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Top 20 Freeware VST Plugins Released This Year! (Best Of 2013)

Top 20 Free VST Plugins Of 2013!

What better way to end the year on a website such as BPB than making a retrospective of all the best free VST plugins which were released in the past twelve months? Let’s take a look at 2013’s finest freeware instruments and effects and see if your VST plugin folder is missing out on something good!

Please note that this Top 20 list only includes plugins which were released in 2013. If you’re looking for an all-time list of free VST plugins, take a look at our freeware VST directory. It contains links to hundreds of fantastic freeware effects and instruments, sorted into different categories for easy browsing.

You can also enter our Christmas Giveaway 2013 for a chance to win free copies of more than 10 commercial products, including FL Studio, LuSH-101, Ultra Analog VA-2, etc.

Don’t forget to spread the word by sharing a link to this article on your website, your favorite music production forum, or on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Thanks!

It’s time for this year’s freeware VST plugin countdown! Enjoy reading and feel welcome to leave your opinion about the list in the comments section!

#20 Brzoza by Saltline (Windows)

Brzoza by Saltline!

I’ve decided to begin this year’s Top 20 list with Brzoza, an interesting freeware FM synthesizer plugin for Windows. The instrument was developed by Saltline, a company which was on quite a roll in 2013, releasing several pretty cool instruments and effects as part of their Drzewo free VST plugin series.

We don’t have too many freeware FM synthesizers around, and Brzoza is an interesting instrument to try if you’re in need of a polished tool for FM synthesis. It is a two operator monophonic FM synthesizer with three modulators per operator. It does lack polyphony, however it works great for creating classic FM bell sounds, as well as FM leads and basses. The synthesizer received a positive review in Beat Magazine #90, getting a highly respectable 5.5/6 rating. Take a look at our free FM synthesizer round-up for more freeware FM synths.

Don’t miss the rest of the Drzewo plugin series, either! If you’re looking for a freeware additive synthesizer, ADHDidi by Saltline is a great pick. Their CBW01 drum machine is also pretty neat (although it requires registration to the Music-Society forum).

Demo Videohttp://youtu.be/o_pbNnDiOKQ

Download: Brzoza (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#19 ULTRAkILLER by NOVAkILL (Windows)

ULTRAkILLER by NOVAkILL!

Originally released as a gift for people who purchase their album, NOVAkILL has decided to re-release their ULTRAkILLER virtual hybrid synthesizer as a free instrument in October 2013.

The plugin is based on a mix between subtractive and additive synthesis. ULTRAkILLER features one standard waveform oscillator and one unison oscillator, but the real fun starts with the SPECTRAL generator which is basically a high quality additive oscillator.

The list of features is expanded with a built-in trance gate effect, 2 drive stages, and a cool 8-slot modulation matrix. The plugin is well designed and easy to use, packing a lot of horsepower in a compact package. It’s a great synthesizer for creating modern dance music leads and classic trance sounds.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/Bv2YRSXN-OE

Download: ULTRAkILLER (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#18 NadIR by Ignite Amps (Mac & Win)

NadIR by Ignite Amps!

NadIR is a freeware guitar cabinet IR loader plugin developed by Ignite Amps. Released in late 2013, it already has some pretty tough competition in the fantastic LeCab convolver effect by LePou.

NadIR is designed as a high quality guitar cabinet impulse response loader which will provide zero latency performance with a low CPU hit. Since the plugin works at zero latency, it is a great tool for live performances and tracking.  The plugin also features analog modeled filters which sound great and can be used for quick and easy tone shaping. The same developer has also released TPA-1, a cool freeware tube amp VST plugin which is totally worth checking out.

Chances are you’ll need some good guitar cabinet impulse responses to go with this plugin. You can grab those in our guitar cabinet IR round-up article which sums up the best cabinet impulse responses which are currently available for free download.

Download: NadIR (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin for Windows & Mac)

#17 DuckEQ by HeelAudio (Mac)

DuckEQ by HeelAudio!

The only Mac exclusive plugin on this list is DuckEQ by HeelAudio. This handy plugin is a dynamic equalizer with a sidechain input. It can be used for ducking specific frequency bands, as well as for standard ducking and dynamic equalization.

DuckEQ offers more control than a basic sidechain compressor, making it possible to achieve more transparent and natural sounding results. By ducking a specific frequency range, you can choose to only remove the clashing frequencies of two sounds without a noticeable amplitude drop.

