Best FREE Virtual Instruments, VSTs & Plugin – SLR Staff Picks


They say nothing in life is FREE, but this month’s Staff Picks prove otherwise. We asked our contributors to share their favorite FREE sample libraries, virtual instruments, and software plugin. A couple of clear favorites will be seen from a quick scroll down the page, as well as a nice collection of plugins that I didn’t know about and sample libraries that I can’t wait to start working with.
(see past months picks here)

Sample Library Review’s Best FREE – Sample Libraries, Virtual Instruments and music software plugins.


Sam is a songwriter, producer, composer and educator based in the UK. A former BMG/Sony Records/Universal Publishing artist, Sam now creates music as part of the duo Border Scout and for trailer houses. Sam also works as an educator, tutoring musicians of all ages for the non-profit TICE

Labs by Spitfire
No doubt everyone is choosing this, but it is such good quality, very varied and easy to use. I had most of their old Kontakt Labs collection, but this feels like a more accessible option as the playback engine is also free.

► Get All the Labs Instrument for FREE from Spitfire Audio

Typewriter by Wavesfactory

Deep sampled and in a nice interface. This is great for making unusual percussive rhythms. Their free Old Tape Drums is really cool too.

► Get Typewriter at for FREE here

Freesound by Everyone!
Ok, so cheating a bit here, but this is such a great resource. There are some great recordings here, though sometimes you have to do a bit of digging. They are are all Creative Commons Licensed and many can be used in commercial work. Check the license restrictions before using.

► Visit Freesound here

Steven McDonald is a composer and producer working in the Television, Games, and Trailer fields. Digging into virtual instruments and sample libraries to get the absolute most out of them has been a specialty of his since the beginning of his career.

Solo Violin Legato by Performance Samples
An extremely useful solo violin library for Kontakt. It only has one articulation and it’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but it’s incredibly convincing at playing melodic legato lines. It does really well with faster playing while still being expressive, much like many of Performance Samples‘ products.

► Get Solo Violin Legato at Performance Samples

Palette Primary Colors by Red Room Audio

This one is all ensemble patches of Strings, Brass, and Woodwinds. It only offers basic sustain and staccato articulations and one mic position, but it also has decent control options that you don’t find on most freebies, such as tremolo and vibrato sliders. It’s probably the most generous freebie I can think of for Orchestral instruments, and it is very useful for sketching or even full-on production for tracks that don’t require detailed orchestras.

► Get Palette Primary Colors for FREE from Red Room Audio

TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Records
This is my go-to EQ plugin. The free version only has 4 bands plus low and high pass filters, but it offers great features that I have yet to encounter on other free EQ plugins, such as dynamic EQ, band solo’ing, and a spectrum analyzer. I use this on pretty much every track in any given project. It’s an incredible freebie, as well as some of the others on the TDR website!

► Get TDR Nova from Tokyo Dawn Records


Andrea Federici graduated Cum Laude from Berklee with a Masters Degree and now composes music and sound design for Film and Video games. A former Metal guitarist, Andrea surrounds himself with computers, music software and gear.

OTT by XFer Records
OTT by XFer Records can mangle your audio and bring out unexpected frequencies… It can also just act like a gentle multipressor!

► Get OTT at for FREE here

Angry Brass by Performance Samples

Basically a free version of the amazing brass library Caspian by Performance samples. It does not loop notes so it cannot sustain but the great marcatos are long enough to be realistically used in a top-notch mockup. Brassy and powerful, just load the patch and play without keyswitching. Also saves a lot of disk space!

► Get Angry Brass at Performance Samples

Spitfire Labs by Spitfire
A miscellaneous of free sample libraries with a great sound, lightweight on disk and super easy to play! The Choir, Piano and Frozen Strings are just amazing.

► Get All the Labs Instrument for FREE from Spitfire Audio

I am a composer creating music for commercials, trailers, television and film. I started in 2015 on a laptop in my kitchen to share my enthusiasm for music technology.

