on Jan 08, 2017 in Synths & Sound Design 4 comments
OB-Xd - Virtual Analog Synthesizer by discoDSP (@KVRAudio Product Listing): OB-Xd is based on the Oberheim OB-X. It attempts to recreate its sound and behavior, but as the original was very limited in some important ways a number of things were added or altered to the original design. The OB-Xd was designed to sound as good and as rich as the original. It implements micro random detuning which. Feb 27, 2018 50+ videos Play all Mix - In praise of virtual analog synths YouTube; HOW TO. Modal Skulpt - 4 Voice Virtual Analog Synthesizer Review - Sonic LAB - Duration: 20:15. Apr 06, 2010 honestly, do you fell the same having a real moog synthesizer or a virtual one,clearly notthere is a big difference between a musical instrument and a piece of software.vsti are ok and you can get it for free.but they will never replace a real analog synthesizer. It sound better,it fell better and in the future you will resell it like a. “Analog Synth X is a new iPad synthesizer, developed by Matt Fecher, entirely with the new AudioKit 3.0framewo. Cheeze Machine. String Ensemble Synth string machine.
Any top-10 (OK, top-7) list of virtual synthesizers will, ultimately, be pretty subjective—everyone has their own idea of what constitutes the coolest toys when it comes to making and mangling sounds for creative musical ends. Even so, a list of the most impressive soft synths will certainly end up including some models that would be on anyone’s wish list, along with a few more personal choices—and this collection pretty much fits that bill.
I tried to limit this list in a few ways, to make it more manageable.. I omitted instruments that are primarily samplers—even though many of the models here utilize samples as source material, they don’t mainly present them as realistic simulations, but as raw material for heavy processing. I stuck to synths that are—at least to me—geared to playability, and not primarily sound design or scoring effects. And I selected synths that are not emulations of specific classic hardware models, but stand on their own merits.
So without further ado, here are a few of my choices for the slickest soft synths around.
1. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
Omnisphere is one of those synths that would probably turn up on just about everyone’s lists. Like many of the synths on this list, Omnisphere (currently Omnisphere 2) combines a number of synthesis techniques, including both oscillators and sample-based source material (including user waves), wavetable synthesis, granular synthesis, and even FM. Combining a huge factory library with comprehensive programming options, the emphasis is on heavily processed sounds of all kinds, from traditional synth tones to dense swirling pads to arpeggios to shifting, chugging, twinkling soundscapes and musical noises that defy easy description. Playability includes nice touches like the Orb, a real-time joystick-type controller that can simultaneously vary many parameters. Omnisphere has been around for quite a while, and has certainly earned its place on a list of soft synths that hardware synths really can’t touch.
2. NI Massive
Native Instrument’s Massive is another synth that’s been around for years, and its popularity and sound pretty much guarantee it a place of honor. Massive follows a traditional subtractive synthesis models, with oscillators (three, plus noise) filters (two), amplifier, modulation (LFO), and effects. But there’s much more to it than that simple description suggests.
Massive’s oscillators are more than just simple analog waves (like sine, square, sawtooth, pulse, etc.)—they’re Wavetables, which, besides those basic, traditional shapes, also include a large collection of richer and more complex wavetables to use as raw material, making for a much wider range of possible sounds. The overall subtractive architecture is familiar enough to be accessible to most synthesists, yet it offers extra levels of flexibility, accessed from the various programming tabs in its center panel, like the Routing panel, where you can view and tweak the signal flow of the various modules that make up a patch, and the drag-and-drop icons that make quick work of building up modulation patching. All in all, Massive’s combination of accessibility and flexibility have made it a perennial favorite among synthesists of all stripes.
3. NI Reaktor
Another entry from Native Instruments, Reaktor (currently Reaktor 6) is not really a synthesizer per se—it’s potentially every synthesizer you could imagine. Reaktor is an object-oriented programming environment for building your own synthesizers, and it’s one of the most powerful tools available for those who want ultimate control over their instruments. But you don’t have to have a degree in computer programming or DSP to use Reaktor—while it does contain a daunting set of under-the-hood tools and building blocks, it also comes with a large collection of finished synthesizer designs—called Ensembles—and there are many more available from third-parties as well. Some of these are available as separate, stand-alone synths, like NI’s own Razor (an additive synthesis design), Prism (a physical modeling instrument), and Monark (a well-regarded take on the venerable Minimoog).
But the real power of Reaktor comes when you go behind the front panel, and delve into the nuts & bolts of synthesizer architecture. Taking full advantage of everything the programming environment has to offer may require a significant investment in time and energy, but for inveterate tweakers it’s well worth the effort, going well beyond even the possibilities available from assembling your own modular synth in the real world.
