Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
Spectrasonics Omnisphere is known very well as a formidable synth VST plugin, and as such, you’ll need to be willing to lose a big chunk of hard drive space and take a big hit to your wallet. But with that said, its vast array of exquisite sounds and captivating sonic textures make it one of the very best out there. Beyond its impressive library of over 500 analogue waveforms and digital wavetables, Omnisphere 2 shows off its versatility with more than 30 filter types for each of its dual filters, 58 exceptional effects, and an integrated granular synthesis engine. The true star, however, is the inclusion of 65GB of high-quality sample-based sound sources, ready out of the box. Then there’s the added capability to import your own content. With its epic scale and unparalleled sound quality, Omnisphere 2 is a synth VST companion that you could spend years exploring and never run out of ideas.
Synth VST plugins versus hardware synths
On your journey of finding the right synth VST set for your music, you may come across naysayers telling you you’re wasting your time, as physical, hardware synths are superior. But rest assured that it definitely isn’t this simple. Ultimately depends on what sounds you’re after, what your budget is, and if you see yourself as an ‘in the box’ producer or a more traditional synth head.
Below are some points to consider when weighing up the pros and cons of VST synth plugins V.S hardware synths:
- Synth VST Plugins are generally more affordable than hardware synths. They are software-based and often have a range of prices, including some free options.
- Hardware Synths can be more expensive. They are physical instruments with components and craftsmanship contributing to their cost.
2. Versatility and Range of Sounds:
- Synth VST Plugins offer a vast range of sounds and can be easily updated or expanded with new sound packs or updates. They often include a variety of synthesis methods (subtractive, FM, wavetable, etc.).
- Hardware Synths have a more limited range of sounds compared to VSTs, but they often excel in producing certain types of sounds and may have unique characteristics due to their analog or digital circuits.
3. Sound Quality:
- Synth VST Plugins have improved significantly in sound quality, often indistinguishable from hardware in a mix. They benefit from the processing power of modern computers.
- Hardware Synths are praised for their 'warmth' and 'character,' especially analog models. They have a distinct sound that some producers and musicians seek.
4. Ease of Use and Workflow:
- Synth VST Plugins are integrated into digital audio workstations (DAWs), making them very accessible during the music production process. They offer easy preset management and instant recall.
- Hardware Synths provide a tactile experience that many users prefer. The hands-on approach can be inspiring and intuitive for sound design and performance.
5. Integration with Other Equipment:
- Synth VST Plugins require a computer and a DAW, and they integrate seamlessly into digital setups. They can be easily controlled with MIDI controllers.
- Hardware Synths can be integrated into both digital and analog setups. They can work standalone and offer physical connectivity with other hardware, which can be important for live performances.
6. Portability and Space:
- Synth VST Plugins are highly portable as they reside on your computer. They do not require physical space other than your computer setup.
- Hardware Synths vary in size and can take up considerable space in a studio. Their physical nature means they are less portable than software synths.
7. Longevity and Maintenance:
- Synth VST Plugins can become outdated or incompatible with newer operating systems, but they do not require physical maintenance.
- Hardware Synths may require maintenance over time, especially analog models, but they can also become vintage items with their value increasing over time.
At the end of the day, the choice between Synth VST plugins and hardware synths depends on individual preferences, workflow, budget, and the specific needs of the music production or performance. Both have their unique advantages and can complement each other in a music production environment.
Best drum machine plugins
Best budget MIDI keyboards
Best synthesizers (hardware)