The crew at U-HE have gone to great lengths to meticulously replicate every facet of all our old favorite synths into a ‘one plugin to rule them all’ package.
If you were allowed just one VST to produce all of your synthwave tracks with, this should be it.
U-HE’s goal with Diva was not to replicate a single synth, but rather to create modules so we can choose our own oscillators, filters, and envelopes and piece them together ourselves.
We get 5 oscillator modules, 5 filter modules, 2 stereo effects slots, and two LFOs to play with.
It’s fairly obvious to see from the UI which classic synth each one of these modules is trying to emulate, which will make your inner synth nerd giggle as you combine a Minimoog oscillator with a Roland Jupiter 6 multimode filter.
But to recreate that classic analog synth sound in a digital form is not a simple process.
Diva is well known for being quite brutal on your computer’s CPU, so be ready to start freezing tracks if you plan on using multiple instances of the plugin!
This is a complete powerhouse plugin for producing synthwave music.
It can handle anything from luscious and evolving pads to grinding, aggressive lead sounds. And it does so with absolute authority.
A suite of 28 software instruments spanning analog synths, digital synths, organs, acoustic pianos, electric pianos, and string machines - V Collection 8 recreates some of the most iconic instruments of all time.
Taking a slightly different approach from Diva’s module-based system, Arturia has set out to more directly replicate all of the famous and classic synths of yesteryear.
While the instruments can be purchased individually, the collection offers staggering value for money considering how authentic each individual plugin sounds.
There are 27 classic instruments included in the package, and you’ll find all your favorites here from the Minimoog, the Juno 6, the Jupiter 8, and the OB-Xa. Anything you could possibly desire for synthwave production!
Not only that, many of these emulations have had some additional features added such as in-built arpeggiators, polyphony, and various effects to take their sound design capabilities above what you could achieve with their real-world counterparts.
If you already have some understanding of when you’d reach for a Minimoog or an Arp 2600, this plugin collection will be heaven for you.
Using the same interface and layout as the classics to program your sounds is about as close as you can get to owning the real thing.
Vital massively punches above its weight considering it’s a completely free plugin.
While it’s not necessarily marketed towards synthwave exclusively, there are more than enough features under its hood to facilitate any kind of sound you might want to make.
Even if you just wish to use it as a subtractive synth, what it offers is really quite amazing and it’s completely capable of standing toe-to-toe with any of the premium synth VSTs.
Vital has everything you would expect from a ‘heavyweight’ VST synthesizer – except the price.
It comes with three high-quality oscillators and a small selection of wavetables. If you want more presets and wavetables, there are plenty of packs for sale on the official website. It’s a respectable business model that helps keep Vital free.
Our Analog and Vintage Synth Wavetable packs also work with Vital, as well as most other wavetable synths. These are wavetables made from 96 kHz recordings of analog synthesizers, meaning you can emulate vintage analog synths with ease using Vital’s powerful wavetable oscillators.
Battery has experienced a number of overhauls/improvements throughout its lifespan.
Now, we’re on Battery 4, and finally in a good spot with an intuitive and easy-to-use UI.
It’s now easier than ever to load non-NI kits making this a really powerful machine for synthwave production.
One of the main things to remember about synthwave is that as much as we are trying to recreate the sounds of old, we are also still making use of modern production methods.
This is where Battery becomes an ideal drum machine to load your favorite samples into, but you can also stick to dedicated retro kits such as the popular ‘Neon Drive’ expansion.
It includes individual volume and pitch envelopes for each sample, a sample-by-sample filter and compressor, and even individual velocity control regardless of whether your sample is a one-shot or not.
Battery 4 gives you ultimate control over samples so you can get that signature retro 80’s sound with a modern touch.
Synthwave Drums has a very simple pad-based UI with all the typical features you’d expect. Pitch, pan, and envelope controls over each sample.
Beatskillz markets the drum samples as fully pre-processed and ready to go straight out of the box making this perfect if you’re just starting out or need excellent drum tones in a pinch.
It’s also ridiculously cheap for the volume of samples that are provided, and if that’s not enough you can even layer in your own samples inside the plugin which can then be sent to your DAW via multiple outputs.
Considering the cheap price, this is probably the best starting point if you’re looking specifically to have your synthwave drum needs taken care of.
Minimal fuss, just a nice and simple drum plugin!
6. Sampleson SUB Analog Drums
Taking inspiration from traditional analog drum machines such as the 808, Sampleson’s SUB Analog Drums provides a full set of 18 sounds that you can use to get your synthwave song started.
While there’s no sequencer in here, it does give us a full range of controls over each of the provided pads which includes pitch, pan, and volume.
Then, specifically for the kick and snare, we have click and snap knobs to tailor the sounds further.