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As the name of the site says, you will find here a list mainly devoted to synthesizers, but you will find also virtual instruments of other types, much fewer...
This list of freeware is not like the others that pullulate on the web and has something special : it gives to you links for only the best free virtual instruments
(for Windows), and is the result of many and long researches, after testing around one thousand intruments. My purpose is to avoid you getting stuck with the same job... All instruments are classified, but in an approximative way... When available, versions for other OS and formats are mentionned.

You will probably think that some instruments, that you like to use in your music, are missing, but there is a reason for that : the only criterion of this list is the musical quality, the beauty of sound, and not technical abilities or specific uses. Many virtual instruments made by renown developers of free software are appreciated for their usefulness in specific styles of music, but I did not put them in this list because they do not sound really good by themselves... Anyway, this list is the result of my own choice, necessarily subjectice, and open to criticism, like anyone's list... But it remains a unique list, because I hope that the level of quality is high...

In the left column of each page, by clicking on vignettes, you can see the interface of the full-scale instruments. 

Sometimes, in the right column of the page, you will find links to download sound examples which allow you to get a precise idea about qualities and possibilities of these instruments. They are not songs but sounds made with original presets and patches of the instruments, without additional effects. These demos were initially made for a rubric on the forum of the site Instruments Virtuels, there, in Ogg audio format. If you do not know what is needed to play this format, You can do it easily with the very good free players (better than Windows'one), Media Player Classic or VLC.


For those who begin with vsti : as most of these instruments are not standalone, but require to be opened in a sequencer or a vst host, I recommend you to download Minihost, by TobyBear, a very complete, stable and easy to use vst host... It is donationware. 
Cantabile Lite, the free version of Cantabile, is excellent too...

Attention : the number of references (more than 170 !) will get you sick, because the world of freeware is very rich in musical instruments, especially good quality synths. So, take your time, and come back to this list, because it is often updated.
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Page 1
Mono synths for leads and bass lines
String synths for pads
Page 2
Analogue sounding poly synths 
Page 3
Synths with techno/trance sounds
Synths for soundesign/ambient/atmosphere
Page 4
Cold and metallic sounding synths
FM synths
Hybrid synths that are not in other categories
Wavetable synths
Phase distorsion synths
Phase modulation synths
Phase morphing synths
Physical modeling synths
Page 5
Step sequencers
Synths for noise
Workstations
Absurd machines
Page 6
Emulations of acoustic and electric instruments :
- Electronic organ
- Electric piano
- Theremin
Sample based emulations :
- Acoustic piano
- Mellotron
- Traditional instruments
- Various intruments
Page 7
Bundles
- Elektrostudio

Page 8
Commercial virtual instrument bargains
- Synthesizers
- Soundbanks
- Virtual drummers and bassists
Magazineware
- The CM studio





Synthesizers


Mono synths for leads and bass lines
minimogue

Minimogue LUXUS, by Gunnar Ekornas (Voltkitchen group), is a rather successful emulation of the famous MiniMoog, made with synthedit. Though it is not as good as Arturia's Minimoog V, nor the almost perfect GForce Minimonsta, it has an analogical sound quality that gives big, swinging and juicy leads. With a nice close-to-the-original instrument interface, it adds to this one a step sequencer, an arpeggiator, independent pan adjustment for each Osc, and...polyphony (!), but I put it there because of the original machine. Indispensable.
http://www.home.no/gunnare/downloads.htm

ogg
rez 3

Rez by Ugo has been updated and got a much nicer GUI, in two flavours (yellow or black), and it is an excellent mono synth that sounds beautiful to my ears. With a simple but very good arpeggiator and nice sounding dual delay, it gives good analog leads and sequences. Easy to use and set, it is one of the very best sounding free monosynths. Very melodious, it is one of my favourites. A must-have.
http://www.ugoaudio.com/

ogg
triangle 1

Triangle I by Rgc audio, a mono synth with 2 Osc and an efficient delay, is good for clear and melodious 70's leads. Good looking interface, easy to use and intuitive parameters...
http://lesitedeburnie.free.fr/Host/RGCaudio-triangle1.10.rar

ogg
triangle 2

Triangle II by Rgc audio too, better than Triangle I because of its versatility, is a beautiful mono synth, very good for leads, rich in possibilities and parameters, able to sound fat and varied. For this must-have, you will find many presets on the web :
http://www.cakewalk.com/products/triangle/

ogg
Warfare 2

Angular Momentum's Analog Warfare 3 has a very nice interface, with many components (3 Osc, 3 24 dB VCF, 4 LFO, 2 delays, ADSRL envelopes and many other things, like an arpeggiator, a step sequencer, and a separate chorus for each channel, midi learn)... It sounds very big, fat, granular, cheezy or sweepy, but not varied (the sound possibilities are not large)... A good synth, especially for techno. The demo sounds were made with the previous version, Analog Warfare 2.
http://www.amvst.com/node/15

ogg
Pure-Pone

Pure-Pone by TubeOhm is the mono version of the commercial Pure-Pten. It is a full fetaured analogue substractive synth, with 3 Osc and 20 waveforms, a bit of FM, 1 noise generator, 1 LFO, 1 multimode filter, 1 ring modulator, 2 envelopes, 1 mixer, 1 arpeggiator, 2 modulation busses, 1 chorus and 1 delay, 1 distortion, midi learn etc... The sounding qualities are rich and various, between some clear FM sounds, analogue basses and leads, acid and agressive techno sequences... A very good synth. Do not care about "buy" button nor "poly" one, unusable here... At Plugindex :
http://www.tubeohm.com/TubeOhm/FREEWARE.html


pterosaurVintager by Togu Audio Line, classic vintage analog mono synth, with 3 Osc, a non linear 24dB lowpass filter (after a moog one), 2 Lfo, 2 envelopes, and midilearn, which is useful for controling the synth with hardware. It sounds good, rather deep, dense, thick. You can try also U-NO-60, an honest emulation of the famous Juno 6. win / mac
http://www.kunz.corrupt.ch/?Products:VST_Vintager:Download