4. Rob Papen Blue II
Rob Papen offers a number of popular synths (like Predator, Blade, and others, including the now-discontinued Albino), but Blue (currently Blue II) is probably the flagship of the line. Utilizing when Papen has dubbed “Cross-Fusion Synthesis”, Blue II combines FM, Phase Distortion, Waveshaping, and Subtractive synthesis, to create one highly flexible and great-sounding instrument. No less than six (!) oscillators freely combine all the different methods of sound generation in a single patch, and the graphic display makes routing and processing relatively easy for a synth with so many options. The helpful graphic displays include features like a straightforward FM matrix and graphic envelopes, along with sequencer and arpeggiator pages, and make Blue II’s programming power readily accessible, making it easy and efficient to tweak sounds—far easier than twiddling hardware knobs blindly.
5. LennarDigital Sylenth
LennarDigital’s Sylenth has become a very popular synth of late. Unlike many of the other entries in this list, it’s not a be-all, do-all, end-all design. Sylenth is designed to do one thing—emulate classic analog synthesis—but do it exceptionally well. It’s a dual-layered design, with 4 traditional analog-style oscillators, and a classic subtractive synthesis architecture. All the virtual analog components were carefully designed to offer the rich sound of their real analog counterparts, with alias-free oscillators, and filters that include nonlinear saturation and self-oscillation options.
A comprehensive set of envelopes, modulators, and an arpeggiator is rounded off with a full array of audio effects—everything needed to achieve classic analog synth sounds with the warmth and edge of traditional hardware synths is included. A faux LCD panel helps simplify programing the more tweaky features, and flexible routing allows for the two oscillator layers to cross-feed the filters, making for an especially nice bit of analog character in the digital world.
6. U-he Diva & Zebra 2 & Repro 1
U-he is not a synth, it’s a company—actually it’s software developer Urs Heckmann (plus a small staff), who’s come up with many excellent and characterful synth designs (and effects plug-ins) over the years, many available as freeware (like the popular Zoyd synth, and the unique Triple Cheese, which uses comb filters to generate/process its sounds). The U-he line includes several synths, but I want to focus on two of the most popular, Zebra 2 and Diva.
Urs describes Zebra 2 as a “wireless modular synthesizer”—it incorporates many types of synthesis, including subtractive, additive, and FM, along with an equally versatile array of sound-modifying tools like comb-filtering (physical modeling), all freely patchable. Only modules used in a particular patch are displayed, reducing front-panel clutter, and making for a more streamlined interface. The centrally-located modulation grid offers an easy way to connect modules, and helps visualize signal flow in complex patches. And for performance, Zebra 2 offers a “Perform” panel, with no less than four (!) programmable and assignable X/Y pads.
Diva, on the other hand, is a more dedicated analog-style synth—it models the sounds of various classic analog synth modules. But two things set it apart from other analog modelers. The first is that you can mix and match components/modules inspired by different synths, creating hybrid designs. The other is Diva’s cutting-edge approach to modeling analog circuits, which promises to achieve the next level in emulating the nuance of real analog instruments. This faithfulness to real analog sound brings with it a bit of a CPU hit, but users have embraced it, so this Diva may be worth her high-maintenance ways.
Virtual Analog Vsti Synthesizer Software
7. AAS Modeling Collection
As I said earlier, lists like this typically combine entries that are on everyone’s top-10 with choices of a more personal nature—this last entry probably reflects my interest in physical modeling techniques. AAS—Applied Acoustic Systems—makes a variety of virtual instruments and “sound banks”—their instruments are based on physical modeling, which, as you may know, is a method of creating a sound by emulating the physical way that sound is created in the real world. So instead of traditional oscillators, filters, and envelopes, you’ll typically find exciters, disturbers, and resonators—simulations of different vibrating materials, striking, plucking, bowing, and blowing techniques, and complex resonances and timbral responses.
AAS’s modeling collection includes instruments that put these kinds of tools to use emulating strings, guitars, electric pianos, and even analog synth circuitry, but the two I want to mention are Tassman, a general-purpose physical-modeling synth, and their latest, Chromaphone, which is dedicated to modeling all manner of percussive sounds. Both of these instruments let the user synthesize highly realistic sounds, thanks to the physical modeling of acoustic sound-generation, but those sounds don’t necessarily have to emulate actual instruments—for more creative applications, the modeling tools can be used to create very acoustic-sounding instruments that don’t—maybe couldn’t—actually exist in the real world, but sound (and play) like they do! Physical modeling technology is widely used nowadays for processing—component modeling is routinely employed to simulate the circuit path of classic analog hardware, including synth components like oscillators and filters—and it’s gradually being applied more to instrument design.
