Every virtual instrument collection deserves a good wavetable synthesizer. This type of sample-based synthesis uses pre-recorded sounds as oscillator sources. What makes it unique from a regular sampler is how much you can manipulate those samples, even so far as to create drones and pads. You can also play natural-sounding notes with a wavetable synthesizer, so they’re quite versatile. Today we’ll be looking at Vital VST vs Serum: Two of the most popular (and affordable) virtual wavetables synths around.
Has Vital Synth Replaced Xfer Serum As the Best Wavetable Synth?
Serum has a long-standing reputation as a truly great virtual synth. I’d argue that that doesn’t change in light of Vital’s existence, as both offer a slightly different take on wavetable synthesis, with certain features unique to each.
We’ll compare and contrast the fundamentals below, and while we naturally want to weed out which instrument is the “best,” it’s important to keep in mind the subjectivity of music and music production. To elaborate, both Vital VST vs Serum are incredible instruments. Some producers may prefer one over the other, but it ultimately comes down to which is the most inspiring to you.
- Serum: $189 for the complete instrument
- Vital: Basic — free; Plus — $25; Pro — $80; Subscription — $5/month
Vital bests Serum in the cost department. The most complete version of Vital comes in at a significant $109 cheaper than Serum. It’s great that Vital Audio also offers a free version for anyone wanting to play with wavetable synthesis without plunking down the money, and the Plus version provides enough inspiration for most users with minimal investment.
Finally, there’s the monthly subscription featuring exclusive perks such as subscriber-only sound packs. It shows that Vital is a “living” instrument that will continue to expand as time goes on.
- Serum: 450+ with a huge market of third-party presets available; 144 wavetables
- Vital: 75 presets and 25 wavetables with Basic; 250 presets and 75 wavetables with Plus; 400+ presets and 150 wavetables with Pro
Both Vital VST vs Serum contain come with a ton of presets, and both have their own storefronts for additional packs. Neither leaves much to be desired, though Serum, as a more established instrument, has more in the way of third-party presets than Vital currently does.
- Serum: 2 oscillators, 1 sampler
- Vital: 3 oscillators, 1 sampler
Now, Vital’s additional oscillator means a bit more ability to shape and morph some pretty wild sounds. Still, Serum gives you more than enough to play with. Perhaps more important is the actual sound quality of these oscillators.
Serum’s oscillators resample with ridiculous precision and an inaudible noise floor. The result is one of the cleanest, highest quality sounds you can get out of a modern virtual instrument with no aliasing/artifacts. Vital’s quality is comparable, utilizing a similarly low noise floor and a cutoff at the Nyquist frequency for minimal aliasing.
Vital vs Serum CPU
Both contain optimizations to be as light on CPU as possible. Still, everyone’s mileage may vary depending on how powerful your computer is. Many users of both synths have reported unusually high CPU usage, while others have had no trouble whatsoever. As with any high quality synthesizer, you may run into problems with multiple instances open and running.
Our Pick: Vital
Serum has been an industry-standard for years, and it most certainly still holds up as an amazing instrument. Moving forward, we like the more contemporary Vital VST for its flexible purchasing model, additional oscillator, huge variety of presets, and its growing community.