Here’s the essential list of the 12 best synth VST plugins, instruments and synths available updated for 2021:
- uhe Diva
- Xfer Serum
- Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.6
- Kilohearts Phase Plant
- TAL Bassline 101
- TAL -U-NO-LX
- Arturia Pigments 2
- Arturia V Collection
- Arturia Jup-8v
- Softube Modular
- Native Instruments Massive X
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive list of different VST plugins, then check our best VST plugins list.
Below is our list of the 12 best synth VST plugins in 2021.
1. uhe Diva – The Best Sounding Synth Available
U HE Diva just had to make top of this list because, it is hands down the best sounding virtual analogue synth available.
(If you want a bit more of an in-depth overview check our uhe Diva review)
Listen to this…
U HE Diva has been designed to capture a whopping 5 decades of analog hardware technology, and bring that to you in digital format, for a fraction of the price you’d spend on hardware units.
It impersonates classic hardware like:
- Roland Juno 60
- Roland Jupiter 6 & 8
- Oberheim OB8
- Roland JP-8000
And the best part? Diva has a somewhat modular capability. So, imagine taking the knobs & sounds from the Mini Moog & the filters from Korg MS-20. This is what Diva let’s you do – you can mix and match between classic hardware synths to create a ground-breaking hybrid mix.
U HE Diva offers 5 oscillator models based on classic hardware synths, 5 filter models with a range of filter types, 2 host-sync LFOs with multiple waveforms to control & 2 stereo effects slots including:
- Rotary Speakers
One of the coolest parts about the U HE Diva is the technology it uses. Diva uses PSpice to model old analog circuitry down to a component level. Not only does that make it sound incredible, but also gives you zero-delay feedback on filter response – making resonances sound crisp and clear.
This does make Diva very CPU heavy, but there’s also a multicore option inside which (when turned on) will use more than 1 of your processor’s cores to deal with the heavy load. Using this helps tackle the CPU hit slightly, but for the sound you get out of this thing you’re going to need to save some CPU space.
It comes shipped with over 1200 presets, that are honestly the best presets we have ever heard inside a softsynth & are extremely different to the usual stale, trap/dubstep presets that are shipped with other VSTs.
You’ll never be short of ideas with Diva and it’s one of the cheapest plugins on this list! The value for money on this thing is f*cking insane & it beats any other synth on sound quality.
Sacrifice your CPU to the Diva gods & get this divine beast.
2. Xfer Serum – The Best Value for Money Synth Plugin
Seurm is an advanced, wavetable synth that has an incredible range of wavetables to choose from (150 to be exact), & has one of the most phenomenal sound engines ever seen in a virtual instrument for its price!
The ultra clean sound of their oscillators has a lot of tech behind it and requires some complicated number crunching, which helps to remove unwanted artefacts that most other virtual instruments have when playing back.
The engine has also been designed to be low on CPU power, so Serum is an absolute powerhouse that doesn’t slow your production process down!
It runs on 4 separate oscillators that are as follows:
- Two oscillators (wavetable).
- A flexible noise generator.
- And a dirty sub-oscillator.
Serum also comes with over 400 expertly crafted patches and sounds you can use to make your music truly unique.
And the sound design possibilities that come with Serum are virtually endless. Including a modulation matrix with 4 macro controls, 3 envelopes and 4 LFO modules, your sounds will always have movement.
Alongside that, you also get access to over 75 different filter types and 10 unique effect rack units.
It’s one of our go to synth plugins when making music because of its simplicity, vast creative possibilities, speed & price.
Which brings us on to just how cheap this powerhouse is. Serum offers rent to own payment plans through Splice (with 0% interest). Which means that every month you pay, you pay towards owning the vst synth completely. The plans offer incredible flexibility & let you freeze payments when you can’t afford a month, letting you pick up where you left off when you do get some money through again.
It’s impossible to cover everything that Serum has to offer in this short overview, but if you want to learn more about its capabilities be sure to check out our xfer serum vst review.
3. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 – The most powerful VST Synth
Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2 is named the power synth, and for good reason…
It is the king of software synthesizers and is by far the best vst synth on the market for music production.
Omnisphere 2 offers over 14000 built in sounds, 500 unique DSP waveforms (which emulate classic analog hardware synthesizers) & the option to have 8 instances open in one patch.
(that’s 32 oscillators per patch)!
And that’s not all!
With Omnisphere, your sounds will never lack depth or movement. The incredible selection of sounds to choose from, including the vast modulation matrix & deep number of built in effects, Omnisphere 2 allows you to craft sounds that are otherworldly and give you a unique edge in music production.
It includes an insane amount of modulation options including: 8 LFO’s per instance, 12 envelopes per instance, 34 different filter types & 58 modern & vintage built in effects units.
(our favourite is retroplex – a vintage delay unit that sounds amazing)
On top of all that Omnisphere also includes options to import your own audio, to use as a sample, alongside a range of wavetable/sample editing options including:
- An incredible granular synthesis engine
- Detune & unison
- FM modulation,
- Ring modulation
- Wavetable shaping + bitcrush & distortion.
It’s also currently the only synth plugin that offers support for external hardware synthesizers, with a list of support for 65 different classics. If you own any of the following, then you’re in for a real treat!
One of our favourite parts about Omnisphere is the arpeggiator. It has everything you’d expect on a normal arpeggiator, but with a whole lot more to choose from.
It’s what they call the “greatly enhanced arpeggiator” and it couldn’t be a truer statement.
You can add individual & unique steps to each step divider, in the form of a chord, a multiple note run & even pitch slides. The arpeggiator also allows you to import MIDI grooves to lock the playing to and even capture MIDI output, so you can apply the notes to a separate synth vst in your music project.
Omnisphere can also be used in conjunction with the biggest selection of collector keyboards in the world: Keyscape. This gives you access to a huge library of keyboard & instrument sounds which can be loaded into the Omnisphere synthesis engine.
You can imagine just how complex and deep this sound design goes…
There’s a whole lot more we could cover on Omnisphere, but there’s not enough space in this article. The sound quality & vast creative possibilities are enough alone to make this the best synth vst out there, let alone the included updates that continually make it better & better.
It’s a big investment, but it’s the best investment you’ll ever make as a music producer. If you’re looking for unique sound design, that makes peoples hairs stand on end, then this is the right virtual instrument for you.
Phase Plant is Kilohearts’ flagship synthesizer, and is an unbelievable sound design beast.
This soft synth is an extremely powerful, great sounding modular instrument, which has an exceptionally clean & easy to use interface, on top of a tonne of features to help you craft any sound you’re looking for.
It’s modular design is slightly different to what you would expect from traditional modular synth plugins. Rather than having modules you can’t move, Phase Plant opens on a blank slate & allows for customisation, letting you choose the modules where they are needed.
Phase Plant comes shipped with 400 expertly crafted sounds, has access to 4 signal generators including differing types such as:
- Wavetable Oscillators
- Virtual Analog
- Samples (you can choose your own)
- Noise Oscillators
This modular synth has been designed with freedom in mind. With Phase Plant, you can route the signal oscillators freely between each other. And, yes you guessed it, the modulation options using this synth plugin are limitless.
One of the coolest things that Phase Plant can do is with the effects. Kiloheart calls these Snapins & these easy to use effect units have a secret trick up their sleeve – the poly toggle.
The poly toggle allows you to apply all of the current effects in a lane to individual voices of the soft synth, which can give some interesting sounds. For instance, you could use the random modulator to even give each voice random features & values.
The incredible degree of flexibility and customisation that comes with Phase Plant is ear-gasmic. And, if we were to cover all the options in this short overview, it wouldn’t do it justice.
This is one of the best instruments available for your music & creative needs right now.
