17 Best Utility VST Plugins 2024


Best Utility VST Plugins

Sometimes, you don’t need a lush reverb, a fancy compressor, or a realistic-sounding saturation. What you need is a metering plugin, DI enhancer, or audio reverser.

Welcome to the world of utility VST plugins. Today’s utility plugins are certainly sexier than yesterday’s, but their ethos remains. Utility tools exist to help you achieve better mixes and masters.

In this guide, we look at the best utility VST plugins to assist you in the process of creating great-sounding music.

KSHMR Chain by Excite Audio – Best Overall

KSHMR Chain by Excite Audio – Best Overall

So, you’ve set up the perfect effects chain in your DAW. But you’d like to copy that chain to another track. Thus begins the tedious process of either creating a bus (if that’s even a possibility), copying and pasting, or applying one effect at a time and saving / loading presets.

KSHMR Chain will take the guesswork out of the simple but time-consuming task of dialing in one plugin at a time. This tool will let you adjust the settings of plugins across multiple tracks and hear the changes as they’re happening in real-time.

Whether you’re working with groups of instruments or vocal stacks, KSHMR Chain will make you more efficient in setting up your effects.

KSHMR Chain comes with a leader and a follower that can be linked together, which is what allows the plugins and their settings to be copied. Adjust the leader and the follower will do the rest.

KSHMR Chain also has a built-in plugin hub that organizes VSTs by type – reverb, modulation, reverb, etc. It will automatically scan your machine for plugins and place them in the appropriate categories. If you want, you can create your custom categories too.

If that wasn’t enough, this VST features 10 macro channels, and any plugin parameter can be assigned to a macro knob.

When group FX and busses aren’t enough, there’s KSHMR Chain to improve your workflow efficiency.

While choosing the best overall option in this category of plugins is a tall order for anyone, the balance that KSHMR Chain strikes between flexible functionality and affordability left us with no choice but to set it above all else.

But there are plenty of other great utility plugins suited to different needs in this guide, so if you need something else, read on.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

RX 10 Advanced by iZotope – Best Premium Option

RX 10 Advanced by iZotope – Best Premium Option

Noise is the bane of every producer’s existence. It can seep into a mix, no matter how careful one is (especially in home-based recording environments). While your tracks can sound more organic and human with a bit of noise, there are times when cleaning up the mess is imperative too.

iZotope’s RX 10 Advanced is a powerful toolkit for removing guitar amplifier noise, cleaning up peaking speech (for overenthusiastic podcasters), adding clarity to a garbled word in a key film scene, and more.

RX 10 Advanced takes advantage of machine learning to identify the problems in your audio and suggests a repair chain, which you can customize to suit your tastes.

It comes with an array of helpful features, like text navigation, multiple speaker detection, de-hum dynamic adaptive mode, spectral recovery, and more.

RX 10 Advanced isn’t cheap. But it utilizes the latest in technology to offer you the best audio repair experience possible, automating much of the process on your behalf. RX 10 Advanced is our best premium selection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Lowtility 2 by Venomode – Best Budget Option

Lowtility 2 by Venomode – Best Budget Option

Venomode’s Lowtility 2 lets you cut low frequencies and change the stereo width of your bass.

Lowtility 2 features a very simple setup. It comes with width adjustment, a tool you can use to reduce the width, clean up bass frequencies, or go mono with one of the left and right channels or mid-channel.

Then there’s a variable-slope low pass filter with four types.

Finally, Lowtility 2 includes stereo meters (Goniometer and Correlation meter) that display the stereo information and phase of your signal. You can use the full band or low band.

If you’re looking for a way to manage your unruly bass, Lowtility 2 might just be the ticket. This is our best budget selection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Finisher DYNAMO by ujam

Finisher DYNAMO by ujam

ujam’s Finisher DYNAMO, not surprisingly, is most at home acting as a finisher for your tracks. It comes with 50 multi-effects modes created from 27 effect algorithms, nearly 300 categorized presets, a five-pattern rhythm selector, two variable FX controls, and tone control.

Finisher DYNAMO comes with five convenient modes – Remix (for full tracks and mixes), Solo (for basses and monophonic tracks), Rhythm (for drums and percussion), Sustain (for pads and other sustained sounds), and Vocal (for creating glitches and vocal glitches).

