Fantastic Freeware 2018: The 7 Best Freeware Synths

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It’s been over a year since we last did freeware, so we’re kicking off our freeware 2018 roundup with our favourite 7 synths available to download today. (Click the titles to download)

TOGU Audio Line Noise MakerWavetable Synth

Best Freeware Synths

TAL makes some great freeware and Noisemaker (actually NoiseM4k3r) is an update to the rather great Elek7ro synth that we have often included in our synth roundups. It’s a three oscillator wavetable synth with up to six voices and a stack of great effects – reverb, delay and bitcrusher – that lift its sounds well above most. And you get a whopping 256 of those to explore, too.

Platform: Mac, PC

Nusofting Sinnah ComplexWaveshape Synth

Best Freeware Synths - Sinnah

Sinnah has just been upgraded to v1.1. The instrument includes 50 free presets and is a complex wavetable synth capable of producing many and varied sounds compared to your bog standard virtual analogue (of which it is one). You might have to work with it to get the best from it but the potential is certainly there including a fantastic Delay Matrix.

Platform: Mac, PC

U-He Triple Cheese – Comb-filter Synth

Best Freeware Synths - Cheese

We love U-He software and this is one of the company’s classic synths. It came out a decade ago but runs like a dream on modern DAWs as U-He has kept it well up to date, the last big revision being in 2015. It uses various forms of comb filter as its synthesis source which means it sounds a bit different from most of what you’ll find out there in freeware land with lots of percussive and delay-type presets.   

Platform: Mac, PC

Green Oak Crystal – Semi-modular Synth

Best Freeware Synths - Green Oak

We’ve always included Crystal in our Best Of freeware lists and probably always will. Originally released in 2002, its developer has kept it up to date, so it runs in more modern DAW setups. It looks a little dated now, but still sounds pretty fresh and vibrant, even next to a lot of our paid-for plug-ins. There are rumours that post-nuclear war, only rats will survive. If that’s true, they’ll be using Crystal.

Platform: Mac, PC

Matt Tytel Helm – Original Synth

Best Freeware Synths - Matt Tytel

A lot of these synths have been around for a while to almost attain classic freeware status but Helm is a newer kid on the block, certainly in terms of its looks anyway. Its GUI is quite superb with lots of click and drag graphics to really change the on-board sounds although you might not want to as what you get is a bunch of presets that are certainly among the most interesting you’ll find.

Platform: Mac, PC

Synth1 –  Virtual Nord Lead

Best Freeware Synths - Nord Lead

Synth1 is another freeware synth classic that we have to include every year, or people will march on the MT offices with virtual pitchforks. It’s apparently modelled on a Nord Lead 2 (sonically, not visually).

We managed to get it working in the latest Logic pretty much straight away, although issues are creeping in, like odd mouse movements. Worth persevering with for the sound, but possibly its last inclusion (sound of protest march starts – oh dear).

Platform: Mac, PC

Digital Suburban Dexed –  DX-type FM synth

Freeware Synths - Dexed

The Yamaha DX7 was one of the most popular synths of the 80s. Trouble is,
it was a pig to program, and the restrictions of hardware made it even harder. Dexed tries to make the process easier within software and succeeds, bringing real-time control to many parameters. There are 32 typical FM presets – chimes, fast-attack sounds and keys – making this a distinctive synth in a sea of virtual- analogue wannabes. 

Platform: Mac, PC


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