Analog synthesizers get a lot of love these days, so it is no surprise that there is a lot of focus on and fuss about software synths that can emulate them accurately. One of the reasons why FM synthesis is often dismissed is due to the reputation it has for being overly complex and very long-winded. However, these synths are also able to produce unique types of sounds that simply cannot be reproduced by analogue synths.
Synth purists will always prefer playing on the real thing, but digital audio workstations and software synthesizers have really opened the doors for people interested in vintage synths, but lacking the funds to buy real ones. We have already looked at some of the available options when it comes to DAWS, but unless you prefer working purely with a keyboard and mouse, you are going to need some type of external controller to get the most out of it. This is where MIDI controllers shine as they are typically portable, lightweight and very affordable.
There are thousands of great synth songs across various genres, but when it comes to cover versions, it seems that vintage synth enthusiasts just can't get enough of classic videogame soundtracks. In the first part of our article we have already showcased some great classic tunes from the likes of Ducktales, Chrono Trigger, Tetris, Super Mario Bros and many others. However, those were just the tip of the iceberg as there are many other memorable tunes that still sound great when played on a synthesizer.
One of the great things about video games from the eighties and nineties, apart from the addictive gameplay that many of them had, are the soundtracks. Despite the limitations that a lot of hardware from the era had, the composers for many of these games came up with some of the most memorable songs in gaming. Systems like the Nintendo Game Boy got by with two pulse wave generators, 1 PCM 4-bit wave sample channel and a noise generator, although systems like the Sega Genesis fared better thanks to the Yamaha YM2612 FM synthesizer it sported.
Although most vintage synthesizer enthusiasts would no doubt prefer a room full of hardware, there can be doubt that software synths have come a long way. However, to make use of the myriad of soft synths that are available, you need a MIDI controller as well as a digital audio workstation. Both of these have numerous options to choose from, but in the case of digital audio workstations, you actually have a large number that are completely free.