Plugin

Plugins #

This page is a massive work in progress

This is probably where the most bias of any of the lists on this page will show as I obviously can’t list every possible plugin. Instead, I’ll list those that I think are particularly good both in terms of value and function. While the list below does have ranking (copper, silver, gold) everything I’m listing I think is good, even the ‘copper’ ones!

You DO NOT NEED everything on these lists! Many of these plugins will have overlapping features, and as mentioned plenty of times before, your DAW probably has the majority of this functionality built in, as stated back in the start of the effects chapter: USE THESE FIRST. They’re lighter on CPU, fit into the DAW’s workflow better, and generally are good enough for most things. Check out I Made A Song Using Only Ableton Stock Plugins (YouTube, Composerily) if you don’t believe me.

VST? #

VSTs are a really weird standard, for one, unlike most standards that are ratified by a collection of involved interests, VST is the child of a single company - Steinberg.

Generally, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. Some VSTs are distributed as VST2 others as VST3, obviously one is newer than the other. Unfortunately, not all DAWs support VST3 and worse, new applications by new devs have to be VST3 due to Stienberg no longer issuing new licenses. Generally, VST2 will be downloaded as .dll files while vst3 will be .vst3
    • VST3 does support a few extra features, and tend to perform better
    • Some VST3’s can do neat stuff so that if multiple instances are loaded they can communicate together, this is useful for some mastering plugins.
  2. Some VSTs are 64 bit, some are 32 bit. Not all modern DAWS support running 32bit VSTs
  3. VSTs can do 1 (or a mix of) three things
    • act as a virtual instrument (guitar, synth, etc.)
    • act as a virtual effect (delay, reverb, etc.)
    • act as a midi effect (arpeggio, quantizer, etc.)

There are some other, not-VST plugin formats you may encounter, namely LV2 and Apple’s Audio Units, as well as the various plugins for particular DAWs, like Reason’s ‘Rack Extensions’ or Ableton Live’s M4L (Max For Live) Devices.

While VST3 does have a linux SDK, most plugins aren’t released for Linux. You may still be able to make it work using a bridging program like Yabridge.

You may also see VSTi or VSTfx, these aren’t anything new, ‘i’ or ‘fx’ just denote if the plugin is an instrument or effects plugin.

Effects #

Audio Sourcess #

🧱 = Some features behind paywall
🆓 = Free version available
💸 = Known to go on sale
🧑 = Requries user Account
Prices listed with ~ indicate a range of prices

🎛 = MPE compatible

Name (MFR) Description Screenshot Category Price in USD (approx) Vega's Rating
Vital
(Matt Tytel)
Spectral Morphing Wavetable Synth Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
Pendulate & Generate
(Eventide & Newfangled Audio)
Chaos Synths, Pendulate being the limited, free version  Synth 0 ~ 150
🆓🧱
Serum (XFER) Synth
Pigments
(Arturia)
Incredibly Multifunction Synth  Synth
🎛
100
💸
Analog Lab V (Arturia) Curated Presets from clasic synths.

See the much more expensive V collection if you want to dive in to each synth directly.
 Synth 100
💸
Kontakt
(Native Instruments)

Depends on libraries. See bottom of this page for a list of good ones!
Sampler with huge range of libraries available, Kontakt Player is a limited free versions, you probably want Komplete Start, which includes Kontakt Player.  Sampler 0 ~ 400
🆓🧱💸🧑
Guitarist String (Guitar)
ABL3 Emulation of the classic TB-303. You can buy a Behringer hardware clone for not much more, but this is easier to use imho, and Behringer is a horrible company so please don't support them. Synth
APC:
Ample Percussion Cloudrum
A cute lil' Cloudrum  Perc (Cloudrum) 0
🆓
Alter Ego
Dexed Alternatively, check out DX7 V Arturia's DX-7 Emulation with a much better UI than Dexed
Surge
Synth 1
(Daichi )
Emulation of Nord Lead 2, but better. You'll probably want the preset pack  Synth 0
🆓
Massive

