The must-have software synths of 2022
GEAR EXPO SUMMER 2022: If you work in hardware, be sure to check out our pick of the best new hardware synths coming right here. But if you’re making great music inside the box, look no further. Our roundup of everything happening in the world of soft synths can be found directly below.
Treat yourself to a brand new suite of 2022 plugins, or choose something boutique and bespoke. Whatever you are looking for in the market, our experts have you covered. Here are the best, all set for 2022…
Arturia Collection V 9
Let’s start with the big one. Incredibly, Arturia’s retro collection of virtual synths is in its ninth incarnation and this latest update is arguably the biggest of the set yet.
For those new to soft synths, Arturia’s V Collection is the premier pack for those looking for ultra-accurate recreations of synths past. It’s the stuff dreams are made of – flawless, easy-to-use, reliable, ready-to-use versions of synths you could only dream of owning a decade ago.
V Collection 9 features a total of 32 tracks, with this version of the bundle bolstered by the inclusion of four new instruments: Korg MS-20 V, a clone of Ensoniq’s underrated SQ80 V digital synth, and two new synth instruments – Augmented STRINGS – inspired by the sounds of real-world strings, with a synthetic twist – and AUGMENTED VOICES – doing the same for the human voice.
Plus, four V Collection favorites – the CS-80 V, Prophet-5 V, Prophet-VS V and Piano V – have been stripped down, redesigned and rebuilt from the ground up, upgraded with all-new motors. sound and additional features.
And, in recognition of the product launch, Arturia has made V Collection 9 available to registered users at a single introductory price for a limited time.
Visit Arturia’s website to unlock your exclusive discount, but hurry – it’s only available until Sunday, June 5th.
Mini Cherry Audio Mode
Cherry Audio joined the crowd and ultimately decided to make their own version of what we believe is THE most emulated synth of all time, Moog’s Minimoog. Which begs the question… What’s new?
Cherry Audio tells us that its emulation is based on studying and measuring “every nuance, curve, and response in audio.” The interface, too, comes directly from the Minimoog.
While some emulations offer additional functionality, Minimode stays pretty true to its inspiration, although in addition to running mono, you can also choose to use two, four, eight or 16 polyphonic voices.
There are also many presets – over 250 of them – and you can save custom MIDI controller mappings to individual presets or globally.
Minimode is available now for an introductory price of $39 (regular price $59; 30-day demo also available). It works on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats.
Model Softube 84
1984 marked the arrival of a certain six-voice synthesizer (the Roland Juno-106) and now Softube has created the Model 84 Polyphonic Synthesizer plugin, which offers all the quirks and non-linearities of the original hardware.
The company applied its modeling expertise to a fully serviced and calibrated 1984 unit, and the result is a demanding facsimile of the polyphonic icon.
The Model 84 delivers the sound of the 80s with expertly modeled voice assignment modes, unison phase, and an EQ section that mirrors the original material. While the expanded control panel – with additional velocity and aftertouch parameters – makes fine-tuning sound and behavior painless.
Built-in original and artist presets quickly bring to mind everything from authentic patches to the synth-pop heard in the 1980s and today.
Air Audio new instruments
Air Music is responsible for many of the effects and instruments found in Avid’s Pro Tools and Akai Professional’s MPC products, and now it’s released seven new instrument plug-ins for everyone.
The new range covers both vintage and cutting-edge plugins, with each title available for PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats.
The line-up starts at the bottom – bass line (opens in a new tab) ($89) is a vintage-style monophonic synth featuring Air’s vacuum tube circuit modeling technology. Electric (opens in a new tab) ($89), meanwhile, emulates Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and FM pianos.
Then, we have Infatuation (opens in a new tab) ($149), a hybrid synth that includes wavetable, FM, virtual analog, and multisample engines, while Mellotron (opens in a new tab) ($119) is a tribute to the classic tape loop instrument.
Then, we have Odyssey (opens in a new tab) ($149); created by WayOutWare, which previously developed timeWARP2600, an ARP 2600 emulation, it is – unsurprisingly – an ARP Odyssey plugin.
Solina (opens in a new tab) ($119) is another emulation – a polyphonic string synth that covers the sounds of double bass, cello, viola, violin, trumpet, and horn. These can be combined to create complete sets.
Finally, there is TubeSynth (opens in a new tab) ($89), a subtractive synth that uses virtual analog technology to produce some of the most famous sounds of the 70s and 80s.
Korg Wavestate and Opsix software synths
We’re used to seeing vintage synths remade in software, but plug-in reboots of contemporary keyboards are less common.
