In this article you’ll find VST plugins which are most widely used in 2023 by music industry professionals - producers, mixing and mastering engineers. We’ll go through all the plugin categories to give you a complete overview of the plugins which are definitely worth getting in 2023.
Let’s get started!
- Processing plugin bundles
- Reverb plugins
- EQ-style plugins
- Vocal processing
- Distortion & saturation
- Drums plugins
- Sampled instruments
- Other processing plugins
Serum has been the go-to plugin of EDM producers over the recent years for a reason. It features an incredible set of functions and doesn’t fail to deliver bright, punchy sounds. Despite the built-in library of presets being quite small, multiple preset packs have been made for Serum, allowing you to make every genre possible. Check our Serum preset packs here.
Omnisphere is a hybrid synth that continues to be amongst the top VSTs. It has a massive library of built in sounds, giving you access to both incredibly powerful synth-only sounds as well as cinematic sounding layered patches. It is especially popular among hip hop producers.
Diva is an analog modelling synth which excels at sounding incredibly fat and realistic. Giving you both Roland and Moog-esque modules, it allows great amounts of customization without losing its authentic feel. Diva is a popular choice especially among melodic house and techno producers. Get our preset packs for Diva here.
This new Wavetable synth VST continues to be incredibly popular because of the fact that not only is it absolutely free, but also features no less features than Serum itself. There’s a growing number of preset packs being developed for Vital and the plugin is expected to become the most popular synth among EDM producers. See preset packs for Vital here.
5. Nexus 4
Nexus is a rompler which has incredibly solid sounds, perfect for mainstream EDM and Dance productions. It gives you very quick access to plenty of very useful patches which need almost no customization. It has been used by many professionals and after many years its popularity continues.
6. Arturia Analog Lab
Arturia is known for developing the best emulations of classic vintage synthesizers. Their plugin “Analog Lab” combines all the huge libraries of each of their emulation plugins and brings them together in one easy-to-use interface. You have 8 initial controls to quickly tweak any preset - and you’re able to dive in and change the sound as far as you want as well. See Arturia preset packs here.
7. u-He Repro 5
Repro is an amazing emulation of the classic Prophet 5 synthesizer with plenty of modern improvements, which is gaining a lot of popularity. Check out our preset pack for Repro here.
II. Processing plugin bundles
FabFilter make incredible processing plugins, including EQs, Compressors, Limiters, Reverbs and much more. The most popular FabFilter plugin is the Pro Q which offers ease of use with absolutely pro equalization quality as well as a very visual interface.
Soundtoys make creative processing plugins which stand out from the rest. Their most popular VSTs are the Decapitator (distortion) as well as the Crystallizer (pitch shifting and reverse echo).
This company makes an incredible amount of plugins, and offers an entire bundle for absolutely free. Their plugins are a great starter for anyone looking to expand their audio processing tools. One of their top plugins is the MAutoPitch, especially useful for vocals.
11. Universal Audio (UAD)
Universal Audio offer a lot of software versions of iconic hardware devices, including their API Vision Channel Strip, Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ, as well as the SSL 4000 E Channel Strip.
III. Reverb plugins
Blackhole gives you plenty of control, with the possibility to create your own signature sounds. Includes a set of 50 presets which can be a starting point for explorations - from rooms to huge spaces.
13. Valhalla Plate
ValhallaPlate is an algorithmic plate reverb plugin with 12 original algorithms which imitates the sounds of hardware plate reverbs - and pushes the boundaries of what a plate reverb can do.
14. Lexicon PCM Native Reverb
Lexicon’s Native Reverb provides a big set of algorithms and patches to put vocals, synths and recorded instruments in stunning spaces from small to large.
IV. EQ-style plugins
Soothe removes harshness, reduces sibilance in vocals, as well as treats uneven tonal balance in recordings. It removes mud, boominess as well as treats the proximity effect.
16. Voxengo SPAN
SPAN gives you free access to an Audio Spectrum Analyzer with a Fast Fourier Transform algorithm - ideal for all music production uses.
V. Vocal Processing plugins
17. Antares Auto-Tune
Antares AutoTune is the most popular plugin for treating vocal recordings. It’s used by countless professionals and makes working with vocals incredibly easy. Features of AutoTune include flex-tune as well as time correction and humanization.
Melodyne gives you the ability to bring out all the musical details in your recordings and edit them note by note - something you cannot do in any other software. It analyses the audio in a sophisticated manner and goes deep into your samples to recognize the scales, notes and chords that are played, as well as the tempo and tonal character.
VI. Distortion & Saturation
CamelCrusher is a free, incredibly useful distortion and saturation with two distinct modes which can also be used together. It’s often used on guitars and drums, but its application can be to almost anything in the studio and any recording.
20. Trash 2
Trash2 gives you the ability to design custom distortion effects, adding textures, and editing the distortion in depth with all of its modules. It is the most innovative distortion plugin to date.
RC-20 is the lo-fi plugin everyone keeps talking about. It gives you very warm tones by emulating classic vintage recording equipment. In that way, it’s able to breathe life into any recording and is perfect for modern production studios.
22. Saturation Knob
Saturation Knob is a completely free plugin which gives you distortion for all purposes - you can use it on basslines, to add harmonics to vocal recordings or to add heavy distortion - for example to a guitar recording.
VII. Drums plugins
23. Addictive Drums
Addictive Drums 2 provides incredibly high quality studio recorded drum samples with an easy to use and program interface - allowing you to write very realistic drum patterns.
SSD5 is a plugin from Steven Slate which gives you plenty of well-recorded drumkits which you can easily program in piano roll or map to your MIDI controller or drumkit.
VIII. Sampled instruments
Kontakt is the go-to plugin for sampled instruments - it’s a sampler for which there’s an incredible selection of third party recorded instrument libraries. The included factory selection gives you access to plenty of well-recorded instruments as well - pianos, guitars, orchestral instruments, as well as synths and drum machines.
Keyscape is a keyboard plugin which samples some of the greatest pianos, rhodes and digital keyboards. It gives you easy access to all the sounds and features some rare keyboards as well, which you can combine with other sounds to create “combo” patches.
Arcade uses loops and gives you the ability to customize them in a super easy-to-use interface. It’s a subscription service with monthly payments - very useful in genres like hip hop.
IX. Other processing plugins
28. Ozone (Mastering)
Ozone gives you all the tools you need to master a track in one VST. It combines compressors, EQs, stereo effects as well as AI-based algorithms to give you exactly what you’re looking for - warm analog feel or ideal loudness for music streaming platforms.
29. OTT (Multiband compressor)
OTT is a free re-creation of a multiband compressor setting which is widely used in EDM, dubstep and electro tracks, giving you incredible brightness and punch with a few clicks of the mouse.
30. Wider (Stereo expander)
Polyverse Wider is a free plugin which expands any mono signal into a stereo sound - without losing mono compatibility.