The synth VST market is growing and growing. Each year there are new entries that try to take the crown of being the best synth VST in the whole wide world. That leaves you, the producer, with so many options that you could spend forever trying out new synths & sounds and never actually get creative and produce beats! There’s synth for almost any genre and emulations of every classic synths beatmakers lust over. In our team we’ve tried many of them already and want to help you find through the jungle with this exhaustive list of the best synth vst plugins – both commercial and free.
Native Instruments Monark. Buy for $99.
Native Instruments created hands down the best emulation of THE classic synthesizer – the Minimoog. Dilla had one, Flying Lotus used one as well. For a long time actually, the Moog has been the premier choice for bass and lead sounds, no matter if you produce electronic music, hip hop, indie rock or whatever. There’s really no other synth which displays power, richness, and musical tone like this one.
Monark captures all the nuances of the king of analog monosynths authentically. If you listen to the lively, analog sound, you won’t believe it’s software. Native Instruments have really outdone themselves here! To be able to use Monark you need the free Reaktor Player by NI. It also integrates perfectly with the entire Maschine family.
Native Instruments Massive. Buy for $149.
Massive has long been the premier choice of modern beatmakers and producers for a good reason. It’s the ultimate synth for contemporary, cutting-edge sound. This synth creates super creamy and punchy basses as well as razor-sharp leads that cut through any mix – even if you layer grit and dirt on every track. Massive’s sonic spectrum is as broad as it is inspiring, while its breathtaking amount of options are clearly laid out and easy to use.
Massive already contains over 1300 sounds, all crafted by leading artists and sound designers. But by now you can find just about any preset you dream up in free and commercial sample packs already.
Xfer Serum. Buy for $189.
In the last two years or so Massive lost its rank as best synth VST for the masses to Xfers Serum. While similar in their appeal, Serum boasts a visual and creative workflow-oriented interface to make creating and altering sounds fun instead of tedious. It’s not all fun and games though. If you want to go deep and tweak things you have all the options you would ever need, like creating, importing or morphing wavetables and manipulating these during playback in real-time.
Aside from the usual Flangers, Phasers, and Comb filters, you get a bunch of unique filter types found nowhere else, such as the dirty-sounding French LPF. An effects rack with 10 effects modules lets you get your sound all the way to the finish line inside the plugin. Serum will let you stack a single oscillator to use up to 16 voices and the unison Warp control lets you get the stack sound blooming or swarming like you want. You really have try this!
u-he Diva. Buy for $179.
If you don’t care too much about current sounds and really want to dig into a range of classic analog synthesizers, not just the Moog, then u-he’s Diva is your go-to weapon of choice! Its tagline is ‘The Spirit of Analogue’ for a good reason. You probably won’t find another synth VST that sounds as close to analog as this one here.
All the oscillators, filters and envelopes are closely modeled after components found in some of the great classic monophonic and polyphonic synthesizers. But be warned, this Diva requires quite a lot of laptop power, especially in its high quality mode. If you don’t have current generation machine, then you should probably avoid this synth. Ah and be sure to check out the excellent 1200+ presets! This was my my choice for Best Synth VST last yer, but Monark has grown on me and taken over!
Aren’t the Best Synth VST Plugins free?
Nope, not really, but what if you don’t have money to splash out for fancy soft synths. Maybe you just started out making beats and haven’t even sold a beat but want new sounds? Below you find some dope free alternative to the best synth vst plugins. They might not look as cool and are less flexible, but you can’t beat the free price tag!
So you want a Moog synth but can’t afford the real thing or the excellent Monark soft synth mentioned above? Then Freemoog is your best (and cheapest) option to capture the basic characteristics of the Minimoog synthesizer. Freemoog has 3 oscillators and can play up to 8 notes simultaneously. Don’t be fooled, you can’t expect much from a free vst synth and this one is not as close to the real synth as the name suggests. It’s useful for beatmakers in all types of genres regardless.
Dexed Yamaha DX7 VST. Free.
The free plug-in Dexed emulates the Yamaha DX7, a classic synth of the 80s. Like its role model Dexed uses a sound engine which is based on FM synthesis. Frequency modulation is a complicated topic and to get a decent sound originally you had to programm lots of parameters. It’s multi platform (OS X, Windows or Linux) and multi format (VST, AU, LV2) you can even use this with a native DX7 as a patch editor and sysex manager.
Plogue TableWarp2. Free.
A free wavetable synth! Each of it’s dual oscillators has a choice of 16 waves and offers modulation with LFO, envelopes and more. It’s super easy to recreate sounds that defined new wave musicians in the ‘80s with this soft synth. TableWarp2 is surprisingly powerful for its tiny footprint!
SPLASH Synth VST. Free.
With Splash, Swedish software-developers of Infected Sounds have released a synth with four oscillators (each with 42 different waveforms), two modulation- and one amp envelopes with individual slopes, two different matrixes (one for LFOs and envelopes each). An effect section with distortion, bit reducer, 4-band-EQ, Chorus, Reverb is included too. It’s very well suited for many current dance music genres like Future House, Tropical House, Deep House, Melbourne Bounce and EDM as well.
