7 Best Chiptune VST Plugins 2022

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Best Chiptune VST Plugins

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Video game music has evolved a great deal with technology, to the point where major releases often play host to full orchestral scores or a string of top 40 hits.

But it wasn’t always that way. In the early days, video game music had its own primitive esthetic, mainly due to software and hardware limitations. Some even refer to these sounds as “bleeps and bloops.”

What’s crazy is that some modern video game music still takes after retro gaming music of the yesteryear because of how impactful and it is.

In this guide, we’ll look at the best chiptune VST plugins you can find to create retro video game music, EDM, rock, or wherever you might be thinking about incorporating it in your productions.

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BitRate II & Monoboy by Heavyocity – Best Overall

BitRate II & Monoboy by Heavyocity – Best Overall

Heavyocity’s BitRate II & Monoboy could very well form the rhythmic foundation of your chiptune creations. These plugins were created by Adam Hanley of Icebreaker Audio, also responsible for Kontakt scripting at Heavyocity.

This VST plugin takes advantage of multiple methods of retro digital synthesis and sampling to produce nostalgic drum sounds – chipsounds, FM synthesis, lo-fi sampling, and glitchy circuit bending.

BitRate II also comes with a five-track mixer, and a master FX section with an analog modeled EQ, bus compressor, and speaker simulator.

You can trigger the drums using the internal sequencer or via MIDI. The sequencer features two modulation sequences per drum, and these can be routed to virtually any combination of sound parameters regardless of amount.

But as you probably guessed, it doesn’t end there. BitRate II also comes bundled with Monoboy. Monoboy uses similar sound engines to BitRate II, but it’s a melodic instrument rather than being a percussive one.

Monoboy comes with three sound generator modes (DM sampler, arpeggiator, Voice Controls), two modulator sequences, and a master FX section with a Bit Delay effect.

BitRate II & Monoboy are perfect for building your chiptune style tracks.

The plugin is compatible with Windows and Mac, but it does require the full version of Reaktor 5 to work. It comes with 140 preset snapshots.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects by Softube – Best Premium Option

OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects by Softube – Best Premium Option

Softubes’s OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects stems from the French-made OTO Machines Biscuit 8-Bit Effects and Analog Filter. It’s not a cheap piece of equipment, but it quickly became a favorite among electronic music producers and DJs across the world.

Carsten Nikolai thought OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects was an amazing tool, Étienne de Crécy said it changed his life, and Nicolas Godin found it especially reliable if he was about to give up on a track.

With lo-fi multi-effects, bit-crushing, and an analog filter rolled into a quality piece of kit, OTO Machines Biscuit was obviously destined for greatness from the start. And now, it’s available as a plugin, thanks to Softube.

The Biscuit comes with eight individually invertible or mutable bits, control of sample rate, waveshaping, delay, pitch shifting, and analog filtering. This makes it the perfect tool for drum loops, synth sounds, lo-fi digital distortion, and just about anything else you can name.

Whether it’s arcade game style bleeps and bloops, aliasing and overtones, adding movement with the filter, or turning analog sounds into electronic and robotic versions of their former self, OTO Biscuit puts a world of possibilities at your fingertips.

Softube meticulously modeled the analog and digital aspects of the Biscuit, and even included a low-latency mode to make live use a possibility. It is, after all, a favorite among DJs.

The Biscuit is even easier to operate in plugin form. You can see the shapes of each of the eight waves as they are applied to your signal, you can tweak delay time and feedback, sync to the DAW tempo, tap tempo, pitch shift and blend, and more.

Overall, OTO Biscuit offers lo-fi 8-bit magic, control on a bit-by-bit level, analog filter, digital effects (waveshaping, delay, and pitch-shifting), and an eight-step sequencer. You can also slow the sample rate to hear the aliasing glitter fall.

OTO Biscuit is feature rich and very easy to use, and it will instantly transform your sterile, boring sounds into 8-bit goodness. When you have some great song ideas that just don’t seem to be gelling, this plugin will come in incredibly handy. And the great thing about it is you can work with any sounds and turn them into lo-fi versions of their former selves.

OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects works on Windows and Mac.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

miniVerb by AudioThing – Best Budget Option

miniVerb by AudioThing – Best Budget Option

AudioThing’s miniVerb is just as it sounds – it’s an 8-bit / chiptune / lo-fi reverb effect inspired by retro computers and 80s game consoles, especially the NES and SNES.

miniVerb recreates the famous sound heard on countless games. It comes with two filters (post and pre), vibrato, and crusher (bit crusher, downsampler, and pitch shifter) to help you find the perfect effect.

