Which Software Synths do you use and recommend?

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For as long as I've been making music I've pretty much only used the stock Logic Synths, most of the time I just use ES2.  However I'm wondering if getting some DAW agnostic Synth or Synths and learning them is a better long term plan, since right now I'm preferring tracking instruments in Studio One and honestly in the future I might not go Mac again next time. 

Here's the thing... I have no idea where to start!  I definitely want a synth plugin not a sample set.

Is it worth holding out for a sale on Native Instruments Komplete and learning the synths in that?  Or should I look at a Rob Papen Bundle?  Or something from u-He?

I like a broad range of sounds and listen to pop, EDM, film soundtrack stuff.  From an untrained eye it kind of seems like most synth plugin companies can cover most bases with their product range, so I'm a bit confused with where to start.

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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3276
    There's a huge lot in Reason - analogue and FM based
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Always forget about Reason, for some reason!  Will have to stick that on the to investigate further list
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  • gwEmgwEm Frets: 10
    I get a lot of mileage out Synth1 still. It's an oldie, goodie and free.
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  • LuminousLuminous Frets: 206
    Mai Tai in S1 is much more powerful than it looks. I've loving Thor (from reason ) on the ipad at the mo..Arturia quite often do great package deals
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  • spark240spark240 Frets: 863
    Im using the Air bundle with S1, some good stuff in there.


    Mac Mini i7, 2.3Ghz.
    Presonus Studio One Pro.
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  • sweepysweepy Frets: 1649
    With NI Komplete, don't forget the power of Romplers in Kontakt, some great sounds there, also look at Omnisphere 
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  • lysanderlysander Frets: 44
    Anything by U-he.
    I would get Diva for analogue sounding goodness and Zebra for an ultimate powerhouse do it all synth.
    Re-pro 1 if you need a good mono synth, and Bazille for modular hybrid analogue / digital madness.

    But really Diva and Zebra can do 99% of all the synth work you would ever need.

    For complex soundscapes and modular craziness I also highly recommend Native Instrument Reaktor 6.
    The Blocks are very fun, sound splendid and are as good as better as having a real modular ( having had both - each has advantages and drawbacks but ultimately Reaktor won for me ). 
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  • FretwiredFretwired Frets: 15371
    edited June 2017
    I recommend Massive - I use it all the time and you can get some stunning results. I'd get Komplete - you get Massive and host of others .. I love Monarch (it's basically a Moog) .. personally I'd start with Komplete Select for £159 .. it has a range of synths and content to get you going ..

    https://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/bundles/komplete-11-select/



    My pump-action drivel gun is smoking hot today!
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17426
    In addition to the others mentioned also check out Tone 2 Icarus & Xfer Records Serum.

    I am the juice of four limes.
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 719
    edited June 2017
    I've accumulated a few over the years. The synths I currently use the most are:

    U-he Diva for Analogue sounds

    NI FM8 for FM synthesis

    Image Line Ogun for additive synthesis. Very good for metallic and bell like sounds

    AAS Chromaphone for percussive type synthesis

    Image Line Harmless which I've used for such things as powerful bass synth tones.

    Earlier this year I upgraded to NI Komplete Ultimate which has some excellent synths which I'm still learning about. I suspect most of my synth needs might be satisfied by NI Komplete, but I'd still go for U-he Diva which is a lovely analogue synth.
    It's not a competition.
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  • cpcompanycpcompany Frets: 94
    Used a few in my time. Massive, Predator,Albino, Trillian. Zebra, Diva and Alchemy. I've kept Zebra, Diva, Alchemy and Trillian, although I never use Trillian.

    Out of all those I feel I can cover everything I need with both U-He synths and Alchemy. To get the best out of Zebra you need powerful computer. Personally I wouldn't get Komplete as to me it seems overkill and I found having less software is better for me anyway. 
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  • TeetonetalTeetonetal Frets: 5638
    I've got Komplete and I'm not that keen. Lots of the synths are hosted in Reaktor and I hate it, sure it sounds good, but I just find it too messy to work with.

    I much prefer the Arturia collection, really easy to use, easy to map to a controller and they sound great. I got colection 5 80% off in black friday sales. so I think 179 GBP for the lot. money well spent.