Kairatune is not your typical all-in-one synthesizer. It’s much more focussed on tight bass, unique lead and shiny SFX sounds. At the same time it makes all the effort to be simple enough to use. Kairatune offers fast and intuitive sound design workflow. The user interface is designed for a musician rather than an engineer and is based on the concept of pitch and beat in contrast to frequency and time. Kairatune lets you travel in the world of beats, notes and intervals instead of the logarithmic mathematics of frequencies and the rarely useful absolute time.
Here is a Mono/Poly based synthesizer plugin, complemented with a few more characteristics from other famous machines. What you get is a single powerful yet balanced, performance oriented vst instrument. Some of the features are: two audio oscillators that can be self modulated by a third non audio oscillator, one fat 24db lowpass filter with self oscillation capabilities, dedicated envelopes for filter and volume contour, a powerful and flexible arpeggiator for those moments where the fingers are simply not that fast (just kidding…), a chorus effect section with three distinctively rich chorus modes (to thicken up things a bit) and to finalize a delay unit to bring out those spacey sounds to the front.
Still need more free synth VST plugins?
Ok then, here’s some more links to popular freeware synth VSTs you can check out:
- Helm is a seriously deep synthesizer – almost as complex as a modular, thanks to its comprehensive modulation routing scheme. You can create rich, evolving patches with this incredible open-source freebie.
- Alter/Ego is an excellent voice synthesizer, similar to Chipspeech. It attempts to create a more modern vocal sound.
- FM-Four is based on a well-known YAMAHA OPL/OPL2 chipset and can produce wide range of timbres that are rich in harmonics. Slightly annoying that the free version is supported by ad space within the program though.
- PhadiZ is a phase distortion synth similar to the Casio CZ101 with lots of stereo options. Features include a unique panning/filter swoosh sound for great pads, 2 Oscillators, 6 Envelopes, 2 LFO’s and a built-in delay and ringmodulator! This unique synth VST has a style of it’s own.
- Daedalus is a polyphonic synthesizer VST plugin which comes with over 100 presets to get you started, or you can tweak the knobs, faders and other controls to fine-tune the sounds to your likings.
What? Still not enough synth plugins to play with? Ok, ok…
- Anawave is a hybrid analogue/wavetable synth which allows you to draw, import, and export waveforms. This VST is especially useful for making odd and distorted bass sounds for dubstep and trance producers.
- GTG FM 4 is an FM synth with a different structure. 3 operators with 2 mixable paths each. This free VST is capable of creating some amazing sounds useful for dubstep, trance, electronic, idm and hip-hop beats.
- DigiReactor is a multi-purpose FM softsynth capable of creating unique sounds for your beats whether it’s dubstep, hip-hop, trap or anything else.
- Bleep is a free VSTi synthesizer released by ToneBytes which was inspired by the sound of MOS Technology SID. At the same time Bleep’ is not an emulator of this chipset but only partially similar to its architecture.
- Prophanity, a freeware VST instrument which attempts to mimic the the Prophet 5.
- Deep-Mono is a powerful vintage style monophonic synth that packs a punch. It is simple to program and has all the synth programming parameters available right on the front panel. Just tweak a knob and you immediately begin to sculpt the sound.
Alright this should keep you busy for a while. My fingers are bleeding and I need a break from writing. Talk soon and make some dope beats until we speak again!
UPDATE: Some Best Synth VST suggestions from our readers…
- DSK Ethereal Padz will help you create their own unique pad sounds. You get 2 Layers with 22 Pads sounds and many modulation options, chorus effect, reverb Effect and much more!
- TranceDrive is a subtractive synthesizer that has built-in supersaw oscillators for fat synths and pads, harsh filters, a trancegate and a huge reverb effect.
- In-Kult is a VST synth which has three oscillators, two filters, two assignable LFOs, two assignable envelopes, 64 presets, chorus, phaser, delay and more.
- Meesha is a free VST synth plugin inspired by the modular analog synths. With many different modules in place, endless creativity is guaranteed. These modules can be patched using a CV (control voltage) matrix module, creating complex CV patches.
- LaserBlade features a versatile sound-engine with modulatable XTorsion, Filter FM (frequency modulation of filter like in the Sequential synths) and a Metallize section. This enables you to achieve quite ‘sharp’ or digital sounds as well as a variety of short percussive Seq-sounds; LaserBlade can also generate soft, bell-like sounds, and more.
- UltraSonique is a high quality synthesizer and wavesample player. Stepped filter modulation for groove style sequences Vector based filter response for High and Low pass settings… and a lot more…
- Synthopia 2 features 3 layers with 128 sounds featuring bass, synths, keys, pads. Amp. envelope, de-tune and panorama control. 3 advanced filters with ADSR control. 3 advanced LFOs, with route option. 2 send FX (Chours & Delay). 1 Master FX (Reverb).