Best Sound Design VST Plugins

I’m always looking for new, creative ways to produce unique samples. Hundreds of VST Plugins are installed on my audio system and the number is constantly increasing – crazy I know 😉 This is my current list (updated regularly) of the Best Sound Design VST Plugins. For detailed specifications please visit the linked websites of the manufacturers.

iZotope RX8 Advanced

iZotope RX8 Advanced is a great tool when it comes to ridding problematic recordings of unwanted background noise. There are many sophisticated modules available that impressively remove hum, clipping, clicking and even isolating dialogue from other noises.

Here are a few examples from my practice: “Dialogue Isolate” removes road or wind noise from field recordings without any problems. De-reverb as the name suggests removes reverb. This way, you can effortlessly bring the core of the recording “forward” in the mix again. Or if, for example, voice recordings were made with less than ideal equipment (or VoIP / telephone recordings), it is not

uncommon for highs to be missing in the frequency spectrum. A couple of clicks on “Spectral Recovery” solves the problem. You can’t achieve this with an Exciter/Vitalizer. Anyway, I think it’s impressive that you can really edit/remove everything that the spectrum display shows. This goes way beyond a normal EQ.

But it is not just about removing “disruptions/noise”. For instance, when I create a demo track, sometimes the mix of the different parts does not match 100%. But with “Music Rebalance” you can set the mixing ratios on the stereo sum at the end – yes, afterwards!

This tool is definitely a must-have for every mastering engineer or producer! Since you may be overwhelmed by the available modules at the beginning, the RX8 has a “repair wizard”. This diagnoses your audio data and offers processing suggestions. It’s that easy!

RX8 Advanced offers incredible possibilities when processing problematic audio material. It is impossible for me to go into all the features at this point. I am convinced that there is hardly anything comparable in this area – simply impressive.

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Steinberg Backbone

I have been an enthusiastic Steinberg/Cubase user for well over two decades. Backbone has also fascinated me from the start.

This tool offers a new way of creating drum and hit sounds. You can decompose samples into tonal and noise elements and edit them separately from each other. Use re-synthesize to manipulate Samples completely free and flexible. The 8 slots invite you to creatively interconnect samples with their tonal & noise elements. Each slot can be changed intuitively with impressive options (re-synth, pitch, filter, amp, and useful effects).

The sound shaping possibilities are impressive. Its re-synthesis engine is easy to use. Since Blackbone uses only a small amount of CPU, you can easily load multiple instances and create a drum kit, for example.

In Version 1.1 the re-synth algorithm now takes the stereo correlation into account – great for

Stereo Samples. But the export options are also really well thought out (Drag & Drop). With Backbone Steinberg has succeeded in creating an innovative instrument. You can turn samples into something totally new. It’s one of the most powerful creative tools and is not only suitable for drum changes. Highly recommended.

iZotope Stutter Edit 2

I’ve been a big fan of Stutter Edit1 for a long time and always enjoyed using this tool for my sound design. With the 2nd version of this multi-effects glitch plug-in, you get a freely scalable and new user interface, fantastic sounding new effects and extended range of functions in many areas. For me, the most noticeable improvement is the new Time-Variant Modifier Curve (TVM curve). This means that almost every parameter has its own envelope – a real game-changer. You can trigger the tool (comes with 11 effect modules) via MIDI and the new easy to use Auto mode (I waited for this!). It’s easy to create complex rhythmic stutter and buffer effects.

Stutter Edit 2 is my favourite glitch plugin as it’s a creative, flexible toolbox and fun to use. While you can create truly unique, twisted and complex sounds in no time, you have incredible control over the result.

Stutter Edit 2 is a sound explosion, as it is sometimes hard to believe what Stutter Edit2 can conjure up from a normal sound. It’s one of the Best Sound Design VST Plugins. Highly recommended!

Fabfilter Saturn 2

Saturn 2 is an extremely flexible saturation/distortion plugin with options ranging from subtle, clean and warm saturation to total harmonic destruction.

V2 comes with a redesigned easy-to-use GUI (five UI sizes) with modulation visualization, 16 new distortion algorithms (28 in total), multi-band and side-chain operation, an adjustable slope for the crossovers, offering 6, 12, 24 and 48 dB/oct options, a new Transformer category, ergonomic improvements and more.

I have many distortion effects installed on my system. I believe Saturn covers natural-sounding and subtle distortion better than any other Plugin. From subtle, clean and warm tube or tape saturation to the wildest multiband guitar amp effects: FabFilter Saturn 2 delivers.

Saturn 2  with its easy-to-control user interface is varied and the substantial modulation possibilities are sonically outstanding! There are so many ways to tweak sounds! I like to use it on almost everything. The preset “Faster Master” is an insider tip! If you’re in search of a multiband distortion plugin for mixing & sound design, I can’t recommend Saturn 2 enough. FabFilter has delivered a winner in Saturn 2.