TAL-Bassline 101 a master at creating bass and is modelled from the legendary Roland SH-101 bass synth that became a staple of house music in the 1990s. So if you’re into making that old school vintage house music then this is the best synth plugin for that.
(If you want a deeper overview on TAL’s Bassline 101, then check out our TAL-Bassline 101 review)
We wanted to include this in our list because of the sheer value of this monster & the superb analog sound that it reproduces.
Created by TAL, this is the best emulation of the Roland SH-101 on the market and it’s infinitely cheaper than the competitors that try to replicate the sound.
It has a simple, easy to use interface that has modulation options, voltage controlled oscillators, envelopes and a load more.
The TAL-Bassline 101 is monophonic and also has an arpeggiator/sequencer built-in that you can use to create interesting patterns, which are especially fitting in house music production.
Bassline 101 is about simplicity & takes the less is more approach – something that is overlooked by today’s electronic producer. It has only 1 envelope, which produces its signature sound & gives the producer less to worry about.
It produces incredible analog sound without the need for effects. And, you can dial in an awesome bass sound in a matter of seconds that will propel a track forward & get people moving.
It comes with over 300 presets, a 96 step, step sequencer, up to 6 voice poly mode & a de-clicker for shorter envelopes.
Another TAL plugin?
TAL make some of the best value plugins on the market and the features that come with the U-No-LX prove their value in the software synth industry.
It’s a re-written emulation of one of the most celebrated synths of all time – the Juno 60, and it sounds almost like the real thing! The TAL-U-No-LX comes with so many incredible presets & sounds that are wildly similar to the presets found on the later Juno 60 hardware units that eventually shipped with on board sounds.
TAL have done an incredible job when it comes to emulating the girth and warmth of the original Juno 60. Warm sounds are something we’re always looking for, and the Juno 60 fills that gap in our hearts.
The U-No-LX also brings some new age technology updates with it. The Juno 60 was classically known to have a lot of underlying noise when being played or changing to certain effects such as the chorus.
With the advancement of technology we’ve been able to remove noise from synthesizers & effects to make a much more precise and clean sound, and TAL have made use of this with the U-No-LX.
Now there may be a debate as to whether this is a good thing, because a lot of those intricacies are what made classic synths sound so unique, but when mixing your tracks, the removal of noise is a welcome addition.
TAL-U-No-LX features more than 300, factory presets, with the original hardware unit’s “factory bank A” included, filter effects that range up to 40kHz, an arpeggiator and more!
If you’re looking for an exceptional emulation of some awesome hardware gear, then this is a perfect pick up.
Price: $199 or $9.99/month
You might already know who Arturia are from their huge range of hardware controllers, synths and keyboards.
And, in the soft synth world, Arturia are known as the very best for virtual analog emulations of analog hardware classics.
They offer some of the best plugins for music making, and with Pigments, this statement holds true. It’s one of the best synths that money can buy.
Pigments 2 is a two oscillator synth that has a twin audio engine. What that means, is that you can use both wavetables & virtual analog to create sounds beyond possibilities you can imagine.
With this, Pigments has an extensive list of modulation options to keep movement and detail within your sound. It includes, 3 envelopes, 3 LFOs and 3 function generators.
Also included in the package is the new sample engine which allows you to browse the already huge list of sounds or add your own to patches. This is taken even further when using the new synth mode & in-built granular effect to create interesting tones & movements in your sound.
Arturia Pigments 2 comes shipped with 2 filter sections and a wide range of filter types to choose from.
One of our favourite parts of the Arturia powerhouse synth, is the Intuitive, lightning-fast workflow & beautiful UI that can bring a splash of colour to your audio workstation. It’s slick, clean, easy to use and navigate & makes designing sound an absolute dream.
It’s also the best synth for value on this list, offering rent to own options at just $9.99/month for the full package with flexible plans that you can freeze and pick up later on.
Dexed has to be the best free vst synth of all time. It’s a magnificent FM soft synth that has been modelled on the legendary & beloved classic – Yamaha DX7.
