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The 50 Best VST Plugins, VST Instruments & Effects for Music Producers

With so many VSTs on the market, it’s a mammoth task to find out which are the most useful for your music projects, and worth parting with your hard earned cash for. That’s why we’ve taken 8+ years of music industry experience, in mixing, mastering and production to create a list of 50 of the best VST plugins available now.


What Does VST Stand For and What Do They Do?

VST is short for Virtual Studio Technology and, is a software that is used to run audio-plugins. VST technology can be used to digitally re-create, or create synths, instruments, samplers & effects, that can be used to create music inside a DAW.

Virtual Studio Technology uses DSP (digital signal processing) to emulate original hardware gear found in studios. With new, advanced technology some of these emulations of old, hardware gear are almost indistinguishable from the original.

Digital signal processing does have a few drawbacks when compared to analog, but with new technology being invented all the time, this has become much less of an issue in 2022

What Are The Best VST Instruments, Plugins & Effects For Beginners?

Serum is the best starter synth VST you can get. As for audio effects, Valhalla Reverbs + delays, & the FabFilter range are great for mixing, but your DAW probably comes with some already great stock plugins you can learn on first.

Waves plugins are also great, and pretty low-budget for mixing & mastering.

iZotope Ozone Elements is also extremely cheap and great for mastering purposes. Wait for iZotope to have a sale and you can pick it up for under $10.

We’d recommend getting a synth, some creative effects, some mixing plugins & some mastering plugins.

Here our are top 5 VST Plugins for beginners:

  1. Serum – best beginner synth VST plugin
  2. Spitfire Labs – best free piano/orchestral VST plugin for beginners
  3. Fab Filter Pro Q3 – best beginner EQ VST plugin
  4. Fab Filter Pro C2best compressor plugin for beginners
  5. Valhalla Supermassive – best free reverb plugin for beginners

What VSTs Do I Need?

You don’t need to buy any VSTs, but they can help with your production process massively. We’d recommend getting some Synth VSTs, Reverb & Effects, and mixing and mastering VSTs such as, EQ, compression, limiting etc.

Most VSTs you’ll need as a beginner will come with your DAW as stock plugins.

Depending on what you do inside your DAW you will use some VSTs more frequently than others.

If your main goal is production and song making, we suggest focussing on creative effects, synth VST plugins, and getting a few mixing/mastering tools like EQ, or compressors.

If your main goal is mixing and mastering, you’ll want to put all your budget into high-end FabFilter music plugins, Waves & Softube.

At the end of it, it entirely depends on your goal and what you objectively think will help you make better music, or better mixing decisions.

Are VST Plugins Necessary?

VST Plugins aren’t necessary. You can use the stock plugins in your DAW to create professional music. However paid audio plugins can give you access to better quality sounds and tools to create with faster and better. If you are a beginner it’s recommended to learn on stock plugins first, then think about purchasing extra music plugins.

Buying plugins can get out of hand, and you often don’t need as many as you think you do. Think objectively about your purchase, and ask yourself how much of a difference it’s going to make to your music making process.

There are certainly tonnes of paid plugins that are worth their weight in gold, and I personally couldn’t function without. Other plugins aren’t that necessary.

You should try to limit how much you spend on plugins. Sometimes they can seem like magical tools that will solve all your music production problems, but they’re not.

You need to know how to use the tools properly before they become useful.

Best Paid VST Instruments, Plugins & Synths 2023 (Quick List)

Here’s the complete list of the best VST plugins, instruments & synths in 2023:

  1. uhe Diva
  2. Xfer Serum
  3. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.6
  4. Parawave Rapid Synth
  5. Kilohearts Phase Plant
  6. Waves Smack Attack
  7. Arturia Pigments 2
  8. TAL-Bassline-101
  9. Native Instruments Kontakt

Best VST Instruments (Synths)

Let’s face it, there’s not much more satisfying than a great software synthesizer.

And with the advances in plug-in technology, software synths have become a welcome evolution for synthesis & the music industry. The great thing about digital synth vst plugins is that, they don’t have limits to their capability. Below are our picks for the best vst synths of 2023.

uhe Diva

Price: $179

uhe diva best synth vst instrument

uhe’s Diva made top of this list because of the sheer quality of sound it produces – it’s simply the best sounding synthesiser that money can buy.

Above is a track showcasing Diva. Skip to the 2nd chorus to hear the sounds used in that section

(btw… if you want a more in-depth overview of what Diva can do, then be sure to check out our uhe Diva review)

It’s a virtual analogue synth that impersonates over 5 decades of analog hardware synths, including:

  • Roland Juno 60
  • Roland Jupiter 6 & 8
  • MiniMoog
  • Oberheim OB8
  • Roland JP8000
  • & a few extras

What’s even cooler, is that Diva has slight modular capability – allowing you to mix and match the oscillators, filters & envelopes to your liking.

That means you can have a MiniMoog (Triple VCO) oscillator, with a Jupiter 8 filter (cascade) & a Alpha Juno-2 envelope, giving you the most phenomenal crossover of warm, analog sounding gear.

Diva also sounds excessively similar to the original hardware, & you’d be hard pressed to find someone that would be able to tell the difference. It uses special PSpice technology to model analog circuitry at component level.

This makes it sound incredible & also gives it zero-delay feedback response on filters – making it the most true emulation of analog gear we’ve ever seen.

Using this technology does make Diva extremely taxing on the CPU, meaning you’ll have to sacrifice your processor to the gods to power the divine beast. But, it does have a multicore mode for those that aren’t using their Mum’s old Packard Bell from 2004, which helps reduce the hit.

Sacrifice your CPU to the Divine Gods


Price: $189

xfer serum vst plugin

Serum is by far the most workflow, CPU and beginner-friendly synth to learn sound design on. It’s a digital wavetable synthesizer, and although there are only 2 oscillators available (with an added sub and noise oscillator) with this synth, the versatility and sound design possibilities of Serum cannot be understated.

We have personally used Serum to create multiple sample packs from scratch, creating realistic drum sounds, basses, piano’s, guitar patches and more (hear below).

All patches made with Serum – Purple Slush Lofi Pack

All songs made with sounds from (created with Serum) – Purple Slush Lofi Pack

All synths made with Serum – Redd Velvet Hyperpop Pack

All songs made with Serum patches from – Redd Velvet Hyperpop Pack

It has an extremely simple interface, with the possibilities to modulate anything you like, alongside a fantastic sound engine.

Serum has built-in FX (10 effects modules), interesting filter types and a vast modulation matrix that allows you to tweak anything. With just two oscillators and some clever filtering, enveloping and modulation work, you can craft professional sounding patches easily.

serum keys patch modulation matrix 1
modulation matrix to show how powerful the modulation can be

On top of that, Serum has the ability to add FM, AM and other types of effects that allow oscillator A & B waveforms to change the way they interact with eachother. This possibility, combined with modulation attached to an LFO or envelope, opens so many doors, allowing you to create analog sounding patches, glitchy dubstep style growls and realistic sounding instruments.

serum cymbal design patch
As you can see FM from B is a key element in this realistic-sounding cymbal patch to create the sound. It is linked with modulation from LFO1 to help shape the sound. You can learn more about drum sound design in our how to make sample packs article, which covers this from scratch using Serum.

One of the best things about Serum is the rent to own options. Not only are you able to pay in instalments of as little as $9.99, but each payment gets you closer to owning the virtual instrument!

(it’s also 0% interest)

Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.6

Price: $499

omnisphere synth vst plugin

Spectrasonics Omnisphere is one of those VST plugins that does almost anything you can think of. Considered by many to be the cream of the crop for sound design, Omnisphere is often regarded as one of the best virtual instruments of all time.

From its Granular Synthesis modes, through to the complex rate-level envelope generators, there’s more than enough to keep the knob-twiddlers happy.

You get 4 oscillators, 7 instances with a mixing window, over 50 different effects modules based on hardware equipment and an 80GB library of high-quality samples recorded from all over the world.

This includes, acoustic instruments, world sounds (like cave stalactites), electronic synths, live percussion and so much more.

