Arturia Pigments 3 – new features

arturia pigments 3

We truly love Arturia Pigments 3. We actually love all Arturia software here at idesignsound.com. Today we bring you an update on the new features of this full fledged “polychrome” VST synth. And for a full fledged review, our friends at musicradar.com have a very nice review.

Introduction

Arturia Pigments is a very nice and very modern VST instrument. It initially started out as a wavetable synth with a lot of features. What is striking about the Arturia Pigments is the visualisation of the modulation sources. Thus, it is very very intuitive and also very easy to learn.

Other than this, it has some very nice effects onboard, a great sequencer and the option to load your own wavetables. For a detailed review, you can also check our article here at idesignsound.com.

Version three, which is free for existing users, brings incremental updates like more sound engines, more wavetables, more effects and so on, but there are two features that are brand new and strike out, we will analyse them below:

Arturia Pigments 3 – Additive mode

Dubbed the “Harmonic Engine”, Arturia Pigments 3 introduces one of the earliest forms of sound synthesis, additive synthesis. The very early experimental synths had this, where each oscillator would create the fundamental and each of its partials to create a complex sound. So if you would imagine a spectrum analyser, the highest spike (usually the lowest in frequency) is the fundamental frequency of the sound, and then the next ones (usually to the right, higher frequency) are the partials. Together, they form the timbre or the style of the sound. Regular synths, or “subtractive” create this frequency pattern with a single, complex oscillator, then use a filter to reduce the partials. But this has some issues, namely you can mostly reduce partials to the left or right, it is very hard to fully remove partials in the centre of the frequency spectrum (you can with an EQ, but not fully and you more than often reduce other partials than the ones you want to).

But if you really want to design timbre, it is much better to not include what you don’t want than to filter it out. The problem with additive synthesis in hardware form is that you need a lot, and we mean A LOT of oscillators to add up. This is why subtractive is preferred from a practical standpoint, even if filtering the oscillator it is not really adequate for full control of the oscillator timbre. Of course, we are talking about hardware synths, so for VSTs it was a real shame that no real, serious additive synths were made.

In Arturia Pigments 3’s additive engine you can add up to 512 partials and you can also modulate them. This should bring a brand new sound palette for your productions.

Arturia Pigments 3 – Utility Engine

This is more of a fine tuning addition to your ability to design complex sounds with the VST. This new feature is not that “in your face as additive” synthesis but it is, in my humble opinion, at least equal in importance. Usually, it is the subtle things that make us like something.

The Arturia Pigments 3 Utility Engine contains two individual distinct noise sources and a virtual analog sub oscillator. This will make your sounds fat in no time. While you would be able to have this in the past, it would also meant you would sacrifice valuable space in the for of one of the two slots the VST has. Now, the Utility Engine is separate, so you get to keep the two original sound sources.

Other new additions come in form of new effects and filters (legendary analog emulations from Roland), plus pitch delay and multi-band compression.

You can buy Arturia Pigments from pluginboutique.com, with a special introductory price of 99 eur (original price 199 eur).

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:

Modular Synth workflow for beginners – Visualise patch cable voltage values

Building and having a modular synth can be a bit of a hassle. And when I say a bit, I mean a lot. Not being able to see any modulation values is one thing. Then, there is the fact that you will never be able to save a general patch due to the flexible nature of the synth. Also, another drawback is that stereo is close to non existent (unless you want to buy two of the same modules), not to mention polyphony (unless you want to buy six of the same modules to get a six voice synth).

But programming, or should we say patching a modular synth is so much fun. And you get a wonderful sense of freedom.

Still this alone does not make modular so attractive, especially if you are new to synths all along. Today, I will show you one product that makes entering this very distinct domain much more easy.

Yes, I am talking about Producertools’ new product, their Patchcables with Bi-color LED built in. This is a long time coming guys, for sure somebody would have done this by now. Now there is basically no excuse for you to not build that eurorack system that you wanted. This a pre-order program for now, delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, shipping is supposed to be in March 2021.

