9 Best VST Plugins For R&B 2022


9 Best VST Plugins For R&B

Smooth, sexy, and sultry. R&B is a genre that really brings the heat to the beat.

But how do you cook up the perfect track for mass consumption? What ingredients do you need to mix together and in what portions to create an auditory experience?

In this guide, we look at the best VST plugins for all your R&B projects.

Lounge Lizard EP-4 by Applied Acoustic Systems – Best Overall

Lounge Lizard EP-4 by Applied Acoustic Systems – Best Overall

The dreamy, hypnotic sounds of an electric piano is a staple in R&B music. And most producers tend to have a bias for Applied Acoustic Systems’ Lounge Lizard EP-4.

DJ Mag called it “next level,” and Computer Music Magazine loved the emulation of a Fender Rhodes 73 and lifelike Wurlitzer presets.

Lounge Lizard EP-4 will appeal to sound designers and preset lovers alike. There are over 100 custom electric piano presets that offer a great starting point, but the real-time controls (hammer hardness, color, decay, damper noise, pickup placement) are always there waiting for you if you want to customize.

With a small memory footprint, Lounge Lizard EP-4 would be great for live use in addition to studio use. This, along with a complete selection of effects, means you can dial in the perfect sound for every song.

Within the Experimental folder, you can even find sounds that mimic and emulate organs, bells, chimes, and leads.

Lounge Lizard EP-4 only does electric piano sounds, obviously, but that’s something it does with class. Thus, it’s our best overall pick.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

V Collection 9 by Arturia – Best Premium Option

V Collection 9 by Arturia – Best Premium Option

To be fair, Arturia’s V Collection 9 might be a tad overkill for some producers. That said, it is packed with incredible sounding soft synths and virtual keyboards, and its value is through the roof too!

The latest collection features 32 instruments, including the likes of Jun-6 V, Stage-73 V, OBXa-V, Mellotron V, DX7 V, Clavinet V, B-3 V, Mini V, Wurli V, and many more. Let’s just say that if you buy this collection, you’re probably not going to be hard up for essential synth and key sounds any time soon!

And whether it’s piano, electric piano, organ, or otherwise, we all know well how much the right sound can add some sexiness to our R&B tracks.

V Collection 9 also comes with 14 exclusive sound banks, 14,000 presets, Analog V (which lets you browse and edit all presets from a single interface), in-app tutorials, MIDI mapping, and more.

I know I said, “high quality,” and Arturia rarely disappoints in their recreation of classic key and synth sounds. But I also know that this is an investment. So, take your time, check out the video, and consider whether the V Collection is right for you. It’s our best premium option.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

KANDY by ujam – Best Budget Option

KANDY by ujam – Best Budget Option

If don’t have your drum sounds figured out yet, then virtual beatmaker KANDY is a must see.

This beatmaker was built with writing hits in mind. Featuring extremely processed samples, KANDY comes with 20 styles and 23 ready-made patterns for each, 50 presets, 12 drum kits (with 16 styles each), 460 patterns, MIDI Drag and Drop, a Sweetness algorithm, and it syncs to host tempo too.

If you’re tired of your beats getting lost in the background, then you will love the big sound KANDY provides. These beats cut through the mix and are genre-fluid to boot!

The Sweetness control lets you take advantage of multiband compression and a transient designer to help your drums cut even more.

Check out the video and you will see for yourself – the beats are fat without being too hip-hop and are electronic without being too house oriented. They are somehow the perfect balance of these worlds, ideal for pop and for writing hits!

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Signature R&B by Produce-RNB

Signature R&B by Produce-RNB

Signature R&B is loaded with cutting-edge “hit-worthy” sounds for R&B and hip-hop. The built-in modulation and automation let you add movement to your sounds, while the EQs, anaylzers, sample degrading and other effects let you dial in the perfect timbres.

So, what is Signature R&B? It’s a sample-based synth with an easy workflow. It includes a chord mode that will lay out R&B chords across your keyboard, a chord and motif player (all you need to do is play a single key), sample import (create your own sounds), reverse mode, and more.

