Some of the best EDM software and VST plugins for music production in 2023

EDM, or Electronic Dance Music, is the sound of the modern world. Its synthetic textures and propulsive beats soundtrack our daily lives and create unforgettable moments on dance floors every weekend.

Some of these EDM VSTs will help you to dial in specific genres such as trance and techno, while others provide open-ended toolkits for inspiration and discovery. We’ll also look at the best EDM hardware for production, performance, and DJing from Native Instruments. All of these tools will help you to get pulses racing and dancefloors moving. Pick up a few of them and you’ll be well on your way to making great music.

1. Modular Icons

A little analog grit can help your EDM productions sound rich and authentic. Modular Icons is a powerful tool for adding compelling lo-fi texture to your tracks. Part of the Kontakt Play Series, this instrument places a Bumper collection of coveted modular synths at your disposal. The source audio was provided by some of the most influential electronic music pioneers of the last 60 years, including Jean-Michel Jarre and Mark Isham. Across 100+ presets, Modular Icons captures the sound of these artists’ legendary modular instruments, including a Buchla, an ARP 2500, and the ultra-expensive TONTO. The simple, intuitive Play series interface makes it ultra-fast to dial in authentic leads, bleeps, and squelches. Use Modular Icons to give your EDM tracks some backstory.

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2. Analog Dreams

Effective EDM tracks are often a combination of old and new. Your production needs to be cutting-edge, sure, but a little retro flavor can add character and lushness. Analog Dreams splits the difference. This Kontakt Play Series instrument features analog sounds from vintage synthesizers of the ’70s, ’80s, and beyond—blended and processed to create something new. The result is a rich and versatile collection of basses, mellow pads, leads, plucks, and quirky effects. The Play series interface makes it easy to find just the right combination of familiar and brand new. If your EDM tracks need a little more personality, draw for Analog Dreams.

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3. Kontakt 7

EDM tracks often benefit from the human touch. It might be emotive strings in the breakdown, a funky bass guitar to boost the low end, or live percussion to spice up the groove. But most of us don’t have access to session players or the studios to record them in. Kontakt 7 is here to help. This industry-leading platform brings a vast selection of real-world instruments inside your DAW. By sampling acoustic sources and packaging them as playable VSTs, it allows you to breathe life into your EDM beats. The Factory Library that comes with Kontakt 7 covers a huge range of instruments for practically any genre or sound. If you want to go further, the Kontakt platform hosts countless sample instruments from Native Instruments and other developers, available for purchase—or, often, for free. From choirs and orchestras to folk instruments and sampled synths, Kontakt 7 places a world of sounds at your fingertips.

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4. Komplete 14

Komplete 14 is an all-in-one-production suite that gives you absolutely everything you need to make EDM. From world-class synths and inspiring sample libraries through to powerful effects and over 137,000 sounds, Komplete 14 will cover all your music-making bases—at a massively reduced price. This enormous package of EDM software includes the powerful Kontakt 7 and Reaktor 6 platforms, flagship synths such as Massive and FM8, 9 Percussion tools for dialing in beats, and sample libraries that put pro session players at your fingertips. 19 effects plug-ins cover all your processing needs, from EQ and compression through to wilder sound-shaping. And dozens of Expansions give you genre-tailored samples, loops, presets, and one-shots, offering inspiration whatever your preferred style of EDM. Quite simply, if you want to make EDM, look no further than Komplete 14.

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5. Utopia

Use Utopia to flavor your productions with the epic, uplifting sound of trance. This iconic genre has shaped the course of EDM for decades, and continues to influence dance music today, from pop to the experimental underground. Utopia places trance at your fingertips, with 150 customizable sounds including hypnotic sequences, shapeshifting basses, and transcendent leads and pads. Part of Kontakt’s Play Series, this EDM instrument’s simple interface means you can get great results fast, while a powerful sound editor, customizable effects chains and a 16-step sequencer let you go deep when you want to. If it’s instant euphoria you need, Utopia should be your go-to.

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6. Mikro Prism

Mikro Prism will get you started with synthesis in your EDM productions. What’s more, this EDM VST is completely free. It offers 70 great-sounding presets that cover a wide range of pads and leads, with built-in cabinet simulation and effects for further sculpting. The sound is pristine, and the simple interface and powerful control set mean you don’t need to be a synth expert to get great results fast. If you’re just starting to build your EDM software library, or if you want to get good synth sounds fast, then Mikro Prism is a strong option. It’s available free for the Reaktor synthesis platform.