Once expanded with Trilian (Spectrasonics’ Bass Library), or Keyscape (Spectrasonics’ Piano Collection), you are able to create a hybrid, acoustic electronic patches that are out of this world.

Above is a short example composition I made with Omnisphere (it’s not mixed or mastered to give you an idea of the sheer quality of these sounds)

Above is a track I released on a label, made with a lot of Omnisphere instruments

On top of that, Omnisphere is absolutely loaded with ear tingling preset sounds, which are extremely popular among cinematic film composers, alongside access to a huge range of wave-tables, sampled directly from old hardware synths.

It’s an incredibly powerful synth that gives you the possibility to create anything you want. However, it’s only recommended for advanced sound designers because of the complexity.

Furthermore, you’ll need a beast CPU, RAM and computer to run it. At least quad core i5 and above, alongisde 8GB RAM+ to get the full capability out of it.

When comparing the sound to any of the other vst plugins on this list, Omnisphere comes out victorious every time in terms of sound quality, and possibilities.

Parawave Rapid Synth

Price: $189

parawave rapid synth vst plugin

Parawave’s Rapid Synth is the best value for money power synth we’ve used, and it competes with the likes of Omnisphere and UVI Falcon. If you want to find out more about Rapid Synth, check our full, in-depth Rapid Synth review.

With Rapid Synth you get 3 oscillators, and 8 total layers that you can blend together.

This means you get 8 instances of 3 oscillators, samplers, the effects included, and things like LFOs, Envelopes, Sequencers, Arps etc.

And, as you can guess, you can make some incredibly in-depth sounds with Rapid Synth. The type of sound that continuously evolves and never becomes boring.

With Rapid, they also include a huge library of factory content, which has over 250 unique wavetables to choose from, and a huge library of 600+ multi-samples, including stuff like: guitar sounds, warping granular sounds, entire drum kits, and a tonne more!

Example chord preset
An example melody preset (writes the melody for you)

The quality of these samples and wavetables are second to none, and honestly… I’m a huge Omnisphere lover, but I fully believe this is a cheaper version, with a lower CPU hit.

You also get access to 22 different FX units, as well as an extremely cool arp.

The arp is amazing. It can read MIDI, meaning you can import anything from your 3rd party packs, or whatever you have inside your DAW. You can also choose from a number of presets, and have extremely precise control over it.

Modulation is vast too, including 4 LFOs, 4 Envelopes, 4 Sequencers & up to 32 routing options.

The possibilities with this synth are almost endless, and it’s a pure sound design beast. Rapid also has an intuitive UI, and is easy to pick up and use. However, there are some things that could be slightly easier to operate.

Either way, it’s the best value-for-money synth VST we’ve ever used, and should definitely be something you consider if you’re looking for a new synth.

Phase Plant

Price: $169

Phase Plant

Kilohearts’ flagship synthesizer is probably the closest competitor to the giant, Serum.

It’s a primarily wave-table based synth, that is super versatile, easy to learn and use. The most interesting parts of Phase Plant are where it differs from Serum, with the workflow being the most apparent.

Phase Plant is, at its heart, a modular synthesizer, though perhaps not the kind that immediately comes to mind. Instead of connecting immovable modules together with cables, Phase Plant allows you to slot modules in where needed.

As with all synthesizers with a modular workflow, flexibility becomes a key element in sound design.

With so many modulation destinations, and even sound generators able to be modulators, Phase Plant can produce sounds with an incredible amount of movement. Think modulating basses, twisting chords and evolving pads.

You can pick up Phase Plant from Plugin Boutique today!

Arturia Pigments

Price: $199 or $9.99/month

arturia pigments digital wavetable synth plugin

You might know music industry giants, Arturia from their wide variety of hardware synths, keyboards and controllers.

In the software world, Arturia is best known for analog gear reproductions, like the amazing Arturia CS-80V.

Pigments is a more contemporary take on a soft synthesizer, and it’s definitely one of the best plugins of 2023!

It’s a perfect example of a synthesizer that couldn’t really exist as a hardware synth.

The UI is fresh, colourful and fun to use, while the extensive modulation possibilities keep you busy.

Due to the nature of Pigments being a combination of, virtual analog and wave-table synthesis engines, the depth of the plug-in is unmatched.

Our favourite part of Pigments is hands-down the polyrhythmic sequencer. It turns Pigments into a quirky, extremely powerful melodic machine.


Price: $60

tal bassline 101 vst plugin

TAL’s Bassline 101 is an analogue emulation of the SH-101, that sounds wickedly brilliant. It’s an absolute wizard when it comes to bass patches, & with the addition of a Polyphonic mode – the 101 is now great at making Roland style, warm pads & chords.

(if you want a deeper overview, be sure to check our TAL-Bassline 101 review)

This is one of the best plugins when it comes to talking about value for money & is an absolute steal for what it can do. It’s actually a more accurate sounding emulation than Roland’s own, Roland cloud version (which is more expensive & ties you into monthly payments).

It’s got a beautiful user-interface, & is extremely simple to use. You can get a great sounding patch within a matter of minutes, leaving less time worrying about sound design & more time actually making music.

And, even if you don’t want to spend a little time designing your own sounds, the 101 comes with an expertly crafted library of 300 great sounding presets, plus a 96 step sequencer, up to 6 voice poly mode & a de-clicker for shorter envelopes.

The Bassline 101 is pretty simple, only having 1 envelope & a few modulation options, but don’t let that fool you. It sounds great, is easy to use & isn’t gonna burn a hole in your brand new chinos, you chino w**ker.

Native Instruments Kontakt

Price: $359

native instruments kontakt best sampler vst

Obviously, Kontakt is not a big secret. It’s the best sampler VST instrument that money can buy, and has an array of different built in VST instruments inside it. This includes synthesizers, real sampled instruments like Piano, Bass guitar etc. and more interesting cinematic/sound design instruments that have been built for Kontkat specifically.

Violins library, basses, guitars, even old-school synths – Kontakt has the most incredible sounds for them all.

For well over a decade, producers, sound designers and professional mix engineers have made great use of it. During that time, it has been showered with high praise and deservedly so.

At it’s core, Kontakt is an environment for multi-sampled VST instruments, but the plugin itself runs much deeper.

Kontakt is fully programmable and, regardless of your level of experience or programming knowledge, your sample processing needs are most definitely covered. Especially given the power available to you with custom scripting, which allows you to create your own sound engines.

There are also countless sampler instruments and packs for Kontakt you can buy as add-ons.

Our favourites are:

  • Kinetic Treats
  • Retro Machines
  • Sound Dust

You can get Kontakt 6 from the Native Instruments Webstore.

Native Instruments Massive X

Price: $179

native instruments massive x wavetable synth VST

Native Instruments Massive X, is their flagship synthesiser and it’s an improve on the original Massive, which helped to give birth to entire genres, including Dubstep.

I’m getting flashbacks to those nostalgic MW2 days :'(.

The extremely fast, well-thought out patching is what made massive such an incredible tool, and Massive X expands on this.

With an incredible selection of 170 different wavetables, 2 oscillators (with separate sub oscillators for each), and the ability to add an extra oscillator through the FX rack, you can morph Massive X into anything you want it to be.

Where it really shines is the modulation capabilities, and the ease-of-use. With Massive X you can quickly re-route your entire chain, and have full control over the signal path (much like you would with a modular synth).

This means you can bypass certain oscillators and change their flow in the signal path. This gives you full control over everything, and allows you to create some truly unique sounding patches.

Alongside this you get 3 envelopes mappable to pretty much any parameter, 6 LFOs, 3 performers, & 4 trackers. The modulation capabilities of Massive X are insane.

It is one of the most customisable, expressive synths on the market.


Price: $60

tal uno lx synth vst plugin

TAL have done it again, with the U-NO-LX – creating one of the best VST analogue emulations, of an all time classic, the Roland Juno 60.

It’s one of the best value for money analogue emulations in 2023, & sounds almost identical to the original thing. Like Diva (mentioned above) – TAL use special PSpice technology to model the original circuits found in the Juno 60, at component level.

This replicates the sound of the U-NO-LX with complete accuracy & allows for a zero-delay feedback response.

