This article will discuss the 14 BEST Plugin/VST Stores in 2023 and all PluginBoutique Alternatives.
Third-party plugins have become almost necessary to achieve the industry standard sound in today’s music production space. So investing in upgrading your tools is always a good idea, whether buying a sophisticated virtual synthesizer or its presets or effects plugins to achieve better mixers.
Mixing and mastering in the box have become a common practice, and bedroom producers are landing better and bigger deals in the industry. However, many sources on the internet can help you up your game by getting the best possible tools and the content and study material to best use your tools.
The plugin market is constantly populated with new technology and tools, changing the conventional workflow. So here we will discuss the best online stores for plugins, including three websites for free plugins and the top Plugin Boutique alternatives. So let’s dive right into it.
Top 14 VST Plugin Stores/Shops 2023 (Best PluginBoutique Alternatives)
1. Plugin Alliance
PluginAlliance is a plugin aggregator which rents out plugin packs and bundles on subscriptions.
Its flagship bundle, called “MEGA,” comes in three different variations: L, XL, and XXL, priced at $9.99, $19.99, and $24.99 per month, respectively. The bundles consist of plugins from giants like Izotope, Blackbox Analog Design, Brainworx, AMEK, etc. In addition, the website features 180 plugins, including 3D audio software, mastering services, the B.X. mastering DAW, and more.
Plugin Alliance is great for mixing-mastering plugins and also features decent analog-based software synthesizers and plugins based on physical modeling. The plugins are available in VST 2, VST 3, AAX, A.U., and Soundgrid plugin formats to work with almost every mainstream DAW.
However, the plugin alliance installation software is only accessible by Windows 8 (or higher) and Mac OS 10.11+ users. So you cannot use it if you’re Windows 7 user. A huge concern about Plugin Alliance is its poor Trustpilot rating of 1.9/5 and unattended negative reviews. Many of these reviews are political, but some are about the product, with complaints about bad customer service.
However, they have a legit and faithful following of many producers and engineers and tech and sales support on their website. Keeping aside the questionable customer service, the plugins on the website are great, including Knif Audio Knifonium, a comprehensive analog synth emulation, Shadow Hills Class A Mastering compressor, NEOLD’s V76U73 preamp and compressor, and more.
There’s no doubt that Plugin Alliance offers one of the best mixing and mastering plugins collection, especially analog emulations. However, it could have a better collection of effect plugins like reverb, flanger, phaser, etc., and synth and instrument plugins.
Source: ADSR Sounds
ADSR Sounds is a marketplace for sample packs, audio tutorials, and plugins & virtual instruments.
It markets itself as a ‘One Stop Shop’ for electronic music producers. It features comprehensive music production, sound design, mixing-mastering, and audio engineering tutorials across various DAWs and has a great collection of sample and preset packs. However, its plugin collection is also great!
It has classified its plugin marketplace into three categories: FX, Instruments, and Developers. So when you go to FX, it displays an entire list of effects categories, including Amp, Chorus, Compressor, BitCrusher, etc. It’s a huge list of at least a hundred categories. You can click on any category to browse the effect plugins you want.
For example, if you click on ‘Loudness,’ it will display all the plugins listed on the site in alphabetical order. Further, you can click on the plugin and read its description, system requirements, and other information to make your choice. Once you buy the plugin, you can add it to the cart or check out immediately. It allows you to pay by Card, Paypal, or Bitcoin Ethereum USDC.
Similarly, you can browse the plugins using different instruments and developers’ categories. It has a great collection and a simple model, with smooth check-outs, payments, deliveries, and a streamlined, eye-catching, easy-to-understand, stunning, and navigatable website interface.
It includes plugins from renowned developers like Oberheim, UJJAM, PSP, Xfer Records, Arturia, Air Music Technology, Kilohearts, Izotope, Polyverse, u-he, and more. It also has a great rating of 4.7/5 on Trustpilot by 200+ reviewers. Found in 2012, it has headquarters in Hong Kong and Edinburgh.
