Sunday, January 20, 2013

Best Free VST Plugins: A List Every Musician Can Use

The biggest goal I set for myself growing up was to become a professional musician. I wanted to play in a band, tour the world, have thousands of people coming to my shows and sing along to the songs I wrote in my bedroom. A lot of things have changed for me since I was a day dreaming kid but I have been able to become a professional musician. You can check out my newest single below:

Most of the time I feel like I just shoved my way into the music business, but instead of focusing solely on entertainment music, I focused a lot of energy on commercial music. I create music for television, radio, video games, ads, film, and really anything else in between. It is very different from being in a rocking band touring the world but it allows me to pursue my love for music and at the same time make a living.

A big chunk of my income comes from licensing my music through my business Musco Sound, and through varies publishers and music libraries. I highly suggest licensing as an option for any musician that wants to earn money with their music, and I've written several posts about what licensing is, how to license your music, and where to license your music. Make sure to check those posts, if you are interested in making money licensing your music.
If you are going to pursue entertainment or commercial music, you are going to need solid synths, sample libraries, and various other Virtual Studio Technology (VST). There are thousands upon thousands of these plugins out there, and some of them can be extremely expensive. So I’ve compiled a list of some of the best free vst plugins, resources to find free vst’s, and websites to download legit plug-ins.

E-MU Proteus VX

Proteus VX

This is a serious must have VST. What I like about it is that there are tons of amazing presets to experiment with.  As you get better at working with Proteus you can create your own sounds, but having a large variety of presets makes the learning process fun and productive. Most of the presets sound amazing, and I guess the biggest criticism is you might spend so much time playing around with it, you might not get around to making any music. I have a download link below and I highly recommend trying it.

*I had a problem with getting Proteus to export correctly in Fl Studio 10 but here is how to fix it: How to Get Proteus to Work in FL Studio

Piano One

Piano One by Sound Magic

You want to talk about an AWESOME free piano, Piano One is it. I use this vst all the time, and it works great, especially the low end.


Rez by Ugo

This is a really cool synthesizer, and creates some amazing and unique sounds. It is not one of those vst’s
you can use for every project but it really does an awesome job if you're looking for something different..


Synth1 by Toda

Synth1 is one of those free plugin's that everyone has used at one point or another. It creates an amazing amount of sounds, has tons of free preset banks, and is very light on the cpu. There are a ton of producers that have synth1 in there arsenal, and I suggest you try it out.


daHornet by DASHSignature

This is a really cool plug-in and kind of sounds like its name. It makes a really cool buzz saw type sound and has potential for a lot of uses, especially in electronic music. It's based on a plug-in that used to cost money and is something to check it out. Again this might not be a vst you use in ever track but every once in a while it gives some variety and can get the creative juices flowing.

Orchestral Strings One

Sound Magic Orchestral Strings One

Sound Magic, makers of Piano One, has done it again offering another free amazing plug-in. This one has great quality strings for an unbeatable price, free. When it comes to adding quality strings to your music Orchestral Strings will soon be your go to plug-in.


Crystal by Greenoaks

Crystal is one of my new favorite vst's. It has a lot of really cool sounding presets to mess around with and it really is a plugin to have in your arsenal. There is a lot of control over the sounds so if you take the time to learn how to use it, I am sure you will be able to make some awesome leads that are totally unique.

T-Force Alpha Plus

T-Force Alpha Plus

This is an amazing EDM synth that has a great variety of sounds. The tones and melodies this synth can create work awesome for trance leads, rhythms, or subtle pads.


This is another cool VST with an amazing amount of quality sounds. It is really a most have and I highly recommend trying it out. This plugin works great for lead melodies, pads, bass, and everything else in between.

TT Dynamic Range Meter

TT Dynamic Range Meter

This is a great free meter that helps monitor the levels of your music. Not only does this meter come complete with real time dynamic range information but it also has a very helpful correlation meter and mono switch to detect any phase issues you might have with your mix.

I also wanted to share some resources to help you find some of the best free vst’s that are currently available. Trust me, there are a ton of them. I found a great group of forum posts on Audio Jungle where musicians are actively sharing the best free vst instruments, effects, and sample libraries. It’s an amazing resource for actively updated free plugins. Here are the forums:
Additional Free VST Reources:

Finally, I want to point you in the right direction on where to find and download legit free vst plugins. There are a lot of sites out there offering free downloads, but some of those places can be a little sketchy. The one I use all the time is KVR Audio. It is free to register, safe to use, and you can find everything VST related there. It is an amazing resource worth checking out.

Thanks for reading, please feel free to share, like, and comment below.


  1. Hi Michael,
    Excellent info and thanks for giving!

    Mark. (Australia)

    1. Hey no problem, thanks for reading!

    2. check out Free Mpc 2000xl vst Plugin
      I love it nice features and easy to use and comes with mpc 3000 sound kitC
      go to this link to download
      Add punch and the sound of a mpc to your tracks

    3. It's nice and very helpful to have a resource that can help musicians facilitate their growing careers! Kudos to you. Appreciate it!

    4. It's great when you have a resource like this that helps musicians facilitate their careers. Kudos to you Michael Musco.I appreciate you!

  2. Can't wait to try these out! Thanks so much for sharing :D

  3. Thanks for publishing the list - just one note, the Proteus VX is PC-only. All the others have mac-compatible versions.

    1. Thanks for letting everyone know, I appreciate it!

  4. I love the Proteus VX, but unfortunately I have been having trouble getting it to work with my 64x Laptop. I also can not seem to get Piano One to work, and it's one of my favorites! Oh well.

    1. I had a problem with it when I tried downloading the presets or whatever then it wouldn't play.

    2. I've since been able to fix Proteus.
      I have also found some sick (in a good way) free VST in addition to these. Would you mind if I posted them in a comment here sometime?
      I just can't hold back sharing this one though -- Shortcircuit 1 and 2
      They are not instruments, but samplers. You just need to try one of them out. I can't really explain it. Probably should stick with 1 because ver2 crashes Reaper every once an a while (with my experience) --though I love it's features and considers the crashing worth it lol.

      Here's a link

    3. Awesome, thanks for adding that, I appreciate it. I will have to try give it a try. Thanks for the link!


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