Apart from DuckEQ, the same developer has also released a neat mix reference plugin called MixRef. I really hope to see their plugins ported to Windows one day! For now, the only freeware Windows alternative to DuckEQ is IQ4GUI by Platinumears.

UPDATE: As suggested in a comment posted by BPB reader Unruval, a closer Windows alternative to DuckEQ would actually be Equinox by Platinumears.

Download: DuckEQ (32-bit VST/AU plugin format for Mac)

#16 Tyrell N6 V3 by U-He (Mac & Win)

Tyrell N6 V3 by U-He!

Whaaat?! Tyrell N6 on 16th place? Am I going loco? Nope! The third iteration of the magnificent Tyrell N6 synthesizer simply didn’t bring enough new features to be included higher on the list of this year’s highlights.

Even so, it’s still awesome enough to be included on the Top 20 list. The latest version of Tyrell N6 comes with a bigger (and great looking, btw!) GUI, around 20 bugfixes, 64-bit support for Mac users, as well as support for the up-and-coming VST 3 plugin format.

So, while the instrument itself is easily the best freeware virtual analogue synthesizer out there, the V3 update which was released in 2013 didn’t bring enough improvements to put it on top of this list. It still is an amazing piece of free software, though, which should be installed in everyone’s VST folder.

If you don’t have it already, got get it right away. If you’re using an older version, grab Tyrell N6 V3 from the link below and enjoy the new design and bigger layout. You might also want to grab the great looking free skin for Tyrell N6 V3 designed by Jazzigula.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/IL_DZEj5CI4

Download: Tyrell N6 V3 (32-bit & 64-bit VSTi/AU plugin for Windows & Mac)

#15 EXD-80 by THS (Windows)

EXD-80 by Third Harmonic Studios!

My favorite freeware drum synthesizer of 2013 is EXD-80, the premiere VSTi plugin released by Third Harmonic Studios. I’ve had a tough time choosing only one of the several cool virtual drum machines which were released this year, so I’ll name them all here. If you’re a drum machine fan, definitely check out DrumBurst X-824 by HG FortuneVR-08 by ALIPAPADream Drums Beta by Odo Synths, and CBW01 by Saltline. They’re all worth a look and it’s not impossible that you’ll prefer one of them compared to the one included in the list.

What made EXD-80 stand out from the crowd in my case is the fact that it’s capable of generating some pretty quirky and lo-fi sounds. I love layering a drum synthesizer sequence underneath the main drum loop and modulating several parameters to add interest and motion to the overall groove. The EXD-80 works great for that purpose, although it can also perform very well as the main drum instrument in a track.

This virtual analogue drum machine features 8 individual drum modules (kick, snare, open hats, closed hats, and five percussion sounds), paired up with 4 stereo outputs. Having multiple stereo outputs is a neat feature if you want to further process your drum sounds inside your DAW’s mixer channel. It supports VST host automation (quite an important feature in my case) and user definable MIDI mappings, which is a nice feature to have at your disposal when working with hardware controllers.

EXD-80 was the first ever and still the only release by Third Harmonic Studios. I hope to see them expand their product arsenal in 2014.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/nlFXRRsM-UE

Download: EXD-80 (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#14 sforzando by Plogue (Mac, Windows)

sforzando by Plogue!

Without any bangs and whistles, the streamlined sforzando by Plogue deserves its place on this list as the first fully featured freeware sampler which was designed to work with the SFZ format. We have several good SFZ players in the freeware world, but sforzando is the only one which was designed specifically for use with this format. It’s also a great tool to use when developing your own SFZ instrument patches.

So, what’s the big deal about the SFZ format? In short, it’s a powerful and completely royalty free file format developed for use with sample libraries. Anyone can use it to create patches for a group of audio samples, and distribute the patch file completely free of charge. The format is very easy to learn and it’s well documented. Everything you need to learn this format is listed at the Cakewalk website.

With sforzando, you can develop your SFZ instrument patches inside a single program. Load up a SFZ patch and test it, then open the built-in text editor and fix any issues or bugs. Save the patch and test the results right away. The plugin also features a format converter, enabling the user to drop an SF2 or WAV file and have it instantly converted to the SFZ 2.0 format.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/O62kISpCN9Y

Downloadsforzando (32-bit & 64-bit VSTi/AU/RTAS plugin for Win & Mac)

#13 Dream 64 V2 by Odo (Windows)

Dream 64 V2 by Odo Synths!

