17 Best VST Plugins For Techno 2024


Best VST Plugins For Techno

As a techno producer, you will require an array of standard virtual effects and instruments. But perhaps most important of all is synthesizers.

Most producers are chasing that warm, analog sound. But thanks to the latest and greatest in virtual analog synthesizers, you can do most of your recording “in the box” and create stellar results.

So, in this guide, we look at the best VST plugins for techno.

Diva by u-he – Best Overall

Diva by u-he – Best Overall

u-he’s Diva is quantifiably one of the best virtual analog synthesizers on the market, and it regularly tops the list of the best VST plugins available as well. If you don’t know anything about it, you’re in for a treat!

Techno-producers chasing that analog grit and warmth will find themselves thirsting after this plugin for its ability to deliver a mix of Moog-, Jupiter-, DX7-, Prophet-, OB-Xa-like sounds, and much more.

Diva doesn’t do any one of those sounds specifically. It’s more like it delivers a combination of these familiar, classic tones.

Preset fiends will get a kick out of the fact that Diva comes with 1,200 presets right out of the box, but if you need more, you can find plenty of expansion packs and presets on Plugin Boutique to augment your experience.

The only downside to Diva is that it can be very taxing on your CPU, especially in the high-resolution “Divine” mode. You should be okay if you’ve got a state-of-the-art computer, mind you.

Diva is by no means a new virtual analog synth, but why mess with a good thing when it’s this good? You will love Diva.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

VPS Avenger by Vengeance Sound – Best Premium Option

VPS Avenger by Vengeance Sound – Best Premium Option

Vengeance Sound’s VPS Avenger is another powerhouse synth with plenty to offer techno producers.

Best known for its near limitless versatility, VPS Avenger comes with eight OSC modules with thousands of waveforms, drag and drop modulation matrix, over 1,000 presets, an arpeggiator and sequencer, a powerful routing system, and over 30 built-in effects.

Honestly, its feature set is astounding, and we could be here all day if we were to talk about everything this kitchen sink synthesizer comes with.

With VPS Avenger, you can access and create a wide array of leads, basses, plucks, sound FX, drums pads, voices, and much more, out of the box.

And while the included 1,000 presets cover most genres and sounds you can name, you can also find innumerable expansion packs and presets on Plugin Boutique, some that were tailor-made for house and techno too. No wonder so many techno producers love VPS Avenger.

So far as its price point, it’s a tad higher than most, but given everything it can do, it’s more than worth a look. VPS Avenger is our best premium selection.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

The System 1000M by Tronsonic – Best Budget Option

The System 1000M by Tronsonic – Best Budget Option

Tronsonic’s The System 1000M is a modular style synthesizer for Kontakt. It features 525+ presets, 10 waveforms, white and pink noise, and more.

It may seem a little basic from the outside looking in, but where The System 1000M truly shines is in modulation.

This synth sounds great out of the box, and it’s also known for its ability to produce an array of glitchy, robotic, computer-style sounds.

The System 1000M requires the full version of Kontakt. If you don’t already have Kontakt, then this may not end up being the most affordable purchase. It is, nevertheless, our best budget option, because once you have Kontakt, you can take advantage of a variety of instrument libraries, and you won’t need to buy it again.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Pigments 4 by Arturia

Pigments 4 by Arturia

In discussing cool, powerful synthesizers, we can’t forget about Arturia’s Pigments 4.

This thing is crazy in terms of what you can do with it. It comes with four synth engines (analog, wavetable, sample, and harmonic) and you can even combine them.

If that wasn’t insane enough, Pigments 4 also features 1,400 presets, two filters, an FX section with 18 algorithms, advanced modulation system, polyrhythmic sequencer and arpeggiator, MTS-ESP micro-tuning, MPE compatibility, NKS controller compatibility, among other features.

The best things about Pigments 4 are its modulation options and routing, versatile filter section, and its many features. Best of all, it comes at a moderate price point. Pigments 4 is not quantum leaps ahead of Pigments 3, but if you don’t already have Pigments, that’s a moot point.

