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Hardware synths are cool (like really cool) but today’s typical home studio only has so much space (and money). So, what do we all do to further expand our super-duper sound palette of awesome?
Why, plugins, of course!
There are new synth VSTs coming out all the time, and some of the now-classics continue to amaze. A lot of these plugins are a whole lot of fun, so we thought we’d cook up our own list of the 10 “most fun” synths on the internet in 2023.
Full disclosure, this was a hard to boil down, since there’s a veritable plethora of cool VST synths out there now. So we went with what you might call “lesser known” synths — stuff that has oddball characteristics out the wazoo — which ought to be super fun for all of you out there that love to play around with new sounds and possibilities.
And if you’re the type of musician or producer who loves inventing patches or figuring out how every button and parameter on your synth works, Soundfly has the perfect course for you: Advanced Synths & Patch Design for Producers. Check it out, and now let’s dive into these VSTs!
The Lush-101 by D-16 is an intuitive and easy to use multi-mode analog filter with a variety of modulation options, making it ideal for adding warmth and articulation to your sound. It offers low pass, high pass, band pass, and notch filter modes with adjustable resonance and frequency range. It also has numerous built-in modulators including ADSR envelope, LFOs, and MIDI control options. It’s modelled after a bunch of different hardware synths and yes it’s a plugin, despite what the picture above seems to indicate.
Xfer Records Serum
Serum is a powerful wavetable synthesizer from Xfer Records that allows you to create “cutting edge sounds.” It incorporates advanced sound design features like wavetable manipulation and real-time audio stretching which give you the tools to create professional sounding synth leads, basses, effects and more. What’s super cool is the ability to import audio directly from .wav files.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “5 Digital Emulators Perfect for Getting a Retro Synth Sound.”
Synapse Dune 3
Synapse Audio’s Dune 3 is an incredibly powerful virtual analog synth capable of producing a vast array of unique sounds in any genre imaginable! It offers thousands of preset sounds along with editing capabilities that allow you to shape your sound however you’d like. It comes packed with effects such as reverb, chorus, delay, distortion, and EQ that make crafting new sonic textures simple. The GUI is now in full HD too; which may not seem like a thing but if you’re making screen capture videos that could be fun.
The Eventide Pendulate is an innovative virtual dual oscillator mono synth with serious performance capabilities driven by two separate syncable analog modelled oscillators per voice for intense modulation possibilities. Create lush evolving textures using its wide selection of filters and envelopes or explore classic subtractive synthesis techniques by utilizing the various oscillator shapes available in both poly and mono configurations. Plus the GUI just looks weird and cool with its squiggly patch line pathways and such snaking all over.
Surge XT is a classic wavetable synthesizer featuring modern enhancements to help unlock all the sonic potential within it. Along with vintage inspired waveforms and extensive modulation capabilities, this powerhouse synth includes over 350 presets crafted by experienced sound designers ready to use right away. Oh, and it’s free and works in Linux, which is super cool.
Vital Audio Vital
Vital Audio’s flagship soft synth Vital brings an entirely new approach to synthesis while still maintaining practicality through simple controls and intuitive interfaces unseen in many other soft synths on the market today! Its internal engine offers a unique synthesis method known as physical modelling that simulates real instruments and objects allowing users to craft their own sounds without limits. It’s also an oddball in the soft synth world in that there are tiered subscription plans, much like, well, every other cloud-based service on the planet now.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “10 Films and TV Shows With Distinctive Sonic Worlds.”
VCV Rack 2
VCV Rack 2 may have made the list simply because the image on their website is so cool. But it’s also an open-source (nice!) modular synthesizer that allows users to craft unique sounds by combining a vast selection of modules such as oscillators, filters, sequencers, and more. It also supports third-party modules from brands like Mutable Instruments, Expert Sleepers, and 4MS making it a versatile and powerful instrument.
The OB-Xd from DiscoDSP is an advanced virtual analog synthesizer packed with features such as powerful filters and multi-mode oscillators to ensure you can create stunning tones from scratch! What sets it apart from other VST synths is its flexibility. With more than 24 modulation sources, it allows you to create complex and flexible sounds like never before. (*Plus, Com Truise is a noted fan of the OB-Xd!)
Pigments from Arturia is a powerful polyphonic software synthesizer that combines classic subtractive and modern wavetable synthesis with an array of modulation options allowing you to craft intricate sonic textures. It also offers advanced effects processing and over 1,000 extraordinary presets ready to use out of the “box” (there’s no box, silly, it’s a plugin).
Newfangled Audio Generate
Generate is Newfangled Audio’s flagship additive synthesizer boasting a comprehensive selection of modules enabling you to create lush evolving tones quickly and easily. Along with its intuitive drag ‘n drop interface — it also has powerful macro controls that allow you to quickly sculpt unique patches without having to dive deep into endless menus and parameters. Plus, there’s all kinds of celebrity presets!
Bottom line, if you’re into synthesis and you want to expand your palette, have a blast, and not have to tear down a wall — check these sick VST synths out right now!
Don’t stop here!
Continue learning with hundreds of lessons on songwriting, mixing, recording and production, composing, beat making, and more on Soundfly, with artist-led courses by Kimbra, Jlin, Kiefer, RJD2, Ryan Lott, and of course, Com Truise: Mid-Fi Synthwave Slow-Motion Funk.