So basically with these patch cables you will be able to see the polarity of the voltage and a rough estimation of its value. The built in LEDs will glow red or green depending if the voltage is plus or minus, so if the envelope or LFO is basically negative sloped or positive sloped. Also, the light the LEDs emit varies in intensity. You can see how it looks in the video below:

There are of course drawbacks for now, but the manufacturer said that there is minimal interference with the Eurorack Control Voltage that passes through. They even had to design their own LEDs for this.

Still, a bit of voltage does get used by the LEDs so will not reach the source.

So don’t use it with signals that require precision, like controling the pitch of oscillators with 1v/Oct signals. Best use is for non random (S&H) LFOs and Envelopes, where you can just offset/increase send voltage in order to compensate for LED consumption.

Get your own set of Patchcables with Bi-color LEDs on the Producertools website here.

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.

iZotope VocalSynth 2 Review

Finding ways to make vocal tracks more interesting is not exactly the easiest task.

With so many different styles and constant changes in trends, demands for new processing and mixing techniques are always on the rise.

Whether you’re an independent hobbyist making music from the comfort of your home, or a full-blown professional producer, you always need to be on the lookout for the different vocal processing plugins and techniques.

While we’re at it, we figured we could take a closer look at one of the most interesting vocal processing software that came out not so long ago.

The product in question is VocalSynth 2, which was conceived and developed by iZotope as the vocal processing “sequel” to the original version.

What initially got our attention here was the abundance of different features and its use in both processing and mixing stages.

There’s a lot of stuff to look into, but we’ll do our best to be as brief as possible and make our verdict. After all, the company behind products like Neutron or Ozone is worth checking out again, right? Let’s dig into it.

Features

First off, the plugin is, in so many ways, designed according to the first VocalSynth version.

The signal first goes through the Pitch Correction part, and then into the full library of different synth-like effects. This altered signal is then sent to the section filled with the classic “stompbox-style” effects.

In the end, both the dry and processed signal are blended in the final mixing process.

VocalSynth 2 comes with five modules, or engines, onboard. So we have Vocoder, Polyvox, Compuvox, Biovox, and Talkbox.

All except Polyvox have their input signal modulating the carrier synths in the Auto mode or can work in the so-called “Sidechain” mode.

Polyvox, on the other hand, does harmonies and pitch correction. What’s more, you can use external MIDI instruments for controlling internal synths and adding harmonies.

The addition of the Biovox module is pretty exciting. The main idea here is to help alter the complete vocal tract. Well, it won’t alter your vocal cords and other parts but will help you change the singing style to some extent.

There are controls for formant shift, “Breathiness,” “Clarity,” and “Nasality.” The clarity control here tweaks the balance between the original vocal signal and the carrier synth signal.

What’s more, Biovox has an advanced view which gives even more controls, like the “Vowel” pad. You can somewhat turn the voice coloration towards the desired type of vowel, even blend a few different types of vowels together.

Going over to synths, there are two analog-inspired Oscillators, as well as the Noise oscillator and an LFO. Synths also come with a vast library of presets.

Now looking into the plugin’s graphic interface, the whole idea was to make it similar to other of the iZotope’s recent products.

There’s also the Anemone visualizer which gives the user all the visual info about the effect each module does to the signal. We can still find the old Wave Meter from the previous version here.

Performance

Speaking of the graphic interface, it’s designed to have more functional features.

For instance, each of the five modules has an advanced menu dropdown view, which certainly makes things a bit more clear. This dropdown always fills the center of the interface, while it replaces the Output and Voicing/Pitch segments, as well as the visualizer.

Overall, it’s a fairly simple yet clever addition that helps with easier navigation.

The contents of these panels differ between modules, but each has its dedicated panning control.

Compared to the old VocalSynth, this is a whole new functionality feature, as you can now pan each module separately. The same goes for low and high-pass filtering.

What we quite liked is the overall hands-on practical approach and the intuitive design that makes everything look so clear. This is, in our opinion, especially the case with the synths.

VocalSynth’s first edition lacked many of the functionalities that are now available in the second version.

On the other hand, in practice, better results can be achieved when using the external synth in the Sidechain mode as the carrier. Especially if we’re talking about the Vocoder module.

