6 Of The Best: Soft Synths (2018)

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We round up some of the best products recently reviewed in the magazine. This month, we’ve chosen half-a-dozen of the most varied products we can for the ever-changing world of the software synthesiser…

(Click the product title for our full review)

Best For Film: Spitfire Audio – BT Phobos


soft synths

Price £269
Contact Spitfire Audio

Spitfire loves producing instruments and libraries for film scoring, and while BT Phobos is not one of the company’s traditional orchestral tools – it being the first synth
the company has produced – Phobos is a sample-based synth with a 23GB library.

It has sources, modifiers and modulation aplenty, but this is no ordinary instrument, by any means. At its heart is what Spitfire calls Polyconvolution Synthesis – and like many other Spitfire Audio products, it’s aimed at soundtrack composers. So, orchestral scores no, out-there scores, yes…

We said: “It will appeal to a lot more than ‘just’ composers of sci-fi-orientated music. I’ve included it on a lot of old ideas and it has lifted each and every one of them on
to new levels. The big atmospheres definitely have a place in space, but the little nuances and experimental aspects mean it can be applied everywhere and anywhere. It is simply excellent.”

Best For Depth: Rob Papen Predator 2




Price £124
Contact Time+Space 01837 55200

If ever there was a Bob Moog-type figure in the soft-synth world, it would arguably be Rob Papen. He produced the mighty Blue synth and this is his latest update to Predator, a deep synth that will likely need you to invest some time in it. The new version offers three oscillators that can be stacked to provide six waves per voice, an expanded filter section, real-time XY Pad movement with capture and playback, a versatile modulation matrix and a powerful range of built-in effects.

We said: “There’s no doubting that the level of programmability in Predator 2 is vast, and that it’s a powerful soft synthon a number of levels. The flexibility must be applauded, and certainly for mere bang-for-buck, there’s plenty on offer for everyone here. The vast selection of waveforms and filter types is bewildering and comprehensive, and it could fit a number of musical genres with ease. For many, this will be a great synth to work with.”

Best Collection: IK Syntronik




Price €60 to €360
Contact IK Multimedia

An entire collection of soft synths for you here, although you can buy them individually. They are loosely based on classic analogue and digital synths, with 17 instruments covering 38 synths. There are 2,000 presets, a great filter so you can navigate to the type of sound you like and you can layer four virtual machines together. If you want classic Roland, Moog, Yamaha and many more sounds from the 70s, 80s and 90s, there’s no better collection to start with. It’s now also available for the iPad which is pretty astonishing, although you’ll need a later 64-bit model to run it on. Check the site for offer pricing, too.

We said: “A lot of synth for your money. It has everything you need for electronic music making, but the addition of the extra features, plus some digital classics, takes its sound well beyond vintage. A great collection at a good price.

Best Sound Design: Korg – Gadget For Mac & iOS




Price €38.99 iOS/ $299 Mac
Contact Korg

Gadget has been our favourite iOS synth collection – actually more DAW, really – on the iPad for a while now, a complete collection of synths and drum machines with which you can easily produce complete tunes. Now it’s crossed over to the Mac – for a price – so you can use those instruments as plug-ins in your desktop DAW.

Sounds like a great idea, according to reviewer Martin Delaney: “Gadget for Mac feels like the missing piece of the puzzle. It’s possible to create fully functional tunes with Gadget alone, but then you’d miss the benefits of using third-party plug-ins. If you’re using the iOS version, and especially if you’re an Ableton Live user, Gadget for Mac is an essential buy!

We said: “The price might be higher than some were expecting, but it’s worth it. It really is a huge amount of fun.”

Best Crossover: UVI – Falcon




Price €349
Contact UVI

There are those synths that want to emulate older classics – and if you want that, then the previously covered Syntronik from IK Multimedia will cover all your needs – and there are those that want to do something new. And if you want the latter, Falcon could be what you are looking for.

Reviewer Dave Gale said: “The vastness of the functionality that’s on offer with UVI’s Falcon should by no means be underplayed. It’s an exceptionally powerful instrument, and while it has much to offer in terms of traditional synthesis, it was ultimately the sample-based resynthesis which I found the most interesting and exciting area to explore.

We said: “If sound design or creating unique timbres appeals to you, then this is a package that should be high on your list to test-drive. Falcon is a sonic powerhouse.”

Best Modular: Sotfube – Modular




Price £69
Contact Softube

The modular-synth phenomenon is, of course, where it’s at in synthesis at the moment – so it was only a matter of time before someone recreated the concept in software. In a way, the very notion of trying to transfer the resolutely hardware-orientated world of modular into the digital realm goes against the whole philosophy of hands-on knob twiddling, but Softube has done a great job of transferring some of that wire-plugging fun into the box.

We said: “I really enjoyed my time with the Modular. The overarching fact is, it sounds huge will excite many and certainly to my ears, there’s some very realistic modelling of third-party modules.”

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