Software synthesizers have come a long way since the first days of VST plugins.
Right now some of the strongest and greatest sounding synthesizers live in your DAW.
Freeware plugins could take you a long way, however, the top tone tools for music production are still commercial products that come with a price tag.
In terms of paid plugins, understanding where to put your money is difficult. Which is why LANDR now offers rent-to-own plugins—to bring you the tools you need at inexpensive costs.
With all of the options out there, it does not have to be scary or costly when you are capable of deciding the plugin that’s right for your music production needs. Right here’s the important list of the best synth plugins available.
Use this list to choose your plugins from the cream of the crop.
Lethal by Lethal Audio is a ROM based powerhouse that includes thousands of sounds and presets and 24 genre-specific expansions.
It is also the first rent-to-own plugin from LANDR…
We know we know: we are a bit biased. However, we had to put it first on this list because we have been enjoying it so much in our own productions lately.
This soft synth puts a few of the most in-demand tones in modern production right at your fingertips with it’s simple to use preset browser.
From there is plenty of room to sculpt them with effects and powerful synthesis features.
Plus it is light enough on your processor that you could make an entire track utilizing just Lethal.
In case you are looking for simplicity and good value, Lethal is the perfect synth for you.
Price: $499 USD
Spectrasonics Omnisphere is one of the largest names in software synthesizers. This massively powerful instrument packs a nearly overwhelming amount of functionality.
There is so much going on under the hood in Omnisphere that it may be a little bit intimidating to new users.
However, there’s a super useful community round this synth to guide you on your journey—and plenty of resources available when you are feeling stuck.
If all else fails you can get lost in the sheer number of presets and discover some incredible sounds without ever once needing to do any tweaking.
Omnisphere is a strong experience!
3. Xfer Serum
Price: $189 USD
Xfer Serum is often next on the list of the most important soft synths.
The serum is a wavetable synthesizer. Not like the synths of the past that depend on wavetable technology, Serum has no processing limitations—and it shows.
Serum’s wavetable tech is incredibly highly effective. Even for easy waveforms, its expertly implemented wavetables sound ultra-clear and clean.
This provides the synth a crisp and clean sound that could be quite intense!
Price: $149 USD
Native Instruments’ Massive has been around since the early days of softsynths, however, it is an all-time favorite for a reason.
This synth is designed to make basses. Massive basses—and it works.
Its simple to utilize virtual-analog subtractive design will seem familiar and intuitive, even to new users.
Its extremely fat sound has defined a generation of producers and continues to be an ideal option for plugin synthesis.
Hot Tip: Massive has just received a big update with NI Massive X.
Massive X is an entirely new plugin reimagined from the ground up to bring the classic VST into the modern era of music production. It just may end up being more legendary than the original!
Price: $149 USD
Native Instruments FM8 is another longtime favorite soft synth from the classic plugin manufacturer.
FM8 utilizes frequency modulation synthesis like the iconic Yamaha DX-7 that defined the sound of the 80s.
This way could seem complicated, however, FM8 focuses on putting all of the control you need at your fingertips.
Plus, FM8 takes FM synthesis much further than traditional.
All the delicate, crystalline bells and keys you may associate with FM are there, along with all types of inspiring new sounds and textures—FM is cool!
Price: $149 USD
Arturia CS-80V is an incredibly accurate software emulation of a classic. The CS-80V is their take on the legendary Yamaha CS-80 analog polysynth
The CS-80 is a complete behemoth, weighing in at a staggering 220 pounds. Original units are highly sought after for their huge analog sound and powerful expression features.
The CS-80 was most notably used to make the soundtrack to the film Blade Runner. With the Arturia CS-80V you could get these sounds for yourself—do you dream of electric sheep?
Price: $149 USD
The Arturia SEM V puts analog expertise front and center again with this emulation of the classic Oberheim SEM.
The original SEM or “synthesizer expander module” was first designed to add layers or give a backup system for another synth.
However, it was a strong two oscillator monophonic synth in its own right.
The SEM’s unique filter design gave it a sound, not like anything else at the time. And the sheer fatness of its analog architecture is the stuff of legend.
Now you could get a little bit of that analog magic in your DAW with Arturia’s SEM V, which faithfully reproduces the sonic signature of the original.
Price: $189 USD
Reveal Sound Spire is a hybrid synthesizer that covers everything from analog modeling to “HardFM.”
Spire’s highly effective unison modes permit for up to 9 unison voices per oscillator
And its internal effects system is like a built-in sound design tool, complete with its own LFOs and matrix slots.
Onboard mixing tools such as EQ and compression make Spire a one-stop-shop for designing tones that work good in a mix.
9. u-he Hive
Price: €149 Euro
u-he Hive is a sleek and lightweight multipurpose synth with tons of functionality. Hive’s efficient workflow could get you began creating good sounding patches right away.
It is the ability to support microtunings and unique mix of synthesis styles makes it unique and it’s extensive modulation matrix and function generators make it flexible.
However, at heart Hive is a two-oscillator subtractive synth. That means that even when you are still getting comfortable with the basics of synthesis, there is nothing here you could not handle.
10. REFX Nexus2
Price: $249 USD
REFX Nexus2 is another ROM based plugin with an extensive library that’s totally loaded for EDM production.
Nexus has made its method into the studios of some pretty large names, however, the sound quality speaks for itself.
Nexus is expandable through an enormous amount of downloadable content and expansions on REFX for every style of music.
Synthesizer plugins are one of the most exciting parts of digital music production.
It doesn’t matter what sound you are chasing, there is a soft synth out there that may assist you to get it.
Take a look at those synths the next time you’re GAS-ing for a strong new plugin to add to your arsenal.