After a long break, Dutch developer Odo Synths has finally returned to action this year with a great freeware release. His new Dream 64 V2 virtual synthesizer is easily one of the best freeware Commodore 64 VSTi plugins around. Based on the sound and functionality of the legendary SID chip, this unique virtual instrument is all you’ll ever need for creating those classic super fast old school arpeggios and blippy chiptune leads.

The heart and soul of Dream 64 V2 is the brilliant wavetable editor which was a big part of SID chip’s magic. The SID chip wavetable editor was used to create the signature Commodore 64 drum sound pioneered by Rob Hubbard.

Luckily for the non-tweakers among us, the instrument comes with a great library of factory presets covering all basic Commodore 64 video game sounds. If you’d like to create your own sounds using the wavetable editor, here’s a good place to start your journey.

Another great Commodore 64 synthesizer released this year is basic65 by de la Mancha. While not intended as a faithful copy of the original, it can produce some great chiptune sounds and comes with a lovely set of factory presets.

Audio Demo: http://soundcloud.com/odosynths/demo-dream-64

Download: Dream 64 V2 (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#12 T-Force Alpha Plus by Mastrcode Music (Win)

T-Force Alpha Plus by Mastrcode Music!

Mastrcode Music has completed (at least for the time being) their T-Force series of trance inspired instruments and effects with the release of T-Force Alpha Plus virtual synthesizer for Windows.

A gift from heaven for trance music producers, the T-Force Alpha Plus provides all the tools one would need for creating classic trance leads, pads, and bass sequences. The instrument features subtractive and FM synthesis, 3 multi-wave oscillators, a neat 32-step trance gate, and a nice set of built-in effects including delay and bitcrusher. All of this in an easy to use interface with five separate control panels.

For more trance tools by the same developer, take a look at the T-Force Trance Gate and the T-Force Alpha TS virtual synthesizer. Another great freeware choice for trance music producers would be the TranceDrive virtual synthesizer with an additional set of presets provided by Maik Menz (who is also the developer behind this cool instrument).

Demo Videohttp://youtu.be/Z1C64Ky5rso

DownloadT-Force Alpha Plus (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#11 SX36 by J1000 (Windows)

SX36 by Jovan Končar!

J1000 has developed a nifty collection of free mastering grade effects for Windows. His most notable release in 2013 was the SX36 freeware 3-band equalizer with M/S processing features.

This plugin is the perfect tool for controlling the stereo image of your audio tracks. Adjust the frequency crossover points according to your needs and use the M/S equalization technique to get a more defined and stable bass sound and better stereo spread in the higher frequency ranges. Due to its great set of features and easy workflow, SX36 is also included in our list of free mastering VST plugins.

If you’re on a lookout for classic equalizers, grab the PQ33 parametric EQ and the QX24 parametric equalizer which also acts as an exciter. Another great choice would be the MQ57 parametric mastering equalizer.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/OuYpj7LX7LE

DownloadSX36 (32-bit VST plugin format for Windows)

#10 Venom VB-303 by antto (Windows)

Venom VB-303 by antto!

The middle position belongs to the most controversial freeware plugin on the list. After years of development and months of beta testing, the long awaited Venom VB-303 by antto was finally released in April this year. Praised for its fantastic sound and blamed for the archaic workflow faithful to the original instrument, this is without question the best freeware Roland TB-303 emulation in existence. The instrument is a must-have for all acid fans.

When it comes to sound, Venom VB-303 comes incredibly close to its legendary hardware counterpart. Here’s an audio comparison of the two instruments. You’ll have to admit that it’s hard to notice a significant sonic difference between the two.

The problem lies within the fact that Venom also copies the workflow of the TB-303, making it a hard bargain for inexperienced users. Still, we don’t see such detailed emulations of hardware instruments in the freeware world very often (SQ8L comes to mind, among the very few) and that is why Venom VB-303 gets the well deserved 10th place on this list.

Take your time to learn the controls and you’ll soon have a fantastic acid bassline machine in your instrument arsenal. The tutorial video linked below is a good place to start!

Video Tutorial: http://youtu.be/ZDipw_F-VD8

Download: Venom VB-303 (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#9 Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP (Windows)

Lisp by Sleepy-Time DSP!

