Top 10 Free VST/AU Virtual Instruments For Macintosh

Recently we ran a story on the Top 10 Free VST Virtual Instruments, however only 1 of the plugins that made the list were for Macinstosh - and we got a *lot* of feedback demanding a list dedicated to the platform that originally kick-started computer based recording, and the one which still dominates professional production today.

So here it is - the best virtual instrument plugins combining VSTi & AU for Mac!


1. Independence Free

Well what can we say? This was the only plugin that made the overall Top 10 list and it comes in firmly at Number 1 for Mac! A sampler with an intuitive user interface, powerful file management, ultra fast streaming integration, Auto-RAM-Cleaner, and unique browser page with information batch tool and drag'n'drop support and Multi-Core support to allow for loading an unlimited number of instruments in seconds.

2. Automat

A substrative synthesizer, this has many features including:
  • 3 antialiased oscilators
  • Filters and amplifier
  • 6 modulators with tempo sync
  • Waveshaper / eq
  • Poly-, unisono and legato-mode

3. TAL-Vocoder

Emulates the sound of vocoders from the early 80s by using 11 bands and is optimized for vocals, some of it's main features are:
  • 11-band vocoder with adjustable volume for every band
  • Adjustable harmonic control adds harmonics to the carrier signal
  • Adjustable speed of the envelope follower (smudge)
  • Carrier VCO (saw, pulse, sub osc, noise - poly and mono mode with portamento)
  • 14 presets, including presets from Dynamix II

4. Drumcore Free

This is a fully working version of the DrumCore 3 AU/VSTi/RTAS plug-in, but limited to 2 drum kits - this however hasn't dented the popularity of this plugin which has been around for over a year now. It includes both Audio and MIDI loops as well as MIDI grooves.

5. FreeAlpha

1 LFO, 6 Waveforms, Syncable to Tempo, Attack adjustable - FreeAlpha is a highly flexible, easy-to-use, VST analog-style synthesizer. For true analog sound, FreeAlpha includes a Precision control that allows you to introduce small inaccuracies into the FreeAlpha's signal chain. This allows you to fine-tune the synth's sound, creating anything from analog-style warmth to cold, digital hardness.

6. Jasuto

A modular synthesizer which is flexible in terms of synthesis techniques - you can achieve additive, subtractive, FM/PM/AM and even hard-sync synthesis all fairly easily. It's slightly unusual concept of objects called scenes being built from nodes gets you thinking in a different way to the standard 'patch-bay' style synth. Another thing that sets Jasuto apart is that the iPhone app and VST versions can communicate with each other over your wi-fi network. When in this mode the app acts like a high resolution multi-touch remote controlling the VST in your host software. You can also sync patches via this method as well.

7. TAL-Elek7ro

Quite impressively this virtual analog synth is the second plugin from Togu Audio Line to make the top 10 list! Features include:
  • 2 oscillators with hard-sync, PW and FM (saw, pulse, triangle, sine)
  • 1 sub oscillator (saw, rectangle)
  • 1 noise oscillator
  • 18dB or 12dB non linear analog modelled low pass resonance filter
  • 2 free routable LFOs (0.1Hz - 400Hz, sine, triangle, saw, rectangle, s&h, noise)

8. Musolomo

Sampler instrument designed with live performance in mind. Some features are:
  • Sample, copy, and erase without the need to look at a computer screen
  • Peripheral vision feedback design (the flashing border)
  • Record and play sync before and after play and record
  • Digi Skip technology, allowing time-jumping
  • Speedster inspired technology for timestretching to host tempo, re-pitching

9. MiniSpillage

MiniSpillage is a cut-down free version of DrumSpillage and it's developer stresses that it's not a recreation of classic drum machine glories nor a homage to the past but instead aims to break new ground and provide the modern musician with an original electronic percussion instrument. Features include:
  • Custom synthesis algorithms
  • High resolution 64 bit DSP engine
  • Exclusive percussion models

10. thOnk_0+2

This is one of those fun apps that reminds you why you started making music in the first place - it's quite old originally designed for OS9, but if you can have a play with it then I suggest you do - just for the fun of it!

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