When it comes to free VST instruments, there are tons of free options out there, but only a handful of instrument plugins stands above the rest.
Not all VST plugins are made equal. You need to make sure you’re using high-quality virtual instruments if you want to keep your music production on a pro-level.
To make sure you don’t have to scroll through pages and pages of Google searches, we’ve put together a list of the best of the best free VST instruments on the web.
These are must-have instrument plugins for beginners and music producers who are setting up their DAW for the first time.
FREE VST Instruments (2022 Update)
- Tyrell N6
- BBC Symphony Orchestra
- Komplete Start
- Decent Sampler + Pianobook Libraries
Vital is an incredible free synthesizer, by Matt Tytel, with a refreshingly well-designed take on wavetable synthesis.
First and foremost, Vital is a pleasure to use! The interface is simply beautiful to look at, and you get instant visual feedback for most controls in Vital.
Hands down, the most exciting feature about Vital is the Spectral Oscillator Warping, which can give tons of character to your patches. Spectral Warping directly acts on the harmonics of a waveform, allowing you to create unique timbres and movements with Vital.
Vital is quite well known now, and there are tons of great Preset packs and tutorials you can use.
With a beautiful interface, tons of modulation and control, MPE Support, and lots more, Vital is a very capable and deep synthesizer. Yet, at the same time, Vital manages to be sleek and easy to use, so for a list free virtual instruments, Vital is a no-brainer.
More info: Vital (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/LV2 plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)
Surge XT is a hybrid open-source synthesizer, and it’s probably one of our all-time favorite free synth VST plugins.
For those familiar with the original Surge synthesizer, everything you love is still there with Surge XT but wrapped up in a more streamlined package than ever!
The main interface of Surge XT contains what they call two “scenes,” which are essentially two instances of the same synthesis engine. In more colloquial terms, it’s essentially like two synths in one, letting you make complex split patches or layer them together.
With three oscillators per scene and 12 oscillators on offer, it’s safe to say you’ll be hard-pressed to run out of options with Surge XT.
With super powerful filters, expansive modulation, and deep routing, Surge XT is a dream come true for the sound designers out there.
While Surge XT is not as easy to use as Vital, the possibilities you get with Surge are nearly limitless.
More info: Surge XT (64-bit VST3/AU plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)
Tyrell N6 started as a hardware synthesizer blueprint designed by Amazona.de forum members.
Manufacturing a hardware synthesizer is extremely complicated, though. Thankfully, U-He stepped in to make a free VST instrument based on the Amazona.de blueprint. What came out of this collaboration is probably one of the best software synthesizers ever made.
Unlike more modern software synths like Vital and Surge, Tyrell N6 is a good old “virtual analog” synthesizer.
Made to look and function like an analog hardware synth, Tyrell N6 hits all the sweet spots for those of us who are analog nerds.
That being said, Tyrell N6 is way more than just another analog synth plugin. The variety and nuance of analog-like sound you can get out of this virtual instrument is almost overwhelming.
Not even kidding; we’ve spent hours just exploring and enjoying the different soundscapes and sonics this thing is capable of.
While the Tyrell N6 doesn’t have infinite oscillators or ultra-sonic extra-dimensional filterbanks, the simplicity of its analog architecture is what makes the N6 such a banger of a synthesizer.
Download: Tyrell N6 (32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)
It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or a pro who can afford expensive plugins. Everyone needs to get Spitfire Audio LABS. It’s just that good.
LABS is a hub for the free LABS instruments you can download from Spitfire Audio’s website. The outstanding quality of the freely downloadable expansion packs is what makes LABS this good.
Each free pack is unique and so full of character that there is nothing out there that can replace LABS. The sounds you can download for LABS range from atmospheric strings to textures, rare instruments, strange arpeggios, and way more.
That said, sometimes we wish that there was a little more control over the sounds you get, which is probably our only gripe with the whole thing.
But individual control aside, the sheer quality of the sound libraries that LABS offers are irreplaceable, and you need to get on this train right now.
Download: LABS (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux)
Spitfire Audio BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover
The second entry from Spitfire Audio product on this list, BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover, should be in everyone’s virtual instrument collection.
This free instrument VST features 33 orchestral instruments recorded from the incredible BBC Symphony Orchestra. Using the most advanced sampling technology out there, Spitfire Audio has brought out some of the best orchestral sounds you’ll ever find
The BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover has everything you’ll need to start writing compelling orchestral arrangements, from violins to horns, percussion, and more.