But now Korg’s modern Wavestate and Opsix hardware synths are both available in VST/AU/AAX and standalone formats for PC and Mac. Moreover, they are fully compatible with their hardware counterparts, which means that sounds can be exchanged seamlessly between the two platforms.
Inspired by Korg’s classic Wavestation, Wavestate Native is powered by Korg’s Wave Sequencing Engine 2.0. It uses several sound layers, each of which can contain a wave sequence of several PCM samples or a standard multi-sample patch, and can be stacked or split on the keyboard.
Native Opsix, on the other hand, takes the six-operator FM synthesizer engine (geddit?) from the hardware and puts it on your desktop. This version of the software features a revamped user interface that promises to make the workflow easier to understand. You get scopes for each operator, and the theory is that you’ll understand how each sound is created.
Native Opsix (opens in a new tab) and Native wave state (opens in a new tab) are available now at an introductory price of $149 each (regular prices, which will apply after April 5, are $199 each). Owners of either hardware synth, meanwhile, can purchase the software versions for just $50.
GForce OB-E v2 Software
This is the first time that Tom Oberheim has given his personal endorsement to a software instrument. He worked with GForce to refine OB-E V2’s new and improved detuning function and to implement a new Vintage button, which dials in additional “realistic musical inaccuracies” to make the synth sound more 8-voice than ever.
Commenting on OB-E and the improvements, Oberheim said: “I was quite amazed with OB-E, it was pretty darn close right out of filming. It was ‘wow!’. I like listening to that. With OB-E v2 is like having the hardware with you.
The new V2 also features new reverb, over 100 new patches and the ability to zoom the sequencer. There’s also a drum mode that lets you play each of the eight SEMs on a dedicated key (10 presets are included to highlight it) and PC compatibility has also been added.
OB-E v2 is available now at an introductory price of $140/£120 (regular price will be $200/£180) and is a free upgrade for existing OB-E owners. It works on PC and Mac as a standalone application and in VST/AU/AAX formats.
Learn more on the GForce Software website.
GForce M-Tron MkII Software
GForce Software introduced the M-Tron MkII, a new connect emulation of the Mellotron MkI/MkII, considered by some to be the “holy grail” of tape keyboards.
The MkI/MkII was a dual-band manual instrument that let you trigger rhythms and accompaniments using 35 of the main keys and sounds on the other 35. The original hardware came with 18 rhythms and accompaniments and 18 main sounds, but the M-Tron MkII goes way beyond that by offering 66 of each. In fact, it comes with 132 banks of tapes, some of which have never been released before.
There is also a Dual Rhythm mode which allows you to layer two rhythms and accompaniments from the Chamberlin and the Mellotron MkI and II, giving you the ability to create unique hybrids.
M-Tron MkII is available now at an introductory price of £250 plus VAT. Learn more about GForce Software.
Cherry Audio Dreamsynth
More great synths from Cherry Audio, starting with its first original virtual instrument plugin: Dreamsynth.
Although a new design, it is heavily inspired by hybrid digital/analog synths of the mid to late 80s – the likes of Prophet VS Sequential Circuits and Ensoniq ESQ-1.
There are three dual waveform oscillators, equivalent to six simultaneous virtual analog or PCM sample-based oscillators with up to 16 voices of polyphony. As a bonus, you also get an additional 16-voice string synth that can be layered and split on the keyboard, independent of the main synth. All combined with a massive modulation section and filters inspired by the Oberheim OB series.
Dreamsynth comes with over 1,000 presets from a roster of professional sound designers, with programming your own patches on a vintage-style interface. It is available now at an introductory price of €39 (regular price €59) and runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats. There is also a generous 30-day demo.
Learn more on the Cherry Audio website.
Cherry Audio Information
Loved by progressive rock bands like Genesis and Rush, Moog’s Taurus was a ’70s stompbox bass synth you could play with your feet. Now Cherry Audio has used it as inspiration for Lowdown, a new dual-oscillator synth plug-in designed to produce similar sounds.
Lowdown is based on Taurus circuit modeling and features an animated pedal “keyboard” (you can choose from 14 different styles, including our favorite with The Shining’s distinctive mat underneath…)
It even comes with over 40 presets and a great introductory price of $25 (regular price will be $39). It works on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX and standalone formats, and you can download a 30-day demo from Cherry Audio’s website.
Looking for even more new gear? Get all our roundups, news, features, tutorials, tips and more on our Gear Expo Summer 2022 central page.