Many in-the-box producers ponder over which software synthesizer is really the best one money can buy. There’s certainly been a lot to choose from this year, each with their own edge – so we’re asking you to help us decide.
Scroll to the bottom to cast your vote.
1Kilohearts Phase Plant
Phase Plant from Kilohearts offers wavetable, sampling, noise and virtual-analogue synthesis in one modular-like plug-in. Is it one synth to rule them all? It is unusual in that it is both incredibly detailed but also incredibly simple to use. It is the kind of drag-and-drop synthesis you may not have experienced – with enough possibilities, variations and permutations to satisfy many a hardened modular user. Phase Plant promises to be a ‘best of’, and ultimately delivers in the creative stakes. If it’s impressed you enough, you can vote for it at the bottom of this page.
Audiaire is a new company in the world of soft-synths, creating a synth with a Parameter Sequencer that has an unlimited number of lanes. This enables you to map out how your synth controls will react and play when notes are pressed. Zone’s main architecture means that there are plenty of parameters to add to the sequencer – it really is a fully-featured synth in its own right. You start with a couple of identical oscillators, each of which can load in wavetables from 150+ presets, many of which were taken from classic analogue synths. It can produce lovely pads and arpeggiations, boasts an incredibly dynamic sound and is very easy to use.
Pigments is a fantastic-looking synth, it sounds great and has an immense engine or two, but really, this synth is more about what you hear than what your see. Arturia has spent 20 years studying and recreating classic synths and has put all that knowledge into Pigments. The VA engine has three oscillators with their waveforms shown. Modulate them, change their shape, speed… but whatever you do, watch them move. We found this a brilliant synth to use with loads of features to sink your teeth into.
Brainworx bx_oberhausen is an exceptional emulation of a classic synth, with two oscillators offering 32 voices of polyphony. Its Tolerance Modeling Technology introduces random analogue character that puts it up there with some of the best soft-synths, and with fantastic modulation options to spark interesting ideas. Brainworx bx_oberhausen comes with a great selection of flexible effects, bringing 21st-century luxuries to classic Oberheim sounds. If this was your favourite soft-synth of the year, vote for it!
Scenic was introduced with Reason 11 this year, available both as a plug-in instrument and included in the full version of Reason. Scenic is described as the perfect instrument to deliver “thrill-inducing electronic rhythms, mood-setting orchestral textures and morbid drones for blockbuster impact”. This soft-synth offers atmosphere by the bucket load, with hybrid sample playback and granular synthesis rolled into one. Scenic boasts five effect processors, over 100 multi-sampled instruments and effects and expressive performance controls.
6Native Instruments Massive X
If you’ve not heard of Native Instruments Massive over the last decade, you would have definitely heard it’s power in a piece of music somewhere along the line. This year NI dropped Massive X on us, the new edition of its acclaimed wavetable synth. The Massive X bonuses are the stupid numbers of modulation options, the insert effects that can be oscillators, the Reaktor-like Routing section, the noise generators, the sounds and the looks. Not to mention the 170 wavetables and 10 wavetable modes available for the two oscillators. If Massive X has won your vote, head to the bottom of the page – after checking out the competition of course.
We all need bass sounds, and where Monoment scores very high is with its simplicity of use and ability to morph from contemporary to vintage sounds with the minimum of effort. It’s equipped with a diverse range of timbres, which are simplistic to work with while offering pretty immediate and good results. It sports a classic synth architecture, making it easy and familiar to use, and offers a comprehensive effects section and artist-made presets. All in all, it’s a fantastic synth for big bass and is fully equipped for both modern and vintage sounds. What did you think?
8UVI FM Suite
Frequency Modulation synthesis is having something of a renaissance since its inception 40 years ago, and UVI FM Suite only builds on that movement. The soft-synth dusts off some of those FM classics and packages them into an extensive new instrument set, drawn from both popular and ultra-rare models from the original FM era. FM Suite offers a vast FM-based library with many sonic surprises certainly achieved with its extensive collection of onboard effects such as reverb, delay, drive, chorus and phaser. This is not merely a DX7 in software form; it goes way beyond that and is a highly usable package for contemporary production. Will it win your vote?
9Rob Papen Vecto
This is a really exciting and very powerful plug-in synth, which offers a pretty bewildering amount of sonic possibilities, while being intuitive to use. We scored Rob Papen’s Vecto a 9/10 for it’s elegant, simple to use design with possibilities to get complicated sounds with minimal hassle. Vecto boasts four oscillators, with a wealth of waveforms, 28 filter types, an onboard 16-step sequencer, arpeggiator and effects. A big X-Y control in the centre of the interface provides easy control over sounds. Could Vecto’s vector synthesis engine be your victor?
Cast your vote here:
Check out all the Gear Of The Year 2019 categories here.