Sleepy-Time DSP has released several simple yet incredibly useful freeware plugins in 2012, quickly gaining the reputation of a very talented and responsive developer. His only release in 2013 was Lisp, a superb freeware de-esser which instantly became my go-to freeware tool for cleaning up sibilant noises in vocal tracks.

What makes this free de-esser stand out from the crowd is the fact that it uses a somewhat different approach to tame those pesky ear piercing sounds. Lisp uses quick frequency detection paired up with a transient detection algorithm to quickly identify sibilant noises and reduce their amplitude. The effect is already pre-tuned to the human vocal range, so less time is needed to tweak the plugin to optimal settings. The processed vocal tracks sound natural and free of the drowned upon lithp effect (which is often the result of pushing a de-esser too hard).

To make things even better, Lisp is greatly optimized to reduce the CPU load thus allowing many instances per project without affecting the overall performance. It is also possible to work in M/S mode, as well as to process individual stereo channels. If you like Lisp, take a look at the free STR Legacy Bundle by the same developer. You’ll find a wonderful selection of freebie tools for your software studio.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/fYUkuIy9-xo

Download: Lisp (32-bit & 64-bit VST plugin format for Windows)

#8 Luftikus by lkjb (Mac, Windows)

Luftikus by lkjb!

Developer lkjb has returned to the scene in 2013 with the release of Luftikus, a freeware analogue style equalizer for Windows and Mac. The plugin was well accepted on audio forums such as KVR Audio and Gearslutz and was often described as a pretty decent freeware alternative to the Maag EQ4 by Maag Audio.

Luftikus is a great sounding 6-band parametric equalizer. The secret is in the 6th band labeled High Boost and often regarded to as Air Band on similar equalizers. This frequency band can be set from 2500 Hz all the way up to 40 kHz and be used to add sparkle and shine to your mixes. Some time after the initial release, Luftikus was updated with a great looking GUI provided by one of the users.

The same developer has also released PitchedDelay, a neat freeware delay effect with pitch shifting. It was released as an entry in the KVR DC12 developer contest, reaching the 23rd place on the list.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/59iqDE5PWE4

Download: Luftikus (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin for Windows & Mac)

#7 Aalto Solo by Madrona Labs (Mac, Windows)

Aalto Solo by Madrona Labs!

Here’s one for all modular synthesizer aficionados out there! The Aalto Solo is a fantastic semi-modular synthesizer by Madrona Labs, released as freeware in January 2013. It is basically a monophonic version of the acclaimed Aalto virtual instrument.

It was released as a Facebook exclusive freebie at first (along with Einklang LE by Eisenberg), but it is now available as a free download for everyone on Beat Drive. You’ll need to register for an account at Beat Drive, but the process is easy and completely free.

It’s easy to spend hours upon hours experimenting with this awesome freeware synthesizer. You’ll have loads of fun exploring all the possibilities and come up with some intriguing sounds in the process. Get Aalto Solo right away if you’re a modular synth fan and get ready to find yourself lost in the magical world of intoxicating patches and endless flows of modulation sources. Wait… what? I’ve obviously spent too much time playing around with this thing.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/Nlt98IdOh1c

DownloadAalto Solo (32-bit & 64-bit VSTi/AUi plugin for Windows & Mac)

#6 Supercharger by Native Instruments (Mac,Win)

Supercharger by Native Instruments!

The only non-freeware plugin on this list is Supercharger by Native Instruments. It isn’t freeware, but you can still get it for free until December 31st, 2013!

This place also belongs to several other fantastic plugins which were free for a limited time this year, including Renaissance Bass by WavesSingle Mault SE by FXpansion, and Mono Bass by Boz Digital Labs. Actually, you can still get Mono Bass for free if you hurry up!

Supercharger is a great sounding compressor with a simple one knob workflow. The algorithm adapts the attack and release times of the compressor to the characteristics of the audio signal on the input, making it super easy to find the compression sweet spot. The plugin also features a handy Mix parameter for easy NY style compression and a nice Drive mode for added saturation. It works great on the drum bus, but it can also be used on bass tracks and other sound sources.

Once the promo period ends, the regular price of $49 will become active. Hurry up and get this brilliant compressor for FREE while you can!

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/AveqJ0_nd4s

DownloadSupercharger (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin for Windows & Mac)

#5 sixtyfive by de la Mancha (Windows)

sixtyfive by de la Mancha!

