11 Best VST Plugins For Reaper 2024

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As an affordable alternative to professional grade Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs), Reaper quickly grew a cult following and today is one of the top 10 preferred software recording applications among professionals and independents alike.

Its own ReaPlugs have received a lot of praise and are fantastic stock effects. You can even download them and use them in other DAWs.

But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth purchasing a few upgrades. So, in this guide, we’ll look at the best VST plugins for Reaper.

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter – Best Overall

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter – Best Overall

Does your EQ game need a kick in the pants? Then it might be time to upgrade to the industry standard EQ plugin, FabFilter Pro-Q 3. This baby is one of the best if not the best, and yet its price point is well within reach for most.

And it’s better than a lot of plugins that are supposed to add “sheen” or “weight,” which is a clear indication even the developers don’t know what they’re for.

No, this one’s not messing around, and its feature set alone is mind boggling. With a beautiful user interface and a killer sound, this plugin simply will not be denied.

We could waffle on about its features, but it’s mostly pointless. This EQ will beat out most of the others and quickly become your go-to workhorse should you opt to purchase it.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SP2016 Reverb by Eventide – Best Premium Option

SP2016 Reverb by Eventide – Best Premium Option

Sooner or later, almost every producer goes looking for a smooth, powerful, customizable reverb that sounds good without all the fuss of endless dialing. And, ideally, it can be used on everything.

Again, Reaper has some great built-in effects, but if you’re looking to step up your reverb game, Eventide’s SP2016 Reverb is well worth considering. This baby sounds just as good as the original hardware version.

But at core, it’s also very simple. SP2016 Reverb features six vintage and modern reverb algorithms to suit a variety of tastes. Its convenient Position control allows you to find the perfect placement for reverb in the mix, whether front and center or back in the background. No more guessing.

Of course, there are a few parameters for fine-tuning – the levels section (with input, output, kill, and monitor), the parameters section (with mix, pre-delay, decay, position, and diffusion), and the self-explanatory EQ section.

There are many reverbs out there, and it’s ultimately a matter of taste, but have a listen to SP2016 Reverb anyway. I think you’ll find it’s very capable indeed.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Tactic by Glitchmachines – Best Budget Option

Tactic by Glitchmachines – Best Budget Option

Need to create more rhythmic interest in your tracks? If you use synthesizers a lot, then there’s a good chance you (and your listeners) get bored of hearing the same things over and over. Sure, classic synth sounds are classic synth sounds no matter what, but sometimes you need to shake things up to set your passion aflame.

Glitchmachines’ Tactic is a percussive phrase generator / master trigger sequencer, which can work as a standalone sequencer, or as part of a signal chain involving other Glitchmachine effects – Fracture XT, Convex, Subvert, Cryogen, and Quadrant.

Tactic features a total of eight sample slots, four sequencers, per-step parameter values, randomizer panel, scalable user interface, over 640 factory samples, and 115 factory presets.

No matter the track, and no matter the effect you’re looking for, you can utilize Tactic to build a subtle groove into your tracks or produce unrecognizable glitchy chaos. You may not need it for everything, but it’s a useful tool to have in your toolbox.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Manic Compressor by Boz Digital Labs

Manic Compressor by Boz Digital Labs

If you want to take advantage of parallel compression but don’t want to go through all the hassle of messing with routing options to get there, then Boz Digital Labs’ Manic Compressor might just be what you’ve been looking for.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t sophisticated, though. Manic Compressor comes with six compressor modes and parallel routing – all the power you’d expect from just such a device. But it comes with a simple, highly usable interface that should not leave you confused.

Manic Compressor comes with wet and dry faders, EQ section, and even Loudness Relief, so you can push this baby to its absolute limits and still get killer results.

This compressor helps you get results without sacrificing all your precious dynamics. The parallel compression is easy to use, the EQ section is basic but usable, the input drive and beef controls offer killer saturation, and overall, this compressor will add energy to your mixes.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Pigments 4 by Arturia

Pigments 4 by Arturia

Synthesizers are sometimes thought to be tools for pop and electronic music alone. But they can come in handy in a variety of arenas, whether it’s filling some space in the background of rock tracks, soaring leads in metal songs, or killer riffs in funk tunes.

There are a ton of great synths out there, and it’s hard to pick just one! But what we know about Pigments 4 is that it is almost universally loved by its users. So, it’s hard to go wrong here. With its depth, detail, and vintage meets modern design, it has won over plenty of producers, songwriters, and synth players alike.