It sounds all kinds of warm & thick and, with new technology, TAL have been able to remove the noise that was such a pain with the original unit & is great for mixing purposes.

One of the coolest things about the U-NO-LX is that it comes with the original hardware presets factory bank A, so you can jam out on some real old school sh*t & live your 80s synth pop dreams.

Alongside that, you get 300 factory presets, filter effects, an arpeggiator, beautiful chorus effects & a load more options for control.

Best VST Effects Plugins Reverb Plugins 2023

Reverb plugins are definitely a dime a dozen. With numerous options for both paid and free plugins, it’s a hard task to narrow it down to 5.

We’ve gone for variety here. If nothing else, at least one of these Reverbs should catch your eye.

Below is a list of the best plugins that reverb has to offer.

Soundtoys Little Plate

Price: $99

soundtoys little plate digital reverb effect vst

Similarly to the Fabilter pro series, no best plugins list would be complete without mentioning Soundtoys.

Built from the classic hardware unit, (the EMT 140 plate reverb), Soundtoys have meticulously modelled this beast, to capture the stunning sound, & vibe from the original, almost perfectly.

As Soundtoys state themselves, the Little Plate is more than just a reproduction of the EMT 140. They’ve used modern possibilities, to enhance the characteristics of the original rack unit.

While the original reverb could only muster a modest five seconds of reverberation time, Soundtoys pushed that number higher. A lot higher. With Decay Time set to infinity, Little Plate’s reverb tails never fade away.

Another great feature of the Little Plate, is the built-in Low Cut filter types.

Instead of having to use a separate EQ or filter plugins, to remove these unwanted frequencies, it can all be done inside this very simple and intuitive reverb machine.

Soundtoys’ Little Plate is a great reverb plug-in for anyone who wants to achieve that coveted electro-mechanical sound, that the EMT 140 is so famous for.

Fabfilter Pro R

Price: $179

fab filter pro r reverb plugin effect

Fabfilter’s vst plugins prove themselves time and again, to be the ultimate package for mixing and production basics.

The Fabfilter Pro R is no exception. It’s simple, straightforward and effective.

Compared to the previously mentioned Adaptiverb, Pro-R is almost a completely different thing altogether.

Where Adaptiverb is the latest and the greatest in reverb innovation, Fabfilter Pro-R has nailed the basics, to the point that no other reverb plug-in has.

If you’re looking for an extremely versatile reverb plug-in that you could use on everything, there’s not much better than Pro-R

Valhalla Shimmer

Price: $50

valhalla shimmer reverb plugin

Valhalla is known to producers as the cream of the crop of reverbs.

It’s an algorithmic reverb designed for BIG sounds, but the versatility of the shimmer cannot be understated.

The built-in pitch shifting, as well as the sonic qualities of the reverb, make for the best way to add some necessary sparkle to your dull tracks.

We’ve used the shimmer on pretty much everything under the sun, leads, pads, percussion, etc. But where it really shines is on guitars.

Guitars just work so well together with the shimmer. The pitch-shifting of the plug-in also serves as an added layer to your already lush reverb’s.

These qualities make Shimmer one of the best plugins for guitar.

It’s a magical little piece of kit, that is one of the few, true, necessities for a modern producer.


Price: $59.99

kleverb high quality algorithmic reverb effect

Kleverb is the highest quality algorithmic reverb effect on the market.

It has an intuitive UI that has been carefully designed, using a calibrated network of filter types and delays. This makes it extremely versatile to any genre/musical situation; all from acoustic jazz to EDM.

It has to be mentioned, that the Kleverb has, in our opinion, one of the best plugins for user experience.

The workflow is extremely intuitive and easy to use, but powerful at the same time. What usually takes some automation trickery, Kleverb streamlines the process to just a click of a button, and we’re all for it.

You can get Kleverb from the Klevgrand webshop.

Valhalla Supermassive (Best Effects VST – Free Reverb!)

valhalla supermassive best effects VST

Among the community, Valhalla are considered one of the best reverb plugin developers in the music production world. They create some fantastic sounding reverb & delay plugins that you can get for free, or pay for.

Valhalla Supermassive is their free reverb & delay unit, that creates enormous, wide reverbs, and twisting, swirling delays.

Supermassive is often one of our go-to reverbs when designing sounds, and there’s a hell of a lot you can do with it, considering that it’s free. From huge, never-ending reverbs, to short, snappy, room sounding verbs, you can find a reverb for pretty much any scenario.

However, Supermassive Is best at the longer stuff.

There are a tonne of great sounding presets in Supermassive, and there are also 14 different reverb algorithms that change the sound of your reverb/delay drastically.

  • 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
  • Large Magellanic Cloud: Long reverb, LOOOONG repeating echoes, long decay, medium attack
  • Triangulum: Long reverb, VERY LONG repeating echoes, long decay, slow attack
  • Cirrus Major: Low/medium echo density, strange repeating patterns, fast attack
  • Cirrus Minor: Low echo density, strange repeating patterns, fast attack, smaller than Cirrus Major
  • Cassiopeia: Initially low echo density that quickly builds to long and lush reverbs, mysterious repeating patterns, fast attack
  • Orion: the much bigger version of Cassiopeia. Low echo density that can build to enormous reverbs, fast attack, strange resonances and repeating patterns.

We personally love to use Supermassive to resample synths, or samples through. Put a huge reverb on, some extra effects like distortion, OTT etc. Then, resample, and resample again. It also sounds really cool when run through a granulator.

Supermassive is the best free delay & reverb plugin there is, and it’s free, no strings attached. You should definitely get it.

Synth Plugins by Type

Synth Plugins By Genre

Synth Plugins By DAW

Best Audio Effect Plugin Compressors

Compressors are a thing every producer has had to use. The problem is that compressors are anything but intuitive. For us, a good compressor strikes the balance between ease of use, great sound and character. So here’s our picks for the best vst audio plugin compressors of 2023.

Fab Filter Pro C2

Price: $179

fab filter pro c2 compressor plugin

The second Fabfilter plugin entry on our list, Fabfilter Pro C2 is arguably the perfect digital compressor. The original Pro-C was one of the most beloved digital compressors, and Pro-C2 expands on that legacy.

As with a lot of FabFilter products, Fabfilter Pro C2 is an extremely high-quality compressor unit, with little to no sonic characteristics.

FabFilter makes up for the lack of a sonic character, with an intuitive and easy to understand UI, as well as a lot of features, like side chain, mid side etc.

As far as compressors go, the Fabfilter Pro C2 is as good as a digital compressor can get. It’s easily one of the best plugins of 2023.

As a clean and powerful compressor for mixing, you can’t go wrong by picking up Pro-C2 on Plugin Boutique today! You can also get a number of Fabfilter products discounted in a bundle if you decide to pick up a few. Fabfilter Pro-Q, Pro-C, Pro-L and others are a staple in many producers’ setups.

Arturia Tube-STA

Price: $120

arturia tube compressor plugin

The Arturia TUBE-STA gives you a gorgeous recreation of a classic: the stalwart, valve-driven compressor. This was a compressor used in the early days of radio broadcast, and gives a certain type of warm, classic feel.

A boutique signal processor with a golden touch, the original STA-Level was well known for the intimacy, air, and subtle saturation it gave to any audio it treated.

As it moved from TV and radio studios to more music-focused studios in the 60s and 70s, word got around that it had a killer sound on bass and vocals

And this is exactly the reason, why it made our list of VST plugins to die for.

The Tube-STA is hands-down one of the best plugins for achieving a thick and juicy bottom end.

It transforms weak bottom-end into fat, harmonically rich bass, and brings vocals to life. All this at the turn of one knob. Its simplicity is certainly a big part of the appeal.


Price: $229

UAD LA-2A audio compressor plugin

When bringing up software compressor models, UAD is easily one of the best plugins available, for your compressor modelling needs.

Honestly, if we could, aside from Fabfilter Pro C2, this list would be comprised of only UAD plugins.

The granddaddy of all great character compressors, the LA-2A makes this spot purely for it’s classic sound and great sonic characteristics.

The LA-2A is arguably one of the most recognisable rack compressors ever made. It’s primarily used to bring in some analog warmth to your sounds, while remaining relatively clean.

