In this article you’ll find VST synthesizers which are most widely used in 2024 by music industry professionals - producers, mixing and mastering engineers. We’ll go through all the synth categories to give you a complete overview of what's definitely worth getting in 2024.
Let’s get started!
1. Free Plugins: Wavetable, Analog, Open Source & FM Synths
This wavetable synth VST continues to be incredibly popular because of the fact that not only is it absolutely free, but also features no less features than Serum itself. There’s a growing number of preset packs being developed for Vital and the plugin is expected to become the most popular synth among EDM producers.
- A Roland-inspired synth from the makers of Diva.
The Roland Jupiter series was incredibly influential, with its prices currently reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Luckily, you're able to get very close to its sound completely for free! The developers of Diva (u-He) made a free plugin called Tyrell N6, which is inspired by the design of classic Roland synths like the Jupiter and Juno. It sounds incredibly realistic - it's like a free version of Diva! Definitely a must-have.
- Juno-style free synth with modern features.
The Juno-60, just like the Jupiter, is one of the absolute most sought-after vintage synths of all. The developers TAL, famous for their emulation of the Juno-60, offer also a free Juno-inspired synth called the Noisemaker. It's very similar in design to the Juno, and offers everything from huge bass sounds to soothing analog pads. It includes the signature Juno two-mode Chorus for the maximum lush effect.
- Most likely the best free vintage synth emulator.
The Oberheim OB-X became one of the most iconic synthesizers of all time. Its new, completely free emulator captures all of its magic in a VST form. It's really well designed from the very detailed, ultra-realistic, fat sound, up to the visual details. It comes with a huge selection of presets, so it's a must have!
It’s one of the most powerful free synthesizers. It features many synthesis techniques, a great selection of filters, a flexible modulation engine, a lot of effects and routing options, as well as modern features like MPE and microtuning. Surge is a digital synth which has wavetable oscillators, but also has analog-style features like filters. It's quite a complex synthesizer at first sight, but it has a lot of creative potential as well as a great set of presets.
It’s a digital subtractive synth with some simple-but-great features. It’s very visual, so it’s easy to program, and very pleasing visually. You also see all modulations with live visual feedback.
Yamaha’s DX7 was the world’s first FM synthesizer. FM synthesis works by modulating sinewaves with more sinewaves to create interesting timbres. Dexed is a free emulation of the famous DX7. It can be tricky to figure out, but sounds incredibly faithful to the original - and with the huge amount of free presets available online, it’s an incredible synth overall.
2. Wavetable & Modern Digital VST Synths
Serum has been the go-to plugin of EDM producers over the recent years for a reason. It features an incredible set of functions and doesn’t fail to deliver bright, punchy sounds. Despite the built-in library of presets being quite small, multiple preset packs have been made for Serum, allowing you to make every genre possible. Check our Serum preset packs here.
Omnisphere is a hybrid synth that continues to be amongst the top VSTs. It has a massive library of built in sounds, giving you access to both incredibly powerful synth-only sounds as well as cinematic sounding layered patches. It is especially popular among hip hop producers.
Pigments is a powerful wavetable & virtual analog hybrid VST synthesizer offering a wide range of sounds for various genres. The synth provides a complete sound design solution with four engine types, flexible modulation, musical sequencing, and diverse filtering options. Its clean-cut layout options enhance the visual experience for sound design and production.
Kilohearts Phase Plant
Phase Plant, a multi-award-winning semi-modular softsynth, stands out as a sound designer's dream with top-quality processing and an intuitive workflow. Its open modular architecture allows users to design everything from compact to complex patches using diverse generators, modulators, and effects. Phase Plant provides essential effects and mind-blowing modulation for precise control or chaotic experimentation.
This synth is still a popular choice for FM synthesis, thanks to its incredibly powerful structure and friendly interface. The "Easy Edit Page" provides an easy way to control complex parameters, allowing for a more musical approach. FM8 also has a revolutionary sound morphing feature, a unique arpeggiator, and a variety of effects, expanding sonic possibilities beyond traditional FM synthesis. With a matrix-based approach to frequency modulation, detailed operator editing pages, and an extensive library of over 1200 presets, FM8 proves to be a versatile and dynamic tool for sound designers.
This workhorse of a synth is incredibly powerful - it’s used a lot in film soundtracks, notably by Hans Zimmer. It’s renowned for its waveform drawing capabilities. The synth's clean and modern GUI offers an intuitive environment for sound creation. Zebra2's Generators Rack displays only active modules, simplifying focus, while the Main Grid visually represents the signal path. With its unique Spectral Effects and the ability to shape waveforms in detail, Zebra2 remains a standout choice for sonic exploration.
Offering versatile oscillators, a unique unison engine (capable of imitating various types of unisons!) and superb-sounding filters, Spire provides high-quality sound shaping. With an incredibly flexible modulation architecture, user-friendly features like X-Comp and 3-band EQ to enhance sounds, and over 1000 factory presets, Spire stands out as a versatile and visually appealing synth plugin.
Massive X is the successor of the incredibly popular Massive wavetable synth. Its dual oscillator section features over 170 wavetables with various playback options, while two additional oscillators provide dynamic phase modulation for added variety. With 9 multimode filter types, multiple modulation sources, and easy drag-and-drop routing, Massive X is still a synth worthy of considering.
