The FL Studio = electronic music association is quite strong. Given its compatibility with third-party AU, VST2, and VST3 plugins, though, there’s plenty of room to extend its functionality, even into other musical styles and genres.
Whether you’re looking for more soft synths, a breathtaking reverb, or a crunchy saturation, there are many freebies you can take advantage of to enhance your projects.
In this guide, we look at the best free plugins for FL Studio.
Zebralette by u-he
Whether free or premium, u-he’s soft synths shine like the polished diamonds they are. Zebralette is a pared down version of their Zebra2 workhorse synth and its oscillators. Zebralette comes with one, Zebra2 comes with four… although I’m sure that’s not a sales pitch on u-he’s part (just kidding – it is!).
Anyway, this striped horse synth comes with one Zebra2 oscillator (with 16-slot waveset), oscillator waveform editing with geomorph, spectromorph, geoblend, and spectroblend modes, 24 spectral effects (including sync, scatter, filter, phase distortion, and others), as well as up to 16-voice polyphonic, monophonic, and legato modes.
You also get stereo VCA with pan and volume modulation, VCA oscillator stacking with adjustable stereo width – single, dual, quad, and 11 modes, ADSR envelope with fall / rise (sustain slope) and velocity controls, and modulation (modwheel, velocity, pressure, breath, key follow, gate, and more).
To top it off, you’re presented with two LFOs (one global, one per voice), a 32-stage multi-stage envelope generator (MSEG), three effects (EQ, delay, chorus / phaser), MIDI learn / unlearn of hardware controls (CC), polyphonic aftertouch, 300 factory presets, scalable UI, and support for Oddsound MTS-ESP.
It doesn’t take much to fall in love with Zebralette – it comes loaded with plenty of great sounds – leads, keys, pads, basses, FX, and more. There are many atmospheric sounds aboard.
TyrellN6 by u-he
You can’t really talk about u-he without also bringing up their free TyrellN6 race-car synth. I mean, you could, but then you might be missing out on one of their best free synths…
This virtual analog style synth comes with a classic architecture, two oscillators (noise, ring modulator), two LFOs with eight waveforms (host syncable), audio source mixer with overdrive and filter feedback, a Diva style twin filter, analog style ADSR envelopes (loopable or LFO triggered), skinnable UI, and over 580 factory presets.
If I said I thought all the presets were usable, I’d be lying. That said, there are plenty of classic sounds here, many of them better than you might expect – pads, leads, basses, FX, and much more.
It is, after all, free though. So, the asking price is more than fair.
Rack 2 by VCV Rack
Just as classic, analog gear is still favored for its warm, gritty, and sometimes crunchy sound, the obsession with modular synthesis is far from over, and if anything, it’s only gaining momentum with songwriters and producers.
Rack 2 is the superior iteration on the original Rack, a virtual Eurorack studio.
So far as hardware is concerned, individual modules may not cost that much, but the cost does mount fast as you add multiple modules, and when it comes to deadmau5’ wall of modular synths, you can bet he’s several thousand dollars in (if not tens of thousands of dollars in).
Rack 2, meanwhile, is free. Sure, they want you to purchase their Pro edition and add-ons, but there’s plenty to enjoy without having to upgrade. The latest version of Rack includes a dark room mode, module selections, and an enhanced module browser in addition to the great features the original came with.
Altogether, Rack 2 comes with 30+ built-in modules, 170+ official modules from Eurorack manufacturers, 2,000+ modules in the VCV Library, and the ability to develop your own modules using the C++ VCV SDK.
Download: VCV Rack
Helm by Matt Tytel
Matt Tytel’s Helm is compatible with Windows, Mac, and GNU / Linux. It works as a standalone synthesizer or as a plugin with your favorite DAW – VST, VST3, or AU, and there are 32- and 64-bit versions.
From its appearance, you can tell that there was quite a bit of care that went into this plugin. Not that design is everything, but it often does speak to its overall quality.
Helm comes with controls for volume, BPM, arp, oscillators, feedback, stutter, distortion, sub, mixer, filter, softness formant, delay, reverb, amplitude envelope, filter envelope, mod envelope, mono LFO 1, mono LFO 2, poly LFO, step sequencer, keyboard mod, and more.
Helm is ideally suited to producing all styles of electronic music. There are plenty of leads and basses, pads and effects, and more.
Download: Matt Tytel
Vital by Vital Audio
A lot of people make a big deal of Vital Audio’s Vital, a beautifully designed spectral warping wavetable synth. This is understandable, though, given the enduring popularity of hyper-powered wavetable synths like Serum.
At one point or another, this baby must have been completely free, but not so anymore. There is a competent free version called Basic, though, and it comes with 25 wavetables and 75 presets. Not bad for getting a taste of the soft synth.
