Top 12 Free Synths Every Producer Should Know
With the endless new software and hardware synths out it’s hard to keep some money in our pocket. So we figured we’ll make a list of all the free synths every producer should check out.
You can make entire albums with great-sounding synths just with this list alone.
There are many more free synths out there that are exclusive to windows or Mac machines but we only included the multi-platform (Windows, Mac and some supporting Linux for all you nerds out there) beasts so everyone can download today and start making some awesome sounds for free!
If you find yourself using these synths a lot please consider donating to the developer who put hours on top of hours of writing code, designing and developing.
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Surge is an open-source synth developed by Kurasu (Claes Johanson) and maintained by a group of volunteers.
This is a hybrid subtractive synthesizer with wavetable, FM, MPE, custom scales and over 1000 prests and over 200 wavetables.
It’s worth checking it out just for the sheer amount of prests. Super Expressive and extremely powerful it’s hard to believe this free. If you have some sort of an MPE (Multidimensional Polyphonic Expression) controller then defiantly check this one out.
You can even download additional content like extra wavetables and presets from HERE.
– 3 Oscillators Per voice with 8 different Algorithms (Classic, Wavetable, FM and even Audio Input for Vocoding)
– Two Multimode filters with 8 different routing configurations and Feedback loop
– 12 LFOs, Multistage Envelopes and step sequencers for maximum modulation capabilities.
– 8 effects units (Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Phaser, EQ, Distortion, Conditioner (EQ, stereo-image control, and limiter), Rotary speaker, Frequency shifter, Vocoder)
– Adjustable Screen Size, Custom Scales (.scl files) and MPE control
Developed by Matt Tytel this semi-modular subtractive synth is intuitive and easy to use. Feature classic analog waveforms (and then some) with cross-modulation and built-in effects.
The best thing about it is the modulation routing is as easy and visual as some commercial synths like Serum. This synth is regularly updated so check back with the developer every few months to see what new features he has for us and consider donating for his awesome work.
– 2 Oscillators with cross-modulation and built-in Unison engine per oscillator
– Tunable Feedback section
– Build-in Arp, Stutter, Delay, Reverb and Distortion effects
– Separate Formant filter alongside a classic multi-mode filter
– 2 Mono LFOs one Poly LFO, Mod Envelope and a Step Sequencer all easily routable to anything thanks to Helm’s modulation system
This is donation based but if you really want you can put $0 and click Remind Me to download the synth for free.
Although the interface is a bit…..mmmm…..ugly? (even when you customize the skin colors) it’s still a powerful synth with endless presets pack out there (Check this 25,000 presets pack!).
– 2 Oscillators, FM modulation, ring modulation, sync, modulation envelope.
– 4 types of filters, distortion.
– 2 LFOs (synchronized with host).
– Arpeggiator (synchronized with host).
– Tempo delay (synchronized with host), stereo chorus/flanger.
– Customizable Skin colors
The download page is in Japanese but you can translate automatically in most browsers
So we can rest assured this one is a mini beast of its own. The twin filters are based on the early version of the Diva filters so they sound warm and analog with a mix spread for stereo imaging. It comes with over 600 presets.
Tyrell is the name of a project by the German online magazine Amazona.de. After a reader survey, ideas for a low-cost hardware analog synth came about. Based on a design similar to Roland’s classic Juno 60.
The built-in chors effect is fat and wide reminds us of the famous Juno chorus.
– Virtual analog oscillators with classic architecture (Mix style oscillators, sub, noise, ring, and feedback)
– 2 LFOs with 8 waveforms and multips triggering options
– Twin filter related to Diva (early model)
– Unison with up to 8 voices
– Analog-type ADSR envelopes, loopable or LFO-triggered
– Modulation matrix with depth modulation from expression controls
– Chorus effect with 3 modes
– Skinnable and resizable UI
Developed by Digital Suburban. This is a Yamaha DX7 emulation. A legendary FM synth from the 80’s to create eerie pads, bell-like sounds, and modern growl/Reese/neuro bass.
It can be a complex synth to program but does only contain one window which makes sound design work easier and comes with packed with a lot of great presets. Features 6 operators (FM Oscillators) each with its own envelope and waveshaping section. The Envelopes are very interesting as they have 4 different stages with separate amount controls. There is a very simple Filter and one LFO but most of its power comes from the relationship between the different oscillators.
You can even use the original DX7 manual for some reference for this plugin.