The latest version of Signature comes with 11 new skins, 150 new sounds (including Moog Voyager R&B and hip-hop patches), new motifs, and UI improvements.

While there are a lot of great key and synth plugins out there, there aren’t too many that will essentially create your vibe for you or bestow you with new ideas to add to your song. So, if you’re not a great keyboard player, don’t know music theory, or need some inspiration, Signature is sure to come in handy.

This thing is off the hook. Check the video to see it in action.

Signature R&B is compatible with Windows and Mac.

Learn more: Produce-RNB

SPARKLE by ujam

SPARKLE by ujam

ujam’s SPARKLE virtual guitarist plugin is perfect for embellishing your tracks with sugary electric guitar licks direct from a Start. And let’s face it, there’s just nothing quite like the Strat, especially when it comes to classic R&B.

Guitarist and producer Rick DiFonzo thought SPARKLE was “scary good,” guitarist and producer Ted Perlman said ujam outdid themselves, and guitarist / producer / songwriter Stephen Lipson loved it.

ujam didn’t use any old Strat for this plugin. They hand selected the rare instrument and loaded it up with hand-wound humbucker and single coil pickups.

They used similar attention to detail when it came to the amp, handpicking vintage amps and speaker cabinets. You get to take advantage of the built-in amp simulation to shape your tone.

SPARKLE includes nearly 100 styles, over 1,000 phrases, multiple amp / cab combinations, custom effects, sounds ranging from clean to crunchy, single-note, octave and chord riffs, and more.

SPARKLE includes presets for alternative, experimental, folk / country, funk & soul, pop, reggae & ska, rock, and more. There are more than enough sounds well-suited to sexy and funky R&B.

Although SPARKLE can’t quite compare to the authenticity, feel, and quality of a real guitar player, you could save untold hours setting up, tracking, and processing to achieve similar results.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

VICE by ujam

VICE by ujam

Okay, so you’ve got plenty of options in terms of drum samples, drum machines, or beatmakers you can use to craft the perfect R&B beat. But what if you want to go a little retro… say, rewind back to the 80s?

Well, ujam’s VICE was built with this exact thing in mind. This digital drum plugin lets you tap into the music of an unforgettable era – the 1980s. Whether in synthwave or pop, the 80s are back in mainstream consciousness and it’s never been a better time to give the fans what they want.

VICE comes with 10 drum kits built from legendary analog drum machines, MIDI Drag and Drop, multiple audio outputs, 30 styles, Time Machine algorithm, 12 smart-mix presets, and built-in FX.

What I love about VICE is that it makes your job as a producer easy. Sure, you could dig up your old drum machines and record them or load up your favorite VSTs emulating the favorite consoles of decades past. The issue, then, is you’ve still got to process the sounds.

With VICE, the sounds are basically processed already, and all you’ve got to do is tweak the parameters and FX until you’re happy with the results.

For 80s vibes, there’s VICE.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Usynth Deluxe by ujam

Usynth Deluxe by ujam

ujam’s Usynth Deluxe was created so you could enjoy the sound of soulful, warm keys from the comfort of your own home.

Usynth Deluxe features a wide collection of soulful synth sounds (including bass, poly, keyboard, pad, lead, sweep, arpeggio, bell, voice, SFX, and more), 100 synth modes and presets, over 80 Finishers (effects), and Onboard sequences.

As you can see from the expertly crafted interface, Usynth Deluxe is incredibly easy to use, almost plug and play even.

As for the sounds? They are all highly usable, and as promised, optimized for any music requiring a soulful touch.

Overall, Usynth Deluxe is excellent value for the money.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Nithonat by D16 Group

Nithonat by D16 Group

If you’re looking for more drum machines options (and really, who isn’t?), then you might turn to D16 Group’s Nithonat. After all, D16 Group is well known for their quality plugins, and the Nithonat delivers that classic 606 sound so many turns to when nothing else seems to fit the bill.

