6 of the Best: Soft Synths (2016)

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Welcome to the MusicTech Buyer’s Guide where we round up some of the best products recently reviewed in our magazine and online. After last month’s round up of hardware synths, it’s time for our favourite soft synths – including multi-touch, dance-based, classic and a whole lot more besides…

Best Analogue Classic – GForce Oddity 2

We predicted that GForce’s Oddity would make numerous appearances in our Six Of The Best and we were correct – here it is again! The Oddity – a virtual recreation of the original hardware ARP Odyssey synth – has been around for so long and made so many famous friends that it has become a classic piece of software in its own right.

Electronic music legend John Foxx said of it: “The Oddity is beautifully realised. All the power, character, precision, intricacy, grunge and sonic extremes of the original.”

Reviewer Andy Jones said: “Oddity 2 is a triumph. It comes packed with many features over the original – we love the extra mod options and using it as an effect. But the best is Polyphonic mode, a feature that takes Oddity to new heights.” He concluded: “If ARP had carried on as a company, this is the synth it would have made now.”

Price £139.99
Developer GForce
Contact Via website
Web www.gforcesoftware.com

Best Master – KV331 Synth Master

SynthMaster claims to be all synths to all people, but wrestling with it does not (necessarily) send you running for the hills. The ‘Everything Bundle’ has around 3,000 sounds and a very easy routing system to get your head around. Andy Jones said: “I love the options to use SynthMaster on a more basic level.

Sonically, it should be all you need, but I could say that about many soft synths – Blue II, Omnisphere and so on do what you want and a lot more, if you get to know them. And it’s testament to KV331 that I’m putting SynthMaster on the same level as those. It really does an incredible amount in a no-nonsense, almost calm way. So sit back, don’t panic and enjoy the ride. It does what it says. It truly is a master of synths. Simple as…”

Price $129 to $379
Contact +90 312 265 0558
Web www.synthmaster.com

Best For Everyone – U-He Hive

U-He’s Hive was designed to run light on any system and run smooth, so that anyone can use it. You get everything in one window and while that window may seem initially confusing, it’s actually not that hard to get your head around.

We said in our review: “Hive covers a great deal of sonic territory and should find a home in almost any setup as a great ‘go-to’ synth for cutting-edge production,” and then concluded: “A very solid and adaptable synth for a range of electronic and other styles of production. Great workflow and tons of presets.”

Price $149
Contact U-He via website
Web www.u-he.com

Best Big, Big Sound – Omnisphere 2

Spectrasonics spent a good seven years updating Omnisphere and while the update is a complete overhaul, it pleasingly keeps all that was good about the original.

“Look under the bonnet, though,” said reviewer Mark Cousins, “and you’ll soon see how far-reaching the improvements are in Omnisphere 2, with a list of new features almost as long as a fully fledged DAW upgrade.”

New features include the ability to import audio, more sounds (included in a new 20GB download) and masses of new flexibility. “It’s hard to imagine any software instrument delivering the same breadth and sheer sonic excellence as Omnisphere 2 does. An essential purchase for all.”

Price £285
Contact Spectrasonics
Web www.spectrasonics.net

Best Multi-Dimensional – ROLI Equator

Strictly speaking, you’ll need a ROLI Seaboard RISE ‘keyboard’ to get the best out of Equator. That is the futuristic controller with the latex multi-touch keyboard that allows you to play and record dimensions you simply can’t get to with a regular keyboard. However, Equator is a great synth in its own right. It looks pretty bland, but can sound incredible.

Reviewer Andy Jones said of the software: “Equator obviously sits excellently with RISE, but also works quite well standalone. It has enough sonically to make what you do with it incredibly creative.” There’s also a free version of Equator, called NOISE, available for iOS, which utilises the iPhone 6’s 3D-touch features.

Price Free with a RISE or app
Contact ROLI 0207 254 2155
Web www.roli.com

Best Dance – Carbon Electra

Never judge a synth by its specs. Carbon Electra could be ‘just another subtractive synth’, but behind its featureset and rather blusterous name lies a great synth, with lots of movement and a sound that really cuts through your mix. Reviewer Andy Jones said: “It turns out that this is one synth that is not as easy to lazily pigeon-hole as I’d originally anticipated.

It’s easy, fun and packed full of potential. “The synth sounds great, and is very easy to get more from. It also has a sound that will not only act as the backbone to many a dance track, but one that could bring a lot to a variety of genres.”

Price $99/£59
Contact Plug-in Boutique
Web www.pluginboutique.com




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