5 BEST Mid-winter 2021 VST Plugin DEALS

Wellcome to our periodic round-up of the BEST DEALS available on music production VST Plugins. Here, we help you spend your hard-earn money on new toys and virtual gear. So without further ado, here is our list of five of the BEST DEALS on VST Plugins and their end date:

  1. Izotope Complete Your Suite Sale – up to 80% off. Yes you heard that right, up to 80% off select Izotope VST Plugins in order for you to have more of the same quality and usability. There are also offers for upgrades here. Deal ends February 16th 2021 and can be found here.
  2. Iceberg Audio – The Sub VST Synth – 33% off introductory price. This one is also on the usability side, and it’s a straightforward sub bass synth. For 33 Eur you get one envelope, glide and drive, so not that much BUT the sound quality is out if this world. It is an instant favourite our ours and the deal can be found here. It is only live until Februray 10.
  3. Native Instruments Komplete 13 – huge discount on bundles. If you’ve been waiting for a great deal to get into Komplete, now is the time. They have heavily discounted their bundles, including Ultimate and Collector’s Edition. They did this also for the starter packs, and you can get them for as low as 199 Eur for the Select bundle. The deal can be found here, and there is no end date specified, so go ahead and try your luck.
  4. W.A. Production has a 68% off sale on preset packs for the most popular synths out there like Serum, Spire, Sylenth and much more. If Techno and House are your things, then this is for you. All major VST Synths are supported on this preset pack, and the deal ends on the 28th of February. Shop here!
  5. 55% Off Eden2 by UJAM and Bassroom by Mastering the Mix. Again, if dance music, especially Techno and House are your things, These two tools are indispensable. I am particularly fond of Bassroom, it is very useful on the master channel to round out and smooth your bassline. UJAM is a very nice drum machine too. This deal ends on 14th of Februray.

So there you have it, enough to get you through the end of Winter. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletters for more deals:

Roland Jupiter 8 emulation – TAL-J-8 review and special introductory price

The TAL-J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 emulation is good. I mean, really good and also enjoyable. Who doesn’t know the Jupiter 8? This is a rhetorical question, if you are on this website and you regularly follow the content here, you are no stranger to synths. Now, this one is actually THE synth. Top of the line.

Roland has made a couple of good synths and a couple of bad synths. They have also made some excellent pieces of music production hardware. The Jupiter 8 is one of them, and for me it is the ultimate polyphonic subtractive experience. It sounds T-H-I-C-K. It sounds classy. It NEVER sounds outdated.

A lot of replicas have tried to recreate it’s unique, full and organic sounds. We have of course the Arturia replica, which is our opinion captures it pretty well. Then we have of course the Roland Cloud offering the sound. Then we have a lot, and I mean a lot of presets in other VSTs that are trying to give you a piece. If you want more information about emulating the Roland Jupiter 8 in VST form then we recommend this brilliant article here.

Or better yet, for the ones that can affort it, we actually recommend buying the hardware itself. If you can find a serviced, fully working model that is. I mean, just look at it:

For today though, we will come back to earth from Jupiter and discuss the newest addition to the synth’s ever expanding arsenal of VST Plugin emulations. I am talking about the TAL-J-8 product.

Tal has been in the space for quite some time now, emulating (successfully in our oppinion) Roland gear.

They have done the Juno pretty well. They have recreated the SH-101. They actually offer the Juno chorus as a separate VST. We love Tal, and we think that their output truly helps out music producers.

But let’s dive straight in to their newest offering, the TAL-J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 soft synth. And for our lineup of BEST general-purpose VST Synths, head on down to our article here.

This VST captures the brassy, powerful but also mellow sound of the Roland Jupiter 8 very well.

Yes you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, the most accessible example for me right now is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Just listen to those gorgeous pads and the harmony that this 8 voice VCO powered monster can create.

The synth is truly cosmic, one of a kind. It can be powerful, it can be smooth, it can be in the background and it surely can be in your face. It can sound classy and it can also be new age. As you can see, I love the Jupiter 8. I could not fit it into my studio in the keyboard, standard version, so I did the next best thing and bout the 2U Rack version, the MPG-80 (Rev.4 of course). It is cheaper and it is much more compact, but it lacks the front panel (sold separately). No problem, i’ll just use the VST editor.

The TAL-J-8 VST also has MPE support, we can’t recall right now any other Roland Jupiter 8 emulation that has this.

This one is very interesting, and at this time this is the only Jupiter 8 emulation that can suport MPE. If MPE will not be huge in 2021, it will be extremely sought after in 2022. It is very interesting what you can actually do with just a keyboard, if it has the right sensors. For now you can use MPE to individually adjust the filter and volume on a per-note basis, with pitch pretty soon to follow I guess.

You can see the MPE controls in the screenshot below, showing the synth control interface.

We used it for two weeks, doing all kinds of sounds on it. it shines on classic analog synth stuff like bass and chords/harmony. The filter is very nice, and if you increase the resonance a little bit, you will get that trumpet like sound for which the Roland Jupiter 8 is famous. It is hard to integrate in contemporary electronic music, but still is nice, especially if you are into sound design for movies and games.

While the unison function is nice, we do not recommend you use it on a VST Synth as it will pale in comparison to real unison on a real hardware synth.

Oh and one more thing, the 8 number in the TAL-J-8 is only to reflect the Jupiter 8. It’s not a voice count though, because the TAL-J-8’s polyphony count goes all the way up to 12.

Also noted is the upper/lower system implemented in most high end synths of that era, like the Yamaha CS80, Roland Jx10 and the Prophet 10. You basically get to layer two separate synths, and can play them simultaneously or split the keyboard.

