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11 of The Best Effect Plugins

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The Best Effect Plugins in post

I love effects. As an electronic music producer, they make up the lion’s share of my plugin folder, providing me with an endless supply of sound-mangling fun. I view my effect plugins as instruments, each with its own character and sound.

Like most other producers, I’ve got my share of compressors, EQs, and saturator plugins. What gets me giddy as a schoolboy are crazy effect plugins. The effect plugins that bend time and space to create sounds I’ve never heard before. The audio-mangling process of sound design makes up most of my composition, so knowing the best effect plugins out there is of great interest to me.

This article highlights some of the best effect VST plugins for your sound design needs. You can, of course, use them for mixing duties too. From granular modulators and hardware emulations to multi-effects and flangers, I will take you through my list of the best effect VST plugins. It’s time to get creative effects plugins; let’s go mangle some audio 🙂

Related: 100+ Free Effect Plugins

Summary of the Best Effect Plugins:

Devious Machines Infiltrator 2 – Highly versatile multi-effect vst plugin with great real-time control.
IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5 – Not just for guitarists. AmpliTube offers a wide selection of effects that are suitable for all productions.
Eventide Physion Mk II – A unique effect vst plugin that splits audio into transients and tonal sounds, effects them, and then puts them back together again.
Eventide H3000 Factory – One of the greatest hardware multi-effects ever made now available as an effect plugin.
iZotope Vocal Synth – Simple yet effective plugin. Not just for vocals.
Softube OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects – Emulation of the rare OTO multi-effect hardware.
Soundtoys Effect Rack – Value effects bundle that provides versatile selection of effects.
Melda Plugins M Morph – One of the most original and useful multi-effect plugins ever made
Unfiltered Silo – Amazing granulated reverb for otherworldly sound design.
SugarBytes Graindad – In-depth Granular effects mayhem.

Related Article: Best Plugins for EDM


Infiltrator_Main_Product best effect plugins

1. Devious Machines Infiltrator 2


Rent to own at Splice
View at Plugin Boutique

System Requirements:OSX 10.7 or later; Windows 7 or later
Plugin Format:64-bit only, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX Native
Best Deal:Rent to own at Splice

View at Plugin Boutique
Pros:Easy-to-use
Sequencer.
Rent to own available.
Cons:Might be a bit overwhelming for some.

Devious Machines Infiltrator 2 is one of the most brilliant multi-effects engine VST plugins today for music production. Under the hood, you’ll find 54 unique processors and a boatload of presets to get you started. 

While several other multi-effect VST plugins on the market offer a wide range of modules, this is the only one that provides genuinely real-time control.

Infiltrator_Productbest effect plugins

Compared to Devious Machines Infiltrator 1, one of the best upgrades comes from the time module section. The plugin allows you to reverse, slow down, and stretch your audio as you please, allowing for some incredible stutter effects, tape slowdowns, and more. 

Infiltrator 2 All_Effects-best effect plugins
Infiltrator 2’s effect types

The presets are a huge plus, as they can optimize your workflow, allowing you to get the most out of your studio time. There are more than 1,500 presets to choose from, allowing you to distort, glitch, and pitch-shift your sounds to utter oblivion. 

The only downside might be that while the interface is easy to use, the sheer number of options can be overwhelming, especially for new music producers. Even so, I’d say that it’s one of the best audio fx plugins for making your music more exciting.

Also available as rent to own via Splice $5.99 p/month.

Related: The Best Synth Plugins

Amplitube 5 best effect plugins

2. IK Multimedia AmpliTube 5

A massive selection of multi-effect vst plugins


View at IK Multimedia
View at Thomann

System RequirementsmacOS 10.10 or later, Windows 7 or later
Plugin Format64-bit only, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX
BEST DEALView at Thomann
ProsVariety of Effects Modules
Sounds great
Easy User interface
ConsMaybe too much choice?

I’m a massive nerd for amp simulator VST plugins that actually sound good; Amplitube 5 is one of the few professional amp VST plugins that does. But you might be thinking, “I thought this was a list of the best effect VST plugins?!” Well, you’re right, it is. But did you know that IK Multimedia has one of the largest arsenal of effects out there? There are many ways to arrange and configure them, perfect for sound designers and music producers.