This doesn’t mean however, that the LA-2A is a push-over.

When you slam the settings on the compressor, the grit and distortion of the circuits are to die for.

As with all UAD products, the reproduction of the original rack unit is impeccable, and honestly, having used the original unit, we could not tell the difference between the digital and analog versions.

Yes, UAD are just that good at what they do. You can get the LA-2A from the UAD webstore

Sausage Fattener

Price: $39

sausage fattener saturation plugin

A personal favourite of ours that just had to make an appearance.

Sausage Fattener by Dada Life is one of those magical plug-ins, that can seemingly make everything better.

With just 3 knobs for saturation, colour and drive, Sausage Fattener is comically easy to use.

Incidentally it is also comical to look at, the more you saturate, the larger the sausage grows.

Isn’t that what you’ve always wanted?

As it’s a very simple plugin (it’s basically just a saturator) the versatility of it is nothing to scoff at. We’ve put them on Kicks, basses, saxophones, leads, pads, and much more.

Whenever we think of roughening up a sound, Sausage Fattener is usually the first thing we add.

Check out Sausage Fattener on the Dada Life website

Lindell Audio 7X-500

Price: $29

Lindell Audio 7X-500 compressor plugin

The Lindell Audio 7X-500 is a software reproduction of their 500 series FET compressor.

As a FET compressor, the 7X-500 is nowhere near the versatility of Fabfilter Pro C2, or the UAD LA-2A compressor.

Where it makes up for it though, is the extremely prominent and in your face sonic characteristics. It’s aggressive, mean and rough, and a lot of times – that’s exactly what you need.

In fact, the 7X-500 is easily one of the best compressors to run in parallel.

The tracking isn’t all that great, which means that vocals aren’t really the best fit for the plug-in.

Layer it in parallel however, and you can start to see why it made our list.

A really great pick-up for anybody looking for a full bodied character compressor.

You can get it from Plugin Alliance right now!

EQ is one of the basic building blocks of a good mix. If you’re not equalizing something in your mixes, you’re doing it wrong.

Best Compressor Plugins By Type

|| LA2A || Diode Bridge || Bus || Mastering || 1176 || Vocal || Multi-Band || Distressor || Analog || Bass Compressors || Transparent ||

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Best Plugins for EQ’ing in 2023

A good EQ will fit either of two categories:

  • Surgical EQ
  • Musical EQ

Which of these is best for you depends on the situation, which is why we compiled a great variety of different and interesting EQ’s to sink your teeth into.

Below is a list of the best audio plugins for Equalisation.

Fabfilter Pro Q3

Price: $179

fab filter best plugins for mixing
dynamic EQ

The Fabfilter Pro Q is a razor sharp EQ with no sonic quality. It is exactly how a mixing EQ should be. Simple, easy to use and damn powerful.

Since reviewing the Fabfilter Pro Q3, it’s become one of our favourite EQ’s for every situation. The dynamic EQ is amazing, the sheer, surgical precision you can have with cuts, boosts across stereo, L & R, Mid/Side EQ is insane & the workflow of this a producer’s dream.

The spectrum analyser is incredible, it will automatically detect points of resonance and give you the option to create a Q point with a quick click, you can freeze it to see the entire spectrum & easily spot which frequencies are too harsh visually.

We could go on…

But, there’s a reason it gets mentioned as one of the best EQ’s on Reddit and other forums consistently.

Here’s what it offers (version: Pro Q3):

  • Incredible precision.
  • An optional Dynamic EQ setting.
  • Mid side & left/right settings.
  • Zero latency (unique to pro q)
  • 24 EQ individual bands for sculpting.
  • Incredible filter shapes & support for 96dB/oct slopes.

Sonible smart:EQ 3

Price: $108

sonible best audio plugins for AI

Sonible’s smart:EQ 3 is an incredible AI mixing assistant, that analyses your audio and helps you to make informed decisions, rather than making decisions for you.

And, it’s really good at it. When testing it out in our smart:EQ 3 review, we were extremely surprised with the suggestions it was making, and often they were decisions we would have made ourselves.

One of the coolest new features in smart:EQ 3 is its ability to do cross channel mixing.

For instance, you can load smart:EQ on up to 6 channels, and put them in groups. These groups have a level system, where you can place your channels in order of importance. Then smart:EQ 3 will analyse these channels and apply processing based on what you want to stand out the most.

The algorithm is extremely good at making these decisions, and 99% of the time get’s it sounding perfect. And, it includes some clever features like dynamic adaption.

Dynamic adaption will adapt smart:EQ’s, EQ curve to your audio as it progresses in time. So, if you’ve got a synth opening up in cutoff, you don’t have to automate your EQ, or create duplicate channels and process them differently – smart:EQ will adapt for you.

It’s pretty CPU heavy, which is a downside, but it’s an incredible workflow tool to use when mixing, and also a great tool to help people learning how to use EQ.

Waves 550a & 550b

Price: $49.99

Waves 550a & 550b api compressor plugin

Not a lot can be said about the 550a and 550b that hasn’t been said a million times over. Probably the most ubiquitous example of a hardware EQ that has ever existed.

Based on one of the most popular EQ’s ever, the API 550 range, the Waves emulations don’t disappoint.

The Waves 550A EQ provides equalization at 15 points in 5 steps of boost, divided into three overlapping ranges.

Its high and low frequency ranges are individually select-able as either peaking or shelving, and a band-pass filter can be inserted independently of all other settings.

The 550b on the other hand is invaluable as both a problem solver and a sweetening device.

Since both of these plug-ins are usually bundled together, you will end up having an incredibly versatile and great sounding set of EQ’s.

This set of EQ’s is available on sale on the Waves website.

Apogee Pultec EQP-1A

Price: $199 or $9.99/month

best analog eq plugin

The Apogee Pultec EQP-1A is a fantastic musical EQ that makes anything you throw at it sound better. An emulation of the original Pultec EQ, Apogee has done a stellar job at replicating the sound perfectly.

The plugin comes as part of the Apogee FX rack, which you can open up to 6 instances of Apogee’s fantastic mixing and mastering effects – creating entire chains (which can also be saved for later use)!

There are simple low, mid and high controls, including an attenuation control for each. The Pultec has a large Q width, as well as CPS control too. This makes it a better EQ for tone and character, rather than a surgical mixing EQ.

We love the Pultec on anything! It works especially well on low to low-mid frequencies to give them a warmth that isn’t possible with other EQ units.

Using it on a master track to increase low-end warmth, or on a bass channel, deep vocal, synth, and anything else that low-end information is what the EQP-1A really shines at.

Carve EQ

Price: $79

carve eq plugin

The Kilohearts Carve EQ is a 31-band EQ with built-in spectral analysis and a Match tool that makes it both addictive and useful.

Carve EQ can be both heavy handed and precise, depending on how you use it. We prefer to use Carve EQ for drastic cuts and boosts. The UI also lends itself incredibly well to a fast paced production style.

Additionally, it is admittedly incredibly fun to use. This puts it in the conversation for one of the best plugins of 2023.


The most interesting feature by far, that Carve EQ has, is the Match and Reference Tool.

By uploading a song, or track into Carve EQ, it will calculate and figure out how the source audio has been EQ’d, and spits out an EQ curve, based on the source audio, which is a great starting point for any mix.

Check Carve EQ on Plugin Boutique.

Best Plugins for Mixing

A bit of a weird category here, because, what really is a mixing plugin?

Well, for us, it means anything you could use to make your mixes sound better, fuller and more clear.

Since we already have separate categories for EQ’s and compressors, the plugins you’ll find here are more situational, but definitely great to have.

So keep on reading, to find out what they are!

RX-10 Advanced

Price: $1,199 or $15.99/month

izotope rx-8 audio repair & de-noise plugin

The first entry of an iZotope product on our list is the famed RX-8 plug-in. And it’s another wicked plugin you can get on Splice’s rent to own plans!

Anyone that has ever used iZotope’s RX products in the past will know just how incredible their range of plugins are. Ask most producers what they use for mastering, mixing or audio repair, and we guarantee you’ll hear iZotope’s name more than a couple times.

