The Best Budget Synth VST Plugins in 2019

Depending on when you’re reading this 2019 has either come and gone or we’re only a few days away from welcoming in the new year, and throughout the last 12 months, we as music producers have well and truly been gifted with a treat or two when it comes to new synths and the best part is that most of them have been developed to be affordable for pretty much everyone, so if you have a budget between $20 to $200 here are the best budget synth VST plugins of 2019.

1. Union by SoundSpot

union by soundspot

Union is SoundSpot’s next-generation wavetable synthesizer audio plugin, featuring a unique wavetable generator that lets you create harmonically rich wavetable sets from the output of Union’s main oscillators: a technique frequently used by the world’s best sound designers to create rich and deep sounds. Union allows you to utilize this synthesis technique with a single click of a button.

The Union plugin comes with unique features such as independent filters per oscillator, which allows a deeper control over the shaping of your sound, and a unison engine that can run up to 96 voices in a single note play.

union by sounspot

Innovative Modulation System

Union features an innovative click through modulation system that allows you to quickly create rich and compelling sounds. Osc 1, 2 and 3 include their own dedicated ADSR, MOD ADSR and LFO envelopes and Osc 3 includes an additional wavetable window that allows you to scrub through its stereo wavetable sets creating all kinds of organic movement in your sounds. In addition, the master FX chain features 4 separate LFOs that can be assigned to any master FX control and includes a trigger mode so they can be used more like a conventional ADSR envelope.

union by sounspot

The Best of Analog and Digital

The Union plugin combines the best of analog modeling and digital precision and is built to provide you with a vast range of inspiring pads, plucks, leads, percussion elements and transitions straight out-of-the-box, as well as in-depth control over every aspect of your sound.

union by sounspot

Do all your post-processing in Union

Union features a master chain of 9 different effects based on algorithms from the SoundSpot post-processing plugins range, which allows you to create fully polished and finished sounds that need no further post-processing. The Union master FX chain allows you to turn each effect on and off, and change their order by dragging them around.

union by sounspot

Features

  • Intuitive and easy workflow for creating pads, plucks, leads, percussion elements and transitions, but in-depth control over every aspect of your sound.
  • 2 analog-style oscillators with 6 waveshapes, up to 32 voices unison, spectral anti-aliasing and a range of creative effects.
  • 1 high definition wavetable oscillator that lets you generate fully stereo wavetable sets based on the output of osc 1 and 2.
  • A highly intuitive modulation system that lets you connect any FX control to several MOD ADSRs and LFOs, including host-syncing and midi re-triggering.
  • A master chain of 9 different draggable effects allowing you to create fully polished and finished sounds that need no further post-processing outside of Union.
  • 300+ ready to go presets that you can easily navigate using SoundSpot’s new preset manager, including different authors, banks and categories.

System Requirements

Mac

  • 10.12 – 10.14: older OS versions may work but are not tested (32 & 64-bit)

Formats:

  • AAX 
  • Audio Units (AU)
  • VST
  • VST3

Windows

  • Windows 7, 8 and 10 (32 & 64-bit)

Formats:

  • AAX 
  • VST
  • VST3

Requirements:

  • RAM: 8 GB RAM or more is recommended. Plus at least 8 GB hard disk space for installation.
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 X2 or newer.
  • Format: In theory any 32 or 64-bit VST, VST3, AU, or AAX (11.0.2 or higher) compatible host application should work.
  • Licensing:Internet access for activating the licence key. Please ensure any outgoing connection blockers are deactivated.
  • Sample Rates: Supported sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz, in both mono and stereo.

DAW Compatibility:

  • Ableton Live
  • Cubase
  • Logic Pro X (not compatible with Logic 9)
  • Nuendo
  • Pro Tools 10-12
  • Reaper
  • Reason
  • Sonar
  • + many more

2. Bolt by Nektar Technology

The Best Budget Synth VST Plugins in 2019 1

Harmonic Synthesizer: Shape Sound at the Turn of a Knob

Nektar Bolt is the first Harmonics Synthesizer for VST® and AU® compatible DAW platforms. Its unique Harmonics oscillators will take you from subtle sine waves to overtone-rich pulse chains at the turn of a knob. And Bolt’s user interface encourages instant experimentation when creating sounds. No filter required – it all happens right in the oscillator. Experience the speed of new sounds – literally.

