Best Synth VST Plugins to Take Your Sound to the Next Level

Best Synth VST Plugins to Take Your Sound to the Next Level Best Synth VST Plugins to Take Your Sound to the Next Level

Does your music lack the excitement and adventurousness you hear in favorite songs?

If so, it's probably because you lack the right sounds .

To get that expressive, creative, and professional sound you hear in your head, you need to start by checking out some of the best VST synth plugin developers. And no, we're not talking about those stock synth plugins that come with your DAW that have the same sounds every producer and their mom has used! Of course, with so many synth VST plugins on the market , picking the best ones can be overwhelming.

Luckily, you've come to the right place.

We're in the business of music production, and after many tireless years of research, we've compiled a list of some of the best synth VST plugins on the market today!

Hardware Synths vs. VST Synths

Talk to any analog purist, and they'll tell you that you "simply can't beat the warmth and realism of hardware synths." While hardware synthesizers and VST synths certainly have their own characteristics, VST synth plugins have come a long way in the past decade.

Now, beyond the scope of control that you can truly only get with VST synth plugins, they have incredible sound quality.

Let's dive in and check out the differences between these two types of synths.

Hardware Synths

Hardware synthesizers first came out in the 1960s and shaped music as we know it today. Nowadays, you can find these hardware synthesizers in many forms, including monophonic, polyphonic, digital, analog, modular, and more!

Sound Quality

For starters, hardware synthesizers are known for their top-notch sound quality that many people view as superior. It's the same thing as comparing a tube amp vs. a solid-state amp. There's just something about that warmth that gets people excited.

When compared to VST synth plugins, the biggest discrepancy in quality comes from analog synths . Analog synths use unique waveforms, meaning they have an objectively different sound. When you compare digital hardware synthesizers and software synthesizers, the discrepancy is much more difficult to suss out.


The price range for hardware synthesizers is quite large. However, with that said, there are far more affordable synth options on the market today than there used to be. The beauty is that many hardware synthesizers, even beyond classic synths, hold their value.

You can expect that your chosen synth will hold its value (if not become worth more) years after you purchase it. Essentially, if you decide to sell your hardware synth later down the line, you can probably expect to make a little profit!

Tactile Nature

There's something special about having a piece of hardware in front of you. With faders, knobs, buttons, and patch cables, you can have a truly tactile music-making experience.

There is a ton of value in interacting with gear during the music-making process. Plus, you have an unpredictable nature with these synths, which can be exciting if you like to experiment!

The Cons of Hardware Synthesizers


As we said before, hardware synthesizers vary in terms of price. Yes, there are a few great budget options out there, including synths from Arturia, Korg, and Behringer. There are also a few mid-range options from companies like Sequential and Roland.

However, when it comes to premium hybrid or analog synthesizers, you're looking at thousands of dollars for a SINGLE unit.


While hardware synth can be fun to interact with, it will also take up a lot of space in your studio. Sacrificing space can be difficult, especially if you work in a home studio or portable studio. It's MUCH easier to have a large bundle of software synths that you can take with you on your laptop on the go.

Lack of Versatility

Hardware is fairly limited compared to software, especially when it comes to analog gear. You often only get a few waveforms and oscillators to mess around with and a good handful of presets.

If you put the same amount of cash towards software synths, you could create an arsenal with more versatility than you could even dream about.

Software Synths

Software synths began appearing in the late 90s when computers began taking a role in the realm of music production. Today, the world of software synthesizers is exploding . There are so many unique options from high-end manufacturers, including Native Instruments, Arturia, and Spectrasonics.


While we may have already said it numerous times, soft synth VST plugins give you tons of versatility. Whether you're looking for a wavetable synth or emulations of classic hardware synthesizers, you'll be able to find exactly what you're looking for with software. Plus, most software synth plugins come with plenty of presets to get you started.

With studio-quality effects and intuitive interface designs, the tweakability with these software synth plugins feels limitless.


Having thousands of unique tones stored away on a single laptop is pretty incredible. It would likely blow the minds of synth fanatics from the early days. These software synth plugins can be recorded instantly with MIDI, which makes production far more flexible.

If you're buying based on pure practicality, then there is no better choice than a soft synth.


Compare prices of soft synth plugins vs. hardware synthesizers, and it's easy to see why so many people go with soft synths. You can obtain an entire arsenal of software synthesizers for the price of a single hardware synth.