For more wavetables and presets, you’d need to subscribe or upgrade to Plus or Pro. To be fair, the price of entry is nominal.
Whether keys, leads, or otherwise, Vital gives you access to some cool sounds.
Download: Vital Audio
LABS by Spitfire Audio
What if you had access to high-quality virtual instruments with high-quality samples? What if you didn’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a ton of Kontakt libraries?
Okay, so premium instruments can do things that LABS cannot. But Spitfire Audio’s LABS is nevertheless an ever-growing collection of great sounding, professionally produced instruments that are perfect for composers, and highly usable for songwriters, beatmakers, and producers too.
As of this writing, there are 54 LABS instruments, including drums, percussion, basses, brass, choir and vocals, experimental, folk and world, guitars, hybrid, orchestras, piano and keys, plucked, strings, synths, and woodwinds. But they keep adding more, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the website.
You’ll need the Spitfire Audio app to grab these, but don’t worry, they are free as advertised. And while each instrument might be a bit of a one trick pony, they’re going to send chills up your spine with their realness and usability.
Download: Spitfire Audio
BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover by Spitfire Audio
Besides their LABS series of free plugins, which is already quite extensive, Spitfire Audio also offers this gem for free – BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover.
This library includes 33 instruments and 47 techniques you can use in just about any DAW – violin, viola, cello, bass, piccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, trumpet, tenor trombone, bass trombone, and tuba.
This is a high-quality instrument, perfect for orchestral composition, and of course all those times a symphony orchestra would complement your project. It has a beautiful interface, simple controls, and NKS compatibility.
BBC Symphony Orchestra Discover is available as a VST2, VST3, AU, and AAX plugin.
Download: Spitfire Audio
TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn Records
If you’re looking for an EQ that’s going to be a step ahead of your DAW’s stock equalizer, then TDR Nova is well worth a look.
This is a parallel dynamic equalizer that makes mincemeat of several jobs simultaneously – parametric and dynamic equalization, as well as frequency selective, multi-band, and wideband compression.
Each band comes with a full dynamics section, which makes it useful for masters, busses, and even individual tracks.
TDR Nova also comes with a preset manager, undo / redo, A/B, detailed documentation, copy and paste, and other helpers and workflow enhancements.
A powerful tool for a variety of mixing and mastering jobs, TDR Nova has even been called a “Swiss army knife” by some.
I have personally utilized this plugin quite a bit, and I love the transparency it offers, as well as its overall flexibility. Great for most tone shaping needs.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records
TDR VOS SlickEQ by Tokyo Dawn Records
Here’s another mixing and mastering EQ solution you might want to pay attention to. This is an easy to use, flexible, and great sounding EQ.
TDR VOS SlickEQ comes with three and a half filter bands arranged in a low / mid / high semi-parametric layout, each with their own EQ curves and behaviors.
There’s also an auto gain option, the ability to process stereo sum or stereo difference (stereo width), a switchable EQ non-linearity, output stage with four saturation models, and a 64-bit multi-rate processing structure.
The plugin has been enhanced with preset management, undo / redo, quick A/B comparison, copy and paste, online help, editable labels, mouse-wheel support, and other features to support your mixing.
As a final rundown, TDR VOS SlickEQ comes with three EQ bands with an 18 dB / Oct high-pass filter, four EQ modes (American, British, German, and Soviet with optional non-linearity), five output stages (Linear, Silky, Mellow, Deep, and Toasted), advanced saturation algorithms by VOS, auto gain control, stereo and sum / difference processing options, and a helpful toolbar with plenty of added controls.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records
Valhalla Super Massive by Valhalla DSP
Every producer needs a solid reverb solution. With great plugins like Valhalla Super Massive, though, you scarcely need to dip your toes into the pool of premium plugins to access quality echo effects.
Valhalla Super Massive was designed to give you huge echoes (delays and reverbs), along with 16 modes that provide excellent starting points for dialing in the ideal amount of space.
The simple, flat vector style UI comes with controls for mix, width, delay, warp, Msec, feedback, density, mod, depth, EQ, low, mode, and preset.
Give this one a go. You won’t regret it.
Download: Valhalla DSP
Valhalla Freq Echo by Valhalla DSP
It sometimes gets overshadowed by Valhalla Super Massive, but Valhalla Freq Echo is also free, and it’s a cool, creative effect you might appreciate as a FL Studio user.
As Valhalla DSP says, it’s perfect for psychedelia, dub, and Dr. Who. We’ll leave you to fill in the blanks, because even we don’t know exactly what that means.
What is this effect, then? It’s a Bode style frequency shifter and analog echo emulation. From chorusing and double tracking to barberpole flanging and phasing, even runaway echoes, and endless glissandos, this is like an all-in-one modulation and echo effect.
