Vintage Synth Plugins: The 8 Best VSTs for Classic Retro Sound
Vintage synth plugins are one of the best ways to get classic electronic sounds into your productions.
If you’re a fan of the original era of bleeps, bloops, leads and pads, you’ll need some vintage style plugins in your arsenal.
While these iconic instruments are widely loved and usable in any genre of music, original units are among the most expensive music gear to buy today.
That’s why vintage synthesizer plugins are the best way to incorporate their sound without breaking the bank.
In this article I’ll list the 8 best vintage synth plugins available today.
Let’s get started.
1. Softube Model 84 – Roland Juno
Softube’s excellent new series of vintage synth plugins includes takes on classics like the Minimoog and SH-101.
But their take on Roland Juno is especially compelling for fans of classic 80s polyphonic synthesis.
If you’re looking to evoke the classic era of synth pop smash hits, consider the Model 84.
2. U-He Diva – Minimoog
What vintage synth could be more iconic than the Minimoog Model D?
With countless software and hardware recreations available, its distinctive retro sound is here to stay.
When it comes to vintage synth plugins, you have a lot of options that claim to capture the Minimoog sound.
But one of the best is actually the multipurpose U-He Diva.
Built to be a perfect platform for analog emulation, its Moog-style modes are among the best sounding plugin synths ever.
3. Arturia 2600 V – ARP 2600
There’s just something captivating about the ARP 2600.
A classic mono synth with retro sound, its patchable architecture opened up unique possibilities for sound design.
Arturia’s excellent plugin edition of the 2600 preserves this feature with virtual cables and adds the desirable ARP sequencer to boot.
A must in any serious vintage synth plugin collection!
4. U-He Repro – Sequential Prophet 5
The Sequential Prophet 5 changed synth design overnight with its introduction of presets and affordable polyphony.
U-He’s Repro is an outstanding emulation of the Prophet 5, accurately capturing its warm, analog character.
With incredible sound quality and an extensive preset library, Repro is one of the best options available for authentic Prophet 5 tones.
5. Dexed – Yamaha DX-7
The 80s are back—or did they never really leave?
The era known for classic synth pop hits owes a lot to the distinctive sound of the DX7’s FM synthesis.
You can get it for free in your DAW with Dexed.
This vintage synth plugin accurately emulates the DX-7, offering the same crystal-clear bell tones and evolving pads that defined a generation of synth sounds.
With full compatibility for original DX-7 patches, Dexed is an excellent choice for fans of the classic FM synth.
6. GForce Oberheim OB-E – Oberheim 8 Voice
Oberheim’s 70s-era 8 Voice is a holy grail of vintage synths.
Made up of 8 Synthesizer Expander Modules, the 8-voice is one of the fattest subtractive synthesis machines ever built.
GForce’s Oberheim OB-E plugin captures the essence of the 8 Voice, delivering its distinctive sound
With eight individual voice modules, the OB-E offers unparalleled sound design capabilities in a vintage synth plugin.
7. Waldorf PPG Wave 3.V – PPG Wave
The PPG Wave is an 80s-era digital synthesizer that introduced a whole new method of synthesis.
Known for its icy, evolving timbres, wavetable synthesis would go on to join the pantheon of sound generation techniques alongside subtractive and FM.
Waldorf’s own PPG Wave 3.V is a faithful emulation of this classic synth, providing the same rich wavetable synthesis and a wide range of presets.
Perfect for creating complex, evolving sounds, the PPG Wave 3.V is an essential addition to any vintage synth plugin collection.
8. Korg Wavestation Legacy Edition – Korg Wavestation
The Korg Wavestation is a unique synthesizer that combined wavetable synthesis with vector mixing for a vast array of evolving, atmospheric sounds.
It’s known for the cinematic digital textures heard in some classic 90s ambient tracks.
Korg’s Wavestation Legacy Edition plugin brings this classic synth to the modern era, replicating its iconic sound while updating its notoriously difficult user interface.
With the original waveforms and presets, the Wavestation Legacy Edition is a must-have for fans of the original synth and those looking to explore unique, evolving soundscapes.
The world of vintage synth plugins offers an incredible array of classic sounds that shaped the landscape of electronic music.
These emulations not only capture the essence of the original instruments but also make them accessible to modern producers without the need for expensive and hard-to-maintain hardware.
With tools you can create authentic, inspiring music that harkens back to the golden age of synthesis.
By adding these tools into your plugin, you’ll unlock exciting possibilities and endless potential for crafting your own unique sonic signature, all while enjoying the iconic synths that paved the way.
Michael Hahn is an engineer and producer at Autoland and member of the swirling indie rock trio Slight.
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