TAl-BasslineBassline by Togu Audio Line too, has the same sound qualities as Vintager and, as its name says, it is made for basses. Simple but efficient, it sounds solid, fat, thick, deep and warm, typically analogue substractive. The interface is clearly inspired by the Roland SH-101. win / mac
http://kunz.corrupt.ch/products/tal-bassline

refx claw

reFX Claw is a simple mono synth, with only one Osc, but it sounds punchy, sharp, incisive, and can be agressive, for expressive leads and basslines. A very good one in this category. As it will be replaced by a new and better ReFX freeware, Scout, it is no more available. The direct download link still works :
http://www.refx.com/downloads/Claw/Claw_1.0.zip

ogg
gtg nk 1001

The NK 1001 is a versatile 2 oscillators mono synth that sounds clean and fine, not punchy, thick or agressive, but powerful, varied, nice and elegant. A chorus and a stereo delay make it complete. And, like almost GTG products, it has a nice interface. 

http://www.gtgsynths.com/plugins.htm
ogg
istvan kaldor maestro

Maestro by Istvan Kaldor will not please everyone, because of its dirty sound (Kaldor like it, see "Dirtbag"), and its GUI is something special, but it is a very good mono synth made with synthedit. With its 2 Osc, its modulation matrix, and its added effects (delay and autopan), it produces expressive, juicy, fat analogical leads, as good as Minimogue or Claw ones. A very good instrument.
http://www.ianweb.dial.pipex.com/ikaldor/maestro.htm

ogg
antti taurus
Taurus, by Antti for Smartelectronics, is a good bass synth, an emulation of the "Taurus" bass pedals made by Moog. Simple but good sounding, efficient, it gives deep, fat, analogue basses. On the same page than the excellent ASynth. Donationware but without limitations...
http://antti.smartelectronix.com/


iblit
Iblit by Andreas Ersson is a very good free synth too, which is one of the most renowned analogical mono synths. With 3 Osc, 2 Lfo and 2 ADSR envelopes, but without added effects, it comes raw. So you must imagine its sounds in a mix and with external effects. There are better free raw analogical synths (Antti's Asynth or JX10) that have a more granular and analogical texture, but this one is really good.
PolyIblit is of course the polyphonic version, and it has more features...
http://www.bostreammail.net/ers/iblit.html

ogg
noslogan rogue

Rogue by Noslogan, is a classic analog mono synth with a rather dirty and nasal sound, as they say on the site : "raspy, fried transistor, dropped on the ground a couple of times". Nice.
http://www.noslogan.com/VST/Rogue/Rogue.html


bb303i

BB303i by Buzzroom is a simple mono synth that is good for clean thick leads and bass lines. Its name reminds the famous TB-303, of course... It is rather basic, and is not supposed to produce complex and composite sounds, but it is efficient, and sounds analogical, fat and deep. Easy to use. See "Download OLD buzzroom VST Plugins Pack" at the bottom of the page :
http://www.x-buz.com/Products.html


alienoAlieno by Acrobatics Software is a Sci-Fi look-like engine, but this mono synth is not a toy. It sounds well for leads and sequences with its 16 step pattern Lfo. It has 6 Osc divided in 3 modules, 1 multimode filter, effects like reverb, delay, vibrato and pan/tremolo. Last three effects and the Lfo are tempo sync, and all paramaters can be automated. Several useless colors of skins are available...
http://www.blank-media.it/acrobatics/





String synths for pads
crazy diamonds

Crazy Diamonds by Rumpelrausch Ta´ps, is a stringsynth that produces string ensemble pads, not varied but efficient and good sounding. To understand why it is called "Crazy Diamonds", click on the "warranty void" label and listen the intro pad of "Shine on you crazy diamond" in "Wish you were here" (Pink Floyd of course) that this instrument emulates perfectly.
Search by yourself and find better sounds than the factory presets. 
win / mac
http://untermkittel.de/rumpelrausch/?PLUGINS


stringsynthStringsynth by Algomusic is a rare emulation of Solina-like string synths. It is an old thing and does not sound the best, but, although its sound is a bit close and thin, it is useful and fine.
http://www.algomusic.net/freeware.htm

Uncut-orch-stringsOrchestral Strings by Uncut has not a nice UI, but it is a good stringsynth that sounds rather like old 70's renowned machines, with its 6 saw Osc, fine tuning for 4 of them,  mix 1&2, mix 3&4 vol for each pair, 2 12/24 dB multimode filters, 1 envelope, and useful effects for phased string pads : a 2 voices chorus, 1 reverb and a welcome stereo width adjustement. Not versatile but efficient. The site is down, so take it there :
http://lesitedeburnie.free.fr/Host/Uncut-Orch-Strings.zip

Krakli S3BS3B by Krakli is my prefered of the S3 series, because of its original sounds and its ability to produce rythmic effects with its pulse module and its arpeggiator. Good looking, it has one osc with many waveforms (sine, square, triangle, saw, soft ramp, peak ramp, ramp, peak, octava, cluster 1, cluster 2), 1 noise, 1 envelope, 1 vibrato with delay, 1 phazer (which is necessary and efficient for that sort of sounds), 1 "ensemble", 1 echo, 1 EQ... Its sounds are interesting, not the fatest nor the brightest, a bit nasal, but they have a special nice colour...
http://krakli.wordpress.com/krakli-free-synths/


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