Softsynths & FX Thread


Lately I’ve been trying to figure out a new softsynth to incorporate in my tunes. As others have suggested, it seems like Serum is pretty stellar. I have Massive, and Nexus, but I’m craving something new.

What softsynths are your guys favs, maybe some gems I haven’t heard of out there?


I like Diva by U-he a lot. It models a handful of vintage oscillators and filters really well, but lets you mix and match. You haven’t blown someone’s mind until you’ve done minimoog FM through a roland filter which you are also giving FM. Good effects on board too.


Watching some demos right now…

man, that thing can do some lush pads!!!


I’ll send you some of my stuff tonight. I used to do the big lush analog with it, but like I said, I’ve also gotten beautifully broken stuff out of there. People regularly think I have actual hardware when I use that (proper mixing certainly helps).


please do! Considering getting this one, highly.


VCV Rack?


Well, what are you looking for in a soft synth?

Madrona Labs Aalto is one of my favs, but I also like FM8 a lot, because you can easily go from an old Yamaha Factory Sysex patch to some acid madness…


Mostly looking for dreamy pads and more of a digital flair. I love analog sounds, but my music is predominately made with a scifi aesthetic. the only hardsynth I use is an access virus Ti, so massive/Nexus was usually my go to in the softsynth realm.

Acid isn’t really my jam, but I do love a good array of plucked and digital synths.


Yeah, Serum is pretty great. But it kind of occupies the same territory as your TI and Massive.

Harmor is pretty crazy. Though you probably already have it, since you’re using FL. If not, you should definitely look into it.

I love Padshop Pro for granular synthesis.


For Pads I like to use FM8 together with Massive a lot.
I think Massiv’s modulated wavetably stuff works really well together with dreamy pads from FM8.

But I also like to use some classics like TAL U-NO-LX and TAL Bassline 101.

Oh and the U-he Freeware Tyrell N6


what’s your guys feelings on NI’s other stuff, other than Massive?


I think Serum is about as flexible as it gets until you get into Reaktor/PD/Max. It does a ridiculous amount of shit, and it’s usable. It’s not best-in-class at any of it, but it’s a great value for what it does, and it does it all under one roof.

If you want pad/soundscape stuff, Omnisphere, full stop. Nothing comes close. But it’s fucking expensive and a lot of work to get your head around.

All of u-he’s stuff is amazing. Diva, Repro, and especially Zebra are really usable and great sounding.

If you want to get really specific sounds, Arturia’s Collection has a ton of classics that sound great and are even more usable than the real things.


Btw, Arturia just recently released a new VA/Wavetable synth. ‘Arturia Pigments’
Dunno how it sounds, but it sure looks interesting^^
Maybe check out the demo :slight_smile:


Have to agree that Serum is a pretty neat soft synth to use if your looking for more of a “digital” style sound. While FM8 is a stellar soft synth, it can also be a bit of a pain to get into if you just wanna deign a sound and go.

  • “Serum is an Advanced Wavetable Synthesizer that allows you to create your own wavetables from samples or by hand (drawing the waves). It features a powerful morphing tool, a very high sound quality when sampling/adding sounds and a lot of modulation possibilities, just like Massive.”

-FM8 is a very powerful FM synthesizer that has a very intuitive FM Matrix and gives out very clean and interesting sounds when “feeding” operators one another. (Also called “feedback”)
It also features advanced modulation tools and sources, and it can also “digitalize” your sound with an awesome Digital slider."

I have both, and with serum you are able to create wavetables, and a few other intricate type back end style engineering applications can be applied to your audio design. With 10 effects, andimpler envelope designing, and filtering it is rather easy to pick up on.

FM8 allows you to have 6 oscillators, complex morphing of x:y, 12 high quality effects.
FM8 can be a bit complicated, but once you have the time to get into it, and automate parameters or design simple sound. It can be 1 of the best soft synths you’ll ever purchase. It’s matrix section


Frequency modulation is based on the interaction of operators. A minimum of two, known as the modulator and carrier, are always interconnected. The modulator signal modulates the carrier’s frequency by a specific amount. The FM8’s matrix allows you to quickly connect any two operators, as well as determine the modulation amounts for all connections. The matrix makes handling frequency modulation parameters simple. It also provides a concise overview of all FM connections, so you don’t have to go from page to page to collect all a sounds’ parameter data."

Oh I’ll stop now, and just go play with it some! haha…

Just kidding, but seriously it really all depends on what your looking for in a synth. Or what sort of sound design you want to do. You can do some FM modulation within Serum, but bare in mind you only have 2 real oscillators, but can stack 4 signals from within it. (SUB, OSC A, OSC B, Noise).

Good luck, and hope my rambling helps!


Ps. Wish you were looking for more of the old school sound, woulda suggested my FAV:

This video is a bit boring, but hopefully will offer some insight into this synth.

It’s great for unison, pads, and getting a old detuned synth sound which having to run a patchbay! haha


My fav synths right now are:

  • Serum (it’s just awesome, but it’s a dedicated wavetable synth with some additional tricks and extensive modulation options)
  • Icarus (another great wavetable synth, more streamlined than Serum in some regards, especially with regard to modulation, but with great resynthesis imho)
  • PPG Infinite (feels new and a bit difficult to master, but extremely flexible and powerful, versatile sound, also awesome resynthesis engine)
  • Avenger (very flexible, not that focused on some aspect, just fun to use, has a lot of tricks, but not as good for wavetable handling imho - might be an interesting choice if you like Nexus)


Just one more thing;
My favourite feature in FM8 is probaply the xy pad for morphing inbetween 4 FM8 patches!

It’s great, because you can quickly set up variations of a patch and then use automation or modulation to morph between them.
Using DAW automation of the x and y controls is a great way to highlight certain sections in the arrangement, or you can use it for build ups or really go crazy with percussive micro edits…

Not a synth for quick results, though.
Dunno how fit you are with fm synthesis…


u-He’s Bazille is my go-to workhorse. It really tends to do everything pretty damn well, if you’re comfortable with the patching interface. If you can’t, Zebra is there for you - and enough to do anything you want with as well. Not enough good can be said about u-He softsynths in general.

For more specialized things:

Image-Line’s Harmor has neat resampling capabilities that can be used for amusing effects. It also does good, punchy, synthetic pluck sounds.
Xils-Labs XILS 4 and V+ are both characteristic analogue emulations. Former can do all kinds of mad noise and really warm sounding bass/lead sounds, and the latter basically makes cyberpunk soundtracks.


made 2 quick examples of what each synth can do or sound like. Mind you there’s some group settings applied, and automation inside the synth being done v.i.a. a controller (etc. insert tech talk here :wink:)

But I hope they help you in your research. Bah hum to the bug happy xmassss :christmas_tree:


Pigments by Arturia is actually really fucking nice and cheap introductory price of $69 until Jan 10th. If you already have an Arturia account and the software center, you can download and register Pigments with no limitation until the 10th as well. So its totally try before you buy no strings or shit.

Haha dude I did not mean to steal your thunder, Its very awesome!


vember audio - surge is one of the most underrated synths of all time imo, and it has recently become free and open source.

the site seems to be down right now, but you can get the installers here.