Free Software For Fans of Synths
Post date:Thu, 04/12/2018 - 14:18
Collecting synthesizers can be a very expensive hobby, especially if your taste runs more towards the vintage variety. Fortunately, there are plenty of good software alternatives these days that enables you to not just save money, but also storage space. While they could never replace the real thing, these soft synths have steadily been getting better. However, due to the painstaking amount of research and work that goes into creating good software synthesizers, they are generally not free. Thankfully, even if you are completely broke, it doesn’t mean that you are out of luck when it comes to soft synths. As long as you have a computer and an internet connection, you’ll be able to get your hands on any of the following soft synths absolutely free.
Fans of the Korg PS-300 Polyphonic Synthesizer, which was released in 1977, will enjoy FB-3300. It is available for Microsoft Windows as well as Apple macOS and designed in a way that emulates all of the controls of the original synth. Besides being free, it is also a good choice for anyone with older computers as it is written in native C++ code, which means good performance with low CPU consumption.
Whether you want to build up your own virtual Eurorack modular synthesizer or expand your existing hardware modular synthesizer virtually, Rack can get the job done. The virtual modular synthesizer itself is open-source and available for free, while you can purchase various plugin modules to expand it. The good news is that most of the plug-in modules are also available for free. Rack is available for Windows, Mac as well as Linux and while it is currently in Beta, it already has a lot to offer.
For a multi format plugin synth that is based on the Yamaha DX7 hardware, look no further than Dexed. In order to use it you need an AU/VST host and it can even be used with a native DX7/TX7 as a patch editor as well as sysex manager. Don’t worry if you are not an FM synth programmer either as Dexed comes complete with a massive sound bank that is filled with classic DX7 presets to use.
Fans of the Alpha Juno won’t want to miss out on Phutura VSTi, which is a polyphonic virtual synth that has been inspired by this hardware. It features plenty of default presets and actually comes very close to the sound that has made the Alpha Juno hardware so memorable.
If you are new to the world of synths, then fiddling around with parameter knobs can be a little intimidating. However, with SyndtSphere, a free plugin synth, you can experiment with sound simply by rotating a spherical interface. It is very simple to use but packs more than seventy presets. While the iOS version of SyndtSphere is a paid app, you can download the PC and Mac versions in VST/AU format for free.
A few years ago, it would have cost you nearly $100 to get the FireBird 2 VST plugin from Tone2, but this is no longer the case. Instead, they decided to make their software, which is based on Harmonic Content Morphing synthesis, available for free. It’s not just easy to program and use, but features 84 oscillator types, 38 different filter types and is able to sound like other synthesis methods, including additive, subtractive, AM, FM and much more.
If you love the OB-X, OB-Xa and OB-8 synths, then you’ll love the free OB-Xd Synthesizer. Although based on the original hardware, OB-Xd also tweaks a couple of things compared to the original design in order to bypass some of the limitations it had. OB-Xd was originally developed by “2Dat” but the rights now belong to discoDSP, who still continues to maintain it. Free banks, such as Stamina for OB-XD, are also still being released.
TyrellN6 is a software synthesizer that has some interesting history behind it. It originated from a German online magazine reader survey where ideas were pooled for a lost-cost hardware analogue synth. A powerful concept was developed, but due to the amount of time that would have been involved to develop the actual hardware, one user took it upon himself to turn it into a freeware softsynth instead. The result was TyrellN6, which has gone through a lot of revisions in the meantime. It is still free and able to produce some beautiful vintage sounds.
While there are plenty of software synths available at a price, the ones listed above are able to showcase what can be accomplished with the format. Some of the newer soft synths on the market sound almost indistinguishable from the real thing to untrained ears, so they definitely make for good alternatives if you are unable or unwilling to put down the cash for a real synthesizer.