The 12 best free VST / AU effects plugins of 2020

High-quality effects plugins don’t necessary need to come with a high price point.

In the video tutorial above, we showcase 12 great effects plugins spanning EQs, reverbs, multi-band compressors, and more that you can use in your own productions for absolutely free. We’ve also included the full list of plugins below, along with key feature highlights and download links; all of them are compatible with both Mac and Windows.

1. Supermassive by Valhalla

Valhalla’s Supermassive is a plugin that’s perfect for creating lush delays and reverbs. Featuring eight unique modes, multi-phase delay modulation, density controls, and more, Supermassive is great for sweetening just about anything in your production. Go to 0:16 of the video to learn more about Supermassive and hear it in action.

Download Valhalla’s Supermassive here.

2. Freq Echo by Valhalla

Another free offering from Valhalla, Freq Echo focuses specifically on delay and other feedback-related effects. Its simple interface can achieve a surprisingly wide range of results, from subtle chorusing to intense flanging and near-endless echoes. Go to 1:34 of the video to learn more about Freq Echo and hear it in action.

Download Valhalla’s Freq Echo here.

3. PanCake by Cableguys

PanCake is a plugin from Cableguys that allows you to create flexible panning modulations. You can design your own modulation curves using both soft and hard control points, allowing for the implementation of gentle transitions as well as sharp twists and turns. Go to 2:12 of the video to learn more about PanCake and hear it in action.

Download Cableguys’ PanCake here.

4. Vinyl by iZotope

iZotope’s Vinyl uses advanced filtering, modeling, and resampling processes to create an authentic vinyl simulation. If you’re looking to add nostalgic scratches, warp, or mechanical noise to your audio, iZotope’s Vinyl will get the job done. Go to 2:44 of the video to learn more about Vinyl and hear it in action.

Download iZotope’s Vinyl here.

5. OTT by Xfer Records

One of the most widely-used free plugins out there, Xfer Records’ OTT is a powerful multi-band upwards / downwards compressor. Just a small dose of the plugin can help glue tracks together or bring individual sounds forward in the mix. Go to 3:20 of the video to learn more about OTT and hear it in action.

Download Xfer Records’ OTT here.

We also touch on Xfer Records’ Dimension Expander in the video – download that plugin here.

6. Ozone Imager by iZotope

Ozone Imager is another valuable free plugin from iZotope that allows you to control the width of any track. Perfect for making your pianos and cymbals fill the stereo image or for centering and tightening your basses and kicks, iZotope’s free imager can go a long way in enhancing your mix. Go to 4:27 of the video to learn more about Ozone Imager and hear it in action.

Download iZotope’s Ozone Imager here.

7. Wider by Polyverse

Polyverse’s Wider distinguishes itself from other stereo plugins that achieve their effect by knocking signals out of phase, which can cause issues in certain playback environments. Using a unique comb filtering algorithm, Wider is able to achieve a natural-sounding stereo image from a mono channel without compromising the phase relationship. Go to 5:02 of the video to learn more about Wider and hear it in action.

Download Polyverse’s Wider here.

8. NOVA by Tokyo Dawn Records

NOVA is a parallel dynamic equalizer that offers a level of versatility seldom seen in DAW-native counterparts. Whether you have a master lacking clarity, a drum bus needing more punch, or a sibilance problem in a vocal recording, NOVA can help you out. Go to 7:37 of the video to learn more about NOVA and see it in action.

Download Tokyo Dawn Records’ NOVA here.

9. SPAN by Voxengo

SPAN is a real-time spectrum analyzer that’s useful for all sorts of music and audio production applications. Allowing you to specify every detail from Fourier block size in samples to FFT window overlap percentage, SPAN is a great tool for deriving detailed insights about your audio. Go to 8:06 of the video to learn more about SPAN and see it in action.

Download Voxengo’s SPAN here.

10. MFreeFXBundle by MeldaProduction

If you can’t be bothered to download a million different plugins from a million different manufacturers, MeldaProduction offers a whole bundle of free plugins for you to enjoy. From utility tools to fun modulators, MFreeFXBundle has everything you need to produce a track. Go to 8:34 of the video to learn more about MFreeFXBundle.

Download MeldaProduction’s MFreeFXBundle here.

11 – 12. Fracture and Hysteresis by Glitchmachines

Fracture and Hysteresis are two glitch effects plugins from Glitchmachines that allow you to design robotic artifacts and edgy malfunctions. Suited for sound designers and electronic music enthusiasts, they both work great on drums, synths, guitars, and vocals in particular. Go to 8:50 of the video to learn more about Fracture and Hysteresis and hear them in action.

Download Glitchmachines’ Fracture here, and Hysteresis here.

Which of these free effects plugins are your favorites? Are there any hidden gems we missed? Let us know in the comments below, and if you’re looking for more free plugins, check out our list of best free VST / AU instrument plugins of 2020.

May 30, 2020

Nick Chen Content Marketing @ Splice. Nick Chen is a producer, performer, and educator under the aliases "nickthechen" and "Enix."