The Cons of Software Synthesizers


Now, we know that sound quality is a completely objective idea, though there is science out there that provides evidence noting the superior quality of the hardware. If you look at analog waveforms and compare them to counterpart waveforms that have been digitally replicated, the analog waveforms are much smoother. This smoothness translates to a warmer sound.

With that said, software synth VST plugins have come a long way since their inception, and we guarantee most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference in a blind test.


While you can certainly buy software instruments with hardware synth integration, most plugins only have on-screen interfaces. To manipulate the various parameters, you have to click, drag, or enter numbers. The lack of a tactile experience is not as inspiring for some people, especially if you like the idea of using physical controls that can provide you with a sonic response.

Stock VST Synths vs. Paid Synths

While many DAWs come stocked with free synth VST plugins, having paid VSTs in your arsenal provides a few major benefits. For starters, paid software most often has a better sound than free plugin alternatives. Plus, when you invest money in something, you have more of an incentive to explore and use it.

Think of it like this. When someone first starts learning guitar, and they buy an ultra-cheap, knockoff brand that doesn't sound very good, they'll have less incentive to play, learn, and get better. It's best to buy something that you can continue using when you're more advanced.

Top 10 VST Synths

  1. Spectrasonics Omnisphere - Best Hybrid Synth
  2. Native Instruments Massive X - Best Bass Synth
  3. Xfer Serum - Best Wavetable Synth
  4. Arturia V Collection - Best Vintage Synth Emulations
  5. LennarDigital Sylenth 1 - Best Arpeggiator
  6. Native Instruments Kontakt - Best Sampler Engine
  7. Output Arcade - Best Loop Synthesizer
  8. u-he Diva - Best Analog Synth
  9. Native Instruments Reaktor 6 - Best Modular Synth
  10. Reveal Sound Spire - Best Digital Synth

1. Spectrasonics Omnisphere - Best Hybrid Synth

Spectrasonics Omnisphere - Best Hybrid Synth
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Price: $499

Synth Type: Granular, Wavetable synth

Main Specs: 500 Wavetables, 12 Envelopes, 34 Filters, 8 LFOs, 57 FX units

In the world of music production, Spectrasonics Omnisphere is an absolute giant. It is one of the most powerful VST synth plugins out there, with an insane level of functionality. For those who are new to music production, the amount of magic going on under the hood might be slightly overwhelming.

The good thing is that there is a massive Spectrasonics community that can help guide you whenever you're feeling lost. There are thousands (literally 14,000) of incredible sounds packed into this synthesizer and many great presets to help you discover all the sounds you could ever want without ever having to tweak. Plus, the FX engine is overflowing with possibility, making this one of the best sound design tools no matter what genre you work in.

What we liked

  • Great new oscillator shapes
  • Intuitive browser
  • Useful granular mode
  • Loads of awesome prests

What could be improved

  • Some presets come up way too loud
  • It can be overwhelming for many

2. Native Instruments Massive X - Best Bass Synth

Native Instruments Massive X - Best Bass Synth
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Price: $149

Synth Type: Virtual Analog Subtractive Sound Design

Main Specs: 170 wavetables, ten synth modes, sub-modes, two phase-modulation oscillators

Native Instruments Massive is legendary in the world of soft synths, and with the newly introduced Massive X, there's even more to love. While most music producers talk Massive X up for its bass sounds, there is so much more to this fiery soft synth plugin.

Under the hood, you'll find an incredible virtual-analog subtractive engine. While it might seem complex when you first open it up, you'll soon feel familiar with it after you realize how intuitive the workflow is.

Generations of producers have poured incredible sounds into this, and if you're looking to get fat sound quality with a synth plugin, then look no further.

What we liked

  • High-end routing system
  • Excellent performer modulator
  • Tons of cool effects
  • High-end sounds

What could be improved

  • Not a lot of visual feedback
  • No sample import or wavetable
  • Not able to save Performer presets

3. Xfer Serum - Best Wavetable Synth

Xfer Serum - Best Wavetable Synth
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Price: $189

Synth Type: Wavetable

Main Specs: Four wavetable oscillators, three envelopes, one filter, four LFOS, and a vast library of effects

Look at just about any list of "essential soft synths," and we guarantee you'll see Xfer's Serum. This incredibly versatile wavetable synth relies completely on wavetable technology. When an electronic music producer tells you that Serum doesn't have any limitations when it comes to processing, they're right.