– 3 Engine Types
– 32 routing algorithms
– The sound engine music-synthesizer-for-android is closely modeled on the original DX7 characteristics
– One Singal window with most parameters being automatable
– Fully supports DX7 input and output Sysex messages; including controller change. This means that you can use this with a native DX7/TX7 as a patch editor and SysEx manager
– Each operator have a realtime VU meter
2500+ presets can be downloaded HERE
Developed by Full Bucket Music, This is just one of many free synths the developer released. Based on the Korg PS-3300. This synth is less user-friendly and some knowledge of how the original is working is required along with reading the Manual.
It does come with great vintage-inspired prests for you to start playing with right out of the “box”.
Essentially three synths in one, this synth is a reminisce to the old school limitation of vintage synthesizers.
– Close emulation of behavior and all controls of the original hardware
– Three independent polyphonic synthesizer blocks
– Band-limited oscillators, classic two-pole lowpass filters
– Resonators section plus two Modulation Generators per bank
– Additional Sample & Hold and Paraphonic Envelope Generator
– Semi-modular with Patch-Menus
– Micro-tuning for each note separately with scaling presets
You should also check out his other amazing free synths HERE.
Based on the Roland JX-8P.
The best thing about this is if you have the original JX-8P synth you can export and import sounds using SysEx data.
– Two DCO’s with Saw, Square, Pulse, Noise
– Hard Sync and Ring Modulation
– Two exponential envelop generators
– 24 dB resonant LP filter
– HP filter (3 stages)
– Option to randomize presets
– Stereo Chorus
– Octave Strech and filter noise controls
Doesn’t come preloaded with presets but you can download a lot of them HERE including the original ones
Developed by Archetype Instruments. This simple and easy to use synth is great for beginners. It sounds good and comes with 64 prests. Nothing too special about this synth but the developers are claiming for the oscillators to be very clean without using wavetable or interpolation. The Drive section sounds great and can be Pre or Post filter and the built-in Unison engine is super fat.
– One OSC and One Sub OSC and additional Noise Generator
– Up to 9 unison voices
– Multimode Filter with routable Drive circuit
– One LFO and One envelope generator
This is a classic one. In fact, everything from this Developer is a classic free plugin. Check all of them HERE (Scroll down for the free plugins)
Tal-Noisemaker is an improved version of an older free synth called TAL-Elek7ro. With a completely new synth engine and features.
The Interface is clean and simple. It comes with 256 prests and built-in effects.
– Two Oscillators and a Sub Oscillator
– Self Resonating Oversampled Filters
– Random Note Detuning
– Multi-Stage Envelope Generator
– Buil-in Effects (Reverb, Chorus, Bit Crusher)
Emulation of the Oberheim ob-x, ob-xa, and ob8 synths. This synth is simple and does not come with Arpeggiator or effects so use your DAW to finalize the sound when using this synth. That being said it was designed to be as fat and warm as the original with some added features.
– Two Oscillators with cross-modulation
– Fat unison section
– Voice Pan Variation
– Micro Random Detuning
– Continuous blendable multimode filter
– Factory presets inspired by the original synths
– Changeable Skins
Now in Version 4, Tunefish is a hybrid additive synthesizer written with ridiculous compact code (1okb). In version 4 (check version 3 HERE for a different synth) the modulations are now visualized which makes working with this synth so much easier.
It was originally developed to accompany real-time 3d animations with music, which are then presented at computer art festivals called demoparties. For more information about the developer visit their website.
The amount of effects you can stack alone is a source of inspiration. Sperate filters for maximum sound manipulation and a good collection of factory presets. It has a built-in harmonics and waveform display that is great to help you understand what is happening to the sound as you play with the Oscillator section.
– Additive synthesis based wavetable generator
– Separate Low-Pass, High-Pass, Band-Pass and Notch filters
– Harmonics and Waveform displays
– Analog Pitch Drift (Slop)
– Up to 10 voice unison
– 2 LFOS and 2 Envelopes
– 8 Slot modulation matrix
– Built-In effects (Flanger, Reverb, Delay, EQ, Chorus, Formant filter, and Distortion) with up to 10 effect stacks!
Check extra prests downloads HERE
Noisy and distorted this Waveshaping synth can create some gnarly sounds. Developed by Nusofting.
It only has one oscillator but get it sound variety from the different ways you can waveshape the oscillator. It comes packed with really great presets to get you started. Anything from a string like acoustic sounds, screaming leads, fat basses, and beautiful pads. The delay matrix is very unique and can create anything from classic delays to a chorus or randomized resonators.
– One oscillator with waveshapes focus on the increasingly complex harmonic content
– Build-in Reverb
– Unique Delay matrix
– Self-explanatory tooltip for each control
– Changeable Skin
– Adjustable Size GUI
Anything we missed? free plugin you are using you want to let us know? Please share in the comment section below.
Interested in taking your music production to the next level? Check out Beat Lab Online or if you live in LA come by for a free class visit.