Like with any list, there are plenty more great synths I could have included but didn’t, for one reason or another (I decided to limit my choices to separate plug-ins, eliminating obvious possibilities like Alchemy and Sculpture, which are exclusively built-in to Logic). I also didn't include any audio examples—how can you boil the characteristic sound of synths that each offer so much variety into a few seconds of one or two patches? There are plenty of audio demos available online, along with trial versions of most, if not all, of the synths I mentioned, and I think the best approach for anyone who wants to get to know what particular models are capable of is to go ahead and try ‘em out yourself—a little homework that, for once, should actually be a lot of fun!
Virtual Studio Technology (VST) is an audio plug-in software interface that integrates software synthesizer and effects in digital audio workstations. VST and similar technologies use digital signal processing to simulate traditional recording studio hardware in software. Thousands of plugins exist, both commercial and freeware, and many audio applications support VST under license from its creator, Steinberg.
VST plugins generally run within a digital audio workstation (DAW), to provide additional functionality, though a few standalone plugin hosts exist which support VST. Most VST plugins are either instruments (VSTi) or effects (VSTfx), although other categories exist—for example spectrum analyzers and various meters. VST plugins usually provide a custom graphical user interface that displays controls similar to physical switches and knobs on audio hardware. Some (often older) plugins rely on the host application for their user interface.
VST instruments include software simulation emulations of well-known hardware synthesizers and samplers. These typically emulate the look of the original equipment as well as its sonic characteristics. This lets musicians and recording engineers use virtual versions of devices that otherwise might be difficult and expensive to obtain.
VST instruments receive notes as digital information via MIDI, and output digital audio. Effect plugins receive digital audio and process it through to their outputs. (Some effect plugins also accept MIDI input—for example MIDI sync to modulate the effect in sync with the tempo). MIDI messages can control both instrument and effect plugin parameters. Most host applications can route the audio output from one VST to the audio input of another VST (chaining). For example, output of a VST synthesizer can be sent through a VST reverb effect.
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Steinberg released the VST interface specification and SDK in 1996. They released it at the same time as Steinberg Cubase 3.02, which included the first VST format plugins: Espacial (a reverb), Choirus (a chorus effect), Stereo Echo, and Auto-Panner.
Steinberg updated the VST interface specification to version 2.0 in 1999. One addition was the ability for plugins to receive MIDI data. This supported the introduction of Virtual Studio Technology Instrument (VSTi) format plugins. VST Instruments can act as standalone software synthesizers, samplers, or drum machines.
Neon was the first available VST Instrument (included with Cubase VST 3.7). It was a 16-voice, 2-oscillator virtual analog synthesizer.
The VST interface specification was updated to version 2.4 in 2006. Changes included the ability to process audio with 64-bit precision.
VST 3.0 came out in 2008. Changes included:
- Audio Inputs for VST Instruments
- Multiple MIDI inputs/outputs
- Optional SKI (Steinberg Kernel Interface) integration
Best Virtual Analog Synth
VST 3.5 came out in February, 2011. Changes included note expression, which provides extensive articulation information in individual note events in a polyphonic arrangement. According to Steinberg, this supports performance flexibility and a more natural playing feel.
In October 2011, Celemony Software and PreSonus released Audio Random Access (ARA), an extension for audio plug-in interfaces, such as VST, allowing greater integration between audio plug-ins and DAW software.
In September, 2013, Steinberg discontinued maintenance of the VST 2 SDK. In December, Steinberg stopped distributing the SDK. The higher versions are continued.
VST 3.6.7 came out in March, 2017. It includes a preview version of VST3 for Linux platform, the VST3 part of the SDK gets a dual license: 'Proprietary Steinberg VST3' or the 'Open-source GPLv3'.
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As VSTi virtual instrument technology was under development at Steinberg, a platform for virtual instruments using DirectX engine technology was being developed by Cakewalk, famous for its Sonar DAW. However, the format did not gain much acceptance beyond instruments bundled with SONAR. Currently, almost all virtual instruments on the market use Steinberg's VSTi format.
There are three types of VST plugins:
- VST instruments generate audio. They are generally either Virtual Synthesizers or Virtual samplers. Many recreate the look and sound of famous hardware synthesizers. Better known VST instruments include Discovery, Nexus, Sylenth1, Massive, Omnisphere, FM8, Absynth, Reaktor, Gladiator, Serum and Vanguard.
- VST effects process rather than generate audio—and perform the same functions as hardware audio processors such as reverbs and phasers. Other monitoring effects provide visual feedback of the input signal without processing the audio. Most hosts allow multiple effects to be chained. Audio monitoring devices such as spectrum analyzers and meters represent audio characteristics (frequency distribution, amplitude, etc.) visually.
- VST MIDI effects process MIDI messages (for example, transpose or arpeggiate) and route the MIDI data to other VST instruments or to hardware devices.
A VST host is a software application or hardware device that VST plugins run under. The host application presents the plugin UIs and routes digital audio and MIDI to and from the plugins.
Many VST hosts are available. Not all of these support VST 3 plugins.