BestService is an online plugin and software instruments marketplace based out of Germany.
It has a simple yet effective website with categories like Brands, Virtual Instruments, Sample/Loop Libraries, Sound Effects, Effect Plugins, Software, and more. The home page features the leading and the latest products on the website. In addition, it features products from companies like Antares, Native Instruments, W.A. Productions, Izotope, and more.
When you click on any category, it shows further sub-categories, where you can more easily filter out and find what you’re looking for. For example, if you’re looking for a good virtual bass instrument plugin. Click on the Virtual Instruments category and then on the Basses category. That will display all the bass instruments on their website, and you can make your choice then.
It accepts payments via credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, JCB, Diners Club, and Discover, and other sources like PayPal, AliPay, IDEAL, and KLARNA. Please don’t go by the look of the website, as it may seem a little old school, as the collection on the website is great!
Splice is a well-known subscription-based marketplace for sample packs, loops, and audio plugins.
While Splice is primarily based on samples and loops, it also offers some great plugin collections, especially for music producers and sound designers. For example, it offers synths like Serum, Arturia V Collection, Wavetstate Native by KORG, Vocal SYnth 2 by Izotope, and more. Plus, it features Studio One 5 Professional and plugins from KORG, Izotope, Bitwig, XLN Audio, and more.
The subscription plans range from $9.99 to $29.99 per month and $99.99 to $299.99 per year, along with a 14-day free trial. While it’s great for virtual synthesizers and decent for effects plugins, there are better places to fund plugins for mixing and mastering. But it will suit your needs as a sound designer and beatmaker.
Patreon allows you to fund independent creators by subscribing to them.
Many independent developers sell their plugins and audio applications on Patreon or sell subscriptions to their products, and that too at quite an affordable price. It’s a great way to support the engineers and musicians who create the DSPs. For example, a creator named Chris Johnson has a catalog of 250 plugins, out of which he’s released 180 plugins on Patreon, or Analog Obsession gives their A-Class plugins for free, but you can pay to help them developing new tools.
Similarly, you can find some interesting virtual tools for your music production, audio engineering, and sound design workflow, directly from the developer, without having to go through the white labeling manufacturers and marketers.
6. W. A. Production
Source: W. A. Production
W. A. Production is an online marketplace for a sample and loops packs, plugins, and audio tutorials/videos.
It has a 4.7/5 rating at Trust Pilot by 4000+ reviewers and is a reliable and trustworthy website to order your plugins from. It allows you to browse your plugins under categories like Plugin Type, Genre, Label, and Format. Plugin types include amp simulator, chorus, compressor, delay, equalizer, and many more categories.
Genres include ambient, bass house, future bass, funk, pop, hip-hop, and more. Labels/developers include CloudBounce, DH Plugins, Audiomodern, etc. It offers you to browse from pages like Top Plugins, Plugins List, Plugin Presets, Sale, and Free Plugins. In addition, you can find the latest and most popular plugins on their website.
It offers great discounts and sales and has a smooth payment process from Mastercard, VISA, VISA Debit card, and PayPal. In addition, the website offers free assets like free sounds, plugins, and more. Plus, you can also take advantage of its other services and products.
LANDR is a multipurpose marketplace for music producers, sound engineers, and other music creators.
Apart from its various services like AI mastering, collaborative space, distribution, and LANDR Studio sample packs market, Landr also sells and develops plugins. Its flagship product is LANDR FX Suite, a bundle of easy-to-use plugins with a single dial knob for tonal effects and modulations.
The LANDR FX Suite is $99 and offers a free seven-day trial for all multi-fx plugins it has in the suite. Further, there are suites for LANDR FX Bass, LANDR FX Acoustic, LANDR FX Beats, LANDR FX Electric, and LANDR FX Voice for $29 each, such that each suite has single-knob effect plugins for their respective purposes.