After the unfortunate crash of his website last year, de la Mancha has surprised everyone with some great freebie re-releases in 2013! One of his formerly commercial plugins which are now re-released as freeware is the brilliant sixtyfive compressor inspired by the famous dbx 165A hardware unit.

According to this audio test by RHYTHMINMIND, the sixtyfive compressor comes amazingly close to its hardware counterpart. This freeware RMS compressor is a great choice for subtle use on your master bus, as well as for adding glue to drums and other percussive elements of your mix.

I’ve had a hard time choosing between all the great freebies de la Mancha has released this year, so I’ll list them all here. You should definitely check out the basic65 synthesizer inspired by the SID chip, the truc2 multi-effect plugin, the PULS chiptune synthesizer, the amazing dirty harry lo-fi synthesizer, as well as the juicy GTA compressor!

If you enjoy these plugins, support de la Mancha’s cause by making a donation to Cancer Research UK and joining the fight against cancer. You’ll find further instructions on his official website.

Downloadsixtyfive (32-bit VST plugin format for Windows)

#4 IVGI by Klanghelm (Mac, Windows)

IVGI by Klanghelm!

At the time of releasing the commercial SDRR saturation effect, Klanghelm has also released the freeware IVGI saturation tool which is based on the same set of algorithms. It is a compact tool with simple controls and a great sound.

The plugin is designed as a soft saturation device, suitable for use on individual audio channels, as well as on the stereo bus. It features 4 parameters which can be used to alter the character and transparency of the applied saturation. You can either go for mild saturation, or push the effect into overdrive zone. IVGI is also included in our free mastering effects round-up.

Speaking of Klanghelm, you can enter our Christmas Giveaway 2013 for a chance to win their magnificent DC8C compressor effect. I would also recommend its little brother DC1A which is one of my go-to compressors for vocals. This brilliant little compressor is used in every single one of my projects.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/8kYYBfFtm_E

DownloadIVGI (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU/RTAS plugin for Windows & Mac)

#3 FireBird 2 by Tone2 (Windows)

FireBird 2 by Tone2!

The highest ranking freeware virtual synthesizer this year is FireBird 2 by Tone2 Software. This highly acclaimed commercial virtual instrument went full freeware in 2013 and instantly earned its place as one of the best freeware synthesizers in the world.

Tone2 Software has decided to re-release FireBird 2 as a freeware product after 7 years on the market. Some new instruments have taken its place in the Tone2 Software product line (the brilliant Saurus in particular), however FireBird 2 still has a huge amount of synthesis horsepower to offer. As opposed to similar VA synthesizers in the freeware realm, the instrument is based on Harmonic Content Morphing synthesis which defines its sound properties and workflow.

This unique virtual synthesizer features 84 oscillator types containing 18,000 morphable waveforms and an array of 38 different filter types. To get you started, a great collection of 437 factory presets is included. The plugin also features 21 arpeggiator types and 13 built-in effects.

You can get Tone2 Software’s magnificent Nemesis virtual synthesizer for free in our Christmas Giveaway 2013. It’s a user friendly FM synthesizer based on an innovative approach to FM synthesis.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/MO_sjF7RX7w

Download: FireBird 2 (32-bit VSTi plugin format for Windows)

#2 Feedback Compressor II by TDR (Mac, Win)

Feedback Compressor II by TDR!

Building upon the foundation set by its critically acclaimed predecessor, Tokyo Dawn Labs has released the final version of TDR Feedback Compressor II in April 2013. The plugin went through a long Beta stage in 2013 and ended up as one of the best mastering compressors in the freeware scene.

In simple terms, TDR Feedback Compressor II analyzes the audio signal at the output stage, rather than on the input. This approach (also known as feed-back compression) results in a highly transparent sound, suitable both for mixing and mastering tasks. The updated version of the plugin introduces new and improved compression algorithms and a completely revamped control scheme. Read a detailed review of TDR Feedback Compressor II at Lean Audio.

Tokyo Dawn Labs has released another great freeware mixing tool called Proximity. It was developed in tandem with VladG Sound who is the developer behind Molot, one of my favorite freeware compressors.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/AdVejqwn704

Download: Feedback Compressor II (32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin for Windows & Mac)

#1 ThrillseekerVBL By VOS (Windows)

ThrillseekerVBL By Variety Of Sound!

The title of the best freeware plugin released in 2013 as chosen by BPB goes to the amazing ThrillseekerVBL by Variety Of Sound. It is the latest release in the brilliant Thrillseeker series of freeware effects for Windows.