- Acon Digital Acoustica
- Acoustica Mixcraft (VST3)
- Ardour (open source)
- Audacity (free and open source, VST support works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux)
- Digital Performer (version 8 or higher)
- Reason (version 9.5 or higher)
- Psycle (open source)
- vMix (VST3 Only)
Stand-alone dedicated hosts provide a host environment for VST plugins rather than use the plugins to extend their own capabilities. These are usually optimized for live performance use, with features like fast song configuration switching.
VST plugins can be hosted in incompatible environments using a translation layer, or shim. For example, FL Studio only supports its own internal plugin architecture, but an available native 'wrapper' loads VST plugins, among others. FXpansion offers a VST-to-RTAS (Real Time AudioSuite) wrapper that lets VST plugins run in Pro Tools, and a VST-to-Audio Units wrapper lets VST plugins run in Logic Pro.
Hardware VST hosts can load special versions of VST plugins. These units are portable and usable without a computer, though some of them require a computer for editing. Other hardware options include PCI/PCIe cards designed for audio processing, which take over audio processing from the computer's CPU and free up RAM.
Some hardware hosts accept VSTs and VSTis, and either run Windows-compatible music applications like Cubase, Live, Pro Tools, Logic etc., or run their own DAW. Other are VST Hosts only, and require a separate DAW application. Origin from Arturia is a hardware DSP system that houses several VST software synthesizers in one machine, like Jupiter 50/80 from Roland. Using appropriate software, audio data can also be sent over a network, so the main host runs on one computer, and VST plugins on peripheral machines.
VST plugin standard
The VST plugin standard is the audio plugin standard created by Steinberg to allow any third party developers to create VST plugins for use within VST host applications. VST requires separate installations for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. The majority of VST plugins are available for Windows only due to Apple's competing proprietary Audio Unit technology being used on OS X (Audio Units is a core part of the OS X operating system). The short history of commercial environments for Linux means few developers have targeted this platform.
VST plugins often have many controls, and therefore need a method of managing presets (sets of control settings).
Steinberg Cubase VST introduced two file formats for storing presets: an FXP file stores a single preset, while an FXB file stores a whole bank of presets. These formats have since been adopted by many other VST hosts, although Cubase itself switched to a new system of preset management with Cubase 4.0.
Many VST plugins have their own method of loading and saving presets, which do not necessarily use the standard FXP/FXB formats.
- Apple's Audio Units
- Avid's Avid Audio eXtension
- Digidesign's Real Time AudioSuite
- Digidesign's TDM
- LADSPA, DSSI for Linux
- LV2, a cross-platform, open source, liberally licensed audio plugin standard
- Microsoft's DirectX plugin
- Mark of the Unicorn's Motu Audio System
- JACK Audio Connection Kit, an open source sound server allowing flexible audio routing between apps
- Propellerhead's Rack Extensions
Steinberg's VST SDK is a set of C++ classes based around an underlying C API. The SDK can be downloaded from their website.
There are several ports available, such as a Delphi version by Frederic Vanmol, a Java version from the jVSTwRapper project at Sourceforge, and two .NET versions – Noise and VST.NET; this open source project also includes a framework that makes creating VST plugins easier and result in more structured code. VST.NET also provides support for writing managed host applications with a managed class that allows loading an unmanaged Plugin. A notable language supporting VST is FAUST, considering that it is especially made for making signal processing plugins, often producing code faster than hand-written C++.
In addition, Steinberg have developed the VST GUI, which is another set of C++ classes, which can be used to build a graphical interface. There are classes for buttons, sliders and displays etc. Note that these are low level C++ classes and the look and feel still have to be created by the plugin manufacturer. VST GUI is part of the VST SDK and is also available as sourceforge project in http://sourceforge.net/projects/vstgui .
Many commercial and open-source VSTs are written using the Juce C++ framework instead of direct calls to the VST SDK, because this allows multi-format (VST, Audio Units and Real Time AudioSuite) binaries to be built from a single codebase.
- LADSPA and LV2, similar open source standards.
- SynthEdit, a VST/VSTi editor.
- ^'Our Technologies'. www.steinberg.net.
- ^Steinberg Cubase 3 (article), Sound on sound, Jul 1996.
- ^ abCubase 3.7 (article), Sound on sound, Sep 1999
- ^KVR audio.
- ^News, KVR audio.
- ^VST 3.5 a milestone in VST development (News), Steinberg, 2011-02-10.
- ^'Celemony introduces ARA Audio Random Access - Extension for Plug-in Interfaces'. KVR Audio. Retrieved 2018-06-05.
- ^SDK for VST 2 software interface discontinued (News), Steinberg, 2013-12-09
- ^VST plug-ins
- ^VST, Axi world.
- ^jVSTwRapper, Source forge.
- ^Noise, Google code.
- ^VST.Net, Codeplex.