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7 Solid Synth Plugins for Music Producers

Each and every one of these synth plugins could be a production workhorse in your home studio. So hard to choose a favorite!

Well, Synth You're Here!

Synth plugins, as you probably know by now, are an essential part of the electronic music production process.

Whether you stick to presets or program your own personal custom patches, there’s no escaping synth plugins in today’s DAW-focused world of music production.

On this page below you’ll discover 7 synth plugins, each of which could easily become your next favorite workhorse synth.  Every one of these soft synths comes with serious power and tweak-ability so take some time to demo each and see what works best for you intuitively.

So here below, without any further ado, are 7 superb synths!


Serum Screenshot

1. Xfer Records - Serum

"Wavetable synthesis is known for its rich harmonic sweeps, glitchy transitions and sonic complexity. To this, Serum adds new dimensions of clean, high fidelity and accessibility." Paul Nagle, Sound On Sound

Serum has become a staple among producers since its release.  For good reasons too. The oscillators sound crisp and clean and the filters and envelopes can be tweaked in minute detail. It also comes with a whole suite of onboard effects so you can output huge-sounding patches from this one synth plugin.


Serum is a wavetable synth that allows you to load up preset wavetables and also create and upload your own wavetables from just about any sound.

You can carve, modulate and shape the sounds generated by the 2 super-clean oscillators with 3 envelopes and 4 LFOs. Add to that the 10 high-quality effects which include distortion, flange, reverb, chorus, delay, compression and EQ and you have the ingredients for some huge synth sounds in one box.

Serum comes with over 450 presets and 144 wavetables.

Serum is available for both Mac OS and Windows.

Massive Screenshot

2. Native Instruments - Massive

"Massive harnesses the raw power of modern computers to achieve hardware-quality sound. This is the synth your sequencer's freeze function has been waiting for." Simon Price, Sound on Sound

Another firm favorite amongst producers in various genres is Massive by Native Instruments.

This synth plugin uses what NI calls virtual-analog architecture which they say makes for a colossal sound. ;-)


Marketing adjectives aside, Massive does pack a punch. It comes with 3 oscillators and many modulation options which include LFOs, step sequencers and envelopes.

The real fun with Massive is however it’s ease-of-use and ability to modulate just about any parameter with any other parameter.

Once you get the basics down you'll soon get into using it multiple times per session!

It ships with 1300 presets in the box and there are tons of 3rd-party preset packs available online for producers in different genres.

Massive is available for Mac OS and Windows.

Spire Screenshot

3. Reveal Sound - Spire

"Reveal Sound has a winner on its hands with Spire - it's clearly not afraid to leave the comfort zone of simulated voltage and enter brazenly digital territory." Computer Music

Spire is a beast among synth plugins that can handle pretty anything you choose to throw at it. It’s not infeasible to produce an entire track just with this one synth. It combines some of the best aspects of software and hardware synths in one plugin.

You have 4 powerful multimode polymorphing oscillators with Classic, Noise, FM, AMSync, SawPWM, HardFM, Vowel waveforms to choose from, with 9 unison voices on each oscillator.

Combine this with 2 filters that can do analog and digital types of filtering, a powerful inbuilt FX processor plus immense modulation capabilities and inbuilt arps and steppers and you get a workhorse synth that deserves its place among the top synth plugins available to producers today.  Oh, and it comes with over 900 factory presets ready to go.

Spire is available for Mac OS and Windows.

Falcon Screenshot

4. UVI - Falcon

"It’s everything from a multitrack sample-playback engine to a complex sound editor, synthesizer and sampler." Tom Flint, Sound on Sound

UVI calls Falcon “The Most Complete Hybrid Instrument Available” and not without reason.

If Spire is a beast then Falcon is a monster. You get 15 oscillators which includes ICRAM time-stretching and granular engines plus Wavetable, FM, Drum and Pluck modules to mention only a few.

Modulation is another place where Falcon shines with AHD, Analog ADSR, Attack Decay, DAHDSR, Drunk, LFO, Multi Envelope and Step Envelope modulation generators at your fingertips to modulate pretty much any parameter you can imagine.

You also get 16 different filters to choose from and a host of different effects which include reverbs, delays, dynamics and EQ processors.

That’s just scratching the surface! Falcon is a probably one of the most complex synth plugins so it will take you a bit longer to master.  It’s well worth the time because the options it opens up in the studio will take your productions to a new level.

Falcon also comes with 1000 factory patches so you won’t be at a loss for sounds to get started with.

Falcon is available for Mac OS and Windows.

Zebra2 Screenshot

5. u-he Zebra2

"Zebra 2 is a joy to behold. If you're into soft synths, you owe it to yourself to check it out." Computer Music

Zebra2 is one of the synth plugins on this list that has been around for a while and remains a mainstay for many composers and producers to this day.  Zebra2 is a wireless modular synthesizer that's easy to use and won't hit your CPU too hard.

It includes 4 wavetable oscillators, 4 FM oscillators each with 8 alternative waveforms, 4 regular filters each with with 23 different modes to choose from, 4 cross-modulation filters, a 12-slot modulation matrix with depth modulation from a second source and 4 syncable multi-stage envelope generators.  It also has arps and sequencer capabilities built-in.

This synth plugin ships with over 500 factory presets.

Zebra2 is available for Mac OS, Windows and Linux.

Sylenth1 Screenshot

6. LennarDigital - Sylenth1

"Out of nowhere, Sylenth1 has instantly become one of the go-to instruments in our plug-ins folders." Computer Music

Another oldie-but-goodie is Sylenth 1.  Yes, it’s not as complex and fully featured as some of the synth plugins we already looked at and the effects aren’t anything to really write home about.  That said, once you get into the workflow of Sylenth1 you’ll soon realize why many producers keep this synth around.

Features include 4 alias-free unison oscillators, 2 analog-sounding filter sections, 2 ADSR envelopes and 2 LFO’s.

A great section of Sylenth 1 is the arp section.  It looks simple but it opens up a world of melodic possibilities once you get to know it.  Other effects include distortion, a phaser, a chorus/flanger, EQ, delay, reverb and compression.

Sylenth 1 comes with a mind-blowing 2500+ presets to keep you busy when you first open it.

Sylenth 1 is available for Mac OS and Windows.

Iris 2 Screenshot

7. iZoptope - iris 2

"Iris 2 continues to walk a fine line between synthesis and sound engineering. While still lacking time-stretch and a few other refinements, the larger store of raw material and improved modulation ensure it’s a worthy upgrade." Paul Nagle, Sound on Sound

iZotope’s iris 2 is a sample-based synth that gives you the benefits of a sampler and modular synth all rolled into one plugin.

As mentioned this synth differs from the other synth plugins in this list in that it uses samples to generate the synth sound.  You can load 4 samples to produce your sound and then shape the tone with a spectral filtering system.

The modulation section comes with 5 LFO’s and 5 envelopes.  As with most of iZotope’s software the effects are really good so you can beef up and mangle your sounds to make them hit hard with little to no processing after the fact.

The full version comes with hundreds of factory patches and over 11 GB of audio samples.

iZotope’s iris 2 is available for MAC OS and Windows.

Conclusion:

There you have it!  These synth plugins each offer you a world of sonic possibilities.

Remember,  it’s better to dive deep with synth programming on one synth than it is to only scratch the surface on many different synths and never know their full potential.

Every synth has a slightly different character sound-wise and some can do tricks not possible in others. So, the only way to ensure you get a proper lay of the land is to spend a good amount of time with each.

You'll soon get a feel for which of these synths work for your own music.



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