The Best Music Production Plugins (Guide)

Music production has come a long way, and with technological advancements, producers now have a wide array of tools to create incredible music. One of the critical components of music production is the use of plugins. These software extensions enhance the capabilities of digital audio workstations, allowing producers to shape, manipulate, and create unique sounds. 

Let's explore the most essential music production plugins for Mac and Windows users. We will dive into synthesizers, processing plugin bundles, reverb plugins, EQ-style plugins, vocal processing tools, distortion and saturation plugins, drums plugins, sampled instruments, and other processing plugins. Let's take a closer look at each category. 


Synthesizers are the backbone of electronic music production. They allow producers to generate unique sounds by manipulating and combining different waveforms. Here are some of the most essential synthesiser plugins for Mac and Windows users: 


Serum, developed by Xfer Records, has become a go-to plugin for EDM producers. With its versatile set of functions and bright, punchy sounds, Serum has gained popularity in the music industry. While the built-in preset library may be small, numerous preset packs have been created for Serum, making it suitable for various genres.


 Omnisphere, a hybrid synth, has remained among the top VST plugins for years. It offers a massive library of built-in sounds, ranging from powerful synth-only sounds to cinematic layered patches. This plugin is viral among hip-hop producers.


 Diva, an analogue modelling synth, is known for its fat and realistic sounds. It provides modules inspired by Roland and Moog, offering a high level of customization without sacrificing authenticity. Diva is a popular choice among melodic house and techno producers.


Vital, a new wavetable synth VST, has gained immense popularity due to its impressive features and the fact that it is entirely free. Despite being free, Vital offers many features similar to Serum. As the number of preset packs for Vital continues to grow, it is expected to become one of the most popular synths among EDM producers.

Nexus 4

Nexus 4 is a rompler that offers solid sounds, making it perfect for mainstream EDM and dance productions. It provides quick access to various valuable patches that require minimal customisation. Professionals have widely used Nexus 4, maintaining its popularity over the years.

Arturia Analog Lab

Arturia is renowned for its emulations of classic vintage synthesizers. The "Analog Lab" plugin combines all the libraries of their emulation plugins into one user-friendly interface. With eight initial controls for quick tweaking, you can dive deeper and customise the sound to your liking. 

u-He Repro 5 

Repro 5, developed by u-He, is an exceptional emulation of the classic Prophet 5 synthesizer with modern improvements. This plugin has gained popularity due to its ability to recreate the iconic sound of the Prophet 5.


FabFilter is known for its high-quality processing plugins. Their Pro Q EQ plugin, in particular, offers professional-grade equalization with a visually appealing interface. FabFilter plugins are widely used in the music industry.


Soundtoys plugins stand out from the rest due to their innovative and creative effects. The Decapitator plugin, known for its distortion capabilities, and the Crystallizer plugin, which provides pitch-shifting and reverse echo effects, are among their most popular offerings. 


MeldaProduction offers a vast collection of plugins and even provides a free bundle. Their plugins are a great starting point for producers looking to expand their audio processing tools. The MAutoPitch plugin, handy for vocals, is one of their top offerings. 

Universal Audio (UAD)

Universal Audio offers software versions of iconic hardware devices such as the API Vision Channel Strip, Neve 1073 Preamp & EQ, and the SSL 4000 E Channel Strip. These plugins bring the sound of classic hardware to your digital audio workstation. 



Blackhole, developed by Eventide, offers a wide range of controls to create unique reverb sounds. With 50 presets and the ability to customise your signature sounds, Blackhole is a versatile reverb plugin suitable for various genres. 

Valhalla Plate 

ValhallaPlate is an algorithmic plate reverb plugin that emulates the sound of hardware plate reverbs. With 12 original algorithms, this plugin pushes the boundaries of what a plate reverb can do. 

Lexicon PCM Native Reverb 

Lexicon's Native Reverb provides a vast selection of algorithms and patches to create stunning spaces for vocals, synths, and recorded instruments. It offers a range of reverbs, from small intimate rooms to large expansive areas.



