As a media composer, synthesizers can be an important part of your sonic palette. Whether you’re looking to infuse your music with flavours of contemporary electronic music, or whether you’re just looking to add some different colours to your compositions, synthesisers can add flair and character unlike anything else. But with so many different options, where do you start? In this blog I’ll run through some of the most popular options to help you narrow down your choices and find the right synth for the task.
5. Xfer Serum
Having been a popular option for EDM and electronic music producers for several years now, Serum has made it’s way into the hearts of many film and media composers. With an extremely powerful wavetable engine, deep modulation options and high audio quality, it’s a great choice for composers looking to spice up their compositions by infusing electronic genres. What’s more, Serum is hugely expandable, with a vast number of third-party sound banks available in a range of genres to give you instant access to great sounds in specific styles. As a bonus, this synth is great for the upstart composer, with a rent-to-own option through Splice costing just $9.99 a month. What’s not to like?
More Info: https://xferrecords.com/products/serum
4. Native Instruments Reaktor 6
This sonic playground from behemoths Native Instruments is a brilliant option for composers looking to add some experimental sound design into their compositions. The full version of Reaktor allows users to create and connect their own modules and encourages serious experimentation. NI also have a great online resource for Reaktor – the Reaktor User Library, which allows you to download an extensive range of patches, modules, and effects for you to experiment with, all for free! Reaktor is also available as a free Player version, which limits you to using a select number of third-party modules and NI’s own Reaktor synth units, but with such a huge range of options available to full Reaktor users, it’s a great investment that will provide you with years of creativity and experimentation.
Price: £179 for Full Version, £0 for Player!
3. U-he Diva
If you’re looking for the best possible analog-style sounds, then look no further, because Diva is an analog modelling powerhouse. The clever people over at U-he spent a long time recreating the different sounds of classic analog synthesisers, and modelling them in digital form, meaning that you have access to some of the best recreations of classic synths in one simple unit. You also don’t need to be confined to just one model, with mix-and-match capabilities allowing you to choose one part based on one synth, another part based on another etc. The strong analog character of this synth makes it a great option for infusing classic synthesiser sounds in your scores. So, if you’re looking to channel your inner John Carpenter or Vangelis, then this is your best option! It’s also a firm favourite among sound designers, who love it for recreating classic sounds of yesteryear, so there’s a big range of patches available to purchase from third-party developers.
More Info: https://u-he.com/products/diva/
2. U-he Zebra 2
With Zebra, U-he have proven that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Following on the heels of Diva, Zebra focuses on more modern synthesis, with a modular world of experimentation and inspiration waiting for you. This is about is deep as they come, with an extensive range of options allowing for an almost endless synthesis palette, Zebra is perfect for adding synthesized cinematic spice into your compositions. This is, in my opinion, the best sounding digital synth engine available today. Many other sound designers agree with me, and therefore a huge range of cinematic presets from the world’s best sound designers and available to expand your range of presets and provide you with inspiration. It’s also worth mentioning, this is Hans Zimmer’s go-to software synth, and you can even buy an expansion for it called The Dark Zebra, which adds over 400 presets taken from the score to The Dark Knight, as well as adding a few extra features to the synth. So, if it’s good enough for Hans…
More Info: https://u-he.com/products/zebra2/
1. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
My personal favourite on this list, Omnisphere is the most extensive, powerful, best sounding and creative synth on the market today. While the DSP synth engine itself isn’t as powerful as Zebra, Omnisphere wins the race by allowing manipulation of audio samples to create new sounds. This is an incredibly effective and interesting feature of Omnisphere, and allows for a huge range of unique sounds to be coaxed out of this synth. Omnisphere proudly wears this badge on it’s sleeve, and the software ships with no less than 5,000+ audio samples waiting to be manipulated, and a massive 9,000+ factory presets. As of v2.6, Omnisphere now also features extensive hardware integration, meaning you can plug in your hardware synths to use them as controllers for Omnisphere, making Omnisphere feel more like a real instrument, if that’s your thing. And if the 9,000 factory presets weren’t enough for you, high-quality cinematic sounds in a range of styles can be found from sound designers such as The Unfinished, Sonic Underworld and, of course, myself. So, with Omnisphere, you’re unlikely to ever run out of inspiration. And yes, it really is worth the money.
If you’re starting to use synthesizers in your film, game and media compositions then check out my Patch Store, where you can find cinematic patches for a wide range of synths to bring some electronic depth to your tracks!