With its two parallel engines, you can create just about any sound you want. Its fashionable to be wavetable, and Pigments 4 has got a Wavetable engine built in, with over 160 wavetables. But it’s also got virtual analog, sample & granular, and harmonic oscillator additive engines. Engine crossmod is also possible.

Besides that, you’ve also got two classic and modern filter types, as well as an effects section with 18 algorithms (three FX per bus), two insert buses, one send bus, and modulable parameters.

And if that wasn’t enough, Pigments 4 comes complete with an advanced modulation system, a polyrhythmic sequencer and arpeggiator, 1,400 presets, MTS-ESP microtuning, and much more.

It’s one thing to talk about it – quite another to experience it. And we could go on and on about the features, but Pigments is just one of those synths that’s got to be experienced. Here’s a purchase you shouldn’t regret.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Decapitator by Soundtoys

Decapitator by Soundtoys

Reaper is well equipped so far as saturation is concerned, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room left for improvement, and if you want the saturators to end most (if not all) saturators, Soundtoys’ Decapitator is well worth a look.

This analog saturation modeler features five selectable models and can be used on virtually any track – vocals, instruments, buses, or otherwise. Use it subtly, push it to extremes – it’s all up to you. If it feels and sounds right to you, then it must be right!

For extreme saturation, give the Punish button a try. This will give you the extra gain you need to infuse your tracks with screaming sizzle.

It doesn’t matter whether you need to make a track pop, add some extra weight to it, or give it more of an analog vibe. Decapitator is ready to handle whatever job you throw at it.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Imperial Delay by Boz Digital Labs

Imperial Delay by Boz Digital Labs

The function of delay in mixing is basically threefold. First, it can add rhythmic interest to your tracks. U2 guitarist The Edge is well known for using delay exactly for this purpose. Second, it can send tracks into the back of your mix, creating a sense of space and depth. Finally, delay can make your tracks sound wider.

There’s virtually no DAW worth its salt that doesn’t come with a delay effect, but if you’re looking for an upgrade, you might just want to check out Boz Digital Labs’ Imperial Delay.

This delay is very easy to set up, but you still get complete control over all aspects of the effect. Every option that you could possibly need or want is here, making it possible to dial in the effect exactly as you want it.

Imperial Delay even has advanced controls and presets, so everything you need is right at your fingertips to create breathtaking delays.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

TriceraChorus by Eventide

TriceraChorus by Eventide

Modulation effects are great for a variety of applications – vocals, guitars, synths, drums, and more. But if you’re going to get a modulation effect anyway, you may as well leave it to the experts. Eventide knows what they’re doing in this realm, and TriceraChorus is sure to become a multi-purpose go-to in your studio for a long time to come.

TriceraChorus is effectively a pedal / stomp box chorusing style effect that takes after the best units of its kind. Yes, it’s got three voices too (L, C, and R). You’d obviously expect that from a plugin with a name like TriceraChorus, but just in case.

For those who don’t like complicated interfaces and endless tweaking, this Eventide product should also prove a welcome entry. Most of the dialing is done using 11 clearly marked knobs, none of which should cause any confusion.

If you believe chorusing was at its best in the 70s and 80s, then you’re not alone. And this chorus will do all those wonderful things you know vintage choruses for, whether it’s producing a rich warble, or a wide doubling effect.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Graindad by Sugar Bytes

Graindad by Sugar Bytes

Almost any producer who’s been at it for a while has encountered “empty,” dead sounding mixes that don’t seem to come to life, even with additional layers of acoustic guitars and synthesizers added. What’s one to do?

There are different ways of approaching the problem, but one of the most popular ways to overcome these hurdles nowadays is with granular FX like Sugar Bytes’ Graindad. Graindad can be applied in real-time, slicing up your audio, reorganizing, texturizing, randomizing, and more.

But if you thought that was all, you have much to learn, young padawan. Because this space age technology comes with up to 64 grains, 12 parameters, two modulation systems, effects (reverb, delay, filters, and more), and the Harvester, which modulates the 12 primary parameters simultaneously.

Graindad also features freeze, stutter, glitch, texturize, multiband transient detector, host sync, transient clock, complex dry / wet envelope, morph, and more.

Whether you’re looking to create some randomness and glitch in your EDM tracks or want to add some texture to a dull mix, Graindad is well worth a look.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Filter M12 by Arturia

Filter M12 by Arturia

A multi-mode filter is one of those things you’re glad to know you can pull out of your toolbox when you need it. Arturia’s Filter M12 takes after the Oberheim Matrix-12 filter you can use in your DAW however you see fit. It also comes with a few noteworthy updates.

