- After some budget synth plugins?
- Here are 7 essential synth VSTs to add to your production arsenal
- If you’re on a budget, also check out our list of the best free Kontakt libraries.
For producers, the thought of getting into synthesis can be incredibly intimidating. Not only its complex nature but the intimidating price tag that comes along with it.
When seeing your favorite producers use heavyweight VST synths like Pigments and Serum, you may think you won’t be able to reach the same level of production without these tools. However, this is not the case.
There are many powerful synths on the market today that will allow you to get amazing results without breaking the bank.
What Are The Best Affordable VST Synths For Those On A $50 Budget?
The CA2600 synthesizer is the ideal choice for someone who is looking to dive deep into the realms of synthesis. Its vast features provide plenty of opportunity for sound design and it has a lot of good features. However, it is not fully polyphonic, so you should consider the DCO 106 if that is a must for you.
For those who want a huge-sounding synth for leads and basslines, the MonoGrizzly 2 is an obvious choice.
Alternatively, if you can dig a little deeper into your wallet, Carbon Electra is a staple synth that is frequently used by producers in the industry.
Bellow, I’ve rounded up a list of 7 potential VSTs that you can add to your DAW to elevate your production skills and sound.
We’ve included an overview of all of the products, their pros and cons, and what applications they’re most useful for.
- Minipol by Karanyi Sounds
- Syndt by Klevgrand
- CFA Sound MonoGrizzly 2 by Resonance Sound
- CA2600 Synthesiser by Cherry Audio
- Carbon Electra by Plugin Boutique
- DCO-106 by Cherry Audio
- Orb Synth by Orb Plugins
1. Minipol by Karanyi Sounds
Meet Karanyi Sounds' very first virtual instrument, Minipol – a powerful virtual analog synthesizer with a lot of fun and a unique Smart Random feature!
- Approachable design for beginners
- Innovative smart randomization bar
- A large library of presets
Minipol is an extremely creative and unique virtual analog synthesizer. With 4 voices, multiple effects, and modulation capabilities, Minipol a very versatile synth in terms of the sounds you can produce.
The key factor however is its randomization feature. With the Minipol smart random bar, you can get inspiration at a click of a button.
Each section of the bar will randomize the parameters within its corresponding color, a great way of creating new and exciting sounds quickly.
- 47 randomizable controls via smart random bar
- Factory library with 300 custom made presets
This is an ideal instrument for those beginning to learn synthesis. When using the smart control bar, you get a glipse at how a synth patch is made.
Minipol is also very light on CPU resources so is a great addition for bedroom producers who are worried about performance.
2. Syndt by Klevgrand
A versatile, morphable polyphonic synthesizer, Syndt is a high-quality synthesizer with a lot of possibilities.
- Excellent value for money
- Simplistic controls
- Good selection and control of effects and filters
Syndt is the cheapest VST on our list, however, Klevgrand’s polyphonic synthesizer doesn’t lack in quality.
With 3 separate XY pads for the OSC, LFO, and chorus, this allows for some excellent opportunities for automation in which you can create beautiful evolving atmospheres.
For such a cheap and compact VST it also includes all the bells and whistles you’d expect from your synth e.g. filters, EQ control, effects, and more.
- XY pad oscillator and LFO
- Ping pong delay with several control parameters
The cheapest option on our list, this is a great little synth to add to your library. Syndt is fun to use to produce evolving chords and soundscapes when accompanied by some reverb.
However, with only 1 oscillator this becomes somewhat limiting for those wanting to create complex synth patches.
3. CFA Sound MonoGrizzly 2
The all-new MonoGrizzly 2 VST synthesizer is a full-grown monophonic and analog-modeled synth for raw and wild analog-style bass and synth sounds.
- Very powerful synth for the price
- Can produce crunchy and characterful tones
- Simplistic design
MonoGrizzly is a go-to monophonic synth for EDM producers, especially for leads and basslines.
MonoGrizzly has 3 different oscillators, each being able to have a blend of 3 different waveforms, creating the possibility for 9 waveforms at once.
Additionally, the spread control on each oscillator, accompanied by distortion-focused effects, makes this synth a brilliant pairing for your EDM productions.
This VST is currently Windows only and will not work on Mac OS.
- 3 oscillators each with 3 waveforms
- 4-pole lowpass ladder filter
- Tube-based filter drive unit
The monoGrizzly is a definite go-to for heavy house and EDM production, with its 3 massive oscillators it’s a great option for those wanting to create huge basslines.
Thanks to the built-in distortion and filter, I can not recommend this product enough for that purpose. However, as it is a monophonic synth this does limit the synth to one note at a time, which may not be ideal for some situations.
Also, it is very limited in terms of features when compared to a staple synth like Massive. That being said, at a 1/10th of the price this one is well worth it!
4. CA2600 Synthesiser by Cherry Audio
The Cherry Audio CA2600 is a powerful, self-contained duophonic synthesizer inspired by the groundbreaking ARP 2600 synthesizer.
- Ability to create incredibly complex synths
- Endless creative opportunities
Based on the Korg ARP 2600, Cherry Audio has produced an extremely impressive emulation of the classic synth.