Amplitube 5.5 stomp best effect plugins
Amplitube 5

Amp simulators offer so much more than harmonic saturation for guitars. They’re great for giving VST instruments a bit more flavor, and they can even bring your real-life recorded sounds to life with reverb, delay, and distortion. 

While Amplitube has several add-ons and expansion packs, the stock version has 24 effects modules. You can customize your sounds in any way you desire, whether you want to drown them in spacious reverbs and delays, carve them up with filters and EQs, or utterly destroy them with fuzz and distortion. 

Related: Best Compressor Plugins

The plugin’s user interface will also feel very familiar to guitarists, as it works from point A to point B like a guitar chain (input > pedals > amps > mics > outboard effects).

Check out the free version of Amplitube 5 to get started!


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PhysionMkII-Dark-best effect plugins

3. Eventide Physion Mk II

Chops up audio for some serious sound design


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System Requirements:macOS 10.9 or later, Windows 8 or later
Plugin Format:64-bit only – AU, VST2, VST3, AAX
Best Deal:View at Plugin Boutique

View at Thomann
Pros:Excellent time-based effects.
Versatile.
Loads of presets to get you going.
Cons:No balance control on the pitch shift

Eventide has some of the best fx VST plugins and digital effects algorithms in the industry, and nothing proves that more than the Physion MK II. It’s an incredibly clever plugin that allows you to slice, split, and chop your sounds into different sections and piece them back together to create completely new and affected audio.

The algorithm on this powerful plugin might sound a bit complex. It automatically splits your audio into its tonal and transient sounds, which can be edited with separate effects and parameters before gluing them back to one another. I like to use slow-attack effects, such as delays and reverbs, to add space and time to my guitars or synths or enhance specific, transient-heavy hits, like snares or percussion.

You can edit the transients with EQs, gates, delays, and reverbs, while the tonal section allows you to add modulation and pitch-shifting effects to those edited transients. It’s a genuinely innovative plugin; I can’t think of another one like it.

Plus, the VST plugin features a beautifully modern user interface and tons of presets to optimize your music production workflow, making it an excellent choice for audio professionals who want something they can use quickly.

Related: Best EDM Plugins


H3000Factory best effect plugins

4. Eventide H3000 Factory

One of the best Hardware effect units now as a VST effect plugin


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View at Thomann

System Requirements macOS 10.9 or later, Windows 8 or later
Plugin Format64-bit only – AU, VST2, VST3, AAX
BEST DEAL
View at Pluginboutique

View at Thomann
ProsDetailed routing options.
Sounds great!
ConsSome features are DAW-dependent. (Sidechaining & MIDI control)

In the 1980s, just a few decades before digital audio workstations infiltrated studios worldwide, Eventide came out with the H3000. Even as most digital audio workstations came into fruition, it remained one of the most sought-after multi-effects units ever made. The Eventide H3000 Factory emulates the original hardware unit, offering a few modern touches and a couple of ultra-flexible algorithms to gel with your contemporary productions. 

There are 18 modules on the user interface that you can play around with, including modulation, filters, pitch shifters, and delays. You can configure them however you’d like and use the patch leads as further modulation. While you can get your feet wet by making your own patches, it’s a complex beast to tame, so I’d recommend starting with the presets. 

The wideners and vocal doublers are some of my favorite effects on the plugin, though there are plenty of special effects presets that are equally cool. For example, a few filter presets are great for sci-fi battle scene-style effects and some 70s-style, airplane-like phasers for adding flavor to your drum fills and synth lines. There’s a host of flanger and pitch-shifting algorithms too, which are great for whacky mangling of your drums or synth lines.

The one main downside is that some of the sidechain options on this VST plugin are dependent on the DAW you have. Logic DAW doesn’t have MIDI control.


Related: Best Free Synth Plugins

Izotope Vocal best effect plugins

5. iZotope Vocal Synth

Easy-to-use versatile vocal effect plugin


View at: Pluginboutique
Rent to own at Splice

System Requirements:macOS 10.13.6 or later, Windows 10 or later
Plugin Format:64-bit only – AU, VST2, VST3, AAX
Best Deal:View at: Pluginboutique

Rent to own at Splice
Pros:Can reorder effects in the signal chain.
Easy to setup and use.
Cons:Can reorder effects in the signal chain.
Easy to set up and use.

