in tribute to the work of Florian Schneider.

Florian Schneider’s recent death was a blow to many electronic music lovers who have been inspired for years by his trailblazing work in Kraftwerk.

In tribute to the passing of a legend, accomplished sound designer Francis Preve has attempted to create the synthesised and processed sounds that distinguished Kraftwerk and is offering a free pack of sounds he’s created for use by music-makers anywhere.

The pack comes in three different formats so you can get creating in the way that suits you most:

  • Ableton Live 10.1 – Drum Rack with 8 clips, fully compatible with Live Intro
  • Roland TR-8S – Kit and Pattern with 8 beat variations
  • 18 drum loops in .WAV format

Preve writes: “One of the most distinctive elements of Kraftwerk’s sound was their drums and percussion, which were entirely synthesised using analogue technology and effects.

“This free pack is a tribute to the sound of this analog percussion, with 100% original sounds, synthesized and processed using the same design aesthetics as Mr. Schneider’s.”

Download it from the Symplesound shop where you can also get a free pack of Oneshots.

The 5 best FREE unique VST effects plugins

Getting an amazing sound using just your computer is easier than ever with digital music production but it’s not always cheap. We’ve got you covered with the top 5 free plugins around.

Here’s a list of 5 great effects plugins that do something a little differently than your regular reverb. Whether it’s distortion, filtering, delaying or completely crunching up the sounds and spitting it back out – these 5 plugins are sure to turn your instruments and samples into something unique.

These are personal favourites but there are of course loads of free plugins available online. If you’ve got some great sounding plugins for free that are your favourite, share the love in the comments and let us know what they are!

I’ve recorded a short little Rhodes sample as a raw file and then with each effect recorded it through the effects below with 4 different arrangements of parameters so you can get an idea of the type of effect and the range of possibilities on them.

Hysterisis

Hysteresis is a versatile effects processor geared toward electronic musicians and sound designers. Process anything from drums to synths, guitars, vocals and sound effects. On top of being able to create contorted signal mutations, it can also be tamed to generate classic delay effects.

Krush

With its bit crushing and downsampling algorithms, Krush combines the crispy taste of the digital realm with the warmth of its drive stage and analog modeled resonant filters. A modulation section allows you to quickly add extra life to the sound by modulating any parameter.

Modul8

Inspired by multiple Japanese stomp-boxes well known for their unique sound and approach to modulation, Modul8 is a dual LFO stereo chorus. It means that the resulting modulation is a combination of two LFOs scaled according to their respective modulation width, which results in almost endless number of rhythmic variations in the modulation pattern.

Multiply

Acon Digital Multiply is a free and versatile chorus effect with a unique twist. Each simulated voice is processed with a phase randomizing filter so that unpleasant comb filter effects are avoided. The effect can be used to simulate the effect of several performers playing the same tones simultaneously, to widen the spatial image or to create special effects for sound design. Multiply can simulate up to 6 additional voices and both the pitch and the loudness of the voices can be modulated. There is also an integrated equalizer consisting of low cut, low shelf, high shelf and high cut filters that can be applied to the effect signal. An integrated pre-delay section makes it possible to create modulated and diffuse echo effects.

Valhalla Freq Echo

Bode-Style Frequency Shifter + Analog Echo Emulation = Skull Melting Chaos. Perfect for dub, Dr. Who and all of your psychedelic needs. Sonic results range from subtle chorusing and double tracking to barberpole phasing and flanging to endless glissandos and runaway echos.

Valhalla’s Supermassive delay & reverb plugin is now free

Nab yourself a beautiful plugin full of wonderful reverb potential and crazy delays with loads of customisation.

Valhalla have a real treat for us as they’re offering their Supermassive plugin free to anyone who wants it. It offers a bunch of control over what they promise to be “luscious clouds of reverb, otherwordly delays, swelling waves of feedback unlike any you’ve heard before”.

