Software synthesizers have come a long way since the first days of VST plugins.

Today some of the most powerful and best sounding synthesizers live in your DAW.

Freeware plugins can take you a long way, but the top tone tools for music production are still commercial products that come with a price tag.

When it comes to paid plugins, knowing where to put your money is hard. Which is why LANDR now offers rent-to-own plugins—to bring you the tools you need at affordable prices.

With all the options out there, it doesn’t have to be scary or expensive if you’re able to pick the plugin that’s right for your music production needs. Here’s the essential list of the best synth plugins available.

Use this list to choose your plugins from the cream of the crop.

Price: $199

Lethal by Lethal Audio is a ROM based powerhouse that includes thousands of sounds and presets and 24 genre-specific expansions.

It’s also the first rent-to-own plugin from LANDR…

We know, we know: we’re a bit biased. But we had to put it first on this list because we’ve been enjoying it so much in our own productions lately.

Lethal by Lethal Audio is a ROM based powerhouse that includes thousands of sounds and presets 24 genre-specific expansions.

This soft synth puts some of the most in-demand tones in modern production right at your fingertips with it’s easy to use preset browser.

From there’s plenty of room to sculpt them with effects and powerful synthesis features.

Plus its light enough on your processor that you can create an entire track using just Lethal.

If you’re looking for simplicity and great value, Lethal is the perfect synth for you.

Price: $499 USD

spectrasonics omnisphere

Spectrasonics Omnisphere is one of the biggest names in software synthesizers. This massively powerful instrument packs an almost overwhelming amount of functionality.

There’s so much going on under the hood in Omnisphere that it might be a little intimidating to new users.

But there’s a super helpful community around this synth to guide you on your journey—and plenty of resources available if you’re feeling stuck.

If all else fails you could get lost in the sheer number of presets and discover some incredible sounds without ever once needing to do any tweaking.

Omnisphere is a powerful experience!

Omnisphere is a powerful experience!

Price: $189 USD

xfer serum

Xfer Serum is usually next on the list of the most essential soft synths.

Serum is a wavetable synthesizer. Unlike the hardware synths of the past that rely on wavetable technology, Serum has no processing limitations—and it shows.

Serum’s wavetable tech is incredibly powerful. Even for simple waveforms, its expertly implemented wavetables sound ultra-clear and clean.

This gives the synth a crisp and clean sound that can be quite intense!

Price: $149 USD

native instruments massive

Native Instruments’ Massive has been around since the early days of softsynths, but it’s an all-time favourite for a reason.

This synth is designed to make basses. Massive basses—and it works.

Its easy to use virtual-analog subtractive design will seem familiar and intuitive, even to new users.

Its extremely fat sound has defined a generation of producers and continues to be a great option for plugin synthesis.

Hot Tip: Massive has just received a significant update with NI Massive X.

Massive X is an entirely new plugin reimagined from the ground up to bring the classic VST into the modern era of music production. It just might end up being more legendary than the original!

Price: $149 USD

native instruments fm8

Native Instruments FM8 is another longtime favourite soft synth from the classic plugin manufacturer.

FM8 uses frequency modulation synthesis like the iconic Yamaha DX-7 that defined the sound of the 80s.

FM8 uses frequency modulation synthesis like the iconic Yamaha DX-7 that defined the sound of the 80s.

This method can seem complicated, but FM8 focuses on putting all the control you need at your fingertips.

Plus, FM8 takes FM synthesis much further than classic hardware.

All the delicate, crystalline bells and keys you might associate with FM are there, along with all kinds of inspiring new sounds and textures—FM is cool!

Price: $149 USD

arturia cs-80 v

Arturia CS-80V is an incredibly accurate software emulation of a classic. The CS-80V is their take on the legendary Yamaha CS-80 analog polysynth

The hardware CS-80 is a complete behemoth, weighing in at a staggering 220 pounds. Original units are highly sought after for their massive analog sound and powerful expression features.

The CS-80 was most notably used to create the soundtrack to the film Blade Runner. With the Arturia CS-80V you can get those sounds for yourself—do you dream of electric sheep?

Price: $149 USD

The Arturia SEM V puts analog expertise front and centre again with this emulation of the classic Oberheim SEM.

The original SEM or “synthesizer expander module” was first designed to add layers or provide a backup system for another synth.

But it was a powerful two oscillator monophonic synth in its own right.

The SEM’s unique filter design gave it a sound unlike anything else at the time. And the sheer fatness of its analog architecture is the stuff of legend.

Now you can get a bit of that analog magic in your DAW with Arturia’s SEM V, which faithfully reproduces the sonic signature of the original.

Price: $189 USD

Reveal Sound Spire is a hybrid synthesizer that covers everything from analog modelling to “HardFM.”

Spire’s powerful unison modes allow for up to 9 unison voices per oscillator

And its internal effects system is like a built-in sound design tool, complete with its own LFOs and matrix slots.

Onboard mixing tools like EQ and compression make Spire a one-stop-shop for designing tones that work great in a mix.

Price: €149 Euro

u-he Hive is a sleek and lightweight multipurpose synth with tons of functionality. Hive’s effective workflow can get you started creating great sounding patches right away.

It’s ability to support microtunings and unique mix of synthesis styles makes it unique and it’s extensive modulation matrix and function generators make it flexible.

But at heart Hive is a two oscillator subtractive synth. That means that even if you’re still getting comfortable with the basics of synthesis, there’s nothing here you can’t handle.

Price: $249 USD

REFX Nexus2 is another ROM based plugin with an extensive library that’s fully loaded for EDM production.

Nexus has made its way into the studios of some pretty big names, but the sound quality speaks for itself.

Nexus has made its way into the studios of some pretty big names, but the sound quality speaks for itself.

Nexus is expandable via a huge amount of downloadable content and expansions on REFX for every style of music.


Synthesizer plugins are one of the most exciting parts of digital music production.

No matter what sound you’re chasing, there’s a soft synth out there that will help you get it.

Check out these synths the next time you’re GAS-ing for a powerful new plugin to add to your arsenal.