The 10 Best Freeware Synths for Summer

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We’ve searched long and hard for some all new freeware synths for Summer 2018 and found some absolute blinders along with one or two old favourites…

Acoustica Nightlife


synths for summer

Platform PC
Download

We’ve always been impressed with Acoustica’s Mixcraft DAW so when we discovered they’d produced a synth and it was free, we were all over this download. It’s a synth that has been designed with dance music in mind, specifically dubstep and EDM. You can create huge sounds with three oscillators, dozens of waveforms and 15 filter types including a 303 and beat-synced vowel filter. There are lots of modulation options and three LFOs will give you all of the bass swelling you need, plus plenty of effects including a multi-effect generator and Decimator for bit reduction. Very nice!

Angular Momentum Freehand
 Wavetable synth


synths for summer

Platform PC
Download

We’ll admit to having included Freehand in a ‘best of’ a few years back but it still stands out as one of the best free synths out there thanks to its wavetable synthesis that enables you to draw waveforms to use as your source components. There are three Wavetable Oscillators with 135 preset waveforms over ten categories and a great range of sounds within the 100 presets. Frequency modulation options give Freehand a very distinctive sound which – unlike the bulk of soft synths – is not virtual analogue, so it has to be applauded for doing something a little different from the norm.

B.Serrano Anubis 2


synths for summer

Platform PC
Download

A fairly simple virtual analogue on the face of it but there are some decent features within this synth and it received a major overhaul in 2015 giving it a more contemporary edge. It features a multimode filter, two LFOs and detailed envelope and modulation sections so you can get into some heavy programming if you wish. And if you don’t, there are a good range of presets thrown in too, covering everything from analogue basics to more dynamic sounds with lots of movement, helped by some good on-board effects.

Disco DSP OB-Xd


synths for summer

Platform Mac/PC
Download

The original Oberheim OB-X was used by just about every synth star back in the day, from Jarre to OMD, Foxx to the Mode, Tangerine Dream to Japan. This replicates its classic analogue sound complete with characterful filter and LFO sections. The joys of software mean there are one or two additions ironing over some of the original’s limitations but the developers haven’t heaped too many new features in – concentrating more on authenticity – so recommend you use it within your DAW to make use of external effects and automation.

Fathom Mono


synths for summer

Platform Mac/PC
Download

The full Fathom synth features a rather lovely modular system where you drag and drop synth modules and effects and join them up with virtual wires. While Fathom Mono is designed as a plug for the full version, it’s actually a decent mono in its own right and still features the same modular approach only lacking some of the filters and export options of its not that expensive ($45 on sale at time of writing) older brother. It’s also the top rated freebie at Plug-in Boutique which can’t be bad…

The HG Fortune collection


synths for summer

Platform PC
Download

Actually this is 34 freebies in one collection thanks to Günther Hager, a great freeware developer who sadly passed away in 2014. They are at the internet archive address below, stored for posterity and for anyone to try and, as the comments reveal, there’s a lot of good stuff to be had, although be aware that some may not run on newer systems. If you can find it, we recommend Alien Space Weaver, one of our favourite plug-ins that combines two of our favourite topics, synths and sci-fi.

MaxSynths Crisalys

synths for summer

Platform PC
Download

MaxSynths created paid-for VSTs for the PC but made them all free around three years ago and you can still download them at various sites. This is a Pattern Sequencer synth with customisable waveforms and plenty of synth power from two multimode filters, four LFOs, two envelopes and two step LFOs. There are an incredible 256 sounds which vary from classic analogue to sounds with evolving movement and pads a plenty. Sorry Mac fans, it’s another PC-only one.

Steinberg Plex 2


synths for summer

Platform PC
Download

One of the first soft synths ever produced, Plex was a Wolfgang Palm-designed beast for Steinberg back in 2002. (Wolfgang also designed the legendary PPG Wave synth.) In 2011 he tweaked the original and released it as freeware and it’s an unusual synth, to say the least. It’s uses ‘Restructuring Synthesis’ to analyse and change samples of which you get around 100, from acoustic to more complex waves. The results won’t be for everyone, but hey, it’s not a bloody virtual analogue and you can do something a little different with it so it’s well worth a free download.

Synister


synths for summer

Platform Mac/PC
Download

A group of nine students created this freebie back in 2016 and describe it as ‘the simple synth’ and it can look that way thanks to a toggle/tab GUI that lets you hide certain functions, but there is a surprising amount going on otherwise. You get three oscillators and LFOs, a couple of filters, envelopes and effects but the sound, while analogue, has quite a distinct tone and is also very capable of going from harsh and metallic to warm and vibey. It’s very easy to get your head around and certainly looks distinctive.

Tyrell Nexus 6


synths for summer

Platform Mac/PC
Download

We’ve included this because of the title – of course – but it’s actually a rather wonderful virtual analogue with a hint of the Junos created for Amazona and programmed by U-He’s very own Urs Heckmann. It features a classic structure of two oscillators, a noise generator and sub oscillator plus a ring modulator and a couple of LFOs for some sonic flexibility. We could say ‘wake up, time to buy.’ But don’t bother, download it for free using the link above…

Head here for more great freeware 


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About Author

Andy Jones

Andy Jones has an MA in Music Technology and has been writing about it for 25 years. He has launched and edited several magazines on the subject and was editor of MusicTech for the last four years. Naturally, he has far too many synthesisers...