While iZotope VocalSynth 2 might primarily be a vocal effects plugin, you can add unique flavors to just about any recorded sound or virtual instruments with its many effects modules. I love the straightforward user interface, a strength of iZotope’s plugins. 

The fun starts with your input signal, which you can throw through a detailed pitch correction module before playing with the rest of the synth effect modules. There are a few familiar audio effects, including the Talkbox and Vocoder, and a couple of untraditional tone-shapers you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else, such as the Compuvox and Biovox modules. 

Izotope vocal synth rent to own best effect plugins

You can get some pretty insane results by simply using the Ring Mod or Chorus modules. Adding the shift formants and auto-generated harmonies further increases the complexity of results. The modules can be arranged and configured in any fashion you find suitable, giving you endless ways to manipulate your audio.

The only major downside to this VST plugin is that the modules don’t offer much depth, so if you like tweaking your effects endlessly, you might not get the satisfaction you’re after.

Also available as rent to own via Splice.


Related: Free Ableton Packs

softube-oto-biscuit-8bit-effects best effect plugins

6. Softube OTO Biscuit 8-bit Effects

An innovative plugin of the hardware multi-effects unit providing top tier audio mangling

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System Requirements:macOS 10.13 or later, Windows 10 or later
Plugin Format:64-bit only – AU, VST2, VST3, AAX
Best Deal:View at Pluginboutique
Pros:Faithful emulation of the hardware unit.
Versatile effects.
Cons:

The OTO Machines digital distortion unit is one of the rarest hardware units ever made. However, luckily enough, Softube was able to reinvent the one-of-a-kind effects kit in the form of the Softube OTO Biscuit 8-Bit VST plugin. 

The different sections on the plugin include pitch-shifting, delay, waveshaping, sample rate reduction, bit manipulation, and analog-style filtering. Essentially, you get a versatile effects palette to play around with. It’s one of the most addictive plugins in my arsenal today. 

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Softube-OTO-Biscuit-feat-950x500.jpg
OTO Biscuit 8 bit Effects

One of my favorite things about the plugin is how nuanced the distortion flavors are. While you can get some pretty extreme sounds out of them, you can tweak and mix them with surgical control using the brain, filter, and clock controls. There are also a few fantastic audio effects, all of which deliver a unique sound, perfect for those who like experimenting.

The easy-to-use interface is gorgeous, giving you an aesthetic similar to the actual hardware effect, and the tone is rich and warm, much akin to what you’d expect from real electronics.


Related: The Best Electronic Music Production Books

Effect_Rack_Small-best effect plugins

7. Soundtoys Effect Rack 5

Amazing value multi-effects system


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System Requirements:OS X 10.10 or later,
Plugin Format:Windows 7 SP1 or later
Best Deal:View at Plugin Boutique
Pros:Create custom chains.
Make it easy to combine and automate multi sound toys modules.
Great sounding plugins.
Cons:More modulation options would make Effect Rack more powerful.

Soundtoys has one of the best suites of creative effect VST plugins on the market, taking unusual pieces of classic hardware and reinventing them in VST format. With Soundtoys Effect Rack, you can take each of Soundtoys’ different VST plugins and place them in a single, rack-style user interface for chain processing.

Soundtoys effect rack presets best effect plugins
Soundtoys Effect Rack 5 Presets

Not only are tons of great presets to choose from, but you also get the option to save your effects chains to recall later. So, for example, if you like using the Decapitator VST plugin with one of the specific saturation modes alongside the Echoboy delay plugin and the FilterFreak dynamic resonant filter plugin with particular parameter settings, you can.

Sountdtoys effect rack drop
Drag and drop effect modules

It’s one of the best VST plugins for music producers and sound designs, as it offers a million unique ways to add depth and warmth to electronic music or virtual instruments, whether with subtle enhancements or all-out mayhem. You have genuinely endless possibilities to bring life into your home studio productions.


Related: Best Free Reverb Plugins

m morph best effect plugins

8. Melda Plugins M Morph

An original and useful multi-effect plugin


View at Pluginboutique

System Requirements:macOS 10.9 or later, Windows 7 or later
Plugin Format:64-bit only – AU, VST2, VST3, AAX
Best Deal:View at Pluginboutique
Pros:Wide range of effects.
Great Modulation
Cons:

MeldaProduction’s MMorph takes a unique approach compared to the other multi-effects VST plugins on this list, as rather than blending your input signal in a pot of multiple effects simultaneously, it merges the clean signal from one effect into theously. 

