Best Free Pad VST Plugins

21 Best Free Pad VST Plugins 2024

Synthesizers are a must-have in modern music production, in just about every genre. And pad sounds are a favorite for most producers because they make for great space fillers in a mix.

Nowadays, though, synthesizers aren’t the only tools that can provide great pad sounds. There are composer and sound design tools, ROMplers, flexible virtual instruments, and more. And there is a good variety, even when it comes to freebies.

In this guide, we look at the best free pad VST plugins.

Surge XT by Vember Audio

Surge XT by Vember Audio

In your search for free pad VST plugins, you should not ignore the open-source subtractive hybrid soft synth, Vember Audios’ XT.

This award-winning synthesizer comes loaded with 2,800+ patches and 700+ wavetables. There’s a helpful category-based patch browser built-in, to help you find what you’re looking for efficiently.

Surge XT comes with three oscillators per scene and 12 algorithms, including audio input, classic, modern, wavetable, sine, window, FM2, FM3, string, twist, alias, and S&G noise.

It also features two filter units with eight configurations (seven of which come with a feedback loop), 12 LFO units, 16 effects (with 27 effect algorithms), and much more.

No doubt you won’t run out of patches to explore any time soon, but you can create your pad sounds using Surge too XT, as demonstrated in the video below.

Surge XT is a great-sounding, versatile synth for just about any genre of music.

You can get Surge XT for Windows, Mac, and Linux alike.

Download: Vember Audio

TyrellN6 by u-he

TyrellN6 by u-he

When it comes to free synthesizer VST plugins, you’ll be hard-pressed to find something better than u-he’s TyrellN6. This virtual analog synth has got a very authentic tone, especially for a freebie.

Out of the box, it comes with 580 presets, which may not be as generous as Surge’s 2,800+, but again, for a free plugin, this is exceptional value.

Altogether, you get two oscillators, two LFOs, an audio source mixer, a Diva-style twin filter, ADSR envelopes, and more.

TyrellN6 is a capable synth in an array of genres. In the video, you get to see it in action in ambient, dubstep, and melodic techno contexts, but trust me, it works for synthwave, scoring, pop, and other genres too.

Download: u-he

Odin2 by TheWaveWarden

Odin2 by TheWaveWarden

It might even be too good to be free… Although that could be said for many of the pad VST plugins featured here, Odin2 is a killer-sounding, versatile synth that begs your attention.

The 24-voice polyphonic soft synth can deliver leads, basses, FX, and some truly stellar pads too. It also comes with emulations of analog filters (Korg-35, Moog-ladder, etc.), five effects, modulation options, and more.

I don’t know whether TheWaveWarden is humble or lazy, because they could have certainly said more about this quality entry on their website.

Even better, you can get the synth for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Check out the video below to determine whether you think the synth is worthy of the praise we’re giving it (if you don’t agree – you’re wrong – just kidding).

Download: thewavewarden

Zebralette by u-he

Zebralette by u-he

u-he’s Tyrell N6 is notable enough already. Even if it is one of the best freebies they have, it’s not the only one, and many users have found Zebralette a very worthwhile addition to their VST toolkit as well.

Created as a teaser / introduction for their premium Zebra2 synth, Zebralette comes with a single Zebra2 oscillator you can push and test to the limits.

This synth still comes with tons of other great features, however, like 24 spectral effects, stereo VCA, VCA oscillator stacking, ADSR envelope, modulation options, two LFOs, a 32-stage MSEG, three effects, MIDI learn, polyphonic aftertouch support, a scalable UI, and more.

The video below shows off the synthesizer’s many presets, and while it’s not exclusively a pad synth, you should find it versatile enough to handle most things you can throw at it.

Download: u-he

VCV Rack 2 Free by VCV

VCV Rack 2 Free by VCV

The modular approach to synthesis harkens back to the very origins of synthesizers. The process of patching modules together, setting parameters, and crafting sounds were all done manually in the early days of hardware synthesizers.

Perhaps modular synthesis has never fully fallen out of favor with keyboardists and producers, but it has certainly made its presence known again in recent years. You need not look much further than the Deadmau5’ wall of modules.

Some producers, though, like the flexibility of being able to patch and control parameters from a plugin interface, and VCV Rack 2 (as well as earlier editions of the same) have all resonated with music creators.

Seriously… people sometimes get angry if we don’t mention it in a guide like this!

The Free version of VCV Rack comes with over 30 essential modules, but of course, the plugin was designed to be infinitely extendable. If you ever want to find additional modules (for a price), you can always check out the VCV Library.

Does it pad, though? You better bet it does, and you can see exactly how to create a killer pad sound from scratch in the video below.

Download: VCV

Helm by Matt Tytel

Helm by Matt Tytel

Matt Tytel’s Helm is another standout free synth (which also happens to be open-source). It comes with two oscillators, a sub-oscillator, a filter, three LFOs, three envelopes, a step sequencer, and built-in effects (distortion, reverb, delay, stutter, and formant).