Unique Synthesis

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Experience Bolt’s new Harmonics Synthesis engine with its rich, organic sound and lots of unique character – no traditional filter required.

Easy to Use

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No PhD in sound design required: Rediscover the fun in tweaking your own sounds with Bolt’s streamlined user interface.

Fresh Sounds

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Bolt comes with 500+ factory & artist patches for all kinds of genres. From lush pads to deep basses – and screaming leads to sound effects.

Bolt: A Different Take on Synthesis

Shape It

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Bolt’s synthesis engine generates a sound’s overtone structure directly in the oscillator. So you won’t find a filter section like in typical subtractive synthesizers.

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The unique Harmonics Oscillator takes care of it all – just by turning the HARMONICS and ROLLOFF knobs you change a wave’s shape and core sound from subtle sine to bright pulse chain. ODD switches the oscillator to create odd harmonics only, If you additionally bring in DEEP, you will notice the waveforms to resemble saw or square shapes (with ODD active). In addition, each oscillator has its own amplitude envelope. So all you need for creating the core sound is right there!

Modulate It

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Sounds come to life with modulation: So Bolt offers four powerful modulation generators. Its 3 LFOs and one Modulation Envelope Generator ensure a host of modulation possibilities. No matter, if you are after snappy transients or would like to modulate different aspects of the sound all at the same time – you can do all of that and more. The modulation generators can even modulate each other if you want to push the envelope. The best is, that it’s easy to experiment: Modulation Targets are pre-assigned, so you simply need to bring up a target amount to hear an effect.

The MODULATION EG is modelled after classic ADSR envelopes and cover a range from ultra-snappy and percussive to lush soundscapes. The 4 modulation Targets can be assigned to many destinations, including LFO Frequency and Intensity.

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Bolt’s Low Frequency Oscillators go beyond the range you’d expect from a typical LFO. They offer an extended range from 0.01 Hz up to 10 kHz. So they go well into the audible range which allows for some extreme modulation effects, including amplitude and frequency modulation.

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Choose from 13 different waveforms, including Random and stepped waves. Switch Cycle off to use the LFOs as additional auxiliary envelopes – or sync them to the beat. Of course, each of them can be synced differently, so you can create interesting poly-rhythms. You can even assign them to cross-modulate each other’s tempo. You’ll probably never run out of new interesting modulation combinations to try out…

Refine It

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Four integrated effects processors ensure that Bolt’s patches are ready to be dropped into your productions: EQ, CHORUS, DELAY, and REVERB provide the essential effects at your fingertips.

The effects are optimized ease of use, only 3 parameters per processor ensure you’ll get to results quickly. Still, you’ll find enough tweakability including tempo sync for the DELAY or parametric and bandpass modes for the EQ.

There’s a lot more that can be said about Bolt – but it’s all about the sound isn’t it? So download your trial version and listen to it yourself!

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Features

  • Unique new Harmonics Synthesis
  • 4 oscillators (2 main, 2 sub)
  • White noise generator per oscillator
  • Unison Voice Double: Stack up to 4 instances
  • Frequency modulation (FM)
  • X-Mod: cross-modulation
  • Overdrive stage for each oscillator
  • ADSR envelope per oscillator
  • 1 Modulation envelope generator
  • 3 LFOs (13 waveforms & MIDI sync)
  • 4 modulation targets per source (LFO 1-3, Mod EG)
  • 4 FX processors: EQ, Chorus, Delay & Reverb
  • Support for multiple sample rates
  • Automatic 2-stage protection limiter
  • Up to 16 voice polyphony
  • Poly and mono modes
  • 500+ Factory and Artist patches included

System Requirements

PC

  • Windows version 7, 8, 10 or higher (64bit) 
  • VST 2.4/VST 3 Instrument Plug-Ins.

Mac

  • OS OS X 10.9 or higher (64bit)
  • VST 2.4/VST 3/AU Instrument Plug-Ins.

All other requirements are dependent on the DAW software/audio interface used, please consult the respective manuals for further details.

3. Darkstar by Minimal System Group

Darkstar by Minimal System Group

Important Note: This product is only compatible with Windows operating systems.

DarkStar is a monster analogue modelled synth. With its 4 oscillators you can easily create the sounds you need.