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  • shrinkwrapshrinkwrap Frets: 120
    U-he Zebralette is a cut down free version of Zebra - amazing they give it away - has loads of good sounds.
    There's quite a few freebies that have unusual sounds if you're prepared to spend time looking into them.
    Morfiki 'mass turbo tar' (boom, boom) can morph between patches via controller.
    VSTZone's Atmospheres is good for ambient, it pairs unusual oscillator combos.

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  • wave100wave100 Frets: 107
    I've got Komplete and I'm not that keen. Lots of the synths are hosted in Reaktor and I hate it, sure it sounds good, but I just find it too messy to work with.

    I much prefer the Arturia collection, really easy to use, easy to map to a controller and they sound great. I got colection 5 80% off in black friday sales. so I think 179 GBP for the lot. money well spent.


    Well that just shows how much of it is down to taste - I also have Komplete and love it! Monark is the best mini emulation I've come across, and Reaktor blocks are awesome if you are into modular. I've also got the Arturia V collection (V4) which I got for a good price on sale. So really I don't need any more synths...

    NI do some freebies if you check their site.
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  • SnapSnap Frets: 2174
    I bought Komplete 9 Ultimate second hand for 350, and its the best software money I've spent apart from my DAW. I think its awesomely good. I am going to upgrade it to v11 today, as uptil tomorrow there is a 50% off deal on. GOod value. Worth going on NI's website today to see for yourself.

    My other go to synth is Omnisphere 2: its all you need. it really is.

    If you have Logic, Alchemy is bundled with it now, and that was probably my favourite synth before they were bought by Apple. I have every library released for that, and stil use it.

    It really depends what you are wanting I suppose. I am a bit of a synth nut, and can't stop buying them, so I do have a few. But if you wanted just one synth that can do more or less anything, then it would be Omnisphere 2. It has the lot, and its huge, but not hard to use.





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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2798
    edited June 2017
    +1 for Spectrasonics.
    Omnisphere 2 (synths, experimental) 
    Stylus RMX (beats, percussion) 
    Trillian (specialising in bass) 
    Keyscape (pianos, traditional keys).

    Rob Papen makes some good instruments and tutorial materials to support them.

    The D16 Group makes some excellent instruments that exceed expectations of the 101, 303, 606, 808 and 909. 

    KORG Legacy.

    Roland "plug-out" SH-101, SH-2 et cetera.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Made some small progress in demoing.

    Had a go on the demo versions of all the U-He Synths.  The ones that make most sense to me are Zebra and Hive, with Hive being simplest.  I quite like the sounds of Diva too, though on first impressions I prefer the workflow in the other 2.

    I'm going to demo NI and Rob Papen stuff too when I get a chance.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Further demoing, this time also the RP synths.

    Keep going back to Hive, it doesn't quite do everything but it's so fast an easy at more bread and butter modern EDM stuff.

    Also still enjoying Zebra which has a lot more options, is well laid out, but by nature a bit slower to use due to its potential complexity.

    The RP stuff is nice, I already have Blue 1, overall I feel I might as well just upgrade to Blue 2 rather than getting the whole bundle. I think I prefer the u-he stuff.

    Still need to check out Massive too.

    Going to have to be talked out of adding too many synth parts to songs at this rate... having a lot of fun writing parts
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Spent some time demoing Massive, I like it and I like the GUI more than I enjoyed the GUIs in the Rob Papen stuff.  However I think I've decided which synths suit me best now.

    I feel like in the short term the best decision for me is to get U-He Hive.  It might not be the most versatile but it gets the sounds I look for super fast, and it's enjoyable to use.  It took me the least time to learn the GUI and this is a major factor for me because I look to synth stuff as an extra rather than a primary sound from a creative standpoint.  

    The less time I spend messing with settings the better - and I acknowledge that my familiarity with synths is much lower than with guitar gear... I'm more at home with a complex piece of gear for guitar just due to experience, an Axe FX 2 doesn't phase me because I'm generally confident of how to get from A-B without getting too lost.  With synth, I couldn't tell you 'oh that's clearly this type of wave layered with that type of wave' because I don't have that burned into my brain, yet.  

    Zebra seems pretty amazing too.  I feel like if I sat down and really learned a lot then I'd probably only need Zebra, but by the same token over the immediate future I don't see me reaching that level with synths.

