13 Best VST Plugins For EDM 2022


13 Best VST Plugins For EDM 2022

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Present day, EDM music is all the rage. It has a long and storied history beginning in Germany in 1953, but it rose to unprecedented heights in the 2010s with trance, progressive, dubstep, and more. And it’s still riding a power wave that’s sure to roll in for years to come.

But to be able to achieve the types of sounds you hear on mainstream pop, hip-hop, trap, and other popular electronic genres, you need the right tools. And that means tapping into the VST libraries of the best producers out there, cherry picking the ones you need to bring your music to life and get it to sound and feel amazing.

And so, in this guide we look at the best VST plugins for EDM you can purchase.

Spire by Reveal Sound – Best Overall

Spire by Reveal Sound – Best Overall

Every electronic music producer needs at least one powerful, versatile synthesizer VST plugins for all their basses, pads, leads , FX, and more, right? It stands to reason.

And while you might need more than one synth to do everything you need to do (we cover a couple more on this list), you will find that synth VSTs have had a long time to evolve, to develop, to be as comprehensive and competitive as ever – especially when you’re talking present day paid VSTs.

Well, Spire has been around a good long while too. And after all this time, it still works and sounds great. “Versatile” is a very nice word to describe the scope of its functionality. No wonder it’s so popular, widely used, and highly rated (perfect score) on sites like Plugin Boutique.

The four, built-in multimode polymorphing oscillators really help you craft sounds that are full of depth, lushness, and sonic layers. As they modulate, you hear more. And that means Spire puts high quality, complex, beautiful, coated sounds right at your fingertips – oftentimes without the need to do a whole lot of tweaking (thanks to those presets)!

For what you get, Spire is more than reasonably priced. Simultaneously, it could easily serve as your one-stop-shop for in-demand synth sounds, especially combined with free synths and stock DAW synths (which have also come a long way). So, we chose it as our best overall pick. That said, if you’re self-sufficient with synths, don’t worry, we cover other effects here too.

Watch the video below to get a sense of all that Spire can do for you.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Ozone 9 Standard by iZotope – Premium Option

Ozone 9 Standard by iZotope – Premium Option

What is iZotope’s Ozone 9 Standard if not a comprehensive mastering suite? It can be your mastering one-stop-shop if you want it to be, and that’s what makes it our top premium selection.

But honestly, it’s well worth the asking price because it comes with so many powerful functions and features, and you’d run up hefty sum buying standalone mastering plugins one by one.

Ozone Standard offers AI-powered machine learning mastering, Match EQ, NKS support (Maschine or Komplete Kontrol), equalizer, imager, track referencing, maximizer, dynamic EQ, exciter, dynamics, as well as vintage tape, limiter, EQ, and compressor. Only Ozone 9 Advanced comes with Master Rebalance, Low End Focus, and Tonal Balance Control, so if you need those features, you’ll want to upgrade.

That said, Ozone 9 Standard is solid in all that it offers. The previously mentioned tools are all wrapped in an easy to use, gorgeous, meticulously designed interface with an impressive workflow. Get this Windows and Mac compatible VST to enhance your mixes and take them over the moon. There simply aren’t any replacements, at least none that we’re aware of.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

XenoVerb by Audiority – Best Budget Option

XenoVerb by Audiority – Best Budget Option

Let’s talk mixing essentials – in this case, reverb. Reverb is a sexy effect in the mixing stage and is frequently and heavily used, if not ubiquitous, on most vocals and instrumental tracks. It adds echo and space to a track, bus, or master, setting the signal further back in the mix, or just giving it some much needed wetness, especially when a track is bone dry. And of course, it does everything in between.

There are many reverbs out there, and we do cover a couple in this guide that are suitable to EDM. Audiority’s XenoVerb is overall very popular, affordable, and highly rated. It’s also versatile and usable no matter the genre. And so, it fits perfectly into our “best budget option” slot. Plus, the other reverbs on this list cost more than this one.

That said, you can tell from the outset that this is a simple to operate verb. You’ve got controls for pre delay, diffuse, time, mod, tone, bloom, LF cut, and mix, along with switches for active, freeze, and limiter. It’s very easy to get around. Plus, it features a stomp-box style design, which musicians – and most producers – should find easy to understand and use.

But it’s what’s inside the box that counts. XenoVerb comes with 10 reverb algorithms (Room, Hall, Plate 1, Plate 2, Springy, Glass, Flow, Shimmer, Bode, Formant), and over 250 presets. You’re not going to run out of options any time soon. Plus, it’s Mac and Windows compatible.