Features:

  • 4 Oscillators split into two modules each with Sine, Tri, Saw, Square, Noise waveforms.
  • Each two oscillator module has its own dedicated ADSR envelope.
  • Two filter banks (one for each two oscillator module) with full ADSR envelope and LFO controls. Filter types include LP, HP, BP, BR, PK.
  • Space Generator’ module.
  • Echo Box’ module.
  • Driver’ Module
  • Professional GUI Design.
  • 20 presets to get you started.
  • Regular updates, next update will include new features.
  • Very low CPU usage.

System Requirements

  • PC running a Windows operating system. VST compatible DAW or VST hosting software.
  • This plugin is 32bit but can be run on 64bit systems using jBridge.
  • This plugin also operates within the 64bit versions of Cubase, Nuendo, Bitwig Studio, Reaper, Tracktion, Renoise, FL Studio, Sonar, Mixcraft and Samplitude using their inbuilt bridging.
  • It is recommended that you always try out the demo before purchases to ensure that the plugin is compatible with your system.

Host Compatibility

  • Minimal System Group Plugins run on Windows based PC’s using a suitable VST host or DAW. Our plugins have been fully tested within Ableton Live, Adobe Audition, Cakewalk Sonar, FL Studio, Energy XT, Presonus Studio One, Renoise, and Cubase

Please Note: This plugin is 32bit but can be run on 64bit systems using jBridge.

4. Twist by SONIVOX

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Serious Sound Design

Wrap yourself around Twist 2—the Spectral Morphing Synthesis instrument from SONiVOX. Combining a dynamic interface, an advanced pattern generator, and onboard effects, Twist 2 is your toolkit for serious sound design using simple, time-saving controls. Two swirling sound layers provide unique harmonic controls, forming the foundation for every patch. Common elements include a monstrous multi-mode filter, independent Amp and Filter envelope generators, plus a remarkable LFO that can be sync’d to the current tempo. The onscreen interface is clean and uncluttered; the well-defined controls deliver incredible sound-sculpting abilities, while providing immediate audio results.

Turn and Learn

In addition to the onscreen controls, Twist 2 features a brilliant MIDI Learn Mode. Simply adjusting a parameter and then touching an external MIDI control creates a link between the two. This intuitive MIDI mapping system allows Twist 2 to quickly integrate with your favorite MIDI hardware controller. In fact, Twist 2 can save and recall your MIDI Learn presets and use them with any patch, so you only need to create them once.

The Patterns of Success

The Twist 2 pattern generator begins as a familiar step-sequencer, and rapidly escalates into an unbelievable tool for sonic creation. In addition to pitch and velocity, the pattern generator provides additional tabs for adding precise measured-step control of crucial sound creation parameters. Portamento can be selected for each step, as can the filter frequency. LFO depth, rate, and sync can be defined per step. The harmonic width and content for each layer can also be specified. By automating even just one or two of these parameters, the pattern generator can infuse your sound with awe-inspiring depth and motion. Pattern presets can also be saved, recalled, and quickly modified on demand.

Move to the Music

Onboard pro-grade chorus and reverb effects breathe new life into your sounds. In addition, the stereo delay allows either the Left or Right channel—or both—to be synchronized to beat values of the current tempo, tying your sound, song, and effects together. And speaking of tempo, Twist 2 uses the SONiVOX Intelligent Rhythm Control (IRC) to keep your playing in the pocket. Combining the IRC Resolution and IRC Gate adjusts incoming MIDI note data so your playing is accurately in-time, in real-time.

Finders, Keepers

Twist 2 features an integrated patch browser that makes it easy to store, sort, and find exactly the sound you are looking for. Patch attributes such as Genre, Color, Character—and of course, Name—allow your sounds to be stored in a musically meaningful way, as opposed to just indexed as numbers. Any and all attributes can be removed or re-assigned as your sound collection grows. Best of all, Twist 2 comes with hundreds of professionally programmed sounds to get you started. Each one can be endlessly tweaked and modified to rapidly build your customized Twist 2 sound collection. So get started now!