Supermassive uses a variety of feedback delay networks, where each delay in the structure can be up to 2 seconds long. Combine these long delays with the unique WARP control, and the results range from echoes that slowly fade in, to cascading harmonic echoes, to lush reverbs, onwards to reverbs that decay way over the course of minutes.Features:

  • Tempo synced delays, up to 2 seconds
  • Multiphase delay modulation
  • DENSITY control, that allows you to dial in pointillistic echoes, lush reverbs, echo clusters, and all sorts of sounds in between.
  • Eight unique delay/reverb MODES, named after celestial objects:
    • Gemini: Fast attack, shorter decay, high echo density.
    • Hydra: Fast-ish attack, shorter decay, low to high echo density (depending on the DENSITY control setting)
    • Centaurus: Medium attack, longer decay, medium to high echo density (depending on the DENSITY control setting)
    • Sagittarius: Slow attack, longer decay, high echo density
    • Great Annihilator: Medium attack, very long decay, medium to high echo density (depending on the DENSITY control setting)
    • Andromeda: Slowest attack, very long decay, very high echo density
    • Lyra: Fast attack, shorter decay, low echo density
    • Capricorn: Fast attack, shorter decay, medium echo density
  • Cross-platform preset browser

Get Valhalla’s Supermassive plugin for free here.

Soundation – an online music studio to keep you collaborating and you can get it free!

Never has a collaborative music DAW / digital studio been more necessary and Soundation have even made it free to help music students out.

Soundation could not have launched at a more appropriate time with bands left detached at home, students and teachers split by closures, and general music collaboration very difficult with social distancing measures. Their brilliant music software is designed for creating and advancing music online.

With automatic syncing multiple people can take part in a project by viewing it, adding to it, editing it and doing all the collabing you can dream off but from your own respective computers. As long as you have the internet and a computer/laptop you can start working on projects with others.

With the recent launch of their new Collab Live feature, collaborating is even better. Co-creators can follow exactly what the other is doing in real-time. It’s great for musicians working together but also represents an incredible opportunity for teachers to guide their students live on a serious piece of music software.

Soundation’s CEO, Adam Hasslert says: “Many of our users are ambitious up-and-coming producers, who are inspired by and learn from each other every day, and this is something we’d like to encourage even more with Collab live. We want to make music collaboration easier and more accessible than ever before.”

You can currently get 3 months of Premium Soundation for free to help out schools.

How do you get Soundation Premium to your students?

  1. Sign up for a free account on their site, and get your students to do the same.
  2. Fill out this survey.
  3. We will upgrade all free accounts connected to an approved school on the first of April and then each Friday before 1 pm Central European Time.
  4. As a premium user, you will be able to create one or many group pages in our community where you can facilitate your class and teaching.
  5. On the last of June, all accounts will be downgraded to Free accounts unless otherwise is notified.

Users can choose how they use Soundation even if they’re not a teacher or student. There are free options and paid possibilities – check it out and make use of this awesome app from – soundation.com.

Lockdown samples from Luke Vibert

Pump your library full of sick drum loops and samples from Luke Vibert in a new pack of Lockdown Breaks available for £10.

Legendary IDM producer Luke Vibert has graced us with 92 incredible drum samples each with up to two-and-a-half minutes of incredible and varied rhythm and percussion sounds to use in tracks and mixes. He’s offering the pack up as a Lockdown treat to fans and producers all over for just £10 for the lot from Bandcamp.

Whether you’re after some slow jazzy beats or some quick, raw tracks perfect for some house production there is a huge variety available here – all with BPM listed to help you find the right tempo for your sound.

100% of any purchases go to Luke himself, none of it goes to any labels or organisations (except Bandcamp’s cut). We love Vibert here at RouteNote, as a native Cornish-man he’s one of few huge artists to break from our home county.

Check it out yourself and purchase it for a sweet deal on a range of tidy and varied drums.

Apple’s HUGE new update for Logic is packed with music production tools and out now

Apple have unveiled the biggest update for the music production DAW since Logic Pro X 7 years ago.

