If you’re going to do any kind of electronic music production – be it EDM, synthwave, house, or otherwise – synth VST plugins are essential.
Even if not for that, synth VSTs can come in handy for a variety of musical styles, especially when a song is missing a little bit of extra atmosphere, or even melodic hook to carry the tune.
If you know how to play keyboard or piano, you can easily make your vision come to life using a MIDI controller, and if not, you can still “draw in” the parts you want to be played.
In this guide, we’ll look at some of the best free synth VSTs for FL studio, Logic Pro, and more. That said, this list should not be considered definitive – there are so many other great free VSTs out there if you go looking for them!
But first, if it's your aim to do music professionally, you'll want to check out our free ebook while it's still available:
Free eBook: Discover how real independent musicians like you are making $4,077 - $22,573+ monthly via Youtube, let me know where to send the details:
Kern By Full Bucket Music
Full Bucket Music’s Kern is a polyphonic software synthesizer designed with Windows and Mac OS in mind. It is fully compatible with MIDI keyboard controllers, as you would expect, and its CPU consumption is notably low.
With Kern, you get MIDI Learn, two user panels, 32 voice polyphony including portamento, two band-limited oscillators including Hard Sync, two types of four-pole zero-delay feedback lowpass filters, two envelopes (one LFO), chorus, and double precision audio processing.
Kern is a personal favorite and go-to of mine. It works perfectly for retro 80s style productions, and therefore synthwave. And it’s got so many great sounds (whether pad or leads), honestly you should be able to find usable sounds (presets) for EDM or anything else you’re producing.
Since you can take presets and modify them, or even start from scratch and customize your own, you can pull a lot of different sounds out of the Kern. If you’re looking for more “realistic” sounds, I suppose you might want to look elsewhere, but with some effects and a bit of tweaking, the Kern sounds can be quite good even for modern production.
The Kern user interface is simply designed, not too overwhelming, and relatively easy to configure (some working knowledge of hardware or modular synths is always helpful). When in doubt, though, just start with a preset and tweak from there!
It’s hard to argue with the price tag. Give Kern a try for yourself.
Download: Full Bucket Music
Mono/Fury By Full Bucket Music
Full Bucket Music has created numerous usable VSTs, and the Mono/Fury is another example of a synth VST worth checking out. This software synth is compatible with Windows and Mac, and it simulates the classic Korg Mono/Poly analog synth of the early 80s. As with Kern, it features processor friendly coding too.
The Mono/Fury closely emulates the original (Mono/Poly), and comes with four band-limited oscillators, four-pole zero-delay feedback lowpass filters with self-oscillation, effects section with cross modulation and hard sync, monophonic/quadrophonic keyboard action, arpeggiator with sync-to-host option, additional tweak section, resizable user interface, and MIDI Learn.
I admit – this is another personal favorite of mine. As you may have guessed, it’s perfect for melodies and leads within a mix. It’s also got that classic 80s vibe to it, which will either be to your liking or not, but it’s another great choice for synthwave (can’t hurt to mix and match either).
This plugin comes with a ton of presets, so if you’re lazy, or just don’t want to spend an eternity tweaking, these offer the perfect starting point. It would be generous to say all presets are highly “usable,” but that said, the ones that sound good sound awesome.
As with Kern, Mono/Fury has got a simple, nicely designed user interface that should be quite familiar to you if you’ve used hardware and analog synths before. I admit it can be a little intimidating if you don’t know what you’re looking at, but hey, that’s what presets are for.
Download: Full Bucket Music
Here’s another popular free option among producers and sound engineers (and there’s a good reason for it). Dexed is an FM multi-platform, multi-format plugin synth. It was designed to emulate the Yamaha DX7 and is also a MIDI cartridge librarian/manager for the DX7.
Dexed works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. As such, it’s available as a VST, AU, and LV2. It comes with 144 DAW automatable DX7 parameters, and real time VU meters. It also supports DX7 input and output Sysex messages and can load/save any DX7/TX7 Sysex programs.
Which is to say, if you love your Yamaha DX7, and want to do even more with it, you’re going to love Dexed. That said, you can still use Dexed in your DAW with whatever MIDI controller you use.
Dexed is part of my VST library, and in the past, I honestly didn’t give it the credit it deserves. Maybe because the preset you start off with isn’t anything special.