As its name would imply, Finisher DYNAMO is all about dynamic movement and creating rhythmical patterns to enhance your tracks and mixes.

It’s not unusual to come to the point of almost completing your mix, only to feel like there’s still something missing. Maybe the mix sounds a little hollow, or maybe there just isn’t enough movement and excitement to keep it compelling.

That’s where Finisher DYNAMO comes in. This plugin can add the auditory interest your tracks deserve.

While it is closer to a multi-effect than a utility, because it emphasizes movement over effects, we thought we’d include it here.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

ListenHub by Sonnox

ListenHub by Sonnox

So, you want to compare your mix to your favorite productions out there. Every producer does it because they know there’s something they can learn from studying their favorite tracks.

Sonnox’s ListenHub makes it possible for you to A/B songs from anywhere – your media player, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, or otherwise.

Armed with an array of monitoring tools, you can use ListenHub to check your dynamics against your favorite commercial projects. You also get the feedback you need to adjust your mixes.

Altogether, ListenHub comes with multiple simultaneous inputs (so you can reference different sources), band solos (with spectral analyzer), channel solo, stepped volume control, Match Input Loudness button, auto-mute, short-term LUFS meter, and much more.

ListenHub will even give you feedback to let you know if your mix is lively, competitive, loud, or crushed.

If you want to step up your mixing game, ListenHub is well worth a look.

ListenHub is only compatible with Mac systems.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

CenterOne by Leapwing Audio

CenterOne by Leapwing Audio

Leapwing Audio’s CenterOne is a spatial plugin for separating your center and side signals and adjusting your phantom center level. This is a handy tool for boosting your vocals or guitar solos without affecting other content, or for isolating catered and panned audio.

CenterOne will handle your center levels with care – offering quality, clean, transparent results.

CenterOne’s Center Prominence approach, at least in their estimation, is better than mid / side processing. This algorithm helps you circumvent common issues like panoramic imbalance or phase shift, which mid / side techniques can introduce.

This plugin allows for the independent processing of left-center-right audio outputs. The signals can also be recombined.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Pan Knob by Boz Digital Labs

Pan Knob by Boz Digital Labs

Boz Digital Labs’ Pan Knob takes things beyond your run-of-the-mill panning tools. Pan Knob will center low frequencies and pan higher frequencies to offer a better mix.

Your DAW already has pan knobs per channel. Heck, some of your samplers and VST instruments have probably got them too. So, why buy a plugin that does the same thing?

Well, there are limitations to traditional planning. Boz Digital Labs says the main problem with the way most panning works is that it sounds bad on headphones (because certain sounds only show up in one ear, which is not the way we perceive most sounds).

How is Pan Knob different? Well, it keeps low frequencies unpanned, while adding a small delay. Better yet, if either effect isn’t working for you, you can turn it on or off for added customization.

If it feels like things are getting lost in translation when you pan certain tracks in your mix, give Pan Knob a try.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

REFERENCE 2 by Mastering The Mix

REFERENCE 2 by Mastering The Mix

Mastering The Mix’s REFERENCE 2 makes it easy for you to compare your mix with up to 12 reference tracks. You can even create multiple loops so you can quickly and easily reference the specific sections you need most.

REFERENCE 2 can also match the loudness of your track to your reference tracks. You can use the built-in feedback to match the EQ balance, loudness, peak, punch, and stereo width of your reference tracks.

REFERENCE 2 comes with REFSEND, a plugin you can use to bypass FX chains and create loudness-matched A/B comparisons.

REFERENCE 2 isn’t the only tool of its kind in this guide, so be sure to compare it against other similar options, including functionality and price point.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Reverse by Initial Audio

Reverse by Initial Audio

Initial Audio’s Reverse was created with one purpose in mind – to let you rewind mixes, instruments, vocals, and effect channels for up to four bars. Unless your DAW lets you do the same, you might need this plugin.

Whether in EDM, trap, or hip-hop, reversing can offer a very interesting effect to spice things up. Reverse has a built-in mix knob to blend the wet and try signals.

The interface is very straightforward and streamlined, plus it’s resizable.

