The 12 Best Soft Synths That Money Can Buy – Part One

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Here’s the first 6 of our very own rundown of the best 12 soft synths available to buy right now…

1: Lennar Digital Sylenth


Price €139 plus tax
Developer Lennar Digital
Contact via website

Sylenth1 has been around for longer than pretty much every other synth in our Top 12 and has become a legendary synth in the world of plug-ins. Its developer is fairly quiet and updates are rare, with the 64-bit version only arriving last September, but it was well worth the wait.

Sylenth1 might be old, but this four-oscillator, two-filter analogue-style synth has launched more dance tracks than most and has a sound that can be the backbone to any track in many styles. Thanks to easy-to-use effects, massive polyphony and an easy ability to tweak and refine the onboard sounds – of which there are over 1,300 – this synth was, as they say, designed to perform. And it certainly still does just that…

2: KV331 Synth Master


Price $129 to $379
Contact +90 312 265 0558

SynthMaster – just updated to v2.8 – makes our dozen simply as it claims to be something for everyone and is one of the few synths around (next to Blue II) that actually delivers. At its heart is a synth engine (or engines) capable of a huge variety of synthesis types including additive, wavetable and vector and a huge number of modulation options.

But its real beauty lies in the fact that these are all very easy to utilise. Routing is graphical and straightforward; there are more than enough presets (we recommend going for the ‘Everything Bundle’ for around 3,000 sounds) and you can really use the synth on whatever level you feel comfortable with. “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.

3: U-He Diva

uhe diva

Price £109 (upgrade from Blue £35)
Contact Time+Space 01837 55200

It was a close call between Hive – another great U-He synth ideal for more cutting-edge electronic music productions – and Diva, a more analogue-based synth. But this synth gets it, especially as it has a vintage synth and modular philosophy – of course, so much in vogue at the moment.

You can mix and match analogue modules for some great combinations and choose from well over 1,200 presets. When we reviewed the software, we said: “Diva represents the current pinnacle of analogue-modelled sound. An essential synth.

4: Rob Papen Blue II

Price £109 (upgrade from Blue £35)
Contact Time+Space 01837 55200

If there was an award for throwing synthesis engines, power and presets into one plug-in, Rob Papen could well walk away with it. Blue II is an update to Blue, released back in 2005 – but what an update. It’s still a ‘Cross Fusion’ synth, but boasts subtractive, FM, phase distortion and wave-shaping synthesis; six oscillators; a couple of filters with 27 different filter types; a huge set of effects processors (each offering 35 FX types); and over 2,000 presets. So, quite a bit then…

We said: “the synth moves from the late-80s through the 90s, noughties and very much more up-to-date, with some absolutely huge presets that would easily carry a tune from any era. Blue II is any synth you want it to be and a lot more.”

5: Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2


Price £285
Contact Spectrasonics

Spectrasonics certainly didn’t rush version 2 of this multi-award winning synth, and while the update very much keeps the best of what was good about the original, it also most definitely updates the concept. Featuring an extra 20GB download plus 400DSP waveforms and no less that 12,000 sounds to choose from, this could be the only synth you’ll ever need – you’ll certainly spend a large chunk of your life exploring just the sounds, let alone what you can do with them.

We said: “While some have got close to Spectrasonics’ greatness, there’s little doubt that Omnisphere 2 will set a new gold standard for the next few years. It oozes class and sophistication and is an essential purchase for all.”

6: NI FM8

Soft Synths FM8

Price £169
Contact NI, via website

It’s fair to say that we could have included many NI synths in this top 12, but our own rules state that it’s one synth per company, so FM8 just about snatches it from Massive. The reason? Well it’s another synth that, like Oddity 2, was originally based on a classic hardware synth (Yamaha’s DX7 in this case) but through the magic (aka no limits) of software, has taken on a life of its own. FM8 moves on from the original FM7 (but still includes its sounds) and well beyond the percussive, metallic and shimmering pad sounds that FM synthesis was famous for, to result in a synth that simply shines.

Programming FM is now relatively easy (well, compared to the original synth, what isn’t?) and sound selection is very simple. The resulting synth is big, evolving, and hugely atmospheric. FM8 is not Massive and is quite old, but it’s still a stunning synth and one we use more than most.

Part Two Coming Soon


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