Top 8 VST Plugins For Music Producers (Part 1)

For producers working in the studio, it is important to keep their ears open to new sounds and production techniques. Electronic music is a fast-changing genre and its sound usually reflects recent advancements in music technology. If you talk to producers about how they make their music, they will probably give you a list of their favorite plugins. Here is a short review of some of the plugins I find most useful in the studio. Due to the large variety of plugins available on the market today, I tried to include ones that perform different functions in the studio.

Keep in mind that these are only a few offerings of the thousands of plugins out there. Some are made by multimillion-dollar companies, who have a lot of money to dump into research and development, while others are crafted by single developers in their bedroom studios. This is the element that keeps this industry so exciting. The future is on the horizon and can come from just about any direction, you just need to keep your eyes and ears open to what is next.

First, the technical stuff:

VST stands for Virtual Studio Technology. It’s a software development standard used for building audio effects for existing DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). Because there’s a development standard, most VSTs will work on most DAWs. However, always be sure to check compatibility when purchasing a VST plugin as there are some cases where compatibility is an issue. A lot of times this compatibility issue can be resolved with “wrappers” that allow non-compatible VSTs to function in a given DAW. But all the same, double check.


vst 1This plugin developer has been leading the charge for many years now. Their plugin suite is very comprehensive. I got the opportunity to learn the core of this suite when I was in production school. Still to this day, the quality of their plugins rival just about anything on the market. The whole Waves plugin suite includes over 100 plugins, which can be a bit overwhelming. Keep in mind that many of these plugins perform the same function, but each one will have its own flavor.

My advice would be to watch as many videos as possible about these plugins. There is a wealth of information surrounding them on the Waves website, and they are some of the most widely used on the market, so finding support shouldn’t ever be an issue. In addition to this, each plugin comes with a detailed PDF instruction manual to assist with any questions that may arise. My favorites of the group are the L2, LinMB, Cla-3A and the X-Noise plugins.

Price: (Varies by bundle)

Glitch 2

vst2I have thoroughly enjoyed using this plugin over the years. Glitch 2 is somewhat of a Swiss Army Knife of effects, giving you full control of up to nine separate audio effects. Each effect can be programmed into a sequencer or can be triggered via MIDI. This method of triggering effects is very easy to use, and in a matter of minutes, you can make unbelievable amounts of combos to spice up your song.

One method I find useful when using Glitch 2, is to use this plugin on songs that are nearly finished. I will try running this plugin on just my drum group to create all sorts of fills and stutters to keep my groove interesting. Because this is a very popular plugin, there are no shortage of tips and tricks online from those who have found new and exciting ways to use this very powerful software.

Price: $59.99


vst3When it comes to vocal correction, there is no plugin better than Melodyne by Celemony. This is simply a mind-blowing product. Melodyne gives you the ability to correct a musician’s performance, note by note. Even expert vocalists can get out of tune from time to time and with Melodyne I can surgically fix their performance by correcting the tune and even the inflection of each note. I have seen miracles performed with this plugin.

One other amazing feature of Melodyne is its Direct Note Access (DNA) feature. DNA allows you to take an instrument performance such as a piano, and augment each noted played in a chord. This means that if you played an FAC chord, with Melodyne you could change the notes to an ACE chord with relative ease. Many artists these days are finding new and exciting ways to apply this plugin on just about every sound used in their music.

Price: $699 (Melodyne Studio Bundle)

Native Instruments Komplete

vst4When it comes to an all-around instruments and effects pack, the Native Instruments Komplete bundle has it all. With over 33 products, 1,200 sounds and a gargantuan music library with over 120 GB of sounds, it is hard to find an excuse not to make music with Komplete. I have been using the Komplete bundle for several years now, and every iteration is filled with even more groundbreaking sounds, sets and effects. Its ease of use has really fueled new producers by giving them a large amount of power at their fingertips.

Because there is so much content, many users find that they master a few of the plugins and slowly move to the rest. I found the large music library very helpful when trying to create a sound that may not be widely used. The organization system is very detailed and conducive to finding the sound you need when you need it. The soft-synths included in this bundle are industry leading and can be found in the studio of almost every heavyweight producer. Some of my favorite plugins from Komplete include Massive, FM8 and Guitar Rig Pro.

Price: $499 (Komplete 10)

Check back tomorrow as we wrap up our rundown of the Top 8 VST Plugins for Producers!

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