10 Best VST Plugins For Audacity 2024

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The free, open source, cross platform compatible audio recording and editing application, Audacity, is a go-to among podcasters. But some music producers like to experiment with it or even use it as their primary production tool as well.

There is no denying that Audacity has its limitations, but support for various types of plugins (VST, AU, LV2, etc.) is not one of them. It also has its charm, and some would say, workflow benefits.

So, here are the best VST plugins for Audacity.

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio – Best Overall

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio – Best Overall

Saturation is a modern day mixing essential. Saturation plugins have been designed to add analog warmth, bite, even crunch to tracks. The effect (which is effectively distortion) can make tracks pop in a mix or even add some needed life to them, since pristine digital processing can sometimes be a little lifeless.

What we like about XLN Audio’s RC-Retro Color is that it’s everything you need, conveniently in one place. Saturation and noise can be added in a number of ways, but his plugin accounts for most.

Besides a saturation and distortion module, RC-Retro Color also includes a noise generator, wobble & flutter, degrader and bitcrusher, and volume drops modules as well. Just for good measure, you’ll find a reverb module too, for a total of six effects modules.

RC-Retro Color can effectively act as your comprehensive saturation / lo-fi solution.

Last but certainly not least, you might expect to pay a hefty sum for a six-module powerhouse, but not so with this baby. All things considered; RC-Retro Color is very affordable as well.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Objeq Delay by Applied Acoustic Systems – Best Premium Option

Objeq Delay by Applied Acoustic Systems – Best Premium Option

Reverb and delay kind of go hand in hand. But where one is meant to model a room, the other was designed to create repeats of the original audio material. In practice, they can both create atmosphere, but delay can do things reverb cannot.

Applied Acoustic Systems’ Objeq Delay combines delay with acoustic filtering, and they’ve even included high- and low-cut filters for additional tone shaping flexibility.

The included LFO module allows for various types of modulation, while the in-series delay can either work like a classic delay or it can split the repeats to create complex rhythmic patterns or remodel the attack.

Given these creative options, Objeq Delay can do more than just delay, with modulation style effects, dynamic loop mangling, drum track layering and much more.

This plugin features a total of 266 presets in the following categories – echoes, modulators, rhythmic loops, snare enhancers, kick enhancers, drones, Richard Devine signatures, and Martin Walker signatures.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Rift Filter Lite by Minimal Audio – Best Budget Option

Rift Filter Lite by Minimal Audio – Best Budget Option

Whether for electronic music or for sound shaping, filters can come in quite handy in a variety of instances.

Minimal Audio’s Rift Filter Lite is a simple, low-cost, but versatile solution for a variety of filtering applications.

Rift Filter Lite features 24 filter types (like vowel, morphing, and phaser), morph control, stereo spread, global dry / wet control, and pitch snapping.

The filter’s cutoff can be set to key track, and you can see exactly what the filtering is doing to your audio using the visual feedback. Rift Filter Lite also uses minimal CPU resources.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Morph EQ by Minimal Audio

Morph EQ by Minimal Audio

Audacity has multiple built-in effects, and some you can download to enhance your recording workflow.

But one of the first things you’ll probably want to upgrade if you’ve been sticking to your DAW’s stock effects is EQ, and Minimal Audio’s Morph EQ strikes that hard to find balance between being affordable, highly rated, and highly customizable.

Morph EQ’s claim to fame? The ability to draw as many custom filter paths as you want. You can even maneuver them using just one knob.

Customizable filter shapes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Morph EQ, because you can change a filter’s cutoff, widen your audio, and even morph through custom paths.

And with seven filter types and 100+ factory presets, you’ll have access to plenty of jumping off points to leverage.

Altogether, Morph EQ comes with drawable filter morph paths, seven stereo filter types, filter gain scaling, integrated macro control, over 100 presets, a high-resolution spectrum analyzer, multiple filter routing options (single, stereo, and mid-side), adaptive Q mode, EQ undo and redo, and even serial and parallel filter configurations.

