5 Free VSTs That Every DJ Needs

Happy New Year, TechTools readers! We wanted to start this year off right, by doing the thing that we love to do best- giving you the heads up on some awesome tools that could help you take your DJ and production world to the next level. We’ve seen tons of examples of great ways to use traditional DJ effects in Traktor and Serato, but what about DJ programs that support VST effects, like Deckadance, Virtual DJ, Torq, and for the more production minded, Abelton? Our recent contributor Meatman has compiled a list of awesome effects that work best in the live DJ environment (although they may work great in the studio too!). And did we mention that they’re free?


I’ll start it off with easily the most popular plug-in for live effects. It’s almost always on the top 10 in KVR’s plug-in ranks and gives you the flexibility to mangle your inputs inside and out. With it, you get a great ‘tape stop’ feature, bit crusher, gater, delay, chorus, shuffler (kind of like Ableton Live’s Beat Repeat effect), and a stretcher. Better yet, you can use that effect sequencer at the top to use multiple effects in sync with the beat (it’s 16 bars, or squares, long). You can also make your own presets, or, my favorite, randomize the sequencer. It’s because I love surprises.


Classic Chorus

I’ve tried a lot of chorus plug-ins. Tons. Many of them were free, many of them weren’t free, but this one is probably one of the best sounding chorus plug-ins I’ve ever tried. With Classic Chorus you get great washy sounds without getting too distorted along with a solid set of parameters to fool around with.

Neat trick: Download Camel Crusher (below) and link up the distortion parameters to Classic Chorus’s modulation depth or the wet/dry knob for a gritty, spacy textured chorus.

I would also recommend checking the other plug-ins in the Classic series. It’s just a shame that Kjaerhus Audio isn’t around anymore!


Tape Delay

My all-time favorite delay plug-in. So simple, so elegant and if you love the soul-drenching delays of 70’s dub, you’ll love this plug-in. Keep the feedback low for short, stubby delays, or turn it up for long, drawn-out madness. Awesome for transitions, filler sounds, and whatever else you can think of.


Camel Crusher

One of my favorite plug-in developers, Camel, gave out this goodie a while back. I think this is probably the best free bit crusher plug-in on the market. You get three effects: distortion, a filter, and a compressor each with their own parameters. Search through their presets first to get an idea of the different types of parameter and effect combinations.

If you’re rolling in the big bucks, might I suggest Camel Phat? A great, stable, versatile effect that has so many possibilities for MIDI heads, both in the studio and on stage.


BlueCat Frequency Analysis 

It never hurts to have frequency analysis. Not only is this a great tool for you, the DJ, but it’s even better for your audience. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to jump on stage and fool around with the DJ’s EQ because my ears were on the verge of bleeding.

Avoid someone doing that to you by using this free tool as a guide to what your sound looks like, and adjust how you see fit. If you use an analogue mixer, this won’t be of much use to you, but even then it still gives you a good idea of what your digital master-out sounds like, and helps you avoid clipping and bass-distortion.


Did we miss any crucial VSTs that you use in a live setup? Let us know in the comments below! 

deckadance vstsdj vstsfree dj vstsglitchtorq vstsvirtual dj vsts
Comments (60)
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  • Elijah Logan

    what about massive?

  • kdmgr

    Thanks for the article. I’ve got a question though…

    As a DJ, how can you use the frequency analyzer so as to avoid clipping and bass distortion? I didn’t understand that point, I am a new DJ. Perhaps, clipping can be avoided by keeping a close eye at VU Meters, right? But what about bass distortion?


  • Liamcat

    I love all the blue cat plugins, they have been very handy, like the GAIN, which boosts the loudness of any track assigned. many times, audio clips are really quiet, you try to bring the volume up on your track via it own level or a envelope, still doesn’t give the volume you want, So I use blue cat a lot. many of their tools like flanger, reverb and so on. Download you the whole blue cat set. You will thank me some day peace.


    ya… donde the mac glitch alternative?

  • Noldivalles

    para todos los amigos que van empezando son herramientas muy utiles, saludos!

  • Briahsdad

    So difficult to find all these cool things for Mac. Using Effectrix instead of glitch. its ok. cannot use any of the rest of these. where is the love for the guys who take their music serious enough to own a macbook pro?

