17 Best VST Instruments 2024

VST instruments have never been more abundant or flexible. Broadly, they can be categorized as synthesizers, sample libraries, samplers, and drum machines. But many of today’s products seem to transcend even these narrow definitions.

For instance, it’s not hard to find VST instruments that combine the worlds of synthesized and organic audio material.

Ready to plunge into a world of exciting new possibilities? In this guide, we look at the best VST instruments.

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Hive 2 by u-he – Best Overall

Hive 2 by u-he – Best Overall

u-he’s Hive 2 is practically unmistakable. This baby consistently reaches the top of best virtual synth lists, and for good reason (although we’re not saying there aren’t plenty of other exceptional synths, some of which we cover later in this guide).

With Hive 2, you can tweak a few knobs and call it “done,” or go deeper into the many settings and parameters to dial in your version of synthesizer heaven.

With the shape sequencer, 12-slot matrix, swappable audio engine, signal routing options, wavetable support, effects, and more, the upper ceiling truly is as far as your imagination can take you. Best of all, with Hive 2, dialing in great sounds doesn’t need to take ages to achieve.

This soft synth features a total of three low CPU synth engines, two oscillators (with standard waveforms and 2D wavetables), drag and drop modulation, 12 x 2 modulation matrix, four XY control pads, eight-step shape sequencer, arpeggiator, and scale quantizer.

Further, it comes with seven arrangeable effects, two function generators, panel presets, solo buttons, microtuning support, over 2,400 NKS-ready factory presets, resizable UI, and much more.

We could go on about the features, but we really would be here all day. The point is, Hive 2 is a synth that needs to be experienced to be understood. And for everything you get, its price point is moderate.

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V Collection 9 by Arturia – Best Premium Option

V Collection 9 by Arturia – Best Premium Option

Why buy one Arturia V instrument at a time when you could get the entire collection for one very reasonable price?

To be fair, V Collection 9 is our best premium option and the most expensive. But it includes 32 keyboard and synthesizer instruments, which are going to prove much more expensive if purchased one at a time.

There are five new additions to this collection, including the Korg MS-20 V, SQ80 V, Augmented STRINGS (also seen elsewhere in this guide), Augmented VOICES, and Prophet-VS V.

If that wasn’t enough, you’re getting the Jun-6 V, Jup-8 V, Stage-73 V, OBXa-V, Mellotron V, CMI V, DX7 V, Clavinet V, B-3 V, CS-80 V, Matrix-12 V, Modular V, Piano V, Solina V, Synclavier V, VOX Continental V, Wurli V, among others. Some of these instruments have been updated too (Arturia is good like that).

In total, you’re getting 14,000 presets, in-app tutorials, high-resolution graphical interfaces, easy MIDI mapping, and much more.

If you have gaps in your keyboard and synth collection, this entry is for you. Of course, if you’ve got most of your bases covered, then you might be better off purchasing just the V plugins you need.

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The System 1000M by Tronsonic – Best Budget Option

The System 1000M by Tronsonic – Best Budget Option

Tronsonic’s The System 1000M is a Kontakt based modular style virtual synthesizer.

This baby comes with 500+ presets, 10 waveforms (with white and pink noise), modulation, and sounds that were sampled using vintage valve equipment to quarter inch tape in Bank 1 (for a distinctly analog sound).

If you love analog synth sounds, you will enjoy what The System 1000M has on offer. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s our best budget selection.

The System 1000M requires the full version of Kontakt, so if you don’t have Kontakt, you may not save any money here.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Circle2 by Future Audio Workshop

Circle2 by Future Audio Workshop

Simple yet incredibly powerful, Future Audio Workshop’s Circle2 is on the short list of the best electronic music virtual synthesizers available.

Circle2 finds the synth in its latest state of evolution, having originally come into being in 2009. From pop to electronic to underground, it has enjoyed its share of attention from a variety of high-profile creators.

Now with a new user interface, Circle2 aims to enhance your workflow. Unlike many modern synths, which may be more powerful, but have more controls than you know what to do with (with hidden menus, settings, and controls), Circle2 wants to put the joy back in experimentation by streamlining the entire process.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t loaded to the rafters with options though. In addition to 300+ patches, Circle2 features multiple sound sources (four analog oscillators, four wavetable oscillators, four VPS oscillators, noise source, feedback) and an array of modifiers, modulators, and effects.

Circle2 also comes with 32 voice polyphony, 110 wavetable oscillator shapes, drag and drop modulation system, 16 wavetable LFO shapes, 16 step sequencer with note output, MIDI note arpeggiator, randomize preset, visual MIDI learn, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

CUBE by Lunacy Audio

CUBE by Lunacy Audio

What stands out about Lunacy Audio’s CUBE is its 3D interface for morphing between samples. You can use the orb at the heart of the interface to blend sounds any way you see fit. Move the orbs closer to the corners to make them louder.

The best part about the orb is that you can control it with your mouse, external hardware, or 40 automatic orbit motion paths.

Okay, but what is this thing anyway? Well, It’s like it a sampler and virtual instrument all in one.

In total, CUBE features over 100 sampled instruments and over 3,000 samples (with multiple dynamic layers), over 400 presets, over 40 orbits, eight samplers (with arpeggiator, step sequencers, filters, envelopes, reverse, monophonic, glide, pan, and tuning), and 13 FX modules.