The video below offers a rather comprehensive look at the many verb sounds built into this powerful VST plugin. And to my ears, the sounds are all natural, transparent, warm, and full of life (great qualities to look for in a verb). And the algorithms are all distinct and do a great job emulating what they’re taking after.

So, if you’re looking for a simple, affordable, do-it-all reverb, you shouldn’t overlook the versatile XenoVerb.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-Q 3 by FabFilter

Let’s talk editing and mixing essentials. Basically, it’s like this. There’s no producer that doesn’t need an equalizer (EQ) plugin. It helps you shape the sounds you’ve captured, emphasizing frequencies where needed, cutting others that stand out too much in the mix. EQ forms the foundation of helping all your tracks find their place in a mix.

And there are plenty of great EQs out there. We’ve covered a bunch already, and we’ve had a good look at what’s out there.

But again, FabFilter nails it with the FabFilter Pro-Q 3. It may well be one of the most recommended plugins among electronic producers and other musical experts.

Anyway, EQ being the most used in mixing and mastering alike, choosing the right one to complement your workflow, as well as the style or genre of music you’re making, is critical. Fortunately, Pro-Q 3 is going to fit most if not all applications.

This EQ is set up powerfully for mixing and mastering purposes alike, with zero latency and Natural Phase modes, mid-side processing, variable stereo placement of EQ bands, intelligent solo feature, optional Auto Gain, a spectrum analyzer, and even Spectrum Grab and EQ Match.

The user interface is set up to help you get the results you’re looking for fast – no more messing about endlessly with settings to achieve the desired effect (does it really matter how powerful an EQ is if you don’t know how to use it?).

For subtle and more extreme sound sculpting, it’s hard to go wrong with this multi-award-winning EQ.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-C 2 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-C 2 by FabFilter

This guide is littered with FabFilter plugins, and that’s for good reason. FabFilter does amazing work, and rarely if ever leaves any stone unturned. They make excellent effects, they’re easy to use, they usually come with plenty of highly usable presets, and their user interfaces are a thing of sleek, shiny, futuristic, Star Trek glamor.

And FabFilter Pro-C 2 is no exception. It lives up to the name of FabFilter, just as you would expect, in virtually every regard. What is it? A compressor, and of course, in electronic music, compression is a must-have, to say the very least. Whether it’s vocal tracks that need a bump, or synth sounds that need smoothing out, compression is one of those sexy, creative effects that finds its way onto most vocal and instrumental tracks.

I don’t know about you, but I have a weird association with compressors being “brown” (maybe because compressors warm up your sound), and oddly enough, the accent color in Pro-C 2 is kind of in between orange and brown.

Anyway, this VST is a quality compressor, and it’s highly usable, regardless of the situation. Want to add a tiny bit of smoothness to your master? You can do that. Want to give your track some serious EDM pump? You can do that too!

To help you achieve those ends, Pro-C 2 comes with eight program-dependent compression styles, classic compression controls, smooth lookahead, up to 4x oversampling, intelligent auto-gain and auto-release, variable knee, hold, range, external sidechain triggering, as well as variable stereo linking and mid-side processing.

If that wasn’t assurance enough, Pro-C 2 has one multiple awards. Honestly, it’s a serious compression effect for the serious producer, and it isn’t stuffy at all. It’s high quality and fun!

As with all FabFilter plugins, you can get this one for Mac or Windows.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-MB by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-MB by FabFilter

We’ve already covered one FabFilter compressor. That’s right, they’ve got more than one, and as you would expect, each of them is amazing in their own way.

Here we have the FabFilter Pro-MB. This plugin offers multiband compression and expansion, and even allows you to create a new band at the frequency range of your choice. So, this allows you to think in terms of bands rather than crossovers.

It also comes with a Dynamic Phase processing mode, Linear Phase mode, Minimum Phase mode, up to six processing bands, as well as multiple customization functions per band (threshold, attack, range, release, output gain, ratio, variable knee, lookahead, mid or side processing, variable stereo linking, external sidechain input, triggering on a separate frequency range).

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of this fully featured compressor-expander, so it’s worth watching the video below to get a better sense of everything it can do, and how it differs from the Pro-C 2.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-R by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-R by FabFilter

Here’s another flavor of reverb for those who might not be crazy about XenoVerb or might be looking for more options to add to their VST library.

Producer-engineer Rik Simpson called FabFilter Pro-R a “space” plugin, suggesting that calling it a reverb plugin would simply be inadequate, and engineer Liam Nolan liked virtually everything about it.