Originally, when video game composers wanted to create a reverb or echo style effect, they had to use one of their precious internal tracks to create a delayed version of the original sound, thereby generating a slap-back delay style echo.

miniVerb effortlessly simulates the techniques used in early video game consoles. Use the Echo Section with a single delay line, short time, no feedback, and mono width to achieve a similar effect.

If you want more of a 90s SNES like fake reverb or echo, add longer times and more feedback to give it a reverb tail.

Modern effects are also within reach. All you need to do is change the echo to double delay line and boost the width.

For those looking for a classic video game style reverb, AudioThing’s miniVerb is a must. Besides recreating some of your favorite NES and SNES style verbs, it can also add some high-end shimmer, texture, and color to add sonic interest to your tracks.

In total, miniVerb comes with a pre / post filter (LP / HP), echo (single / double mode), vibrato, crusher (bit-crusher, downsampler, pitch shifter), 45 presets, and preset randomizer.

miniVerb works with Windows and Mac.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

miniBit by AudioThing

miniBit by AudioThing

AudioThing’s miniBit, naturally, is miniVerb’s close cousin. But rather than being an effect, miniBit is an 8-bit / chiptune synthesizer. And let’s face it, if you want to make great chiptune music, you simply can’t do without great synths.

This synth comes with the main oscillator featuring 18 waveforms, along with a tunable square wave sub-oscillator. The waveforms produce aliasing, as they are not bandlimited. Some of the waveforms were recreated from classic video games, while others were created and edited with an Amiga 1200.

miniBit also comes with a built-in bitcrusher, delay section, and filter, to help you dial in the perfect noise. There’s also a synced eight step stepper / sequencer with multiple destinations.

Altogether, miniBit features 18 wave forms and a sub oscillator, poly and mono mode with glide, two-poles lowpass / highpass filter, delay and bitcrusher effects, LFO with multiple destinations, volume and pitch envelopes, eight steps stepper with multiple destinations, 128 presets and preset randomizer.

Honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with miniBit. It sounds great, it’s very easy to use, and it’s affordable. You might be a little limited in terms of the timbres you can achieve with this plugin, but that’s about the only downside. For all your favorite classic video game sounds, be sure to check out miniBit.

miniBit works with Windows and Mac machines.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Enkl by Klevgrand

Enkl by Klevgrand

Klevgrand’s Enkl is a monophonic synthesizer that allows you to create a vast array of tones – basses, leads, noises, chiptune style sounds (including arpeggios), percussion, and more. It even comes with 93 factory presets created by professional music producers. Of course, you can still create and save your own too.

Enkl uses real time rendered audio rather than samples. It comes with two oscillators with individual LFOs (with triangle, sawtooth, square, or noise waveforms), high cut and low-cut filter with resonance, chiptune-style arpeggiator, legato mode, ping-pong delay and three-band EQ as post effects, and 93 factory presets.

Oscillators can be added, subtracted, or even multiplied together. Each LFO also has its own ADSR that modulates its oscillator’s pitch or volume.

Enkl is delightfully weird, but beautifully designed. I happen to find the interface more intuitive than many synths out there. And while not all the sounds are “chiptune” per se (some are), all the sounds are nicely tuned for classic video game style music projects.

That said, I think some of the sounds could be just as usable in various electronic genres, be it pop, hip-hop, EDM, or otherwise.

Enkl is compatible with Windows and Mac.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Grid II by Heavyocity

Grid II by Heavyocity

Heavyocity’s Grid II is a hybrid sound sequencer that allows you to use it as a sequenced instrument and as a played synth. But it wasn’t created with percussion or melody in mind. Rather, it was designed for experimentation and creativity. It’s all about how you use it.

Grid II takes advantage of eight voices to produce its sound, though the user gets minimal control over the voices (which is on purpose). What you control is the relationship between the voices, which sculpts the output. And this will produce a variety of sounds, be it percussion, synths, glitchy noises, or pulsing drones.

While Grid II is not random, controlling it can feel a little abstract and conceptual. The idea is to work with it instead of telling it what to do.

The Grid II sounds are ideal for electronic and otherwise minimal music, but the glitchy aspects of it will certainly appeal to some too. It comes with 108 preset snapshots.

For obvious reasons, Grid II needs to be experienced to understood. Talking about it doesn’t exactly do it justice. That said, it certainly shines as a creative tool. For all those times you need to write a song but don’t really know where to get started, you could load up Grid II and have it point you in a direction.

