Free VSTs to pimp out your DAW!

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If you're looking for ways to expand your sonic palette without breaking the bank, there are some seriously heavy-hitting resources out there that won't cost you a penny. If you know of a decent VST that's not on the list, add it here!

The new kid on the block is Spitfire Audio's BBC Symphony Orchestra "Discover" edition. Fill in a questionnaire on their website, and two weeks later they will send you a download link to use with the Spitfire Audio app that you install on your mac or PC. (If you're the "I want it now" type, you can buy it for £49.) I've gone deep down the rabbit hole with this package, and trust me: you NEED it.

The Spitfire Audio app also lets you install a bewildering range of virtual instruments from their LABS range that includes treated string sections, granular synthesis guitars, toy pianos, whale song, and London foley. The fact that they're all free is ridiculous, given the quality of results you can get with them.

Want a Yamaha DX-7 but can't afford the prices they're going for on eBay? DEXED is so good an emulation that even Brian Eno uses it. And it will load "real" DX-7 ROM cartridge .SYX files, which are easily located online...

Cloudrum from Ample Sounds is a hang drum virtual instrument that I've been using for a couple of years now. It sounds lovely.

If you haven't dived into the world of SFZ samplers yet, believe me you're in for an adventure. You don't have to buy Garritan's products - good though they are - to use the underlying tech. First, you'll need to download Plogue's free Sforzando player:

Then you can start tracking down some of the amazing free sample libraries available. Once you've collected a few, load them into your DAW by dragging and dropping them onto the Sforzando plugin. You'll find everything from celli, drums, pianos and mellotron:
to "squid bagpipes":
to massive collections of both traditional and exotic instruments:
and full orchestras:


I've been using the Spitfire free thing to make music intros for my online lectures. Smile

thx im checking them out!

sph's picture

Valhalla DSP is a company known for it's superb digital reverbs and delays.
They put out a free reverb/delay/modulation plugin well suited for "massive reverbs, harmonic echoes and space sounds" as they write in their own description.

IA's picture

Waiting for the 2 weeks to be up before I can grab the BBC Discover set. Looks really useful from the YouTube demos I've seen. Not just for trying out orchestral pieces (I feel a 50/90 challenge coming on), but also for adding a nice string section to a pop/rock song; which of course was the 'go to' for everything that now gets a synth pad, prior to the 80s.

For those of you who are getting the BBC SO Discover package, here's Guy Michelmore from ThinkSpace putting it through its paces (and yes, for any older Brits here, his parents were Cliff Michelmore and Jean Metcalfe...) If you've got 52 minutes to spare, you will learn a lot!

IA's picture

Cheers! I've been looking into buying either the bbc or the air library. Anything to replace garritan. Biggrin Will definitely test the free version.

@IA unfair on Garritan! But yes, although I still love and continue using my favourite pianos, and theSAM brass is seriously good, Garritan lacks the fizz in some respects. They needed to keep developing it, not sell to whoever owns it now. Consequently, I've ended up with a lot of the smaller Soundiron libraries--strings and choirs and voices--which suit me. BUT! I could have saved a lot of money--well, some money, a lot to me--if Spitfire had come along with the BBC a couple of years ago! It's seriously good and free. Just sayin'.

@IA that limiter is 110% awesomeness. Smile

Just saw this Valhalla Space Modulator thingy for free: (haven't checked it out and I probably don't need it, but.....)

dzd's picture

@tcelliott thanks! I have more than enough modulator pedals(its an addiciton Wink ) but no plug-ins that I've liked at all, I may not use it, but I'll sure play with it.

More plugins for my collection, why not. It's always fun sifting through 100s of plugins to find the one plugin I forgot the name of. I do like the sound of that spitfire one. Now I've just got to wait and I'm not a very patient person and I don't want to pay.

Awesome E's Compressors, and other sound betterers

Super awesome reverb

Another awesome reverb the new version listed at top is $12.00 if you go to the bottom of the page you can download the old version.;

My new favorite EQ

Another awesome EQ this is a dynamic,

Newfangled Audio have a new synth out called Pendulate that uses a chaotic oscillator based on the movement of a double pendulum. It produces wonderfully fat bass lines and all manner of other interesting noises. And thanks to those nice Eventide people, it's a free download at the moment:

I'll be demoing it on my Twitch live stream tonight!

There are also a lot of free kontakt libraries out there that are excellent too! For example:

@headfirstonly - I snagged the Pendulate synth the other night from a link on FB. And then lost the evening playing with it! Biggrin

Another new free LABS release from Spitfire Audio: Textural Pads. It's going to become a favourite of mine, I reckon.

dzd's picture

That is a nice package.........and here I've been wasting all my time with pedals hahahah I kid......I'll always be more comfortable with tweaking my own analog stuff, but I believe I do have most the pedals his synths were modeled after, I did download it, but just from listening to that sample. I still haven't even played around with their orchestra one yet, but I'll get to it eventually........nice of them to keep releasing freebies of some pretty high quality stuff, now to find a freebie DAW(not reaper) its fine just very unintuitive for me......that allows 3rd party plug-ins in more than a trial Biggrin haha

@headfirstonly ...thanks for the shout-out on pendulate!

sph's picture

Wow, that guy's energy is quite something!

(that should be an answer to @headfirstonly's post about Guy Michelmore)