EDITOR’S NOTE: Our list for best VST synth is continually updated, for a summarised version of the current best plugin money can buy, check the table below. Quickie: The best VST Synth in our opinion is Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.
Note: if you are on a mobile device, scroll left and right in the table to see all the entries, and up and down in the cells to see all the content.
Then we have Sylenth1, another great soft synth VST that’s also used by some of the industry leading professionals these days.
It can be heard in a lot of classic EDM hits these days, and we can understand why. It’s presets sound great for the genre.
It might not be as versatile as Serum, but it still provides some fantastic presets. And just like Serum, it’s reasonably visual-oriented and easy to use. Plus it has THE BEST 303 emulation preset out there, very well fit for it’s plastic sounding oscillators.
Then we would also like to mention Native Instruments Massive, a VST synth that found its way into the dubstep or bass music world. In fact, some argue that it’s a very foundation of the genre.
And just like its name would suggest, the tones you can get from this synth are pretty massive. It also comes with great set of specialized high quality preset packs.
If you are already on the Native Instruments ecosystem, this is a no brainer. Retailing at around 149$, we found this to be a great price/quality ratio as it really is one of the leading synths in the industry.
Oh boy do we love this. I mean, just look at it! Fire up a complex preset and see everything move.
This is right now the go to learning synth and we highly recommend you to do so, even if you consider yourself to be advanced. Not only subtractive synth, but also granular and wavetable.
Yes you have the option to load your own samples in it and yes there are effects and a sequencer too. So it is not only packed with features but also sounds extremely profound and intense. It is also MPE compatible so get your controller ready for this monster of a synth.
Here is a demo of the patches, notice how playing style is important for this VST:
VPS Avenger vs Xfer Serum
If you’ve been making your music for a while now, you’re probably aware of both VPS Avenger and Xfer Serum as some of the most popular synths these days.
So it’s pretty expected to see people still discussing which one of these is a better choice. Before we get into it, we need to point out that both are great synths. It’s just about what works better for you.
With this said, some have pointed out that the Avenger runs better and is somewhat more comfortable to use, while the Serum got some lousy rep for glitches.
On the other hand, Serum has a really great wavetablesynthesizer, offering more versatility and possibilities in this regard compared to the Avenger, which has a wavetable size maximum of 256.
Avenger, on the other hand, also has some more synth sources to choose from.
But then again, you can do pretty much all of the same sounds in Xfer Serum.
Overall, it comes down to what works best for you.
You won’t go wrong with either of these, but it would be best to try them out first and see what fits your style of work.
Here’s a quick video showing all the features and sounds of VPS Avenger:
We couldn’t finish this list without mentioning our #1 choice Omnisphere. Now on its second iteration, omnisphere has stood out due to its compatibility with an incredible amount of hardware. The new version comes with a new and improved Arpeggiator, over 50 FXs, and over 14 000 sounds.
Omnisphere is often compared do Serum. We’ve down or own analysis of how the two compare in this post.
Defiant WT is a fantastic new free VST synth, significantly upgraded in 2020.
It might come as an excellent solution for those who just got into synths and want to try things out.
But aside from that, it provides some superb synth tones and presets with its two analog oscillators and eight waveforms. So far, it’s only available for Windows.
Roland came out with their new synth plugin in 2020, the digital version of the small TB-303 Bass Line produced back in the early 1980s.
The idea behind the original product was to emulate and replace bass guitars, but it didn’t see much commercial success.
However, the synth itself was pretty good, and this new synth plugin VST version does the old product some justice and will do wonders for those tight bottom-end tones you need in your music. Perfect for the fans of the vintage ’80s stuff.
Nexus 3 came out in late November 2019 and was one of the most anticipated VST synths of the year.
It is essentially an upgrade to Nexus 2, and the prices are lower for those who already own the previous version. Knowing how reFX did great on all the other stuff they did, including Nexus 2, we’re pretty confident that this brand new synth is worth it.
Playing around with its oscillators and the wide-range LFO will feel like a breeze. It’s interesting how close it is to analog synths, especially because it’s completely free.
MinimogueVA, made by Voltkitchen, is another excellent example of free synths that you can get your hands on these days. As its name suggests, it was designed to replicate the well-known Minimoog analog synth. If you’re into the 1970s vibe in your music, then this is the perfect solution for you. Just remember the good old tones that you could hear in songs by Kraftwerk, Pink Floyd, and Stevie Wonder.
Also worth mentioning is Ichiro Toda Synth1, which is a replica of the old Nord Lead 2 keyboard which came out in the 1990s.
Funnily enough, this free plugin is pretty close to the original product, which is not exactly cheap if you stumble upon it these days.
The plugin features two oscillators along with ring and FM modulation, sync, and modulation envelope. What’s also great is the fact that Toda is optimized Synth1 for slower CPUs.
We’ve decided to keep this list short and sweet, but there are hundreds of amazing synths on offer.
We’ve kept our list focused on high end and free synths for electronic and pop music production, but there is a vast array of more niche focused plugins that are cheaper and pretty cool- guess we’ll keep them for another article.
Thanks for reading and please leave any suggestions in the comment box below.