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15 interesting synths

Virtual synths that somehow went under the radar Read article

NI Kontakt instruments

Free and affordable NI Kontakt libraries Read more

Sylenth EDM Soundset

165 modern presets, created by me, for Lennar Digital Sylenth synth. Visit

400 Modern presets for V-Station

Tons of presets that will bring a new life to the Novation V-Station synth Visit

Cakewalk Z3ta+ 2 presets

155 Synth / lead and bass presets inspired by many modern electronica genres. Visit

Free Organ synths / samples

Best, free organ synths / multisamples Read more

Soft Synths released in 2011

Interesting soft synths released in 2011 Read more

Free String Machine vsts

Freeware String Machine plugins Read more

You Know 6 – affordable NI Kontakt 80s Polysynth

Just before Christmas, Hollow Sun released “You Know 6” – a homage to the famous 80s polysynth (guess, which one 😉 ). It’s a very affordable (currently during Christmas promotion it costs 2 UK pounds) NI Kontakt synth, which comes with 40 presets (467 mb zipped). Features ? “Firstly, it has a DETUNE control so that the waveforms can be detuned for a thicker sound that can rival the more serious two oscillator polysynths. It also has a multiwave LFO (compared with the original’s triangle wave only), a 12/24dB/OCtave switch on the filter and perhaps, most importantly, has two ADSR envelopes, a vast improvement over the original’s one envelope.

Not just that but we’ve sampled two banks of waveforms – one with the original’s gorgeously crusty, analogue bucket brigade chorus in all its rich, stereo and swirly wondrousness but also the raw waveforms so that you have the best of both worlds. The chorused bank allows some truly massive sounds to be created, especially with the detune control.

Grab this Christmas bargain, if you want to. I couldn’t resist 🙂

ps. Of course, this synth requires NI Kontakt (Full, not Player) min. 4.2.4.

More info: Hollow Sun | Hollow Sun – You Know 6

Elektrostudio Model Mini – Virtual Synth

Another great virtual instrument, developed by Elektrostudio.
This time, it’s Model Mini – mono synth inspired by a legendary Minimoog. The CPU usage is close to zero ;), and the sound quality, judging by people feedback, is amazing too. It doesn’t sound worse than ie. commercial Minimoog emulations (such as Arturia stuff, for example). Great, hehe value 🙂

Download: Elektrostudio Model Mini

The Dark Horse – Kawai 100f synth based Patch library

Affordable (currently 50 % off which means 3.99 UK pounds) sample library with Kawai 100F monosynth waveforms (saw, square, noise) multisampled, tape recorded and used as a basis for a set of 175 patches in NI Kontakt, EXS24, NN-XT formats.

I don’t have this library but audio demo sounds very promising – hope it’s a good bet 😉 There are quite a lot of such (possible) gems available on Sampleism – community based Sample Libaries store.

More info: The Dark Horse

Martin Lüders Pg8x VSTi – JX-8P inspired synth

PG8X is the latest freebie inspired by Roland JX-8P analog synth. The author – Martin Lüders used SynthEdit software as a framework (GUI etc.) but the modules are custom written (C++/Assembler).
I don’t have JX-8P so I’m not going to compare it vs PG8X but the official topic on KvR Audio forum has almost 30 pages and is full of people who had JX-8P and their comments are mostly very positive.

Audio Demo by KvR Audio member Shiffbauer

Download: Martin Lüders Pg8x

Elektrostudio Davosynth

Elektrostudio DavoSynth is a virtual instrument inspired by rare Italian synth – Davolisint. I know that the author of Elektrostudio plugins wanted to make this instrument similar played as original. I don’t know if it worked (because I don’t have the real synth) but DavoSynth is definitely pretty unique synth to play.

The Davolisint was made by an Italian company, Davoli Krundaal Musical SRL, established by Athos Davoli. To appreciate the Davolisint fully, you have to understand that 1972 was the year before the synthesizer industry really took off. The Minimoog, EMS VCS3 and the ARP 2600 were already available and the ARP Odyssey was just about to appear, but the first of the more affordable Rolands, Yamahas and Korgs were only to be unveiled a year later, as were the glut of ’70s string synths and electronic pianos. In this immature market, every new synthesizer was an object of wonder and respect. Indeed, if Crumar’s fabled Compacsynth never appeared in commercial form, the Davolisint was not only the first Davoli synth, but the first Italian synthesizer, and possibly the first from mainland Europe, predating the more famous Crumars, Siels, Ekos and Jens by many years, so it’s little wonder that it created a degree of interest that seems quite implausible today.

