Which synth VST plugin is the best one in 2023? That's a great question – one we will answer in this comprehensive list of the eight best software synths this year.
Without further ado, let's dive into our first choice in our list – Diva, by u-He.
1. Diva (by u-He)
The legendary Diva synth by u-He is a must-have for all electronic producers. If you didn’t know, Diva stands for Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analogue synthesizer (I’m not kidding). That description sums up this great synth pretty well.
Diva beautifully simulates the noisy, warm, and beautiful sounds of retro synthesizers – in a fresh interface with many features.
Load up your favorite preset or start from scratch – Diva is easy to set up and design dreamy sounds. Start your sound by choosing any of the five oscillator models are based on classic synth hardware. Continue with the five great-sounding and classic filter models.
With two stereo effects slots, LFOs, modifications, and more, you can create virtually any sound for your house, techno, or electronic music.
We highly recommend it.
2. Serum (by Xfer Records)
Serum is a very popular wavetable synthesizer with ultra-high-quality sounds in a visual, user-friendly interface. If you want ultimate control over your sound design, you want the Serum synth.
The synth comes with two oscillators that feature an incredibly wide variety of waveforms to choose from. Serum also allows you to draw custom table manipulations and generate a waveform based on audio files. Super cool.
Apart from its oscillators, Serum comes packed with filters, LFOs, envelopes, and effects. The ways you can combine these make the synth virtually limitless in terms of sound creation.
It also features a third and fourth oscillator – sub and noise. Thicken up your sound with the sub and add a touch of noise, like bleeds from a microphone.
If you haven’t tried it yet, you need to get your hands on it right now.
3. Omnisphere 2 (by Spectrasonics)
Omnisphere 2 definitely lives up to its name. Omni, meaning all; of all things or 'in all ways or places,' is a perfect word to describe this absolute beast of a synth. Get ready, and make sure you have hard drive space left...
With over 14,000 sounds included, you can always find your perfect sound. And if you’re feeling low on inspiration, load up Omnisphere and discover all the beautiful presets spanning a wide variety of genres and styles.
But what about audio effects? Same thing there. Omnisphere has 58 of them, ranging from top-of-the-line distortions to analog phasers, equalizers, delays, and spring reverbs. It also has a new powerful arpeggiator and complete hardware synth integrations.
If you're looking for a synth powerhouse – a true Omni plugin, you need to check out Omnisphere.
4. Massive X (by Native Instruments)
Massive X is a continuation of the classic Massive synth series and comes loaded with sound design capabilities and presets. Switchable skins, a massive soundbank, and a resizable GUI are only scratching the surface...
Starting with the two oscillators, which come with over 170 wavetables in ten different reading modes, you can set each waveform to absolute perfection with purposeful controls and modes.
Take the popular Gorilla modes King, Kang, and Kong, for example, which beef up your oscillator to unspeakable levels.
Like Serum, it also comes with a control that allows you to add an extra dimension of synthetic or natural noise.
Furthermore, you get 16 assignable macro controls, many high-quality filters, effects, and voicing options to express your creativity and shape your sound.
Routing is another cool feature in Massive X, which lets you connect any output to any plugin input for some very interesting results.
This synth plugin is one of the Native Instruments' flagship synthesizers and a solid choice for electronic music producers.
5. Pigments 3 (by Arturia)
Pigments 3 has taken the electronic producer scene by storm. This incredibly versatile and powerful synth lets you create any sound imaginable with ease, thanks to its visual, intuitive interface and endless modulations.
The slick, colorful interface gives you a setting or knob for everything you need – allowing you to create anything from basses to organic plucks, pads, and beyond. Thanks to its four sound engines, your dream sound is always within reach.
Pigments give you over 160 wavetables to choose from, including a virtual analog engine, additive synthesis, sampler, and two noise sample players for extra depth.
It’s a truly creative and limitless synth in extremely high quality that will satisfy any electronic music producer.
6. Phase Plant (by Kilohearts)
Phase Plant is a semi-modular synth that’s full-on awesome. Add exactly what you need to create the sound of your dreams.
The synth features four signal generators, analog, wavetable, sample, and noise. Use how many you want and route them freely between each other. You can also add output modules to a generator group to send sounds to effect lanes, your master, or sideband.
This synth is virtually limitless as you can tweak almost every parameter inside any element. You can also bind your macro dials to several different parameters for very interesting sounds.
As far as customizability in sound design goes, the Phase Plant is like a modular, limitless plugin of gold. And most importantly – the sound quality is supremely high.
7. V Collection 8 (by Arturia)
Imagine having the hardware versions of all synths that changed the 80s. Now you don’t have to imagine – and you don’t need a massive studio to fit all the synthesizers. The V Collection 8 contains ultra-realistic emulations of the world’s most popular analog synths.
This massive bundle includes 28 VST synths, including the new Jun-6 V, Emulator II V, Jup-8 V 4. Every retro analog synth with the sound you remember and love. Every synth comes as exact models of the real deal – with buttons, knobs, and settings like the originals.
Furthermore, it features a fully resizable GUI, a huge bank of over 10 000 presets with a browser, in-app tutorials, and the lighter Analog Lab V.
Having instant access to the classic synths you’ve been dying to get your hands on is priceless. We're very impressed with the V Collection 8.
8. Analog Lab V (by Arturia)
Arturia does it again with the Analog Lab V collection – a lighter version of the previously mentioned (massive) V Collection 8. But don’t get me wrong, this bundle is by no means small.
Analog Lab V contains audio presets from all instruments of the V Collection 8 but in a single and more cohesive interface. As a downside, you can’t change every single knob and setting of each instrument.
On the upside, you can still change all the most important settings, get two effect chains, and access to a massive preset library. Plus, you know, it’s cheaper.
With over 2000 curated sounds from the V Collection 8 to play around with, you can’t go wrong with either. One is more comprehensive in sound design; the Analog Lab V focuses on simplicity and power in a lighter package.
If you go with the Analog Lab V, you won’t be disappointed.
With amazing synths like this – ready to download and use right on your laptop, it's a beautiful time to be a music producer.
If you’re looking for a new synth to take your music to the next level, you can’t go wrong with either of them.
We believe these are the most impressive and best synth VST plugins of 2021.
And we’re confident you will too.
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Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.