This broadcast limiter type of effect uses the Stateful Saturation algorithms developed by Variety Of Sound to provide authentic analogue sound in a digital environment. ThrillseekerVBL works fantastic for gentle leveling and can add depth and warmth to a variety of sound sources. A detailed review of the plugin is available at Modern Mixing.

I often use it on bass and drum tracks, but it can also work well for leveling vocals and other kinds of sounds. Use it to add character and make your sounds stand out in the mix.

You should definitely check out the rest of the Thrillseeker series. Download your free copies of Thrillseeker XTC and ThrillseekerLA and add a bit of that 3rd dimension to your mixes!

Bootsie went a bit silent during the past couple of months. Too silent for my taste! I sincerely hope that he’s preparing some nice freeware surprises for us in 2014. In the meanwhile, I’ll enjoy mixing my tunes using the rest of his brilliant Thrillseeker series and all the great freeware released so far by Variety Of Sound.

Demo Video: http://youtu.be/5anSimIe7d0

Download: ThrillseekerVBL (32-bit VST plugin format for Windows)

Honorable Mentions

Needless to say, these weren’t the only notable freeware VST plugins released in 2013. Some brilliant developers have released a variety of very cool freeware tools and I will list them all below, in no particular order. Kudos to all!

German developer WOK has released several very useful freebies in the so called One Trick Pony series. These plugins were designed to perform a single task with maximum simplicity. Take a look at the Tapebrake tape stop effect, Emonizer micro-pitch shifter, Instaback audio reverse effect, and the nifty REFO-D reverse delay.

Legendary xoxos remained active in 2013 with the release of Stoooner, a peculiar percussion sample mangler for Windows. You should also take a look at his commercial Bong drum synthesizer. It’s a great instrument based on the Roland TR-909 sound.

HG Fortune has generously re-released a large number of his previously commercial synthesizers as freeware in 2013, as part of the Nearly Forgotten Gems series. My favorite ones are Alien Space Weaver Pro and AlioNoctis, but you should definitely check out the rest of the NFG series if you’re looking for cool atmospheric synthesizers.

Several pretty useful guitar effects were released by AXP who stepped on the scene in early 2013. His CharBooster effect is pretty neat, as well as the SoftDrive GV distortion effect based on the Guv’nor pedal by Marshall.

More guitar goodies came from TSE Audio, who has released the TSE X50 virtual guitar amp based on the Peavey 5150+ amplifier. It works fantastic for getting high gain guitar sounds. Great stuff! I’m also a big fan of his TSE B.O.D bass guitar pedal which was updated to v2.0 in late 2012.

The updated Zampler RX by Beat Magazine (developed by Synapse Audio) is a great freeware instrument which supports the SFZ format. There are numerous sample libraries available for free download on the official website, including Commodore 64 Synthesizer Sessions DELUXE by BPB and Rhythmic Robot.

Chokehold entered the development scene in 2013 with several useful sample based instruments. My favorite one is the Tiny Metal Impact percussion instrument. Another cool one is the Les Paul Custom SG guitar instrument featuring samples provided by Kriminal.

Final Words

Rating other people’s hard work is never easy. I’ve tried to be as fair as possible, but in the end, the plugins on this list are ranked according to my own preferences. My favorite plugin could easily be your #10 and vice versa. We all have different tastes!

Do you agree with this list? Have I missed any great freeware release from 2013? I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments section. Posting your own Top 20 list in the comments is more than welcome!

Once again, thank you all for visiting BPB and contributing to this blog. I hope we’ll all enjoy more great freeware releases by the generous and talented developers in 2014 and use them to make some fantastic music.

In the meanwhile, please share this article on your favorite forums and social networks and help BPB reach more people. Spread the news! Thank you all so much and see you again in 2014!

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95 Responses to “Top 20 Freeware VST Plugins Released This Year! (Best Of 2013)”


  • Great stuff, thanks for this list

  • Feels like Christmas all over again!

    I missed or passed over a few of those this last year. Thanks for all of your hard work.

  • What a delicious article for the end of the year!!!

  • Dude! Amazing List!!!

    without you i would have missed out on more then the half of em :)

    travelling too much to keep track …

    Very appreciated!

  • Wow, you have given me enough to go completely freeware! Ha, ok, maybe not…but what a great list! I really appreciate you going the haul to give some description as it really helps me to determine if it deserves a second look.