That said, there are some usable sounds here (they sound great with a bit of reverb) and depending on what you’re looking to achieve sound wise, you’re going to love what this VST has to offer (plenty of atmospheric sounds).
Its user interface is quite intimidating upon first brush, and that’s mostly because of the sheer number of dials onscreen. It is nicely designed – it’s just a lot to look at! But that’s what presets are for, right?
Again, it’s a little hard to argue with the price. Add this one to your library for a bit of fun.
Helm By Matt Tytel
Matt Tytel’s Helm comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions, and it runs on GNU/Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows, as a LV2, VST, VST3 or AU plugin.
This is a surprisingly versatile synth with great sounds and a professional graphical interface. As with all synths introduced so far, it comes with plenty of presets. You also get two oscillators with envelope generator, graphic filter with envelope generator, three LFOs with different waveforms, step sequencer, and effects – distortion, delay, reverb, formant filter, stutter, and arpeggiator.
I don’t have much experience with this synth, but what I will tell you is this – it’s quite amazing that such a thing exists for free! And if you need help, you can always refer to the online manual, which will teach you the ins and outs of how the plugin works, and even point you to all the hidden features embedded within.
As for the sounds, there are plenty of effect-driven, atmospheric sounds, as well as more basic lead and pad sounds. But what this synth does best is video game style electronic sounds. So, if you’re looking to create modern video game style electronic compositions, you will probably get a kick out of Helm.
We like that the plugin was built with a specific use in mind, rather than being a more general “anything” kind of synth, and for that, Tytel’s Helm gets high marks.
Download: Matt Tytel
TyrellN6 By u-he
u-he’s TyrellN6 has been described by its creators as a “compact, sporty synth.” It’s been designed to emulate hardware synths featuring a few modules, novel features, and an analog sound. That description alone is going to intrigue some.
TyrellN6 features a virtual analog and classic architecture (with extras), two oscillators, noise, ring modulator, two LFOs with eight waveforms (host-syncable), audio source mixer with overdrive and filter feedback, twin filter related to Diva (early model), loopable or LFO-triggered analog-type ADSR envelopes, skinnable UI, and over 580 factory presets(!).
Well, we doubt you need any convincing. This is basically an instant must-have.
But we’re getting to that. First, let’s talk about the sounds. Well, if you hadn’t guessed it already, the sounds are also stellar. Is there anything this plugin doesn’t do? Honestly, no. Even the graphical user interface is expertly designed. All this for free? It’s crazy.
TyrellN6 is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
TAL-NoiseMaker By TAL Software
In your search for the best free synth VSTs online, you’re bound to come across TAL Software’s TAL-NoiseMaker at some point.
Now, as the name would suggest, this synth is perfect for effect and “noise” style applications (especially for house music). That isn’t to say it can’t be used for leads and pads as well, as there are plenty of great sounds built in.
This colorful VST synth comes with three oscillators, adjustable master tune and transpose, up to six voices, portamento in mono and poly mode, ringmod, four self-resonating oversampled filters, filter and volume ADSR, two LFOs, adjustable velocity and pitch wheel, one pole HP filter, detune, Juno chorus, reverb, delay, Bitcrusher, MIDI Learn, panic button, 256 presets, and more.
Yes, this is a feature-rich plugin, even if it doesn’t strike you that way upon pulling it up in your DAW. It’s altogether too easy to base your entire impression of the plugin on the sound you hear upon opening. With 256 presets, you’d better be willing to take your time to explore.
The presets are comprised of countless effects and noises, drums, percussion, leads, pads, and more. Perfect for all those times you’re looking for something a little different to add to your mix.
The graphical interface is simple, yet surprisingly sophisticated. There are separate sections/controls for synth 1, synth 2, envelope, and “control” (where you can tweak velocity, pitch, master, chorus, reverb, OSC crush, delay, and more).
Download: TAL Software
Surge works on just about anything – Mac, Windows, Linux, or otherwise. It’s a subtractive hybrid digital synth with 2,116 patches and 614 wavetables. Each patch contains two scenes with separate instances of the entire synthesis engine (except effects). This allows you to create layered or split patches.
It also comes with a category-based patch browser, three oscillators (with eight algorithms – Classic, Sine, Wavetable, Window, FM2, FM3, S&H Noise, Audio Input), two filters in eight configurations, 12 LFO units, and eight effect units with 14 effect algorithms – EQ, distortion, conditioner, frequency shifter, rotary speaker, ring modulator, vocoder, chorus, phaser, flanger, delay, reverb 1 and 2, and airwindows.