  • Monkeydust

    missing out on Mac! DJs barely use PCs…

  • Craig Cyril

    Great article, with interesting insight information! Your post is helpful for professional DJs. It helps to know about the VSTs that every DJ needs. Thanks for sharing.

    Sound system rental

  • Cuznmatt

    Tal bassline and elektro, plus all their other plugs.

  • Djteeoh

    mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac mac

  • Anonymous

    I’ve used glitch for (what it seems) a long time now. Used in almost every one of my songs. It makes things so less boring, and it is so damn easy to use!

  • Bloodhound

    this is the kind of article i needed right about now. i was in a vst hunt, and that blue cat pack on their website is just what i needed. thanks for the links DJTT!

  • Ryan Supak

    This article reminds me — maybe somebody can help clear up something that has always confused me about DJTT.

    So, you’re DJing a party, and because you’re a good DJ you have been reading the room carefully all night. At just the right moment, you put on the hottest track and all the drunk guys and girls start cheering. They know the chorus and they’re singing along. The feeling in the room is one of near-euphoria. Life is perfect at that moment.

    This is the musical high point of the hour, so you’re adeptly adjusting your sound-system to get the absolute most out of it without distorting or hard-limiting.

    And then, you think to yourself: “People are hanging on every word of this song that they dearly love! Women (and/or dudes) are lining up to ask me about my plans after the show! You know what this situation needs? I need to run this song through lots of obnoxious effects that at best will completely throw off the flow of the song, and at worst will make it into a self-indulgent glitchy mess!”

    Do people honestly start throwing (non-dubstep) songs through Beat-Mashing effects mid-track, on large sound systems, when girls are trying to dance? Anytime I’ve seen that done it results in indifference at best, and a complete loss of momentum at worst.


    • Grant Reynolds

      mate, sounds like your a commercial only DJ..you might not be but it definetly sounds like it since you mentioning songs with words and females..  theres more to djing, performing and music than playing commercial. if people are using vst’s its probably because they take to music as a performance art rather than pleasing masses of commercial crowds..

      the effects up here are more so for djs that play genres like tech house, techno, dubstep and genres that dont rely on vocals..   Some DJs like to create there own music on the fly..

      • Matthias Gross

        yo but most so called good… djs who jump from plugin to plugin are playin only @ their bedrooms. a so calle commercial dj is a pro. pro means he makes money!

        • Liamcat

          haha, i am not even a DJ, electronica musician, BUT I have DJ’d a bit, I am no master DJ. But I make some dough, never done what this dude is talking about, delete=ing tracks ‘if to techno…’ i just drop and drag mp3 to the four turn tables in my software and push PLAY, have some mixing gear. i dig what your saying-I agree, this dude is spinning stuff in his garage…not in no club or party.

          • isnawtqwearmoliekupipz

            yall niggahs be talking shit and have no regard for variant stylings of cultural ambiance, just gtfo stfu and suck ur thumbs

      • Bigwev


         Your the one who’s out of touch!! No need to sling insults around because you think that your preferred DJ method is better than anyone else’s. I delete songs because it sounds “too techno” it’s so easy to do it I can make it with no effort at all. I’m an Old School DJ before computers did all the guess work for you. And techno was around and they didn’t have to glitch everything up to get the crowd moving. Theirs nothing wrong with doing this as part of your overall tool box but some (not all) DJ’s overuse it and sometimes use it to cover up their lack of skill and creativity. No Matter what kind of music you play rather commercial or underground ( today’s commercial music use to be yesterday’s underground) everyone has their lines to stay in or to blur and cross over depending on what your crowd wants to hear. And going to a club with no Females!!!!!! (lets just say that If I went to a club with no or not enough good looking females or more guys than females its time to find another club and I don’t care whats playing or how creative the instrumentals sound that the DJ is playing Im out)I DJ’ed for a comedy show in Aug and after the show I started my set and the crowed was popping but for some reason their where more women in the club than men so after a while the club emptied out. So women feel the same as men do. 

    • Grant Reynolds

      what the hell are you doing on this website if your some boring dj that just joins intros and outros.. 