Besides standard EQ tasks, Morph EQ also lets you create movement in your tracks – great for EDM!

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

IA-LA1 by Initial Audio

IA-LA1 by Initial Audio

Whether for speech, vocals, or instrument tracks, a capable compressor is a must-have.

With a responsive, transparent algorithm, Initial Audio’s IA-LA1 offers clean compression without artifacts or distortion.

But if you want to add some color and warmth to your tracks, you can still take advantage of the Total Harmonics Distortion (THD) control for subtle saturation.

Want to see what’s happening to your signal as you’re applying compression? Simply take advantage of the level meters and gain reduction meters, which will show you exactly what’s happening to your signal.

Another reason this plugin should appeal to Audacity users is because it’s been designed to be very easy to use. The main included parameters are makeup gain and threshold. So, there’s no need to set attack or release.

IA-LA1 also comes with an HD resizable UI.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Spring Reverb by Softube

Spring Reverb by Softube

Another essential for music producers is reverb. Reverb tends to go on most if not all channels, so having access to a quality reverb can make a huge difference.

Softube’s Spring Reverb was designed as an authentic sounding spring reverb effect with an old school vibe.

As you can tell from the user interface, Spring Reverb is a relatively straightforward entry. But it does come with some features that make it stand out.

For instance, you can take advantage of the Shake control (fully automatable) that will shake the virtual springs around to produce added rumble.

While spring reverb is often used on guitar tracks, this reverb can work on just about anything – vocals, percussion, snare drum, organ, or otherwise.

Softube also added several spring reverb sounds, treble and bass controls (tube-driven), tension control, and continuously adjustable spring pairs (from one to three).

Spring Reverb can be used as a send and as an insert effect.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Trackspacer by Wavesfactory

Trackspacer by Wavesfactory

There are plenty of powerful compressors out there, but in instances where it’s just not enough, you may also want to consider dynamic processors, which usually come with additional sound shaping tools.

Wavesfactory’s Trackspacer is an award-winning VST plugin that does exactly what its name says it does – it makes room for the track it’s been placed on.

How does it do this? Well, Trackspacer comes with a 32 band EQ that reacts to the sidechain signal. It will analyze the sidechain and apply a reverse EQ curve to a separate track. And before you know it, your track has breathing room in the mix.

Whether for a guitar or synth solo or for a vocal track, this is the perfect plugin for making a track pop.

At first brush, it may sound a little complicated, but Trackspacer is very easy to use. Besides the central Amount knob, it only comes with controls for pan, M/S, attack / release, and sidechain.

Wavesfactory warns – while this might sound like a multi-band compressor, it isn’t.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

TriceraChorus by Eventide

TriceraChorus by Eventide

Whether it’s subtle modulation, doubling, or even thick, spaced-out sounds, chorus is a handy effect for adding depth to any track – vocals, guitar, bass, synths, strings, and much more.

In this case, the name kind of gives it away. But Eventide’s TriceraChorus is a tri-chorusing effect inspired by the best of the 70s and 80s choruses.

With three customizable chorus voices (L, C, and R). There’s a three-phase LFO to modulate delay times for each voice, which guarantees attention-grabbing movement everywhere in the stereo field.

Altogether, TriceraChorus features chorus and chorale modes, as well as parameters that have been designed with real-time manipulation and automation in mind – depth, detune, delay, swirl, tone, and ribbon.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Weiss Compressor / Limiter by Softube

Weiss Compressor / Limiter by Softube

Based on the DS1-MK3, Weiss Compressor / Limiter offers transparent digital compression and limiting perfection, especially for mastering purposes.

The user interface is uncomplicated, offering immediate control to the most important parameters like threshold, knee, ratio, attack, release, parallel mix, filters, mid / side, and the like. There are some additional advanced tools hidden in a side menu, though, just in case.

