With so many VST sound generating plugins (synthesizers, romplers, samplers) on the music software market today, it's getting harder to even keep track of new plugins and versions for them every day.
It's very easy to get lost in all this and not understand what you need for free and professional realization of your musical ideas in the sequencer.
And I wish that every aspiring musician would not reason from the logic: "the more VST tools I have at hand, the more professional my tracks will sound and the more I WILL be in music!
In reality, the more plug-ins appear in your DAW (sequencer), the more you are distracted from your main goal and task - royalty free dramatic music and production.
Already more time is needed to "dabble" and try out each "machine", not to mention learning it "from beginning to end" in the synthesis possibilities.
Well, in the process of writing music, practice shows that most musicians with a rich set of plug-ins like to carefully select "that" sound for the already prescribed part (Lead, for example) from the whole set of their VST instruments in DAW, switching hundreds of presets in each of them.
The basic law is very simple:
The more plugins in the name, the longer it takes to "create" music, while the result in the quality of production is improved minimally!
The secret is that when our opportunities are limited (today, in times of such free access to material on the "ru-net", it must be done deliberately) we have ALL, and above all the desire, aspiration and intention to create.
Try to deliberately set yourself "challenges" of all kinds, for example:
- write a track using only one synthesizer in the project
- write one track every day/two
- write a track using no more than 5 synthesizers in a project ("freezing" is out of the question - it's "cheating" :) )
And the conditions of the challenges are limited only by your imagination, the main thing is that they were not too simple!
And most importantly, getting back to the topic of this article, pick yourself the top 5, or a little more, VST tools for your direction and your taste.
Moreover, world famous names in dance music such as KSHMR use only 3 plugins to produce their music and KSHMR's are Sylenth1, Nexus 2 and Spire (which will be mentioned in this article).
The conclusion, I think, is obvious:
You don't need to chase the quantity, you just need a qualitative and productive result in your music.
And the most important message, for those aspiring musicians who also think that a LARGE LOT of VST instruments and plug-ins are a wide range and variation of the most different sounds... is today MORE THAN a POSSIBLE PROPOSITION.
Because, any of the following VST synthesizers CAN generate absolutely any timbre (i.e. sound) from the electronic music sound spectrum. And any modern VST plug-in can allow you to synthesize even crazy complex and intricate sound sequences and whole sequences.
And to take into account ONLY the vast possibilities of synthesis and scarce set of factory presets is not quite fair, because there are many music producers and even quite famous ones who use exclusively ready-made presets in their productions...
So let's also evaluate VST machines for their ability to give cool sound right here and now, with a few clicks.
So, let's take apart the VST instruments (synthesizers, romplers, samplers, in general everything that can give and generate sound) that are currently the leaders in their business, in terms of the range of possibilities and professional approach to the realization of sound) and, accordingly, your possible tools for free and professional music production.
What VST tools do I need today to write music freely and professionally?
Sylenth1 by LennarDigital
The legend of all VST synthesizers, it is the easiest and most interface-friendly, subtractive synthesizer (subtractive synthesis is based on filtering, i.e. subtracting harmonics and frequencies from the total harmonic spectrum generated by the sound wave).
There are hundreds of simple subtractive VST synthesizers similar to the Sylenth1, and why has the Sylenth1 become the favorite of all music producers?
For the quality of the sound at the output. And indeed, despite the simplicity and elementary logic in the interface, the quality of the resulting timbres and a certain warmth in the sound are amazing.
This synthesizer has with it a huge library of diverse and impressive presets, so even those who like to use "ready-made", will find here everything you need and in a super-extensive spectrum.
This synthesizer is also more suitable than anything else for learning sound synthesis and sound-realization, because it is subtractive (the most logical type of synthesis) and because its interface can really shine with its logic and user-friendliness!
As a result, ONLY this "machine" can give you more than professional results for years to come, and YOU will in no way feel behind other producers in sound.
2. Nexus 2 by reFX
This VST tool is not a synthesizer (because it is a ROMPLER, it is a machine which contains already scripted ready-made patches with types of sound, but which leaves to you many possibilities to manipulate and edit the necessary parameters in the sound).
And, most likely, it is for this reason (the fact that it is a ROMPLER) + just a huge library of amazing quality and variety of sound patches inside itself that Nexus 2 has become so popular among music producers.
You didn't have to spend hours cranking up or tweaking the sound you wanted - you could just take it from Nexus, as it contains probably the most popular types of timbres for modern EDM genres.
The minus of such a plus is the monotony and "copying" in the production of many artists, both beginners and not so much. Especially popular was the DancePiano timbre in one of the patches of this VST instrument.