What’s one of the coolest features of Dexed, is that it acts as a software extension of the original hardware unit & can be used in conjunction with it to make amazing sounds.
This means that if you’ve got the original hardware, you can hook it up to Dexed, create sounds on the hardware, and save them as presets within the software. This allows for a more hands on approach to FM synthesis.
(don’t worry it still has full functionality as just a standalone VST synth)
Dexed also has one of the best UI’s we’ve ever seen on a free plugin and could be compared to some paid plugins on the market that attempt to get FM synthesis right.
It’s clean look and easy to use controls make FM synthesis much less of a headache to understand and allow you to dial in sounds of extensive depth quickly and easily.
Dexed comes shipped with a large number of presets, with 32 sound banks that each contain 32 presets, so you’ll be able to find the right sound for your piece.
(that’s 1024 presets to be exact)
With all that and the fact that it’s free, Dexed had to make our list as one of the best free VST synths ever made.
Price: $499 or $24.99/month
Arturia pops up again on this list, but this time, in the virtual analog section. This is because the V Collection is one of the most expansive selections of legendary hardware synths, samplers and classic keyboards.
If you’re looking for that analog sound in your music production, then the Arturia V Collection is for you.
The V Collection comes shipped with 24 timeless instruments, that have been used in hit upon hit, throughout decades & are still shaping modern music today!
Arturia have expertly sampled these classics to bring what sounds like the real hardware gear, into your digital music production world.
By owning the V Collection, you have access to an exceptional selection of hardware classics including: the
- Prophet 5
- Modular V
- ARP 2600 V
- & a whole lot more.
You also get access to real, legendary instruments that have been sampled to sound like an exact replica of the real thing. The V Collection includes electric pianos, acoustic pianos and even the Mellotron V!
Just the Prophet and ARP2600 hardware units alone, add up to the huge price of $4065 at time of writing. With the Collection V, you get access to unparalleled recreations for just a fraction of that price, at $499 or just $24.99/month with Splice RTO options.
Alongside all the awesome, warm analog sounding gear you can get your hands on, you’ll never run out of ideas with Arturia’s V Collection. You have over 8000 inspiring presets to choose from, alongside full features control of each powerful, hardware unit and tonnes of effects to bend your sound.
One of our favourite re-creations, has to be the ARP2600 V, and after we share the features it provides, we think you’ll think so too.
The ARP2600 V has all the charm and customisation of the original, and is just plain fun to use when plugging virtual wires from slot to slot as you craft your sound ever so perfectly. And, like we said above, the Arturia version comes with some enhancements, including polyphony, tracking generator modules, 1601 sequencer and tonnes of effects.
Arturia V Collection is truly a sound designers dream come true and is the best virtual analog synth plugin of all time. We highly recommend taking a look at this beast. For the price, it is the most incredible piece of technology we’ve seen & with continual updates that make it better & better, it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a long time.
Let’s take a look at the CMI V… you guessed it, it’s a recreation of the ground-breaking fairlight CMI synth. And, just like the original you get the same features, with a whole lot more due to the increase in capabilities of modern machines.
The CMI V has 10 multitimbral, polyphonic slots to design your sound, as well as real-time waveform shaping, an effects sequencer and a brand new extension – the Spectral synth.
The Jup-8V is another virtual analog re-creation of one of the most classic hardware instruments known by music producers everywhere. And, it’s another re-creation from the synthesizer software giants, Arturia.
Although this comes packaged as part of the plugins included with the Arturia V Collection (listed above), we felt it deserved its very own slot on the best synth vst plugins list.
If you didn’t guess already, the Jup-8V is a powerful emulation of the classic Roland Jupiter 8. And the virtual version, is a sound designers dream.
With second hand units going for close for $20,000, getting your hands on a classic Jupiter 8 has become extremely difficult. Arturia recently solved this by creating the best emulation of the original known to man.
The Jupiter 8 is known for its lush pads haunting leads as well as the ability to split sounds apart for layering.