Features

  • Two-Layer Spectral Morphing Synthesis
  • MIDI Learn controller mapping
  • Pattern Generator enhancements
  • Improved Pattern Generator graphics
  • Integrated Patch Browser
  • Added modulation control
  • Easy On/Off control of parameter modulation
  • Added two envelopes generators for amplitude and filter control
  • Onboard effects
  • 32 and 64-bit VST and AU, RTAS and AAX Support
  • Over 200 new Twist 2.1 ready-to-play patches

System Requirements

Windows System Requirements

  • Windows 8 or Windows 7 with Service Pack 1
  • Minimum Dual Core 2 GHz (Intel Core i5 or i7 Recommended)
  • Minimum 2GB RAM (4GB or more Recommended)
  • 1 Gigabyte free hard drive space
  • A VST, RTAS (Pro Tools 10) or AAX (Pro Tools 11) compatible host application
  • Internet Access (Download and Authorization)
  • A FREE iLok account & manager is required for authorization of this software – no iLok USB key is required

Apple System Requirements

  • OS X Version 10.8.5-10.10
  • Minimum Dual Core 2 GHz (Intel Core i5 or i7 Recommended)
  • Minimum 2GB RAM (4GB or more Recommended)
  • 1 Gigabyte free hard drive space
  • A VST, AU, RTAS (Pro Tools 10) or AAX (Pro Tools 11) compatible host application
  • Internet Access (Download and Authorization)

5. Zone by Audiare

Zone by Audiare

Parameter Sequencer Synthesiser

At the heart of Zone is a powerful parameter sequencer that allows virtually every control to be assigned to and modified by its own independent sequencer lane, with unlimited lanes, each running at their own unique rate and number of steps.

Zone can be played in three distinct modes:

As a feature-rich synth with a host of filters, 151 wavetable oscillators with user import, 22 insert FX, powerful mod matrix and much more. With a 32 step note sequencer – allowing pitch, velocity, gate, probability and +/- swing at a variety of rates. Or with infinite note and parameter sequencer lanes, with complex tools and presets for modifying lane behaviour. The sound generation possibilities are virtually limitless.

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Features

Inventive Parameter Sequencer

  • Inventive Parameter Sequencer with unlimited lanes, each running at up to 27 different rates from 8/1 to 1/128th of host tempo. 100 global, unipolar and bipolar parameter sequencer lane presets.

150+ Waveforms with User Import

  • High-quality analogue modelled oscillators and unparalleled sound quality with ability to import single-cycle waveforms. 151 oscillator types sampled from over 50 uber-rare vintage synths with sub, noise and the ability to load/save unique single-cycle waveforms.

Extensive Insert FX and Filters

  • 23 insert FX types, including ring modulation, delay, stereo width enhancer, reverb, chorus, flanger, phaser, barber-pole phaser, compression, decimator and distortion. Multiple filter types (comb, notch, phaser, circuit-bent, ‘acid’) with up to 48db/octave roll-off.

Analogue Modelled Oscillator Modulation

  • Numerous oscillator modulation modes including exponential FM (as seen in Roland’s Jupiter 8), Ring Modulation, Amplitude Modulation, Distortion Modulation and more. Extensive modulation matrix with 8 slots and numerous sources.

Over 500 Presets

  • 590 presets expertly crafted by some of the world’s leading patch creators. Categorised by pads, arpeggios, leads, bass, drums, FX and synth.

Built with Sound Design in Mind

  • Chord, hold note and unison mode with up to 7 voice spread. Fully assignable macro controls for easy performance control. Clearly laid out, scalable GUI designed for ease-of-use with one-page editing. Create unique arpeggios and scales from sequence lane presets, shift steps and flip data in any direction.

New Features in Version 1.2.0

  • No external license management software
  • 70 new presets (totaling 590)!
  • Full NKS integration 
  • Easy custom wavetable import from within Zone’s GUI
  • Improved CPU performance of up to 20%
  • Waveforms are now assignable to lanes and macros
  • Ring modulation is now available as an Insert Effect
  • Dedicated reset option for Zone’s modulation matrix
  • Parameters can now be dragged to the modulation matrix
  • Several GUI improvements 

System Requirements

Mac

  • OSX 10.9+ (64-bit Only)
  • 2GB Ram (8GB Recommended)
  • VST3, AU or AAX compatible host software

Windows

  • Windows 7+
  • 2GB Ram (8GB Recommended)
  • VST3 or AAX compatible host software
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