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In this article, I will share what I think are the best third-party VSTi plugins for FL Studio. (I have used some of these virtual instruments for almost 10 years!)
I know there’s a lot of hype out there.. but I will confidently tell you what I THINK is the best choice of virtual instrument as you learn beatmaking in FL Studio.
Remember, VSTi are digital instruments which get added-on to your DAW. We then use a MIDI Keyboard to make our melodies with these VSTi plugins, whether that be pianos, guitars, synth sounds, or any type of sound you can think of!
The Best Virtual Instrument for Beginners
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Essentially, these plugins are what you call a ROMpler.. and what makes them so awesome for beginners is they allow you to learn how to make beats fast!
You see, other synths and virtual instruments can be very overwhelming and complex.. and new producers get confused.
They think they need to learn sound design to make beats. But what new producers don’t realize is that sound design is a different industry.
Sure.. you can do sound design and make beats.. but when starting up, it’s important you learn to make beats, and not learn sound design.
That’s why ROMplers are so awesome. FLEX is a great option if you are on a budget, but I promise you, Nexus 3 is the ultimate ROMpler.
You literally pick a sound, and you’re ready to rock (for the most part). The majority of the sounds are just high quality and work really good out of the gate. They typically aren’t over processed, and make beatmaking and mixing much easier.
One word of caution if you do purchase Nexus 3 though..
I suggest their Starter Edition.
You have to be careful with their expansion add-ons. Back in the day, most of their add-ons were really good.. but lately they have started creating a lot of “loop expansions”.. where you can press and hold a note, and it plays a drum loop or a pre-made melody..
This will not teach you how to make beats, and in my opinion, is not a good use of your money if you want to make your own music from scartch.
With that said, you will discover that with Nexus 3 you will be able to make beats much faster in FL Studio from scratch because you don’t have to worry about trying to learn synthesis.. which is super hard.
Best Advanced Synths for FL Studio
As with anything with music, it’s all subjective..
But these are the synths I’d recommend if you are wanting to get more hands-on with sound design, and learn the basic fundamentals of synthesis with wave forms and creating your own sound presets from scratch.
I have listed these digital synths in order of what I’d recommend for making beats in FL Studio.
Sylenth1 by LennarDigital
Sylenth1 is a synth you will see out there EVERYWHERE… and that’s because it’s been around for SO LONG!
Remember.. just because something is older in music production, doesn’t mean it’s worse (unless we’re talking analog vs. digital.. digital is WAY EASIER to make beats). But the audio fidelity of an “older synth” doesn’t make it worse quality sounding than a new synth..
Anyways, Sylenth1 I think is YOUR FIRST REAL SYNTH you should get if you want to start learning sound design.
There are TONS of tutorials out there to teach you how to use Sylenth1, it’s been continually updated all these years, is quite light-weight on the CPU, and there’s TONS of Sylenth1 preset banks available.
You will not go wrong with this synth, as it has been around for so long, they keep it updated, and it’s definitely a beginner friendly synth to start learning on!
Pigments 3 by Arturia
I will start by saying that Pigments 3 came at a good time, and filled in an overlap within the digital synth world.
Pigments 3 isn’t just “one synth”, but you have 4 different types of synths built into ONE tool.. so that’s pretty cool, and gives you a great set of tools inside one purchase.
I really like the workflow of Pigments 3. You are able to route around audio with complexity within the interface, and it’s pretty easy to understand once you learn how the synth actually works.
It’s pretty affordable, and is the next synth I’d recommend getting.
Serum by XferRecords
Serum VSTi quickly rose to the top of synth popularity, and takes a different approach to synthesis by using wavetable synthesis.
I like the synth a lot, but I do have some things I do not like about it.
The first and most important negative about Serum is that it does not honor note velocities in the piano roll! So you are not able to edit individual note velocities like on other synths in the Piano Roll!
I find its compressor distorts too easily.. and sometimes my sound design can mess with phase too aggressively because of the wavetable synthesis approach, making mixing harder..
You can create a lot of really cool serum sounds, and I would suggest this synth, but I would say it’s quite advanced, and to “truly master it”, requires a lot more reading/knowledge than just basics additive/subtractive synthesis.
At the end of the day, these synths all do the same thing, and that’s make sounds to make beats, and Serum does this just as well as any other synth, so your money will be well spent. (But I think you will get a better experience with my other synth recommendations first.)
Image-Line’s FL Keys
For those of you that don’t know, synthesis is not yet able to recreate a real piano sound yet.
So.. these companies record a piano’s individual notes, then you can then play a real piano in perfect pitch (because they did all the hard work recording it for you!)
Now.. some piano virtual instruments allow you to take it to the next level of choosing microphones and microphone position to get a different sound from the piano!
But honestly, FL Keys by Image-Line is probably my favorite piano, especially with the addition of the “Grand Piano” option.
However, another piano option which allows you to get more control, like with different microphones and placement, is XLN’s Addictive Keys.
Conclusion of the Best VST Instruments for FL Studio
So there you go!
I don’t use TONS of VSTi plugins as they are expensive, and you have to learn how to use them!
The secret is picking up only a couple high-quality virtual instruments and learnig them in-depth.
Then you can truly become a much better beatmaker because you will actually learn your tools, not fall into the trap of buying more and more, and actually make really high-quality music.
I want to clarify.. there are VST and VSTi..
VST is for effect plugins like EQs, reverbs, compressors, etc.. VSTi (i stands for instrument), are plugins we use to create melodies.
People usually just say VST when talking about plugins and instruments, but VSTi is what it actually is, and is easier to understand when we are talking about the plugins I recommended above to make your melodies in FL Studio.
Leave a comment below if you have any questions about these synths. I will reply ASAP!