Piano in 162 by Ivy Audio

While Piano purists will be in constant search for that perfect and pristine piano library, I prefer to seek out rich, warm piano libraries with load of character. Ivy Audio’s FREE Piano 162 for Kontakt is one of my favorites with it’s natural and realistic sample set of a Steinway Model B.

► Get Piano in 162 for FREE here

Snaps Claps Slaps Stomps & Shouts by Red Room Audio

The name says it all! Great for Gospel rhythm, Gothic Western or for injecting the energy of the crowd into any score or song. Great sample set, pristine recordings.

► Get the Snaps Claps Slaps Stomps & Shouts for FREE from Red Room Audio

pocketBlakus Cello by Blake Robinson

You don’t have to break the bank to get a nice sounding solo cello library thanks to the FREEbie pocketBlakus Cello by Blake Robinson. Just one listen through the legato and short articulations demos and I bet you’ll be clicking over to download this gem.

► Get pocketBlakus Cello for FREE here

Super Audio Boy by Impact Soundworks
Little brother to the developers Super Audio Cart, this freebie delivers authentic sounds from one of the most popular game system of all time, If you are looking for authentic retro or chiptune sounds music look no further.

► See ALL FREE Instruments from Impact Soundworks

Ample Percussion Cloudrum by Ample Sound
I love the ambiguity of hangdrums and Ample Sound has a freebie that could work in so many kinds of scoring situations. While you are on this page grab the free Ample Bass P Lite II and the Ample Guitar M Lite II

► Get Ample Percussion Cloudrum for FREE here




FREE Denise Noize Arcade with any purchase at Plugin Boutique



Editor Brian Brylow (Composer, Sound Designer, and Producer) creates music as part of the electronic duos Parallaxe and Gorgon Nebula as well as Arpegiator. Brian probably owns more VIs than anyone I know! His Staff Picks are below:

SPAN by Voxengo
SPAN is a great plugin for those who need to understand the sonic footprint of their tracks while mixing but may be on a budget and can’t swing the much more expensive tools. The visuals will help you quickly understand where your mix needs attention and shaping.

► Get SPAN for FREE from Voxengo

Redtron SE by Artfake Labs
For those searching for a great version of the Mellotron M400, Artfake labs have on offer the Redtron SE. A great sounds VST which covers the most popular sounds of this 1973 treasure. A great way to introduce the vintage vibe into your mix.

► Get Redtron SE from Artfake Labs

Omnisphere 2 Freebie Collection by Triple Spiral Audio
Triple Spiral Audio is one of the most prolific sound designers out there and this collection of free patches for Omnisphere 2.5 is a great selection from a large range of their product line. This is a great appetizer to find out what they have to offer and some really top shelf sounds.

► Get Omnisphere 2 Freebie Collection from Triple Spiral Audio


Shaun is a Canadian composer for film, TV and video games who studied at University of Southern California’s Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television graduate program. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his cat Bogie.

Tyrell N6 by U-he
Tyrell N6 from U-he is a soft synth with a great and authentic analog sound. From the maker’s of Diva, arguably the industry standard when it comes to analog synth emulation, comes a completely free synth which includes over 580 factory presets!

► Get Tyrell N6 from U-he

Valhalla Freq Echo by Valhalla DSP
Valhalla Freq Echo from Valhalla DSP is a frequency shifter and analog emulation which promises to provide Skull Melting Chaos! Anyone who has used any of Valhalla DSP’s products knows that this promise of theirs can be safely taken seriously! Enjoy one of their legendary plug ins including their flag ship minimalist UI absolutely free!

► Get Valhalla Freq Echo from Valhalla DSP

Frozen Strings by Spitfire Audio

Spitfire Audio has a wonderful way of experimenting with library ideas before they create their full version. A recent release of theirs, Albion Tundra, was created in part due to the wonderful experimentation that lead to the development of their free spitfire labs instrument Frozen Strings. Create haunting and icey string textures now for free!