Utilities #

Name (MFR) Description Screenshot Category Price in USD (approx) Vega's Rating
XO
(XLN)
AI based sample organization  Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
Signalizer
(Lynggaard Thorborg)
Oscope+++ great for finding issues in your mixs Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑

Apps #

Name (MFR) Description Screenshot Ecosystem (🤖/🍎) Price in USD (approx) Vega's Rating
Fractal Bits
(WarmPlace.ru)
Drum Synth, generate samples using fractal algorithms  🤖,🍎 2
Sunvox
(WarmPlace.ru)
Modular Synth + Tracker  🤖,🍎 + Win, Linux, Mac
🎛
6, free on desktop
Grainstorm
(The Secret Laboratory)
Granular Synth  🤖 0, in app purchases
🆓🧱
Wave editor
(Lynggaard Thorborg)
Oscope+++ great for finding issues in your mixs Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
FL Studio Moblie
(Image Line)
Oscope+++ great for finding issues in your mixs Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
Flip
(Flip Sampler, Andrew Huang)
Sample Based Mobile DAW  🍎 10
SynprezFM
(Lynggaard Thorborg)
Oscope+++ great for finding issues in your mixs Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
NodeBeat
(Lynggaard Thorborg)
Oscope+++ great for finding issues in your mixs Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
OSCSurface
(Lynggaard Thorborg)
Oscope+++ great for finding issues in your mixs Synth
🎛
0 ~ 80
🆓🧱🧑
Spectroid
(Carl Reinke)
Spectal Analyzer, helpful for finding what frequency an annoying sound in the backgound is at- "Is that 60hz hum?"  🤖 0
🆓

Kontakt Libraries #

Tools dependent on other hardware or software #

Max4Live Devices

These devices only work inside of Ableton Live using Max For Live

lil' pup - “Tools for generative music and live performance”

Survey - “Survey acts as a kind of macro control for your project’s most important parameters. Save collections of settings across multiple devices and tracks for simple recall or to creatively morph between them.” $20

Scenery - Convient ambience tool $10

Cartographer - “When the Follow feature is engaged, the Loop Brace will always follow the set’s playhead, meaning you’re ready to loop whatever you’re listening to at any given moment without breaking your flow.” $5

Swatches - Easily recolor everything in Ableton Live

Clyphx old, free version & Clyphx Pro - Scripting Language for live, seriously recomend this one. Paid version is $43.33, not sure it supports the latest live or is getting worked on?

Magenta Studio - AI based MIDI generator for live. Honestly spits out some really good progressions. Can do drums, extent what you’ve writen for a melody, and a lot more. Tons of fun.

Various tools from Zuzuki Kentaro - these include some great complex complex modulation tools that are free, along with paid tools ranging from granular synths and reverbs.

Nestup - “[…] approaches rhythm in a completely new way. It embeds Nestup—a powerful language for expressing complex rhythms—directly into Live.”

Szk! Devices - A bunch of crazy devices, including fractal and chaos tools. Some real crazy stuff here

Ctrl-Z’s Talk To Machines - weird ASCII→Binary→MIDI conversion as well as some DNA inspired stuff

4phgp by Ferenc Vincze - a free ‘Four Playhead Granular Player’

Monme Norns Devices

I previously maintained a ‘best of’ list for Norns scripts, but the community has now made a much better resource https://norns.community

These ‘plugins’ only work on Monome’s Norns hardware

Segments Audio Looper

oooooo - 6x digital tape loops (demo below)

euclidigons - euclidian sequencer but not like that™

JSFX and Scripts for Reaper DAW
Patches & Info for Empress Zoia

If you would like to support my development of OpGuides, please consider supporting me on Patreon or dropping me some spare change on Venmo @vegadeftwing - every little bit helps ❤️