15 Best VST Plugins For FL Studio 2024

Music Industry How To is supported by readers. When you buy via a link on our site, we’ll possibly earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

FL Studio is one of the most popular Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) for making electronic music.

FL Studio has been blessed with some excellent synthesizers, channel rack and step sequencer, piano roll, and other great features that make it fun and easy to use, while providing a fast workflow for ideas to come together at velocity.

Still, every DAW has some gaps in its tech stack, and augmenting it with a few powerful third-party VST plugins is usually par for the course.

In this guide, we look at the best VST plugins for FL Studio.

Diva by u-he – Best Overall

Diva by u-he – Best Overall

One of the most enduring and popular virtual analog soft synths of the last decade plus, u-he’s Diva is a monstrous, high-quality synth with authentic tones, plenty of parameters, and over 1,200 presets to boot.

Yes, FL Studio does come with some exceptional soft synths, but can you really have too many? Probably not, at least not when they sound this good.

When it comes to Diva, producers often cite its glorious sub-bass sounds and authentic sounding filters as its standout features. And, if you’re looking for a solid sub-bass option, Diva is a good place to start, but by no means should it be considered “just a sub-bass.”

There are virtually no flaws with Diva, so when we refer to “standout” features, we’re talking about things that are extra good about it.

No doubt, you will also enjoy its mix and match modules, envelopes, effects, modifiers, trimmers, and oscilloscope too.

Diva basically hits the nail on the head in terms of sound quality, budget, and features. So, if it’s within your budget right now, and you know you need a virtual analog synth, have a closer look.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FET Compressor by Softube – Best Premium Option

FET Compressor by Softube – Best Premium Option

Modeled after one of the most iconic compressors ever created, Softube’s FET Compressor offers some flavorful distortion and aggressiveness, especially with more extreme settings. Plus, it’s capable of deeper gain reduction than many compressors.

This is an excellent compressor for the voice (especially when you need the vocals to bite through a mix), drums (for creating a Led Zeppelin style drum sound), acoustic guitars, bass, pianos, and more. It’s worth trying on a variety of sources.

The Parallel Inject control also makes parallel compression possible, and there’s a handy sidechain filter too.

All in all, FET Compressor comes with lookahead, super-fast attack time, input and output stage distortion, “all buttons in” mode, continuous ratio, parallel compression, external sidechain, detector low and high cut filters, stereo with synchronized gain reduction, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SubLab XL by Future Audio Workshop – Best Budget Option

SubLab XL by Future Audio Workshop – Best Budget Option

Bass. Modern productions require unprecedented amounts of low end – especially hip-hop and trap tracks. There are a couple of other plugins in this guide that can give you the fat low end you’re looking for, but it’s hard to ignore something called SubLab XL, isn’t it?

SubLab XL is the expanded version of the original, with added features, modulation, FX, macros, and new sounds.

This plugin lets you mix and match up to four effects, including six types of distortions, waveshaper with sine fold and linear fold, tape with hiss and wobble, bitcrusher with decimation and bit mode, as well as compressor with auto sidechain and mix amount.

The synth engine comes complete with saw, triangle, and square waves (which can be layered to create super-saws), dry / wet mix, tune and detune, as well as stereo width controls.

The LFO modulation section offers 18 routing options, multiple waveforms (sine, triangle, saw, square, and noise), rate control, and BPM sync.

SubLab XL also features two macro controls, nine factory bass packs, over 300 samples (taken from a variety of classic drum machines and modulars like Roland TR-808, Roland TR-707, Nord Lead, Hexinverter BD9, Dave Smith Tempest, and many others).

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SIGNAL by Output

SIGNAL by Output

Output’s SIGNAL can do a bit of everything, and because it does it all with style and confidence, it’s a very dependable Kontakt instrument too!

SIGNAL offers a blend of analog synthesizer sounds and live instruments for creating sounds with a serious pulse.

The engine consists of four simultaneous rhythms, an explosive 40 GB of content, LFOs, step, arpeggiator, looper, as well as basic and advanced modes.

Every included pulse instrument comes with its own parameters for complete customization. There are multiple built-in effects for additional sound shaping too – convolution reverb, filters, saturation, delays, among others.

All in all, SIGNAL comes with 500 pulse instruments, up to four simultaneous pulses, tempo lock, four rhythms (looper, step sequencer, arpeggiator, LFO), and four MACRO sliders for each of the included 500 pulse instruments.