The wavetable technology is some of the most powerful software technology on the market. The wavetables have been implemented in an expert fashion, so much so that even the simplest of waveforms are clean and clear. Whether you're looking for a deep, sinewave sub or a dirty square lead, you can find what you're looking for with Serum.

Beyond the presets integrated into this plugin from many incredible sound designers, there are lots of third-party sounds out there.

What we liked

  • Flexible Unison modes
  • Morphing oscillators
  • High-quality sound
  • Tons of modulation options

What could be improved

  • Hard on the CPU

4. Arturia V Collection - Best Vintage Synth Emulations

Arturia V Collection - Best Vintage Synth Emulations
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Price: $599

Synth Type: Virtual Analog

Main Specs: 28 instruments, Analog Lab matrix, TAE Modeled sound

The Arturia V Collection may just be one of the coolest collections of soft synths on the market today, as the library is packed with astonishingly high-quality emulations of iconic vintage synthesizers. Whether you're looking to emulate the funky basslines found on the legendary Minimoog or the spacey pads found on the CS-80, the Arturia V Collection provides.

There's something quite incredible about having easy access to some of the most classic synths in the world. Synth enthusiasts of past eras could have only dreamt about this kind of technology.

At this point, the Collection has almost 30 synthesizer VSTs. So yes, when you consider the price of this huge collection of synth VSTs, it might seem expensive. However, there are enough possibilities wrapped up in this collection that you'll have a lifetime of music production and sound design to explore.

What we liked

  • Excellent value compared to hardware
  • Unbelievable sound quality
  • Great new macro features

What could be improved

  • Lots of choices can make it overwhelming

5. LennarDigital Sylenth 1 - Best Arpeggiator

LennarDigital Sylenth 1 - Best Arpeggiator
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Price: $169

Synth Type: Virtual Analog

Main Specs: Four Oscillators, Four filters, Two LFOs, Two Envelopes, Effects, Arpeggiator

Similar to Xfer Serum, LennarDigital's Sylenth 1 is an iconic synth VST plugin in the world of electronic music. While there are many newer virtual synths with the analog sound on the market, Sylenth 1 still delivers some of the best sounds you need to create the most popular sounds found in music today. From crispy leads to analog basses to heavy supersaw chords, you have just about everything you need to create.

We know this synth plugin isn't fancy by any means, though it is shamelessly great at what it does. One of the best things about this particular synth is the arpeggiator, which is one of the features you'll likely find yourself using most often. With four oscillators routed to two separate envelopes, it's easy to craft and layer unique sounds to create your own patches.

What we liked

  • Amazing sound
  • Tons of usable presets
  • Reasonable Price
  • Very easy to use

What could be improved

  • It can be a bit sterile for some
  • No dedicated PWM

6. Native Instruments Kontakt - Best Sampler Engine

Native Instruments Kontakt - Best Sampler Engine
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Price: $399

Synth Type: Sampling Engine

Main Specs: Wavetable Synth module, 55GB+ Sample Library

While the basic version of Kontakt might be one of the best free synth VSTs out there, it's the paid synths that make this one of the best synth VST plugins on the market today. Kontakt goes far beyond your basic plugin synth. In all actuality, it's a sampler engine with a larger-than-life sample library, a wavetable synthesis module, and a vast modulation matrix.

There are so many libraries to choose from that you may never need to buy another piece of software again. Whether you're purely looking for synth sounds, or you like the idea of adding drums, pianos, guitars, orchestral sounds, and more to your production library, you can do it with Kontakt.

One of the neat things about Kontakt is that its sound generation engine purely relies on audio files that have been recorded. Unlike other forms of synthesis, these recorded sounds give an added layer of warmth and realness to your mixes.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the number of VST instruments Kontakt has available, then I highly recommend starting with the ones from the Kontakt Play Series.  

What we liked

  • Extremely powerful sampling capabilities
  • Tons of great new filters
  • Huge bundle of libraries to explore

What could be improved

  • The internal components may be overwhelming for some

7. Output Arcade - Best Loop Synthesizer

Output Arcade - Best Loop Synthesizer
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Price: $10 Monthly

Synth Type: Looping Synth

Main Specs: 15-Voice Sampler, 11 effects, robust modulation matrix, macro sliders

Output's Arcade is a unique loop synthesizer that you pay for with a subscription-based service. Arcade links up the extensive Output library, which you can then process with a robust set of modulations, effects, and macros.