To be honest, we’re just kind of scratching the surface of the features this synth offers. Again, it’s ridiculous that this is all available for free.
To say that this is a versatile synth would be a vast exaggeration. Whether it’s bass, effects, noise, leads, pads, brass, or otherwise, there are plenty of high-quality sounds built right into Surge. Some people have even made some awesome compositions using Surge for the One Synth Challenge.
Its user interface is simple but sophisticated. They’ve opted for faders rather than dials and knobs, and honestly this feels like a deliberate and thoughtful choice. I think it makes the interface easier to use and understand. I wouldn’t say there’s huge polish on the design, but it’s as good as anything else out there, and can certainly hold up to premium plugins.
If you aren’t heading over to download this plugin now, frankly I don’t know what you’re waiting for. Get on it!
PG-8X By Martin Lüders
Martin Lüders’ PG-8X is another highly recognizable free synth VST. PG-8X is a virtual analog synth with up to 12 voice polyphony, two DCOs (with Saw, Square, Pulse, Noise), hard sync and ring modulation, two exponential envelope generators, 24 dB resonant LP filter, three-stage HP filter, stereo chorus, and import and expert of JX-8P Sysex data.
This is yet another plugin that has been a part of my library for a long time. And it’s also another example of a synth that doesn’t make the strongest of first impressions simply because of the default sound. That said, it doesn’t have more than one preset (at least from what I can tell), so you’ll need to mess around to get your best sounds.
Although I have seen online demos with people using presets, so that must mean there are presets available somewhere.
This synth sounds quite good – especially if you’re looking for classic 80s style synth sounds. From bass and pads to leads and cheesy imitations of real instruments, you’ve kind of got it all here. It’s unlikely that all the sounds will be to your liking, but I think there are some solid pads, leads, and basses.
PG-8X has a sleek graphical interface – maybe a tad intimidating if you’re not familiar with synths, but you’ll probably get used to it fast. More than likely, a lot of work has gone into this interface.
Download: Martin Lüders’ VST site
Digits By Extent Of The Jam
Extent of the Jam’s Digits is a versatile phase distortion synthesizer, and it was inspired by Casio’s CZ series. This VST allows you to create warm pads, dirty basses, filthy sweeps, screaming leads, glitchy sounds, and plenty of other in-between sounds. It even comes with over 100 presets.
Its user interface is minimal and simplistic, allowing you to create sounds quickly and easily. That’s basically its value proposition.
Its built-in sounds will likely strike you as “basic” and old school. Of course, with some tweaking and effects, you can always do more, even with less. That’s the great thing about synths – they tend to respond so well to effects!
For users who love tweaking and experimenting, Digits is not a bad choice.
Download: Extent of the Jam
Can I Use Free Synth VST Plugins With Any Digital Audio Workstation?
Although our focus here was on FL Studio and Logic Pro, that doesn’t mean the plugins introduced here don’t work with other Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). Any DAW that supports VST plugins will work (and that’s most if not all of them!).
As well, most plugins introduced here have Windows and Mac compatible versions (some even have Linux compatible versions). So, regardless of what operating system you’re using, you should be able to find plugins that work on your system.
So, yes, free synth VST plugins should work on just about any DAW.
Can I Use Free Synth VST Plugins Without A MIDI Controller?
In most cases, yes. You can create a MIDI track within your DAW and use the piano roll to “draw in” what you want played by that track.
You can even find chord progression or melody libraries out there and then modify them to your liking. I guess it’s kind of like cheating, but why start with a blank page when you have something you can build off of?
The results will largely come down to the beats, instruments and voices you put around it, as well as how you modify the template and even production. So, you still end up with an original creation in many ways.
Anyway, in most cases you can use free synth VSTs with or without a MIDI controller.
Top Free Synth VST Plugins, Final Thoughts
The great thing about synths is that they tend to fit so nicely into a full mix – adding texture, flavor, and atmosphere to your tracks.
Of course, if you want to use synths for more than that, they can be – you can add glitchy noises, swelling sweeps, percussive pads, and more. It all depends on the type of music you’re producing.
Synths provide a near endless source of entertainment too. They’re a lot of fun to play with, and it’s not rare that you come across sounds that beg to be used in a song while experimenting.
Download many, explore plenty. Have fun with your new synth VSTs!