FabFilter Pro-R positions itself a user-friendly, lush, musical reverb. The controls have all been given labels that say what they do (as opposed to more technical terms) – brightness, space, stereo width, etc. Less confusing than plenty of reverb VSTs out there.

FabFilter has made sure to include plenty of reverb models too, with rooms, small ambiances, large concert halls, cathedrals, and pretty much everything in between.

Classic reverbs are all fine and dandy. They are classic for a reason. That said, as an EDM producer, it’s nice to take advantage of modern tools too. And it doesn’t get a whole lot more modern than FabFilter Pro-R.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

EchoBoy by Soundtoys

EchoBoy by Soundtoys

Though not exclusive to electronic music, echo-based effects are ever-present in an electronic mix. We’ve already looked at reverb, which is one form of an echo effect. But what sets Soundtoys’ EchoBoy apart is that it’s a versatile delay effect with other powerful functions. What does that mean? Let’s dig in.

First off, it’s worth pointing out that this is a beloved, enduring VST plugin. Richard Chappell says he uses EchoBoy on all of Peter Gabriel’s vocals, and Mix Magazine called it a “sure winner.” It has a perfect user score on Plugin Boutique too.

Developer Soundtoys injected this plugin with their deep love of delay effects. And that’s putting it mildly. They did a deep dive into all their favorite vintage gear, gracing EchoBoy with 30 built-in styles emulating the likes of the classic EchoPlex, Memory Man, Space Echo, TelRay oil can delay, and DM-2 units.

If that doesn’t make you smile ear to ear, EchoBoy also features a chorus that’s been modeled after the much sought-after Boss CE-1 chorus, and there’s even Studio Tape style saturation (inspired by the Ampex ATR-102 half-inch two-track machine).

Soundtoys also set out to make this a musician friendly VST plugin. So, there’s no need for excessive menu surfing or endless tweaking here. Pick a sound, lock the delay into your track’s tempo, fine-tune with Groove, Feel, and Accent controls, and take advantage of the Single Echo, Dual Echo, or Ping-Pong modes for stereo effects. You can even take it a step further with the Rhythm mode and Echo Style editor.

This Windows and Mac compatible VST Plugin features an interface that seems to take after classic, wooden framed rackmount gear. What we like about it most is that it’s nice and simple. It’s kind of funny, though, because it’s far from being the best designed plugin (which might have something to do with how long it’s been around). Still, function is more important than form, and this echo effect proves it.

Producers often refer to EchoBoy as one of the best, most versatile, and well-known delay plugins available. Check it out!

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio

RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio

We like what XLN Audio’s RC-20 Retro Color VST plugin brings to the table. This is a simple yet flexible saturation plugin to help add some needed color to your tracks, busses, or mixes. And given that it’s a very visual plugin, you can already see, without diving beneath the surface, the kind of vintage character, warmth, and analog qualities it can add to your tracks – vinyl, wow and flutter, tube, and more.

You can tell from the beautifully designed graphical user interface that this is basically a six-module saturation VST (mix and match to your heart’s content). Each module has its own dropdown menu too, though, and that means there are more than just a few dials and a “flux” control to help you dial in your ideal lo-fi textures and colors.

Virtually every EDM producer will tell you that, at different points, they apply saturation, distortion, and other analog style effects to their tracks or mixes. It can give your tracks depth they didn’t have and breathe some life into them, differentiating them from the often sterile, “perfect” sound of digital tracks.

One of the things producers favor most about the RC-20 Retro Color is its simplicity. Tweak the knobs, dial in the amount (noise, wobble, distort, digital, space, magnetic), and you’re basically off to the races. So, there isn’t endless tweaking to get to where you want to go. Apply the effect, tweak to suit your needs, and you should be satisfied with the results.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Decimort 2 by D16 Group

Decimort 2 by D16 Group

No doubt there are many plugins out there with built-in bit crushers. You may even have a stock plugin inside your DAW that does a competent job.

But D16 Group creations are often hard to ignore, and that includes this, the Decimort 2 bit crusher VST.

With an impeccable UI design, Decimort 2 has been praised by the likes of David Guetta, who called D16 Group plugins his “secret weapons”, or DJ Michael Trance who said it was a must have tool, or Zedd who shared that Decimort is one of the best-sounding bit crushers available.

Features include an ultra-accurate resampling algorithm, approximative filter (pre) and image (post) filter, adjustable jitter, quantization with controlled dithering, two quantization methods (mid-raised, mid-treat), analog-like filters (adjustable resonance and cutoff), tag-based preset browser, and other great features.

