Tremolo has been around for ages and is defined as a rapid note reiteration that produces a trembling effect. People often confuse the tremolo effect with vibrato, though the two are very different.
While vibrato moves a pitch up and down, tremolo retains the pitch while the volume moves up and down.
Now that you’re a tremolo expert, let’s look into some of the best tremolo VSTs on the market today!
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What is a Tremolo Plugin?
A tremolo plugin works by increasing and decreasing the volume of a sound over time. At its most basic, a tremolo plugin does a simple, repetitive modulation.
But some of the remarkable plugins featured below have much more advanced rhythms. Some might even react dynamically to the underlying sounds.
Or they can even work only on specific frequency bands!
Best Tremolo VST: Xfer - LFO Tool
The LFO Tool by Xfer delivers excellent tremolo, as well as several other unique features. You can sculpt custom LFO shapes and curves or flip through dozens of quality presets to find the movement that fits best with your mix.
This tool gives you a customizable point+tension curve and up to four simultaneous graphs that you can manipulate to affect your incoming signal. One of the things we love most about it is that the filters are clean and crisp. While some of the other tremolo plugins on this list deliver colored, analog-style tremolo, this one can give you all the dynamics you need without adding any unwanted artifacts.
All of that, and you get LFO visual representation so you can see how your settings are impacting the incoming audio.
While there is certainly nothing fancy about the LFO Tool interface, its clean, simple, and intuitive interface packed with a variety of features makes it an excellent tool for those who want to push their tremolo a little bit further.
Soundtoys - Tremolator
While the LFO Tool from Xfer delivers clean and crisp, digital-style tremolo, the Tremolator from Soundtoys gives you analog-style tremolo that sounds like your favorite classic hardware. You can find tons of unique analog emulations in this plugin, including emulations of the Wurlitzer tremolo and hardware like the Fender Vibrolux amplifier.
The beauty of the plugin is in the fact that you get all of this warm, analog-style sound with digital control. You can choose from the list of standard LFO shapes or customize your own using the LFO waveshape editor.
There’s also a handy dynamic control plugin that allows you to speed up and slow down the tremolo based on the loudness or softness of the program material. Of course, if you want to be more precise with your effect, you can use the MIDI sync feature to lock into the tempo of your DAW paired with the Rhythm Editor to use various programmed rhythmic patterns like sequencer-style tremolo and auto-gating.
Soundtoys has always had a wonderful reputation for bringing analog goodness to the digital world and this Tremolator plugin is an excellent example of that.
Audio Things - Motor
Motor is a much simpler tremolo plugin that uses a side-chaining approach to deliver unique styles of movement. The cool thing about this plugin is that you can combine multiple signals into the plugin and listen to them dance around each other! Whether you want to rhythmically chop your different signals or have them gently morph between one another, Motor can do so by impacting the volume and spatial position.
All of this side-chaining goodness came about thanks to the Crystal Palace, which was a piece of gear built many decades ago by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. This one-of-a-kind piece of hardware allowed engineers to switch up to sixteen audio channels with a speed-dependent parameter.
This unit also used a massive, steampunk-like motor with a rotating capacitor, almost giving the sound a granular quality, which Audio Things captured quite nicely.
As you can tell, this plugin is much more than your standard tremolo plugin; Motor offers a series of modulation possibilities that you will not find elsewhere.
Melda Audio - MTremoloMB
The MTremoloMB from Melda Productions stands out from the rest as a multi-band tremolo effect plugin. It may just be one of the most powerful tremolo plugins on the market today for that very reason.
With the MTremoloMB, you can work with up to six independent frequency bands, each of which has its own parameters that you can manipulate. Whether you want to create a choppy, helicopter effect or add some subtle movement to your audio signals, MTrremoloMB can get the job done.
Click here to check the price of MTremolo MB on Plugin Boutique or ADSR Sounds
The plugin can definitely be a bit overwhelming with so many different parameters to mess with. Luckily, you can use one of the many excellent presets as jumping-off points. Plus, Melda added a dual user interface, which provides users with the ability to choose between the complex and simplified versions of the plugins. If you really want to dive into the various parameters, all you have to do is go to the “Edit” screen.
Beyond the custom multiband filter and crossovers, you’ll find more tremolo styles than any other plugin out there today. Under the hood of the MTremoloMB, you get access to a randomizer, pitch detector, envelope generator, and audio level follower, each of which controls the audio in fantastic ways. The sonic possibilities with this plugin feel almost endless.
Kuassa Efektor TR3604
If you’re a guitarist, you’ll feel very at home with the Kuassa Efektor TR3604, as it is made to look like your standard stompbox.
The Kuassa Efektor TR3604 is one of the simpler tremolo plugins out there that uses classic volume modulation with a slight bit more control than you’d expect from a guitar stompbox. It’s an extremely user-friendly plugin that gives you three wave types to choose from, including sine wave, square wave, and triangle/sawtooth wave.
Click here to check the price of the TR3604
You can adjust the tremolo effect to either be in mono or stereo or adjust the effect rate and whether or not you want it synced to the tempo. Having the ability to A/B between two settings can be very helpful too!
There are a few presets to choose from, though the simple stompbox-style interface makes it just as easy to dial in custom effects within seconds. It’s certainly not the most versatile tremolo plugin on the market, though if you don’t have the need for super in-depth tremolo effects in your productions or mixes, this plugin is an excellent choice!
FAQ about the Best Tremolo Plugins
Here are the most frequently asked questions I've received about the best tremolo plugins. If you don't see your question, be sure to leave it in the comments!
Tremolo Vs. Vibrato
Contrary to popular belief, vibrato and tremolo are two completely different things. While tremolo is a steady ebb and flow of volume, vibrato is an increase and decrease in pitch. The only similarity between these two effects is that they impact the signal using a similar rhythm, which is often why they are so easily confused.
If you’re looking for a stuttering, staccato-like pulse, whether choppy or subtle, go for a tremolo. If you want a warbly quality that sounds like you’re underwater, a vibrato effect is the better choice.
Can you Achieve this Using An Amp Sim?
Of course, if you don’t want to purchase an exclusive tremolo plugin, you can always use an amp sim. Many amp sims emulate amps that have built-in tremolo effects and those that don’t typically come with tremolo pedal add-ons that you can use without the amplifier.
One of my favorite go-to amp sims is SofTube (you can see my review of the Best Amp Simulator Plugins here). You can purchase a wide range of effects pedals to use in front of the amps, though even many of the free amps come with built-in tremolo effects that sound incredible.
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