It also comes with a modulation system (four LFOs, macro, and modulation matrix), custom graphics engine, orbit customizer, randomization algorithms, eco-mode, MIDI control, and user audio (for dragging and dropping your own sounds into the interface).

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

LuSH-101 by D16 Group

LuSH-101 by D16 Group

D16 Group’s LuSH-101 is a go-to multitimbral polyphonic synthesizer. Incorporating some of the best aspects of other popular modern virtual synthesizers, LuSH is both powerful and surprisingly simple.

Its feature set alone is quite impressive. LuSH-101 comes with a multilayer architecture (with eight layers), up to 32 voice polyphony, MIDI channel, keyboard zone, and audio output.

The synthesis engine includes oscillators (saw, PWM, noise, supersaw, HardSync), sub oscillator (with five waveforms), self-oscillating multimode filter, high-pass filter, up to eight-voice unison (with tune, cutoff, and panorama spread), two LFOs, and two envelopes.

Essential FX algorithms include chorus, string ensemble, phaser, flanger, tremolo, distortion, decimator, and vowel filter. As well, note velocity, note pitch, pitch bend, expression pedal, sustain pedal, modulation wheel, keyboard’s aftertouch, and arpeggiator output can all be used as modulation sources.

The arpeggiator comes with a step sequencer, six modes, chord mode, three hold modes, shuffle, and tempo multiplier. On the mixer, you’ll find parametric EQs, compressors, 11 stereo output busses, and send FX.

Finally, you also get over 1,600 presets (with five categories), preset browser, advanced MIDI, parameter mapping for automation, and selectable GUI size.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Novum by Tracktion

Novum by Tracktion

Tracktion’s Novum is different. That’s what probably makes it a standout VST instrument. In a word, it’s a sampler, but it’s more of a sound-shaping tool, instrument fuser, and granular synthesizer rolled into one.

Novum takes samples and breaks them into layers, and features six-layer granular synthesis, timbre and temporal editing, timbre flower for spectral modification, drag and drop cross synthesis, SYNTIFY subtractive with an analog filter and comb filter, modulation system, MPE support, and over 300 patches.

The Tracktion team originally dreamed up the concept as they were exploring prisms. They realized that they could split audio into its various tonal colors, which prompted the idea for Novum. The concept was developed over three years, with much experimentation and input from sound designers.

If you’ve ever wanted to take your samples and transform them into brand new, exciting sounds, you will love Novum. From creating pads to making your basslines more melodic, this is a fantastic tool for sound design, composing, and adding background layers to your music of any genre.

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Solina Redux by SONiVOX

Solina Redux by SONiVOX

SONiVOX’ Solina Redux is like a hot rodded Arp Solina String Ensemble with two eight-step sequencers (fully programmable). In addition to the original Solina sounds that made the hardware so sought after, SONiVOX added a modern virtual analog synth to take their plugin over the top.

The result is a mix of modern and vintage sounds, which you can alter and combine in any way you please. The two synths include send effects, LFO modulations, a multi-mode filter, and amplitude and filter envelopes.

You also get access to three effects, a vibrato, phaser, and the infamous Solina “Ensemble” effect.

It’s not a new entry per se, but the Solina Redux still sounds good, and as you can imagine, the best thing you can do with it is play to its strengths – combining vintage and modern sounds to create unique patches.

The only potential downside is its cost.

Have a listen and see what you think.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Augmented STRINGS by Arturia

Augmented STRINGS by Arturia

No matter what style of music you might be working on, strings are essential. And if you haven’t found need for them yet trust me, you very likely will at some time in the future.

As with most Arturia products, Augmented STRINGS isn’t your run of the mill strings plugin. There are plenty of those out there already. This VST instrument aims to set you up with modern sounds, incorporating synthesized strings along with breathtaking samples.

This hybrid string instrument features two layers, each with two customizable sound sources, a string sample library with violin, viola, cello, and double bass, solo and ensemble strings, close and far mics, 60+ articulations, synth engines with TAE technology, granular engine (with warp, glitch, and stretch), harmonic engine, and wavetable engine.

You also get a morph control (for moving between Layers A and B and affecting up to eight custom destinations), seven macros (time, color, motion, FX A, FX B, reverb, delay), two LFOs, two function generators, two random generators, four modulation sources, vibrato, and tremolo.

But that’s not quite it. Additionally, you’ll find two FX slots per layer with 14 FX, delay and reverb sends with spatial / time-based algorithms, 16-step arpeggiator, over 250 presets, as well as MPE and MTS-ESP ODDSOUND micro-tuning compatibility.

Basically, if you need a modern, versatile string VST instrument, there aren’t many that feature the power of an Augmented STRINGS.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Aparillo by Sugar Bytes

Aparillo by Sugar Bytes

Sugar Bytes’ Aparillo is an FM synth featuring a 16 voice design and a sound perfectly suited to sound design and composition.

Aparillo features formant shifting, wave folding, shifting, a multi-mode filter with spatializer, orbiter for sound morphing, two LFOs, 500 presets, 10 modulation sources, as well as NKS support for Komplete Kontrol and Maschine.

From dirty basses and rich drones to warm leads and space-filling pads, Aparillo is an excellent synth, especially for the price!

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