The 14 Best VST/AU Plugins for Hip Hop; Free & Premium!

Drum Machines, Synthesizers, Bass VSTs, etc. are extremely used in hip hop music, and that’s why I decided to create this post where I list the 14 best VST/AU plugins for hip hop music.

In the first half of the post I will link to premium plugins, and then I will list the free ones.

Best Hip Hip VST/AU Plugins

Here I will list the best plugins for hip hop that aren’t free.

If you’re only looking for free ones then scroll down to that section.

Let’s start with…

Spectrasonics Trilian ($299)

With Trilian you get over sixty different 4, 5, 6 and 8 string Electric basses that are presented in fingered, picked, fretless, slapped, tapped, and muted technique variations – providing a huge variety of sounds for any musical genre.

It packs one of the largest sample libraries out there, with over 34GB of high-quality samples of basses such as; Music Man 5-string Studio Bass, Chapman Stick, Lakland Rock P-Bass, and more!

It also features Trilian’s acoustic bass, which is the most detailed one in their collection since it has over 21.000 samples.

Lastly, some of its editing features are; DI mix, round-robin variations, dynamic slides, automatic legato, and more.

Demo Track:

Trilian is absolutely fantastic; it can sound super realistic and, in all honesty, it’s just great!

The only downside may be the high price tag, but you are getting one of the best bass plugins out there.

Trillian is not just excellent for creating hip hop music, but it can certainly be used to create basslines of almost any genre.

Find out more about Trilian here.

Related: List of the best Bass VST Plugins Available!

Bass Master by Loopmasters ($69)

Bass Master is a strictly bass-oriented virtual instrument that was created by Loopmasters.

Like most modern VST plugins, it is compatible with all VST and AU plugin hosts out there.

Creating great basslines that sit well in a mix can be a bit complicated, and this is usually achieved by layering different synths and samples manually.

Luckily, Bass Masters helps with this tremendously since it blends two layers, the Top- and Sub-Layers, together.

It is a very simple plugin to use and getting a good sound out of it doesn’t take too much time nor skill.

Bass Master is a sample-based instrument that features a total of 217 actual bass sample “waveforms” that serve as the sound source for both layers.

Now, Bass Master comes with over 350 mix-ready presets, which means that dialing in a tone is pretty damn easy.

The onboard filter offers 13 filter types: including a range of low-pass, band-pass and high-pass models, ladder filters and a comb filter. 

Three effects are also included; Distortion, Stereo Chorus and Reverb.

As far as customization goes, Bass Master probably offers more than you could even ask for, plus it sounds absolutely fantastic.

Features

  • Unique three-band Frequency Booster for added crispness, body and bass
  • Distortion, Chorus and Reverb effects
  • Assign any three parameters to the mod wheel
  • Direct Out control for the Sub

Find out more about Bass Master here.

Rob Papen SubBoomBass 2 ($99)

If you know anything about bass synths, then you probably heard of Rob Papen, who has created other famous synths such as the Punch and the Predator.

SubBoomBass 2 is the successor of the SubBoomBass I and has received an Interface makeover for more comfortable use and control of all the features, which are quite a lot.

It still has its analog modeled waveforms on board that were obtained directly from pitched-down samples of instruments, and the sound color has been expanded with new spectrum waveforms.

With this synth you will have access to a high number of high-quality presets that should get you going in no time, allowing you to create a deeper and richer low-end in a matter of minutes.

Additionally, an “Easy Edit” mode is also featured in this synth;

What this allows you to do is reduce the overwhelming number of controls in order to make the workflow easier and faster.

Lastly, it features a distortion stage, amp section, two filters, a step sequencer, a modulation section, and an effects unit.

Demo Track:

SubBoomBass 2 gives you access to great sounding deep basses that immediately sit well in the mix, and it’s a plugin you should consider if you’re a serious dance, hip-hop, or any other kind of electronic music producer.

Find out more about SubBoomBass 2 here.

Related: List of the best synth VST plugins available.

Arturia Minimoog V ($149)

Based on the original MiniMG that was created by Bob Moog, which was responsible for some of the most famous hits of the ‘70s and ‘90s, Arturia recreated the sound of this legendary synth by paying special attention on keeping all of its original characteristics while also adding some extra features.