For adding rhythm and movement to your tracks with ease, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better instrument than SIGNAL. Great for songwriting, scoring, and sound design alike!

SIGNAL requires either Kontakt Player or the full version of Kontakt 5.3.1 or above.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SUBSTANCE by Output

SUBSTANCE by Output

Output’s SUBSTANCE is a deep bass / sub-bass instrument taking advantage of a variety of sources – analog synths, electric basses, acoustic basses, brass sections, sound designed presets, and others.

Three layers of sounds can be combined to create fat bass sounds, and SUBSTANCE also comes with layer and global FX, filters, modulation, arpeggiator, macros, flux control, and 300 presets.

If you’re tired of trying to layer and blend your own bass sounds, then SUBSTANCE is where it’s at – this baby will do all the heavy lifting for you!

So, altogether, you get to take advantage of the three-layer engine, 300 presets, preset menu with smart tagging, layer FX, global FX, arpeggiator, four macro sliders (unique to each preset), monophonic and legato modes, help menu, and a rhythm page (tempo sync).

As you’ll see in the video below, SUBSTANCE delivers on its promise with huge, impactful bass sounds. Whether for reggaeton, hip-hop, trap, or otherwise, this should prove a useful tool.

SUBSTANCE requires Kontakt Player or the full version of Kontakt 5.5.1 or above.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

CS-80 V3 by Arturia

CS-80 V3 by Arturia

Arturia is well known for bringing many classic synths to the digital world, and the CS-80 V3 is no exception. This one, of course, takes after the rarely matched late 70s polyphonic synthesizer, the Yamaha CS-80.

The Yamaha CS-80, however, probably wasn’t a practical purchase for most producers and studios at the time. Its size? Huge. Its price tag? Also, huge.

Nevertheless, it made it onto plenty of popular records by the likes of Toto, Stevie Wonder, and Peter Gabriel.

The Yamaha CS-80 was perfect for crafting pad sounds, and that facet of the plugin carries over into this digital emulation as well. Arturia threw some extras in too, though, as they are known to do – a new modulation matrix, voice modes, and an arpeggiator.

Altogether, the CS-80 V3 comes with two oscillators, four filters (high pass, low pass), two LFOs, four envelopes, two VCAs, one sub-oscillator, one ring modulator, as well as chorus and tremolo (all features found on the original hardware synth).

Also included here is a digital delay, multi-mode (eight-voice polyphony – assign a different sound to each of the eight voices), modulation matrix, 500+ presets, polyphonic aftertouch response, arpeggiator, full MIDI controller mapping, Virtual Ribbon controller, and TAE analog modeling.

How does it sound? Well, Toto’s own Steve Porcaro seems to think the CS-80 V3 does a very competent job, as seen in the video below.

Arturia’s plugins do get better with each iteration and version update, though, so if in doubt, it might be worth waiting for the next one.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Decapitator by Soundtoys

Decapitator by Soundtoys

Saturation / distortion is a practical must have for guitars, but nowadays it’s not uncommon to use it on just about everything that requires a little more presence, character, or “pop” in a mix.

Soundtoys’ Decapitator is one of those powerful, all-in-one solutions you can employ across an array of track types with ease. And, whether you need a bit of warmth on vocals, or more extreme distortion on the drums, this saturator can handle just about anything you throw at it.

Some plugins are especially sophisticated, featuring extra menus, submenus, back panels, and other hidden options. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but in this case, the user interface really tells most of the story.

You’ve got four distortion styles / models – A, E, N, T, and P. You’ve got a drive control to affect the amount of distortion, and some additional controls for shaping – low cut (with thump), tone, high cut (with steep), output (with auto), and dry / wet mix.

Just in case you need a little more, there’s a Punish button to take your distortion to insane levels.

While Soundtoys plugins generally do cost a little more, they also perform at a high level. If you need a saturator to end all saturators, this one is well worth a look.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Dist COLDFIRE by Arturia

Dist COLDFIRE by Arturia

Arturia’s Dist COLDFIRE is a dual-engine distortion combining analog and digital algorithms with 11 distortion types, modulation, and further customization.

The 11 distortion types include analog (tube, tape, transistor, transformer, Germanium, force), and digital (bit crusher, bit inverter, rectifier, wavefolder, and waveshaper).

Inside, you’ll find a 16-step sequencer, six custom modulation slots, comb filters, and a variety of other parameters and features that let you take your distorted signals to places unexpected.