Biovox was, by far, the most surprising (and jaw-dropping) addition to this entire plugin. We have the mindblowing options for altering the original voice, to the point of where you can’t even recognize the original singer, while it still remains convincingly realistic. You’ll have to hear it in order to believe it.

We would also like to point out the great addition of iZotope’s “communication” between their plugins. So there are some controls and additional functionality if you’re also using iZotope’s Neutron 2 or Ozone 8 plugins.

Conclusion

It’s no secret that this plugin requires some experience. After all, with so many additions and features, you can’t exactly expect it to be a beginner-friendly product.

Somewhat of an expensive product, although not unobtainable, it sits somewhere around $200. So it’s pretty clear that this is a fully professional tool for advanced vocal processing and mixing.

The advanced view, in general, makes it way easier to use, compared to the previous VocalSynth version. If we’re really going to nitpick, then there are a few complaints about how the synth section works. On the other hand, this is far from a dealbreaker, and the price is still more than justified for such a plugin.

Anything that you want to do with vocal processing, it’s possible using iZotope’s VocalSynth 2. No matter the style, genre, or the particular era of music that you’re covering, this one comes in handy for all purposes and can completely shift the vocal style to unrecognizable, yet great-sounding, levels.

Again, this is a fully professional tool for advanced users. We wouldn’t recommend it for hobbyists with modest home studios, as they won’t be able to use its full potential.

Principle Pleasure Studios Releases 1GB of Analogue Synth and Drums

No point in adding much fluff to this one. Here’s a link to the 1GB treasure trove of samples released for free by Principle Pleasure Studios.

DOWNLOAD LINK

DOWNLOAD LINK 2

In another selfless act designed to help bored stuck-at-home producers, Sharooz Raoofi of Sample Magic, has made this 1GB sample pack available for free.

These are the result of sampling over 100 analogue synths and drums located in the LA based principle pleasure studio.

How can you use them?

Simply import them to your favourite DAW, assign them to your favourite MIDI, etc.

If you’re not sure what this all means, we strongly recommend taking an online music production course.

But if you’re reading this, chances are you are already familiar with all this.

Anyway, happy producing, feel free to share your coronavirus freebies in the comment section below!

The Best VST Synth [2021] – Tested and Compared

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 oppinion 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.

Synth
Features
Rating / Price Range
Omnisphere 2
  • Over 14 000 presets,
  • 57 FX Units,
  • 8 LFOs, 12 Envelopes,
  • compatible with over 30 hardware synths, and much more.
5
$$$
CHECK PRICE
Arturia Pigments 2
  • Very intuitive and extensive modulation matrix,
  • Granular synthesis,
  • Built-in sequencer,
  • Best VST right now for learning synthesis
4.9
$$
CHECK PRICE
Vengeance Sound VPS Avenger
  • 8 OSC Modules, more than 10 OSC transformation parameters,
  • 8 ARP Modules,
  • 8 Step SQ Modules,
  • 8 Mod Envelope Modules,
  • 8 Pitch Envelope Modules,
  • 4 AMP Modules,
  • 4 FILTER Modules,
  • 4 SHAPER Modules,
  • 4 LFO Modules,
  • Master Filter Module,
  • 6 free routable FX busses
4.8
$$
CHECK PRICE
WA Production Babylon
  • Over 2300 presets,
  • 257 waveforms,
  • multi-voice oscillation,
  • FM, RM & AM modulation,
  • modulation matrix, and much more.
    4.6
    $
    CHECK PRICE
    Xfer Serum
    • Wavetable editor,
    • over 450 presets,
    • 10 effects modules,
    • stack a single oscillator to up to 16 voices, and much more.
      4.8
      $$
      CHECK PRICE
      U-he Diva
      • Authentic, unrivaled analogue sound,
      • Built-in oscilloscope,
      • Sweet-sounding filters,
      • Multithreading support for modern CPUs.
        4.9
        $
        CHECK PRICE
        Sylenth1
        • 4 alias-free unison oscillators,
        • 8 unison voices per OSC,
        • up to 512 voices simultaneously,
        • 8 filters,
        • 2 ADSR envelopes and 2 LFO,
        • 2 extra amplitude envelopes,
        • velocity, keyboard track or modulation wheel,
        • 7 professional quality sound effects and an arpeggiator
        4.8
        $$
        CHECK PRICE
        Native Instruments Massive
        • 1 300 presets,
        • 85 wavetables,
        • advanced loop mode,
        • stepper mode,
        • performer mode, and much more.
        4.7
        $$
        CHECK PRICE
        Nexus 3
        • 20 modulation slots,
        • 2 799 presets,
        • 95 effect presets, and much more.
          4.5
          $$
          CHECK PRICE
          Soundspot Union
          • 300 presets,
          • 2 analogue-style oscillators,
          • 9 FX modules,
          • wavetable generator oscillator,
          • up to 32 voices per oscillator, and much more.
          4.7
          $$
          CHECK PRICE