Apple’s DAW is one of the top choices for music recording and production and a favourite for studios around the world. That’s why the announcement of a massive new update that has just dropped for Logic Pro X is hugely exciting news.

Logic Pro X 10.5 is available as a free update to all existing users today and represents their biggest update in 7 years since they launched the monumental Logic Pro X. Apple say it is “a massive release for all musicians, including those producing electronic music”.

With a 90 day free trial currently available for Logic you can try it out for a few months even without paying.

There’s a lot to get into, so let’s take a look at what’s new:

Live Loops

With Live Loops on the Mac, Logic users can now create music in new freeform and nonlinear ways. Loops, samples, and recordings can be organized into a new musical grid, where musicians can spontaneously perform and capture different arrangement ideas into the timeline. From there, tracks can be further refined using all of the professional production features in Logic. Remix FX enhances Live Loops with an exciting collection of electronic effects like Bitcrusher, filter, gater, and repeater that can be performed in real time over individual tracks or the entire song mix. Both features become even more powerful when using the free Logic Remote app, allowing users to pair their iPhone or iPad with their Mac to provide Multi-Touch control over Live Loops and Remix FX.

Sampler and Quick Sampler

Sampler represents the next generation of the popular industry-standard EXS24 plug-in with an all-new modern design and expanded sound-shaping controls, while maintaining full backwards compatibility. Producers can use Sampler to create and edit sophisticated multisampled instruments, using elegant drag-and-drop workflows that automate complex production tasks.

The Sampler screen in Logic Pro X.
Sampler is a powerful professional multisampler that enables sound designers to create sophisticated instruments in minutes.

Quick Sampler is a fast and simple way to turn any individual sound into a playable instrument. Musicians can pick a sound from within Logic, the Finder, Voice Memos, or even record directly into Quick Sampler. With just a few clicks, an imported sample can be trimmed, looped, and played across a keyboard controller, with access to creative sound-shaping controls.

The Quick Sampler feature in Logic Pro X.
Quick Sampler makes it easy for artists to instantly turn any sound into a musical instrument.

Beat Creation

Logic Pro X 10.5 offers a collection of new creative tools designed to work together to make it fast and fluid to build original beats — an integral part of hip hop and electronic music production.Step Sequencer is a new editor in Logic designed to make it fun and easy to program drum beats, bass lines, and melodic parts using an interface inspired by classic drum machine workflows. Step Sequencer combines a pattern-based style of music creation with powerful editing options for creating original parts — providing detailed control over note velocity, repeat, gate, skip, playback direction, and randomization.

The Step Sequencer tool in Logic Pro X, displayed on MacBook Pro.
Step Sequencer, a new editor in Logic, is designed to make it easy to build original and creative beats.

Drum Synth provides a wide collection of kick drums, snares, toms, and percussion sounds generated entirely by software. Each sound is accompanied by dedicated sound-shaping controls to help musicians fine-tune their favorite parts. Drum Synth sounds can be used on any pad in Drum Machine Designer, where it can even be blended with samples for creative sound design options.Drum Machine Designer, the tool for building electronic drum kits in Logic, has been enhanced to integrate with the new sampling and beat-programming workflows. Each drum pad can host the new Quick Sampler and Drum Synth plug-ins, making it easy to edit and shape individual sounds within a drum kit. After kits are created, they can be played in real time, or programmed with Step Sequencer.

The Drum Machine Designer tool in Logic Pro X.
Drum Machine Designer has been tightly integrated with the new sampling features of Logic Pro X 10.5.

Logic Remote

Logic Remote is a free companion app that allows users to pair an iPhone or iPad with their Mac to control and perform Logic features and instruments using Multi-Touch. Logic Remote is receiving a major update to allow triggering of sounds in Live Loops, browsing and adding loops, and applying Remix FX to a session.

Optimized Performance for the Mac

Logic Pro X has been optimized to take advantage of the latest Mac hardware and the power of macOS, delivering incredible performance when working with the most demanding projects with thousands of tracks and hundreds of real-time plug-ins.