Whether you're a complete beginner or a synth expert, Arcade is one of the best synth plugins if you want to get sounds fast . One of the great things about this particular synth is that the company updates it each day, meaning with each session, you can use a completely fresh set of sounds for never-ending inspiration. In our eyes, Output completely reimagined the possibilities of synthesis, and no matter what kind of music producer you are, you can find something here to spark your creative flow.

We love the fact that everything in Arcade starts with a loop, which you can then tweak until you get something tasty. Yes, some people might not like the fact that you don't get total control over the sound to start with, though when you consider how fast it is to get professional sounds, the trade-off makes a lot of sense.

What we liked

  • Extremely powerful playback instruments
  • Tons of unique effects
  • High-end time stretching capabilities
  • Daily updates

What could be improved

  • Subscription-based
  • No assignable secondary outputs

8. u-he Diva - Best Analog Synth

u-he Diva - Best Analog Synth
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Price: $219

Synth Type: Virtual Analog

Main Specs: Five oscillators, two envelopes, five filters, two LFOS, Oscilloscope, Effects section

Obtaining the analog sound with VST synths is much easier than ever before. If you don't feel like spending tons of money on the individual synths from Arturia's V Collection, then we recommend checking out this beauty from u-he.

u-he's Diva is a semi-modular synth with an analog-style sound, drawing influence from a variety of iconic hardware units. You'll find several oscillators, envelopes, and filters, each of which you can tweak to get sounds that are near indistinguishable from their analog counterparts.

Diva was released more than ten years ago, yet it still holds up as a must-have soft synth. With the most recent update, you have a Roland JP-8000-style oscillator, which is wonderful for creating larger-than-life pad sounds.

What we liked

  • Emulates five incredibly popular synthesizers
  • Tons of flexibility

What could be improved

  • Dated interface

9. Native Instruments Reaktor 6 - Best Modular Synth

Native Instruments Reaktor 6 - Best Modular Synth
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Price: $169

Synth Type: Eurorack

Main Specs: 70 modules, sequencers, groove boxes, macro programming

Native Instruments Reaktor goes beyond your average virtual instrument. This modular DSP lab allows you to build synths, sample engines, and effects with a wide range of sound design tools. Users can patch together various Blocks, creating a Eurorack-style environment for sound creation. There are over 70 instruments that come with Reaktor 6, though there are plenty more up for grabs if you ever feel like you want to expand.

Whether you're into complicated synthesis or you just want to flip through different presets to see what you stumble across, Reaktor 6 has plenty of cool features for all. However, if you're someone who likes experimenting and you love putting yourself up against steeper learning curves, then this is one of the best synths around.

What we liked

  • Top-of-the-line analog sounds
  • Insane amount of flexibility
  • Outstanding value

What could be improved

  • High CPU usage
  • It can be confusing for beginners

10. Reveal Sound Spire - Best Digital Synth

Reveal Sound Spire - Best Digital Synth
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Price: $189

Synth Type: Virtual Analog

Main Specs: Four oscillators, four LFOs, Two filters, Effects

Last on our list is this gorgeous Virtual Analog synthesizer called Spire. Note that Spire may not be for everyone, though if you need clear, crisp, sterile synth sounds, we can't think of a better plugin to do the job. Plus, Spire has had a major impact on electronic music production over the past decade. In fact, many trance producers say Spire is their go-to synth.

From lush pads to stabbing basslines to supersaw synth chords, all of the sounds that you would expect from trance and other electronic music genres can be found under the hood. A lot of these sounds are super punchy too, which is great if you make hard-hitting music, though you still want things to sound as clear and transparent as possible.

What we liked

  • Clean and simple interface
  • Punchy sounds
  • Great for EDM

What could be improved

  • It can be a bit sterile for some

Final Thoughts - The Best Synth VSTs

In the past decade, the rise in quality soft synths has been phenomenal. People that are still unsure about soft synths because of "sound quality" need to start rethinking. Every software synth has its own sounds and characteristics, and each can be a wonderful tool to have in your arsenal.

Whether you're looking for some modern and shiny like Sylenth 1, something that gives you access to the beautiful sounds of classic hardware synths like Arturia, or something that can provide you with a world of endless possibilities like Omnisphere, you can get the sounds you're looking for without spending thousands of dollars or taking up space in your studio.

We hope that you enjoy our list of the best synth plugins on the market. We highly recommend picking up at least a few of them to truly expand your production and sound design capabilities.

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