The 25 Best Free VST / AU Plugins for PC and Mac in 2013 – Part 2

Please note: There is an updated version of this post. Some of the plugins are different so you may still want to browse this older post as well.
You can find the newer post here:

The Best Free VST / AU Plugins 2015

We continue reviewing the best free audio plugins around (in my humble opinion). These plugins are all compatible with Mac and PC platforms. If you haven’t seen the first part yet, here is the link (I suggest you read the introduction):

The 25 Best Free VST / AU Plugins for PC and Mac in 2013 – Part 1

Let’s get busy.


17. Blue Cat’s Chorus

Blue Cat Chorus


Blue Cat’s Chorus is a true bread and butter plugin – simple to use, does what it’s supposed to and sounds great. Despite the simple looks, it’s is capable of a versatile array of effects. It comes with a good batch of presets too which is always great for a plugin like this. I especially like the harmonic effects it can produce. They even have a collection of different skins up for download. It comes bundled with five other plugins. I’ve chosen the chorus to represent them, but the rest are good too (especially the flanger and phaser!).

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here



16. Brainworx BX_Cleansweep

BX_Cleansweep v2

The BX_Cleansweep v2 is a very useful plugin. It’s a hipass/lopass filter that is designed to go into every channel of your mix as the first plugin. It’s job is to eliminate any unwanted low/high frequencies in the mix. It’s a high quality plugin designed to tackle a precision job, and does it very well. You can be sure it won’t be creating any unwanted artifacts in the sound.

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here.



15. Klanghelm IVGI

Klanghelm IVGI

IVGI is a distortion/saturation plugin that emulates the analog console sound. It reacts dynamically to input signal and models a lot of things like crosstalk. In my experience IVGI works best as a tool to add sublime character, used subtly across the mix. It can sound very good even on the master. A beautiful and well executed plugin!

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here



14. U-he Zebralette


Zebralette is the little brother of U-he’s premium workhorse synthesizer Zebra 2. It sounds lush. There aren’t a ton of presets, but almost all of the presets sound great and are highly usable. There’s lots to tweak too. Highly recommended.

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here


13. Native Instruments Reaktor 5 Player

Reaktor 5 Player

Reaktor 5 Player is a great free introduction to this Native Instruments powerhouse. It comes with three Reaktor instruments, totaling more than 200 sounds. It’s also possible to expand it by lots of (paid) synthesizers and multi-effects. Reaktor is a modern classic and you should definitely take advantage of this free offering.

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here



12. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 Player

Guitar Rig Player
I love Guitar Rig. This free version offers 17 cabinet emulations plus 13 effects and sound modifiers. Guitar Rig is not only good for guitarists. You can use it on all kinds of things and it is possible to get very creative with it. Above all I like the sound quality.

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here

11. Native Instruments Kontakt 5 Player

Kontakt 5 Player

Kontakt 5 Player is the no-frills version of one of the world’s best software instruments. It is offered with Kontakt Factory Selection which contains 50 top quality instruments. Editing capabilities are time-limited, but it’s worth the download for the sound libraries alone. It can also be expanded with 3rd party libraries as well as NI’s own expansions. This one is a no-brainer.

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here



10. Klanghelm DC1A

Klanghelm DC1A

I just love simple concepts that are well executed. This lovely compressor definitely falls into that category.

The Klanghelm DC1A has no other controls but the input and output levels and a “relaxed” mode. You control the amount of compression by driving it harder from the input.

The more you drive it, the more saturation you introduce. The relaxed mode eases things up and reduces coloration.

And it sounds GREAT.

Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here.



9. u-he Tyrell N6 V3

U-he Tyrell N6 V3

Tyrell N6 V3 is a great sounding, classic soft synth. There are a lot of freeware soft synths out there but very few can match what Tyrell N6 V3 has to offer in sound quality.

I love the depth and fullness which is especially apparent with bass sounds.

Tyrell N6 V3 comes packed with loads and loads of presets, too.


  • Classic, familiar user interface with extras
  • Smooth overdrive in the oscillator mixer
  • Filter output can be fed back into the mixer
  • Unison modes with voice-specific modulation source
  • Envelopes can be looped or triggered via LFO
  • Envelopes retrigger like classic hardware


Platform: Mac & PC, 32 bit and 64 bit.
Download here (yes – it’s in german – go to page 3 and scroll down and you will find the download links.)



