What are the best VST synths for beginners? That’s a great question to ask when you’re new to making music. While jumping into the first synthesizer plugin you see might seem like a great plan, it can be discouraging when not knowing what to do with all the controls and settings...
Yup, it's true. Synthesizers come with a lot of different settings, knobs, and dials. With oscillators, filters, effects, LFOs, and other modulation parameters, and much more... where do you even start?
Don't worry. This article will show you the six best VST synths and synth bundles for complete beginners. All come packed with presets and are easy to learn.
Let’s dive in with our first beginner-friendly option, Omnisphere 2.
1. Omnisphere 2
Omnisphere 2 is the perfect beginner VST synth because of its incredibly large preset library (over 14,000 sounds included) and simple customization.
And yet – it’s incredibly powerful. All sounds featured in the Omnisphere 2 are super high-quality and can be tailored, modulated, and customized in many different ways.
But when starting, it helps to have a vast library of sounds to go from so you can see how they are set up and why they sound like they do.
For a beginner, Omnisphere 2 is a fantastic VST synth that will stay with you until you reach an advanced level – and beyond.
2. V Collection 8 (by Arturia)
The best way to learn sound synthesis is by getting your hands on some real hardware synthesizers. But there are two problems: hardware synths take up a lot of studio space and are often very expensive.
With the V Collection 8 from Arturia, you don’t need hardware synthesizers (at least right now.) With 28 authentic VST simulations of many of the world’s most classic synths, you can learn and play all the best vintage synthesizers right from your laptop.
The synthesizers, including Jun-6 V, Emulator II V, Jup-8 V 4, and many more, all look and feel exactly like their hardware counterparts. To start, simply open your desired synth and discover what all the sliders and knobs do. Or select any of the 10 000 high-quality presets in the browser.
Furthermore, V Collection 8 also comes with an in-app tutorial, so you can learn everything about the synths and get walkthroughs as you go. It also comes with the incredibly easy-to-use Analog Lab V, which we’ll talk about next.
This is a perfect VST synth collection for beginners with an eye for quality plugins.
3. Analog Lab V (by Arturia)
If the V Collection 8 seems too difficult to get into, you have the Analog Lab V, which is basically the same thing but with fewer presets and parameters.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s all positive, and especially for a beginner who wants easy synth plugins to start with. The Analog Lab V gives you audio presets from all the instruments in the V Collection 8 but in a simpler interface.
That means, instead of having all the buttons, sliders, and knobs from the hardware synths, you get a selection of knobs for sounds that matter the most.
Choose from over 2000 curated sounds from the V Collection 8 and play around with the settings to make them your own.
If you’re looking for extreme simplicity and power and love the sound of classic vintage synths, you can’t go wrong with the Analog Lab V. It’s also cheaper than the larger collection.
4. Kontakt Komplete 13 (by Native Instruments)
Native Instruments is known to make some of the best hardware and software in the world, and their Kontakt Komplete 13 bundle is no different. This massive bundle comes with everything you need to make world-class music – and is beginner-friendly like no other.
The idea behind Kontakt Komplete 13 is to give you all of the flagship synths, sampled instruments, effects, and expansions in one neat package and one platform. These suit any genre and style of music you can think of and comes packed with over 36 000 presets.
So, what about the VST synths? Are they beginner-friendly?
Out of the 14 powerful synths included, a few stand out for their ease of use. They are Massive X, Massive, FM8, and Absynth 5.
Firstly, they all come loaded with presets and are incredibly popular. Why does popularity matter? Well, if many producers use a VST synth, you will find tons of educational content, walkthroughs, and online courses (for Massive).
Secondly, once you learn the basics, they are very simple to use. And once you learn how the use the basics in these synths, you can apply your knowledge to virtually any synth out there today.
The Komplete 13 bundle is powerful, beginner-friendly, and sounds oh, so good.
5. Serum (by Xfer Records)
Our fifth beginner-friendly VST synth is the powerful wavetable synthesizer Serum. Even though it packs a tremendous amount of power and customizability, it's surprisingly easy to use and configure once you get the hang of the basics.
First off, the interface. The user interface is super straightforward to use. You have specific sections dedicated to things like your oscillators, filters, LFO’s and envelopes. And for the most part, what you see is what you can change.
There aren’t a gazillion different and confusing settings, but at the same time, your sound design options are virtually endless. You can draw your own custom table manipulations or generate your own waveforms, but for a beginner, it’s something you can save for later.
Included are over 450 presets and 144 wavetables, which lets you get started with Serum right away. While you might want to stick with ready-made samples, in the beginning, you'll quickly learn how easy it is to modulate and customize your sounds.
This is an extremely popular synth in the electronic music production world and beyond. So, if you’re looking for Serum online courses or Serum beginner tutorials, you don’t have to look far for educational content.
This is probably more advanced than the previous options but still easy enough for beginners to start playing around. And regardless, you will want to learn it sooner or later anyway...
6. Diva (by u-He)
Let’s introduce our final choice in beginner-friendly synth VST plugins – Diva or "Dinosaur Impersonating Virtual Analogue synthesizer.” At first glance, it might look a bit intimidating with all those knobs and sliders...
But fret not. Diva is easy to use and sounds too beautiful not to learn. Plus, it comes with heaps of really cool samples you can use and make your own – over 1200 presets.
The synth is powerful, big, warm, and vintage and offers a hybrid experience combining what we all love about the classic analog synthesizers. You can quickly create your dream sound with five different oscillator and filter models and two LFOs and effect slots.
If you’re still a bit nervous about its appearance, don’t worry. Take the Diva Sound Design course and get started creating dreamy Diva sounds right away.
Beautiful synth and a favorite among many producers, like Ben Böhmer.
Starting your music producer journey is exciting and so much fun. But when looking at advanced VST synthesizers, you know you have to learn to use them at some point; it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
But luckily, as you've learned in this article, there are many fantastic synth VST plugins, bundles, and collections out there. They are easy to learn for beginners and powerful enough to use until you reach pro-level.
All synths in the article are used by people from beginner up to the international god-like producer stage.
And if there’s a short learning curve, I urge you to learn it now rather than later. Your music production journey will get a lot smoother and more fun once you know the basics.
Until next time, get yourself a beginner-friendly synth and start making that music!
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.