With so many cool VST plugins out there, which are the best VST plugin companies of 2023?
In the world of audio technology, some companies truly stand out. They have been with the evolution of digital music software, some since the early '90s, and have since been major innovators in the music production scene.
For this article, I have selected eight of the best VST plugin companies that you should know about. If you haven't, this is a great time to explore their product selections and take your creativity to the next level.
Without further ado, let’s dive in with the first VST plugin company on the list, Valhalla.
Valhalla have taken the music production scene by storm with their wide selection of delay and reverb VST plugins, ranging from mind bending psychedelic echoes, to classic delays, vintage space creators and super massive reverbs.
Their plugins are ultra high quality and super affordable — some even free (like the Super Massive, Freq Echo, and Space Modulator as we type this). Whatever space and delay needs you have, Valhalla is sure to deliver with cherries and whip cream on top.
With an endless fascination with sound, a deep respect for the creative process, and a strong drive to give you powerful tools that are easy to use, Valhalla has inspired producers for over 20 years — and will continue doing so.
For us, Valhalla is a perfect VST plugin company to include in our list and embodies all the thing we love in a plugin creator: innovation, accessibility, and incredible quality.
2. Xfer Records
Xfer Records is the famous company behind the extremely popular VST synth Serum that almost every electronic music producer's laptop houses. The advanced wavetable synthesizer is truly high-quality and demonstrates the vast expertise behind the company.
Who founded Xfer Records? Well, if you’re a long-time Deadmau5 fan, you probably recognize the artist name “BSOD” and “WTF?” from the mid-2000s. Steve Duda is behind these projects and worked closely with Deadmau5 and other artists like DJ Aero and Tommy Lee. Xfer Records is his record label that now encompasses his creation of the Serum VST plugin – and others.
Other than Serum, Xfer Records have also developed LFO Tool, a powerful LFO shaping plugin, Cthulhu, 'the chord and arp monster,' and Nerve, a powerful beat manipulation, and creation plugin.
All are super high quality. And judging by the most popular plugin Serum alone, Xfer Records is one of the best VST companies of today.
3. Native Instruments
Native Instruments does it all. They are the developer, manufacturer, and supplier of software plugins and hardware – for all types of areas in music, like production, sound design, DJing, and live performances. Their headquarters in Berlin also has offices globally in Tokyo, London, Paris, Los Angeles, and Shenzhen.
Their history goes way back to the modular synth Generator software package that the founders Stephan Schmitt and Volker Hinz developed in 1996. The synth laid the groundwork for one of their most popular products, Reaktor, a modular playground that allows you to design and build your own instruments, samplers, effects, and sound design tools.
With a vast array of excellent VST plugins and synths, like Massive X, as well as their MIDI keyboards like the Komplete Kontrol A and M series, Native Instruments have established themselves as a core player for digital music producers.
Native Instruments feature VST plugins for all types of music – from digital synths perfect for electronic music to sampler plugins like Kontakt with dynamic sound libraries of almost every sound you can imagine. The upside is that the synths are super affordable – and incredibly high in quality.
Whatever plugin you need, Native Instruments most certainly has it – and that’s awesome.
Soundtoys are the geniuses behind the wide selection of masterful plugins for creative and purposeful audio processing. With founders that created the legendary hardware Eventide H3000 and DSP 4000, Soundtoys plugins sound amazingly true-to-hardware.
The name Soundtoys hints at their company culture – they love audio toys, both creating new ones and collecting old, vintage ones. They have a vast collection of hardware that many of the plugins draw inspiration from – like the EchoBoy delay with a CE-1 chorus emulation and studio delay inspired by the Ampex ATR-102, to name a few.
Producers and mixing engineers worldwide swear by Soundtoys effects – to the point that I'm willing to bet at least 80% of the top EDM producers today use at least one of their plugins.
If you’re looking for the ultimate creative effect rack, industry-leading saturation, crystallizer effects, or virtually everything else in between – check out Soundtoys website right away and get yourself one, or many, of their great plugins.
Fabfilter makes the industry's best plugins for music production and audio processing. The globally famous equalizer Pro-Q 3 and tremendously realistic reverb Pro-R are a case in point. With everything from limiters to multiband compression, saturation, de-essing, delays, and even synthesizers – Fabfilter truly covers it all.
Known for their intuitive controls and visual preciseness, all plugins from Fabfilter are world-renowned and used by many of the world’s best producers. And as a great bonus, the plugins are very inexpensive, which might explain their widespread popularity.
Fabfilter is a fantastic VST company with amazingly high-quality plugins.
6. Universal Audio
Universal Audio’s history goes way back. Founded by Bill Putnam Sr. in 1958, Universal Audio has been at the forefront of innovation for over 60 years, catering to the recording needs of legends like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ray Charles, and many more.
After vast success creating equipment that even remains popular today, like the LA-2A, 1176 compressors, and 610 tube recording consoles used to record everyone from Sinatra to the Beach Boys, the company was re-invented and re-founded in 1999 by Bill’s two sons.
They had two main goals – to faithfully reproduce classic analog recording equipment in their father's tradition and design new digital recording tools in with the sound and spirit of vintage analog technology.
Universal Audio is currently headquartered in Silicon Valley, California, and is an innovative ground for over 200 employees with offices in Los Angeles, Colorado, and Amsterdam. With over 130 incredible plugins inspired by analog hardware, the company is any serious music producer or audio engineer’s dream.
Arturia started with the two friends Frédéric Brun and Gilles Pommereuil, both students at INPG Grenoble Institute of Technology in France. They were both a part of the university orchestra, with Frédéric playing the violin and Gilles was conducting.
During this time, both were amazed by the rapid innovation in music technology and got interested in how technology changes how we make music. As the two friends were both engineers, they started sharing their vision that technology could open music creation to everyone.
As a result, the two friends created Storm in 2000 – an all-in-one virtual studio that allowed anyone to create music on their computer in a breeze without spending tons of money. This creation opened up the road to Arturia as we know them today, a global hardware and VST company at the forefront of innovation and technology.
On the VST side, Arturia has created tons of software synths and effects. Today's popular plugins include Pigments 3 and the incredibly accurate digital versions of famous analog synths, like the Jupiter 8 and Minimoog.
Arturia is truly one of today's leading VST companies, and I can't wait to see what more plugins they will release in the future.
iZotope is a widely popular audio technology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the US. Since 2001, they have developed over 25 professional plugins for musicians, music producers, and audio engineers.
Perhaps one of their most popular plugins so far is their mastering suite Ozone, which features everything you need to master your music on a world-class level, like an imager, maximizer, equalizer, dynamic equalizer, compressor, exciter, and more.
But that’s not all. Neutron is another highly popular suite for mixing your music and includes state-of-the-art audio analysis and metering tools, among your other mixing necessities.
Furthermore, iZotope's range of plugins includes most technology you need to shape your sound to perfection. RX can restore your sound, Stutter Edit can introduce creative slicing and stutter effects, and Trash 2 features some of the precise saturation on the market today.
Needless to say, iZotope is one of the best VST companies of today and a favorite among many of the world’s leading producers and audio engineers.
Today, these eight best VST plugin companies give music producers like yourself fantastic tools to simplify and elevate your music creation. With VST plugins ranging from word-class emulations of analog synths to mastering suites and mixing tools, the plugin selection of this list can take your sound to new heights.
Investing in learning is important, but so is investing in proper tools. Investing in world-class plugins keeps your creativity fresh and allows you to discover new ways to make your dream sound.
Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.
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