Delay is also a very nice addition to the virtual synth

The delay sounds very nice, reminding me on classic analog BBD style circuits. There is also a Chorus on board, with option I and II in very classy Roland fashion. It sounds tremendous, but even without chorus, this VST has a very surprisingly wide stereo image. Pop the Chorus on and it takes it to the next level.

TAL-J-8 presets and preset browser

As requested here on iDesignSound, we will provide you with our thoughts on the preset browser, as there are more and more musicians traveling and doing live sets (well, not right now due to COVID-19) so browsing through presets on your VST synths is very important. It is not very good for browsing in a live environment. You use your mouse to browse a drop-down style menu, with folders and sub folders. But the presets are really nice.

You get the original factory presets on the hardware, some original TAL sounds plus 6 other folders, with more than 500+ presets onboard immediately after you buy it.

You can get the TAL-J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 VST at a good price.

Yes it is time limited but still it’s a very good deal. TAL is a very nice VST company and I really enjoy their products.

Get the TAL-J-8 here with a 20% intro discount (until 28.02.2021).

If you prefer to pay a monthly fee and have access to a lot more VST Plugins, then we have a very nice comparison and review of the best rent-to-own VST services here.

Very interesting free VST – Lyra 8 recreation

For those that know and for those that don’t, Lyra-8 is a very interesting synth with a very interesting sound engine and layout.

I know, because I own it (the orange sunset colorway of course) and I can say that it is nothing short of incredible.

Lyra 8 is all about cross modulation and finding atmospheric chords

Yes, that’s right, there is no keyboard you don’t really get to play standard notes (western division into notes and semitones). There is also no MIDI so the VST version is interesting because you can get to play standard chords very easily. I got it mostly for that.

On the hardware unit you close the circuit and play the note with the two buttons on the bottom, by putting your finger or any conductive material on both for each oscillator. You only have knob tuning to select the note/pitch that each oscillator plays.

There is a also external processing on the hardware.

So having both the hardware unit and the VST makes sense if you plan to use the hardware for the BBD style delay and distortion on external sounds only.

Be sure to check also our list of 400+ free VSTs (regularly updated, we just added the Lyra 8 VST here as well).

Here is a video demonstrating the hardware, it is advised you check it first to see what to expect from the VST:

To be honest, it does not really matter what you plan to do because the VST is free. I fully recommend you test it out as I am sure you will find a place for it in your sound design pallettte.

The free VST can be downloaded here.

PPG Wave 3.V Plugin Review

Wavetable synthesis in a VERY convenient and affordable virtual instrument + X-MAS GIFT FOR YOU!

I guess we can’t really consider this a vacation, because it’s either that we are sad, struggling with the global situation in our inner circle or we are just so bored with 2020 that we can’t wait to get it over with. Still, it’s been a great year for musicians, as the companies behind our beloved instruments have helped us with good deals, new product and just more and more stuff for us as musicians to do.

Today I will be listening to some brilliant piece of music making nostalgia. Yes out with the SQUARE SAW SINE waves and in with the WEIRDOS. It’s time for some wavetable virtual goodness, so bring out your mulled wine and your slight holiday cheer and let’s get ready for the review of the PPG WAVE 3.V

And since it is that time of the year (no matter what year it is and how hard it was), I will give you 5 sounds that I designed on this plugin, in sample form, free of charge. There will only be one C note played, so you can load them in your favourite sampler and fit chromatically into your own tracks.

What is the PPG Wave?

This interesting piece of software is simulating one of the most sought-after poly synth of all time. If you know Waldorf, if you know or love german music instruments, you know the PPG Wave. A real legend. An inspirational piece of kit and let’s face it, a VERY good investment if you have the money, the space, and the storage conditions for the real thing. At it’s heart, it is like a regular analog subtractive synth. The original 80s beast even had analog filters (faithfully recreated in the VST). But the waves that generate the sound are not just created digitally with 0s and 1s (so extremely stable), but also much more interesting (in my opinion) than the classic geometric shapes that we are used to. So the sonic capabilities are extreme, even to this day. Just imagine how it sounded back in the day, when everybody was so used to those saw waves. The effects on it sound good, but the best part is that they are surprisingly customisable. I mean you can have a delay clock to 28/128. Don’t see this division very often on synths

What it’s not.

Sure, it is wavetable synthesis, but it’s a very very initial form of it. It is NOT competing with the likes of the Arturia Pigments in terms of modulation. No, there is no waveshaping. No, there is no Mod Matrix and of course there is only one LFO. This is not a tinker’s tool. People who want to play with the miracle of wavetable should buy a VIRUS C like I did and for me it is a dream come true. Sure, the Virus is limited to arround 60 waves, no wavefolding, but it is gear and not software (although it is digital) and it sounds much better than the Arturia VST can.

If you just want to go for the Wave’s authentic sound (and the “authentic” user interface), you are going to be extremely pleased with this VST. Plus you can load your own waves, which is always cool.