Pigments 4 demonstrates its power in an array of electronic genres, and even in composing, scoring, and sound design contexts.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Bass Master by Loopmasters Plugins

Bass Master by Loopmasters Plugins

With modern electronic genres, conquering the low end has become a greater priority than ever, and Loopmasters Plugins’ Bass Master was created to help you achieve a huge bottom end to give your tracks the backbone they need.

Out of the box, Bass Master comes with 350 presets in multiple categories like simple, sub, low, mid, harsh, smooth, modulated, percussive, and more. These are ready to use out of the box and can play nicely in a mix without much or any alteration.

Bass Master also features two layers, 217 waveforms, 13 filter types, three effects (distortion with five algorithms, stereo chorus, and reverb send), frequency booster, legato & portamento settings, and more.

With Bass Master at your side, you won’t have to dig for powerful, usable bass tones anymore. Simply roll through the presets or alter them to suit your needs.

Now, its feature set certainly isn’t as extensive as some of the other hyper-powered synths covered in this guide but given that Bass Master is one of the more affordable synth plugins available, it’s understandable.

And for those who are looking to extend its functionality, you can find many Bass Master expansion packs on Plugin Boutique, including one called Techno Pulse.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

MASSIVE by Native Instruments

MASSIVE by Native Instruments

Native Instruments’ MASSIVE may not be a brand-new entry into powerhouse synthesis, but the upside to being around for longer is that there exists a community of advocates who can show you how to get the most out of the synthesizer.

This virtual analog synth comes with macro controls, 1,300 sounds, wave scanning sound synthesis, flexible routing options, multiple modulation sources, and customizable global settings.

MASSIVE has a reputation of being especially effective for drum and bass and dubstep styles (something it does very well), but that certainly does not mean it won’t be at home in other electronic genres as well.

On Plugin Boutique, you can find a huge selection of both presets and expansion packs for MASSIVE, including those specifically designed for techno and house. It sure is good to be a MASSIVE user today.

Perhaps the only downsides to this modern hybrid synth are that 1) its sound is more digital than analog, and 2) it’s a CPU hog.

Aside from that, though, MASSIVE has remained a favorite among producers for many years, and it’s an excellent choice for anyone in need of a dubstep synth.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Jup-8 V by Arturia

Jup-8 V by Arturia

The early- to mid-80s Roland JUPITER-8 is an undeniable classic and is much sought after by anyone chasing that vintage synth sound. It is even considered one of the best analog synths of all time.

When it comes to keyboards and synthesizers, Arturia always goes above board in using their modeling technology to bring us the best possible virtual instruments, and Jup-8 V is no exception.

In addition to all the original features you know and love, Arturia loaded up Jup-8 V with powerful new features so you can take things a step further than you did in the 80s (if you were even around in the 80s).

Altogether, JUP-8 V comes with 300 presets, four customizable dispersion modes, free-running phase oscillators with up to 16-voice polyphony, VCO cross modulation, assignable VCO sync, arpeggiator, classic and mono unison modes, two complex LFOs, and a modulation mixer.

You also get double notes and modulation sequencer, three output effect slots, macro controls (brightness, timbre, time, movement), advanced keyboard expression features (velocity, aftertouch, modwheel, keyboard tracking), and built-in tutorials.

Jup-8 V sounds awesome. And if you end up liking this, you might want to check out Arturia’s V Collection as well, as it includes an expansive set of virtual keyboards and synthesizers at a more than reasonable price.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Prophet V by Arturia

Prophet V by Arturia

As one of the first programmable synthesizers in existence, the Prophet 5 was ground-breaking. Similarly, upon its release, the Prophet VS’s digital vector synthesis brought a new tonal palette to the world of hardware synthesizers carried on by the likes of Yamaha and Korg.