Dist COLDFIRE also comes with a hidden advanced control panel, five routing options (serial, parallel, stereo, mid / side, band split), routing balance slider for blending distortions, pre or post three-mode dynamics modules (compressor, limiter, multiband), and a feedback module.

You’ll find a six-mode pre filter per distortion engine (with comb filtering), two-band post filter per distortion engine, six assignable modulation slots with four modes (LFO, function, follower, 16-step sequencer), over 150 presets, A/B comparison, and oversampling.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Imperial Delay by Boz Digital Labs

Imperial Delay by Boz Digital Labs

Delay is a powerful echo effect for creating space, adding a tail to a sound, layering, and more. Boz Digital Labs’ Imperial Delay just so happens to be a powerhouse delay effect that lets you control just about every aspect of the effect you can think of.

The developer had two primary goals with Imperial Delay – to create an easy-to-use delay with unprecedented power. And that’s easier said than done because most delays only offer one or the other.

Imperial Delay, though, puts just about everything you can think of at your fingertips to control as you wish. There are even advanced controls for additional fine-tuning.

Imperial Delay also comes with a preset management system that lets you save your own presets.

One look at the GUI, and you’ll see for yourself that Imperial Delay does in fact offer a surprising level of control over the effect.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Crystalline by Baby Audio

Crystalline by Baby Audio

Baby Audio’s Crystalline takes after classic algorithmic reverb hardware, but with elevated sound quality and functionality not found in vintage gear.

Crystalline comes with tempo sync, a reflection section (with size, sparkle, and width), depth section (with resolution, modulation, and shimmer), clean-up section (with damping, sides, and gate), shape section (with tone, smoothing, and transients), and an output section (with ducker, reverse, freeze, and dry / wet).

There are also a few useful goodies on the top panel – color, eco mode, save as default, reset, and tool tips. As a bonus, Crystalline has a fully resizable window.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-R by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-R by FabFilter

All producers dream of a lush, warm, full sounding reverb that adds to the source, and never takes away. Well, it seems many are rewarded and few are ever disappointed by the award-winning and top-rated FabFilter Pro-R.

The “R” in Pro-R, of course, stands for reverb. But FabFilter doesn’t just think of this as a reverb plugin. They think of it as an all-out “space” plugin, covering considerably more echo-based ground.

Even better, Pro-R isn’t just feature rich, but also easy to use. These are the qualities that make it a much sought-after tool. What’s easy about it is that they’ve taken traditional parameter labels and have replaced them with less technical names like Distance, Brightness, and Character.

Here are but a few of its long list of features – a variety of room models (rooms, halls, cathedrals, etc.), stepless space, decay rate, intelligent stereo width, distance, character, brightness, mix (with lock mix), predelay, six-band decay rate EQ, six-band post EQ, real-time spectrum analyzer, MIDI learn, and much more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter

For tone sculpting, a professional EQ is a must have. FabFilter’s Pro-Q 3 easily fits the bill. This EQ offers both mixing and mastering features, up to 24 custom EQ bands with dynamic EQ, EQ Match, and a whole lot more.

Also onboard is an ultra-steep brickwall slope setting for LP and HP filters, full surround support, external spectrum visualization, per-band mid / side or left / right processing, flat tilt filter shape, spectrum grab, multiple filter shapes, universal filter slope, spectrum analyzer, optional piano roll display, among other powerful and versatile features.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-G by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-G by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-G may well be one of the easiest to use (and maybe even the best) gates / expanders on the market. Whether it’s for cleaning up and isolating individual drum tracks or even subtly shaving off the amp noise in a guitar track, gating is an essential for cleaning up mixes.

Pro-G comes with great features like six tuned expander / gate algorithms, program dependent attack and release curves, adjustable range, hold time, knee, optional lookahead, expert mode (with sidechain options), up to 4x linear-phase oversampling, MIDI triggering, separate dry / wet level settings, MIDI learn, and much more.

Pro-G isn’t one of FabFilter’s most popular plugins, and I think I understand why. Gating is very necessary and useful, but it is essentially a utility plugin. Once your settings are dialed in (and this shouldn’t take too long), you’re basically off to the races.

Again, Pro-G comes with a ton of excellent features, be it sidechain routings, smart input / output level meters, MIDI triggering, or other. But they are asking quite a bit for a plugin that performs a very basic function in the grand scheme of things.