Logic Pro X 10.5 is available today as a free update for all existing users, and is available on the Mac App Store for $199.99 (US) for new customers. Logic Remote 1.4 is also available today as a free download on the App Store. Customers can sign up for a free trial of Logic Pro X. For more information, visit apple.com/logic-pro.

Get touchscreen control of Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo DAWs

CubaZen is a creative new piece of software to give you a completely new type of control over Steinberg DAWs.

The creative forces of Zen DAW and Plugivery have come together to make Steinberg completely touchable. CubaZen is the result of their partnership and they describe it as an “innovative Touch Workspace” designed to re-invent how it’s possible to create, record and produce with Steinberg’s Cubase and Nuendo programs.

The application works on Windows 7 and higher PCs and gives touchscreen control from “any physical touchscreen found on the market” over your PC DAWs. The app gives users touchscreen control to more than 300 Cubase and Nuendo commands and functions with a streamlined design created to make sense in your flow.

Ready to use gesture assignments cover most transport commands performed by users, such as: select, zoom, hide/show channel etc. Users will find tons of clearly organized direct commands, in well designed menus that cover most actions used all the time from a simple “touch” on the screen.

CubaZen runs under Windows 7 and above. 16″ to 24″ Touchscreen Monitors are recommended but CubaZen has proved to work perfectly well on bigger touch screens as well.

CubaZen doesn’t install software drivers or overlays within Cubase/Nuendo.
It natively lives within Windows’ built-in touch OS environment. It is therefore super stable compared to other Touchscreen controllers found on the market.

Overview
• CubaZen runs under Windows 7 to 10.
• No coding or drivers needed.
• Ready to use workflow within Cubase 9 and Nuendo 10 or above
• Over 300 ready to use (pre-mapped) Cubase/Nuendo touch screen actions.
• Built within Windows touch OS for rock solid stability (No drivers are installed within Cubase/Nuendo).
• CubaZen Templates automatically adapts to your touchscreen monitor size.
• CubaZen commands are easy to memorize thanks to smart color codes, menu titles, and personalized button icons.
• CubaZen looks good. You feel happy working with it. It improves your workflow.

Features
• 9 Elegant Toolbar Presets to best fit your personal workflow.
• Combine Selection Tools.
• Creative Workspaces.
• Retrospective Midi Recording.
• VST Preset Browsing.

Menu Section Controls include: Audio, Add Tracks, Edit, Quantize, Zoom, Notes, Velocity, Pitch, Save, Solo Mode, etc.

Full Transport Functions include: Start/Stop, Record, Play Selection, Go to Left Locator, Go to Right Locator, Fast Rewind, Move Forward, Fast Forward, Loop & Play Selection, Return to Start Position, Snap to Previous Marker, Snap to Next Marker, Insert Marker, etc.

You can get a demo version to try it out, or get it on sale right now for $49 – it’s usually $65.

Get Cherry Audio’s $150 modular synth plugin free for lockdown

Whilst the COVID pandemic has gripped the world in devastating ways, it has at least seen some fantastic deals and this may be the best plugin one yet.

Cherry Audio’s Voltage Modular Nucleus is a huge modular synth VST/AU plugin that is normally worth $150. It offers 22 modules with over 130 presets with an authentic build that recreates the essence of creating a modular synth build.

The kind creators at Cherry Audio have made it free to give everyone a lovely treat whilst we’re all trying to stay home as much as possible and most places are shut down. The cross-platform plugin works on both Windows and OSX in AU, VST, VST3, and Pro Tools AAX or can be run stand-alone.

We’ve all been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, and, like you, we’re all staying at home and making sure our families and loved ones are safe. We want to do our part to help.

Stay home, stay sage, make some music, and learn to master modular synthesis. We’ll all get through this together.

– Cherry Audio 

P.S. Community is important. Visit our forums and our Facebook user group to share your creations, ask questions, trade patches, and help each other learn. 

Head here and enter your email address to receive a redemption code to download the plugin for free.