This sound shaping tool features 40 presets created by top sound designers, TAE analog modeling, two instances of the Matrix-12 filter, 15 filter modes, controls for each instance (cutoff frequency, resonance, pan, out volume), master cutoff, four audio routing configurations, and global dry / wet and output filter controls.

You also get three advanced multi-segments envelopes with two modes, a modulation oscillator with five waveforms, a modulation matrix with eight assignable destination slots, 22 reachable parameters, and more.

This is an excellent tool for electronic music, and for any situations where you want to shape sounds or create rhythmic interest.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Oxford Drum Gate by Sonnox

Oxford Drum Gate by Sonnox

Reaper does have a capable gate built in, but if you want to take things to the next level, you might want to check out Sonnox’ Oxford Drum Gate. When it comes to gating, drums are the most common application, so why not have a gating effect that handles drums specifically?

This plugin has received a lot of praise for doing the job of two or three plugins simultaneously. Its response is precise and transparent, which means you get to keep more of the dynamics and subtleties of the performance than you might be able to with other gates.

Oxford Drum Gate lets you choose the hits you want to keep while eliminating the bleed and spill you don’t need. It also comes with a decay curve, spectral decay editor, real-time MIDI output and MIDI file capture, and more.

This will prove a valuable addition to your VST arsenal regardless of producer or application. But if you’re recording in noisy environments and can’t seem to tame that bleed, you’ll find Oxford Drum Gate especially useful.

The only downside? Well, most if not all Oxford series plugins are a little pricey.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

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

The producer of today generally utilizes a mix of built-in stock effects, free VST plugins, and premium VST effects.

If you’ve been at this for a while, then you probably have a good idea where an upgrade would make a difference for you.

But if you’re a little unclear which (or which combination) of plugins to buy or are looking for a little bit of added guidance, you’re in the right place at the right time.

Here we’ll be looking at the main criteria you should consider when shopping for VST plugins for Reaper. They are as follows:

  • Sound quality / functionality
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s look at each.

Sound Quality / Functionality

Whether you’re buying a virtual effect or virtual instrument, you should always consider the sound quality first. Since sound is individual, it’s okay to make decisions based on what sounds good / works for you. But that means you should listen to each plugin before making up your mind.

You should be able to find video demos, reviews, and audio samples for each plugin, and these can form the foundation of your research.

With something like a sequencer, it’s not so much about how it sounds as it is about what it can do, so bear that in mind. But the general principle still applies.

Generally, you will not use plugins you don’t like, so if you’re going to be spending your own dollar on a purchase, it’s in your best interest to find plugins you love and can’t do without.

Features

Plugins are virtually never created equal. And there’s basically no basis of comparison when we’re looking at different types of plugins.

In this guide, you’ll find EQ, chorus, a granular effect, reverb, delay, sequencer, filter, compressor, saturation, gate, and a synthesizer. There may be some small overlap (such as with EQ and filter), but for the most part, we’re talking about entirely different beasts!

What matters most, then, is that you explore what each plugin comes with. You need not fuss over the plugins you’ve ruled out of your shopping list, of course, but if you’re thinking about buying it, you should have a closer look.

If you know what features you need, then I don’t need to say more. If you don’t know, then watch video reviews and demos.

Budget

Besides getting the most out of every purchase, we don’t want you going into debt for studio related purchases. This is easily avoidable if you stick to your budget and avoid the temptation to put it on your credit card.

Plugins featured here are in the $49 to $249 range. So, shop consciously, especially if you’re planning to buy multiple VSTs in one go.

Top VST Plugins For Reaper, Final Thoughts

If you want to take your productions to the next level, one of the quickest ways to level up your sound is with powerful premium plugins.

But don’t forget – everything counts. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the converters and preamps, microphones, room in which you’re recording, or otherwise. Everything contributes to the final sound, and while plugins can do a lot, you should not expect them to fix bad sound.

With that, I wish you all the best with your Reaper projects!

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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One Comment

  1. Maybe it’s just me but Reaper track names don’t display in the spectrum analyzer in Pro-Q3. Instead I just get “Instance names” like “Pro-Q 11” or “Pro-Q 14”. Then I have to go back to track I’m trying to compare and note the instance name of that track so I can pick it out of the list in the analyzer. Am I doing something wrong? Is there a Reaper setting that will fix this? – Thanks.

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