They provide the best processing effects for audio repair, dialog editing, spectral processing, post-production plugins around.

RX-8 is really good if you want to clean up a vocal take, a podcast recording, or do anything that involves audio repair/restoration. It can even be used as an interesting sound design tool with the spectral processing.

One use that’s exceptionally useful for producers, is the ability to create almost studio-like DIY acapellas without having the original recordings.

As with everything tech, iZotope’s software is constantly improving and evolving. The latest version of RX, (RX-8 Advanced) can now realise the difference between, vocals, bass percussion and other instruments, and identify them.

In addition, RX 8 Advanced now also supports surround sound.

Fabfilter Saturn 2

Price: $154

fab filer saturn 2 distortion and saturation plugin

Saturn is a multi-band saturation and distortion unit with FabFilters famously flexible modulation routing system onboard.

As with all FabFilter products, it is extremely easy to pick up and get to know. The UI is great, everything you expect from FabFilter is present here.

Even as a single-band unit, Saturn does a stunning job of saturating and distorting any source thrown at it, but add multiband functionality and all that per-band modulation and you have a saturation/distortion design tool with control over every aspect of your sound from frequency and drive, to dynamic range and volume.

Using Saturn to saturate a part of the frequency range of a bass sound, or giving guitars some juicy extra crunch, is where it shines.

The quality and sound of Saturn, makes it one of the best vst plugins of 2023. If you’ve ever wanted to saturate just a part of the frequency spectrum, look no further than Saturn.

Waves Smack Attack

Price: $49.99

waves smack attack transient shaping plugin

A so-called “secret weapon” for mixing drums and other percussive instruments, this Waves’ transient shaper plugin is absolutely insane for adding that extra kick, punch and grit into your boring drum mix.

Smack Attack does this by boosting, or attenuating the attack and release of the transients in your audio signal. As a result, it gives it more punch & a snappier attack. You can also reduce the transients if they are too harsh.

And it’s not just any other transient shaper plugin... the transient detection system inside this thing is wickedly good; and other transient shapers, just don’t live up to the same standard as Smack Attack.

Smack Attack is a fantastic sounding plug-in, it’s excessively easy to use & will help bring your drums to life in an instant. We like to take the KISS approach when making music (keep it simple stupid).

It’s important to have plugins & racks that help you speed up the process & dump your creative ideas from your brain into your DAW. Smack Attack is one of these plugins for sure & is something we’ve used on every single drum group since the day we got it.

You can purchase Smack Attack on the Waves webstore today.


Price: $199

gullfoss smart EQ plugin

What happens when a theoretical physicist decides to design and build an EQ plug-in? The answer is Gullfoss.

Gullfoss is based on a computational auditory perception model and is described as a form of AI that analyses and corrects your signal dynamically.

This means Gullfloss is extremely transparent. It can morph its frequency response over 100x/second, while still leaving the perceived dynamics untouched and preventing nasty artefacts from appearing in your audio.

It can be used to instantly improve the clarity of both mixes and tracks in a way that’s impossible with normal EQs.

The algorithm intelligently picks out the elements in the audio signal that are dominating or being dominated in a specific frequency range.

If they are too prominent you can use the ‘Tame’ feature to bring them back to a better level, or if they’re too hidden, you can use ‘Recover’ to help reveal them.

Gullfoss is a very interesting plug-in that could be very useful for both beginners and as well as experienced engineers.

You can get Gullfoss from the Soundtheory website today!

Goodhertz Mid Side

Price: $79

Goodhertz Mid Side, mid side EQ plugin

Though there are a lot of mid side plugins on the market, all of them have failed to strike a perfect balance between simplicity and power. So Goodhertz built their own. Sometimes panning isn’t enough for getting a thick and full stereo image.

Mid side was built to be automated and moved around (even the mute and solo buttons won’t click or pop).

Use it to manipulate space and depth; automate it to create more motion in your mixes or masters.

If you’ve wanted more expressive control of your stereo image – this is the plugin. The ease of use of Mid Side cannot be understated.

You can get goodhertz mid side from the Goodhertz webstore.

Best Audio Plugins for Mastering

Mastering is a thing that confuses a lot of producers.

There is a tonne of conflicting information online, that somebody who is learning mastering could get totally lost in.

So, for us, the best plugins in mastering are the ones that make it accessible. And here they are in all their glory:

Izotope Ozone

Price: $499 or $19.99/month

izotop ozone 9 popular vst mastering

Ozone 9 has absolutely everything you’ll ever need for mastering and is the most popular VST mastering suite, used by professionals.

There’s nothing that can really compare to how dominant this plug-in is for mastering purposes. Ozone has always offered powerful processing and a user-friendly interface, allowing it to appeal to both experienced engineers and mastering newbies.

The features and possibilities of Ozone are so endless, that we wouldn’t be able to truly do it justice in this small amount of words.

Probably one of the most interesting features of Ozone is the Master Assistant. Using AI, Ozone analyses your audio, and adjusts the mastering settings, according to what you’re going for.

It’s as simple as pressing on the assistant button, and answering a couple questions. From experience, Ozone’s mastering assistant gets you already most of the way there.

No faff, no convoluted workflows, just a few buttons and knobs and you’re done.

For professional mastering engineers however, the mastering assistant is pretty much useless, other than providing a vague reference. The approach-ability of Ozone makes it one of the best plugins for mastering on the market.

Fabfilter Pro L2

Price: $179

fab filter pro l2 limiter plugin

Fabilter Pro L2 is as much a FabFilter plug-in as anything else – it’s incredibly precise and clean. It’s easy to use and most importantly, it does the job its designed to.

Most of the plugin’s interface is given to the visual meter, that shows the audio coming into the Limiter, in real time.

Even though you should usually focus on what you’re hearing, crucially you can use the meters to check visually, that nothing unusual is happening to your audio.

You can use the audition mode to check for distortion, and the loudness meter to make sure you’re not going to lose the energy of your song.

Fabfilter Pro L2 also sounds excellent. It’s flexible and diverse, easy to use and easy to learn.

Sonible smart:comp

Price: $79

sonible smart comp an assisted AI compressor plugin
AI assisted tool, which is great for a mix starting point.

smart:comp is an “AI” assisted audio tool for compression.

Their unique Spectral Compression mode, analyses the input track, in real-time with more than 2000 frequency bands, making it one of the best plugins for spectro-dynamic compressors about!

It also has a side-chain input, with the ability to use the instrument profiles, detection focus, and the spectral compression function to provide selective ducking.

smart:comp is definitely a unique product, suited best for mastering.

You can get smart:comp on Plugin Boutique.

UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor

Price: $149

UAD SSL 4000 G Bus Compressor plugin

An all time favourite of audio engineers everywhere is the SSL4000G. It’s a classic piece of hardware that has been used on countless records, and sounds extremely punchy, modern & transparent. Where it truly shines, is its ability to glue different elements of your mix together, even if they sound like they’re polar opposites.

Like with the original SSL, the emulation by UAD has been made with simplicity in mind. The simple controls and the logical layout, give you an incredible depth of control over your buses and separate mixes.

The SSL compressor adds a certain charm to your mix, making it instantly feel like a record, without sacrificing clarity.

You can pick up this stellar compressor from the UAD store.

Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain

Price: $199 (usually on sale for less)

Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain plugin

Used in the making of albums by Nirvana, Radiohead and Pink Floyd (including Dark Side Of The Moon), amongst countless others, this has to be one of the best plugins for mastering available.

The TG mastering chain actually consists of six plugins: mono and stereo versions of the main TG Mastering Chain, live versions of both, and mono and stereo versions of the TG Mastering Bridge.

The sound is full of character, but the fixed-frequency EQ & filter types lead you towards presets, rather than giving you total freedom.

(although these can be great as a starting point for any master).

Even so, with its warm, analog vibes, this is certainly one of the best plugins that, engineers working in rock, pop, jazz (and other styles) can use for lively, punchy, masters. 

The Abbey Road TG Mastering chain is available on the Waves webstore.

Best Miscellaneous Music Plugins

The plug-ins that are wholly unique, original and different from everything else around have ended up here.