Some compressors and limiters hold you hostage to endless tweaking. While the customization aspect of it is important, not being able to dial in your ideal tones quickly can be a frustrating experience.

Weiss Compressor / Limiter overcomes such limitations present in the original hardware. The plugin is fast and easy to use, and it sounds great too.

For compression and limiting applications alike, the Weiss Compressor / Limiter is well worth a look.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Gatekeeper by Polyverse

Gatekeeper by Polyverse

If you’re working on drum tracks, gating is an essential tool. Drums are typically recorded with a lot of bleed, so to isolate each sound (snare, kick, overheads, etc.), it’s necessary to de-bleed and reduce background noise. This is where gates shine.

Polyverse’s Gatekeeper is more than just an ordinary gate, featuring precise, sample fast modulation, envelope drawing tools, boost and clip features, a smoothing algorithm, eight volume envelopes, customizable MIDI-triggering, panning tools, tempo mapped looping, CV output for modular synths, and 100s of presets.

Thanks to its versatile design, Gatekeeper can work as a step sequencer, LFO, envelope, and sample-accurate volume automation tool.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A VST Plugin For Audacity?

Audacity is generally thought of as an “audio editor” or “audio software / application” tool and not a conventional Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

If you want to produce music with Audacity, you can. It has some limitations, but if you like the application and you’re committed to it, we’re not here to dissuade you from producing with it.

Plus, whatever plugins you purchase should be compatible with other DAWs, should you ever decide to switch over to something else.

With limitations in mind, there are some obvious upgrades to be made – EQ, reverb, compression, saturation, and maybe delay. Beyond that, it depends on how deep you plan to go with Audacity.

Still, there are a few criteria worth considering no matter what you’re shopping for. Here are the main things to look at:

  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

We’ll offer an overview of each.

Sound Quality

Unless you’re buying a utility plugin (like a tuner or spectrum analyzer), the sound quality of the effect or instrument is one of the top factors to consider when shopping for any VST plugin.

While there are plenty of plugins that are near universally loved, this doesn’t necessarily mean these plugins are the right choice for everyone.

Sound is individual. You might like things others don’t like; others might like things you don’t like. And with so much choice available, you can be just about as picky as you want to be.

But in case you haven’t already listened to sound clips or watched video demos / reviews of the plugins you’re thinking about buying, this is a good place to start. This is going to tell you a lot about these tools.

You know your projects and workflow better than anyone else. So, use your own standards and requirements to judge plugins. This will help you home in on choices that are right for you.

Features

Having explored sound quality, we always recommend looking at – and researching – the functionality of each plugin you’re considering adding to your collection.

Generally, the more you’re willing to invest, the more features you’ll end up with. Features aren’t everything, though, and spending a lot of extra money on functionality you won’t use doesn’t make much sense.

As with sound, there’s one thing you should always consider above all else when it comes to features – what you require for the projects you’re working on. Let your projects inform your purchase decisions if you have enough information to go on.

But if you’re unsure about any features, or don’t understand what they do, conduct further research. It’s well worth the effort.

Budget

If a $49 to $139 price range doesn’t have you running the other way, I’ve got good news – you will not find more expensive (or cheaper) plugins in this guide.

This comes with the warning that VST plugins can be addicting, and the temptation might be to buy multiple tools in one go. This is great if you’ve got the budget for it, but not so good if you don’t have the available resources right now.

So, please spend responsibly and don’t go into debt for project related purchases. Stick with what you’ve got for now, and upgrade as you’re able.

Top VST Plugins For Audacity, Final Thoughts

Audacity’s support for various plugin types is truly a blessing, and you may as well take advantage of it. If you’re going to take mixing seriously, then you should invest in a set of tools that inspire you and help you achieve the best possible results.

Audacity may be somewhat limited when it comes to mixing, but sometimes limitations can be creatively inspiring.

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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