The Jup 8v not only gives you access to the original capabilities, but adds on that with features like, the new sequencer mode, galaxy mode & effects plugins you can use to tweak your sound even further.
Arturia’s Jup-8v features more than 500 innovative presets, up to 32 voices of polyphony, a great selection of modulation options & a unison mode with up to 4 voices.
With analog instruments still ruling music in 2021, having access to synths like the Jupiter 8 for such a low price is a dream come true. The Jup 8v is a must have if you’re looking for that old school sound only the hardware instruments can replicate.
11. Softube Modular
Softube Modular is a modular synth that packs a punch. We also featured it in our 50 best VST plugins article as one of the best analog vst instruments available.
In our opinion, modular synths have to be one of the most interesting kinds of synths to use when creating music. The creative possibilities are almost endless & the fun of plugging different wires in everywhere never grows old.
The great thing about Softube Modular is that it’s as close to a modular synth that software instruments can provide. Working closely with hardware kings, Doepfer, Softube Modular features both the sound, flexibility and expandability that makes producers so fond of true analog modular synths.
It comes shipped with 6 modeled Doepfer modules, 20 utility modules & the ability to acquire additional Eurorack modules from cutting edge manufacturer’s like Intellijel.
With more an more modules being made for Softube Modular all the time, it’s one of the most expandable virtual instruments of all time.
One of the best things about Softube Modular is its ease of use. Unlike other modular instruments that are daunting and somewhat overwhelming, Softube makes it easy for beginners to rustle up some awesome sounds, with over 200 quality templates to choose from.
You can also integrate Softube Modular with your hardware Eurorack modular instruments to expand its capabilities even further.
If you’re looking for a great introduction to modular synthesis, that’s also great value for money, then Softube Modular is for you. With it’s true dynamic circuit-emulation, it’s the most real experience of using a modular synth in a digital environment.
With the release of synth plugins such as, Native Instruments Massive, Kontakt & Reaktor, they have made more than a name for themselves in the industry.
And, with Massive X, they’ve only gone and done it again.
Massive X is one of the most incredibly versatile wavetable synths on the market. With over 170 different wavetables to choose from, 2 oscillators (with separate sub oscillators) and the ability to add a 3rd in (through the FX panel), it’s a customisable powerhouse.
The separate sub modules are awesome, and each have 3 different modes, that give a wide range of tonal qualities. “King”, “Kang” and “Kong” can take any of your wavetables and deliver some of the fattest subs known to man!
Where Massive X really shines though, is the modulation. You can only do so much to a sound with wavetables and envelopes. To truly bring your sound design alive, clever modulation is needed.
Massive X allows for this, giving you the ability to modulate every single parameter, very simply. It takes the classic drag and drop modulation functionality, that made the original Massive so popular, and improves on it.
Also included, is a new, updated version of the routing panel. The routing panel allows you to have full control over your synth’s signal path.
Using the routing panel, you can change the flow of your signal path, and bypass certain modules really quickly, and easily.
Alongside this function, you get 3 modulation envelopes, 6 LFOs, 3 performers, & 4 trackers. These can all be used to create movement and depth in your sounds.
When all is said and done, Massive X is an absolute beast of a synth. It’s best at creating aggressive bass sounds, but can do pretty much anything you want it to.
Here’s the complete list of the 12 best synth VST plugins, instruments and synths available updated for 2021:
- uhe Diva
- Xfer Serum
- Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.6
- Kilohearts Phase Plant
- TAL Bassline 101
- TAL -U-NO-LX
- Arturia Pigments 2
- Arturia V Collection
- Arturia Jup-8v
- Softube Modular
- Native Instruments Massive X
Honing down the so many available synth plugins on the market to only just a few is difficult. We spent hours designing this list and ensuring that there was something for everyone included. From expensive to free, digital to analog emulation, this list has it all.
While we’ve go you, be sure to check out our huge list of deals on audio plugins.