    • Slash606

      I think it only works for anything within the Hip-Hop to House to Drum & Bass genres. If they are used for anything else, I think it would only be useful for transitions and (if there are any) breaks in songs. Like you, I really don’t see the point in adding chorus and beatmashing a heavy metal song at one of the good parts.

  • mikeMIKE

    These are all PC… Lame.. 

  • DeeJay Fotifo

    Would be good if u mark them PC or MAC in future.
    Great stuff heard of all of these earlier.
    But unfortunately I run RTAS on Pro-Tools for production

  • PLAY

    Why have you based your ranking of one VST based on it’s ranking from another forum/website? A little unprofessional. Not only that, KVR ranks its VSTS based on how many times it’s page was viewed. That’s how you assess greatness? Lol. 

  • PLAY

    Why have you based your ranking of one VST based on it’s ranking from another forum/website? A little unprofessional. Not only that, KVR ranks its VSTS based on how many times it’s page was viewed. That’s how you assess greatness? Lol. 

  • Igrek

    George Yohng’s W1 Limiter
    free very nice limiter

    GVST GRevDly
    free reversed delay

    Audio Damage Fluid – chorus unit
    great chorus – not free 29 $

    Morfiki Redu(p)cer Vst
    very nice bit reducer, decimator unit

    you can find some selected, good, free effect plugins listed here:
    http://www.vstcafe.com/search/label/VST Effect

  • Gogos

    Since when DJs need VSTs? LOL. You meant Producer i guess :p

    • Gogos mom

      no retard, he meant DJs. have you read ANYTHING on this website?

  • B-Rukks

    Plus 1 to camel crusher…i approve.

  • 9b0

    i did use dblue glitch for a while, but as soon as you change the tempo, the chances of freezing your cpu are extremely high. lovely plug-in, but too risky to use it live before audience.

  • R2tan

    You should really do the same thing for MAC!

    • RAVVR

      totally agree

  • Jim Robinson

    Alas, no Mac love. Torq has a wonderful VST host that would go well with these plug-ins. I might give it another spin. 

  • Scott Nelle

    I tried Blue Cat FreqAnalyst in my DAW once and I felt like it was altering the final output. I can’t say for sure, but I uninstalled it and use MAnalyzer Melda Production instead. Same idea and also free.

  • AnonB1996

    NI Has to get off their asses and make Traktor support for 3rd party VST’s Grrrrrrrrrrr…

  • Lordz

    MAC ones ?

  • Ruan Kane

    dBlue glitch is so over-used it’s sickening

  • Brandon

    If you guys could mark them as MAC/PC in the future that’ d be awesome.

    • David De Garie-Lamanque

      indeed. in this list it seems like only Camel Crusher and the Bluecat frequency analyser are cross-platform. the rest are all PC only.
      How ’bout a little MAC-love?

    • Stop whining

      Clicking links is HARD work!

    • bloodhound

      most of these have support for both. just google it, its not hard to find one for either system. 

  • Zac Kyoti

    Glitch is a PC only goodie. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m looking for a top 5 commercial VSTs, which since I don’t read SoundOnSound like the rabid gearhead fanboi I should be, I am a little behind. I’m totally willing to pay for killer tools but I just have no idea how to sift the crap from the gems.

    • Ruan Kane

      look at Izotope Stutter edit, and in fact anything by Izotope. Maybe the Sugar Bytes Stuff too. Can’t beat Waves for compressors

    • Jasonmd2020

      I gotta pretty much recommend anything by Audio Damage. Great stuff!

    • Luismqueral

      I honestly considered doing a commercial vst type article, but in the end, I realized that the market is SO huge for commercial plug-ins that it depends on what your looking for. If you’re willing to spend money, I’d check out Universal Audio, they have some great stuff. Also Izotope Ozone is quality if you’re looking for a mastering plug-in.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks, chaps. Good starting points.

  • Vic Chang


    • Vic Chang

      This might be a dumb question, but is it possible to use Blue Cat’s Frequency Analysis with my Traktor output? 

      • Vdsnjkvds

        you can’t , traktor doesn’t support vst plugins

      • Alexfells

        You’ll have to use a program like jackosx or sound flower to route the audio in to your daw with the vst running.

    • Ean Golden

      Dont tell your Pet Dog that though, he might leave you for your girlfriend! 🙂