    Again, great job. I have only used two of the above plugins, but intend to try most of them out. Since I am new to this site, consider me sold…returning daily!

    Jon

  • Like the list.
    I would have put Ignite amps Nadir ir loader as # 1! But I’m a guitar player, so there.
    Not sure if they came out this year, but some of my favorites
    are Bootsy RescueMK2 and Klangheim DC1A2!!

  • Firebird don’t have x64 version. :(

  • I just want to thank you for all that you done on this blog and wish you all the best in 2014 !
    Živio brate :)

  • Many great plugins on the list! Two of my favoritese are the incomparable Aalto which I’m totally in love with and NI Supercharger which is a brilliant compressor. If you’re like me and think you have enough (compressor) plugins already, get Supercharger anyway. You WILL love it!

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      completely agreed about Supercharger. i was very happy with my collection of compressors, but this thing was an instant keeper!

  • Awesome stuff, thank you so much for your work

  • Awesome list. There’s a few plugs on here that I missed out on during the year, thanks for bringing them to my attention.

    Anyone else have problems with the DuckEQ file not opening? My laptop won’t recognise it for some reason…

  • The TDR Feedback Compressor isn’t just one of the best freeware compressors available; it’s one of the best mastering compressors ever, commercial or not.

  • Yep, great article as always. Thank you very much! Supercharger is a good compressor indeed. And that’s pity that DuckEQ remains a Mac exclusive. But IQ4gui is not an analogue to DuckEQ, not on this stage of development, because it still can’t handle the external sidechain. Direct analogue is the Equinox from the same developer (http://www.kvraudio.com/kvr-developer-challenge/2009/#dc09_51)

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      awesome, thanks so much for the info! Equinox totally slipped under my radar somehow. :)

      i’ll add a link to the article. cheers!

  • Wow, great and well crafted list! A detailed review of the top notch freeware of 2013! Very different from most “top 20 plugins list” we see around.

    Thank you for your amazing work BPB! This blog is my main source of info about these amazing pieces os software.

    Hope to see you rockin’ in 2014!

  • Good to see Aalto there. One of those synths that you don’t know what could happen, and full of surprises.

  • Awesome List, here are some of the best freeware plugins…and more than a half of them is already in my folder…Thyrell, Klangheim, Firebird..and that superb NI Compresser..get supercharger 4 free, hurry up!!! it is really really worth
    Btw. U-he (Thyrell&Co) have re”build” the Podolski free ware synth this year…is a nice gem too ;D
    BPB amazing work!!

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      thanks for the kind words kæligen and also for reminding me about Podolski! i’ve downloaded it but i still haven’t played around with the new version.

  • Are you sure Aalto is free? The developer is still charging for on his site.

  • If I still see 32-bit plug-ins on the list next year… I don’t know, it’s already painful. All the nice ones from VoS are useless now that DAWs are going 64. It’s nice to see so many up to date 64-bit entries though and hopefully they’ll dominate next year.

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      we’ll have to wait and see, however some DAWs like Cubase and Sonar can bridge 32-bit plugins without much trouble. jBridge is also available for around €15 i think.

      hopefully some developer comes up with a freeware alternative to that!

      • The bridge in Cubase 6.5 is not very reliable and I don’t know if they’ve put any work into it for the newer version. I’ve been trying out a lot of free 32-bit plugins and I bought jBridge because Cubase was crashing left and right and it works well for me. The bridge in Reaper is much better btw.

    • Just because DAWs are going 64 bit doesn’t mean you have to. most of the plugins I use are SynthEdit jobbies so I’ll stick with 32 bits for a while yet.

  • Excellent! I have found a few to update my ‘VST_Free’ folder :)

  • Hey, I’m kind of new to music production, and I’ve been looking for a synthesizer with a smooth, unobtrusive “ambient” pad sound. The first sound on this video is an example of what I mean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fqy1jz–a0 (from 0:00 to 0:19). Here is another example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N24AE8lSNfc. Does anyone know how I could produce a similar sound with a free soft-synth?

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      that kind of sound (or very similar at least) can be programmed in most virtual analog synthesizers. for example, i’m pretty sure you’ll find a similar preset in the Mr Wobble sound bank (click here to get it) for Synth1.

      my suggestion is to take some time and learn the basics of subtractive synthesis. it’s lots of fun! a good place to start is HTMAM.