Personally, being the favourite category of this article, we had to severely cut down the amount of plug-ins here to fit it all into a top 50.

Some honorable mentions include:

XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color

Price: $99.95

xln audio rc 20 vintage effects vst plugin

You’ve probably already heard of RC-20, because pretty much everyone uses it (& has hyped it to oblivion). But, there’s a reason so many people use iPhones over Android – it’s because they’re generally better & more intuitive. The same goes for the plugin world.

XLN Audio’s RC-20 is a vintage, multi-effects unit that sounds all kinds of wicked. It’s the type of plugin that can inject a warm, cozy/lofi feeling into any track & add all the audio imperfections that are missing in today’s digital world of recording.

(if you want a deeper dive, check our RC-20 review out)

It comes with 6 effects modules that all sound pretty awesome, & can be used to create that vintage feeling including:

  • Noise – injects cassette hiss, vinyl crackle & more vintage noise effects.
  • Wobble – a pitch modulation tape deck style effect.
  • Distort – distortion with a tonne of different modes.
  • Digital – a bitcrushing effect.
  • Space – reverb that sounds great straight away.
  • Magnetic – creates dropouts/wear you’d hear on tape machines

One of the more creative things you can use RC-20 for, is filter sweep transitions or warping automation to add movement to sound design.

It’s easy to use, has a beautiful interface & can create very interesting results! RC-20 is one of the best effects VST plugins in 2023.


Price: $149

soundtoys crystallizer echo and delay plugin

Crystallizer is an absolutely insane echo plug-in.

Perfect for toying around and experimenting, Crystallizer is a sound design dream.

Soundtoys Crystallizer isn’t your typical echo plug-in…

The sounds you can get, range from traditional to unique, but it is the unique and strange sounds you get from this plug-in that make it so appealing.

Crystalizer takes a slice of the input audio and when it plays it back, it can play it back in reverse. It can be shifted up or down in pitch by 3 octaves, and delayed up to 2 seconds.

The Recycle features allows for regeneration, where the output is fed back into the input.

This all makes for a wholly unique and excellent sounding echo plug-in.

Best Auto Tune Plugins

MelodynePrice: $699

Compatibility: Win10, Win11, Apple Silicon, 10.12+, VST, VST3, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $99-$849 (depending on version)

melodyne best autotune plugin


✅ Clean and transparent tuning algorithms

✅ Separate Pitch and Noise control

✅ ARA integration makes Melodyne extremely fast and streamlines

✅ Polyphonic control

✅ Multi-Track pitch correction


❌ ARA isn’t yet compatible with all DAW’s

❌ Polyphonic and Multi-Track pitch correction only available for Editor and Studio versions.

The precision Melodyne provides in altering pitch has led to its adaptation as an indispensable plugin for various music producers and engineers. Having incorporated Melodyne into several projects, I am awe-inspired by its unparalleled pitch correction capabilities.

Melodyne stands out for its natural and subtle approach to pitch correction, a feature that other plugins often lack, sounding rather robotic and artificial. Melodyne provides flexibility with individual note tweaking and full re-pitching of recordings, including guitar and vocal tracks. It’s an ideal tool for fixing minor inaccuracies in vocal performances or crafting distinctive vocal effects.

Aside from correcting pitch, Melodyne boasts effective timing and formant features to rectify performance inaccuracies and modify vocal tonality while preserving original pitch.

I once employed Melodyne to fix a drummer’s timing issues while maintaining the track’s overall vibe and to enhance the richness and brightness of a vocal by modifying its formant.

The DNA Direct Note Access technology of Melodyne offers advanced functionalities that facilitate precise editing of individual notes in a recording. This feature proves beneficial for intricate arrangements, where even slight modifications can bring about a considerable impact.

In different situations, Melodyne can be applied as a potent and adaptable resource. It can enhance pitch in a vocal recording discreetly or support intricate compositions with various instruments. Mastery of Melodyne may require some patience, but the outcome is gratifying.

Antares Auto-Tune Pro

Compatibility: Win10, Win11, Apple Silicon, OSX 10.15.7+, VST3, AU, AAX, VST, ARA, 64-bit only
Price: $24.99/month (RTO), $479 outright


✅ Powerful, high-quality autotune sound that uses the original Auto-Tune trademarked style

✅ Great for hard tune style used commonly in rap and hip hop

✅ Includes graphical note editing, however it’s only monophonic

✅ ARA compatible

✅ Real-time auto-tune for live performances with no latency

✅ Brilliant formant shifting and throat modeling


❌ Very expensive

❌Graphical note editing is monophonic

The Antares Auto-Tune Pro serves as a go-to tool for correcting pitch imperfections in vocals or instruments in music production. Its multi-functionality is highly revered, with modes designed to suit specific music genres – Classic mode for fine-tuned pitch correction and Graph mode for meticulous editing.

Furthermore, the software incorporates a Humanize characteristic that heightens the genuineness of tone adjustments. Additionally, it includes various features such as formant shifting and vibrato control.

Auto-Tune Pro is a versatile tool that improves vocals in various music genres like pop, hip-hop, and EDM by achieving impeccable pitch. It goes beyond the famous robotic auto-tuned sound that is prevalent in modern music. The application can adjust pitch accurately to produce a natural-sounding vocal delivery.

In the music industry, innovative techniques can be employed to enhance the quality and aura of a song. This is exemplified by the exceptional vocal modulation achieved by popular artists T-Pain and Kanye West, demonstrating that creativity knows no bounds.

I have used on Auto-Tune Pro to rectify pitch inaccuracies in my vocal recordings and create unique vocal transformations in my pop and electronic music productions. Auto-Tune Pro’s formant shifting feature came in handy when I wanted to give a male vocal a feminine touch in one of my tracks, which added an interesting layer of complexity.

Auto-Tune Pro has become a must-have tool for modern music production due to its multifunctional and robust pitch correction features and remarkable vocal effects. Its reputation precedes it as a benchmark in the industry.

One thing to note is that Melodyne is much better than Auto Tune, however it does not do any live pitch correction. So if you’re looking for live pitch correction Auto Tune is the plugin you want.

Auto Tune EFX

Compatibility: Win10, Win11, Apple Silicon, MacOS 10.15.7+, VST3, AU, AAX, VST, 64-bit only
Price: $24.99/month (RTO), $229 outright


✅ Powerful, high-quality autotune sound that uses the original Auto-Tune trademarked style

✅ Great for hard tune style used commonly in rap and hip hop

✅ Includes graphical note editing, however it’s only monophonic

✅ ARA compatible

✅ Real-time auto-tune for live performances with no latency

✅ Brilliant formant shifting and throat modeling


❌ Very expensive

❌Graphical note editing is monophonic

Antares Auto-Tune EFX is a software that quickly modifies pitch in real-time, catering to the needs of musicians and music producers. The program is ideal for those who desire to attain a polished vocal sound in a simplified, user-friendly manner. The interface is basic and comprises of three key elements: Retune Speed, Humanize, and Flex-Tune.

The plugin’s correction speed is influenced by the Retune Speed, while Humanize is incorporated to introduce slight fluctuations to the adjusted pitch, ensuring it sounds more authentic. In addition, Flex-Tune regulates the amount of correction used to sustain notes.

Similarly to Auto-Tune Pro, Auto-Tune EFX has its limitations in terms of features, however, it is a more economical and user-friendly option. Auto-Tune Pro boasts premium capabilities such as Graph mode for precise pitch correction, pitch and vibrato MIDI control, where you can edit a vocal piece note by note and even change the entire key. It also includes ARA integration for seamless compatibility with DAWs such as Logic Pro, Pro Tools and Studio One.

When it comes to vocal tuning and pitch correction, Auto-Tune EFX provides a swift and efficient solution for simple tasks. However, for more intricate jobs, Auto-Tune Pro reigns supreme and it is particularly useful for experienced users. As an illustration, Auto-Tune Pro can effectively iron the pitch issues of a challenging vocal presentation with abundant fluctuations, whereas Auto-Tune EFX can apply a delicate pitch correction effect to a basic vocal recording.