Grid II works with Windows and Mac, but it also requires the full version of Reaktor 5.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

C-TOOLS by Heavyocity

C-TOOLS by Heavyocity

Now, it should be said at the outset that Heavyocity’s C-TOOLS isn’t exactly a chiptune plugin. But its retro synth sounds are reminiscent of video games of the yesteryear, so if you’re interested in video game sounds in general, this one is worth a look.

C-TOOLS features three synths inspired by the distinctive sounds of the 70s and 80s – Capsule (drums), Coil (bass), and Clique (pads and keys).

Capsule comes with eight drum channels as well as a built-in sequencer. With analog inspired synthesis engines, an effects chain tailor made for drums (gated reverb and more), Capsule begs to be your go-to solution for customizable vintage synth drums.

Coil is a hybrid monosynth created with bass in mind. It takes advantage of FM and analog subtractive synthesis techniques to give you access to a wide variety of sounds.

Clique is a string machine and combo organ with a split keyboard routing mechanism. Ideal for all your melody and harmony parts.

C-TOOLS isn’t just a deliciously retro set of plugins. It’s also a ton of fun visually. The included sounds would certainly be at home in a variety of electronic music contexts. That said, they would be quite effective in synthwave and video game composition situations too.

C-TOOLS is compatible with Windows and Mac. It also requires the full version of Reaktor 5.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A Chiptune VST Plugin?

If you’re shopping specifically for a chiptune VST plugin, then it’s entirely possible you already know what you want better than we do.

That said, we know your shopping experience can be affected by a variety of factors, and sometimes you need that extra “nudge” to move in the right direction.

So, here we’ll examine a few critical factors to consider when purchasing a chiptune VST plugin.

Plugin Type

There are basically four types of plugins in this category – synth, percussion, effect, and creative tool.

A synth, in effect, is your instrument. It’s what you’d create your hooks, melodies, riffs, and potentially your basses with. When writing bass, it’s always best to use a plugin that’s been created with bass in mind, but there are more than a few that have a considerable range and can be used to handle composition in every register.

Then you have percussion. This should be relatively self-explanatory, but it describes any VST plugin that you can create a beat with – BitRate II, as an example. If you want retro 8-bit style percussion to go with your old school synth compositions, then you will need one of these.

Then you have 8-bit style effects. There aren’t too many of these, but miniVerb is a good example. These effects should give any of your tracks a bit of a chiptune flavor.

Finally, we have a couple of creative tools like OTO Biscuit or Grid II. OTO Biscuit is perfect for bitcrushing and downgrading any of your sounds. Grid II would be ideal for kickstarting a project or adding a bit of chiptune flavor to your existing projects.

As with anything else, knowing what you need is the fastest path to finding what you need. So, be sure to identify the type(s) of plugin that you need most and you’re sure to find what you’re looking for faster.

Sound Quality & Authenticity

Well, in this instance, it’s almost the opposite of sound quality. You’re probably looking for deliciously lo-fi, retro, 8- and maybe 16-bit sounds that remind you of simpler times in video game history.

You would do well to understand that this is a niche. Yes, there are many people that love the bleeps and bloops (or the “blips” and bloops as the case might be) of the yesteryear. And there are many VSTs that either offer a retro 8-bit style sound or emulate some aspect of it. There just aren’t too many that specialize in this area.

The plugins featured here are the best of the best. Most are quite low cost to boot. So, we don’t think you can go wrong.

That said, it wouldn’t hurt to check out the demos and reviews. This will give you a better idea of what each of the plugins can do and how they sound.

And, when it comes to chiptune style compositions, many would consider authenticity a key factor. Again, you will need to be the judge here, as you’re the one shopping for chiptune plugins, but it would be wise to determine whether the plugin(s) you’re thinking about buying are competent in the ways you need them to be.

Budget

Thinking about buying a plugin or two? Great. We just want to remind you that budget should never be cast aside as a filter for your purchases.

For one, it can help you whittle down your options faster. For another, going into debt for musical software simply isn’t in keeping with our philosophy.

So, consult your budget for difficult decisions. It can help you arrive at buying decisions faster.

Top Chiptune VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Retro video game music is a blast. I’m a big fan myself. And more than ever, there are artists and producers combining chiptune with modern music in fun and interesting ways. There’s nothing stopping you from experimenting and coming up with your own styles too.

But do keep one thing in mind – the composers who made music for early video games knew what they were doing. To make exceptional chiptune music, you’ll need to refine your musical skills too.

With that, I wish you all the best on this journey.

P.S. Remember though, none of what you've learned will matter if you don't know how to get your music out there and earn from it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free ‘5 Steps To Profitable Youtube Music Career' ebook emailed directly to you!

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