The 606, as you’re surely aware, has appeared on plenty of electro, hip-hop, and R&B productions. D16 took the original concept and added some of their own enhancements to take this piece of gear over the top.

If you’ve seen a 606, then you know its only parameter was volume. So, D16 went ahead and added additional controls to Nithonat for more customization. Kicks, snares, toms, and hi-hats are all here so you can craft the perfect beat with the perfect sounds.

Nithonat comes with an internal sequencer with multiple sequencer modes, and it can be used as a sound module too.

Actor / singer / songwriter Tony Vincent says he always uses Nithonat, Peter Echoplex says his drum machines have been collecting dust since he was introduced to the 606, and Perc thought the emulation was spot on.

In total, Nithonat comes with fully synthesized drum sounds, multiple operation modes (external mode and internal sequencer), an internal sequencer with eight banks and 12 patterns per bank, patterns up to 16 steps in length, patterns defined by one of four available measures, shuffle mode, trigger out, global accent track, tap mode, chain mode, shuffle, built-in randomizer, and patterns import / export.

You also get two modes of synchronization, precise synchronization of host tempo, synchronization to internal clock, mutes / solos for every instrument, eight individual outputs, drum kits organized in group, quick MIDI learn function, and 64bit internal processing.

The 606 may not be much on its own, but with a little processing (compression, distortion, etc.) it can really come alive.

It might be a tad pricy for what it is, but overall, this is a fun drum machine.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

MELLOW 2 by ujam

MELLOW 2 by ujam

While ujam’s MELLOW 2 finger acoustic bass virtual instrument was built with jazz trios in mind, it’s just as competent for singer-songwriter, R&B, and hip-hop applications. While a big, fat, heavy bass is often employed in the genre, there are certainly times when a smoother sound would complement the vibe.

MELLOW 2 is an iteration on the original MELLOW, and this plugin features 20 new styles (for a total of 60 styles and 1,380 phrases), 30 new presets, 15 Finisher multi-effect modes, MIDI Drag and Drop, as well as backwards compatibility.

Effects include amp, character changes on dial-up, note vibrato level, room reverb level, octave effects, as well as dynamics and EQ.

MELLOW 2 has got a great sound, and if an upright bass is what you need, it’s hard to imagine a better solution.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

What Should I Look For In A R&B VST Plugin?

Every producer needs a mix of virtual effects and instruments, sometimes analyzers and MIDI effects plugins as well.

In this guide, we’ve looked at synths (as well as keys, guitars, basses, which are all basically synths at the end of the day) and drum machines. Essentially, everything covered here is a virtual instrument.

Do you need all the plugins to make great R&B music? Probably not.

But you’ve probably identified a few gaps in your VST arsenal, and that’s a good place to start.

Aside from that, for every VST plugin, it’s worth considering:

  • Sound quality
  • Features and parameters
  • Budget

Here’s some guidance on each.

Sound Quality

Find plugins that sound good to you, that you could see yourself using in your productions. That’s the absolute best tip we could offer in terms of sound quality.

Listen to each plugin before purchase so you know what you’re getting, and don’t worry too much about the reviews unless they seem to indicate that the plugin is atrociously bad. You’ve got to be the decision maker.

Features & Parameters

Compare synths to synths, guitars to guitars, drum machines to drum machines, and so on. That’s feature comparison 101. You can’t compare KANDY to Nithonat, as an example.

Aside from that, also consider what you might need. Would you take advantage of arpeggiated synth sequences? If so, be sure to buy a synth with presets or an arpeggiator / sequencer.

Budget

We know just how addicting buying plugins can be. And while they are generally a fraction of the cost of their hardware equivalents, we don’t recommend going into debt for gear related purchases.

Keep a close watch on that budget of yours and you’ll be fine!

Top VST Plugins For R&B, Final Thoughts

Do you feel ready to take on your next R&B project now? We sure hope so!

Once you’ve got your new plugins, be sure to download, install, and start experimenting right away. Producers always work better with the tools they know.

And now it’s time for a little rhythm and blues.

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