In this video, producer Tim Cant gives us an insight into the five most popular VST synths as of May 2018.
Best Software Synths
SynthMaster may have been around for a long time, but every update has kept it fresh for the competition with the world’s best soft synths.
Now at version 2.9, SynthMaster has practically every sound generation feature you could want in a synthesizer: wavetable oscillators, loads of voicing parameters, dual filters, multistage envelope generators and a modular signal flow – all times two with two synthesis layers. On top of that, there’s also four LFOs, an effects section including a Vocoder, and loads more.
SynthMaster’s Killer Feature? It’s oscillator waveforms include samples of classic hardware to use as sources.
With an impressive range of oscillators and synthesis types, and an even more impressive range of third-party preset developers, one thing’s for sure: Spire is a versatile synth.
Choose one of 49 waves in a Spire oscillator, and you can morph it using the CtrlA and CtrlB knobs. What these two do to the waveform is determined by the synthesis type, which is selected at the top of the oscillator. And that’s without mentioning the dual filters, the four LFOs, the four envelopes and effects.
Spire’s Killer Feature? It’s five-page modulation matrix, giving access to over 200 mod destinations.
This monstrous, top-of-the-line synth is the first instrument released by plugin and soundware legends Vengeance Sound.
The word Ambitious doesn’t even begin to describe Avenger. It’s got eight oscillators, which host classic analogue shapes, samples, a choice of digital wave cycles and wavetables. There’s FM and AM options, and each oscillator can be run through a unique combination of filters, amps, arpeggiators and effects, meaning that you could make an entire track in one instance of Avenger. Elsewhere, there’s a spectral filter, macro controls, and far too many features to even namecheck.
Avenger’s Killer Feature? It’s got an entire drum machine – and drum sequencer – built in! Put simply, Avenger is excessive, and excessively brilliant!
If you can’t decide which classic analogue synth you want in your next track, Diva takes the best bits of hardware history and puts them into one incredible-sounding plugin.
With Diva, you could pair a Minimoog oscillator with an MS-20 filter, and then pipe the signal through a Jupiter-6 style envelope, or swap out any of the elements for any other. Diva’s also got two LFOs, two effects slots, a Modifications tab to make advanced tweaks, and a kickass oscilloscope visualiser.
Diva’s Killer Feature? Divine Mode – this menu control cranks Diva up to maximum quality, making it its most analogue, but with a hefty CPU hit.
Originally released in 2014, Serum has risen to the top of the tree to become the undeniable king of the soft synths. But why has this simple-looking synth garnered so much attention?
Serum’s two wavetable oscillators are actually superweapons, with 3D wave morphing, additive synthesis, wavetable interpolation, wave cycle morphing, and loads more complicated-sounding powers. But the trick is, in reality, every one of Serum’s features is completely straightforward to use, and there are countless third-party preset packs available that showcase its incredible potential.
Serum’s three Killer Features? It’s got up to eight multipoint LFOs, PNG Wavetable import, and everyone with Serum gets a copy of Serum FX, an effects-only version with only Serum’s FX tab.