7 Best Kalimba VST Plugins 2024

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The gentle, percussive, emotive sound of the kalimba has captured the imagination of many. It’s a simple instrument anyone can learn to play, but not everyone has the time or patience.

If you want to bring the haunting and beautiful sound of a kalimba to your studio, then the most convenient option is to explore the following – the best kalimba VST plugins.

Kalimba 3.0 by Soundiron – Best Overall

Kalimba 3.0 by Soundiron – Best Overall

For Kalimba 3.0, Soundiron recorded the instrument in three distinct environments – in a studio (close and dry), medium distance (in a small, bright chamber), and a large hall (with mics at one and 15 meters). Fun fact, the “large hall” refers to a World War I era artillery bunker.

The instrument was captured with up to 10x round robin and 11 dynamic velocity layers to offer as much realism and authenticity as possible.

It’s somewhat expected from composer oriented virtual instruments nowadays, but Kalimba 3.0 also comes with 62 pads, atmospheres, soundscapes, and drones utilizing the original source material. But it’s still appreciated, especially given its price point.

Looking to tweak the sounds you’re hearing? No problem, take advantage of the onboard parameters, arpeggiator, and DSP effects like EQ, compression, convolution reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, phaser, resonant filter, amp and speaker sim, and distortion.

Altogether, you’re getting 1,131 stereo WAV files, 86 ambience patches, 20 sound designed FX and ambient presets, a full suite of parameters (filter, LFO, glide, arpeggiator), and FX rack.

As the most conventional virtual kalimba in this guide, with a great sound, versatile controls, and a moderate price point, Kalimba 3.0 is a natural fit for our best overall selection.

Kalimba 3.0 requires the full version of Kontakt.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Fine Mallets Bundle by Cinematique Instruments – Best Premium Option

Fine Mallets Bundle by Cinematique Instruments – Best Premium Option

Cinematique Instruments’ Fine Mallets Bundle is just as it sounds – a collection of virtual mallet instruments, including some slightly unusual selections – a kalimba, of course, but also a bass marimba, vibraphone, glockenspiel, metallophone, spieluhr, and a crystal bowl.

This selection isn’t for those who only require kalimba sounds, but if you’re looking to round out your selection of mallet instruments (for composing, cinematic scores, songwriting, and more), then this is a very convenient seven in one pack!

Various articulations exist for every instrument, and you’ll find your share of parameters too. This is a very holistic solution, and honestly, it’s good value too. That makes it our best premium selection!

You’ll need the full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or above to take advantage of Fine Mallets Bundle.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

TAPED: Cassette Kalimba by KLANG – Best Budget Option

TAPED: Cassette Kalimba by KLANG – Best Budget Option

A compact entry via KLANG, TAPED: Cassette Kalimba offers up the sound of a kalimba, slightly effected by the nostalgic, warm, and imperfect sound of tape.

In developing this entry, it sounds like the developers had their share of fun, experimenting with an array of tape gear to achieve the perfect saturated sound, complete with wow & flutter.

TAPED: Cassette Kalimba gives you very basic control over delay, reverb, church type, balance, decay, and tone. It does not have much by way of other features or presets.

You might not expect TAPED: Cassette Kalimba to sound that good, especially considering its price point, but to my ears, it’s quite capable. It will drive you nuts if you’d prefer more of a dry sound, though.

If you’re interested in more, KLANG has a myriad of similar compact offerings for different instruments.

TAPED: Cassette Kalimba requires the full version of Kontakt 5.6.8 or above.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Tiny Thumb Pianos by Soundiron

Tiny Thumb Pianos by Soundiron

Given that Tiny Thumb Pianos is a Soundiron creation, it shares quite a bit in common with Kalimba 3.0, also seen elsewhere in this guide.

But as is implied from the plural form “thumb pianos” (another term that refers to kalimbas), solo and duo plucked kalimbas were recorded to create this virtual instrument. Close, dry, wide stereo, unison, solo… it’s all here.

Tiny Thumb Pianos features 10 round robins per velocity layer with various articulations, like taps, hits, slides, glisses, and other effects. They turned the source material into custom ambient sounds as well, with 20 soundscapes and 20 FX presets.

Customization is built right into Tiny Thumb Pianos, with articulation switching, attack, release, swell, offset, vibrato, filter, pitch (coarse & fine), layering, crossfading, and more.

Also onboard is an adaptable LFO system with selectable shapes (as well as speed, modulation target parameter, fade-in time, tempo-syncing), 12 filter types, arpeggiator, and much more.