PPG Wave 3.v features

Feature list from the Waldorf website:

General

  • Up to 256 voices per instance (depending on available CPU power)
  • 8 part Multimode
  • 8 Stereo Outputs
  • Host automation of most parameters
  • MIDI Controller automation of most parameters
  • More than 100 new Wavetables created by Wolfgang Palm
  • Original Waveterm B Factory Sample Library
  • Original PPG Wave Factory Sounds

Per Voice

  • 2 Wavetable Oscillators
  • Sample Playback with 8 bit, 12 bit or up to 32 bit
  • Authentic Aliasing Emulation of the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3/2.V or no aliasing
  • 12dB / 24 dB Low Pass Filter
  • Authentic Filter Emulation of the PPG Wave 2.2/2.3
  • Overdrive behind Filter
  • 1 LFO
  • 3 Envelopes
  • Authentic Emulation of the modulation graininess (switchable with True PPG)


Per Part (up to 8 parts available)

  • Poly, Dual, Quad and Mono (8 voices) mode with 8 different semitone offsets to create chords or melodic lines
  • Arpeggiator with Up, Down, Alternate and Cascade (PPG special) mode
  • True PPG Mode switchable between PPG Wave 2.2, Wave 2.3 and Wave 2.V
  • 4-Band EQ
  • Overdrive with various types
  • Phaser with up to 12 stages
  • Chorus with up to 6 stages
  • Flanger
  • Stereo Delay
  • Reverb

Other Features

  • Sample loading via drag&drop or load file dialog
  • Multisample playback by using the 8 part Multimode
  • 8 adjustable Cutoff / Resonance deviations to simulate analog inexactness
  • Finer adjustments of several values in Fine Modulatione mode

How it feels

It feels extremely outdated, but nostalgic. The VST really captured the interface style, and we all know how important interfacing with our electronic music instruments is. It has these buttons to access parts of the interface labeled “Digi”, “Graph”, “Tune”, so retro, but after that you just click on the imitation screen on the parameter and use your mouse to change values pretty easily (to be honest I was expecting to click on left/right arrows all the time, so this is a relief). Browser is ok-ish, more cool than useful, but there is a simple windows explorer or mac finder option aswell.

To create big sounds you go to the right side of the “screen” where you can just assign multitimbral parts to the same midi channel, I found that to be the most interesting way to create complex stuff (mostly because like I said I own the Virus C which is a multi-timbral diamond). When you first play with it you feel overwhelmed, there is the illusion of infinite modulation, but for me at least it seems pretty limited by today’s VST standards (and pretty counter-intuitive).

How it sounds

It sounds great. Excellent for long pads, and hollow/weird sounds. Sub oscillator is really nice, but this is not going to be a fat synth. The filter does not self-resonate, nor is it smooth by any means. It gets very weird when resonance is up but i like that. There is a certain buzz about it that makes me understand just how complex the waves are, when compared to traditional analog subtractive. The filter shines well on mid frequencies, and with some modulation it will sound very profane, almost perverse.

I would not use the drive option on the filter, and for sure I would not expect a proper tube emulation, but the features are there if there is a place in your soundscape.

The envelopes are very snappy, they sometimes click pretty hard, but again, there can be space for this as well so tune it to taste. They are of course mostly suited for pads and slow cooked sound design. The Chorus effect is pretty decent, but as with most VSTs, you will not have a very realistic stereo image so don’t get your hopes that up. Still, sound design wise, it is impressive and interesting to play with, and the guys at the “factory” packed a lot of wavetables along, so you have a lot of source material to modulate, filter and arpeggiate. Some of these waves are actually design by the Wave’s daddy Wolfgang Palm.

As promised, here are five samples from the VST. They don’t do it justice because they are monophonic (only the C note), but I think they are both representative and also useful.

Best FM Synth VST- All budgets included

Frequency modulators (FM) synths are rapidly gaining popularity among musicians, DJs, and producers alike.

These little software-based gadgets are devices that can be used to bridge various sonic gaps and obstacles, creating analogue-like sounds from scratch.

It’s only natural for aspiring players and performers to search for the best synths to use, and if so, we’ve got you covered.

Today we’re going to discuss some of the best FM synths on the market, starting with:

FM8

Native Instruments are among the biggest names in department of software electronics, so it’s quite obvious why we’ve decided to go with their flagship FM8 as our opener pick.

Although pricey, this FM synth program is by far one of the most versatile all-encompassing plugins that this brand has released so far, casting a long shade over its predecessors.

This is a fully digital VST that offers a total of 960 presets, each boasting crystal clear and remarkably authentic FM sounds. Furthermore, this software also packs a robust matrix platform, a dedicated arpeggiator, and well-rounded envelopes.

Although FM8 has its own patches (and downloadable upgrades), it’s also fully compatible with most external FM hardware devices, allowing you to mix and match different setups into a complete, well-rounded one.

The interface of FM8 is straightforward and plain, characterized by slightly oversized knobs and faders, and a 6-octave configurable keyboard.

While it may appear as a beginner producing program, NI’s FM8 is made by professionals for professionals.

Ableton Operator

The Operator is an integral component of the acclaimed Ableton Suite, and luckily for anyone who’s not using this platform specifically it’s a standalone VST that has only one requirement – Live9 Lite.

It’s substantially cheaper than most VSTs in this category, and it’s also significantly easier to use, mainly because it doesn’t have as many features.

Even though this could be perceived as a con, Operator’s forte is its simplicity.

It features petite, highly customizable sections and is meant as a background plugin that will help you orchestrate different tunes and timbres while working on the tracks simultaneously.

The neat little display takes the centrepiece of the Operator, showing you details regarding the most relevant and important parameters of its performance, such as attack, decay, release, peak, sustain, loop, velocity, waveshape, key, and such.

LFOs and filter sections are modest, to say the very least, but they feature everything you need to come up with unique sonic shapes and tones.

As a matter of fact, these sections can be cut off from the mix in order to preserve some extra CPU and RAM.

Speaking of which, Ableton’s Operator is not as spec-starved as some of its ‘bulkier’ counterparts. It’s not as hard on your computer/laptop’s memory, and you don’t need a fancy, super-strong setup to run it smoothly.

Needless to say, it works best with Ableton’s proprietary gear, but the fact that it’s compatible with external equipment speaks volumes about its versatility.

Bazille

U-He’s Bazille is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the strongest performing modular synthesizer VSTs out there.

Before we delve into its capabilities and specs, it’s important to note that it’s compatible with macOS, Linux, and Windows, which is not something many FM synth tools can boast about.