The other thing to appreciate is that, in 1972, manufacturers were still experimenting with both the form and function of electronic keyboard instruments, balancing costs, flexibility and simplicity in innovative ways that were largely abandoned just a couple of years later. This means that the Davolisint had very little in common with the synths that preceded it, or those that were soon to follow.

Article: Sound On Sound – The Story Of the Davolisint

Download: Elektrostudio Davosynth (10 Instruments Pack)

Poise Drum Sampler

Drum Synths, Drum Samplers, Step Sequencers, Loop Workstations – Vst Cafe doesn’t shine here 😉 Well, I have a good reason – quality stuff is pretty much commercial and expensive.
Short example:

# FXpansion GURU (249 $) – complete Loop Workstation with advanced beat slicing, step sequencing, sample editing and other features.
# Native Instruments Battery (179 EUR) – state of the art Drum Sampler.
# Linplug RMV (139 EUR) – drum synth & drum sampler with huge sampled and synthesized drum library.
# Audio Damage Tattoo (79 $) – latest drum synth (no samples, drums are synthesized) & sequencer with strong randomization features. Nice value compared to price.
# FXpansion DR008 (99 $) – 8 year old 🙂 but still powerful drum sampler & drum synth with 96 pads.
# Ableton Impulse / Drum Rack – intuitive and user friendly drum samplers available only for Ableton fanboys 😉

All of these plugins are top quality but at the same time they’re expensive. How about free stuff, then ?

# E-Phonic Drumatic 3 – nice free drum alternative (but much more limited) for Sonic Charge Microtonic drum synth.
# Tatapoum 4 – drum sampler with quite strong step sequencing features. Actually, it nicely surprised me when I first tested it.

There’s also Computer SR-202 distributed freely with Computer Music magazine, there’s Odo DR-Fusion drum sampler and that’s pretty much it.

Are there any ‘Akai MPC series’ software clones ? 🙂 You know, 16 pads, amazing workflow, good features, pure fun ? There is one option, quite unknown to be honest. It’s Poise, from One Small Clue, 16 Drum pads sampler, heavily inspired by Akai MPC series. The official website states:

“Direct, straightforward, no frills and no bloat! Poise aims to make working with drum samples quick and painless, allowing you to focus on making music. “

and it’s all true. Poise was designed to be quick, intuitive, powerful (and at the same time simple) and painless alternative for these “big” loop workstations.

First – GUI. Not too big and not too small. It’s very clean and it’s skinnable. I like the dark one skin but I’m sure that you’ll find the one you like (ie. with white background). Overall, design gives nice feeling.
Sample Browser is the first thing that got my attention because “small details” start here :). All you need to do is to use “add folder” option, choose your drum samples folder and you’re set. Then you can drag & drop samples (Poise supports WAV, AIF, SND formats) on the drum pad and have some fun. So, where are the “small details” ? 🙂 Each folder is opened with one click not double click. You can quickly preview each sample thanks to included preview function – there’s even a knob to set the volume preview…

Bigger details ? Layers. Just drag and drop up to 8 samples per drum pad and play them in round robin, random, layered or velocity switching mode. Isn’t it great ???! Another one ? Outputs. There are up to 16 outputs, so you can route (send) each pad to it’s own channel bus (in your DAW) and add a touch of reverb or compression. This is really huge. As Ableton user, I use this feature all the time with Ableton Drum Rack.

Going back to small details. Each layer on a pad can be tweaked separately or grouped. You can copy or swap one pad to another. There are hotkeys available (turned off by default) to improve the navigation even more, ie. F5 Opens/Closes browser.

There are of course sample editing features like Amp Envelope, Pitch Envelope. You can change the overall volume, balance, pitch of each layer. There are effects available: Distortion, Low Pass / High Pass Filter and Ring Modulation. There’s also small and neat “reverse” sample option.

