Top 15 Synths & Romplers 2017

From Falcon to Sylenth1, get to know the software that drive my synth sounds

Just about every single Producer has a favorite list of favorite software they put to work on a regular basis throughout their productions. Well, I’m no different! Producing in the box for me is only enjoyable when I can find the right tools and the right sounds to make everything gels together. And, being an Electronic music producer, Soft Synths are pretty much on top of the lists. Here are my 15 most used Soft Synths. Some I used on everything and others I call up to spice things up here and there as secondary units and fillers. I’m not claiming that these are the absolute best but for my needs, they do the job.

  • 15 optimized oscillators
  • Over 80 high-quality effects
  • AHD, Analog ADSR, Attack Decay, DAHDSR, Drunk, LFO, Multi & Step Envelope
  • Micro Tuner, Chorder, Harmonizer, Strum simulator, MIDI Player
  • Huge factory library presets to start with
The New Defacto InstrumentLet me tell you, this beauty right here is more than a synth; It DOES it all! From sampling to FX down to building sounds from scratch. This product can be a help in so many ways, you may see yourself loading it in every single track that you are starting. Well, I do now LOL. The day that Falcon gets to read Kontakt libraries then it’s OVER!

#2. Analog Lab (Arturia)

  • Over 5000 sounds from some of the best in the industry
  • Multi mode for creating your own layers, splits and adding effects
  • Parameters can be mapped easily to other MIDI controllers
  • Standalone or plug-in operation (VST, VST3, AU, AAX)
  • Find and recall your favorite sounds instantly
Not a Synth but A Really Useful Sound CollectionThe main reason that Analog Lab is that high on my list is just simple: Sound Galore! I’ll probably never get tired of it because the possibilities to come up with new sounds are endless with this software. Analog Lab is my best imaginary room full of synths that actually feels real and useful.

#3. Massive (Native-Instruments)

  • 85 specially designed wavetables
  • Route any of the oscillator’s signals directly to the synthesizer’s output
  • Two step sequencer modes
  • Several voices can be triggered by a single note
  • Come with over 1300 production-ready sounds
Powerful. Flexible. ExpandableMassive is nothing but that: MASSIVE. I mean, sometimes it feels like this synth powerhouse just came out last week. That’s how powerful it can be in helping you shaping and adapting to modern sounds. The amount of patches available is straight up insane. Massive is amazing in features. Highly recommended!

#4. Nexus 2 (Refx)

  • Starter version comes with over 1500 presets
  • Octave and note transposition
  • Velocity modulation
  • Assign up to four FX
  • Dedicated vibrato section
A Great Help in the Studio (Don't Mind the Haters)Possibly the most popular Rompler in the industry. However, it is also the most hated on (I won’t expand on this 🙂 ) Well, let’s put it this way, for EDM producers, this little piece does wonder and substantially make your production faster. However, it can get very expensive buying all the extra libraries which goes about $60 a pop!

#5. Serum (Xfer Records)

  • Realtime Watetable manipulation
  • Advanced Unison
  • Flangers, Phasers, and Comb filters
  • High-quality sound, visual and creative workflow-oriented interface
  • FM/AM/RM/Oscillator Sync
A Favorite in the StudioThis synth sounds are crisp and clean. There are so many ways to twist its sound without getting bored of it. Serum’s Wavetable and modulation system are very advanced and accurate with so many options like FM, AM, RM and so on…. It has a bit of a learning curve though. So, don’t run heads first in it or you’ll spend a lot of empty nights with it 🙂

#6. Spire (Reveal Sound)

  • 9x unison voices on each oscillator
  • Huge array of available Patches and Presets (Up there with Massive & Sylenth1)
  • Shaper/Decimator, Phaser/Vowel, Chorus/Flanger, Delay, Reverb
  • X­-Comp (Multiband Compressor) and 3-band EQ
  • Complex arpeggios and bass sequences
Looks Easy and Simple but Very Powerful InsideSince I’ve started using Spire, it has end up in about 80% of all tracks I’ve worked on. It has a very down to earth interface and it makes life so easy on programming it. On the other hand, there are so many Presets and Sound Banks for that synth there’s no way you can claim that you can’t find something from it.

#7. Omnisphere 2 (Spectrasonics)

  • Wavetable Synthesis – Each Waveform is now a Morphing Wavetable
  • Currently comes with 12,000 sounds out of the box
  • Note transposition for step seq-style patterns
  • 25 New FX Units built-in
  • Sound Match™ feature instantly locates any related sounds in the library
A Giant of a Synth!Right out of the bat, I’ll say that this synth monster is NOT for everyone. From my experience, it taxes your system more than any of the other synths in this list (again, my experience). However, the incredible amount of things it can do with some being exclusive features will marvel you. And for that, I don’t mind the taxing much.

