Top 5 Free VST Plugins For Ableton Live (Windows Edition)

by Ryan

  • File Under: Tutorials
  • |

There are other “Top 5 Free VST Plugin” lists out there, but this one is dedicated to electronic music production, more specifically, in Ableton Live.

1. Synth1

Modeled after the Nord Lead 2, this synthesizer is the best free soft synth around. A perfect free alternative for someone who can’t afford some of the extra synths for Ableton Live.


  • 2 Oscillators, FM modulation, ring modulation, sync, modulation envelope.
  • 4 types of filters, distortion.
  • 2 LFOs (synchronized with host).
  • Arpeggiator (synchronized with host).
  • Tempo delay (synchronized with host), stereo chorus/flanger.
  • Legato mode, portamento.
  • 16 notes polyphony.
  • 128 presets.
  • Thoroughly optimized for light CPU load using SSE instructions, etc.
  • Automation.

Download the Synth1 here:

2. Tapestop

Have you ever wanted to easily emulate the sound of a tape player or record player slowing down? Now you can with the uber-simple “Tapestop” plug in.
Slap it onto a single track – or your master channel – hit the stop button and listen to the sound slowly die down. Look ma, no turntable! Great for DJs.


  • EP(vinyl) – EP is normal mode.
  • TD (Tape deck) – TD will back up the tape a bit when it stops.

Adjustable display:

  • N – normal.
  • R – reverse the button.

Adjustable button:

  • T – toggle.
  • D – Direct return to play when mouse button is released.

Adjustable speed:

  • Select the DOWN speed by clicking on the LEFT mouse button in the speed box, then hold and drag.
  • Select the UP speed by clicking on the RIGHT mouse button in the speed box, then hold and drag.

Download Tapestop here:

3. LoudMax

One thing I really enjoy about Serato Scratch, is that there is an Automatic gain control. What this means in, if there is a song that is quieter than the one playing, the auto gain control would bump up the volume of the quieter track to match the louder one.
Until now, I haven’t seen a simple plugin that does this in Ableton Live. However, with the LoudMax plugin, you can put this on your master channel and boost the threshold so that both songs are equal in volume.

Main range of application:

  • Audio Mastering.
  • Output Limiter/Maximizer for web radio stations.


  • One slider for threshold, one for the output level.
  • Meters for input, output and gain reduction in relation to the desired threshold.


  • Supported Samplerates: 2kHz – 384kHz
  • Latency, Look-Ahead and Attack Time: 1.25ms
  • Release Time: Automatic – depending on the input signal
  • Possible Overdrive without audible distortion: 740dB
  • Low CPU usage

Download LoudMax here:

4. iSpinner

Recreate some truly amazing Lesley Speaker action with this plugin. Drop it on a drum loop and let it jump back and forth through your headphones. Hours of fun.

General Features:

  • One-Band Rotary Chorus
  • Adjustable Overdrive
  • Adjustable Rotator Off/On, Slow/Fast, Speed, Depth and Spread
  • Vintage Look GUI
  • Low CPU consumption

Download the iSpinner here:

5. Dubb Box

This is the best free Space Echo simulator I’ve seen. It even has separate controls for tape hiss. This plugin is perfect for getting the dubbed out loop effects that made the space echo so famous.


  • Main echo and ‘second-tapehead’
  • Sub-echoes
  • Adjustable vintageness (tape hiss, motor inertia, tape and motor age)

Download the Dubb Box here:

Please share any of your favorite free plugins you like to use in Ableton Live below!

13 Responses to “Top 5 Free VST Plugins For Ableton Live (Windows Edition)”

  1. rektanglehed Says:

    April 27th, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    Great list, shame they’re all PC only 🙁

    I’d definitely add Livecut the the list though, it’s free and it’s awesome!

  2. martin Says:

    April 27th, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    great with free stuff! thanks.
    but win only?

    probably because everything sounds better on a mac and you dont need as many plugins and effects to make great tracks.


  3. Ryan Says:

    April 28th, 2010 at 1:10 am

    I’ll see what I can do about a mac version of this article in the very near future. Thanks for reading!


  4. milosh Says:

    April 28th, 2010 at 4:12 am

    great stuff here
    I like your blog and hope you will keep it going cuz I am gonna watch it !!



  5. Vincent Vega Says:

    April 28th, 2010 at 5:44 am

    On OSX, I’ve tested two free synths :
    – TAL-Elek7ro
    – Automat

  6. jc Says:

    April 28th, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Mac Pleeeeeeeease. Been looking for a good space echo for a while…… got exited there for a second 🙂

    I wanted to congratulate you for an amazing blog page. Beautifully illustrated and informative. Has quickly become my favorite one to check every day.


  7. Tobias Says:

    April 29th, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Would love that tape stop for mac… shame

  8. Will Says:

    May 15th, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    +1 for TAL Elek7ro, a lot of the other TAL stuff is cool too, and all of their plugins are cross platform, definitely worth checking out. Another cool cross platform synth is FreeAlpha3 by LinPlug its a little quirky for some reason it freezes on me when I try to use Ableton’s patch selector but works fine as long as you only use its gui.

  9. Shawn K. Castille Says:

    August 1st, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Thanks for this great article! I was looking for a nice vst for my software dj rig, Thanks a lot man!


  10. Ian Leonard Says:

    October 21st, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Thanks for these especially for PC. Guess this shows the popularity of PC’s rather than Mac’s 🙂 Why pay almost twice as much for a Mac when a PC will give exactly the same results!

  11. Maciej Says:

    February 6th, 2011 at 8:42 am

    Dubb box has nice pseudo-vintage sound, but it’s not good plug-in for ableton Beside it’s lack of sync to master, it’s one of vsts that lock undo in Ableton.


    May 10th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    People don’t quite realize that Macs have huge issues with all program routes when it comes to sound. The plugins themselves make a very broad range of amazing sounds. Stick with PC and never be disappointed again!

  13. Vios Says:

    October 17th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Cool VSTs! Here’s my list of favorites that I think should be in every electronic artist’s toolkit:

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