Cableguys Shaper Box2

ShaperBox 2 is a slick multi-effect toolbox with an easy-to-use interface. It combines 6 different great-sounding effects (Time, Filter, Crush, Pan, Volume and Width). You can modulate them through a clever GUI.

You can do pretty much anything with Shaperbox2. There is literally an unlimited amount of combinations of effects you can get. It revived my entire sample library. Moreover, it’s a refreshing new way to change the way I normally produce loops.

A cool element to the Compressor and Envelopeis is that you can even route external audio to trigger them.

This expands the possibilities immense. Also the TimeShaper module has been improved so that it now produces far fewer unsightly clicks than in the previous version. My fav moduls are Time-Shaper and Crush-Shaper. I really like the fact that this plugin often leads to completely unpredictable and unique sounds. You can easily create wild, audio mangling presets with a tremendous amount of fun! It’s defenitely one of the the best LoFi Plugins. Highly recommended!

Output Movement

This powerful multi-effect adds motion and rhythmic textures, uniqueness and interest to anything that passes through it in real-time. Movement breathes life into any track or live performance.

Basically this tool comes with two modulation sources. You get sidechain, LFO, Step Sequencer, rhythm modulation, unique sidechain modulation, analog filters, EQ, delay, distortion, compression and reverb effects.

The ability to modulate any parameter with any rhythm is insane. I very much like to use Movement to transform pads and static Atmos sounds into rhythmic textures or faux-plucks.

This tool often adds that certain something to a sound.

An intuitive GUI with it’s X-Y FX-engine control in combination with imaginative and unique rhythm-based effects plus +300 well programmmed presets to get you started make Movement to a workhorse. The possibilities are endless.

Output Portal

Using granularization as an audio effect involves audio being loaded into the internal memory of the device where it can be processed in a variety of ways. The audio is cut up into slices called grains. These can be then be individually pitched, reordered, scale quantized, panned, filtered, stretched, reversed, etc.

What sets Portal apart from other granular plugins is that it has the ability to retains the character of the original sound (in a new and musical way). Portal is less concerned with creating abstract elements, as is otherwise known from granular plugins (cloudy pads / ethereal textures etc.). If you want to completely mutilate the sound, this is of course also possible.

The extensive collection of >250 presets, which are arranged in 13 categories, are breathtaking. Last but not least the distinctive XY Macro display pad is simply fun to use.

Moog Multimode Filter Collection

Moog Multimode Filter is one of my best purchases for my UAD System.

Applying perfectly authentic fuzzy vintage Moog filtering and saturation to stereo sources was never that easy. This outstanding highly flexible musical filter works great on almost anything.

If you want to give your VSTi synths a gorgeous analogue touch, richness, character and personality of the original hardware this is the answer.

The drive function can add just the right analogue edge to my samples.

You can really go nuts with the step sequencer as it opens up a world of possibilities with absolutely creamy Moog filtration. This amazing tool is one of my Best Sound Design VST Plugins. If you make electronic music you really can’t go wrong here.

Soundmorph Dust

This phenomenal Plugin is different! SoundMorph Dust is an amazing sample-based granulising synthesizer and effect which using real-time particle simulation. It is one of those few VSTs that already has a great fascination and inspiration thanks to the breathtaking GUI.

Dust is perfect for anyone who loves creating or sculpting sounds, as it offers practically unlimited possibilities. Intuitive particle settings, granuliser and filter settings, flow field equations and edit convolution hall settings result in interesting and unique sounds. I also like the fact that you can import your own samples into Dust.

The learning curve at first seems quite steep but after a while, you become familiar with its engine. It’s really worth it

Glitchmachines Polygon 2.0

Polygon 2.0 is a hybrid sampler plugin designed to facilitate the creation of mind-bending composite sound effects and unusual instrument patches.

V2 offers a deeper expanded Granular Engine, new and clear GUI (fully scalable), fantastic modulation options and a new double oscillator with FM.

The new granular mode transfers your samples to another world. I love to use comprehensive Randomizer to get something new in no time.

Above all, they also included a new 1,3 GB sample library. For this, they used the best sound designers.

Polygon2 is an amazing sound sculpting instrument of one of the Best Sound Design VST Plugins.

iZotope Trash

Importantly, this is not just another distortion plugin. This one has a whole range of creative features. Trash2 can produce everything from a soft tube saturation up to over-the-top bit crushing and totally weird stuff.

It’s sonic versatility for creative production with sophisticated filtering and dynamics effects plus realistic speaker and space simulation leaves no wish unfulfilled. Trash2 is great for giving lifeless sounds a character of their own. You can dramatically transform any sound into something completely different. It’s an indispensable tool in my arsenal.

Take a little cash and you can get your hands on a Distortion Plugin. It is much more powerful than the one included in your DAW.

This was my personal list of the Best Sound Design VST Plugins. I will update this categorie regularly.

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