Nexus is a rompler which has incredibly solid sounds, perfect for mainstream EDM and Dance productions. It gives you very quick access to plenty of very useful patches which need almost no customization. It has been used by many professionals and after many years its popularity continues.
3. Analog & Classic Synth VST Emulations
Diva is an analog modelling synth which excels at sounding incredibly fat and realistic. Giving you both Roland and Moog-esque modules, it allows great amounts of customization without losing its authentic feel. Diva is a popular choice especially among melodic house and techno producers. Get our preset packs for Diva here.
Arturia is known for developing the best emulations of classic vintage synthesizers. Their plugin “Analog Lab” combines all the huge libraries of each of their emulation plugins and brings them together in one easy-to-use interface. You have 8 initial controls to quickly tweak any preset - and you’re able to dive in and change the sound as far as you want as well.
Repro is an amazing emulation of the classic Prophet 5 synthesizer with plenty of modern improvements, which is gaining a lot of popularity.
D16 Lush 2
Lush 2 is an emulation of the Roland SH-101 that goes beyond simplistic poly-synths. Its multilayer architecture allows each layer to function as an independent synthesizer, providing virtually limitless sound design possibilities. Its extensive preset library, innovative mixer, layer-independent parametric equalizers, compressors, and flexible send effects contribute to Lush 2's status as an exceptional synthesizer.
Tal Uno LX
TAL-U-NO-LX is a software emulation of Roland Juno 60. The synth supports portamento, different filter LFO waveforms, and features like an arpeggiator with various sync modes. With an improved oscillator design, sustain pedal support, and over 300 factory presets, it’s is a versatile and authentic synthesizer available for both Windows and OSX, with native Apple M1 support.
Native Instruments Monark is a Moog-style mono synth designed for basses and leads, offering an organic, analog sound and feel. With deep DSP technology, including super-snappy envelopes and the reproduction of analog oscillator and filter drift, Monark provides a lively, fat, and warm sound within the powerful Reaktor framework.
Roland Cloud Legendary
Roland Cloud provides classic synths, drum machines, and sampled instruments as VSTs. Included are authentic recreations of iconic Roland analog polyphonic synthesizers, including the JUPITER-8, JUNO-60, JX-3P, JD-800, and the first Roland JUPITER synthesizer from 1978. Additionally, the collection includes software versions of legendary drum machines like the TR-909, TR-808, TR-707, TR-727, and TR-606. Each software instrument offers meticulous attention to detail, delivering the classic Roland sound with modern enhancements.
The KORG Collection meticulously recreates legendary Korg synthesizers, from analog classics like the miniKORG 700S, MS-20, Polysix, Mono/Poly, and ARP ODYSSEY to digital giants such as the M1, TRITON, and WAVESTATION. The collection also includes modern favorites like the microKORG, ELECTRIBE-R, and KAOSS PAD, offering a rich history of KORG synthesizers that shaped music across decades. The Collection introduces modern features like polyphonic versions of mono synths, virtual patch support, high-quality effects, and an intuitive graphical user interface for enhanced music production.
Cherry Audio GX-80
This plugin blends the essence of the fabled Yamaha GX-1 "Dream Machine" with the iconic Yamaha CS-80. Unlike a typical CS-80 replica, GX-80 reintegrates the GX-1's distinctive features, including dual synth layers, variable resonators, and the legendary GX-1 filter for unparalleled timbres. It offers split keyboard mode, simulated polyphonic aftertouch, and monophonic aftertouch controller for ultimate flexibility and expressive performance.
Sylenth1 is the timeless classic of a plugin that needs little introduction. Used by countless producers worldwide in a huge amount of chart-topping hits, the plugin has proved to be one of the best ever made. Is not merely another synth but a dedicated instrument designed to deliver exceptional sound and music. Extensive research has contributed to its unparalleled warmth and clarity, while the user-friendly graphical interface ensures optimal usability, allowing creators to fully express their creativity.
4. Modular VST Synths
VCV Rack Pro 2
VCV Rack is the best plugin out there for Eurorack emulation. The virtual modular platform, based on Eurorack synthesizers, offers extensive learning resources, real-time sound performance, algorithmic composition, multi-track recording, and the ability to integrate with both hardware and software through various interfaces and plugins. Version 2 introduces new features like Dark Room mode for comfortable nighttime use and enhanced module selection capabilities.
Cherry Audio Voltage Modular
This plugin features include unlimited pop-up mults, flexible module repositioning, and dynamic cable movement and rerouting, providing an incredibly useful virtual modular interface. The platform boasts exceptional sound quality, employing high-quality 64-bit double precision math for all audio processing and zero-latency module processes.
Native Instruments Reaktor 6
Reaktor 6 is a modular synth, sampler and effect module in one. With its rack-style modular patching using Blocks, it facilitates experimentation with over 70 included instruments and an extensive User Library.
Acoustic Modelling Plugin
Applied Acoustics Chromaphone 3
Chromaphone, the Acoustic Object Synthesizer, offers dynamic, precisely modeled acoustic resonators, delivering a unique blend of real-life presence and distinctive timbres. It’s very performance-friendly - features a new Home View for macro control, an enhanced browser, and a two-voice multitimbral layout. The eight physically modeled resonators, coupled with Chromaphone's innovative technology, capture acoustic behaviors, making it a great option for creating unique sounds.