First things first, the versatility of Bazille is practically unparalleled. It boasts two individual LFOs and four separate oscillators, each boasting their own set of configurable parameters and settings.

The oscillators sport multiple gate and semitone modulation knobs, as well as a dedicated ‘Fractalize’ section that you can use to carve out fresh, new tones and sounds.

You’ll also be able to utilize numerous pink & white noise slots, a simplified (and highly responsive) sequencer, four envelopes, and a huge array of highly customizable filters, including gain, spread, resonance, and many others. On top of everything, it’s actually pretty affordable.

Image-Line Sytrus

If you’re mainly working in Fruity Loops Studio (FL Studio), you may want to take a look at Sytrus. This FM synth was developed by Imagine-Line, the same brand that’s ‘responsible’ for one of the finest beginner-friendly DAWs on the market, and it’s actually available for a free preview via your FL software.

Sytrus is an excellent choice even if you’re using other studio tools and platforms.

It’s based on a wonderfully-designed sound engine and sports six user customizable and fully independent operators, frequency modulators, ring modulators, partial-harmonic editors, a massive array of EQ sliders and knobs, and more importantly, a comprehensive Matrix that provides a clear overview of active and passive features.

Furthermore, this VST offers three fully independent filters; speaking of which, there are thirteen types of filters as well as five cutoff-slope features.

Another remarkably interesting feature of the Sytrus is the built-in waveshaper, although most people will probably be more thrilled to utilize the shapes provided by the enormous sample library.

There are a couple of things we didn’t like as much about it, though; namely, it’s slightly harder to use than an average FM synth VST, and some of its features are available exclusively via FL Studio.

Even so, you’ll have to spend quite a bit of time to find a better-rounded frequency modulator for the buck.

Nemesis

Nemesis is Tone2’s creation, and its performance is far beyond formidable.

One of the main reasons why we’ve decided to pull down the curtains with this plugin is that it offers a completely unique NeoFM feature that takes frequency modulation to a completely different level.

A huge number of tones, sounds, and timbres that Nemesis can create are literally unattainable via different software.

Apart from its uniqueness, we also liked most of its more traditional features, such as thousands of patches, top-shelf sound quality, a very intuitive interface, and the sheer fact that it’s incredibly easy to use.

In essence, this VST is wild, exquisite, and much different in comparison to similar plugins. Even though it’s beginner-friendly, you’ll still need some time to get accustomed to the features it comes supplied with.

Granular Synth VST- What is it, and what are the best ones for 2020?

Dozens of synthesis methods exist – subtractive, additive, frequency modulation, S&S, vector, phase distortion, soft, virtual, and so on.

Now, without getting too much into the scientific realm, today we’ll talk a bit about what Granular synthesis is, why granular synths are important, and what some of the finest granular synth VSTs on the market are.

What is Granular Synthesis

In short words, granular synthesis resembles what most people call ‘sampling’. It picks up the signal and atomizes it into tiny bits and pieces, playing them back at ultra-slow pace.

Now, these bits are commonly referred to as ‘grains’ (hence the name) and in spite of being different from ‘traditional’ samples actually share some similarities with them.

Grains are much easier to manipulate and stack, which are just some of the numerous reasons why more and more people are starting to toy around with granular synthesis.

Ideally, you’ll want to try experiment with multiple methods and approaches (FM & wavetable, for instance) for the most exquisite, unique effects; granular synth VSTs are an excellent starting point, so let’s see some of the most popular ones on the market:

The Fruity Granulizer

Fruity Loops virtual sound tools and instruments are both budget and beginner-friendly, which are the two main reasons why we’ve decided to open up our review of the best Granular synth VSTs with the Fruity Granulizer.

Essentially, this a plain, straightforward granular plugin that can be utilized in practically any rig, although it goes without saying that it works best with the FL Studio setup.

It is minimalistic and remarkably easy to use, but doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still a very well-rounded tool.

The Fruity Granulizer offers you the means to fine-tune the grains, reinforce the effects, modify the transients, and spice things up with a bit of time-altering finishing touches.

It also rocks a relatively basic wave-shape graphic that will help you have a clear overview of implemented effects and the initial signal.

The ‘grains’ section is comprised of the attack, hold, granular spacing, and wave spacing knobs; the ‘effects’ portion of the Fruity Granulizer doesn’t actually feature built-in effects, rather it provides tweaking capabilities in terms of pan, depth, and speed.

The ‘Transients’ and ‘Time’ sections are far simpler, featuring a single knob and several selectable options.

Ribs

The ‘Ribs’ granular synth VST is brought to us by the Hvoya Audio, and what’s most fascinating about it is that you’ll get a free tutorial on how to use it as soon as you download it.

Another interesting thing about Ribs is that it is free to download, although you can contribute to the brand by pitching in a couple of dollars (or more) should you wish to do so.

Now, let’s switch gears a bit and return to the practical elements of Ribs. Basically, this software is pretty difficult to use, but it’s as eclectic as they make them.

In fact, most of its features are pretty much incomprehensible by beginners, mainly because the parameters and functions are not as self-explanatory as with Fruity Granulizer, Polygon, or BioTek 2.

Ribs is split into three logical pieces, with the centrepiece being the wavetable graphic editor, followed by effects, envelopes, and sync sections, and lastly a comprehensive, well-balanced EQ that boasts wave-shaping, tone-shifting, and various tweaking capabilities.

The biggest downfall of Ribs is that it is not compatible with .wav formats, but it’s certainly worth checking out.

Polygon

GlitchMachine garnered quite a bit of attention with their flagship Polygon, and now they’ve improved it and tweaked it to the point where the new rendition is so superior that it can stand on its own two feet and even challenge the performance of its predecessor.