There are eight unique effects processors on separate channels, the first of which is a compressor module and the second of which is a harmonics generator module, perfect for adding a bit of analog sweetness.

You can blend multiple tracks, combining sound effects, synths, vocals, and guitars, giving you some of the most out-of-this-world results you could imagine.

Plus, compared to most VST plugins, there’s a massive range of quality presets and a unique randomization feature for when you need divine intervention.

Beyond that, you’ll also find a MIDI learn function, auto-gain compensation, and some MIDI routing/side processing. The one thing that I will say is that while it has a very intuitive interface, unlike some other VST plugins, it feels a bit dated.

As a side note, Melda makes some of the best free VST plugins on the market, so if you’re after free plugins for your music production arsenal, I’d highly recommend checking out their free plugin software.
I covered some of them in my article Free Effect Plugins.


Related: 100+ Free Effect Plugins

unfiltered_audio_silo best effect plugins

9. Unfiltered Silo

Amazing granulated reverb for otherworldly sound design


View at: Unfiltered Audio

System Requirements:macOS 13 down to macOS 10.11
Windows 11 down to Windows 8
Plugin Format:AAX Native, AU, VST2, VST3
Best Deal:It may be too niche-sounding for some.
Pros:Granular processing allows for unusual and previously unheard reverb effects.
Host of sound design presets.
Characterful sound.
Cons:Maybe too niche sounding for some.

If you like to tweak and fine-tune your effect VST plugins endlessly, then you’ll love Unfiltered Audio’s Silo. It’s one of the most potent reverb plugins on the market today. It uses cutting-edge granular processing to chop up your audio input into unique grains of microscopic audio that you can process individually.

Unlike most reverb VSTs, dialing rich, otherworldly reverb algorithms is easy, regardless of the sound source. You’ll also find a robust library of presets from some of the industry’s top music producers and sound designers, including Richard Devine. One of the ways SILO truly excels over other VST effects is by creating movement and width, making any sound source or virtual instrument you run through it feel like it’s in a legitimate three-dimensional space.

Related: Best Free Reverb Plugins

Unfiltered Audio Silo is a truly spectacular piece of virtual studio technology with a user interface that minimalist Ableton Live users will love and one of the most innovative reverb plugins to come onto the market in the past few years.

10. SugarBytes Graindad

In-depth Granular effects mayhem

View at PluginBoutique

System Requirements:Mac OS (64 Bit): from 10.9
Plugin Format:AAX DSP, AAX Native, VST2, VST3
Best Deal:View at Plugin Boutique
Pros:Extreme audio effect manipulation.
Dual modulation engine.
Cons:Complexity maybe a barrier for some.

Sugar Bytes Graindad is a highly diverse granular synthesis engine, perfect for manipulating your audio with delays, reverbs, filters, and randomizers. You can even manipulate MIDI notes, clocks, and transient characteristics.

Twelve parameters in the main engine and up to 64 customizable grains provide excellent control over looping, pitch-shifting, and stuttering transformations. It’s hard to think of a more powerful tool for music production and sound designers.


Free stuff – A page dedicated to free VST plugins, Ableton Live Packs, and templates.
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FAQ

What is an effect plugin?

An effects VST plugin lets you change the sound of your audio. This can be a subtle enhancement to completely changing the sound.

Effects plugins aren’t used to improve the sound in a mixing sense like a compressor or EQ would. They’re used to develop your own sound in the sound design stage of composition. Think of effects vst plugins as instruments – each creating its own sound for your compositions.

This is especially pertinent if you make electronic music. Use your vst effect plugins to generate ideas, compose, and arrange music. Most of the effect vst plugins listed above will not likely be applied at the mixing stage of your music production.

Do I need an effects plugin?

Yeah! Music producers should have a few of these plugins in their arsenal, especially if you are into electronic music production. Effect plugins provide great inspiration for tracks, compositions, and fresh arrangements.

As you learn how to use the effect vst plugins you own, you can coax new and interesting sounds out of them – and create your signature sound.

Many multi-effect vst plugins allow you to tweak them in real-time. This lets you ‘play’ your vst effects and create musical expression with them. This can help vary sections of your arrangements, breathe life into your synths, and add movement and ear candy to your tracks.

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