The plugin is straightforward to use and sounds world-class, truly one of the best orchestral collections ever made.
If you’d like to get BBC Symphony Orchestra for FREE, you’ll have to sign up and go through a 14-day waiting list. You can also purchase it for $55 to get instant access.
Download: BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS)
Native Instruments are, by now, one of the most famous names in music production software. Their expansive Komplete ecosystem is one of the most easily recognizable collections of plugins, effects, and virtual instruments.
While the entire Komplete offering will run you way north of a thousand dollars, you can get started (ha!) with Komplete Start for free.
Komplete Start offers Komplete Kontrol, Kontakt 6 Player, Reaktor 6 Player, as well as a selection of Kontakt libraries, Reaktor-powered virtual synthesizers, and several FX plugins.
So, you’re getting two free instrument VST plugins with Komplete Start: Kontakt Player and Reaktor Player.
Easily the most popular and universally beloved digital sampler ever, Native Instruments Kontakt 6 is a mainstay in modern production studios.
And for a good reason.
The user gets tons of control over every Kontakt instrument. Kontakt offers a vast selection of sample customization tools, built-in effects, different performance modes, and more.
However, the freeware version of Kontakt isn’t perfect. Kontakt Player does lack some crucial features that would put it higher on our list.
Most importantly, Kontakt Player is only compatible with a handful of sound packs, all of which you’ll find in our free Kontakt libraries article. Also, the instrument editing, sample editing, effects, and filter sections are inaccessible if you aren’t using the full version of Kontakt.
Apart from that, Komplete Start is a fantastic way to get started with the Native Instruments ecosystem.
Thanks to the freely available libraries like Kontakt Factory Selection and Project Sam, the Kontakt Player is one of the best VST instruments on the market.
Download: Komplete Start (64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS)
Decent Sampler + Pianobook Libraries
Decent Sampler is precisely what it says on the tin. It’s a decent little sampler plugin that’s easy to use. It’s also one of the best free VST instruments you can download at the moment.
Another aspect worth highlighting is Decent Sampler’s die-hard user community. The users are creating new patches, sounds, and instruments all the time, expanding the Decent Sampler ecosystem.
The Decent Sampler plugin alone is as lightweight and streamlined as possible. However, combined with the free instrument libraries available from various sources (such as the Pianobook project), Decent Sampler instantly transforms into an extraordinary virtual instrument.
The instrument libraries available on Pianobook range from experimental textures and ambiances to wavetables to sounds from Chinese ceramic tables.
Indeed one of the best FREE instrument VST packages available, you should check out Decent Sampler and Pianobook as soon as you can!
Download: Decent Sampler (32-bit & 64-bit VST/VST3/AU/AAX plugin format for Windows, macOS, Linux, and iOS)
If you’re looking for a VST instrument that will let you twist and mangle your own samples, take a look at Grace by One Small Clue.
Grace is a powerful sampler plugin with many excellent features like drag-and-drop support, SFZ patch import, a sample browser, and audio preview. It offers many modulation options, including AHDSR envelopes, LFO modules, and a modulation matrix.
The only drawback is that Grace is only compatible with Windows-based digital audio workstations. If you’re on Windows, Grace is definitely a VST instrument you should add to your collection.
More info: Grace (32-bit & 64-bit VST2 plugin format for Windows)
Best FREE VST Instruments – Bonus Section
The VST instruments listed above are what we believe are the best FREE instrument plugins out there.
On the other hand, there’s an enormous amount of free VST instruments you can download. You can spend days downloading virtual instruments and installing them in your DAW.
But no matter what, knowing one instrument VST plugin inside out will get you further than having 30 synths you don’t know how to use. That’s why we wanted to keep this article short and give you the must-have free virtual instruments.
If you want more choices, here are a few more instrument plugins you could check out.
- Dexed – A well-made and faithful clone of the Yamaha DX7 FM synthesizer
- VCV Rack – Digital modular environment with a lot of available modules.
- TAL NoiseMaker – Super capable 3-oscillator synth, perfect for evolving pads
- Highlife – A free sampler that lets you sample other virtual instruments.
- Piano One – A physically-modeled piano instrument.
- SSD5 – The easiest way to add acoustic drums to your music.
- PG-8X – One of the best free virtual analog synthesizers.
- FB-7999 – A fantastic virtual hybrid synthesizer by Full Bucket Music.
We’re looking forward to hearing your suggestions and tips in the comments section below.
For more freeware effects and instruments, return to our Free VST Plugins page.