In addition, it offers plugins like Antares Auto-tune, Lethal synthesizer by Lethal Audio, and plugins by Blue Cat Audio, Voxengo, Cableguys, and LANDR itself. The range for direct selling of third-party plugins is limited, but the bundles and suites developed by the company are quite comprehensive and versatile. However, you can rent out a lot of third-party plugins.
Lastly, there’s the LANDR Studio, a subscription-based service that offers Plugin Studio for $99/year and LANDR Studio for $149.99/year. Both include plugins from the LANDR FX Suite, VolAlign Project 5, by IK Multimedia, Cableguys, Arturia, KLEVGRAND, Baby Audio, and more. It also features synthesizers by UJAM, Arturia, IK Multimedia synths, and more.
Along with the plugins, the Plugin Studio also has study material and video content from Berklee, Melodics, and Groove3. Along with everything the Plugin Studio offers, the LANDR Studio subscription also offers unlimited mp3 masters, 36 WAV masters/year, 1200 sample credits/year, Music Distribution services, and online collab & DAW streaming tools by LANDR.
PluginFox is an online marketplace for buying plugins, virtual instruments, DAWs, and other audio-related software.
It is a reliable and legitimate company with a rating of 4.0/5 on Trustpilot by 220+ users. The website includes a menu of plugins, with categories like Bundles, De-esser, Filter, Audio Separation, Bass Amp, Doubler, Distortion, and more. The categories of Virtual Instruments include Kontakt instruments, Libraries, Choir, Bass, Harp, Mallets, etc.
The website also sells samples, loops, tutorials, etc. Its sellers include companies like 2nd Sense, AAS, AKAI, AIR, Kilohearts, Nova, Sonnox, XLN Audio, Image-Line, and hundreds of other brands. In addition, the website has a separate page for Deals, which lists the best discounts, deals, and bundles at the time.
There’s always some discount and sale going on. In addition, a chatbot is featured on the website, which you can use to communicate and learn more about the products. Finally, they have strong customer support and a Contact Us page on the website, by which you can get in touch with them via mail.
ProducerSpot sells sample packs, plugins, and courses by various major developers and brands.
The company has a browsable website with plugin categories like Synthesizers, Virtual Instruments, Effects, Kontakt libraries, and other studio tools. It also features synth presets and browsing via the company name. In addition, you can search for what you’re looking for by using the search bar.
After you select the category, you can filter the results by Popularity, Ratings, Price, and Date. It features plugins from Fab Filter, Sugar Bytes, Boz, NoizeAsh, Blue Cat Audio, BABY AUDIO, and more companies. In addition, it features virtual instruments & software synthesizers from Roland, Initial Audio, Tone 2, AIR, and other companies.
KVR Audio is a well-known and legitimate marketplace for plugins.
It’s popular for its audio forums and discussions. However, its primary business is selling plugins. Its website features thousands of plugins within categories like Virtual Instruments, Virtual Processors/Effects, DAWs & Applications, Mobile Apps & plugins, sounds, samples, presets, and free audio software.
You can sort the list of plugins by Recommended, Best match, Price, user ratings, developer/brand, etc. The list is huge, and you can find almost anything audio here, and can also filter by selecting the operating system, plugin type (VST, A.U., AAX, etc.), Price Range, and Tags.
Undoubtedly, it has one of the best interfaces and collections in the plugin seller’s market. In addition, it also features plenty of free video content to learn from under the page “Video.” Furthermore, the forums greatly help get any advice or discussion on audio. In addition, there are loads of free blogs and news on the site.
Thomann is an online music/audio hardware store that also sells software.
When you go through the website, you have to click on the “Software” tab to see the software that the website sells. There’s everything from DAWs like Pro Tools, FL Studio, Studio One, Abelton, Cubase, etc., synthesizers like u-he Diva, Native Instruments plugins, and plugins from companies like UAD, FabFilter, Izotope, Slate Digital, etc.
The main categories include Sequencing software & Virtual Studios/DAWs, Mastering & Editing Software, Audio & Effects plugins, DJ Software, Notation software, sound libraries, virtual instruments & samplers, and more. Plus, it has categories like Top Sellers, New Arrivals, Top brands, Hot Deals, and Bargains.