Hope you enjoyed the post!

If you are finding value in these articles may I ask you to do 3 things:

1. Spend time learning to use these great plugins properly.

2. Consider sharing the articles in social media. It helps me out a lot and I thank you in advance.

3. Subscribe the mailing list so you won’t miss any future posts.


Continue to part 3 here.



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  • Turtle Fencington

    Have you actually used Kontakt Player? I love Kontakt. Kontakt is great. Kontakt Player is garbage. It’s got a time-out feature. It can’t play most sound libraries. It is not worth the effort to install.

    The only reason I can think you’d put it on your list is because you liked Kontakt and assumed the free version wasn’t hobbled to worthlessness but didn’t actually try it.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      I have full version of Kontakt now but used to use the player before. You’re right the player is very different and I should have mentioned that editing capabilities are time limited. I’ve edited the post to include that information now. Even with limited editing, I think it’s definitely worth to download for the sound banks alone which are of great quality and very usable.

    • Can you elaborate on the ‘time-out feature’ please? Is this in the same way a trial version works i.e. it stops working after a certain amount of time? Thanks…

  • Thanx for making this list, it’s awesome! Shared to my contacts 😉

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Thanks Christopher and thanks for sharing!

  • Nice one Ilpo – more gems here!

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Yeah make em count Jim!

  • Speziale

    Loving these articles Ilpo. Really good that you have taken so much time to test all these plugs. Not exactly sure when I will find the time to try everything out but it’s all bookmarked and shared! Cheers

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Thanks Ben – yeah it’s definitely a good idea to give it time and check em in your own pace. Trying too many new things at once just makes you feel dizzy. That’s also why I wanted to share these in 3 parts.

  • Slope creations

    Thanks for all the efforts. Its really appreciated

    I assume the Ambience (reverb) will be featured as well? Worth checking out too

    Keep up the fantastic work

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Hey there

      It’s my pleasure.

      Thanks for the tip. Ambience sounds truly great. Somehow I have missed that one before, although I now remember someone mentioning it in the past. Part 3 is ready to go by now, but I will find a way of including Ambience.


      • Slope creations

        Antyime mate 🙂

  • Thanks so much for these articles, I’ve used a handful from Part 1 and they are becoming extremely valuable already.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Cheers, good to hear!

  • Nick

    Some great plugs that I haven’t heard of- cheers!

  • Great list, thanks for sharing! I’ve been looking for some great free synth vsti and now I’ve found them.

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      Cheers David. There are many more good ones too, especially if u are on PC. But these should keep you busy for a good while though.

  • Just a note to say thanks so much for taking the time to compile this list…

    • Ilpo Kärkkäinen

      You’re welcome Ben, thanks for the comment.

  • Sardo Numsy

    Thanks for this list, I have found some really helpful plugins.

  • Peter K

    You say the free Kontakt 5 Player “can also be expanded with 3rd party libraries” but you CANNOT play 3rd party libraries on the free Kontakt 5 player for longer than 15 minutes (practically useless). From the Native Instruments website:

    “Q: Can I load any 3rd party sample library into the KONTAKT 5 PLAYER?
    A: No, you can’t. Only 3rd party libraries which have been produced for
    KONTAKT 5 PLAYER may be loaded. Non-licensed libraries can be used for
    15 minutes at a time in demo mode and without the ability to save your

    This means much of the free content that can be found on the Internet created by users in .nki Kontakt format is not useable unless you actually buy the full Kontakt 5.

  • HF

    thanks man. really usefull 🙂

  • Smitch

    Yea this is really a great collection considering i’ve been combing for years.

  • Michael Vincent Manalo

    hey man, you have any recommendations for great drum synths? like drumaxx of imageline?

  • beurbs

    very helpful information, especially for those of us getting started and/or on a tight budget

  • Skrzypiec

    I can’t download Kontakt Player. They ask me for e-mail address to send a download link, but the link never comes to my inbox.

    • Have you checked your spam folder? If its not there you should contact NI.

  • DjRaper inthemix

    thanks man,

  • DontDownload

    first link is a virus! -.-