With Prophet V, Arturia brought together the best of both worlds. And that’s not an exaggeration – there is literally a Hybrid mode for fusing subtractive synthesis with digital wavetable / vector synthesis.

Prophet V comes with all the parameters of the originals, several new features (audio connection matrix, modulation matrix switch, chorus, and stereo delay effects), over 400 presets, and compatibility with the presets of the original Prophet synths too.

Combined with the oscillators, mixer, filters, LFO, envelopes, and polyphony, Prophet V also comes with standard Arturia features like a resizable GUI and preset browser.

If you love the Prophet, and know you need it in your VST toolkit, Prophet V is easily one of the best virtual emulations available.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Spire by Reveal Sound

Spire by Reveal Sound

Reveal Sound’s Spire is another classic software synthesizer with a perfect rating on Plugin Boutique.

It comes with all the features and frills you would expect from such an entry, including 1,000+ factory presets, four multimode polymorphing oscillators, 9x unison voices, two multi-mode filters with analog and digital modes, built-in FX, extensive modulation, two steppers, an arpeggiator, three-band EQ, multiband compressor, and much more.

Spire is a sharp looking VST out of the box, but it comes with five selectable themes, which are equally gorgeous, and there are some dark themes that make it easier on the eyes for nighttime grinds.

Perhaps most importantly, it sounds great. If you listen to electronic music, chances are you’ve heardthis synth on countless recordings already. I know I have.

Spire has been around long enough, and is popular enough, that you can find countless presets for it on Plugin Boutique too, for electro house, dubstep, future bass, heavy trap, EDM, and more.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Multiphonics CV-2 by Applied Acoustics Systems

Multiphonics CV-2 by Applied Acoustics Systems

Modular synthesis is quite popular among electronic music producers and beyond. Hardware components, however, can get quite expensive fast. Many producers have started turning to virtual modular synths for their fix.

Multiphonics CV-2 takes the best parts of modular synthesis and makes the process of exploration and experimentation more accessible and fun, thanks in part to its easy-to-use user interface.

Multiphonics CV-2 can be used both as a synth and an effects processor. With the latest edition, CV-2, Applied Acoustic Systems added 15 new modules, 100 new effect patches, 50 new synth patches, stereo patching, one-to-many and many-to-many module patching, multimode actions, an improved browser, scalable UI, and six improved modules.

With CV-2 you can create basslines, leads, experimental effects, percussion, creative effects design, and much more.

Some rely heavily on presets. Others like to explore and experiment, diving deeper into the world of creating custom patches. If you are the latter, you will like Multiphonics CV-2.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

ELYSIUM by Wide Blue Sounds

ELYSIUM by Wide Blue Sounds

Wide Blue Sounds’ ELYSIUM is a go-to synth for pulses, arpeggios, pads, hybrid sounds – basically anything with rhythm, motion, and movement.

ELYSIUM features hundreds of deep-sampled sound sources, perc layer with up to three simultaneous sound sources, multimode high-cut and low-cut, length control, perc layer advanced evolution (analog, flux, spread), and synth layer with up to four simultaneous sound sources.

You also get 11 filter types, synth layer triple engine mode (pulse chop flow), phase sequencer with up to 16 steps, sound browser, generate panel (for generating mood-based sounds and effect chains), FX section with 31 stompbox style effects and over 600 convolution presets, motion page, and much more.

ELYSIUM should prove a ton of fun for producing rich, layered sounds in techno contexts, but it has plenty of potential as a composing or scoring tool as well.

ELYSIUM requires Kontakt or the free Kontakt Player to work.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Serato Sample by Serato

Serato Sample by Serato

If you’re going to be working with samples in any capacity, you would benefit from the ability to modify said samples so they can be used across a wider range of projects.

Serato Sample is just the tool you need to manage, time-stretch, key shift, and chop up your samples.

Serato’s Pitch ‘n’ Time algorithm is well-known for offering some of the best time-stretching technology in this domain.