The simple UI features controls for mix, delay, shift, feedback, low cut, high cut, delay sync, and output mode.
Listening to the audio clips, it quickly becomes apparent that this baby can offer glitchy computerized effects, space lasers, frightening echoes, rhythmic effects, and more.
Download: Valhalla DSP
MJUC jr. by Klanghelm
Based on Klahghelm’s premium compressor, MJUC, MJUC jr. is the more compact version of the same. It comes with a classic variable-mu design, perfect for smoothing and heavy pumping.
There’s a three-position timing switch that controls the attack and release times, as well as the slew rate and the timing of the other parts of the circuitry. This affects harmonic content (saturation).
Transparent but dense, if deep, vintage compression is your thing, you’ll want to have a look at MJUC jr.
MJUC jr. features a very streamlined interface. The compress and makeup knobs are your primary controls, and this compressor is perfect for gluing your mix together.
MJUC jr. is compatible with Windows and Mac.
DC1A by Klanghelm
Another free compressor via Klanghelm, DC1A is the type of compression that speaks directly to me, with its simple two-knob design.
Based on the DC8C, DC1A also comes with deep (high pass filter) and relaxed (peak and RMS compression) settings, as well as negative ratio and stereo unlink.
While it will provide subtler smoothing at lower settings, you can push it to the point of crunchy saturation. It even works for punching up drums.
You can get DC1A for Windows and Mac.
IVGI by Klanghelm
We couldn’t possibly bring up saturation in the introduction without touching on at least a couple of saturation / distortion plugins to add warmth and character to your tracks and make them stand out in a mix.
Klanghelm’s IVGI is great on the master bus, but it’s very useful for individual tracks as well. You will find that it can go from softer to denser with the turn of a dial.
IVGI will react dynamically to the input signal – even the modeled fluctuations react dynamically based on the drive setting. Its modeled crosstalk behavior is great for stereo tracks.
It also comes with Controlled Randomness, which makes the saturation even more lively and organic.
There are a few parameters onboard to help you tap into the right tone, but not too many to be overwhelming.
Refer to the Klanghelm website for a full list of features and what they do.
IVGI is available for Windows and Mac.
Saturation Knob by Softube
Classic consoles were known (and are still known) for bestowing tracks, busses, and mixes with vintage warmth, and as necessary, crunch and density.
What if you could reduce these qualities down to a single knob? That’s probably what Softube was thinking when they made Saturation Knob, a plugin some would consider “too good” to be free (as most on this list are!).
Saturation is Knob is simple, just as pictured. There are three distortion modes (Keep High, Neutral, Keep Low) for vocals, bass, drums, and just about anything you want to add it to. Try it on everything. It’s a fantastic addition to most effects chains.
Temper by Creative Intent
Creative Intent’s Temper is a hybrid digital distortion with a rich saturation stage and phase distortion. It also comes with a resonant lowpass filter and feedback path.
The streamlined UI features controls for cutoff, resonance, feedback, level, curve, drive, and saturation.
This is an excellent distortion plugin for electronic music.
Temper is compatible with Windows and Mac.
Download: Creative Intent
MT Power Drum Kit
If you’re seeking a free, organic sounding drum kit that’s perfect for pop, rock, and metal, you should have a look at MT Power Drum Kit. You may not use it for your electronic tracks, but you never know… you might end up wanting to experiment, you might end up producing something else.
This drum sampler comes equipped with a built-in mixer, featuring pan, gain and compression controls, a Groove library with a ton of pre-built rhythms, and a great looking user interface.
MT Power Drum Kit is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Download: MT Power Drum Kit
MiniSpillage by AudioSpillage
MiniSpillage features three drums synthesis algorithms – bass drum (single oscillator synth with pitch sweep, internal FM and harmonic controls), wood drum (log drums, toms, and more), and hi-hat (six-oscillator closed and open hi-hat generator with noise source and dual resonant filters) – with distortion effects and resonant filters.
It may not sound like much, but this compact drum synth has found its way onto many a “best of” lists, with its HD 64-bit digital sound, simple workflow, and surprising flexibility.
MiniSpillage is available to Mac users.
Frontier by D16 Group
I don’t think there’s a whole lot we could say about Frontier that hasn’t already been said. We’ve shared it in many of our guides already.
For those looking to level up their mixing and mastering game, we have Frontier, a self-adaptive versatile limiter.
Limiting, as you may well know, is basically extreme compression. Frontier can be used on single tracks, busses, or the master out for providing added loudness to your tracks and mixes without losing dynamics.
Frontier comes with configurable input and optional soft clip features, which you won’t find on typical limiters. These can be used creatively to enhance your projects.
The “self-adaptive” part of Frontier means there’s automatic gain make up, which can help you find the desired result more efficiently. I love anything that helps me work more quickly.