When you need a bit of added grit, color, and fatness to a track, Decimort 2 comes to your rescue. It emulates the much-loved sound of vintage samplers, and in addition, allows you to take things to the extreme if you so desire. D16 Group even refers to it as the “highest quality low-quality effect you can buy.” Wrap your head around that one!

Decimort 2 can work as a competent saturation / sound degradation plugin, and even if you have other VSTs that do the job, you can use this one for added lo-fi variety. At this price point, you can’t go wrong.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-L 2 by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-L 2 by FabFilter

Whether you’re a mastering engineer or you plan to take on the rather expansive task of recording, editing, mixing, and even mastering your project, you will require the help of adept mastering tools to help you create the best sounding projects possible.

Now, Ozone 9 (in its many iterations) is probably one of the most expansive mastering tools available. It’s also, not surprisingly, more expensive than most.

But even in the realm of mastering, FabFilter shines, as evidence by this, the FabFilter Pro-L 2 peak limiter – a great VST plugin for mixing and mastering purposes alike.

John Davis found it to sound “clean and very punchy,” MusicTech Magazine gave it a perfect score, and Grammy-nominated mixer / engineer / producer Dana Nielsen fell in love with it straight away.

FabFilter Pro-L 2 comes with true peak level meters, extensive loudness metering (with support for the EBU R128, ITU-R BS, 1770-4, and ATSC A/85 standards), advanced algorithms, linear-phase oversampling, professional dithering, noise shaping, surround support, and intelligent channel linking.

While this should not be confused as a comprehensive mixing and mastering toolkit, peak limiting is a key function you should have access to, and the FabFilter Pro-L 2 is an excellent option.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

SynthMaster One by KV331 Audio

SynthMaster One by KV331 Audio

Now, could you potentially get away with one synth VST as an EDM producer? Potentially, yes. Especially if it’s as powerful as Spire.

But we still wanted to present you with a couple of alternatives to Spire, for a couple of reasons. One is that there are plenty of other excellent plugins out there (as noted earlier), some more affordable than Spire, and second, you simply can’t have too many synths, can you? There’s a reason studios are often littered with all manner of vintage hardware synths.

KV331 Audio’s SynthMaster One is one of those synths that sometimes flies under the radar, but is still highly rated, and is often part of EDM VST bundles and toolkits too. And for what it is, it’s excellent bang for buck.

Zedd said it gives him “instant inspiration and creativity,” Armin van Buuren loved the editing features and FM sounds, and Martin Garrix used it extensively on one of his singles to great effect.

SynthMaster One is a user-friendly wavetable synth. It comes with 1,250 presets, scale library, cloud-based data synchronization (cross-platform), multiple envelope types, microtuning features, stereo oscillators (with Unison/Voice Stacking), basic oscillators, NKS Support, and a great deal more.

As you would expect, there are a variety of amazing sounds built into SynthMaster One, suitable to a variety of styles. They are layered and textured, and highly usable. Also check out the video below to hear it in action.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Diva by u-he

Diva by u-he

u-he’s Diva is another popular multi-purpose synth that’s perfect for EDM. Humorously, DIVA apparently stands for Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analog Synthesizer. We suspect there’s more to that name than meets the eye (perhaps referring to the fact that it emulates classic synths more than anything), but either way its name does give us a bit of a chuckle.

Diva applies industrial circuit simulators in real time. It comes with more than 1,200 presets, zero delay feedback filters, two envelopers, effects (analog chorus, analog phaser, plate reverb, stereo analog delay, rotary speaker emulations), modulation processors (rectify, quantize, multiply, invert, lag), trimmers, scope, and more.

And true to form, there are plenty of amazing classic sounds built into this synth VST. So, whether you like the sound of classic synths, want to create a retro vibe in your hip-hop track, or plan to make a little synthwave, there are plenty of ways to apply this virtual synth to your electronic productions.

Personally, I’m a sucker for old school synth sounds and would love to have Diva in my VST arsenal.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Top VST Plugins For EDM, Final Thoughts

Here’s what I want to leave you with.

Scanning lists like this, you will probably find some of the same VST plugins over and over. There is a good reason for that, but you should never feel like you need to be a slave to convention. In every genre, there is room for experimentation, to take things in a different direction, to be the trend-setter rather than the trend-follower.

It’s ultimately up to you, of course. If you want your track to sound like what’s already out there, you have your reasons. But you don’t need to use certain virtual effects of instruments just because. An EQ is an EQ. A reverb is a reverb. A synth is a synth.

If you like a certain effect or instrument, go with it. See what you can do with it. Inject your music with your personality. That’s what’s going to make you stand out!

So, I wish you all the best in your VST hunting and shopping journey.

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