Antares Auto-Tune EFX is a suitable option for musical artists and producers seeking a simple pitch correction tool that produces expert outcomes. Despite not possessing all the high-level attributes of Auto-Tune Pro, it remains an efficient instrument that can be employed within diverse musical settings.

One thing to note is that Melodyne is much better than Auto Tune, however it does not do any live pitch correction. So if you’re looking for live pitch correction Auto Tune is the plugin you want.

4. Waves Tune

Compatibility: Win10, Win11, MacOS 10.15.7+, VST, VST3, AU, AAX, 64-bit
Price: $35.99

image 14


✅ Very low latency and easy on the CPU

✅ Real-time tuning for Live performances

✅ Natural and Smooth Sound

✅ Brilliant formant shifting and hard tuned sound


❌ No polyphonic note editing or ability to change entire keys/chords naturally

Waves Tune is a versatile plugin designed to enhance the quality of vocals and instruments by providing efficient pitch correction tools. This plugin offers advanced features that enable users to effortlessly fine-tune the pitch and timing of their recordings. With Waves Tune, users can easily adjust the pitch of individual notes and create seamless transitions between them. The plugin comes with multiple pitch correction modes, including Auto, which automatically corrects pitch, and Graph, which offers more customized and manual pitch correction options.

In contrast to Melodyne’s complexity, Waves Tune presents itself as a simpler and more accessible option. Although Melodyne provides a greater range of capabilities in adjusting pitch and allows for in-depth modifications to recordings, Waves Tune is tailored more towards live, latency-free pitch correction for performances.

Waves Tune and Auto-Tune Pro differ in terms of features, where the latter is more advanced with a broader set of capabilities such as vibrato control and humanize function. However, Waves Tune is simpler to use and more affordable. It proves to be an effective and efficient tool for pitch correction with minimal effort, producing excellent results.

In terms of their abilities for pitch correction, Waves Tune stands out as a more refined and intricate tool compared to Auto-Tune EFX. The latter lacks some of the advanced features found in the professional edition, making it a more elementary version of Auto-Tune. Waves Tune, however, is a plugin that offers more advanced and dynamic control over pitch correction, making it a much more flexible option.

To put it briefly, Waves Tune is a great selection for anyone who wants a pitch correction plugin that is easy to use, produces fast and impressive outcomes. Its way of correcting pitch is simpler and more direct compared to other commonly used plugins such as Melodyne and Auto-Tune. Waves Tune offers less complicated features but has more user-friendliness.

It’s also extremely cheap!

5. Little Alterboy

Compatibility: Win7, Win8, Win10, Win11, Apple Silicon, MacOS 10.12+, VST, VST3, AU, AAX 64-bit
Price: $99

Little AlterBoy Main GUI


✅ Easy to use interface, with a couple of buttons to alter formant, drive, pitch and mix

✅ Very creative and characterful sounds, with great sounding pitching and formant – fantastic for sound design

✅ 3 different mode types that give you different styled sounds. Robot for auto-tune robotic style, transpose for simple transposition etc.

✅ Great value for money


❌ Does not work in real-time

❌ Not a good choice for tuning vocals or instruments, more made for designing sounds.

Little AlterBoy by Soundtoys is an exceptional tool for altering the pitch and formant of voices and instruments. It facilitates subtle or drastic transformations by providing options for adjusting pitch and formant. The blend control feature makes it possible to achieve an ideal balance between unprocessed and processed sounds.

Little AlterBoy offers a unique way of approaching pitch correction, setting it apart from other plugins such as Auto-Tune and Melodyne. Melodyne concentrates on meticulous adjustments on every note, while Auto-Tune boasts precise tuning. Alternatively, Little AlterBoy is more inclined towards sound design. The tool comes in handy when creating peculiar, robotic, or otherworldly voices and can add an exceptional trait to any record.

Little AlterBoy offers a more tactile approach to pitch and formant adjustments compared to Waves Tune. With an uncomplicated interface and user-friendly controls, users can easily manipulate these outputs. Moreover, the software boasts additional functionalities such as a drive modifier that enhances the sound’s warmth and saturation levels.

Little AlterBoy is an excellent resource for anyone seeking unconventional pitch and formant modification instead of exact intonation. Its extraordinary personality and user-friendly interface make it a valuable tool for producers and sound designers.

Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5

Price: $179

native instruments guitar rig 5 guitar amplifier plugin

Guitar Rig is the go-to guitar plug-in.

The sheer amount of effects, amps, cabs and other customisation options make Guitar Rig one of the best plugins for guitarists!

In the early days, Guitar Rig offered three tube amplifier emulations, and more than 20 effects including:

  • Models of well-known hardware pedals
  • Studio-style effects such as:
    • Delay
    • Reverb
    • EQ 

The Cabinets and Mics inside the plug-in have 14 speaker types, including the classic B4 Rotary Speaker reminiscent of an old Hammond cab. 

Additionally, the modelling also takes into account the electrical reaction between the power amp & the speaker!

Guitar Rig 5 is available on the Native Instruments webstore.

Scaler 2

Price: $29

scaler 2 music theory helper and melody writing plugin
best audio plugins music theory

Scaler is a fantastic music composition and learning tool, which can be used not only by those who aren’t too much into music theory, but also by those who are willing to learn & expand their music theory knowledge.

Scaler 2 offers an enormous library of chords and scales, pretty much everything we know in music today.

Scaler 2 also includes some great features for live performance. You can pick from a list of options like: expressions, arpeggios, and strumming patterns which can be used to help aid performances, and add a lot of depth to them.

If you want to add a bit more of a human element to your playing, you can select from the Humanize options to add subtle changes to the note velocity, timing, or both.

If you’ve ever felt stuck by not having enough music theory knowledge, we highly suggest picking up Scaler 2.

Autotune Navigation

Free & Paid Plugins

Useful Autotune Articles

Melodyne or Auto-Tune?

Best Sampler VST Piano Plugins & Libraries

Second to last on our best audio plugins of 2023 list, we have the Piano category. We know that, finding great Piano emulations can be extremely difficult.

So we decided to try and test the very best virtual instruments, in search of the most realistic emulations of Piano plugins available.


Price: $399

spectrasonics keyscape piano virtual instrument

Keyscape is an extraordinary virtual instrument featuring the largest selection of collector keyboards in the world.

From “holy grail” pianos to stunning keyboards you didn’t even know existed, this is a keyboardist’s dream come true.

As with Spectrasonics Omnisphere, the sound quality of Keyscape is stellar, but where it really comes alive is the customisation.

Let’s say, for example you want to lay down some chords with a classic Fender Rhodes sound, but just want some percussive top end from a harpsichord.

Well, the beautiful thing about Keyscape is that, you can combine these sounds into what they call “Hybrid Duo Patches” & they’re incredible for sound design.

And it doesn’t stop there.

If you also own Spectrasonics Omnisphere, you can load the entire Keyscape library into its synthesis engine.

Personally we use Keyscape in every single track we make. The Celeste with echo & varispeed is one of our favourites – a dissonant, vintage sounding beast. The Rhodes sounds so much like the real thing it’s not even worth buying a real one (and we’ve tried many in different studios).

The Grand Piano… well I’m pretty sure you’d have a very hard time telling the difference between a real on & Keyscape side by side.

Addictive Keys

Price: $149.95

addictive keys piano vsti

Addictive Keys is one of those VST plugins that gets Piano emulation just right.

It works by using incredible samples that sound like the real thing!

What’s great is, you’re actually able to modulate and change them in any way you want.

And, once you have fine-tuned your sound, you can use a variety of mic placements to sound like you’re recording the thing from a studio!

Different microphones, mic placements and rooms are just a few of the great customisation options that Addictive Keys’ virtual studio offers.

REFX Nexus 3

Price: $249

refx nexus 3

Although this isn’t just a piano VST (it’s a huge synth), it has some of the most incredible piano sounds for EDM specifically.

If you want that kind of EDM piano sound, then Nexus is your best bet for this. You could potentially make the EDM style piano sounds by yourself, but I’ve never managed to get as close a Nexus gets to this.

It’s also a huge workflow boost, because the sounds you get really don’t need tweaking at all. You can choose a preset, and it will fit with your tune instantly.

