In today’s post we gonna look at 6 Free VST Synths for sound design to use with Ableton Live. This would be things like making loop libraries or sample packs for the music industry, working in the film and game industry, doing sound design on Ableton Live and don’t want to spend a small fortune on plugins to make it happen, or you simply can’t afford to.
I’ve used the synths myself over the years and actually still use a few of them today because they’re just really good and even stack up to a lot of the expensive paid options. This list is presented in no particular order today and obviously there are way more than 6 free synthesizers out there, so if you have some recommendations as well feel free to leave those down in the comments and help everyone out.
If you want to grab any of the synths for yourself, you can find links to all of these down in the description below.
With all that out of the way let’s dive in and check out some Free VST Synths.
When looking at free VST synths, first we have Surge from Vemember audio. Surge actually used to be a paid plugin but it’s now Free, and also fully open source. This in my opinion represents one of the best synths that money just can’t buy because it’s free. Surge packs a whole lot of features under the hood here. We have 3 oscillators with 2 layers, so a total of 6 these oscillators can handle everything from virtual analog and subtractive synthesis to the FM oscillators, there’s also wave table mode, there’s audio inputs, you can use it as a vocoder, you can also FM any of the oscillator types with the FM routing, there’s dual filters, there’s a bunch of really great effects, there’s oscillator drift to give you those kind of classic analog type of things. It also supports MPE which is just an insane amount of features for something that’s free. Surge here is basically everything you need in a synthesizer in one go so absolutely go download this thing.
Next is a bit of an oldie but a goodie. This is decks from Digital suburban. Dexed is open source it’s a free FM synthesizer that’s very closely based on the DX7 ,which is one of the most iconic FM synthesizers of all time. the UIs a bit small a bit hard to work with especially if you’re not really familiar with FM synthesis and stuff, but this is extremely powerful and a lot of fun. If you have a DX7 you can also use this as a librarian for your DX7 patches which is kind of neat.This synth does require a relatively good working knowledge of FM synthesis and setting up FM patches, but once you do understand FM synthesis and really dive into this synth, it’s incredibly powerful and a lot of fun.
Here we have something relatively new which is Pendulate, from Newfangled audio. This is a really fun little mono synth that also offers MPE support so if you have an empty controller you can use this to create some cool kind of interactive patches that are a really unique thing because this is based on west coast synthesis which is something you don’t really see a whole lot of in the VST world and it’s pretty cool. The user interface is nice and easy to work with, modulation is easy just click something and then assign it by moving it over and clicking and dragging the little mod box. When you pair this up with some solid facts it is a damn good synth. Pendulate is great for making wave tables, great for modern cutting edge sounds, really good honestly for like trailer and cinematic stuff either sound effects are like trailer music. It just sounds massive and it’s a lot of fun to play with.
Next up here I wanted to include Exact light from Sonicbits because this is sort of like Dexter but just a bit more of a modern take on FM synthesis with a much more friendly user interface. This thing has a much more friendly UI especially for beginners so if you’re not familiar with FM synthesis this is a really great way to get into it and understand how and why FM works and the types of sounds you can get out of it. This thing actually goes a little bit deeper than Dexter and this is a really good solution I think to getting and FM synthesis and it’s capable of a whole lot of sounds. One of the great part about this synth I think as well as the waveform display over here which updates in real time so if we update our waveforms we can actually see in real time what we’re doing and how it’s impacting the final outcome which I think is a very powerful thing to learn FM synthesis, because FM is pretty complicated. Good solution for FM and all things FM from the more modern cutting edge side to the kind of classic synth wavy FM stuff so it’s a really good addition to your arsenal all around.
Here we’ve got Tyrell N6. This is from U-he, which are the people behind Diva which is one of the most highly regarded analog synth emulations ever to exist. And this packs a little bit of that diva magic in a free package that’s not quite as deep but very useful. This packs a lot of character into one pretty small package, this thing sounds absolutely incredible. It is a very rich and full sound and is capable of just about everything you need when it comes to that big warm analogy thing. All around it’s not the most flexible synth ever, but this is really amazing for creating classic sounds and adding some vibe to a track orders adding that vintage feeling to whatever project you might be working on. All around I think this thing is very much worth downloading if you’re into classic sounds and classic synthesizers or need something like that for a project it’s just a really good solution for that.
And finally on our free VST synths , we have Synth 1, which is like one of the most classic freeware synthesizers ever. This thing is like kilobytes in size, and is actually one of the most downloaded plugins ever in the history of all time. It’s not really a mind blowing synth. As I’m sure you can tell by the look of it it’s not all that deep, but this thing can run even on the most potato, as I’m sure you can tell by the interface it’s a bit old it was actually made all the way back in 2002, and it’s not really the most deep synthesizer out there, but this thing is pretty powerful in its own right it’s very usable it’s extremely CPU efficient and will run on even the most potato we of potato computers. So if you have a pretty low spec system and you need something that’s pretty powerful and flexible, this is a good solution to get you started. If you’re looking to learn the basics of synthesis as well this is a pretty good solution because it offers FM as well as ring modulation. There are like 7 million free presets out there that you can use to kind of get to grips with everything. It is a really nice clean sound it’s not all that exciting or hyped, but it’s not really meant to be. it’s just meant to be a synthesizer that makes synth sounds.