With monophonic and duophonic capabilities and multiple voice assign modes, it’s a bit more limited than a full polysynth. However, there are modulation options abound here.
The CV-controllable onboard reverb, distortion, and delay effects also make for creative and detailed patching.
Plus you can patch in external audio sources, letting you create incredibly elaborate effects for guitars, vocals, etc.
- 300+ presets
- Sidechain audio input for external audio processing
Analog synths are expensive, and the ARP 2600 (which this synth is based on) costs over $2000.
This makes the emulated version by Cherry Audio a no-brainer, especially for those wanting to get into modular synthesis as the semi-modular design is a great stepping-stone.
One of my favorite things about this synth is its sidechain capabilities, allowing for incredible processing on external instruments and audio.
There are countless chances for experimentation with this synth.
With over 300 presets that come with the VST you have plenty of examples to look through and play with before you even need to start making your own patches.
At only $39, this is a must-have VST!
5. Carbon Electra by Plugin Boutique
Carbon Electra is a powerful and intuitive synth built by producers, for producers.
- Over 800 factory presets
- Highly editable step sequencer
- Can produce incredibly powerful sounds
Without question, the Carbon Electra VST is the most popular synthesizer on our list.
It has an extensive artist presets library featuring the likes of Freemasons, Lowroller, and Carl Cox.
The synth includes 4 separate analog style oscillators with a variety of different waveshapes to choose from.
The oscillators can also be synced to work in unison, accompanied by the onboard distortion and step sequencer you can see why this is one of the go-to synths for DnB producers.
And with thousands of 5-star reviews, it is clear to see why this VST is a staple in the industry.
- 4 sync-able virtual analog oscillators
- Useful graphic displays for both the mixer and filter.
- 6 different filter types, including a powerful vocal filter.
- Editable step sequencer
If you are an EDM producer and have to choose only 1 synth from this list, this is the one to buy.
If you’re just starting out or if you are a production pro, the Carbon Electra’s rich and powerful tones have something to offer everyone.
And with the enormous factory library, it’s easy for inspiration to spark when using this synthesizer.
6. DCO-106 by Cherry Audio
DCO-106 lovingly recreates the unique sonic footprint of one of the most iconic 80’s polysynths in exhaustive detail, while adding modern features for massively expanded creativity.
- Ample control to form the sound you want
- Easy to use
- Excellent replica of the original
DCO-106 by Cherry Audio is an emulation of the classic Roland Juno 106 polysynth from the 80s.
If you’re not familiar with the Juno-106, you’ve at least no doubt heard it on many hits from the 1980s and beyond. It’s a classic synth that never really went away.
Punchy leads, warm pads, and bright brassy sounds are a piece of cake for DCO-106.
- Up to 16 voices of classic Juno sound
- 3 different reverb modes with a new proprietary reverb algorithm
- Multiple voice assign modes
- Single-key chord memory mode
What Cherry Audio is doing to emulate these classic synths is amazing.
They’re able to capture the true form of the original instruments as well as improve upon them by adding new features. The DCO-106 is no exception.
They’ve recaptured the sound of the Juno-106 and delivered it to us at a more than affordable price.
This synth has all of the components you’d expect from a classic synth emulation and it sounds fantastic. If you’re looking for a good affordable Juno 106 VST, this is the one!
(Check out our full review of Cherry Audio’s Dreamsynth VST here!)
7. Orb Synth by Orb Plugins
Orb Synth gives you amazing sounds for all of the 4 plugins of the suite. Two oscillators, two LFOs plus Amp and envelope.
- Approachable and extensive modulation matrix
- Wide variety of waveforms
- Good visual aids to help see your audio process
One of the more modern additions to our list is the Orb Synth, a wavetable synthesizer with a wide variety of waveforms that are split into subcategories.
Similar to the Minipol synth that we started with, Orb has a similar randomize button that allows you to set various parameters in one go.
The synth also has visual representations for the envelopes, LFOs, and wavetables, making it very easy to navigate and keep track of the changes you’re making to your synth patch.
- Separate sub oscilator
- Unison, for thick detuned sounds
- Separate noise generator
As a wavetable synth, the Orb synthesizer is competing with a lot of heavy hitters such as Massive and Serum.
Unfortunately, in comparison to these other VSTs, Orb does fall short in terms of what it has to offer.
However, if you aren’t able to afford the bigger wavetable synths, I think Orb is a good VST all the same.
The product is very approachable and easy to use so it may be a good stepping stone before working with an instrument such as Serum.
Where Is The Best Place to Purchase VSTs?
I would recommend using Plugin Boutique, that is where I have referenced all the pricing for this article. It’s a great way to keep track of new and discounted plugins all in a single website.
There are constantly sales on, many of them exclusive to PB.
What Software Works With VSTs?
Most Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) will be able to use VST instruments and effects. VST compatibility is a major drawcard for any audio software.
Is There Any Way To Access VSTs Like Serum Without Having To Pay Outright?
Yes. There is a rent-to-own scheme with Splice for a huge selection of VSTs and effects. Most are just $10 a month.