There are also a tonne of customisation options for interesting arps, a load of filters, effects and macros you can use to control different sounds.

Being a synth, you’ll also get incredible pluck sounds, pads, basses and more. It’s the ultimate EDM package.

Spitfire Audio Labs

Price: $0

spitfire labs free piano vst
(best plugins free)

LABS is stupidly good and it’s free. It has an incredible library of orchestral, piano, guitar & tonnes of other sounds that you’ve probably been searching for online for ages.

When we first started music production, we found it really hard to find free piano sounds that actually sounded good. Until we found LABS…

Personally we use LABS a lot in our own tracks, even though we own some expensive sampler instruments. LABS makes it simple to find a great sound & use it to lay down your ideas quickly.

LABS packs are hands-down the best sampled orchestra libraries available for free. From percussion, to Wurlitzer emulations, to experimental, granular ambient sounds, LABS makes their packs sound unlike anything else.

At exactly 0$ for the entire LABS package, if you don’t already have this on your computer, then you’re missing out!

Soundmagic Piano One

Price: $0

soundmagic piano one piano emulation vsti

Soundmagic Piano One

Comes from the sampling of a Yamaha C7 concert grand. It uses its own hybrid modelling engine to capture the well known sound of the C7.

This engine combines the realistic sound of sampling and the play ability of modelling. The play ability is responsive, due to the modelling, while the sampling makes the sound crisp and realistic.

The user interface includes an absurd amount of controls for a piano VST. It allows you to customise just about anything. Interesting features include piano key noises, audience and player perspective, and tuning systems.

Best Delay Plugins

Last on the list of our favourite plugins of 2023 is delays.

Delays are something we use in our production every time. From creating incredible sound design, to just using them for mixing purposes, delays are essential for every producer.

Soundtoys EchoBoy

Price: $199

soundtoys echoboy best delay plugin

EchoBoy by Soundtoys is by far the best delay plugin we’ve come into. It’s versatile, has that warm analog sound you desire & is extremely popular among producers. It’s an analog plugin that has over 30 emulations of vintage machines and focuses on creating the same vintage tone of classics like EchoPlex, Space Echo, Memory Man and TelRay oil can.

There’s even a vintage chorus that emulates the original CE-1 chorus pedal, which is considered the best pedal of all time for chorus. And when you thought it couldn’t get any more analog and warm, they even provide beautiful Tape Saturation that adds a beautiful colouring when used lightly and absolutely smashes signals when hot.

All of this analog goodness comes with updated, digital controls which help you pinpoint your delay and add the right vibe to your tracks. There’s also some fantastic presets which give you a great starting point for your delay sound.

Slate Digital D16 Repeater

Price: $99

d16 repeater delay plugin

The D16 Repeater by Slate Digital, is a serious contender to Soundtoys’ EchoBoy, offering far more depth & deep customisation than it’s competitor.

With the D16, you have access to 23 different delay models which you can tweak even further with the colour knob.

Despite the deep customisation available on Repeater, what makes it so great is how quickly you can get incredible sounding effects with just a few changes.

Imperial Delay

Price: $149

imperial delay plugin

Imperial Delay by Boz Digital Labs has been designed with workflow in mind, and it shows. It’s a powerful beast of a delay that gives you control over everything.

Due to its design and nature, Imperial Delay allows you to modify tonnes, without affecting your creative flow.

As can be seen above, it allows you to have control over a number of options such as:

  • Feeback
  • Chorus
  • Drive
  • Modulation
  • Color
  • And loads more!

Fabfilter Timeless 2

Price: $129

fabfilter timeless 2 delay vst plugin

Fabfilter Timeless 2 is another plugin from the software giants that just makes sense.

It’s a fairly unique delay unit, because it’s a fairly straightforward plugin that can be used to achieve incredible results within minutes of using it. But, there’s also a tonne going on in the background.

The options when using Fabilter Timeless 2 are absolutely endless! You can either rustle up a simple delay or make use of the large array of modulation options available to create awe inspiring sound design.

On top of all that, Fabilter includes absolute precision with access to their fantastic filters including, bells, roll offs, shelfs & more!

Softube Tube Delay

Price: $89

softube tube delay vst plugin

Softube Tube delay is a delay plugin that packs a punch.

It has an awesome vintage analog style passive EQ that can create results that sound clean or just plain dirty, with just a twist of a knob!

As the name suggests, it also has the ability to add drive to the delay signal to give it a certain warmth & grit.

With Softube Tube delay, you can either add drive to the source of your signal, just the delay or you can add it to the entire sound.

With such a low price tag for such an incredible sound, Tube delay is a must have.

All Best VSTs

All Best Free VSTs

VST Effects

VST Instruments


FAQ – Other Important Questions About Popular VST Plugins (Answered)

How Do I Install VST Plugins?

Install 64-bit music plugins for Windows system in C:\Program Files\Steinberg\VSTPlugins.

For 32-bit plugins you will install them in C:\Program Files(x86)\Steinberg\VSTPlugins.

For Mac, you can install all VST plugins in Library/Audio/Plug-ins/VST. You will install AU plugins in the components folder instead.

Where Are The Best Places To Get VST Plugin Deals?

There are 3 plugin companies you can use to get the best deals when purchasing music plugins:

  1. PluginBoutique
  2. PluginFox
  3. AudioPluginDeals

There are many more plugin companies that offer great deals too, but these are the best in terms of value for money. However, it’s always good to browse different VST companies to see which offers the most perks and biggest savings.

Should I Install VST Plugins on My Main Disk or External Drive?

The best practice for installing plugins is to install them on your main HDD or SSD. You can install them on your external drive, but they will run slower. This is advantageous when you have a plugin with a huge library like Kontakt or Omnisphere and a small SSD.

Install all your most used plugins and samples directly on your system SSD or HDD.

How Many Computers Can I Activate Music Plugins On?

Each company will offer a different number of activations you can use across your computers. Usually 2-3 activations is what you’ll get with most plugin companies. However some may only offer 1 activation.

It’s important to check this information before purchasing a plugin. If you have multiple systems, you’ll want multiple activations.

Should I Use Audio Units or VSTs?

Using VST plugins in your projects is better than using AU plugins. Although AU plugins are faster on paper, they don’t allow for cross compatibility with Windows machines. If you have a Windows machine, or are working with someone who does, (or want to move from Mac to Windows), using AUs will break your projects.

If you use AU, and want to work with someone using Windows (or swap systems), you will have to freeze all tracks that use AU plugins in that session.

This is why we recommend using VST2 or VST3’s in all your projects.

Can I Use VST Plugins on Both Mac & Windows?

VST music plugins are cross-compatible with Windows and Mac. This means you can use your plugins when switching systems and transfer projects without data loss, exactly how they are.

Like we said above, it’s advisable to use VSTs, even if you’re on a Mac system.

How Do I Use 32-bit Music Plugins?

32-bit plugins can be used with bridging software. Most DAWs are 64-bit, and most plugins are not 64-bit too. However, there are some free VSTs you might want to use in your projects that are 32-bit. For this you can use J-Bridge on Windows and 32-lives on Mac.

All of the must have plugins will support 64-bit, so there’s no need to worry about bridging software with all of the picks on this list.

You cannot use 64-bit plugins in a 32-bit DAW.

Summary – The Best VSTs of 2023 & Beyond

Here’s the complete list of the best VST plugins, instruments & synths in 2023:

  1. uhe Diva
  2. Xfer Serum
  3. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.6
  4. Kilohearts Phase Plant
  5. Waves Smack Attack
  6. TAL-Bassline-101
  7. Arturia Pigments 2
  8. Arturia CS-80V
  9. Native Instruments Kontakt

The sheer amount of high quality plug-ins that have come out in the past 20 years is astounding.

You literally no longer need any hardware other than a computer, interface and speakers.

If there’s a rack compressor, you can have a plug-in version of that. If you want a boutique synth that nobody has heard of, chances are, there’s a VST emulation out there.

The world of incredible plugins is growing daily, and it’s awesome.


That just about brings us to a close. We really hope you enjoyed our list of the best VSTs in 2023.

If you want some FREE plugins, check out our list of the top 250 free plugins you can download right now!

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