An advanced modulator was added, as well as a Vocal filter and a modulation matrix, and all of this simply improves on the original design and removes some of its previous limitations.

Features

  • All the parameters of the original Mini V
  • Modulation matrix with up to 8 connections (15 sources and 35 destinations)
  • Arpeggiator
  • Vocal Filter: a fully automatable, formant-based effect with its own LFO
  • Up to 32 voices of polyphony
  • Unison mode option
  • And more!

Find out more about the Mini V here.

Diva by U-He ($199)

Diva is a synth that captures the spirit of various analogue synthesizers by letting the user select from a variety of alternative modules.

The oscillators, filters and envelopes closely model components found in some of the greatest monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers.

Diva is pretty easy to use despite of the Interface looking a bit complex.

The one issue I found with Diva is that it’s quite CPU intensive…

However, this is worth it since it sounds absolutely fantastic!

The number of sounds you can get out of this plugin are just insane; from bass to organ sounds, and even cool sound effects.

Features

  • Authentic, unrivaled analogue sound
  • Up to 40% less CPU-hit than version 1.0
  • Multithreading support for modern CPUs – more polyphony, less overload
  • Even bigger library of gorgeously organic presets
  • Resizable editor window, alternative skins available shortly
  • The essence of 7 or 8 vintage synths for about 1% of the cost
  • …and more.

 You can find out more about Diva by U-He here.

Related: List of the best Drum VST Plugins available.

Serum by Xfer Records ($199)

Serum is one of the most famous soft synths out there, and for good reason.

It is a Wavetable synthesizer and it has virtually no processing limitations, which makes it incredibly powerful.

It can load up sounds and transform them into wavetables, plus it’s super easy to use since the UI is very easy to understand and navigate (you will need some basic synthesizer knowledge, but what I’m getting at is that the learning curve isn’t as steep as with other plugins).

Serum also features 10 effects, drag and drop routing, and loads of presets.

It is one of the most used synthesizers in hip hop, and other similar genres, so make sure to check it out!

Features

  • Serum comes with over 450 presets, 144 wavetables
  • Available in AAX, AU (Mac only) and VST formats (32 and 64-bit)

You can find out more about Serum by Xfer Records here.

Best free Hip Hop VST/AU Plugins

Despite being free, some of the plugins on this list are actually quite powerful and should get you pretty far before having to spend anything on a premium plugin.

Let’s start with…

Dexed by Digital Sub Urban (Windows, Mac, Linux)

Dexed is a Free multi-platform and multi format frequency modulation Synth that is based on, or closely modeled to, the Yamaha DX7.

It isn’t the simplest synth to use… there is definitely a learning curve to it, but I honestly think that it’s well worth it to do the effort and learn it properly.

It is also a MIDI cartridge manager for the DX7 meaning that any of the .syx files in the cartridges will be available from the “Cart” window.

You can access this directory by pressing the “Cart” button and then the “Show Dir” button.

It’s especially great for styles such as hip hop, which is why I included it in this list.

Features

  • Multi platform (OS X, Windows or Linux) and multi format (VST, AU, LV2)
  • The sound engine  is closely modeled on the original DX7 characteristics
  • 144 DAW automatable DX7 parameters available from one single panel
  • Fully supports DX7 input and output Sysex messages; including controller change

Download it for free here.

Related: List of the best Free Synth VST Plugins available.

MiniSpillage by AudioSpillage (Mac Only)

MiniSpillage is a free professional quality drum synthesizer that features high resolution 64-bit DSP processing engine and a custom set of synthesis algorithms designed for electronic percussion sounds.

MiniSpillage isn’t based on any existing Drum Synth but instead is focused on creating an original electronic percussion sound.

Note: It only works on Mac OS, so for all you Windows users out there, this one won’t work for you.

Features

  • Custom synthesis algorithms.
  • Exclusive percussion models.
  • High resolution 64 bit DSP engine.
  • Precision ADSR envelopes.

Download it for free here.

Tal-Bassline by Tal-Software (Windows, Mac)

Tal-Bassline is a synthesizer especially made for bass which will give you a super beefy bass tone without having to do too much work.

It gives you those acid tones and effects that you hear everywhere.

