The excitement around soft synths and their relationship to software development these days is palpable.
While entire worlds are being built out in the metaverse, audio plugin developers are in a race to outshine each other with incredible tools for modern day producers and sound designers. And while your DAW likely has at least one decent stock synth you should most definitely master, these incredible soft-synths provide endless inspiration, flexibility, and diverse sound palettes that can help take your productions to new heights.
Personally, I use each and every one of these (and more) — so I wanted to shout out a few that often get looked over, because these are acts of genius and more than worth their asking price. Note: the following are ranked in no particular order.
Newfangled Audio’s Generate
This is by far one of the growliest, most differentiated soft-synths I’ve ever used.
Developer Dan Gillespie and his Newfangled Audio projects are absolutely top-notch (check out Newfangled’s Elevate Mastering Bundle, it’s incredible, too). Distributed under the Eventide umbrella, Generate is a polysynth with eight “chaotic oscillators,” and it’s the chaos these oscillators deliver, combined with this synth’s underlying analog theory, that make it so special.
Double Pendulum, Vortex, Pulsar, Discharge, Turbine, Helix, Crescent, and Magma aren’t oscillator types you typically find anywhere on a synth, but once you load this plugin up, you’ll instantly realize that these aren’t simply hyperbolic titles, these are serious dirty-works of programming genius signaling that the audio world should definitely be seeing more of this going forward.
What a grand slam!
The synth boasts 5 Wavefolders based on the Buchla 259 Complex Waveform Generator, Fractals, a special Animated Equation, and Newfangled’s Saturate algorithm (Saturate is also a personal favorite saturation / clipper plugin). With Generate, you get up to 1440 modulation routings in a single pane and over 800 expertly programmed presets. Just try it.
Check out more here.
Falcon by UVI
soft synth Falcon by UVI
Falcon by UVI
UVI is widely known for its meticulously sampled instruments / synths and I am a huge fan of their sound quality — they are unparalleled and always sit really nicely in a mix.
Falcon is billed as an “advanced and truly unlimited hybrid instrument, bringing together an extensive collection of cutting-edge oscillators, effects, modulators and event processors and delivering them in a workflow-adaptive and highly-scriptable environment.”
It is exactly that. Falcon allows you to create and manipulate sound with unparalleled precision and finesse, from basic sample slicing and synth design to extravagantly modulated multitimbral hybrids.
Along with an incredible range of expansions, Inner Dimensions, LoFi Dreams, Titanium, and Pulsar can really get the ideas flowing in the electronic realms.
But the most amazing thing about Falcon beyond its already near infinite possibilities, is its ability to load UVI Soundware, especially one of my favorites Vintage Vault, UVI’s premier collection of authentic vintage synthesizer and drum machine sounds. Vintage Vault adds 36 UVI products, 800,000 samples and over 14,000 hand-crafted presets all created using the original hardware, 255 machines overall.
There’s an incredible range of rare vintage synths here, and combined with Falcon’s modern workflow, the UVI/Falcon ecosystem is an absolute sonic wonderland.
Dreamsynth by Cherry Audio
soft synth Dreamsynth by Cherry Audio
Cherry Audio’s Dreamsynth is a tribute to the celebrated hybrid analog/digital synthesizers of the mid-to-late 1980s without actually being a replica of just one — more a hybrid of the greatest parts of many.
Think stalwarts like Kurzweil, Roland, Korg, and their tremendous influence on modern music. Dreamsynth encapsulates the theories behind these innovative synths and ushers the work and signal flows into the 21st Century, all the while maintaining a vintage aesthetic.
This makes it truly unique, and incredibly inspiring to musicians and sound designers who appreciate the UX of a great classic, analog-synth (I do).
With flexible dual-wave morphing oscillators, stereo filters, fully polyphonic analog strings, extensive and easy-to-use modulation, studio-quality effects (including an out of this world new “Galactic” algorithm, I also love the distortion module), polyphonic aftertouch, and MPE support, Dreamsynth is both elegant to use and awesomely powerful.
Always knowing precisely how to place a cherry on top, Dreamsynth’s price is absolutely insane for what you get. IYKYK, Cherry Audio has long made its mission democratizing the plugin space with truly affordable software solutions that punch well-above their weight.
Currently at an intro price of $39, Dreamsynth is an absolute must have. My Cherry Audio folder keeps growing. This thing sounds gnarly and wonderful and sparkly and all the great things at once, with a whole world of surprisingly future-forward sounds available despite its analog looks.
Check out more here.
MSoundFactory by Melda Productions
soft synths supersaw
MSoundFactory by Melda Productions
Melda Productions plugins are the embodiment of the matrix itself.