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7. FM8

FM8 brings the unmistakable sound of FM synthesis to your EDM tracks. If it’s pristine bells, bold e-pianos, or strident synth brass you want, then FM8 will deliver these iconic EDM sounds with style and pro sound quality. Crucially, the interface does away with the headaches and complications of classic FM synths. Over 1200 presets make iconic sounds a click away, while “easy mode” allows you to quickly tweak your sound using macro controls. For the synth nerds, “expert mode” opens up the full scope and power of FM8’s synthesis engine, allowing you to go far beyond conventional FM sounds. FM8 could be the centerpiece of your EDM software library.

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8. Rare Vibrations

From house and techno to hip-hop, the loose and soulful sounds of jazz are a vital ingredient in dance music. But it can be difficult to get that authentic feel in your EDM tracks using modern production tools. That’s where Rare Vibrations comes in. This Native Instruments Expansion is a toolkit of jazz-infused sounds and presets that work with a range of NI products and can be used in any DAW. Think lush synths and keys, smooth basslines, silky guitar, top-quality percussion—plus kits for Maschine and Battery and 12 presets for bass synth MONARK. If you’re making deep house and techno or soulful electronica, Rare Vibrations will be your constant companion.

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9. Charge

Charge is a Bumper pack of huge leads and sequences, perfect for giving your tracks anthemic power and main-stage impact. It’s also a handy add-on if you’re not sure where to start with one of the best VSTs for EDM, the wavetable synthesizer Massive X. Featuring 150 presets for this powerful and highly versatile synth, Charge will help you define your sound and kickstart inspiration. Its vibrant synth patches are tailor-made for EDM, delivering euphoric sequences, piercing melodies, and unforgettable hooks. Combine Charge with the Beam and Bump Expansions to turn Massive X into the ultimate EDM synth.

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10. Bump

An EDM track is only as good as its bassline, and Bump will help you get this crucial element right. This Massive X Expansion features 150 patches for impactful EDM bass, covering rumbles, subs, swells, and plenty else besides. Whether you need aggro dubstep wobbles, sleek electro pulses, or bouncing slap house low-end, Bump has you covered. It works particularly well in conjunction with two other EDM-ready Massive X Expansions, Charge and Beam.

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11. Beam

When making EDM, it’s tempting to focus on huge drops and unforgettable impacts. But these moments don’t count for much without contrasting sections to heighten their effect. Beam is a handy tool for adding depth and atmosphere to your tracks. These 150 tailor-made presets for Massive X cover hypnotic textures, pulsing pads, and dreamy ambience, helping you to enrich your arrangements and craft suspenseful breakdowns. Beam is the perfect mood-setter—particularly when used alongside two other EDM-ready Massive X Expansions, Charge and Bump.

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12. Liquid Energy

Few sounds in dance music are as distinctive as the psychedelic squelch of acid house and techno. With Liquid Energy, you can inject this psychedelic sound into your EDM productions. Featuring hundreds of samples from legendary analog gear, as well as acid-tinged presets for EDM VSTs such as Massive and bass synth MONARK, this Expansion gives you everything you need to take your productions to freaky new heights. Growling bass synths, classic drum machine beats and retrolicious vocoder samples will work great in hypnotic headphone music and raucous club tracks alike. Like all Native Instruments Expansions, Liquid Energy includes hundreds of samples and works in all DAWs. It’s the quickest route to acid lift-off.

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13. Ignition Code

Making tunes for big rooms? Ignition Code is here to help. This Expansion brings you the commanding sound of main-room techno. The drums are sleek and rolling, the bass rumbling, and melodic and vocal loops provide ample inspiration for hooks. Featuring hundreds of samples as well as presets for MONARK, Bass Synth and Massive, Ignition Code lets you build big-room EDM from the ground up. Or, use it to add anthemic flair to your genre of choice.

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14. Electric Vice

This Native Instruments Expansion distills the hyped-up sound of modern electro house. With its pumped-up production and glitched-out details, this genre of EDM can be tricky to create. (It’s no coincidence that one of its subgenres is called Complextro.) Electric Vice will give you a strong starting point, with hundreds of hard-hitting drum samples that get your tracks from the outset, and a range of glitched out sound effects and synth loops for that cutting-edge sound. 50 presets for one of the best EDM VST plugins from Native Instruments, Massive, allow you to dial in the exact pumping bass you need. Like all Expansions, Electric Vice works across all DAWs, and is especially handy for Maschine and Battery users, with dozens of pre-made kits.