This eclectic VST plugin is exceptionally versatile, but it’s also friendly to beginner producers and DJs to a degree.

It features four samplers and four sequencer panels, a detailed oscillator board, a built-in frequency modulator (and a dedicated modulation oscillator), simplified master controls, global effects, and global filters.

In a nutshell, the Polygon is the Jack of all trades in the world of granular synths, and despite the fact that it’s laden with a ton of features it’s actually fairly easy to tackle its learning curve.

The Mangle

Sound Guru’s Mangle is an eclectic granular VST that is available at a dirt-cheap price. You can download the free trailer video for free that showcases its main features, and we’re pretty sure that you’ll like what you see.

Mangle sports a detailed wavetable connected to the various wave-shaping features, and it also sports numerous LFOs, envelopes, and oscillators, as well as a fairly comprehensive mod matrix. There aren’t many drawbacks you should be aware of, although the UI does seem like it could use a bit of work.

The main features selection panel is squeezed tight, but the good thing here is that you will be able to split modulators from the key map area, the positioning chart, and the matrix for a better view.

Ultimately, Mangle is simple, but versatile, cheap, and exceptionally rewarding to both beginners and experienced producers.

P&M Granulizer

Aside from manufacturing this remarkably simple granular synth, Plug & Mix also provided a detailed tutorial that explains every little feature it comes supplied with to the letter.

 This is, by all means, a beginner’s granular VST, although it does come outfitted with a bunch of cool features that could come in handy to seasoned veterans too, such as the eclectic ‘grains’ customization panel, the pitch-shifting section, and the ever-so-needed signal mix feature.

Its simplicity also hides its inability to actually do much in terms of EQ mixing, though.

Granulizer is compatible with both Mac OS and Windows, and it is available in a variety of formats aside from VST (such as RTAS, AU and AAX Native).

It’s remarkably cheap, and instead of purchasing the user-bound software, you’ll be able to install it on up to five different computers with the same key.

Top Soft Synths- For all budgets and tastes [2020]

‘Soft’ synths refer to software-based synthesizers, which is something more and more people are picking up on.

While the authenticity of hardware (actual) synthesizers can’t be replicated, it can be compensated for with extra flexibility and versatility.

These are just some of the many reasons why soft synths are so popular and actually incredibly useful these days.

We’ve taken the liberty of handpicking some of the best-performing soft synths in 2020 for your convenience, so without any further ado, let’s get straight to it.

Iris 2

When iZotope launched the original Iris many people have praised its versatility and well-roundedness, but it didn’t get as much attention as it deserved; it’s often regarded as unorthodox simply because it comes supplied with rather unconventional patches and samplers.

Iris 2 made things a lot simpler and substantially more intuitive, bringing it closer to beginners and moderately skilled producers, designers, and DJs.

First things first, the Iris 2 boasts a highly intuitive UI with plenty of space for each segment of features.

It rocks adjustable individual sample tracks, a comprehensive sidebar of classic track tools, a straightforward compositional keyboard, and a well-balanced EQ.

It packs multiple wave-shaping features, and an array of simplified virtual knobs that can be used to tweak any parameter from the overall volume, over the soundstage, down to tiny details regarding the samples themselves.

Another thing most people really like about the Iris 2 is the fact that it sports a massive library of WAV files; obviously, WAV formats take up drastically less space, so your RAM will not be as encumbered.

On the downside, Iris 2 is one of the most CPU-starved soft synths on the market. Be it as it may, it still does an amazing job for the buck.

Synapse Dune 3

Our next recommendation is the Dune 3 VST synth plugin. This is a mid-range soft synth that offers a tremendous amount of control over your tracks and samples.

Despite its well-roundedness, it’s still pretty easy to use, as its interface is well-designed and all of its components are clearly visible.

Even if you didn’t have the opportunity to use some of the previous iterations of Dune, the third version offers a premium-quality multimode filter, 2 arpeggiator units, top-notch oscillators, and a plethora of high-quality effects.

Most people like it for its simplistic and highly responsive wavetable editor, which allows you to tweak existing and create brand-new waveforms.

The plain and straightforward approach to this feature makes it very easy to use, even by immediate beginners.

Among the numerous features that this remarkable VST comes supplied with are also included 0-delay feedback filters, 4 graphical envelopes, 3 LFOs, a top-shelf modulation matrix alongside all the proprietary FX parameters, and full patch compatibility with the previous version of Dune VST plugin.

Last, but certainly not least, Dune 3 is actually fairly affordable given the broad arsenal of settings it is packed with.

In a nutshell, this is a beginner-friendly professional VST that will certainly help you create exquisite, unique sounds and tones.

Spire

Spire is developed by Reveal Sound, which is a brand that many professionals rely on despite its straightforwardness.

One of the reasons why we’ve included the Spire on our list of the top soft synths is that it’s very flexible and highly upgradeable.

The base package is comprised of four multimode oscillators packed with five effects (classic, noise, AM Sync, Saw PWM and Noise), nine unison voices built into each oscillator, two multimode filters, a comprehensive FX processor, a ton of modulation features (including LFOs, envelopes, macros and matrix slots), arpeggiators, and a top-shelf wavetable.

Now, back to the upgradeability of the Spire; it’s compatible with all Reveal Sound patches (all of which are fairly cheap, just like the VST itself); although these patches are well-rounded and versatile, they’re mainly focused on electronic music, which is a bit of a downfall.

Diva

U-He’s Diva is in the same price range as the Spire, and frankly it’s even easier to use. 

Diva is an analogue soft synthesizer plugin that offers impeccable sonic customization capabilities and versatility.

