Top VST synths to use for lead, bass and weird noise patches.
Nowadays, looking at buying a Digital Audio Workstation can be a stretch on the budget, let alone buying additional plugins to add to your sound palette. If you can overlook sometimes clunky interfaces, there’s really a large variety of free VST synths to create music with, and all without breaking the bank.
If you’re tight on cash, don’t stress, here at Mixdown, we’ve collated seven of the best free VST synth plugins to use in your productions, whether that be for background keys, up front leads or interesting modulated effects.
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Togu Audio Line commonly known at TAL have been a popular part of the VST scene since they introduced the TAL U-NO, an emulation of the Juno-60 that was absolutely top notch. Alongside this, there was also the TAL-Noisemaker, an upgraded version of their TAL-Elec7ro synth.
This VST Synth, the TAL Noisemaker, has everything you’d expect from a synth made in the 80s. There’s two oscillator sections, a couple LFOs, filter and volume envelopes and some control over velocity and pitch wheel settings. What this synth offers that some other don’t, is an envelope editor which allows you to draw curves at will allowing for some wild results. Also unique on this VST synth is the bit crusher knob, for making patches gritty in no time.
Another one for fans of 80s synths, Dexed is an almost exact replica of the Yamaha DX7, while also functioning as a preset editor for the real deal hardware synth. Name an 80s band, and it’s almost certain they came into contact with a DX7 which made it one of the best selling digital synths of all time.
This faithful recreation is a lot simpler to interact with due to the fact all parameters are accessible without menu diving. Dexed also features a few operation modes, which allows for a more accurate emulation, downsampling audio resolution to match the original.
Utilising MIDI connectivity, it’s actually possible to DAW automate all 144 parameters which can then control a hardware version of this synthesiser, which is wild but probably not relevant if you’re looking for free software.
The Full Bucket Mono/Fury is yet again, a recreation of an 80s masterpiece, the Korg Mono/Poly. This recreation is pretty darn close to the original, especially from what you’d expect from a free plugin.
Unlike the original, you can actually save presets which is a fantastic feature. Utilising the four voltage controlled oscillators (VCOs) the synth functions with either one being triggered at a time or all four triggered at once, hence Mono/Poly.
The synth can create some other worldly tones along with nice leads and bass patches. Utilising the arpeggiator and twiddling with the oscillators while not in unison mode will result in some interesting tones.
U-He Tyrell N6
Designed after a poll ran on amazona.de asking people about a low-cost analogue hardware synth, the Tyrell N6 was born. Pretty similar in operation to a Juno-60, this synth has a few other cool additions to make it stand out. After just a couple weeks of deliberating if it would actually make it into the real world existence, the good designers at u-he created it.
This VST synth features two oscillators plus noise and a ring modulator, two LFOs which are syncable to your DAW, a source mixer with overdrive and filter feedback, ADSR envelopes and over 580 presets thanks to the fact this synth was well absorbed by its community.
This synth shows how powerful u-he’s digital analog model is and this synth is a perfect precursor to one of the best VST synths ever created, their semi modular Diva.
Originally designed as a Nord Lead 2 emulator, this fully formed synth was one of the earliest and most widely used free VSTs ever. As it was created in image of a digital synth, it was more accurately able to replicate the sound profile of the Nord synth.
Overlooking the obviously dated looking skin as it was created in 2002, Synth1 has one of the most approachable interfaces with everything clearly labelled. As it is so popular, there are stacks of presets to choose from, allowing for instant new inspiration. There’s two oscillators with FM and ring modulation, four filter types, distortion, 2 LFOs, an arpeggiator, delay and chorus FX and allows for 16 notes of polyphony.
This synth is a must have for any free VST synth enthusiasts and I have fond memories of using this synth extensively on music I made in the past. It’s safe to say this is one of the best free VST synths of all time.
Based off the incredible Korg PS-3300 polyphonic synth, the FB-3300 from Full Bucket Music features three synth blocks for increased tone options. This emulation has been aimed at close to the real deal which can get pretty complex quick due to the sheer amount of power available here.
Utilising patch menus as apposed to the usual patch cables allows for easier operating, and there are a few more modulation sources available here over the original. The micro-tuning option allows for interesting results which allow for fluctuations to played notes, which emulates what an analog unit would do.
Possibly the best part of this free synth, is it comes with an extensively in-depth description of what every parameter does, allowing you to fully understand what’s going on. If you’re looking for a synth to dive deep into learning the ins and outs, this one will keep you entertained for years to come.
This one is a particularly interesting one, as the VCV Rack Eurorack Simulator is potentially one of the most feature laden and flexible free VST Synth on here. Now VCV Rack is more of a DAW than a VST synth but as the software is open source someone has created a VST version of it.
This wild system features over 2600 Eurorack modules for you to patch and fiddle with to create interesting results. A majority of these modules are free and modelled after popular hardware Eurorack units which is cool. With the new VCV Host you can use other VSTs as modules, meaning you can put one of the other free synths from this list inside VCV rack and modulate the hell out of it.
VCV rack is an incredible way to get accustomed with modular workflow, allowing you to change modules at will without having to invest your life savings into an actual unit. As most modules are free too, there’s basically endless sound possibilities on offer here, with the software being regularly updated.
With this list, we hope you find some new free VST synths to play and create music with. If you’re interested in hardware synths, we have a guide on the best synths for beginners for you to read next.
If you want to dive deeper into free VST synths, check out KVR Audio’s free synth plugin page.