Tiny Thumb Pianos requires the full version of Kontakt.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Atma by MNTRA Instruments

Atma by MNTRA Instruments

MNTRA Instruments is always coming up with some interesting stuff, well suited to composing, film and video game scores, lo-fi and ambient, relaxation music, and more.

Atma isn’t exactly a virtual kalimba… or maybe it would be better to say it isn’t just a virtual kalimba. This plugin features 37 instrument sample maps (with various articulations), including kalimba, gong, tubular bells, hang drum, glass tube, and more.

With MNTRA’s own sound design engine, MNDALA, you have at your fingertips arpeggiated bell clusters, atmospheric pads, dynamic percussion, and more.

With Atma, creating ponderous, mysterious, dramatic, exotic, and atmospheric sounds is always seconds away.

Atma does not require Kontakt, something some producers will surely appreciate.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Lamelle by Capsule Audio

Lamelle by Capsule Audio

Capsule Audio’s Lamelle aims to combine the percussive sounds of mallets, plucks, keys, and bells, to deliver a mixture of organic and synthesized output.

For Capsule Audio, this is more like a module than a full-fledged virtual instrument, but its price does reflect its fact. Point being – if you’re looking for more of this, Capsule Audio has got an array of modules with different sounds in their cloud-based collection known simply as Capsule.

Anyway, Lamelle’s main control is front and center – transient. But you’ve got a few additional controllable parameters, including brightness, hammers, timbre, FM, lofi, delay, and reverb, which lets you dial in your preferred magical sounds.

With Lamelle, creating complex sounding rhythms, melodies, and hooks is a walk in the park, and I’ve even heard it used with a hip-hop beat (sick!).

Nope, you don’t need Kontakt for this one, and while it is niche, it’s certainly cool sounding.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Hopkin Instrumentarium: Rumba Boxes by Soundiron

Hopkin Instrumentarium: Rumba Boxes by Soundiron

Okay, so what in the world is a rumba box?

Well, Hopkin Instrumentarium: Rumba Boxes refers to an invention of Bart Hopkin’s – large, bass kalimbas (wooden)!

Soundiron captured the instrument in full detail, never forgetting to use multiple mic positions and leveraging the source material to craft sound designed pads, drones, and textures. Just as Soundiron does!

It comes with all the goodies you’d expect from the developer too – adaptable LFO system, 12 filter types, arpeggiator, key and scale lock system, FX rack (with 18 DSP effects), and an insane array of convolution reverb options (99 environments and 40 custom FX impulses).

All told, you’re getting four master presets, 20 sound designed ambient presets, two mic positions, multiple articulations (picks, plucks, hand percussion, aux percussion), and 13,719 stereo samples.

I find the rumba boxes have a sound not unlike that of a marimba, except maybe with a little less resonance. Could be the perfect complement for more conventional kalimbas!

Hopkin Instrumentarium: Rumba Boxes requires the free Kontakt Player 5.6.8 or above.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A Kalimba VST Plugin?

While there aren’t too many out there, there are both conventional, dedicated virtual kalimbas, as well as effected / hybrid / sound design instruments. And we know that can make the choice a little harder.

If you’re still unsure, we’ll cover the few factors you should consider when shopping for a kalimba VST plugin.

Sound Quality

Do you like the sound of it? That’s what matters most. A dedicated kalimba plugin will probably offer the most flexibility, as you can use the onboard effects or create your own effects chain to tweak it.

But other options like TAPED: Cassette Kalimba and Lamelle could be fun in more experimental contexts.

Features

Soundiron seems to have this aspect of crafting virtual instruments nailed, as they often offer multiple articulations, velocity layers, round robins, parameters, effects, custom presets, and so on.

But always consider your needs before buying. More isn’t always better, and sometimes you end up paying more for it (although that’s not really the case in this category of plugin).

If you’re not sure about any feature, or have questions, do some additional research. You won’t regret it.

Budget

For the most part, kalimba VST plugins are very affordable, but we don’t recommend going into debt for any studio related purchase. Always consult your budget before pulling the trigger on a purchase.

Top Kalimba VST Plugins, Final Thoughts

Utilizing professional plugins certainly saves you from having to record or sample a kalimba yourself, finding the right mic placement, renting an acoustically treated room to record in, and so on. If you need a killer sound, VST plugins are the way to go.

We hope you have everything you need to find the right virtual kalimba for you. Let us know how it goes!

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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