Starting from the very top, Diva features a dedicated wavetable segment, which packs tune mods, shape mods, and range controls.

The Mixer stands on its right side, featuring volume, feedback, and noise. There’s a simplified VCF Ladder control panel where you can manage sonic cutoff and emphasis.

Now, the bottom bracket of the UI is where the fun work begins.

Diva offers two separate LFOs, a dedicated amplifier section, and two completely different effect sections.

Even though one could argue that Diva is a relatively basic soft synth, it’s actually pretty well-rounded and well worth the buck.

SynthMaster

KV331’s Synthmaster is our final pick, and it encompasses everything a quality soft synth needs to have.

It is a bit more expensive than most VSTs we’ve covered so far, but its performance is also drastically superior.

The first and most notable feature of the Synthmaster is the Filters panel; basically, you’ll have three customization options (parallel, series, and split), which will make the UI a bit easier to handle in terms of aesthetics.

There’s also a variety of effects at your disposal; they’re split into two separate types (layer & global), which means that you’ll be able to affect the entire track or fine-tune tiny little details with extra precision at the same time.

It also has an incredible library of samples and presets which is fully upgradeable.

KV331 also offers an abundance of downloadable and purchasable patches that you can use to further increase the versatility of your library.

As mentioned earlier, the only potential downfall that might dissuade you from trying the Synthmaster out is the fact that it’s slightly pricier than average.

However, it’s one of the best-rounded soft synths available, and to top it all, the brand also offers a considerable discount on the Synthmaster 1 & 2 bundle in case you want to get the most value for your buck.

Famous Synth Emulations- Classic Hardware Without All The Hassle

Iconic analogue synthesizers are either too hard to find, too pricey, or both.

Even though we’d all love to have beautiful beats such as Steinberg’s E or Roland’s SH 101 physically present in our workspace, the age of technology provides far more convenient and compact alternatives.

Today we are going to talk about some of the most famous synth emulation programs; replicas that are true to the originals in terms of aesthetics and performance, and plugins that are incomparably cheaper. 

Cloud Jupiter 8

The Jupiter 8 is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the most eclectic synthesizers Roland has released, and it’s now available in a software format called the Cloud Jupiter 8.

It’s an exact replica of the original, sporting all of the features that Jupiter 8 comes supplied with, and it’s a perfect choice for people who are looking for a highly versatile and almost perfectly designed synth.

It offers eight polyphony voices, compatibility with VST, AAX & AU, total hardware control via USB connection to the Roland’s proprietary System 8, and a broad spectrum of configurable parameters, knobs, sliders, and faders.

Starting from the very top, the Cloud Jupiter 8 sports a customizable wavetable packed in the LFO section, a comprehensive modulator panel, two individual VCOs, and two identical envelopes.

Furthermore, it comes outfitted with the classic arpeggiator controls and five assignable modes.

The option to blend different patches, being one of the key elements of the original Jupiter 8 synth is also present.

The effects section is isolated, sitting right next to the 5-octave keyboard.

Even though it’s quite modest, it’s true to the original Jupiter 8 and sports effect type configuration, delay time, and revert type knobs.

Obviously enough, Jupiter Cloud 8 is perhaps not as versatile as some up-and-coming VSTs and plugins, but we should not forget that it’s been the industry’s standard for quality of sound for nearly 40 years straight.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for the Jupiter 8 specifically or simply are in need of a strong, well-rounded synth VST, we can safely say you won’t regret trying it out.

Korg ARP Odyssey

ARP’s Odyssey is almost a decade older than Jupiter 8, which can easily be discerned by its design and features.

Even so, it was a groundbreaking synthesizer at the time, and it certainly garnered quite a following in the old-school rock and alternative world.

Korg’s recreation of this remarkable synth is true to form down to the tiniest of details, but there are a couple of obvious differences.

For example, the original Odyssey has a different method of accessing the patch library (analogue) whereas Korg’s version allows you to do that in a much simpler and faster way.

Another striking difference is the fact that the original Odyssey is pretty small and the Korg’s recreation of it can be ‘stretched out’ a bit, which would make the features a bit more visible and thus easier to use as well.

Starting from the top, the first section is dedicated to a split between FM and wavetable-based features.

There are two frequency modulators that come supplied with the same sliders, only in different color.

The sections that follow are meant for fine-tuning of parameters such as key sync, tempo, cutoff, modulation, and such.

There are only a couple of simplified LFO settings on the table, although the Odyssey makes it up for you with a rich VCF section.

One of the biggest features of the KORG Odyssey is the massive EQ section, sporting sliders in different colors for easier organization and navigability.

Lastly, it packs a 3-octave built-in keyboard, which is excellent for electronic music, but not so much for slightly more complex genres.

EFM Sc P5 (Prophet V)

In a nutshell, EFM’s SCP5 is a free VST that aims to recreate the performance of the heavily acclaimed Prophet V designed by Sequential Circuits back in 1970.

It doesn’t resemble it aesthetically, and it only borrowed a couple of its main features, but on the upside it’s completely free to use.

It did not ‘dress to impress’, rather the layout of its features is as such that whoever’s using it can expect to quickly navigate between the oscillators, envelopes, and arpeggiators, which is the reason why it’s suitable for both professionals and beginners.

Nearly all of the sections that SCP5 is outfitted with sport a multitude of control knobs and selectable modes (such as synchronization, filters, external oscillators, unison, and such), with the exception of the dedicated Filter, Mixer, Amplifier, Delay, Chorus, and Master sections, which offer control of the most basic parameters.

Using the SCP5 certainly has its downfalls too; it does not come supplied with a built-in keyboard, nor does it have any kind of wavetable editorial features; again, it’s a free plugin that does offer access to some of the most important Prophet V features, which makes it worth checking out.