Scroll to Continue
No other plugin developer produces software with so many layers of optimization, coloration, and control as Melda, in general. They are hands-down always some of the best sounding and feature rich on the market.
MSoundFactory is incredibly cool and unexpected, bridging the sound and programming styles of vintage emulations with an ever evolving forward looking GUI. Incredibly detailed, expressive, and so infinitely customizable, MSoundFactory should be a contender with Pigments, Vital, et. al., but I notice this synth just doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. I’ll call it absolutely understated, yet one of the most powerful sound design applications on the market today.
MSoundFactory is fully modular, so you can have any number of oscillators, filters, samplers, etc., that you want. It features per-voice and global modulation, full MPE support, and truly awesome sounding oscillators along with a fully modular effects engine. Melda’s constantly adding to this ecosystem, too.
While there’s not enough room in this article to articulate just how much this software can do, and will do, know that
1. You can demo it (and should)
2. Melda customers get all future versions for free, including future instruments.
Beyond its remarkably granular programming capabilities, one of the things I like most about Melda is their attention to detail in aliasing and oversampling, so you can confidently fine-tune the grittiest sounds with this synth, everything from grungy 808s, to organs, and vintage synths, to working with your own sampled audio.
Learn more about Melda here.
Phase Plant by Kilohearts
soft synths pigment
Phase Plant is an award-winning, semi-modular soft synth offering an incredibly unique combination of quality, functionality, and workflow.
When you first open Phase Plant it’s an empty patch, or “blank canvas” — your invitation to dive in and start tinkering with all the signal generators, effects, and modulators needed to make just about any sound imaginable.
While a little intimidating at first, there’s a vast range of presets to get started with — also great for studying how to patch Phase Plant to your exact specifications. The synth boasts a limitless combination of generators, modulators, and effects, and subsequently hosts Kilohearts’ user-friendly Snapin effects.
While sold separately, these effects are extremely useful and cpu friendly — part of my everyday plugin workflow. With Phase Plant, you get Kilohearts’ Snap Heap, 3-Band EQ, Chorus, Delay, Gain, Limiter, and Stereo free with the synth — additional effects “toolbox bundles” are available for purchase. Regardless, all factory and third-party presets will work right out of the gate, so no worries about missing out.
Phase Plant includes Analog, Wavetable, Sample, and Noise signal generators while the company is developing more for future, free updates. Meanwhile, you can add as many as you like and route them freely between each other.
There are also several utility modules to allow you even greater freedom in designing your sounds such as groups, mixing, and auxiliary options. For each generator group you can add an output module to send the sound to an effects lane, master, or sideband. You can also use a group purely as an audio rate modulation source for any other generator.
Phase Plant allows for frequency modulation between all types of signal generation — FM from A to Z! For waves of inspiration, additional presets, wavetables, samples, and LFO shapes for Phase Plant are available in a range of mind-blowing content banks like Microwave Proof, Bass Forge, New London, and more.
Some of the coolest sounds I’ve ever constructed I’ve made with Phase Plant, but a quick run-through of the presets will equally blow your mind.
Learn more here.
Noisy by Expressive E
Noisy is a hybrid between physical modeling and subtractive synthesis. The most noticeable characteristic of Noisy is how immediately expressive it is — living up to its developer’s namesake.
There’s really nothing quite like this synth, anywhere. This synth was conceptualized and programmed around the acoustic resonance principle of string vibration — everything in this synth is built to explore this concept and it’s absolutely wonderful sounding, bringing to life both electronic and acoustic sounds.
Right out of the gate, the interface is intuitive and imminently playable, while the visualizations show just how easily layers of subtle modulation create complex, multidimensional sounds. Noisy’s textures and articulations are also easily combined and manipulated, making this a one of a kind soft synth that coaxes electronic sounds to sound acoustic and acoustic sounds to sound electronic.
Its dynamically colored graphical system makes the entire programming process very easy to understand. Everything in Noisy is laid out simply and is easily adjusted with just a few clicks.
You simply have to try it yourself to hear the magic!
While it’s not necessary to get incredible sounds from this synth, tactile musicians who want to take Noisy’s four sound design dimensions to the next level can incorporate Expressive E’s Touché hardware controller — it’s an absolute gem addition to this synth. The Touché pad responds to both the softest and lightest of touches, plus the most intense and powerful of gestures.
Slides and presses take sounds from dark growls to soaring, angelic heights, opening up a whole new universe of sounds and playing articulations with Noisy…and Expressive E’s entire range of soft synths!
Learn more here.