Every listed product also has a rating parameter that you can check to make your purchasing decisions. In addition, you can sort the products by Popularity, Price, Ratings, and in alphabetical order. You can also list your price range. Lastly, you can make payments using PayPal, Credit Card, Amazon Pay, iDEAL, Sofortüberweisung, and Bancontact.
Sweetwater is an audio equipment online marketplace and retailer.
However, you can also find plugins here. The best part about buying plugins from Sweetwater is that they have great customer support, and you can reach out to their sales engineers anytime. In addition, it allows you to shop by the following categories: DAW Software, Plugins: Virtual instruments, Plugins: Virtual processors, notation software, mastering software, D.J. Software, etc.
You can also shop by brands, some of which are Native Instruments, Avid, Toontracks, Izotope, Waves, Celemony, FabFilter, Arturia, and more. In addition, Sweetwater offers a dedicated sales engineer and free tech support, which is a huge pro of buying from it! Plus, the search engine on the website is easy and efficient, by which you can look for any plugin or software.
It offers its software products at good prices and offers occasional discounts, deals, and sales. In addition, there are reviews & ratings about each product that you can read and go through to make your decisions. It’s one of the biggest and most reliable audio sellers online.
13. Audio Plugins.Deals
Source: Audio Plugins Deals
Audio Plugins Deals is an online marketplace for plugins and audio software.
The website is divided into two categories: The Deal and The Shop. The Deal is concerned with bi-weekly deals by different developers, offering their products at a heavily discounted and bargained price. The Shop, besides, is like any other marketplace for sample libraries and plugins.
You can easily find up to 80% discounts on “The Deal” part of the website. So it’s great to subscribe to its newsletter to get updates on its sales. With software from brands like Aria sound, Channel Robot, Tone Empire, Image Sounds, and more, the website features instruments types like Acoustic/Organic, Drum/Percussive, Loop/Rhythmic, Sound Effects, World/Ethnic, Pads, Synths, Strings, etc.
In addition, there are sounds in the following formats: ACID, AIFF, Apple Loops, EXS 24, and more. Lastly, the collection is huge; whether it is of software instruments or mixing-mastering and effects plugins, you can find some quality stuff here.
Gear4music is an online audio and music gear store with plugins and other audio software.
You will find these digital products in the website’s Studio and Production section/menu with categories like DAWs, plugins, sample packs, audio editing, notation software, and more. When you click on it, you will find categories like Deals, DJ, DAWs, Plugins, Sample Packs, Notation, Audio Editors, and Guides.
It features products from brands like Cherry Audio, LANDR, Baby Audio, FabFilter, Moog, Soundtoys, etc. In addition, you can browse by filtering sounds by software type, and sorting them out by Price, Recommended, Product Name, and more. Overall, it has a good collection! It’s a UK-based company with a 4.8/5 Trust pilot rating of more than 1 lakh reviews.
Best Free Plugin Websites
1. PLUGINS 4 FREE
Source: PLUGINS 4 FREE
Plugins 4 free is one of the most popular websites for free plugins, software synthesizers, and virtual instruments.
The collection on the website is huge, and you can find anything from great free equalizers to open-source synthesizers for advanced sound designing to free samples and sampler instruments in different formats. The main categories of products are Drums, Instruments, Samplers, Synths, and Vintage.
In addition, you can also find MIDI tools and VSTs, for easier compositions and programming. Lastly, the process is hassle-free and easy. There’s no login, no subscribing with email for a newsletter, or anything.
You can directly download the plugin at the click of a button. Plus, there are product descriptions, comments, ratings, and comment replies from the community for a better understanding of the product. In addition, the website works on ads and donations.
2. FREE VST PLUGINS
Source: FREE VST PLUGINS
Free VST Plugins is an open-source website for downloading free plugins (VSTs, AUs, AAXs, etc.).