But this monotony can be avoided by at least some editing of these patches within the plugin, and of course, everyone's favorite Layering or combining several timbres in their frequency layering on top of each other, in order to get a richer and more interesting sound!
In any case, this machine will give you a lot in your production - a huge range of ultra-popular timbres for modern EDM and a decent quality of their sound.
3. Synthmaster 2 by KV331 Audio
This synthesizer can be called the most versatile in the realization of types of sound. And just as important is the fact that all the leading online music magazines gave it first place in the top of VST synthesizers, for its deep synthesis and parameter modulation capabilities, no less striking processing capabilities (effects section) and, of course, ways to generate sound. And all this in a logical and friendly interface, which, by the way, cannot be called very conspicuous and beautiful, but perhaps this is what makes it "understandable" to the user.
Together with the synthesizer, and this is another big + to the Synthmaster 2, comes its factorial library of presets, which can be safely called impressively large and having in it quality presets, probably, from all available genres of electronic music. In this synthesizer and its presets there is really EVERYTHING you need for quality and effective production of modern music!
You won't lose by any means if you choose between the Sylenth1 and the Synthmaster 2, it is the Synthmaster 2, you will only gain a lot... and you will gain a bottomless depth of synthesis and sound realization possibilities and even more sound quality.
The Synthmaster 2 probably loses only in its design, which is the last thing we musicians should be looking for!
4. Spire by RevealSound
The Spire synthesizer became popular in the circles of eminent EDM stars, precisely because of its striking and high-quality "trance" and "festival" sound.
And indeed, it is very prevalent in the circles of all "trancers" and not only them... also this synth showed itself perfectly in Progressive House, Big Room and Dutch House.
Most of the fame for Spire comes from its Unison section and especially from the amazing expansive and overpowering unison in the sound, which is what is appreciated in festival music. And any beginner can achieve this, with just a few movements of the VST knobs, without resorting to any presets in this VST!
His factorial library of presets cannot be called super huge, but I think that it contains ALL that is necessary for professional and that very FESTIVAL sound!
A small intimidating factor for novice users with weak PCs and laptops is that this VST synthesizer consumes a lot of CPU when it runs. And musicians who have a weak CPU will not be able to play with a lot of these plug-ins loaded in one project.
Nevertheless, this machine and the sound that it generates deserves as many resources as it consumes, and a weak processor, in any case, will not give you much freedom in your production.
Quality sound requires resources, one way or another!
5. Serum by Xfer
Serum is another fairly deep and varied in sound generation, modulation, and output results. This time it is from the category of Wavetable synthesizers.
This type of synthesizers has a built-in matrix with the ability to load several types of sound waves (timbres) into its cells, the main advantage of the matrix, is the possibility of morphing or smooth movement between sound waves, using a variety of algorithms and forms. The result is very impressive complex and rich timbres very much loved by base musicians, in Dubstep, Drum & Bass, Trap, Hybrid Trap, and other more hybrid things!
And along with this matrix and deeper possibilities of working with it in comparison with other Wavetable synthesizers, Serum has a lot more advantages, such as sub-oscillation, amazing number of filtering types, and probably the most impressive on top of it all, its own controlled processing chain with native and also own, super quality realized, effect modules!
The quality of the sound output. Here's something that no less amazed users and music producers on their introduction to Serum. Since its release Xfer Serum has set a very high bar in sound quality for its competitors, and in the musicradar magazine it is surpassed only by the Synthmaster 2, which we have already passed.
With all this baggage pluses, also comes a fair disadvantage - resource consumption. Users with weak processors will also be upset by the fact that it will not be possible to fill up the project in the sequencer with a large number of such machines and work in peace, most likely. But from the side of sound quality and its characteristics, as I think, everything is fair here!
6. Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics
This huge and truly immense "machine" for sound design can be called the monster of all VST synthesizers today.
The developers put everything they could into it and now, the second version of Omnisphere can serve as a complete "station" of sound design for professionals and masters in this field; with full synthesis possibilities (Omnisphere 2 has almost all ways of sound synthesis, record depth of modulation and amount of modulated parameters, and even more amazing processing effects section with more processing modules and effects than in Serum) and also postproduction possibilities (Omnisphere 2 can serve as a sampler that you can upload your audio and patches to and work with them, producing the same boundless possibilities as in this synthesis tool!
The amount of presets and patches in the factorial library for Omnisphere can also safely be called a record; thousands of patches and presets in the library, including even samples recorded from various instruments and sound sources, which cannot fail to respond to the size of the "monster" - about 40 GB on your hard drive.