To get access to Frontier, you will need to register with D16 Group, but if you plan to record and produce for a long time to come, you’ll probably want to keep an eye on their new developments anyway.
Download: D16 Group
Limiter N°6 by VladG Sound
Here’s another free limiter that’s honestly super cool. It’s made up of five key modules, each with their own parameters – RMS compressor, peak limiter, high-frequency limiter, clipper, and true peak limiter. This means you can perform multiple mastering jobs at once.
This VST also features brickwall and soft limiting with different timing settings, M/S and multiband modes, optional 4x oversampling, true inter-sample peaks (ISP) limiting, analog-style indication, and two GUI skins.
For increasing the loudness of your mixes, this thing is sure to come in handy.
Download: Tokyo Dawn Records
Vinyl by iZotope
Saturation and distortion are one way to add character, grittiness, and texture to your tracks. But it’s not the only way. There are other means of bestowing your tracks with vintage warmth, and lo-fi plugins of a variety of persuasions can do exactly that.
It just so happens that iZotope’s Vinyl is free, and it sounds great to boot. For instant, authentic, lo-fi vibes, this one is sure to become your go-to.
It’s a one trick pony, sure, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t versatile. You’ve got selectable decades (1930, 1950, 1960, 1970, 1980, and 2000), and a mix of parameters to help you dial in the perfect amount of dirt, scratch, and warble.
It’s as simple as that, and we love simple enhancers like this.
Piano One by Sound Magic
If a beautiful, bright, realistic sounding piano is what you need, then Piano One just might do the trick.
In creating Piano One, Sound Magic sampled a Yamaha C7 concert grand, using their own proprietary Hybrid Modeling Engine to offer a true, rich sound.
The UI features controls for reverb (time, width, mix, surface, smooth, E.R.), noises (pedal, strings, hammer off), style (amount), damping (time, tracking, release, level, resonance), harmonics (gain, shift), tone (low, high, lid), perspective (player, audience), tuning system, key dynamics (range, tracking), master output, and more.
You’ll be hard pressed to find a free piano that’s this configurable.
Download: Sound Magic
Infinite Space Piano 2 by ZAK Sound
You can’t have too many pianos. Well, maybe you can, but I have multiple piano VSTs myself, and I haven’t found that upper limit yet.
The free Infinite Space Piano 2 was created to fill space with ambient textures. It comes with seven acoustic and electronic piano presets. These are combined with three ambient textures for maximum atmosphere.
Whether ambient music, meditation music, film scores, or bridge sections in your EDM tracks, Infinite Space Piano 2 is a fun tool to have at the ready.
This plugin comes with a few basic controllable parameters – piano settings (gain, attack, release), master (gain, pan, pitch), textures (TXs attack, TXs release), tone (ambience, width), and filter. There are also three central texture controls – cloud, light, and infinity (I made up the names)?
Infinite Space Piano 2 is available for Windows and Mac.
Download: ZAK Sound
Graillon by Auburn Sounds
Auto-tune is obviously an important module for any electronic genre nowadays. Finding a free plugin that makes the cut, though? That can be a much harder task.
Well, Auburn Sounds’ Graillon is more than just a pitch correction plugin. It also comes with pitch shifting capabilities.
Additionally, the full version comes with pitch-tracking modulation, but only if you’re willing to upgrade for a fee. You’ll find that the free edition is still quite capable and useful.
It may not be a comprehensive vocal processing plugin, but it sure is a great start – the pitch correction is awesome. Not to mention, it can be used on instruments too!
If you haven’t experienced Graillon yet, give it a go. You won’t regret it.
Graillon is available or Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Download: Auburn Sounds
MFreeFXBundle by MeldaProduction
What if you’re looking for additional effects and utility plugins for editing, mixing, and mastering? What if you wanted to build out your mixing and mastering suite without having to download a ton of plugins, one by one?
If you haven’t already, you need to check out MeldaProduction’s MFreeFXBundle, because it comes with most if not all of what you think you need to make your tracks sound amazing.
The bundle is comprised of 37 free effects, under the categories of analysis, saturation and distortion, dynamics, equalizer, filter, mixing, mastering, reverb, stereo, and pitch.
This includes one of the best free auto-tune plugins available, MAutoPitch. Other popular entries include MNoiseGenerator and MCharmVerb.
Sure, you’ll need to upgrade to squeeze every bit of juice out of these plugins, but the free versions are still quite capable all their own.
Top Free Plugins For FL Studio, Final Thoughts
FL Studio comes with a lot of great tools. But there’s no reason not to take advantage of its support of third-party plugins. There are so many great freebies out there!
So, go ahead and download and install your favorites. The time to get started with experimentation is now. The better you know your gear, the better results you will be able to create.
Here’s wishing you Godspeed on your creative journey.