Best Synth VST Plugins (Top List)

Best Synthesizer VST Plugins?


Are you looking for amazing Synth VST plugins? While “Best” is of course always subjective, here is a complete top list (based on input from fellow composers):

Best Synth VST Plugins

Things You should Consider

  • The Synthesis Method (Additive, Subtractive, FM, Wavetable etc.)
  • The Synth Engine (Features and control of the Oscillators & Wavetables)
  • The Sound Quality (The Raw Sound, The Filters, Effects etc.)
  • The Preset System (A good structure & quality of presets)
  • The User Interface (Nice Design, Clear View Modes, Scalable etc.)
  • The Performance (CPU and RAM usage)
  • The Ease of Use (Layout, Features, Workflow Speed)
  • The Inspiration Factor (Very subjective, but so important)

Your Input is Wanted!

Do you have experience on any of these products? Do you have suggestions on products you think could make this top list?

Share your thoughts, perspective, and join the discussion in the thread below! :slight_smile:

Sincerely,
Mikael Baggström
Founder of Professional Composers

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hello
in your list, i have use and try omnipshere (the best for me) and DIVA
i don’t the other, but i think you can add in the list ZEBRA 2 that is a great synth vst
great sound, great modularity and possibility

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Hello Florent, yes I thought about adding Zebra, but I did not know if I should add 2 from the same developer. But I think you are right, it is really great for cinematic music! :slight_smile:

PS. I don’t put version number in, because it changes so often with upgrades on all these products.

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kiloHearts Phase Plant is a pretty interesting newcomer. Semi-modular (like VPS Avenger), but more modular, in that you can actually start with a clean slate and add only the modules you want. Another interesting aspect is that you can plug all the kiloHearts snapins right into it, and hook them up to modulation sources.

And of course, the good old Native Instruments synths; in particular Massive, which was pretty much genre-defining back in the day, and is still pretty capable by current standards.

Europa and Wiggle are two nice ones as well, but those are a bit more specialized, I’d say… Both are a bit like Serum technically, with some advantages, and some shortcomings. What I particularly like about these is that you can modulate the actual waveforms by moving control points around, as opposed to the usual pre-rendered wavetables, filters etc.

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I wonder if Massive will loose ground now that Massive X is out? I heard very mixed reviews on Massive X though, not at all the praise that Massive got during the years.

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Well, I’m not Massively :wink: experienced with either one, but I can certainly see why Massive X is a bit of a disappointment to some, and that’s also part of the reason I haven’t bothered much with it yet.

One major annoyance is that the GUI is actually very primitive by modern standards; no visual feedback on envelope curves and the like. I just can’t see any UI design or technical excuse for that, and it makes programming and troubleshooting harder and slower.

Also, Massive X is not compatible with Massive presets (unless some import feature has been added recently), so the Massive (sorry…) library of great sounds is not available for use and refinement. From that point of view, it would have been nicer to just add features to the old core design, allowing users to improve and extend old presets.

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I have to say, I want more developers to:

  • Make Scalable UI’s
  • Make “Zoomable” UI’s, meaning I can go into specific features and enlarge them (like envelope curves)
  • Have more Page/Module Focus (not cramping everything into one GUI view)
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I can only give you primitive feedback to Iris and Sector, didn’t figure every feature out till now:

Sektor is cool, especially for the price, but what I have heard until now, especially the presets focus only on hiphop / trap / edm etc. some presets are really good, but most of them boring in my opinion. Actually you can tweak a lot, there are wavetables (not sure how much of them). But until now I see it genre-wise Limited. What I absolutely don’t like is the CPU performance. Doesn’t work well at all.

Iris is amazing: the best feature of course is the super extreme subtracting filtering and have the option to load your own sounds in there (up to 4 layers), you can go really far even with only one sound! CPU wise works fluently. I designed a couple of sounds for the 8Dio project, if you like can show you the results.

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Yeah please show the results of your sound design! :smiley:

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Add arturia pigments to the list - very deep synth with some interesting routing and randomisers/turing machine.

