The 10 Best Synth Plugins of 2023 So Far
There’s no better way to open up doors to weird and wild sounds than a great synth plugin.
And if you think you’ve seen them all, guess again. Soft synth tech just keeps on evolving.
The lineup for 2023 (so far) is a roll call of exciting and innovative new VST instruments.
From analog emulations to cutting-edge granular synthesis, we’ve put together a list of the latest and greatest plugins that have had our resident synth nerds buzzing with excitement.
The best synth plugins of 2023 (so far)
Baby Audio just keeps on bringing the hits.
Inspired by the iconic 80s Yamaha CS01 analog monosynth, the BA-1 expands on the original with new feautres.
You’ll find increased polyphony, a second blendable oscillator and frequency modulation.
Fans of the original compact hardware synth will appreciate BA-1’s enhanced filter.
On top of that, BA-1’s effects chain has been meticulously modeled after 1980s rack hardware. It features a guitar-pedal-like overdrive and classic affordable hardware tones for reverb, chorus, and delay.
Additional highlights include dedicated sidechain input with Internal and External routing modes, a ‘Re-Gen’ button for patch creation, and a resizable interface with a retro aesthetic.
Get ready to be wowed by a plugin that combines vintage charm with modern features for an impressive soft synth experience.
Subharmonic synthesis is a powerful way to enhance low-end to your sounds in the mix.
Unlike boosting lows with EQ, subharmonic synthesis plugins add new harmonic content using the type of oscillator you might find in a synth.
When mapped onto the frequency and dynamics of the source signal, subharmonic techniques can enhance any signal with massive sub-bass.
That’s exactly how SSL SubGen brings thunderous, synthesized low-end to the table.
Powered by an advanced bass synthesis algorithm, SubGen generates a bipolar waveform one octave below the original source material, elevating the low-end presence of tracks.
Combined with comprehensive controls for gain, stereo width and frequency across its four synthesis bands and you’ve got a super-fun bass synth plugin.
Ambitious and innovative are two words that fit Klevgrand perfectly. They continue to up the stakes with each release and the newly dropped Tomofon is no exception.
Though the Tomofon’s functionality may veer into sampler territory, make no mistake, we’re definitely dealing with a soft synth here.
As a synth, the Tomofon uses a unique approach to sample-based synthesis to twist and shape the audio bits that it ingests. Time and velocity settings let you stretch and pull your sounds and a looping sustain effect provides unique and unpredictable results.
Somewhere between granular synthesis and wavetable synthesis, Tomofon provides unique synthesized sound from real audio.
Capture sound, break it apart, and build something new out of the ruins with this fun, innovative new toy from the good people at Klevgrand.
A virtual rendition of the ARP Odyssey, a much-loved 70’s gem, the Oddity3 remains faithful to the synth that inspired it.
This one’s been around for a minute (the original Oddity was released in 2002) but it has also undergone an evolution in that time. Gforce has pushed the boundaries of its capabilities while remaining faithful to one of the most revered synths of all time.
Along with faithful representations of the original hardware’s filters, oscillators, a ring modulator and AR and ADSR envelopes, the latest and greatest iteration of the Oddity features a ‘Vintage’ knob that dials in analog-style imperfections, new distortion and reverb effects and 250 new presets.
So what are you waiting for? Step into an odyssey of sound with the Oddity3.
The next evolution of Gforce’s acclaimed Minimonsta synth is here.
Fans of the iconic Minimoog emulation plugin would have a hard time believing that the original could be improved. The Minimonsta2 proves that the minds at GForce are not willing to rest on their laurels.
The Minimonsta2 is truly a force to be reckoned with—warm analog-style sound, dual voice mode for rich layering, a powerful arpeggiator, and a versatile modulation matrix for precise control over parameters, such as pitch, filter cutoff, and resonance.
The glow-up continues—the new version of the plugin also has a resizable interface with three distinct looks, the removal of patch morphing, and the inclusion of an additional low-end integrity filter.
Don’t let the ‘mini’ part fool you—this synth plugin is a beast.
Get tangled up in rich, complex synth tones with this fun new must-have from Toybox Audio.
The newest synth from the innovators at Toybox Audio pulls its inspiration from the renowned Eurorack modules. with all of the updated goodies you’d expect from a provider with such a solid track record.
You’ll get rich, swirling tones from two distinctive oscillators, wave-folding, FM to add a bit of grit to your track and a morphing filter with distortion.
Not only that, essential elements like modulation effects, delay and reverb Tangle Synth a powerful workhorse of a customizable monophonic synthesizer.
Audio Damage has unveiled Quanta 2, a robust upgrade to this renowned granular synth plugin.
The original Quanta was a full-featured ten-voice true stereo granular synthesizer, with up to a hundred 1000ms grains per voice, and full control over the grain state, with direct randomization and modulation of most parameters.
Quanta 2 boasts two virtual analog oscillators and an enhanced granular engine with pitch detection and note quantization.
Not only that, its revamped interface is even easier to use than before. You’ll find a simplified menu in place of the more complicated modulation matrix from the previous version.
Put some damage on your track with the new and improved Quanta 2, a robust, versatile and simple granular synth.
This one isn’t a full synthesizer but it still deserves an honorable mention.
The good folks at Arturia listened when fans said they loved the Korg MS-20’s classic filter. That’s why they’ve made a standalone version for processing any sound in your mix.
Arturia’s renowned True Analogue Emulation technology uses advanced mathematical models faithfully replicate the filter section of the iconic Korg MS-20.
That means you’ll get all the bite, snarl and character of the original with no compromises.
True, it’s not a synth per se—but don’t filter this one from your best synth plugin search.
It’s probably pretty obvious by now but in case there’s any confusion, we can’t get enough of Arturia. This one’s an offshoot of the hardware synth MiniFreak, a recent release from Arturia that’s been garnering rave reviews.
The MiniFreak V is a stand-alone product initially meant to accompany its real-world counterpart. But its popularity lead to Arturia making it available for individual purchase. Hurray!
You can expect all of the fun of the hardware version, like stunning analog-style FM bass, cinematic brass pads, and captivating shimmering leads.
In a year that’s shaping up to be an absolute doozy for synth plugins, this one’s a cherry on top.
Cherry Audio is no stranger to the synth world. Their latest polyphonic synth seamlessly blends multiple sound generation to produce an innovative tool.
Sines transforms pure sine waveforms into intricate and diverse sounds with techniques from subtractive, additive and FM synthesis.
With extensive modulation capabilities, advanced routing and an integrated effects engine, Sines can go from mellow to white-hot.
The best synth plugins ever?
2023 could be the year synth VSTs reach new heights of sound and capability.
Even if you’re not looking to update your plugin folder right away, it pays to stay on top of new developments in virtual instrument technology.
But if you’ve made it through this article you’ll have a great start when you’re looking for new sounds.
Nick Kewin is a writer, filmmaker and just-for-fun sound-dabbler who releases music as Old Nick and ¡SLANG!.
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