You can get Reverse for Windows or Mac.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Skew by Sinevibes

Skew by Sinevibes

Sinevibes’ Skew is a non-linear audio reverser that syncs to your host transport and can playback your audio in reversed segments. Further, Skew can warp playback speed with non-linear curves, which allows for the bending of the pitch.

Every onboard parameter goes from a little to a lot, and that means you can create precise rhythmic effects, including scratching, glitching, reversing, tape rewinding, pitch slides, and detuning.

Skew also has a DJ-style crossfade control and can be manipulated or automated in real time. Try the effect with transitions, breaks, build-ups, and more. It’s sure to add some color to your musical creations.

Altogether, Skew features 14 non-linear curves to warp the playback speed, fractional chunk size adjustment (with 256 values), tuned smoothing envelopes with optional overlapping, crossfade, lag filters, multiple channel configurations, preset management, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

RP-Reverse by Rob Papen

RP-Reverse by Rob Papen

Rob Papen’s RP-Reverse is just like it sounds. It will reverse the incoming audio signal, which you can tempo-sync, trigger, and add effects to. RP-Reverse comes with two analog modeled filters, a comb filter, and distortion for coloring.

But we’re not done yet. RP-Reverse also comes with LFO for modulating the filters as well as the reversed signal.

Rob Papen threw in a volume button for the reversed audio as well as a separate mute button – great for automating.

Try it on vocals, drum loops, and instruments, and for adding creative effects to your tracks.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Transmutator by United Plugins

Transmutator by United Plugins

United Plugins’ Transmutator is for those who’ve felt the limitations of traditional methods of blending tracks.

Transmutator will crossfade between two inputs. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all plugin, and thanks to that, it can crossfade in an array of creative ways – 16 to be exact. You can take advantage of multi-band, mid / side, filtering, dynamics, spectral blurring / freezing, pitch / frequency shifting, and other processes. There’s even an invert parameter.

From DJs to YouTube mix and content creators to EDM producers, Transmutator can serve up a variety of creative crossfading techniques without all the hassle of trying to create them or figure them out for yourself.

Transmutator comes with some United Plugins standards too, like 64-bit audio quality at any sample rate, a realistic-looking 3D GUI, and a smart bypass. Transmutator is available for Windows and Mac.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Noises by AudioThing

Noises by AudioThing

AudioThings’s Noises is an experimental instrument for all manner of noise. Developed alongside German composer Hainbach, Noises is fast, easy, and inspiring to use, with a dial at the heart of the interface for accessing an array of noisy tones.

Given that it’s experimental, how you use it is up to you. AudioThing says if Noises is used subtly, it will glue your tracks. But if used creatively, you can create tracks you’d be proud to layer into your mix.

For sound design, scoring, and composing needs alike, Noises could offer a new plateau for you to uncover.

Overall, Noises features 1.18 GB of hand-crafted samples, 21 noise banks, 118 Hainbach presets, a multi-mode filter, a bit crusher, trip modulation, a preset system with a randomizer, and a resizable window.

From the bizarre to the ominous, the urgent to the droning, Noises will deliver an array of noisy artifacts to texturize, mess up, and fill out your mix.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

DIFIX by United Plugins

DIFIX by United Plugins

United Plugins’ DIFIX is a quick fix for electric instruments utilizing pickups. It will take your direct recordings of guitar or bass and make them come alive.

DIFIX utilizes a multi-band dynamic processor to add saturation and level the sound of an otherwise dull-sounding DI recording. That’s one of the things that makes it a great option for those recording from home. But even professional grade Dis sometimes need a little extra help.

DIFIX works nicely first in the signal chain before you add your guitar amp and effects sims. DIFIX is not hard to use. You can choose from guitar or bass mode, and from there dial in the amount to taste.

DIFIX also comes with a few extras, like a realistic 3D-looking GUI, 64-bit audio quality at any sample rate, smart bypass, and intelligent sleep on silence. It works on Windows or Mac machines.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter by Inphonik

RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter by Inphonik

Mimicking the Akai S-950’s AD/DA conversion process is Inphonik’s affordable RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter. Its purpose? To endow your tracks with vintage warmth and crunch.

RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter features 12-bit resolution, adjustable audio bandwidth, steep 6th-order low-pass Butterworth filter, stereo and mono operation, adjustable brilliance, UI scaling, parameter value keyboard typing on double-click, and NKS support.

