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