          There’s nothing like making your own music from the comfort of your home studio.

          But whatever your goals are, whether you’re an amateur or a professional, there’s an abundance of ways for you to get some realistic and full-sounding virtual instruments.

          A great deal of attention is directed towards VST plugins, and these can be heard in a variety of genres, either as an addition to instrumental music or as lead virtual instruments on their own.

          They can also be great sound design tools, used to explore new textures and jam with a band or solo.

          #1 Best Overall VST Synth – Specstrasonics Omnisphere 2.0

          Its really hard to choose a best VST synth. At the end of the day, music is very subjective and the best VST will depend upon the musical genre and personal taste.

          However, if somebody pointed a gun at us and made us choose the absolute best overall option, we’d choose Omnisphere 2.

          Here’s why:

          • It’s the most versatile option in the list, with over 500 high quality analogue waveforms and digital wavetables available.
          • It’s compatible with an enormous amount of hardware.
          • Very simple interface
          • Over 14 000 sounds included + simple drag and drop sample loader
          • 58 FX units
          • Medium to high end price range

          But in addition to all that, omnishphere 2 just sounds good. Out of the box, the presets and sounds sound pretty great and can be used for EDM, hip-hop, and even rock.

          If you’re looking for a versatile synth to buy for life, Omnisphere 2 is our recommendation.

          Also, don’t forget to check our updated MEGA-LIST of 400+ FREE VST here.

          Check out the video below for a sample of the Omnishpere 2 sound:

          CHECK PRICE (Omnisphere 2)

          #2 Budget Choice VST Synth – Serum

          While we already mentioned it above as simply the budget choice, Xfer Serum does really come as one of the best VST synths of all time.

          Here’s why:

          • Very easy to use, with a huge focus on simple visual displays
          • Retails at a lower price point compared to competition
          • Industry standout oscillators, which produce cleaner sounds than other VSTs.
          • More than 140 wavetables to choose from. They all sound great!
          • Ability to make your own wavetable
          CHECK PRICE (Xfer Serum)

          The video below should give you a pretty good overview of how Serum works, as well as how it sounds:

          #3 Sylenth1 VST synth

          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.

          Note: Sylenth1 is also available as a rent-to-own plugin through splice.

          CHECK PRICE (Sylenth1)

          #4 Native Instruments Massive VST synth

          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.

          CHECK PRICE (Native Instruments Massive)

          #5 Arturia Pigments 2 VST synth

          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.

          CHECK PRICE (Arturia Pigments 2)

          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 wavetable synthesizer, 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:

          CHECK PRICE (VPS AVENGER)

          And here’s what you can expect from Serum:

          CHECK PRICE (Xfer Serum)

          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.

          CHECK PRICE (Omnispehere)

          Also check our list of favourite FM Synths here.

          Honorable mentions:

          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.

          CHECK PRICE (Nexus 3)

          Best Free Synths

          There is an abundance of great synths that you can get for free today. One of the examples is Dexed, made by Digital Suburban.

          The main idea behind this one was to have a complete digital replica of Yamaha’s legendary DX7 synth, made back in the 1980s.

          Dexed has been praised as one of the best FM-style VST synths of all time, so it’s definitely worth checking out.

          Then we have Togu Audio Line’s TAL-Elek7ro VST, very well-known for its simple layout and a high range of possibilities.

          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.

          Final Thoughts

          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.