#8. Sylenth1 (Lennar Digital)

  • 4 alias-free unison oscillators, which generate analog shaped waveforms
  • Play up to 512 voices simultaneously
  • 4 filter stages with nonlinear saturation incorporated
  • 2 ADSR envelopes and 2 LFO’s
  • 7 professional quality sound effects and an arpeggiator
Patches Galore; Feels Unlimited in Sound.I love Sylenth1! I literally have tracks built exclusively with it, loaded on 30 channels. Yup! It is very fast and intuitive to work with. My only gripe about it is that Lennar Digital got incredibly lazy on upgrading it with new features. But with so many available Sound Banks (paid and free), I guess they don’t feel that they to.

#9. Hive (U-he)

  • Up to 16x unison per oscillator
  • 12-slot modulation matrix, 2 targets per slot
  • 2 multimode filters (LP, HP, BP, BR or Peak)
  • Drag & drop modulation assignmen
  • 7 quality effects, rearrange in any order
Well Built with Big SoundsThis could easily be a Sylenth1 replacement but its Sound Banks count is still a baby, lol. I’m very much in a early journey with Hive trying to discover as much as possible about it. So far, it has impressed me with the ingredients it can put together. For now, I use it as a secondary unit to call up when needed.

#10. Z3ta+ 2 (Cakewalk)

  • 14 continuously variable dual-stage filter types
  • 6 Powerful LFOs for individual or universal control
  • Straightforward Mod Matrix and Arpeggio tools
  • Drag-and-drop FX in any order
  • 7-band graphic eq with variable band settings
An underrated synth with lots to offer.You probably won’t hear that many producers raving about Z3ta+ 2 but from experience I can tell you this synth doesn’t disappoint. Actually it does the job far better than a few over-hyped software out there. Cakewalk managed to create a product where you can feel at home no matter the genre you are dabbing into while using it.

#11. Loom (Air Music Technology)

  • 30 editable sound modules; freely combinable in 10 cells
  • 350+ patches programmed by legendary sound designers
  • Smart Sound Randomizer to quickly design unique sounds
  • Up to 512 harmonic partials per patch
  • Editable Spectral Distortion and Spectral Modulation controls
Very Unique Additive Synthesis with a Bite.Loom interface is a bit daunting. At first it is hard to know what to even press to get it going. So, this is another synth that I’ll say takes a bit more time to get a grasp of it. Also, the patches count is skimpy at around 350+. However, sometimes as a music producer you accept the challenge to make sounds. Loom will give you that challenge.

#12. Diva (U-he)

  • 1200 presets to get going
  • Zero-delay-feedback filters
  • Multithreading support for modern CPUs
  • Mix & match, send any oscillator model through any filters
  • Scope with 2 knobs frequency and scale
A true and demanding Diva in all form!Yes, this synth from U-he will suck the life out of your CPUs if you don’t have an adequate system for it. And forget about loading many instances 🙁 Though, the flip-side is that Diva is quite fantastic in the sound lushness it delivers to your tracks. In my case it is not a must-throw-on-every-tracks but I give her a call every now and then.

#13. Factory (Sugarbytes)

  • 2×10 Oscillator Engines, plus Sub Osc
  • Morph Crossfader allows for morphing of all continuous parameters
  • 8-Voice VA-Sync, FM, Transformer, Wavetable
  • Arpeggiator, Intonation engine, Scale Quantizer
  • 4x Sequencers for all kinds of Gates and CV’s
The New Kid on The Block Pretty new with Factory. It is as smooth as all of the other Sugar Bytes plugins. There’s something about that Matrix in the interface that makes you wanna keep trying to new things with. For now, I’d say that the learning curve is low.

#14. Iris 2 (iZotope)

  • Explore 11 GB of audio samples, all provided as 24-bit .WAV
  • Import your own audio files to craft truly one-of-a-kind sounds.
  • Draw your own unique filter shapes and isolate specific frequencies
  • Morph and visualize shape changes with real-time animation
  • Quickly access and assign macro controls for easy customization of your sound
Sample-based Never Sounded So Good.Iris 2 could easily be Loom’s brother in terms of WTF I do with this interface lol. Yes, Iris 2 has a very non-traditional interface with its placement of knobs. Don’t let that discourage you though. The sheer amount to fun and productivity you can have with it more than make up for its learning curve. Iris 2 is worth the investment.

#15. Wiggle (2Sense Audio)

  • 8 free drawing LFO/Envelope and 4 specialized modulators
  • 7 built-in effects can also be modulated
  • Morphing between 4 variations of a preset captured on the Morph Pad
  • Interactive Guide
  • Color Coded FM Matrix
Versatility Has a New FriendThis will appeal to noise freaks very much 🙂 This is the newest entry of soft synth on my list and I plan to build on knowing it better as I implement it in my production. The morphing capabilities are up the roof on this Wiggle box, which means you can come up with some pretty unique and fresh sounds.