Today, we’re going to talk about the best free synthesizer VST’s on the market today. These 5 options prove that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a great soft synth. In fact, you don’t have to spend a penny!
If you’re going to build a top-notch home studio, then you’re going to need the best synths available.
The problem is, when you spend money on a computer, your DAW, some great monitors, microphones, and studio plugins, there isn’t exactly a lot of money leftover to buy synthesizers, even if they are soft synths. Studio equipment isn’t cheap, so it helps to be able to get what you can for free.
Keep reading and take your music to the next level with the five best free synths available.
#1) Vital by Vital Audio
We couldn’t do a post about the top free synthesizer VST’s without including our friends at Vital. Their flagship synth is the Vital spectral warping wavetable synth, which can bend and warp sounds in ways hardly imaginable. It does this by acting on the sound’s harmonics, giving you wild shapes and timbres.
Often compared to Serum, this free synth offers more functionality in a similarly easy-to-use visual layout. Vital allows you to modulate almost everything with custom LFO shapes and envelopes, plus velocity, aftertouch, and MPE control modulation. With lots of in-depth and user-friendly controls, Vital puts the visual first, allowing you to see what’s going on.
Vital Audio offers the basic package of their wavetable synth for free. This gets you Vital – with no usage restrictions – as well as 75 presets and 25 wavetables. And if you’re looking for more Vital presets, check out our growing collection of free Vital preset packs.
#2) MiniSpillage by AudioSpillage
The second synth on our list is MiniSpillage from AudioSpillage, a pro-quality free drum synth that hangs its hat on high-res 64-bit DSP processing. It’s got 3 fully editable drum synth algorithms (BassDrum, WoodDrum, and ElectroHiHat), distortion effects, and resonant filters, allowing you to quickly and easily customize your drum sounds.
For being a free drum soft synth, the reviews of the MiniSpillage are all remarkably positive, with Beat Magazine praising its “enormous flexibility” and Computer Music Magazine calling it “a true wonder”.
#3) Dexed By Digital Suburban
One of the best and most successful examples of FM synthesis in the 80s was the Yamaha DX7, which remains a hugely popular synth even today. You’ll know it from 80s pop hits from A-ha, Phil Collins, Whitney Houston, and others, but it became an integral part of Brian Eno’s albums during the period as well.
It’s difficult to learn FM synthesis – Eno went in deep with the DX7 when he made the Apollo albums, then later used it on U2 and Coldplay albums as a producer – but the Digital Suburban Dexed makes it all seem easy. All of the classic sounds and functionality is there, but their program is far easier to understand and utilize than the original hardware.
You’ll get brassy pads, aggressive basses, and lots of fun percussion noises with this one. There’s something really modern about the Dexed, so you won’t have to worry about it taking you all the way back to the 80s – unless you want it to.
#4) Tyrell N6 by u-He
u-He has become a popular name among soft synth fans. Their free synth, the Tyrell N6, is described as a classic racer with a u-He engine. So, what does that mean?
Basically, the genesis of the Tyrell N6 comes from a reader survey on Amazona.de asking what people would include in a low-cost analog synth. It ended up being somewhat similar to the Juno 60 with a few novel features added.
You can see the full list of features on the u-He website, but in short, you get 2 oscillators, 2 LFOs, a twin filter (related to the u-He Diva), unison up to 8 voices, a 3-effect chorus, a modulation matrix, and analog ADSR envelopes. It’s a no-frills soft synth that can quickly become a workhorse in your studio workflow.
#5) Surge by Vember Audio
For something a bit more customizable and powerful, our last entry on this list is the Vember Audio Surge. As an open-source VST, you can really dig in and do whatever you want by messing around with the code, allowing you to cover a lot of sound design possibilities in one synth.
Out of the box, you’ll have over 2500 patches and over 600 wavetables available to you. It offers numerous synthesis techniques and gives you a huge selection of filters, modulation, effects, and other fun features like microtuning and MPE. When it comes to Surge, there’s actually far too much going on to discuss in one post, so do yourself a favor and investigate for yourself on their site.
Conclusion: You Don't Have to Choose Between Free Synthesizer VST's
What’s so great about free synthesizer VST’s is that you don’t have to save up to buy one or choose one over the other because of money. These are 5 of the best soft synths on the market and, in our opinion, they stack up favorably against most paid synth VST’s that cost hundreds of dollars.
It’s an exciting time to be a bedroom producer because all of these incredible tools are available to you and at such little cost. Now all you have to do is download them and start pumping out the tunes!
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