And why, you ask, is he not at the top of this list?
Because; price, complexity, large hard disk weight and resource consumption are all characteristics that logically outweigh all the striking power and capabilities of this machine and, accordingly, scare the masses of beginners and semi-professionals, screening out only fierce professionals in their field and experienced producers in music and sound design.
7. Reaktor 6 by Native Instruments
This plugin, this time, is literally a STATION for synthesis and sound design, if the word "station" refers to the omnisphere in a more exaggerated way.
Because in the Reaktor 6 platform you can not just do sound synthesis, but also create your own plug-ins and synthesizers! The capabilities of this synthesis platform are truly amazing, with its generation, modulation and audio stream processing blocks that can be implemented to achieve any characteristic quality in sound synthesis - from analog classics to modern standards in synthesizers.
For example, the Monark synthesizer from Native Instruments, which was also included in the top VST 2016 by Music Radar magazine, is only an internal module in the Reaktor 6 platform and was logically collected there, nevertheless it gives such a noticeable and original sound, that it also got in the top plugins.
8. Massive by Native Instruments
Another representative of the table-wave category of VST synthesizers along with Xfer Serum.
A very big advantage of it is the user-friendliness and logical interface, along with a wide range of synthesis possibilities. It has always been the parameter modulation control that has been particularly convenient. In this sense, really ALL PARAMETERS, most of the time with the plugin are at your fingertips and where you can see them.
Due to its capabilities of tabular-wave synthesis, many famous base musicians recognized it as the number 1 synthesizer, for example, Skrillex did all his productions practically only on this synthesizer and he did not need anything else.
The only drawback is that in the basic presets and library there are very simple and boring timbres that do not show all the power and depth of the synthesis of this "machine", the solution is either to make efforts in "tweaking" or to buy third-party and more stylistically oriented patches for Massive.
9. Zebra 2 by U-he
Another VST monster in the depth of synthesis and modulation of sound parameters, appreciated by professionals in the production of electronic music and in the world of sound design.
The synthesizer is based on subtractive synthesis, but with the ability to use FM and additive synthesis functionality, so the sound you can "forge" on it is hard to call anything limited, so everything is the same and even more, this synthesizer can ALL from the world of sonic infinity!
The wide range of presets in this plugin will show you the power and abilities of this machine, but I would not advise beginners to learn sound synthesis with this VST synthesizer, because it cannot be called simple enough.
But still, if you are not afraid of difficulties and long sittings for taking apart the functionality of each knob, this, not quite normal VST plugin, still, will bring a lot of discoveries in the knowledge of synthesis and sound design.
10. Harmor by Image-Line
I can safely call this instrument an "additive synthesis monster" because it is based on the additive concept of sound generation, and then all the subtractive filtering capabilities.
Despite the specific set of some of its own terms in the functionality and knobs of this plug-in, it amazes with the levels and depth of synthesis and parameter control, where you can set almost any parameter not just for one oscillator, but for each individual "voice" in the selected oscillator.
The great "PLUS" of it is the ability to re-synthesize and post-production, which makes this synthesizer a sampler in its own way - where you can simply drag any audio file from your Windows folders and play around with it as much as you can.
The standard set of presets in this plugin is not so extensive, but if someone wants to get presets, more for the EDM case, our website has a large and FREE preset pack for this synthesizer, called "Transtadium", which can be downloaded HERE.
I personally work in the sequencer FL Studio, and after understanding Harmor, I realized that I did not need any third-party plugins, because FL Studio has Harmor and its fairly deep synthesis capabilities.
And in my life this plugin was really special, because it is the first VST synthesizer plugin, when I got acquainted with which, I wanted to learn ALL of its functionality and the depth of features and most importantly I did it and subsequently made a whole course about it more than 10 hours long, called Taming Harmor, and if you are also hooked by this synthesizer with its synthesis concept, I highly recommend getting this, more than a detailed video course that explains every knob + has practical guides for synthesizing the most different sounds in each of its chapters!
Disadvantages of this plugin is its not quite familiar logic for most users and music producers and the fact that with a large number of voices in the unison and the number of harmonics generated on top of the existing plugin can well overload not so strong processor.
There are dozens more worthwhile synthesizers and instruments that deserve separate attention and a breakdown of their functionality, but this list is really something that can completely eclipse the rest of the range on the music software market from the synthesizer world, and even from all of this you only need to select what you need exactly for your case and your genre! So as not to distract yourself from the most important goal - quality and efficient music production.