Serato Samples also comes with key detection, key shifting, keyboard mode for playing samples across the full range of a piano, mono / poly playback, cue point workflow, and multiple routing options.

Serato Sample can also suggest samples to you based on the track you’re working on, and there’s a built-in Random feature too.

If you’d like to get a few worthwhile extras for your techno productions, you may also want to investigate Plugin Boutique’s Sample+ House & Techno Bundle, which comes with Serato Sample.

If you want to be able to do more with your samples, this is it.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

smart:comp 2 by sonible

smart:comp 2 by sonible

Compression is a go-to in all types of productions. Of course, dialing it in can be a longer, complicated process, especially if you’re still learning how compression works.

sonible’s smart:comp 2 efforts to make the process of compressing your tracks easier, with automatic compression parametrization. A single click will get you near perfect, if not perfect results.

smart:comp 2 comes with other great features like spectral processing, frequency-dependent ducking, free-form transfer function and templates, color and style dials, automatic output gain, input level riding, mid / side processing, and surround sound support.

smart:comp 2 is a powerful tool for achieving stunning dynamic processing results with relative ease.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

FabFilter Pro-R by FabFilter

FabFilter Pro-R by FabFilter

A high-quality reverb should be a part of every producer’s VST arsenal. If you’d like to stop all the guesswork and get a reverb that will get the job done, you might want to check out FabFilter Pro-R.

Just as you’d expect, FabFilter Pro-R is a pro level reverb VST plugin. Its highly visual interface might speak of its quality already, but in case there’s any doubt, here are some of its features:

Pro-R includes various reverb room models, stepless space, decay rate, six-band decay rate EQ, intelligent stereo width, distance, character, brightness, mix, lock mix, predelay, six-band post EQ, MIDI learn, and much more.

Pro-R has been designed to work with your mix, not against it. It causes minimal phase, density, and coloration problems that can be an issue with other run-of-the-mill reverb plugins.

If you don’t have a better reverb than this, it may be time for an upgrade. Check out FabFilter Pro-R.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Decapitator by Soundtoys

Decapitator by Soundtoys

Saturation and distortion play an important role in modern mixes, from giving tracks a gritty and warm analog character all the way over to mangling synths beyond recognition (especially in drum and bass genres).

Now that iZotope’s Trash is no longer available for purchase (though we’re sure they have plans of reviving it given that it’s a popular and widely used plugin), we think Soundtoys’ Decapitator will serve as more than just a substitute in a clutch situation.

Decapitator is capable of both subtle to extreme, which is good news for producers who need saturation for an array of purposes – vocals, synths, bass, and more.

This distortion VST was carefully crafted after hardware with responsive (not static) models, complete with the subtle characteristics of analog equipment.

The onboard Punish button will turn tame saturations into all-out distortion, giving you a range of gain few other saturators offer.

Choose from five models of distortion, and you’re off to the grittiest of races.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Satin by u-he

Satin by u-he

u-he’s tape emulation VST plugin Satin is a powerful tape construction toolkit.

Satin features an array of presets, input and output gain controls, metering, two- or four-tap delay, a flanger, grouping, companders, tape controls, and a service panel for added fine-tuning.

Satin makes it possible for you to access tape tones from every era. It’s a great tool for gluing your tracks or mixes. It has a sample rate of 384 kHz, continuous tape speed control, and everyone’s favorite tape characteristics (saturation, HF compression, transient smoothing, and so on).

You also get control over the grit and noise (wow & flutter, hiss, head bump, asperity noise, etc.), extra FX modes, and more.

If you’re looking to color your tracks with a tape coating, there are few plugins as versatile as u-he’s Satin.

Learn more: Plugin Boutique

Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain by Waves

Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain by Waves

Sure, there are plenty of legendary recording studios – Electric Lady Studios, Sunset Sound Recorders, and Blackbird Studio, among many others. But few are as iconic as Abbey Road Studios.