  • Great article as always BPB!
    For me the best plugins this year were sforzando, TX16Wx Sampler V2, Aalto Solo (an amazing synth!), Ivgy & DC1A2. ThrillseekerVBL is also great.

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      thanks for the comment bmovie! TX16Wx V2 isn’t included in the list, but i think it deserves a place here. i’ll probably add a “honorable mentions” section to the article.

  • Has been great watching your site grow over the years. And it is because of articles like this. Thanks again, and again and again.

    And some of this freeware is better than payware in many respects, looking at you u-he and vos. A real contribution to humanity. My respects!

  • Wow, that’s awesome, thank you very much.

    Wishing BPB and all readers a happy and successful 2014 :D

  • Hi Odo is actually from Holland, not Germany :-)

  • Thank you for another year bpb :) Im still watching even though i went hardware. Let me know if you find any freeware in that environment :D

  • Great job on featuring sforzando! I can’t stand how most “free” sample libraries can only be played by commercial sample players. Sample library developers, kindly stop giving your freebies to Kontakt pirates and please show some love for SFZ!

    • True!
      SFZ is the ideal format for free libraries and with Sforzando there is finally a proper player for sfz format libraries.

      More developers should consider it, you don’t lose the Kontakt folks by releasing in sfz – maybe the only downside are the missing/limited scripting abilities of sfz – which is only a problem with very complex libraries.

  • As usually a top notch round-up, If I think of anything which you may of not mentioned or I don’t notice it in the replies (either way I’m almost sure you’ve missed nothing but the best of 2013) then I will let you know Tomislav my friend

    Monster appreciation for the hard work you put in for the audio communities as always

    All the best :D

    Dean \m/

  • T-Force alpha plus is the #1 followed by Firebird+ in my opinion.

  • Probably a dumb question, but will any of these work with a really old version of Cubase? (Cubase SX version 1.x)

  • thanks for collecting and a big thanks to all developer and musicians help and brought us here with this fantastic free stuff again in this year.

    maybe one remark from my side, for example: registration before downloading a freebie (more or less ok), third party websites like or follow”bindings”, software-installer for a simple plugin with a lot not necessary stuff or data,and so on are horrible ! :-)

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      I know, but most developers offer their freebies without registration. Larger companies would like you to register, but that’s not too bad either. It’s easier to stay informed about their future releases that way.

  • Thanks for the list, and all the effort you put into your blog!

    BedroomProducersBlog is quickly becoming my go-to source for information, and I’ve recommended your page to my music-making friends.

    Steve

  • Hi Jazz.I got most of my pluh ins through your informative blog.You are a very kind man.
    Thank you so much.

  • Great list!!! Dope!! Dope!!! I’m lookin forward to being here forever!..thankx for the info its really helpful. BpB is the place from now on!!

  • Thank you for including DuckEQ in your list, I’m honoured!! Will try and make a windows port as soon as I can find the time (as well as 64bit support..)

    thanks so much!

  • I am a total noob at fl studios and i realy need help finding my vst plugin I just downloded. I downloaded firebird 2 (Number 3 on your list)and I cant find it! so if some one knows how do find it in fl pleeeeas help!

  • Celeste Fassbinder

    LD Hyper is not there …
    Why?

  • Thanks loads for this list of stuff. Look forward to putting some of it to good or not so good use.

  • hi bro, ihave visited your page today, no more words to express for your kind nature, thanks lot whish you happy christmas in advance for 2014

  • I’d try the Tone2 FireBird, freeware but it does not install at all!!!
    It is not true, it is not a freeware!
    Tone 2 only allow the install of demos..
    Frustrating!!!

  • Great Work with this list I was looking for a new compressor to try out and found this list. I just want to thank you and I’m looking forward to the 2014 one! I’ve heard a lot of great things about the TDR Feedback Compressor II so I’m going to install it and see what it can do. Again appreciate the post

  • Nito fill the Producer

    Hey i want know i can download all those kits off plug ins for fl studio im very interesting on this kits please help me…

    • Bedroom Producers Blog

      All the plugins featured on the page should work in FL Studio without any issues. Feel free to download them and give them a try!

  • Big THANK YOU for this! This is one of the best of free VST collections I’ve seen! Downloading them now! :D

  • Hip Hop Instrumentals

    OMG!! This list is fire! Thanks for sharing this with us, I will download all hahaha

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