There are over 200 presets included in the categories of pad, arp, bass, chip, harsh, keys, lead, percussion, and SFX. We wouldn’t have brought Helm up if it didn’t have pad sounds, but it’s always reassuring when you can find “pad” in the preset categories.

Helm can produce a variety of sounds, and is well worth a look, especially if you’re into electronic music production.

Helm is Windows, Mac, and GNU / Linux compatible.

Download: Matt Tytel

LABS – Synth Pads by Spitfire Audio

LABS – Synth Pads by Spitfire Audio

Obviously named though it may be, you don’t want to miss out on Spitfire Audio’s LABS – Synth Pads (or, for that matter, Spitfire Audio’s LABS series of virtual instruments – there are a lot of them, and they’re all quite stellar).

Anyway, in creating this virtual instrument / library, Spitfire engineers Harnek Mudhar and Harry Wilson took advantage of Christian Henson’s extensive synthesizer collection. For this entry, they used five vintage synths and fed them through guitar pedals, reverb, and other outboard gear.

While LABS – Synth Pads may be a little limited in what it can do (most LABS instruments are one-trick ponies, though the one trick they do, they do well), it sounds great. And if you’re looking for killer pad sounds, it would be unwise to ignore this entry. Don’t sleep on the LABS!

Download: Spitfire Audio

LABS – Pedal Pads by Spitfire Audio

LABS – Pedal Pads by Spitfire Audio

Its name might evoke thoughts of pedal steel, but that’s not what we’re looking at here. The LABS – Pedal Pads virtual instrument features a felt piano, Wurlitzer, and guitar fed through effects pedals, all chosen for their ethereal quality.

The result, of course, is layered, ambient textures.

The Pedal Pads library comes with nine patches you can mix and match to taste. And that’s more versatile than most LABS plugins.

This unique creation, naturally, sounds amazing.

Download: Spitfire Audio

LABS – Piano Pads by Spitfire Audio

LABS – Piano Pads by Spitfire Audio

With LABS – Piano Pads, Spitfire Audio created beautiful swells and pad sounds using single piano hits. The sounds they captured were reverbed, reversed, crossfaded, and time-stretched to achieve the desired creative pad effect.

All LABS series virtual instruments are great for composition and scoring, but they can be useful in a variety of other musical situations as well, and LABS – Piano Pads is no exception. Give it a go, and see what you come up with.

Download: Spitfire Audio

LABS – Textural Pads by Spitfire Audio

LABS – Textural Pads by Spitfire Audio

Various instruments were used in creating LABS – Textural Pads, including cello, vocals, kalimba, as well as scratched and bowed bass guitar. These sounds were later combined with synthesizers and processed the sounds with granular effects. Spitfire loves doing this kind of stuff!

The result is a very Sci-Fi soundtrack-inspired virtual instrument well-suited to modern movie scoring.

Download: Spitfire Audio

FB-3300 by full bucket music

FB-3300 by full bucket music

full bucket music’s FB-3300 takes after the classic Korg PS-3300 polyphonic synthesizer.

This plugin features three independent polyphonic synth blocks, band-limited oscillators, two-pole lowpass filters, a resonator section, two modulation generators per bank, sample & hold, a paraphonic envelope generator, micro-tuning, MIDI Learn, and a semi-modular design.

There is no doubt that this is a capable synthesizer in every regard, but you should find its pad sounds immensely satisfying as well.

FB-3300 is compatible with Windows and Mac.

Download: full bucket music

MONSTER SYNTH by Agus Hardiman

MONSTER SYNTH by Agus Hardiman

MONSTER SYNTH is a Windows and Mac-compatible free sample playback synth (in other words, a ROMpler).

For a free VST, it is indeed monstrous. It comes with 200 presets in 12 preset categories, which of course includes pad. But you also get bass, bell, brass, hit, lead, mallet, pluck, strings, vox, riser, and FX.

There are some handy sound sculpting features too, including master volume, ADSR envelope, LFO, three modes (mono, poly, and legato), filter cutoff, and four effects (distortion, reverb, delay, and chorus).

Download: AgusHardiman.tv

OB-Xd by discoDSP

OB-Xd by discoDSP

discoDSP’s OB-Xd should be familiar to engineers / producers who’ve been around for any length of time. In case you’re inclined to skip over it, though, you should know that it was upgraded to version 2 not that long ago.

This pad VST plugin, of course, was based on the immortal Oberheim OB-X. Given its somewhat limited design, discoDSP modified and added some features to make this entry extra useful. One such addition is the micro random detuning.

As you’ll see in the video below, OB-Xd can reproduce many famous sounds from the 80s and even late 70s classics. Yes, it does pad sounds too, and you will love it if you enjoy classic synths.

