Brass can be a tough section to imitate with a plugin. As with most real instruments these days, though, there are plenty of excellent quality brass VST plugins, both free and paid. We’d recommend sifting through the list in order to find the best all-around brass section for your productions.
Best Brass VSTs [FREE]
SoundFont is actually a file format (.sf2) and not the name of a specific brass VST. You’ll find tons of free SoundFonts at the link above, as well as through a quick search of your own. Sonically, a lot of the free SoundFont stuff you’ll find make them some of the best pop brass VSTs, especially for that early/mid 2000s hip-hop sound. You’ll need a synth that can load .sf2 files — FL Studio comes with one, and Kontakt is a good choice as well.
DSK Brass is a straightforward free plugin containing two layers and 23 instruments. These include trumpet, saxophone, tuba, trombone, and more. Effects include flanger and delay, and you can select octaves and use a micro de-tuner. There’s also control over the ADSR envelope for each layer.
The Bigcat Instruments saxophone collection features instruments sampled by the University of Iowa Electronic Music Studios. These instruments are sampled in three velocity layers with 375 samples altogether. It offers a basic three-band EQ, reverb, and envelope customization to shape the sound to your music.
Here we have a very basic free sampled trumpet. You have the ability to swap between seven articulation styles, including three types of sustain, vibrato, staccato, and two different mute styles. One tip that users have noted is to keep the velocity high to get that trumpet sound — otherwise it may not be the most “realistic” free brass VST.
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Best Brass VSTs [PAID]
The award-winning EastWest instruments are some of the best in the business and the EastWest Hollywood Pop Brass is no different. This library sounds amazing for pop, rock, funk, soul, and Latin genres. Grammy winner Moogie Canazio engineered the industry’s top horn section to bring all of the life and energy of a live brass ensemble straight to your DAW. This is easily the best pop brass VST around, and it’s quite affordable for the quality and content.
The Bravura Scoring Brass VST is an awesome orchestral brass plugin. Ideally, you’d use a collection like this for film, TV, or video games thanks to it being recorded at a large scoring studio with a ton of depth. It works with the free Kontakt player and provides a ton of detail and flexibility considering it’s a reasonably affordable brass VST.
Native Instruments’s Symphony Essentials Collection is a fantastic value. It actually comes with four sections of a symphony: Brass, percussion, strings, and woodwinds. The brass section in question is a 32-piece ensemble recorded at the prestigious acoustic space, St. Paul’s Church in San Francisco. Symphony Essentials also comes with solo brass and woodwind libraries. Overall, it’s a versatile cinematic brass VST.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty brass VST that likely won’t need replacing, this is it. The Spitfire team spent five years producing what they call their “encyclopedic compendium” of orchestral brass. The UK’s best players recorded at the world famous Lyndhurst Hall at AIR Studios in London. The nearly 86,000 individual samples include solo, chamber, symphonic, and cinematic groups for versatility.