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Turning your computer into a fantastic studio doesn't have to be expensive.

In fact, if you follow our article you can do it for free. There are some remarkable effects plugins that can revitalize your projects and process your sounds that won’t cost you a penny.

Here are our picks for 2021‘s best VST effects and you can get for nothing:

  1. Valhalla Super Massive
  2. Softube Saturation Knob
  3. BPB Dirty Filter
  4. Izotope Vinyl
  5. Auburn Sounds Graillon 2
  6. TAL-Chorus-LX
  7. TDR Nova
  8. Audio Damage RoughRider 3

Note: “VST plugins” is a term that often covers both software effects and software instruments. We’ve decided that it’s more helpful to separate them out into “Free VST Effect Plugins” and “Free VST Instruments” and so if you’re looking for synths and sound machines check out our other article on best free VST instruments.

Are free VST effects any good?

Many free effects are promotional versions of premium plugins and are made to the same level of quality. They may have a reduced feature set or some limited options but they are going to be great for your music-making.

Some others are developed by enthusiasts who don’t have the backing of a brand and they can look a bit rough around the edges but also they can be full of creativity and original ideas. Besides, any plugin listed here is going to be top-notch.

Where can I get VST plugins for free?

Always go direct to the source. I would be suspicious of any website offering downloads of software they don’t make themselves.

Some websites offer free downloads of premium plugins but they are best avoided not only on legal grounds but because the downloads may well contain malicious software that you don’t want infecting your music-making computer. Besides, there are so many genuinely free and fabulous VST plugins and this article will tell you where to get them.

Let us know which career you are most interested in. Start hereStart here

Best Free VST Effects (2021)

Read on for our picks for the year’s best free VST effects.

Valhalla Super Massive

Super Massive is a ridiculous reverb capable of generating vast spaces and never ending delays. It’s the sort of thing that blows your mind. You can lose hours simply playing with it, running sounds through it, trying it with synths, with guitar, with drums and whole mixes just to see what will happen.

You’ll find clouds of reverb and delays for other worlds all wrapped up in a simple interface that’s deeper than you think it is. Super Massive has many different algorithms that change and warp it into other dimensions so just whn you think you’ve got the hang of it you find yourself upside down and reversing through a universe of sonic reflux.

It’s lush, it’s brilliant and it’s free.

Softube Saturation Knob

You can’t get simpler than the single-knob interface. Just turn it up if you want some more and you’re going to want more of the Softube Saturation Knob.

To make it slightly harder they’ve given you three types of saturation to choose from. Keep High focuses on the top end, Keep Low messes with the bass and Natural gives a good sense of character all over. The idea is to warm up your sound by dialling in distortion. You can feel your audio start to fall apart but between the extremes are some very pleasing sounds that’ll transform your mix.

It’s perfect for bring a sense of the analog to your vocals, drums or any instrument that needs a boost. Just put it on your mix and you’ll know exactly what it has to offer.

BPB Dirty Filter

The Dirty Filter is all about driving, filtering, distortion and sonic layering. It has both a high-pass and low-pass filter and in the middle is a big fat Drive knob that’ll push up the resonance for both filters while adding analog style saturation.

While it’s awesome at the whole filtering thing, doing sweeps and pulling in drops and cuts the drive aspect gives it the flavour of a multi-band distortion. You can be quite specific about the frequencies you want to boost and corrupt making it scream and bite or just add a little bit of grit.

Dirty Filter is a lot of fun, versatile and very easy to use.

Izotope Vinyl

It’s an oldy but a goody, Izotope Vinyl has been around a long time but a recent update has made its authentic lo-fi vibes even groovier.

It has that instant satisfaction factor. Drop the needle on the record and you’re already loving the sound. You can choose an decade of music as a reference and then explore the amount of mechanical and electrical distortion you want to add to your mix.

Vunyl is delicious, it’s intoxicating and makes anything sound vintage and on fire.

Auburn Sounds Graillon 2

A strange name for a plugin that brings you the power of Auto-Tune for free. They call it a Live Voice Changer and although the free version doesn’t include the more complex pitch-tracking modulations and vocal enrichments it does have the important stuff – pitch correction.

Through its advanced pitch detection it can analyse the incoming audio and push it to a predefined scale. Just set the notes and you’re good to go.

If you want to turn your vocals into something else entirely then Graillon 2 will happy oblige with robotic pitch shifting and weird effects ready to go at the tap of a mouse. It has a lot of scope of vocal based sound design and creating crazy effects.


Sometimes you just need a good chorus to thicken and add movement to a sound. The chorus on the Roland Juno-60 synthesizer is the one that people talk about for its ability to transform a simple synth sound into something altogether more interesting. The TAL-Chorus-LX is a model of the Juno-60 Chorus.

It’s very simple, has two modes, just hit the button and then decide how much of your sound you want to bathe in it and how wide you want the stereo to go.

TAL-Chorus-LX is just lovely and feels good in any groovy situation particularly on keys and synths.

TDR Nova

Nova is a beautiful parallel dynamic equalizer that’s streets ahead of the EQ you’ll get in your DAW. While it can act as a regular parametric EQ its in the dynamics that it really starts to transform your mixing.

It has four dynamic EQ bands plus high-pass and low-pass sections. It can handle frequency selective compression, multi-band compression and wideband compression. The integrated spectrum analyser directs your usage giving you a clear idea of where you need to work and what effect it’s having.

Nova is the sort of tool that any sound engineer should have at their fingertips and even comes with a great selection of presets to get you working right away.

Audio Damage RoughRider 3

RoughRider is a very modern looking compressor and over 10 years old. While everyone else is looking for that vintage sound wrapped up in something that looks old and falling apart Audio Damage go futuristic with this one.

As a compressor it’s incredibly warm and introduces a lot of character to the signal while operating as a great piece of dynamic processing. The main controls of ratio, sensitivity (or threshold) and makeup gain are in the middle with attack and release to the side. The display in the middle is really useful to show you what’s going on

The latest version brings in an external side-chain input, the ability to turn off the built-in “warming” filter and much more accurate metering.

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