I was trying to find some weak sides but it’s not that easy – Poise is a complete drum sampler 🙂 It comes with 30 drum kits – honestly, I don’t know if they’re good or bad because I used my own samples all the time 🙂 You can load / save your custom drum kits using Poise DKT format. Well, there’s one downside – it’s Windows only plugin.

Here’s a nice video (I’m not the author) which covers most of Poise features.

Ahh, almost forgot 😉 The price. It costs 49 $ which I belive is very fair price. We have a quite unique plugin here. All Akai MPC lovers will love Poise and those who never tried such workflow will find it great too. Up to 8 samples / layers per pad is really an amazing feature. Poise definitely has great value compared to price. If you’re still not sure, there’s demo version available.

PRICE: 49 $

More info: One Small Clue – Poise

Messiah – a Prophet 5 inspired synth

What would you say if I asked you about Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 Vintage Synth emulation ? Most of you would probably point me at Native Instruments website and their Pro-53 virtual synth for 199 EUR. Others would say – pick SCI Prophet 5 or Prophanity, they’re freeware.
But, is there a third option – cheap / average priced, commercial, quality soft synth ? Fortunately, there is. It’s called Messiah, it’s created by Gunnar Ekornås (remember Minimogue VA ?) and after 3-4 hours testing session I’m really wondering why this synth seems hmm forgotten. To be honest, even I, vst instruments freak ;), had problem to notice it. Actually it was one Vst Cafe user who recommended me this softsynth and it convinced me to give Messiah a try.

First I started with the presets. Factory bank contains 128 presets – there are leads, arps, basses, effects, chords, guitars – it’s almost everything. I was surprised because many presets sounded very nice. At this moment I didn’t know anything about the whole concept of Messiah. All I saw was an upper gui part which looked quite similar to Pro-53 (or maybe I should say Prophet5 VA 🙂 ) and the keyboard at the bottom.

But then I started the real testing. It turned out that there are additional three pages with knobs, buttons, switches. I remember this moment perfectly because it was just – “woow” 🙂

Messiah has three very innovative oscillator types:
1. Morph oscillator – you can morph between 4 waveforms (11 waveforms to choose such as: sine, saw, square, triangle, ramp, soft ramp, peak ramp, peak, octava, cluster1, cluster2)
2. Unison oscillator – 7 voices (and you can put this oscillator into 5 voice unison for 35 voices) for creating fat detuned sounds.
3. Flexi oscillator – two separate waveforms that can perform PWM, Ring Mod, Phase distortion and more

Messiah development took over one year. An author has been analyzing Prophet5 soundfiles (for example at filter design stage) to reach the best effect. Sure, it’s not 100 % accurate emulation but it’s actually more than just an emulation. These oscillators are really doing the great job and they’re NOT killing the CPU – Messiah is very low CPU hungry.

Is it worth ? To be honest I don’t remember the sound of Pro-53 but one thing I do remember – I didn’t like the unison – the more detuned sound (and since I’m much into trance, I like to detune everything 😉 ) I had, the less brightness and more noise I heard. Fortunately, Messiah unison sounds as it should – fat, detuned (if you want to), but still pretty bright and without noise.

The most important thing – it’s very hmm creative synth. I was giving myself about three hours to write this short review but I failed miserably. “Tweaking knobs” part just took too long 🙂 I managed to create few nice presets ranging from Usher – Yeah, Deadmau5 plucks to trance pluck. Factory presets are very nice too – especially I like presets called “Depeche” – I spent half an hour playing “just can’t get enough” 😉

Don’t forget to check the demo – you shouldn’t trust the guy you virtually know nothing about 😉 The demo is fully functional + silence effect, which to be honest is too frequent. At first I thought that there’s some bug in Messiah hehe

Last word – Messiah needs more attention. It’s an amazing, powerful synth. Sure, there are tons of free plugins – some (for example Synth1, Outmeal, Atlantis) are as good as commercial. But if you have them all and you need something new – Messiah will give you that new feeling. It’s pretty unique synth – good enough to be a commercial product. Great work Gunnar! 🙂

Here are some examples I did during Messiah testing (there’s tiny amount of external reverb – rest is Messiah)

Price: 30 $ (or 40 $ with Memorymoon – plugin inspired by Memorymoog polyphonic synth).

More info: http://memorymoon.com