Crispin writes to tell us about his site, which lists a couple hundred free VST plug-ins (most are Windows-only). You can add that to the growing list of places you can find free music software tools, as well as "reasons no one can argue computer music is too expensive" and "reasons no one has an excuse to pirate software."

With that many choices, I asked Crispin to tell us his top five favorites. Here’s what he came up with (in no particular order), plus a few words from me:

DSK Brass: Sample-based brass instrument, with two layers and 23 waveforms, effects, automation support, and even micro-detuning. There was a full tutorial [PDF link] in a recent issue from our friends at Computer Music magazine (UK).

DSK StringZ: Sample-based strings, two layers, separate ADSR envelopes for each layer, effects, automation. (See above, but for strings.)

Syntar: A sytar-like synthesizer.

Dr-Fusion 2: Drum sampler and synth with, well, a ridiculous number of identical silver knobs. Layering, per-sample controls, and effects round out the various goodies.

Tapeworm: Mellotron-inspired synth with fine-tuning and automation support. (Get it? Tape?)

In case you’re not overwhelmed enough by these options (once you click through, you’ll find loads more stuff at each developer site), Crispin’s regular site has more:

The Best, 100% Free Windows Music Plug-ins – Just Add Host (Updated) (including a number of Mac plug-ins in there, and yes, we do need to do a good best of Mac list)
Straight Out of No Cash series

  • kodama

    (If we're just talking about instruments, FX list would be many times longer!)

    Cross Platform =

    U-He Triple Cheese

    U-He Zebra CM (comes with computer music)

    Crystal (Oldie but still great!)

    Linplug Free Alpha



    Da Hornet



    Mac Only =


    Sonic Birth Modular VST creator

    Win Only =

    Wusik CM (comes with computer music)

    I've tried like 90% of the 1000 or so synths on kvr. My personal freebee faves are U-He stuff, Crystal(patch mutation!), automat, and Wusik CM.

    So 3 cross platform, one pc only, one Mac only!

  • tweakbench!

  • For Mac users, I find very handy, not only VST(i) but a whole batch of fun, quirky and often useful stand-alone programs too. Highly recommended!

  • Oh, forgot to mention; my personal freebie is the Sonic Birth AU creator, lots of great potential there, esp. now that it's free!

    Automat as the favourite synth freebie, very nice sound & features.

  • Note about the DSK plugins. If you're going to use these plugins on multiple tracks in your project you may experience problems rendering sound from them. Don't know if this is going to be fixed any time soon…

  • Hell yeah!!!!11!!!1!1!!1

    I was looking for a download site hosting Syntar a while back and could not find a single one.

    This is like Christmas came 5 days early.

  • Bodo: thanks. I was on the verge of caving in and getting a Windows box, just to be able to use more plugins like these. 😉

  • Rebel Droid

    There's another extensive list of free vst and vsti plugins here:

    There's also and a whole bunch of audio stuff plus a free plugin list here:

    My Favourite free vsti's in no particular order:

    Algomusic String Synth

    Algomusic Phadiz

    BK Synthlab Intro (Awesome!)

    BK Synthlab VS-1 (Awesome!)

    E-Phonic Invader

    E-Phonic Solostring

    E-Phonic Drumatic 3 and Drumatic VE

    Fuzzpilz Oatmeal

    Smartelectronix Asynth

    Ugo Rez

    Ugo String Theory

    Ugo Motion

    Ugo Texture

    and everything by Delamancha, not the least of which is Erratic, the handiest little drum plugin ever made.

  • Lots of VST action going on here – roll on Christmas! I posted a few myself last week, you can check them out here:

  • i wanted to do a comprehensive guide on free music for a while but never got time. this might be the chance! i guess we have to make 3… one for cross-platform. definitely add the MDA series and te W1 limiter. indepence free is also quite new and pretty cool….

  • Ive made my own collection a month ago.
    There are here 114 free vst plugs.

    Have fun