Equipped with what many would consider some of the top-shelf gear, Abbey Road Studios is the meeting place of history and innovation, and Waves’ Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain sets at your fingertips the very mastering chain that has come to define the Abbey Road sound.

Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain comes with the exact five modules you’ll find in the original TG12410 mastering desk, including input, tone, compression / limiting, filter / EQ, and output / stereo. With this plugin, you even have the option of reordering the tone, filter, and limiter modules.

The limiter features two limiting flavors, including Original and Modern, and the mastering chain can be used for dual mono, stereo, and mid-side processes.

Abbey Road TG Mastering Chain also comes with 170 presets, and the plugin even includes the Abbey Road TG Meter Bridge plugin.

All these features and more make this a powerful tool for creating stellar masters.

Learn more: Waves

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

The main criteria to consider are as follows:

  • Project requirements
  • Sound quality
  • Features
  • Budget

Here’s an explanation of each:

What Do You Need?

If you’re just getting started in techno, then it’s entirely possible you need everything. Your Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) should have a spattering of synths (or maybe just one synth), effects (EQ, compression, reverb, etc.), and bare minimum utility tools (e.g., metering) to get you up and running.

But stock instruments and effects usually aren’t anything special. And while they may prove useful in the early stages of your development as a producer, at some point you will need to upgrade.

If you’ve been at this for a while, then you’ll probably want to pick and choose which of your virtual instruments of effects you’d like to upgrade, supplement, enhance, or replace.

Either way, one of the keys to homing in on the exact VST plugin(s) you need is identifying the gaps in your toolkit. That way, you can take your productions to the next level, and avoid wasting money on unneeded additions.

Sound Quality

While sound quality may not apply to samplers and other utility plugins, it would certainly apply to synthesizers (which comprise the bulk of the plugins in this guide), as well as virtual effects like EQ, compression, reverb, and so on.

The synthesizers featured here are among the very best. That doesn’t mean you will necessarily like or even use all of them. One way to know for sure is to check out the audio samples, video demos, and video reviews. That should give you a clearer picture of what’s going to work for your needs.

As noted earlier, most DAWs do come with a synth or two, maybe more. And in some cases, you may have what you need for now. There are typically worthwhile upgrades out there, but if you’re happy with what you’ve got, no one is going to come around to police your synth preferences.

If your DAW is a little lacking in this regard, then it’s probably time to seek out worthy upgrades.

As for virtual effects, you’ll want to investigate these further on your own time as well. After all, you’re the one that’s going to be using them. So, you’d better sure they fit your workflow and style!

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a reverb, saturation, tape effect, or mastering chain. You’d better explore your options and know what you’re buying before you buy it!

Features

When sound quality is a lesser factor, if it’s not a factor at all, or it’s not enough to make a buying decision, you’ll want to dig deeper into the feature set of the VST plugin you’re considering.

In sales, I’m told comparing apples to oranges is exactly what you want to do, but when you’re buying, it’s the worst idea possible!

That means you can compare synthesizers to synthesizers, but not compressions to reverbs, as an example.

Anyway, a plugin is only as versatile or as functional as its feature set. You don’t always need more, because many times producers will buy a plugin to satisfy one need, but buying without exploring a VST’s feature set is almost akin to closing your eyes and pointing.

Let’s consider your needs once more. Because even as applied to features, this should be the key determining factor. You want to put your own needs first.

You may need to spend some time doing your homework on the plugins you’re considering, but the time you invest into understanding features will be worth the effort.

Budget

There is a cost attached to every plugin in this guide. Are you prepared to pay it?

You’d better consult your budget before rushing into a purchase, because spending money you don’t have is unwise. We recommend against going into debt for any production related purchases, because we want you to be able to fully enjoy your new purchases.

Remember that you can always save up if there’s something you want badly.

Final Thoughts

Making great techno music may only be a few VST plugins away. There is no shortage of options to choose from, and assuming you know what you need to get the job done, there are no mistakes, only experiments. Have fun with your new plugins and let us know how it goes.

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