► Get All the Labs Instrument for FREE from Spitfire Audio


Alex Mueller is an award-winning composer and violist based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Labs Amplified Cello Quartet by Spitfire Audio
I’ve picked this one before, but need to include it in the list of best freebies. This library pushes the cello sound to the brink by running the sound through effects. It’s a gritty, harsh library which is really effective for suspense.

► Get All the Labs Instrument for FREE from Spitfire Audio

Labs Frozen Strings by Spitfire Audio
Another one from Spitfire that I use often. This is another small ensemble library, but this one has a haunting, cold quality. It’s a lot like Albion V Tundra and this library is a really great tool if Tundra is still on your wishlist instead of in your collection.

► Get All the Labs Instrument for FREE from Spitfire Audio

Massive Resurrection by The Unfinished
This is an 80’s synth pack for Massive with a sinister sound. It is edgy and well-suited to intense tracks.

► Get Massive Resurrection from The Unfinished


Raborn Johnson is a musician and film composer who has been turning in some terrific reviews.

Metalstorm by PulseSetter Sounds

PulseSetter Sounds is a group of composers and sound designers who make some of the coolest modern futuristic and dystopian synth soundsets and Kontakt instruments out there. Metalstorm takes a collection of public domain soundsources and transforms them into completely killer alarms, atmospheres, braams, impacts, pads, plucks, and trailer hits. If you want some great trailer sounds for FREE! then look no further!

► Get Metalstorm from PulseSetter Sounds

Omnisphere XLV by Midissonance
If you have Omnisphere 1.5+ then jump on over to the Midissonance website and download Omnisphere XLV, containing 45 free patches. There are some great sounds here that you will find useful for cinematic scoring, trailer work, and more.

► Get Omnisphere XLV from Midissonance

Bowed Textures Test Kit for Omnisphere 2.3+ by The Sample Company
A while back I reviewed the Bowed Textures Bundle for Omnisphere 2.3+. This is a great collection of aleatoric and other string sounds that are really useful for underscore and more. You can check out the full review here:
Want to give it a test spin? Thanks to The Sample Company, you can! The Bowed Textures Test Kit gives you 5 free patches from the full product. Make sure to test out the modwheel on these to experience the genious “scrub” effect!

► Get Bowed Textures Test Kit for Omnisphere 2.3+ from The Sample Company

Steve Blizin is a producer, sound designer, audio engineer and composer. He has been creating loop-based music for nearly 20 years

Relict by Silence and Other Sounds

Absolutely my all-time top FREEBIE! Who doesn’t love high quality cinematic (and creepy) sounds? This collection is excellent. If you’re producing cinematic, dark, ambient anything, you need this superb collection. Their Transfer library is equally good, although it does come with a price tag. I give them both my highest recommendations!

► Get Relict from Silence and Other Sounds

FREE To Use Sounds by Free To Use Sounds
This passion project by Marcel Gnauk, is a tremendous resource for all kinds of sounds. The collections are divided up by Marcel’s travels and are constantly being updated. Many of the sounds are edited professionally and offered through, and other resources. Think rainforests, caves, trains, city streets… virtually any kind of sound that can be recorded from all over the world. These sounds lend themselves nicely to further manipulation for sound design so don’t overlook them. Consider donating to access everything. It’s an impressive collection.

► Get FREE To Use Sounds from Free To Use Sounds
A massive archive of sound! The only caveat here is that you become familiar with Creative Commons licenses. Some require that you credit the creator, some do not. You’ll find hours-worth of audio here, including a growing list contributions by yours truly. Because of the nature of the submission process here, you may spend time sifting through some less than stellar sounds before you find good ones. Think of it like crate digging or audio archeology. Those who seek are well rewarded!

► Visit Freesound here


Also . . . See our big list of FREEbies at the bottom of our Deal Compressor page.
Updated every week.

See all past Staff Picks Posts