If you want to record an exotic instrument without hustle, you are in the right place. In this post, you will learn about nine great musical instrument plugins.
VST plugins are great. They allow you to record any instrument you want. Even if you don’t know how to play the instrument. You can record it with a MIDI keyboard or create parts with your mouse.
There are hundreds of different VST plugins for guitar, bass, drums, pianos, and much more. But sometimes you want to add a different, eastern flavor to your music. In that case, you need exotic instrument plugins.
So, if you are looking for sitar, tabla, erhu, or other eastern musical instrument plugins, see the list and find out what these instrument plugins offer.
All the plugins work perfectly with any modern digital audio workstation.
Premium Exotic Instrument Plugins
First, let’s find out the best premium VST plugins. These are very high-quality plugins that offer a wide range of instruments, amazing sound, and a huge sound library with hundreds of samples.
Silk has perhaps the biggest collection of eastern musical instruments. The library includes instruments from China, India, and Persia. The sound library is 25GB from which 20GB are samples and 5GB is authentic performances. Sounds are recorded in EastWest Studios with tools such as Neumann mics and Neve console.
The interface of this plugin is very modern, beautiful, and intuitive. Offers in-depth options and settings to choose from. And the quality of the sound and performances is amazing. This plugin is for those who want to have a huge instrument collection in one box.
Some of the exotic instruments you get with Silk are erhu, dizi, suona, dilruba, sarod, duduk, kemenche, tar, and much more.
Bizarre Sitar is an affordable and great-sounding sitar plugin that works with Kontakt. This plugin stands out among other similar plugins by sound quality, features, and interface. You can create any sitar sound you can imagine. Includes great features and effects.
This sitar plugin includes different playing style patterns such ass strumming, pluck, staccato, etc. You can tweak settings such as swell, attack, vibrato, pitch, and more. Additionally, has options for the filter and waveform shape.
Some FX you can add to your sitar are distortion, delay, reverb, flanger, saturation, and more. This is a great-sounding, affordable, and simply the best VST plugin for a sitar.
SwarPlug is another great premium plugin for exotic instruments. This is a collection of over 80 different Indian musical instruments. The collection includes percussion as well as stringed instruments. Other than a huge instrument collection and high-quality sound, the plugin includes loops and presets.
The interface is modern and very easy to use. And the features are awesome too. You have options for panning, envelope, reverb, and even dedicated EQ. It allows you to fully customize your sound.
Some of the great features of SwarPlug are customizable mapping, cross-legato, time-stretching, semitone tuning, and more.
Native Instruments Spotlight
Native Instruments Spotlight is the collection of different eastern musical instrument plugins. And you can buy these collections separately. Their collection includes East Asia, India, West Africa, Cuba, and the Middle East. Each library consists of different instruments from that country or region.
East Asia includes instruments from Japan, China, and Korea. With West Africa, you get a wide range of percussions. The India collection has percussions and melodic musical instruments. So, with each collection, you get multiple instruments and samples.
The libraries require Kontakt in order to work, free or pro version. Apps have a modern and beautiful interface and the quality of sound is great. If you want to have a huge collection of exotic instruments, then this would be a great solution for you.
Samba Drums is a percussion plugin that includes different instruments from Brazil. You need a Kontakt player to use it. Includes instruments such as snare, timba, agogo, whistle, etc. Includes solo and ensemble versions. Recorded in a professional studio with two mic positions.
Samba Drums offers great features. In the mixer panel, you can change microphone settings. Includes huge effects library such as reverb, delay, compressor, and more. Also, has sequencer and mapping options.
Free Exotic Instrument Plugins
Now let’s see the greatest free plugins for exotic instruments. Like premium plugins, free plugins also offer great sound and options. They may don’t have many features or a huge sound library but can do the job perfectly. Also, they are free.
Real Sitar is one of the best free sitar VST plugins you can find. It’s a sample-based plugin and sound is sampled from different types of sitars. The instrument recording is made with four mic positions which give it depth and diversity. Also, the quality of sound is really good.
The plugin works with any popular DAW and supports VST, VST3, AU formats. The interface of the plugin is intuitive and easy to use. You have options such as gain, pan, attack, release, LPF, etc. Another great thing is that it’s velocity-sensitive which makes it a more real-sounding app.
Other cool features of Real Sitar are the tunning, reverb, string layer stack up, mapped strings, etc. For more presets, you can buy an additional expansion pack.
Indian DreamZ is a small but powerful instrument plugin and it’s free. It’s dedicated to Indian instruments and you get six different musical instruments in one package. You get sitar, veena, sarod, tabla, tar, and tampura. The plugin is velocity-sensitive and can produce a good sound.
The interface of the plugin is very simple. You choose a musical instrument, you can change envelope settings and filters. Although it’s simple to use, the sound is really good and can be a great addition to your plugin collection.
Other good features of the Indian DreamZ plugin are detuner, HPF, LPF, and MIDI automation.
Asian DreamZ plugin is similar to Indian DreamZ and is developed by the same team, DSK Music. And instead of Indian musical instruments, it consists of eight musical instruments from different eastern regions. The list of instruments consists of the pipa, luan, guzheng, koto, erhu, ban di, and percussion kit.
It’s a very simple plugin with limited features and settings. After you choose your sampled instrument the only settings you have are reverb and level. Although it’s a minimalistic plugin, the sound is really good and the instrument collection is quite big.
Works with 32 and 64-bit computers, supports VST, VST3, and AU formats. Has MIDI automation and velocity features.
Tabla by Samsara Cycle Audio is one of the best free exotic instrument plugins. Has great features, sounds good, and is very easy to use. It offers sixteen different sample sections and 120 studio-quality tabla samples.
With every section, you can choose different tabla samples, MIDI note, tunning, level, panning, and bend. Other features it offers are bend wheel and output volume. Simple yet powerful plugin.
IxoxFlute is a free flute plugin. You get a great-sounding sampled flute sound in a small box with some good features. It has two modes of flute and separate controls for each flute mode. It allows deeper modification of the flute sound.
IxoxFlute plugin also offers great features that make this plugin more powerful. For example, you can choose between three types of articulation – normal, staccato, and percussive. Also, has controls for attack, release, and distance.
A really simple yet powerful small and free plugin for flute. Works with 32-bit system and supports VST format.
Mini Erhu is a small and great-sounding exotic instrument plugin. Erhu is a famous and old Chinese musical instrument and this plugin captures its sound perfectly. It works with every modern DAW and supports the VST format. Very lightweight and easy-to-use plugin.
Although it’s a free plugin, offers many great features. Things you can do with it are different presets, tweak attack, release, decay, and sustain settings. Also, you can change panning, volume, size, and mix settings.
Cloudrum is hands down the best free plugin for steel tongue drums. It’s one of the most unique sounding and interesting instruments in the world. It can add a specific flavor to any song. And Cloudrum plugin greatly captures the soul of this instrument.
It offers some features that allow you to change a couple of settings. You can tweak ambient and panning. Also, wave type and body of the sound. It includes two mic positions and stereo and mono modes.
Cloudrum is a great-sounding VST plugin with great features. And it’s a free plugin that works with every modern DAW.
If you want to record some exotic instrument and expand your song’s diversity, you have several options to choose from. These VST plugins offer a huge range of easter and other regional musical instruments. They sound great, have awesome features, and will work with all the major DAW. Premium plugins offer more options but free ones also sound great and offer some cool features to modify the sound.