You can find anything from VST Instruments (Drums, Synths, Vintage instruments, etc.) to VST Effects (Frequency, Signal, Time, Guitar Effects, etc.) to MIDI VST (Generators, Controllers, Tools, etc.) to Audio Tools (Multi-tracks, sound editor, sequencer, and more).
The website has a great interface, with user-friendly listings and easy download options, without resistance to worthless clicks and submissions. It also has a great collection of free legal plugins from advanced levels to beginners.
3. Audio Plugins For Free
Source: Audio Plugins For Free
Audio Plugins for Free is a well-organized and expansive website for free sounds and audio software.
The website has great browsing features, such that you can click on tabs and pages for the “Most Popular,” “Best Free VST,” “Best Free VST Synth,” etc., which makes your search easier. In addition, the website features some of the most well-known and functional plugins on the home page, like CamelCrusher, Glitch, Tal reverb II Izotope Vinyl, KOMPLETE Player, TDR Nova, etc.
The product descriptions are accurate and well-written, the downloads are safe, and the plugins are available in VST, RTAS, AAX, and AU formats, depending on the plugin’s compatibility. It’s the best website to find the best free plugins. The download may not be directly available, but it will take you to the manufacturer’s site, where it is if not.
JRR Shop is an online store for audio plugins and virtual instruments.
You can find great virtual guitar rigs, bass plugins, acoustic emulations, orchestral sample packs & instruments, preamp plugins, effect plugins, and mastering tools on the website. It features tools from Arturia, Polyverse, IK Multimedia, Boz Digital, Sonible, Audiomodern, and many more such companies.
JRRShop is great for finding tools that realistically emulate or sample organic instruments like guitars, violins, horns, percussions, etc. It offers discounts ranging from 5% to 50%, and you can filter the products by the discount it offers. Further, you can filter the products by Price, type, manufacturer, and sale.
Andertons Music Co. is an online retail store for instruments and audio equipment but also sells plugins and audio software.
It allows you to filter your products by Brand, Colour Group, Price, MIDI Enabled, Software type, Digital/Analog, and more tags, and features products from companies like Kilohearts, Universal Audio, u-he, Slate Digital, FabFilter, Softube, and more renowned brands.
The collection is huge, and the products are downloadable immediately. The search bar allows you to look for whatever plugin you need. They have decent customer service and a contact page to help you with queries or complaints.
SamAsh is a legacy music store with an offline presence since 1924.
However, it also has an online store that mostly sells instruments and audio gear but also has plugins and audio software. It has products from companies like APOGEE, FabFilter, Antares, Spectrasonics, and more. It offers good rates and deals on plugins, but the collection is not very huge!
Amazon is one of the biggest online shopping stores in the world, and you can also find plugins & audio software on it.
You can look for anything from F.L. Studio, Abelton, Pro Tools, etc., and you will most likely find it. In addition, you can find some great books and audio-related descriptive content for learning theoretical and practical music production, audio engineering, and sound design concepts.
However, since it’s not a music-niche marketplace, there are better places to buy plugins, but you can surprisingly find various software at good prices here. So it’s a good idea to browse through them. Secondly, Amazon is great for finding instruments and other audio equipment & hardware.
We have covered 21 websites from which you can source your plugins, VSTs, virtual instruments, sampler instruments, Kontakt libraries, software synthesizers, hardware gear, and more. Three of these free websites are where you can find some great free tools. Only three websites mentioned in the post: Splice, LANDR, and PluginAlliance, are based on selling subscriptions.
However, you can also directly source the plugins from the manufacturer. For example, Wavs allows you to buy directly and also offers subscriptions. Similarly, UAD offers UAD Sparks, a subscription-based plugin marketplace of UAD plugins exclusively. Likewise, you can buy from Slate Digital and Izotope directly as well.
From the list, PluginAlliance is the best place to get mastering and analog-based plugins. ADSR Sounds and KVR Audio are great for finding effects plugins, virtual instruments, and synthesizers. Audio Plugins 4 free is great for finding the best free plugins. Hope the article was of help. Thank you for reading.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.