Pro-G will take your gating to the next level, but if you’re all about maximizing price to value, then you may consider a different gate.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-L 2 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-L 2 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-L 2 is a precise true peak limiter supporting various standards (like EBU R128).

Inside, you’ll find eight limiting algorithms, up to 32x linear-phase oversampling, surround support, optional DC offset filter, external sidechain triggering, unity gain, audition limiting, adjustable meter scale, advanced dithering, adjustable lookahead, MIDI learn, and much more.

For mastering, a limiter is an essential, and it can come in handy for mixing too.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Physion Mk II by Eventide

Physion Mk II by Eventide

Eventide’s Physion Mk II is a multi-effects processors combining their transient / tonal separation functions with various Eventide effects, along with Structural Split detection from SplitEQ, over 500 presets (organized by category), and more.

Onboard, you’ll find eight tonal effects (EQ, reverb, delay, reverse delay, chorus, dynamics, pitch, tremolo), as well as seven transient effects (reverb, delay, tap delay, reverse delay dynamics, phaser, and gate + EQ).

Altogether, Physion Mk II comes with a polyphonic pitch shifting algorithm, reverse delays with gating, ping-pong, and crystal modes, sidechain input for dynamics processors, SplitEQ filters, resizable GUI (with three color schemes), A/B comparison, undo / redo, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A VST Plugin For FL Studio?

Image-Line’s FL Studio accommodates an array of third-party VST plugins. That being the case, you may as well take advantage! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain when it comes to increasing your knowledge and learning different approaches to music production.

But if you’re struggling to figure out which plugin(s) to buy, here are the main criteria to consider:

  • Plugin type
  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Here’s an overview of each of these factors:

Plugin Type

In this guide, we’ve looked at VST plugins in a variety of categories. Since you can’t compare apples to oranges, it’s important that we divide each into the proper categories, so you can choose based on identified needs, not just based on “gee, that plugin looks awfully cool.”

Here are the main relevant categories:

  • Synthesizers. This includes Diva, CS-80 V3, and SubLab XL. Synthesizers are a must-have for electronic music, and can often be heard on pop, punk, rock, prog rock, and a variety of other genres too. Synthesizers are one of FL Studio’s strong suits, but that doesn’t mean they cover the full range of possible sounds. There are many great synths out there to take your productions to new heights.
  • Kontakt instruments. Output’s SIGNAL and SUBSTANCE should be considered Kontakt instruments. Kontakt libraries often leverage samples from a variety of sources and let you create and utilize sounds well outside of conventional boundaries.
  • EQ. FabFilter Pro-Q 3 is a very competent sound sculpting tool, better than most if not all stock EQs included with DAWs.
  • Compressor / limiter. Essential for mixing. FET Compressor and FabFilter Pro-L 2 are well worth a look.
  • Gate. A utility plugin for removing unwanted noise below a certain threshold, and better isolating tracks (often drum tracks). Check out FabFilter Pro-G.
  • Echo. You’ll find several echo (reverb and delay) based plugins above – Imperial Delay, FabFilter Pro-R, and Crystalline, all of which offer different flavors of echo.
  • Saturation / distortion. Great for adding grittiness and warmth to tracks, or even letting them punch through the mix. Decapitator and Dist COLDFIRE fall under this category.
  • Multi-effects. Just as it sounds – a multi-effect processor comes with multiple useful effects, but not always with the same combination. Eventide’s Physion Mk II is one such tool.

Sound Quality

No matter the instrument or effect, it would be well worth listening to what each plugin can do. Sound is, after all, individual, and if you want to end up with tools, you’re happy with, you should be putting a little bit of time into listening to them.

Features

Each plugin offers something different. Even when exploring synthesizers, or reverbs, not all are created equal. The feature set offered depends a lot on the plugin type, as well as its price range. Higher priced plugins generally offer more, but not everyone needs more.

Budget

The plugins referenced here are in the $80 to $200 range. All of them are quite excellent in terms of sound quality and functionality.

The main thing we want to help you avoid is going into debt for plugin related purchases. We know well the temptation, but we want you to enjoy the process of creating music, not dealing with calls from creditors.

Top VST Plugins For FL Studio, Final Thoughts

If you’re making electronic music, then FL Studio is the perfect DAW. If you want to extend the DAW’s functionality, then third-party VST plugins is the right place to look. Better plugins do make a difference, and give you access to new possibilities you may not otherwise be able to tap into.

We hope you enjoyed this guide, and here’s wishing you the best of luck on your creative 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!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *