Why Are VST Plugins So Expensive? 3 Reasons Why (Explained!)

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The VST plugin industry has changed a lot over the years. Manufacturers are making plugins that are easier to use and make music production incredibly easy and accessible.

However, this convenience comes at a cost. VST plugins are becoming much more expensive over time. But why is this so? Why are VST plugins so expensive?

VST plugins are expensive because a lot of work goes into their design, development, and creation. Manufacturers spend thousands of dollars to pay expert sound designers, recording and mixing engineers, musicians, and programmers to make VST plugins.

Why VST Plugins are Expensive?

The truth is VST plugins cost a lot to make, especially the really good ones. This cost of production needs to be recovered through sales, thus making VST plugins expensive for the end-user that purchases them.

To make software instruments and effects really great and worth it, manufacturers go above and beyond to create VST plugins that not only sound great but inspire you to create music.

To make this happen, plugin manufacturers pay experienced sound designers, samplers, researchers, and programmers to create unique sounding sounds and effects to make music creation easy.

And it takes an awful amount of hours to make a great plugin.

For instance, a software instrument plugin such as Xpand!2 (on PluginBoutique), which is one of the most sought-after plugins available today and surprisingly cheap, manufacturers put in a lot of effort in sampling many different instruments such as guitars, keyboards, synthesizers, trumpet, and more.

And they put it all together in an easy-to-use software for the end-user. This requires careful planning, many engineers, sound designers, and more to make this possible.

I’ve also read stories where VST instrument makers repair broken musical instruments or remake extinct instruments so they can sample its sound and use the samples to make completely new virtual instruments.

Companies that make convolution reverb plugins travel to the rarest caves, weird spaces, and many different cathedrals and chapels to sample the rooms so they can sample to make lush-sounding and inspiring reverb plugins for producers.

All this effort that goes into making these VST plugins requires huge capital investments that need to be accrued at the end of the day. For this reason, VST plugins tend to be a little bit expensive so that they can make profits.

To add to this, the sales volume of VST plugins is quite low. Therefore, to account for this low demand, these plugins command huge prices to enable the developers to make a profit without losing out. 

This helps to cover their cost and keep the company in business to continue working on projects.

Another thing to note is, That notwithstanding, there are quite a few VST plugins that are cheap. If you search carefully, you may find cheap VST plugins that are of great value. Aside from this, there are developers that produce free versions of their VST plugins. Thus, you can also get free VST plugins as well.

How Much Does it Cost to Make a VST plugin?

If you have read up to this point, then you may be wondering how much it costs to make VST plugins. The truth is a lot of work goes into the creation of the best VST plugins available today.

A simple audio effect VST plugin can cost $400 or higher to make, while software instruments can cost $2000 or higher to make.

However, this is just a rough estimate because the processes involved in making every individual plugin are not entirely open to the public, thus making it difficult to estimate the cost.

That notwithstanding, in general, making a VST plugin may require the recording of thousands of actual musical instruments played in a studio.

It involves recording all the different characteristics and dynamics of each note. In addition to these, the hundreds of professional instrumentalists and session players that play throughout the numerous recording sessions have to be paid as well.

Apart from this group, coders and mix engineers need to be paid as well. Finally, programmers and developers that work on creating the plugin and the designers that design the plugin’s interface need to be paid as well.

When you put together the cost involved in hiring and paying all of these people, that’s a lot of money.

Furthermore, another factor that affects the cost of a plugin is its complexity. Since a lot of design, coding, and skill goes into the designing and developing of every plugin, complex plugins will have a lot more work going into them.

Due to this, plugins like multi-band effects that offer more functions always cost more than primitive gain-control plugins, which offer little.

Do You Need Expensive Plugins to Make Great Sound?

Just as I mentioned earlier, expensive plugins have a lot more work going into them. They usually have lots of sampled sounds in them. Most expensive plugins provide you with a large variety of sound catalogs that gives you the means and freedom to create sound.

Due to this, the most expensive plugins make the creation of certain sounds easy. They also enable you to produce great sound without much stress.

That notwithstanding, you don’t need to spend money to buy an expensive plugin to make great-sounding music. This is because there are lots of cheap and free plugins available today that sound great.

However, you need to be willing to spend a lot of time learning how to use this cheap or free software if you want to make great music with these plugins.

It is not easy to produce great music with most free plugins, but if you are able to spend time learning how to use them, you can do amazing things with your music.

One of these cheap plugins I’d definitely recommend is Khords by Loopmasters (on PluginBoutique). It’s a fun, inspiring plugin with many different chord presets and different lush sounds that will instantly inspire you creatively. And it’s definitely a tool worth having in your arsenal.

As I’ve already mentioned, Xpand!2 (PluginBoutique) is also another cheap but great-sounding plugin you should definitely consider getting. It’s a plugin where you’ll get all the “bread and butter” sounds you’ll need for music production.

There are other free audio effects and instruments such as Valhalla Supermassive, Kontakt by Native Instruments, or Ample Bass P Lite that are worth trying.

Therefore, you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to buy expensive VST plugins to create great sound and music. You can make great sounds even if you have a basic edition of a plugin.


In general, VST plugins provide lots of value to users. They are made with the utmost precision, making them very reliable. However, it costs a lot to produce high-value VST plugins. That is why they are usually expensive.

However, just as there are high-priced VST plugins, there are fairly priced ones as well. Therefore, you should select one that you can afford. That notwithstanding, if you are now starting out with sound production, you should not rush out to buy tons of expensive plugins, some of which you may end up not using at all.