    I've worked out that really fat vintage synth sounds and vintage inspired GUIs aren't really my thing, I'm always trying to make stuff that bit more aggressive to get it to sit with heavy guitars and that's easier in some synths than others.

    With regards to NI, I'll probably just wait for the next major sale precluding the release of Komplete 12, they usually do a good deal on the outgoing Komplete at that point.  Right now they're only doing deals on upgrades.

    TLDR, Hive seems to be the sweet spot for me and I'd recommend giving the demo a go, it's very easy to use and sounds really good IMO.

    Thanks

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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    octatonic said:
    In addition to the others mentioned also check out Tone 2 Icarus & Xfer Records Serum.


    So I took a longer look at Serum, actually I've been watching the Groove 3 Tutorial on it since the demo window is so small (just 15 minutes, I want to know the basics before I try it).  It looks pretty awesome and the layout is great.  I feel like Hive for basic stuff and Serum for anything more advanced will suit me quite well.
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  • Drew_TNBDDrew_TNBD Frets: 22388
    Max, send me a PM re: synths.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Instructions followed
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17426
    edited July 2017
    LOL.
    Serum is great.

    Here is the truth with digital synths, most people own far more than they use and understand virtually nothing about synthesis.
    They end up as semi-skilled button pushers who eventually happen upon something musically useful.
    What is much better is to use some very simple synths, like the ones built into Logic, and to understand what an oscillator does, how an LFO works, what you can do with a filter etc before graduating to more complex stuff.
    Then it doesn't matter so much about presets or even feature set- you just adapt to what you have to work with and make music.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Well, it's been nearly a year since I posted this.

    Skill wise I have improved, but I've also come to realise just how deep a topic it can be if you really want to get creative with it.

    I do feel like I can create simple pads, basses and leads from scratch to my liking, so that's progress.

    I'm mostly using Hive, Serum, and Waves Element 2.0.

    The more I learn about synths the more I realise how powerful Serum is.  I could do almost everything I need in Serum - actually I find the presets more distracting than anything else as so many are based around very specific movement that doesn't tend to fit what I'm looking for.

    I'm demoing Repro 5 right now though and I absolutely love the sound of that.  It's also nice and simple to use quickly.  I've tried creating similar patches in Hive and Repro and while it does use more CPU, the sound is thicker and lusher in Repro 5.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17426

    The more I learn about synths the more I realise how powerful Serum is.  I could do almost everything I need in Serum - actually I find the presets more distracting than anything else as so many are based around very specific movement that doesn't tend to fit what I'm looking for.

    :)

    Yup, the secret is largely out now but for a long time it was a bit of a secret weapon.
    It has become the soft synth I use most of the time, although I use a lot of hardware synths too.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6778
    Which hardware synths are you using? Is it a tone thing or a workflow and tone thing?
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 17426
    edited May 29
    Which hardware synths are you using? Is it a tone thing or a workflow and tone thing?
    I've got  a fair few few.
    I had a massive sell off a few years ago and then started buying the ones I love back and added a few more.
    Favourites are Moog Sub 37, Roland JP8000, Korg Prophecy, Nord Modular.

    I just picked up an Arturia Matrixbrute today, getting it tomorrow, which is very exciting.
    It is a monster.
    Plan is to get a lot of the Japanese stuff in Singapore when we are out there.

    It is a combination of sound and workflow- there is something more immediate about turning physical knobs, rather than moving knobs on a screen.
    I haven't found anything as snarly as the Moog Sub 37 in software form.
    Also, some of them allow me to run guitars/drums/vocals etc through them, which is fun.
    I am the juice of four limes.
    Trading Feedback
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 2798
    edited May 30
    octatonic said:
    I haven't found anything as snarly as the Moog Sub 37 in software form.
    +1 

    In my case, the hardware instrument is an old Creamware Minimax ASB. One or two tracks of this can really fill out a multi-track Project in a way that a shedload of ROMpler replay synth sounds can not. If, for example, you are going to use a Taurus style bass part, it needs to throb in the low registers. Through loudspeakers, at decent monitoring sound pressure levels, the walls and floor should vibrate sympathetically.

    Other hardware favourites of mine include the Creamware Prodyssey ASB, an expanded E-Mu Orbit 3 and the Roland JD-990 with the SR-JV80-04 Vintage Synth expansion board.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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