Love Zebra amazing synth if you explore it. Used Massive but not tried massive X as macs too old to run it. Although some of the other NI synths are interesting especially Reactor.

Just got synthmaster so going to explore that. Love arturia analog lab just for ease of use.

Always liked sylenth especially for sound design.

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I have Diva and Falcon. Both would be enough for anything as they cover plenty of synthesis styles.
Falcon is crazy and the update to version 2 adds even more.

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Zebra2 (not Zebra) is, for synthesis, the best one by far “Lucious filters”

For Samples libraries, the best one is Omnisphere.

For Sample management and molding … to create your own sounds from your samples, Iris2.

Serum, I am disappointed, the sound is just too…not cool sounding, like Zebra2 is. But what I must say about it, it is very easy to use… so for quick sound creating or tweaking… this and Pigments might be the best.

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I intentionally did not put the version numbers in because I would have to update these lists too often :stuck_out_tongue:

I have been thinking about getting Diva myself, because I heard lots of nice cinematic and warm pluck sounds being made with it. I need a synth that is super fast and easy to create warm pulses and plucks with. What is Zeebra2 specialty in your opinion Marco?

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Since I am currently concentrated on making hip hop and trap my 2 goto synths are Sector and Serum.

Sector’s sequencer is great for coming up with ideas quickly. I’m not very impressed with the stock sound presets but you can tweak them quite a bit to create what you want.

Serum… what can I say? By far the easiest and most intuitive synth out there in my opinion. So many different ways to edit sounds and complete control over pretty much everything.

I also like all of the synths by AIR Music Technologies. (Xpand, Hybrid, Loom, Vacuum, Loom and The Riser) These are all great for EDM styles of music.

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I Just got zebra2 about 3 months ago by recommendation from Matthias Holmgren. When I got it, I learned it is Hans Zimmer VST (or AAU) synth go to. He even used it to create the dark night’ soundtrack. So I got it, and I am loving it.

It is king of a modular very easy to create sounds, it has beautiful sound generators and GREAT filters.

You’ll love it. I got it discounted in plugin Boutique.

Also, easiness and fast construction? Try Pigments. It’s from Arturia and it has a very generous 20 minute session trial; at the end of the 20 minutes, you close it and reopen it and voila, another 20 minutes indefinitely.

I would say, pigments is even easier and more intuitive than Serum, but sounds abismatically better.

I went to Falcons page by your list, I think I might get it. It looks super cool.

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Hmm perhaps Zebra2 would be a better choice than Diva for me also then? I really want those cool pulsing “dark knight” style synths :wink:

Then I would really go for the Zebra 2 + Dark Zebra combo (and you will get Zebra 3 whenever that will be released for free). Diva is great. I absolutely love it, but it’s also very demanding on the cpu and Zebra 2 and/or Dark Zebra are a bit better in regards to that, plus you can get a really nice mix in creating “old” and more modern sounds.

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Ah thanks Jaap, I think the preset libraries for cinematic music is more available for Zebra as well, am I right? Perhaps you have one? :slight_smile:

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From your list, we use Omnisphere, Serum and Massive. Omnisphere if my favorite! We also use a couple of synths from Reason: Subtractor and Thor. We are happy to see that Reason 11 will allow you to insert these in your DAW (as a rack), so there will no longer be a need to use Rewire. There has been a lot of talk around the school about acquiring Arturia Pigments for it’s sound and visual interface.

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The presets themselves from Zebra and Dark Zebra are not that much if you compare it to lets say Omnisphere
I have a soundset called Black and White which has a lot of cinematic sounds.
You can hear it in action in this demo track that I wrote

And otherwise for sure check out the sets from The Unfinished as you can’t go wrong with them in regards to cinematic sounds and my personal favorite stuff for Zebra 2 sounds are the folks from Pulsesetter. They created 2 amazing sets!
https://pulsesetter-sounds.com/product/pulsor/
https://pulsesetter-sounds.com/product/pulsor-ii-zebra2-soundset/

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