Adam Szabo Access Virus Viper

Viper is the recreation of the infamous Access’s Virus, which is one of the younger top-shelf boutique synthesizers that came out back in 1997.

It offers a mixture of authentic and brand-new features, but its performance is definitely based on the actual performance of the original Virus.

Viper offers an all-encompassing wavetable editor, three oscillators, three LFOs, eight effects (all of which can be used simultaneously), twin filter sections, and a smallish Matrix board. It also sports a very versatile mixer board, as well as onboard amplifier controls.

Should you want to boost the well-roundedness of your Viper software, you can also download Phazor free of charge too.

Basically, this is a complementary plugin that offers stage-selection, an additional mix knob, a basic EQ section, and another LFO.

It was specifically designed to be gentle on CPU usage, and it can even be used as a standalone feature, although it’s pretty basic and offers minimal mixing options.

It fills the gaps in AS’s Viper performance, though, and given the fact that it’s a gratis downloadable feature, there’s no reason not to try it out.

What are the best VST plugins for Hip Hop

At first glance, hip-hop music might not seem as complex as, for example, hard rock or heavy metal.

There are no crazy guitar-shredding solo sections, fast-paced drumming in odd time signatures, or slick bass lines, but producing this type of music is just as hard and rewarding.

While rockers and metal-heads have it easier given the fact that they just have to record their instruments and send them over to a mixing engineer, hip hop artists need to come up with unique sounds, beats, and tones from scratch.

That’s why today we are going to answer one of the most popular questions regarding this particular type of music production – what are the best VST plugins for hip hop?

Stick with us for a while longer as we review the most versatile, best-performing virtual studio tools that will change the way you produce for good.

Vengeance PS Avenger

Plainly put, this is one of the best-rounded VSTs on the market that boasts an incredible array of highly versatile features, a ton of presets, and unparalleled sonic customization options.

It’s a professional tool designed for professionals by professionals, so be well-prepared to tackle its learning curve.

First and foremost, the Avenger rocks a total of eight OSC modules, each being equipped with individual Supersaw, LFO, Chorder, sub-OSC, and synthesis generators.

You’ll be able to seamlessly switch between dozens of octaves, voices, pan-spread settings, stackers, and even generate completely unique effects on every module.

Furthermore, it packs eight ARP modules, an eclectic arsenal of OSC-transformation EQ settings, eight SQ modules, eight mod-envelopes, eight pitch envelopes, four AMPs, four filters, shapers, and an all-encompassing drum sequencer.

The list of its built-in features goes on and on, but all you need to know about the Avenger is that it possesses everything you need to record and produce top-quality hip hop tracks.

It’s packed with dozens of individually-assigned effect slots, wavetable shapers, multiple macro controllers, and an exquisitely designed Mod Matrix system.

To top it all, it’s not nearly as expensive as some of the less versatile plugins out there.

Xfer’s Serum

Serum is a highly advanced multi-purpose VST that sports elements of waveshapers, compositional virtual tools, and eclectic mastering equalizers.

It’s significantly easier to use than the Avenger, and it’s also a bit cheaper, which is why we recommend it to hip-hop producers who are relatively new to the industry and who are on a budget.

One of the best things about Serum is that it features creatively designed oscillator panels put right next to the filter section.

You can easily toy around with your custom wave shapes while laying down the foundation stones of your new track on the bar right beside it.

Tinkering with any parameter will immediately and graphically be shown on the envelope and LFO bars below, allowing you to have instant feedback on the changes you’ve made to your tracks.

Although this VST doesn’t have an incredibly rich library of presets and samples, it does have a highly customizable virtual keyboard that will help you muscle through the initial stages of recording.

Spectrasonics Trillian

There’s a very obvious reason why Trillian is the go-to VST of many hip-hop producers; this is an all-encompassing bass module that will give you the edge you need in the fields of lower frequencies.

What’s so amazing about Trillian is that the entire module is based on instruments that were recorded in real-time.

It boasts a massive selection of various bass instruments along with controllable ‘techniques’, such as staccato, sustain, vibrato, slides, harmonics, and such.

Obviously, having a real bass instead of a clunky digital one on your tracks will help your tracks grow in a more organic way.

You’ll be able to pick and choose from the vast bass tone library, all of which are played on different instruments using different playing styles (electric, acoustic, fretless, picked, tapped, fingered, and so on).

Of course, there’s a ton of electronic tones and modules that you’ll be able to utilize into your analog-reinvigorated arsenal, or you can simply stick with a bit more traditional tones and timbres.

reFX Nexus 3

Those in need of creative samples and presets might want to check out what Nexus 3 has to offer.

This VST is basically one massive library of different sounds and tones that is complemented with a customizable digital keyboard and simplistic mixing features.

The Nexus is a VST program that complements the performance of other, a bit more ‘focused’ ones; even though its highlight feature is the library of over 8,000 factory presets (which is upgradeable, by the way), it does come supplied with basic filter, delay, reverb, and filter control knobs.

It’s remarkably easy to use, and it’s among the cheaper modules on our list of the best VST plugins for hip hop.

Addictive Drums 2

The AD2 is a dedicated beat-maker VST that offers fine-tune programming and presets, electronic and acoustic drum kit colors, and a variety of straightforward percussion FX tables.

One of the most notable features of AD2 VST is the ‘Kit selection’ panel; here you will be able to choose between dozens of actual drum sounds that were recorded in real-time.

Another very cool feature of this virtual studio tool is the ‘beat clicker’; basically, you’ll be able to click on any drum component of your chosen kit and simply ‘add’ these elements to your programmed beats if you think that something’s missing.