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15. Lucid Mission

Whatever style of EDM you make, Lucid Mission will give your tracks a lift. This Expansion excels at hyper-real trance flavors, offering shimmering synths, spine-tingling build-ups, and ethereal sound effects. It’s not all head-in-the-clouds, though: over 400 drum samples are precision engineered for punchy EDM styles, meaning your tracks will make crowds dance even as they induce goosebumps. For double the euphoria, try pairing Lucid Mission with another trance-flavored EDM instrument, Utopia.

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16. Reaktor 6

Struggling to create the sound you can hear in your head? Reaktor 6 can help. This synth-building toolkit allows you to create custom synths, samplers, and effects to make almost any sound you can imagine. Or you can simply enjoy the countless world-class instruments already built for the platform. Reaktor 6 comes with a library of over 70 instruments, meaning you’ll never run short of inspiration. It also opens up a whole world of user-created synths. If you’re hunting for bold new sounds to give your EDM tracks a twist, then Reaktor is a great place to start. From loving models of hardware classics through to cutting edge EDM plugins and off-the-wall hobby projects, Reaktor hosts them all. It also powers flagship Native Instruments products like Razor.

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17. Razor

A little analog grit can help your EDM productions sound rich and authentic. Modular Icons is a powerful tool for adding compelling lo-fi texture to your tracks. Part of the Kontakt Play Series, this instrument places a Bumper collection of coveted modular synths at your disposal. The source audio was provided by some of the most influential electronic music pioneers of the last 60 years, including Jean-Michel Jarre and Mark Isham. Across 100+ presets, Modular Icons captures the sound of these artists’ legendary modular instruments, including a Buchla, an ARP 2500, and the ultra-expensive TONTO. The simple, intuitive Play series interface makes it ultra-fast to dial in authentic leads, bleeps, and squelches. Use Modular Icons to give your EDM tracks some backstory.

Get Razor

The best EDM hardware from Native Instruments

So far we’ve looked at the best EDM software, but that’s not the whole story. Getting outside of your laptop can loosen up your flow and spark new ideas. EDM hardware helps you do this. From beat-making tools like Maschine to MIDI controllers such as Komplete Kontrol M32 and performance controllers like Traktor Kontrol S4, hardware can add a new dimension to your EDM production process. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best EDM hardware.

18. Traktor

EDM is made in your studio, but it lives on the dance floor. Once you’re happy with your tracks, it’s time to find an audience for them. Traktor will help you craft compelling live and DJ sets so you can present your EDM tracks in the best possible light. The flagship Traktor Pro 3 digital DJing software has everything you need to perform, with powerful sound sculpting options including effects and timestretch. A range of Traktor hardware gives you extra control, from the mighty 4-channel Kontrol S4 mixing controller to the ultra-portable Kontrol Z1, which might be the world’s smallest DJ mixer. From mix sessions with friends to Massive world tours, Traktor makes it easy to play out your EDM tracks.

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19. Maschine+

Modern DAW-based studios involve a lot of mouse-clicking and screen-gazing. This isn’t always great for inspiration, which thrives on play and spontaneous creation. Maschine+ is the perfect tool for freeing up your process. This standalone production and performance instrument allows you to step away from the computer and let the ideas flow. A smaller, more mobile cousin of the Maschine MK3, Maschine+ offers 16 ultra-responsive pads for tapping in beats and quickly programming melodies, plus intuitive live sequencing features so you can dial in ideas on the fly. What’s more, its standalone functioning means you can bring it with you wherever inspiration strikes.

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20. Komplete Kontrol M32

MIDI controllers are another powerful tool for breaking free from the screen. Whether you’re playing chords and melodies, tapping out beats, or just noodling with a preset you like, a MIDI keyboard can be a great starting point for EDM production. Komplete Kontrol M32 is a 32-key MIDI keyboard with all the features you need to start producing electronic music. It’s ultra-compact and perfect to plug in and play anywhere, and the Komplete Kontrol software integrates with your production library, allowing you to browse through instruments and effects without losing your flow. Komplete Kontrol M32 will slot nicely into your production workflow, and bring fresh spark and musicality to your EDM productions.

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Start making electronic music with EDM software and EDM VSTs

We’ve looked at some of the best EDM software and VST plug-ins for music production. We’ve explored innovative synths and sample instruments, powerful Expansions, and looked at some of the top-performing EDM hardware for production and performance. Pick up just a few of these EDM VSTs and you’ll be on your way to making world-class EDM.

If you’re not sure where to start, try Komplete 14. This all-in-one production suite gives you absolutely everything you need to make great EDM—at a Massively reduced price.

Get Komplete 14
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