Best Free Synth VST Plugins In 2018 – Buyer’s Guide

Producing music can be expensive - and if you’re not already making good money from your music then it may seem impossible to get started. After all, a DAW alone can be a hefty investment, so adding anything on top is going to be a tough choice.

Thankfully we’re starting to see the options for bedroom producers and beginners open up a lot more in recent years, and the quality of free VST (virtual software instrument) plugins has risen incredibly thanks to the dedicated efforts of many programmers and sound designers.

Of course, many of the free VSTs available aren’t that great, so to save you some time we’ve picked the five best free synth VST plugins that you’ll want to play around with.

For this article we’ve focused on synth plugins, rather than effects or utilities (which we’ll cover in another article) to keep things simpler for you.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Free Synth VST Plugins On The Market

Note: The links above take you to more information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon. If you do purchase something we get a small commission, which has absolutely no effect on the eventual price that you pay.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when getting the best free synth VST plugins

  • Mac OS compatible VST plugins are less common in the freely available selection, but most of the newer ones are made to work on both Mac and Windows. 64-bit versions are also increasingly common, but you need to make sure that you’re using the right version for your system. For example, if you’re running on a 32-bit framework, using a 64-bit plugin will increase the CPU load for no extra benefit. Linux is a different matter, but free software and linux tends to go hand in hand due to the nature of the development communities.
  • Free VST plugins are much more limited in their capacities than paid ones. In order to get the same level of functionality, you’ll need to be prepared to use multiple VST plugins in conjunction with each other.
  • Make sure that the VST is compatible with your DAW. Most will work with just about any software, but occasionally you will run into issues for lesser known DAWs.
  • Before adding more VST plugins, you can often find ways to do much more with what you’ve already got if you have a read through the documentation. Listen to demos and other people’s tracks using the same plugins for inspiration. Sometimes all it takes is the addition of a couple of effects to a synth rather than fiddling around with a brand new synth module.

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each one, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Free Synth VST Plugins

1. TyrellN6

TyrellN6

Click to learn more / download

Developed in Germany based on a survey that asked amazona readers (not amazon) what their ideal analogue synth would be like, the TyrellN6 is a true beast of a VST that’s amazingly detailed and powerful for a free plugin.

It’s available on both Windows and Mac OS, but doesn’t currently support Linux (as far as we can tell)

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Freehand

Freehand

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There are an insane number of wavetable synths out there, so standing out from the crowd is difficult due to the sheer numbers. Freehand doesn’t sound any better than the others by itself, but that’s not what makes it so special.

It has three oscillators within the interface that you can draw, save and retrieve separate waveforms for, along with a number of other built in effects such as chorus, delay, lfo and filtering.

This makes it one of the few free wavetable synths that can really compete with the premium versions out there - so if you’re looking for one of the best free vst plugins ever made, this is the one to go for.

Unfortunately for Mac users, it’s only available on Windows.

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3. Super-7

Super-7

Click to learn more / download

I’ve always been a fan of the saw wave synths - when I first got started in music production I wanted to make stuff like Depeche Mode, New Order and others. Super-7 was one of the first synths I ever had access to, and it was something that made the process much easier.

Of course, a saw synth doesn’t start and end at synthwave. There’s a lot more you can do with them, and Super-7 is a fairly high quality VST considering it doesn’t cost a penny.

There aren’t a huge amount of parameters that you can fiddle around with - but in that respect Super-7 is a plugin that’s easier to get started using. It’s easy to get lost with extremely intricate plugins, even with the presets.

Super-7 keeps things more simple, so it’s far more accessible for beginners to music production who will benefit the most from the best free vst plugins.

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4. VACS

VACS

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A great synth loaded with over 100 presets and featuring a broad and deep selection of user adjustable parameters. Its primarily focused on club style music (hence the name, Virtual Analogue Club Synth) and works well in a variety of electronic genres.

Although this isn’t very important in the grand scheme of things, it has a polished looking interface that makes it a little easier to use - and anything that can simplify such an in-depth VST is going to be welcome.

It’s currently only available on Windows in 32-bit.

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5. Dexed

Dexed

Click to learn more / download

An open source FM synth, modelled on the legendary Yamaha DX7. It offers all of the same powerful features found in the NI FM7 and FM8 and also retains the original sound of the hardware synth.

The open source nature makes it a veritable gold mine for those with the programming and sound design expertise to grow Dexed into the kind of software synthesiser that will suit their own unique style perfectly, and the strong community that has grown around it makes troubleshooting and creative troubles easy problems to solve.

Let's take a look at this product...


So what are the best free synth VST plugins?

Unfortunately we couldn’t fit every single one of the best free synth vst plugins into one article. We’ve only got time to play around with so many of them after all! However, if you’ve found a hidden gem that we’ve overlooked, please feel free to share it in a comment for the benefit of the rest of our producing community.​

Image Credits:

Featured image source: photo by Wonderlane / CC BY-2.0

https://www.amazona.de/freeware-synth-tyrell-n6-v3-03/​

http://www.amvst.com/

http://www.resonance-sound.com/product/cfa-sound-super-7-supersaw-vst/​

https://www.noizefield.com/products/vacs-free-vsti-plugin-2​

https://github.com/explore​

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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