When combined with Trillian, you’ll be set with authentic instruments and ready to lay down some electronic vibes to the table.

Conclusion

In essence, you’ll need a wave-shaper, a mixer, a beat-maker, and a bass VST to start producing hip hop music.

You’ll quickly expand your library of plugins as you become more successful and professional, so finding your footing with versatile VSTs at the very start is crucial.

We hope you’ve liked our selection of the best VST plugins for hip hop and wish you luck in creating the most exquisite tunes.

Arturia Pigments Review- The Polychrome Synth for the masses

The ‘arms race’ for the best VST instruments, samplers, sequencers, digital synthesizers, wavetables, granular instruments, and software has not yet been concluded, and the tides have dramatically turned with the coming of Arturia’s Pigments, which basically wrapped the elements of all the aforementioned goodies in a neat, convenient little package.

Basically, Arturia’s Pigments is a top-shelf Polychrome Software Synthesizer that offers an abundance of highly versatile features tailored to cater to the needs of music producers, musicians, DJs, and pretty much everyone who’s even remotely into music composition.

In short words, it’s a program comprised of virtual instruments, sequencers, samplers, EQ stages, and a plethora of functionalities that are as unique as they are practical.

Today we’re diving into the Pigments’ specs and features, so stick with us for a while longer if you’re searching for the ultimate compositional software piece on the market.

Design and Interface

One of the first things that you’ll hear about Arturia’s Pigments is that it’s a program with a ridiculous amount of features.

Now, before that dissuades you from trying it out, we should point out that it possesses an incredibly intuitive, beginner-friendly interface.

The main screen of the Pigments is chopped up into smaller logical fragments, which are both intelligently connected and highly discernable from one another.

Each part features different kinds of colors, graphics, and visuals that will help you set them apart from very early on.

Engine and Filter section

The Engine and Filter sections are located in the upper-most corners of the interface. These parts take up the bulk of the display, but all of the features contained therein are self-explanatory and relatively easy to use.

The upper sections of the Pigments offer simplified filters, equalizers, and modulator controls. Here is where you will get to mix individual instruments, play them together or atop of one another, modulate separate sections of your tunes, and master the basic settings, such as volume, frequencies, and similar parameters.

Waveform macros

The tiniest section of this software is essentially the Waveform Macro part; this is where you’ll filter your creative juices in, as this is the part that basically alters and shifts whichever notes you’ve programmed with the built-in keyboard.

The macros are colored differently, and you can pick a preset, shape your own, activate the ‘random’ function to generate brand-new ones, and even combine several for relatively unpredictable results.

Keyboard

The integrated keyboard is pretty basic; it features only four octaves, and it’s precisely its minimalistic design that appeals to beginners the most.

Of course, you’ll be able to move along the octaves with the little slider buttons on the left side of the piano, as well as regulate its volume (which does not affect the ‘master’ volume; it’s purely a feature for your own convenience and comfort).

The keyboard section has a couple of functions; it features the ‘bend range’, which basically governs the octaves; the ‘tuning’ is self-explanatory and very convenient, especially if you wish to tweak and spice up pre-recorded songs; and lastly, we have the ‘play settings’, which offer a couple of exquisite features, including the glide time, and ‘mode selector’ knob.

Who is Arturia Pigments perfect for?

In a nutshell, this is an incredibly versatile program that is as useful in the hands of professional studio producers as it is in the hands of beginner musicians and DJs.

It’s laden with a plethora of functionalities, which may appear a bit overwhelming at times, but essentially it’s not that difficult to use.

We could go as far as to define the Pigments as‘scaling’ software; this is a program that evolves as you begin to master it, opening new doors to your creativity.

Most of the features it comes supplied with are limited only by the bounds of your creative genius.

Pros:

  • One of the most versatile music-production programs on the market
  • Limitless wave-shaping potential
  • A bundle of highly intuitive features
  • Packed with top-quality presets and sequencers
  • Simplistic mixing and mastering features
  • Ideal for both professionals and neophyte producers and DJs

Cons:

  • The sections can’t be customized
  • Can appear intimidating for newcomers and beginners at first

Pigments 2 – newer, a bit more expensive version

The Pigments 2 is the brand-new, upgraded, re-polished version of Arturia’s original Pigments PSS that brings a huge array of new features and benefits to the table.

Obviously, it’s slightly more expensive than the original, and it’s just slightly harder to use due to an increased number of selectable and customizable settings.

The first improvement is the brand-new sample engine; it features a redesigned interface and a couple of tweaks regarding the playback/load tracks.

The second most notable addition to the Pigments 2 is the additional Synth Mode; essentially, this function is comprised of additional digital knobs and wheels that will provide you with even more eclectic opportunities to shape and reconfigure your tones and effects.

Furthermore, there’s another Sequencer aboard the Pigments 2; this is essentially an integrated feature that allows you to rearrange chunks, bits, and pieces of your sounds, track sections, and fragments in whichever order you want.

Last, but not least, we should also mention that the Pigments 2 comes equipped with a variety of new features, such as the new interface, the re-imagined undo and redo buttons, advanced modulation bars, MPE capability, as well as with a selection of additional presets.

While Arturia’s Pigments (1) is fairly beginner-friendly, Pigments 2 is better suited for seasoned producers and DJs.

Conclusion

Arturia’s Pigments brings so many benefits to the table that it’s pretty fair to say it’s worth every single cent of the price.

It’s one of the most eclectic, most versatile tools a musician can have, especially if you’re feeling like you’re lacking creative outlets.

Pigments sports elements of virtual instruments, digital percussions, mixing consoles, equalizers, sequencers, and many other convenient programs that you would otherwise have to obtain elsewhere, but in this case, they’re stacked together in a convenient, easy-to-use package.