Today we’re going to be looking at a very particular type of software – VSTs! VSTs are Virtual Instruments used by musicians and producers to gain access to countless sounds. Usually VSTs are triggered by a MIDI powered keyboard, although some people merely program the MIDI roll as opposed to performing the music they compose manually. In any case, VSTs are a huge part of modern music production, especially for those do-it-yourself musicians who like to record music right from their home studio.
There are countless freeware VSTs. There are entire websites dedicated to freeware VSTs, such as VST4Free and the VST Warehouse, which boasts over 500 free VSTs ready to download! KVR Audio are also a classic go-to, and there search options can allow you to browse through only the free products.
Now as you can probably tell, there are a LOT of VSTs out there. So in this series of posts, I’m going to go over some of my favorite free VSTs, giving you a bit of an edge as you begin your journey through the dozens of free software synthesizers readily available on the web. If you’re looking for credentials, check out my bandcamp for a bit of a taste of my music, if only to give yourself an indication of which synth tones I generally go in for.
SQ8L is one of my personal favorites! The SQ8L is an homage to the sound of Ensoniq’s classic 1980’s synth. Although it’s tones can sound a little rather dry (one would benefit from throwing reverb and chorus on this), the sounds are a beautiful retro timbre that conjurs images of Assault From Precinct 13, The Thing and a multitude of John Carpenter and Tangerine Dream soundtracks. These tones are simply beastly! I regularly use this synth to capture a sci-fi and/or horror atmosphere, and they work extraordinarily well! The SQ8L can be downloaded for free HERE!
Synth 1 may very well be the single most used freeware VST on the entire planet. Synth 1 has even won “VST of the year” awards with competition that is paid software. Simply put, Synth 1 is a powerhouse. Some artists use it sparingly, while others use it to record entire albums! The versatility of this software is ridiculous. It is said to be modeled after the Clavia Nord Lead 2 Red Synth, but in all honesty Synth 1 has a life all of it’s own! Synth 1 can be downloaded for free HERE! Also be aware of the innumerable sound banks available, offering musicians and producers free sounds to get those creative juices flowing! Sets of free sound banks for the Synth 1 can be found HERE, and even more, supposedly over 10,000 presets, can be found HERE!
I’ll leave you with these two freeware gems for now. Next week I’ll be delving into more amazing freeware synths you can add to your musical arsenal, get that creativity soaring and busting through any writers block with a solid set of new sounds to mess around with. Until next week, happy downloading!