RX950 Classic AD/DA Converter is compatible with Windows and Mac systems.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Blue Cat’s Connector by Blue Cat Audio

Blue Cat’s Connector by Blue Cat Audio

Blue Cat’s Connector is for transmitting audio and MIDI signals between multiple applications or computers, with minimum latency.

Those who’ve felt the limitations of working on a dedicated studio machine will appreciate this plugin for its ability to stream audio and MIDI in real time for creating feedback loops, connecting separate computers or applications, and more.

Blue Cat’s Connector also offers full control over buffering, supports multiple sample rates, and comes with built-in drift compensation.

Get it for Windows and Mac.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Radio by Plugin Boutique

Radio by Plugin Boutique

Plugin Boutique’s Radio works both inside and outside your DAW. It’s a utility tool that lets you stream and sample various internet radio stations – Sci-Fi, comedy, spoken word, paranormal, and police scanners, to name a few.

Radio records in 30-second segments. When you come across something you might like to use, you can select and save it for use within your DAW. This is a very creative way to find new samples to use in your mixes.

Radio doesn’t end there, though. It also comes with an onboard FX section with 24 processors to make your samples sound like they’re being fed through a car stereo, phone, tube radio speaker, or otherwise.

Radio is a low-cost creative tool and if nothing else, it’s a fun one to explore.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A Utility VST Plugin?

Most if not all producers turn to utility VST plugins to solve different challenges and address different needs. If you’re on the hunt for the right utility tool, chances are you’re running into certain issues or you’re looking to improve your workflow as well.

So, considering your current needs, what kind of tool will bring peace of mind to your studio? That’s the question. Additionally, we also recommend considering:

  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Let’s explore these criteria in greater detail.

Sound Quality

Sound quality will not apply in the instance of metering plugins, reference tools, or high-tech connectors, but for most virtual instruments and effects, sound quality will still apply.

Whether it’s a fancy panning knob, bass frequency manager, or noise-producing virtual instrument, you’d better listen to the plugins you’re considering before buying. Especially since no two plugins were created equal.

Sure, it’s easy to get drawn in by fancy product descriptions and beautiful user interface designs, but unless you’ve got money to burn, that’s usually a bad way of shopping for VST plugins. You could end up with VSTs that you don’t use or don’t work for you.

So, do your homework. Watch the videos. Listen to the audio clips if any are available. These are not hard to find! It may take a bit of time to do your research, but it will be worth the effort.

At the end of the day, you’re the best judge of whether something is going to work for you. So, pass everything through your filters.

Features

This is the big one when it comes to utility VST plugins. Features must be put under the magnifying glass so you can end up with tools you will use and results you will love.

First, it’s key that you know what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Outside of that, plugin selection will prove a challenge. And aside from some impulse buys, maybe you don’t need a new plugin right now. Evaluate your needs first.

It might be crossfading audio tracks, creative sampling options, or enhancing guitar tracks. Whatever it is, identify it.

Second, having identified what it is you need the plugin to do, the question is can it get the job done? Even if you’re comparing reversers – and there are several in this guide – they’re not all guaranteed to do the same thing or offer the same results. So, you’d better check them out and see if they can set you up with the outcomes desired.

Third, having sorted out what the plugin can accomplish, what other features does it come with? What parameters can you control? Does it have fine-tuning options? Can you chain it with other effects (naturally, the answer will be yes, but it also depends a bit on available CPU power)?

Having examined these criteria, you’re sure to find a plugin that is suited to your needs, which is the goal, isn’t it?

If you’re unclear on any features, do a bit of additional research. You’ll be amazed at what you can find and learn.

Budget

How much are you willing to spend on VST plugins? We suggest checking in with your budget before deciding. We do not recommend going into debt for production-related purchases. Save up if needed, otherwise, spend within your budget. Be especially careful when buying multiple plugins.

Final Thoughts

As you look to perfect your mixing and mastering processes, no doubt you will require different tools to get the job done. Utility VST plugins aren’t always exciting, but they certainly have a place in one’s workflow.

Ensure that your bases are covered in terms of the essentials – reverb, compression, EQ, synths, gating, etc. – and then dig into the world of utility VST plugins for additional worthwhile solutions.

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