Soothe2 is a plugin designed to remove harshness, reduce sibilance in vocals, and treat uneven tonal balance in recordings. It effectively removes unwanted frequencies and enhances the overall clarity of your mix.

Voxengo SPAN 

Voxengo SPAN is an audio spectrum analyzer plugin that provides detailed visual feedback on the frequency of your audio content. It is a valuable tool for music production, allowing you to identify and correct any frequency imbalances.


Antares Auto-Tune

Antares Auto-Tune is a popular plugin used for pitch correction and vocal effects. It allows you to correct the pitch of vocal recordings, add artistic products, and achieve a polished vocal sound.


Melodyne is an audio plugin that empowers you to edit specific notes in a recording. It analyzes audio sophisticatedly, recognizing scales, notes, chords, tempo, and tonal character. You can bring out the musical details in your vocals with Melodyne and achieve precise editing.



CamelCrusher is a free distortion and saturation plugin that offers two distinct modes that can be used individually or together. It is a versatile tool that can be applied to guitars, drums, vocals, and other elements in your mix.

Trash 2

Trash 2 is a powerful distortion plugin that allows you to design custom distortion effects. With its various modules, you can add textures, edit distortion parameters, and create unique sounds. It is widely regarded as one of the most innovative distortion plugins available.


RC-20 is a popular lo-fi plugin that adds a vintage vibe and texture to your tracks. It emulates classic vintage recording equipment, breathing life into your recordings and adding a nostalgic feel. It is particularly well-suited for modern production studios. 

Saturation Knob 

Saturation Knob is a free plugin that provides distortion for various purposes. Whether you want to add harmonics to vocals, create heavy distortion on guitar recordings, or enhance basslines, the Saturation Knob offers a simple yet powerful solution. 


Addictive Drums 

Addictive Drums 2 offers studio-recorded drum samples and an easy-to-use interface for programming realistic drum patterns. With a wide selection of drum kits, this plugin allows you to create professional-sounding drum tracks. 24. SSD5 

SSD5, developed by Steven Slate, provides well-recorded drum kits that can be programmed in a piano roll or mapped to MIDI controllers. This plugin offers a range of sounds and customization options, allowing you to create dynamic and lifelike drum performances. 


Kontakt is a go-to plugin for sampled instruments, offering various third-party instrument libraries. Kontakt provides access to well-recorded pianos, guitars, orchestral instruments, synths, and drum machines with its included factory selection.


Keyscape is a keyboard plugin that samples some of the finest pianos, rhodes, and digital keyboards. It gives you easy access to various sounds, including rare keyboards, which can be combined with other instruments to create unique patches.


Arcade is a subscription-based plugin that uses loops and allows easy customization in a user-friendly interface. It is beneficial in genres like hip-hop, where producers can quickly find and manipulate loops to create unique compositions. 

Ozone (Mastering)

Ozone, developed by iZotope, is a comprehensive mastering plugin that combines compressors, EQs, stereo effects, and AI-based algorithms. It provides the tools to master a track, whether aiming for a warm analogue feel or the ideal loudness for music streaming platforms. 

OTT (Multiband Compressor) 

OTT is a free multiband compressor plugin widely used in EDM, dubstep, and electro tracks. It adds brightness and punch to your mix with just a few clicks, enhancing the overall impact of your music.

Wider (Stereo Expander) 

More comprehensive, developed by Polyverse Music, is a free plugin that expands mono signals into stereo without sacrificing mono compatibility. It is a valuable tool for enhancing the stereo width of your tracks and creating an improved listening experience. 

The world of music production is enriched by many plugins that empower producers to push the boundaries of creativity. Whether you're looking for synthesizers, processing plugin bundles, reverb plugins, EQ-style plugins, vocal processing tools, distortion and saturation plugins, drums plugins, sampled instruments, or other processing plugins, there are numerous options available for both Mac and Windows users.

Up Next: The Best MIDI Keyboard (Buying Guide)


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