OB-Xd is usable across Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Download: discoDSP

Dexed by Digital Suburban

Dexed by Digital Suburban

This one has also been around for quite a while, so it’s unlikely you’re unfamiliar with Dexed if you’ve been at the producing game for longer than a couple of years.

Based on none other than the Yamaha DX7, you will likely find the same thing I did, Dexed sounds so much like the original that it could almost replace it (you can even hear it compared to the DX7 in the video below). No wonder it continues to be brought up in “best free synth” lists.

Dexed no doubt comes with plenty of familiar 80s sounds, and there are some nice pad tones too. But if you’re going for something more modern, this one isn’t it.

This emulation is so close to the original that it might just blow your mind.

Download: Dexed

Podolski by u-he

Podolski by u-he

It may be nearly 20 years old at this juncture, but that doesn’t mean this little pad VST isn’t a competent one.

u-he’s Podolski is easy on CPU usage, and it comes with a single oscillator, up to 16-voice polyphony, four envelope modes (linear, exponential, ADSR, HDSR), a multi-mode filter, arpeggiator / 16-step sequencer, and over 300 presets.

For an oldie, it sure is a goodie. u-he knew what they were doing when they created Podolski.

Download: u-he

Tricent mk III by full bucket music

Tricent mk III by full bucket music

Tricent mk III takes after the Korg Trident MK2 from the early 80s.

This VST synthesizer comes with a synthesize, brass, and string sections (each with individual stereo outputs), eight- or 64-voice polyphony modes, a flanger, a resizable user interface, and a few other goodies.

If you love 80s synth pads, you should find some usable presets here.

You can get Tricent mk III for Windows and Mac.

Download: full bucket music

FB-7999 by full bucket music

FB-7999 by full bucket music

full bucket music’s FB-7999 is a take on the Korg DW-6000 and DW-8000 80s synths.

This pad VST plugin features two digital oscillators, poly and unison modes, pseudo-stereo delay, SysEx data communication (with import and export), up to 64-voice polyphony, micro-tuning support, a resizable user interface, and MIDI Learn.

Conveniently, FB-7999 works on both Windows and Mac machines.

Download: full bucket music

Stigma by full bucket music

Stigma by full bucket music

Stigma was based on the Korg Sigma KP-30 Performing Synthesizer, dating back to 1979. And you’ll be glad to know it has some quite intriguing pad sounds.

Stigma features 19 presets (with filters, envelopes, and amplifiers), two band-limited oscillators, preset sections (Synthe, Instrument), an effect section (with portamento, quarter tone, aftertouch, and more), up to 64-voice polyphony, chorus / ensemble section, a preset editor, resizable user interface, and MIDI learn.

To me, at least, this one close to nails the classic analog sound.

Download: full bucket music

Serenity by Quiet Music

Serenity by Quiet Music

Dedicated to relaxing pad sounds, Quiet Music’s Serenity is a Windows and Mac-capable virtual instrument. If you’re into making meditation music, this one is a must.

With four pad / texture layers and six field recording layers (recorded at 24-bit / 96 kHz), you get a total of 10 layers for creating serene, calming, meditative music. Of course, you could potentially use it in other ways too.

Serenity also comes with LFO controls, reverb, high-pass filter, low-pass filter, multi outputs, ADSR controls, and pitch control (for each pad).

For instant, full, layered vibes, Serenity is a go-to.

Download: Quiet Music

Avatar ST by HG Fortune

Avatar ST by HG Fortune

If you’re looking for a soft synth dedicated to pads, atmospheres, soundscapes, and other effects, you might just take a liking to HG Fortune’s Avatar ST, which is also capable of producing other sounds – like bass.

The synth comes with various features for creative sound design purposes, including two oscillators with 384 waves, Mystify (bright, soft, dark), grain processor, filter (HP, LP, BP, feedback), delay, pan, LFO, 16 step modulator, three-band stereo EQ, reverb, and more.

Overall, Avatar ST is quite flexible.

Download: PLUGINS 4 FREE

Triple Cheese by u-he

Triple Cheese by u-he

u-he’s Triple Cheese is an award-winner. Sure, its name is cheesy. u-he even calls it “cheesy.” But contrary to what you might think, it’s not a pushover at all.

While it doesn’t use oscillators, wavetables, FM, phase distortion, or even analog-modeled filters, there’s more than meets the eye.

Triple Cheese utilizes three comb filters to generate sound. Additionally, it comes with eight modes per comb filter module (for a total of 11 modes), multiple modes (monophonic, duophonic, legator, and polyphonic), VCA (with pan and amplitude modulation), 254 factory presets, and a skinnable UI.

Check it out in the video below – I think you will hear some usable sounds.

You can download this cheeseball for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

Download: u-he

Final Thoughts

If at any point you get bored with what you’ve got, try creating your pads from scratch! You will need to take advantage of various techniques and processing methods to make it happen, but there’s nothing as satisfying as creating one-of-a-kind sounds for your projects.

We hope you found what you’re looking for and wish you all the best on your musical journey.