It’s mostly used in hip hop, Trap, EDM and other kinds of music where the Bass in emphasized.

If you’re looking for a synth to enhance your song’s low end, Tal-Bassline might be the one for you.

Features

  • Bandlinited oscillators (saw, pulse).
  • Sub-oscillator: square -1 oct., square -2 oct., pulse -1 oct, pulse -2 oct.
  • -18 dB/octave low-pass filter (resonant/self-oscillating).
  • Panic button.

Download it for free here.

Related: List of the best free Bass VST Plugins available.

Charlatan by BlauKraut (Windows)

Charlatan is a polyphonic, subtractive virtual analog synthesizer plugin that focuses on sound quality and ease of use.

It’s a fairly simple plugin to use, which encourages users to learn how to tweak the sounds instead of only relying on the presets.

Charlatan can create your typical classic synth sounds as well as some interesting experimental noises.

Charlatan is my top recommendation as far as free plugins for hip hop go, even though it’s only for Windows.

Features

  • 2 oscillators with shape modulation
  • Oscillator hard synchronization and ring modulation
  • Unison mode with upto 7 voices and stereo spread

Download it for free here.

Lokomotiv by Archetype Instruments (Windows, Mac)

Lokomotiv is an analog retro synth that sounds absolutely phenomenal as well as being extremely easy to use.

The UI is simple and doesn’t look overwhelming at all which is great for anyone who is new to this kind of software.

The way it sounds reminds me of some Prince songs, which is something I love, of course.

You can create some cool basslines with it, as well as some awesome effects and more.

It packs a lot of different features which are;

Oscillator

  • Mathematically generated high definition Oscillator without using wavetable or interpolation.
  • Silky smooth 9 X detuned sawtooth wave.

Filter

  • MG ladder modeling multimode filter featured Zero Delay Feedback technology.
  • Routable filter Drive. (Pre / Post).

Modulator

  • Natural Curved ADSR Envelope generator.
  • Oneshot LFO which can be used as envelope.

Download it for free from the VST4Free website.

Drumatic 3 by e-phonic (Windows)

Drumatic 3 is a virtual-analogue drum synthesizer.
All sounds are 100% synthetic and allow for huge flexibility and variation.

It sounds pretty good, just remember that the sounds are nowhere close to a real drum, but that’s the whole point behind it.

Included Sounds: Bassdrum, Snaredrum, Handclap, 2 Toms, Hihats and a Rimshot / Bell.

Features

  • Graphical envelopes for amplitude and modulation
  • Load / save presets for single sounds
  • Simple but effective effect section for each sound with distortion and bitcrusher and a filter.
  • 6 Stereo outputs, assignable for each sound.
  • All parameters can be automated (midi-CC not yet supported)

Here’s a link to the Official Website.

Drum Pro by StudioLinked (Windows, Mac)

This is a fantastic drum machine plugin no matter how you look at it. The sounds you can get out of it are great and the ease of use is unmatched.

It is ideal for Hip-hop, Trap, EDM, etc.

Features

  • 20 drum kits.
  • Global ADSR / reverb.
  • 12 pads.
  • Volume and pan for each pad.

Also, you can add some paid expansion packs if you’d like.

Here’s a Link to Drum Pro’s Official Website.

Related: List of the best Free Drum VST Plugins available.

Beatfactory Drums by BeatSkillz (Windows, Mac)

Beatfactory Drums is a free drumkit/drum machine plugin that works in any DAW on Mac OS X and Windows 32/64-bit.

The kits included in the plugin were created using the MPC 2500 passing through high end outboard EQ, compressors, tube and solid state gear, for a gritty and punchy sound.

It’s a very fun plugin to use and it sounds absolutely fantastic!

Features

  • Sampled from MPC 2500
  • Created with High End OutBoard Gear
  • Volume and Pan for Each Sample Pad
  • ADSR Envelope for Shaping the Kit
  • 10 Kits Included
  • Built in REVERB

Here’s the link to BeatSkillz’s Official Website.

Conclusion

Most of the free plugins on this list are more than enough for your hip hop needs; however, there will come a time when upgrading to a premium one will actually be the better move.

In this case, I can recommend Serum and Bass Master, since these are two plugins I absolutely love.

I hope this information was useful!

Have a nice day!

Facundo

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