We’ve taken a look at sound synth basics in the past, like how granular synthesis differs from wavetable, and how each factors into the creation of sounds we use everyday. But when we’re in the studio making music, we’re not stopping to think about the science of synthesis. We want to hear something that sounds amazing and inspires us to make incredible music!
To that end, no studio is complete without at least a few of the top virtual synthesizers available today.
Omnisphere 2.6 – Spectrasonics
Omnisphere is one of the most complete software synths ever. Its massive library (14,806 sound) is enough to sift through for years, with sounds for any application imaginable.
Beyond that, a very unique feature setting it apart from other software synths is its hardware integration. Spectrasonics elaborates:
“Omnisphere is the only software synth in the world to offer a Hardware Synth Integration feature. This remarkable innovation transforms over 65 well-known hardware synthesizers into extensive hands-on controllers that unlock Omnisphere’s newly expanded synthesis capabilities.
“Simply put, this ground-breaking feature makes using Omnisphere feel just like using a hardware synth! By bridging the physical experience gap between software and hardware, users gain intuitive control of Omnisphere by using the familiar layout of their supported hardware synth. Virtual instrument users can now experience the joy of the hardware synth workflow and hardware synth users can fully expand their capabilities into the vast sonic world of Omnisphere!”
As far as synth basics go, Omnisphere is an absolute staple for music producers in any genre.
Serum – Xfer
Serum is a super high quality wavetable synth, used by countless producers and electronic artists. One of its key features is the ability to import your own audio to create custom wavetables and custom sounds. From Xfer:
“The dream synthesizer did not seem to exist: a wavetable synthesizer with a truly high-quality sound, visual and creative workflow-oriented interface to make creating and altering sounds fun instead of tedious, and the ability to ‘go deep’ when desired – to create/import/edit/morph wavetables, and manipulate these on playback in real-time.”
Serum also has some of the cleanest oscillators out of any wavetable synthesizer. The digital resampling occurring in wavetable synthesis means artifacts are created all the time. Serum has a built-in way of suppressing these artifacts for the some of the best-sounding wavetable synthesis out there.
MASSIVE – Native Instruments
Native Instrument’s MASSIVE has been a favorite for bass and leads for years, earning a well deserved place as one of the top virtual synthesizers you can get.
MASSIVE contains over 1300 sounds, all made by incredible artists and sound designers. Its efficient search and intuitive filter functions let you find presets according to specific characteristics and attributes – a particularly musical and intuitive approach.
It boasts a pretty straightforward subtractive synthesis interface, with three oscillators which control pitch, intensity, wavetable position, and amp. MASSIVE is best known for not only its flexibility, but also its accessibility. We want to spend more time making music, and less time fiddling around with knobs, right?
New for 2019, MASSIVE X is the successor to the iconic synthesizer that helped spawn entire genres. Get everything you need to create any sound imaginable. Quickly patch complex routings to bring your ideas to life – no matter how far-out they might seem – and take things further than you thought you could with expressive, playable modulation. Think it up, dial it in, and define what the future sounds like.
MASSIVE X will grow, adapt, and evolve with regular free updates – both inspired by, and to inspire, the cultures it helps to create.
Codex – Waves
Plugin giants Waves also produce their own wavetable synthesizer called Codex. As is the case with most of the Waves library, it’s one of the most affordable software wavetable synthesizers available. Codex features custom-designed oscillators and a dynamic visual display of the waveforms in use to create complex sounds intuitively. Read more:
“The Codex synth comes with hundreds of original sound presets, but also lets you import your own audio files, turn them into wavetables and manipulate them as you like. Thanks to its advanced formant control technology, Codex maintains consistent resonance character that is true to the original signal and gives you direct control over the acoustic resonance of the sound. Codex also innovatively uses a high-resolution FFT-based automatic interpolation technology that results in extraordinarily smooth morphing as you sweep through wavetables.”
Arturia has one of the most complete collections of analogue-modeled virtual instruments available. If we’re talking synth basics, you have to cover your bases with some classic synthesizers and keyboards!
The synth collection includes a CS-80, DX7, Prophet 5, Jupiter 8, CZ V, and Synthi V. Arturia’s iconic keyboard emulations include the Wurlitzer, Rhodes (called Stage-73), and B3 organ, amongst others!