Top Five Synths

Top Five Synths

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Since the 1990s, software synthesizers -- sometimes called "softsynths" -- have been replacing the hardware synthesizers they emulate. In many cases, they can emulate hardware synths such as the MiniMoog or the Alpha Juno with perfect accuracy, while also being more customizable and flexible than the originals. There are five software synthesizers in particular that are generally recognized among professionals for their quality and depth. However, the choice of five "top" software synthesizers will come down to the individual user's taste and requirements.

Reaktor is a powerful modular synthesizer by Native Instruments. A "modular" synthesizer allows users to design their own instruments by connecting individual "modules" that emulate the basic mechanisms of audio synthesis, such as oscillators and LFOs. The different elements can be interconnected with virtual "cables" in any way the user desires, making Reaktor highly customizable. Reaktor is widely used by professionals in both music production and sound design and can be heard in everything from popular to avant-garde music.

Omnisphere by Spectrasonics is primarily a sample-based synthesizer. This means that it uses recorded samples as a starting point for sound generation, morphing, filtering or modulating them according to the user's specifications. In particular, Omnisphere is used professionally to create unique pads and other atmospheric sound material. In this capacity it is regarded by some professionals as unsurpassed. Of all the synthesizers listed here, Omnisphere is the most resource-intensive, requiring powerful computer hardware to operate.

Sylenth1 by LennarDigital is known among professionals for its sample-accurate emulations of traditional analog synthesizers. "Sample-accurate" means that, under close analysis, the sounds Sylenth1 produces are indistinguishable from those of the hardware it emulates. Sylenth1 is a subtractive synthesizer. It produces sound by subtracting specified frequencies or harmonics from its oscillator output and remixing them in any combination the user desires.

Massive is a hybrid synth by Native Instruments. "Hybrid" means that it combines two or more synthesis types -- in this case, granular, additive and subtractive elements -- to produce sound. Known in particular for its lead-voice and bass capabilities, Massive is most often associated with trance and similar subgenres of electronic music. It is also known as one of the more approachable software synthesizers for amateurs.

Like Omnisphere, Alchemy by Camel Audio is a hybrid sample-based software synthesizer.

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It can analyze and manipulate one or more user-defined samples using additive, spectral and/or granular synthesis. In experienced hands, a sample can be filtered, morphed and analyzed in nearly infinite ways to produce any sound the user desires. Alchemy is particularly popular with sound designers for this capability but also can be used to create atmospheric pads and lead-voice sounds.

Works Cited Lennardigital Sylenth1 Review Native Instruments Massive Review Camel Audio Alchemy Review Spectrasonics Omnisphere Review Native Instruments Reaktor 5.5 Review
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