The best new synth plugins of 2021: VST / AU instruments for all occasions

Music Tech Showcase 2021: You can never have too much synth plugins, law? Whether you’re looking for something to inspire your creativity or looking for a new workhorse to modernize your arsenal of VST, AU, or AAX synths, 2021 has something for every music maker.

Let’s take a look at some of the best synth plugins released over the past 12 months. From low budget to Warlock to lively entertainment from Lunacy Audio’s the Cube …

Warlock Tone2

(Image credit: Tone2)

Warlock Tone2

£ 55

Warlock is probably the most surprising of the whole line. Being so budget-friendly, you wouldn’t expect too much from this unpretentious synth, but load it up and it packs a punch – it’s that dazzling, dazzling Tone2 sound that EDMers can’t get enough of.

The 84 types of oscillators, the mono and stereo hypersaw function and 38 (drastically) different filter types all add to its character and make it a big, rich and wide synth – not to mention the two built-in effects slots, arpeggiator, 20 typical LFOs and 2,140 presets.

While Warlock doesn’t win any awards for being the most parameter-rich synth, it really makes up for it in that it’s so easy to program such a wide variety of quality sounds right out of the box. The price is an absolute bargain for using this synth and it will definitely become a staple very quickly.

State-of-the-art audio generation

(Image credit: Newfangled Audio)

State-of-the-art audio generation

$ 149

With its chaotic generator, wave record, and Low Pass Gate signal path, this experimental synth design can open up a ton of creative opportunities that ordinary instruments wouldn’t offer you.

These generators are a turbine, a discharge, a double pendulum, a vortex and a pulsar, all sources of tremendous sound inspired by oscillating phenomena of the real world. Each allows you to set “chaos” parameters, helping you add imperfections to the source. The Wavefolder and Low Pass Gate are also excellent.

Modulation is available through very flexible LFOs and envelopes, as well as EQ, Chorus, Delay and Reverb effects which, again, suit the unique atmosphere of this synth perfectly.

A powerful and above all dark synth. It’s not for all genres, but try the demo.

Tracktion F.'em

(Image credit: Tracktion)

Tracktion F.’em

$ 179

This eight operator FM synth is packed with features, providing the ability to create some of the most complex sounds you’ve ever heard, from the DX7 presets that mark the beginning of FM synth history, right through to the future. Rather than modeling a vintage FM unit, Tracktion focused on creating an extremely powerful and very well-equipped plugin.

F.’em offers an abundance of controls and other cool features. One of the coolest is the two multisample operators which can be loaded with factory sounds or your own.

One can modulate and the other can be modulated – this is where the fun begins. This feature alone creates another level of sonic possibilities in addition to the usual sine and shape tradition of FM. It’s also a useful tool for learning the basics of FM, thanks to the intuitive mod matrix. An FM synth that has it all.

Whimsical audio cube

(Image credit: Lunacy Audio)

Whimsical audio cube

$ 249

In Cube, you are given a graphic cube with a sound represented by each of its eight corners. By moving a cursor around the cube, you can freely merge sounds into something more complex.

This 3D sound space combined with the “Orbits” (modulation paths that the orb can travel) means that the possibilities for sonic evolution are endless.

The plugin’s animations depict exactly what’s going on sonically, making it easy for new users to understand how a sound is created. Cube has four LFOs, a modulation matrix, and eight built-in effects in case these options don’t give enough sound shaping power.

A very impressive soft synth that is fun, intuitive and extremely easy to produce unique and cool sounds.

Arturia Pigments 3

(Image credit: Arturia)

Arturia Pigments 3

€ 199

You might know Arturia best for its classic gear emulations. Pigments, however, is a completely broken digital synth.

The third version, a free update, adds Harmonic and Utility oscillator “engines”, providing additive synthesis plus two noise sources and a sub-oscillator, respectively. Since it’s free, this is an obvious update.

The Harmonic Engine allows for very creative ways to shape your additive sound engine. Add to that the choice of setting up two spectra and mixing them together, and you are just scratching the surface.

The Utility motor may not be innovative, but it is very strong and versatile, offering basic waveforms and pulse width for the submarine, as well as a wide variety of noise sources. . This reinforces Pigments’ credentials as a drum synthesizer.

Chromaphone 3 applied acoustic systems

(Image credit: Applied Acoustic Systems)

Chromaphone 3 applied acoustic systems

$ 199

Chromaphone was already an excellent physically-modeled synth for creating realistic sounds by simulating the properties of bars, membranes, tubes, plates and the like, but version 3 makes things even more flexible.

Instead of selecting two paltry of these resonators to work side by side or coupled together, the physical phun is doubled here, as you select two pairs of them, with control over the properties of each and the mallet you hit. virtually. them with.

Modulation is assignable per layer, as is a choice of 14 effects, as well as the well-equipped arpeggiator and sequencer.

The upshot of all this: You can perform two complementary sounds in a Chromaphone patch, each using a pair of resonators, a different arp sequence or pattern, different modulation, and different effects.

It’s an extremely comprehensive and very realistic virtual instrument for people who like to hit objects with sticks but just don’t have the time – or a full collection of percussion instruments – at their disposal.

Arturia June 6 V

(Image credit: Arturia)

Arturia June 6 V

€ 199

One of the four new emulations introduced in Arturia V Collection 8 is Arturia’s take on the Roland Juno-6, from Roland’s iconic Juno range.

As you would expect from the V Collection, the Jun-6 V is an excellent sounding emulation. Purists may claim that nothing is true, but this version of the software is pretty darn close – and cheaper. If you’re really craving that vintage analog sound, Arturia has added Good, Average, and Bad vocal dispersion options to mimic the detuning of true analog oscillators over the decades.

Other new features include up to 36 voices of polyphony, more advanced modulation options, an additional LFO and envelope, as well as built-in delay and reverb units.

Faster and easier to use than the Jup-8 V, the Jun-6 V is a great addition to the V collection, perfect for feature keys, pads, basses and more.

Tracktion & DAWesome Abyss

(Image credit: Tracktion & DAWesome)

Tracktion & DAWesome Abyss

£ 129

As the name suggests, Abyss is a soundscapes creation synth that has the ability to create very experimental and complex timbres.

The user interface is beautifully designed with cool interactive features like the gradient slider. This allows you to drag and drop a selection of predefined “oscillator” sounds from the edit panel and reposition those timbres over time to create evolving soundscapes.

The synth is packed with MPE and aftertouch features, which provide the user with a tactile and expressive sound shaping experience that also makes it a skilled hand when it comes to performance tasks.

Overall, Abyss is a fantastic tool for composers, sound designers, and sound artists. Even anyone who just likes to discover new timbres and soundscapes will be able to get lost for a few hours playing with them.

If you’re looking for experimentation or sounds you’ve never heard before, this should definitely pique your interest.

GForce OB-E software

(Image credit: GForce Software)

GForce OB-E software

£ 149

GForce’s version of the classic Oberheim 8-Voice vintage synth offers multiple upgrades to its derivative hardware unit. With a plethora of presets and additional control over parameters, the OB-E is a solid option in the vintage software synthesizer market.

It sounds impressive, with a bold and lush character from the eight Synthesizer Expansion Modules (SEMs). The up / down mixers provide control over the volume and panning of each SEM, making it easy to create rich, dense, and scalable walls of sound to fill the stereo field.

Overall, OB-E is a great buy for anyone looking for a solid synth with a ton of control and great presets. It could also be a great source of processing, along with other effects to open up new possibilities for sound design. Despite some UI issues on smaller screens (the settings legend can be difficult to read), this is a solid choice.

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