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Analogue sounding poly synths
majken subduer

Majken's Subduer is a versatile poly/mono synth with an unusual but very nice GUI. With 3 Osc, 3 Lfo, 1 chorus/flanger, 1 arpeggiator and many more components, its sound is not the best nor the fattest, but it is nice. Majken made also Chimera, interesting for pads and atmospheres.

voyagerVoyager by Arguru, at first sight, is an enormous unusable thing : it is larger than a 1024X768 17" display ! And it would be necessary to make a smaller and nicer GUI for it... But the thing is really good and, with 4 Osc, 2 Lfo, 2 filters, 1 pitch envelope, a 32 band stereo vocoder, stereo chorus and echo, it can produce huge and agressive leads, as well as smooth keys and sweet pads, or clean percussive sounds. Very good.
farbrauschv2V2 by Farbrausch is a polyphonic substractive synth with something special, because it is probably the only free one that has a speech synth and is 16 parts multi-timbral. It comes with 3 osc, 2 filters, 2 envelopes, 2 lfo, a modulation matrix, effecs like 1 disto, 1 chorus/flanger, 1 compressor, 1 reverb, 1 stereo delay. It is a melodious good sounding synth, but with a non intuitive and rudimentary GUI. The scrolling section is not a good thing (many parameters are hidden, and you can not see them all at the same time), and the multi-timbral version needs midi messsages to change presets, but the single version has not this problem. A really misappreciated good synth. Discover it.

EVOL by Michael Karstrup, made with synthedit, is not developed anymore but is still available for download. It works fine, with its 3 Osc, 5 Lfo, 3 envelopes and some added effects like 1 arpeggiator, 1 chorus/flanger, 1 reverb among other components, and it sounds sweet but fat and rather cold, a bit like Vangelis sounds... A good misappreciated polyphonic synth.

nutronxbNutronXB by J.V.Pearl is a pretty good first attempt with Synthmaker. Although it is simple (2 VCO with 5 waveforms, 1 filter and an amp with one envelope each, plus 1 delay), it sounds good, with a large stereo space, dense and powerful. There is much better than this one, and it is not the bread and butter synth, but I like it as it is.

stelsiStelsi Virtual Synth, first ukranian soft synth, is a good VA (virtual analogue) polyphonic one, with 3 osc, 1 step lfo, 1 envelope, 1 filter, 1 graphic EQ, 1 chorus, 1 delay et 1 distorsion... The result is thick, dense, fat but cold. Méconnu, mais vraiment il sonne.

ant 1

Ant 1, made with synthedit by Antonio de Bragança, comes with a rather bad interface and only 15 presets, but, with its 2 Osc, 2 lfo, 3 envelopes, its filter, ring modulator and so on, it sounds very nice, sweet and delicate to my ears, with an original specific character... Try it, you will be surprised. It needs to be improved and developed further... Take the presets I made for myself...

evm ultrasonique

EVM's Ultrasonique, previously commercial and free now, is an interesting synth. With a nice and commercial like GUI, this polyphonic synthesizer is also a wavesample player and has a multi-function step sequencer, and added effects like 1 delay, 1 chorus, 1 phaser... Good for cheezy and sweepy pads, it can produce unusual pulsating and hypnotic sequences too. But it sounds like all EVM products : a bit closed and metallic.

novakill neokiller

Novakill (Bones for KvR users) made many rather good synths, all of the same sounding family : agressive, rather violent, rocky, punchy, fat and dry, like his music. The GUI could be clearer and easier to use. NeoKiller III is one of the most appreciated. It is not my taste, but if you like rough sounds..

efm-scp5SCP5 by EFM is an old emulation of the famous Sequential Circuit's Prophet 5, a standard of 80's. The soft synth has 2 Osc, 1 Lfo, 1 filter, 1 Poly-mod section, 1 wheel-mod section, 1 arpeggiator, and 2 effects : chorus and delay. It is far from Pro-53 by Native Instruments, and more from Prophet V by Arturia, but it sounds clean, thick, clear, and has a rather good quality.

Synths with techno/trance sounds
uniretroUniretro, made by Christoph Bielen with SynthMaker and not Synthedit, has a too big and not pretty GUI, but it sounds good, with its 4 voices, 3 multi-mode oscillators with PM and FM capabilities, 2 envelopes, 2 lfo, 1 multimode filter, polyphony, pitch, trigger, hold and modulation sequencers, distortion, decimator, chorus and delay effects. I like it very much although it is made for Techno/trance, because it sounds fat, mellow, thick.
grooveboxIIGrooveBox II is probably the best synth made by C.Hackl. It has 2 Osc with 9 wavetables and their envelope, 1 filter, a 32 step sequencer, and effects like 1 multi-delay, 1 chorus, 1 reverb and 1 distorsion, plus a randomize button for lazy people. It is a fat, juicy sounding polysynth. Not the most elegant and delicate one, but good for techno/trance, I guess, and it gives instant pleasure. Midi learn inside...

The last free beta version of Helix, by Audjoo, before the final commercial version, has surprising specifications : it is an hybrid synth that combines substractive synthesis and wave shaping, with 4 osc, 16 voices unison per osc, and can totalize 64 osc per voice, spectral morphing, 3 lfo, 3 enveloppes, 2 step sequencers, modulation matrix, and effects like stereo reverb and delay... It sounds good, 80's, fat, techno, dance... Not easy to use, but powerful.
ensemblerEnsembler, by Concrete FX, is a rather unusual poly synth, because it comes with 4 different GUis, but I recommend you to use "Ensembler soft" (on the picture beside). With many components (6 Osc for example) and added effects like 1 delay, 1 chorus, 1 phaser, 1 reverb, 1 disto and 1 arpeggiator, it is very interesting and sounds rather agressive, varied, for leads, pads or fx. Not very elegant nor delicate. Direct download (no more page for it on Concretefx's site) :
microtranceMicrotrance by Dream Vortex studio, is a very good little synth, with just a few visible parameters, but many detuned OSC (number not precised) that give thick analogue sounds, with low pass filters, and a host sync echo. There is an arpeggiator, but not visible (!)... A bit mysterious, this synth sounds very good for trance style music, and much more, of course... (no more available)

Transcender SE, by Dream Vortex Studio too, is a polyphonic synth that features 10 oscillators (with 2 waveforms), adjusted and detuned by a single slider, and a trance gate. With large stereo and relief, it produces fat, thick, granular sounds that are good for trance leads.

pterosaurPterosaur by Contralogic has nothing to do with dinosaurs, but is an unusual specialized monosynth devoted to techno and trance (as far as i know anything about that...), with 16 sawtooth Osc. Not versatile, it produces acid, cheezy and sweepy strings, pads and leads. Very nice.

Synths for sound design / ambient / atmosphere
crystalGlenn Olander's Crystal, which is the most impressive of all free synths that can be found on the web, is a kind of Native Instruments' Absynth, not as good as this one, but less cold, very rich and complex. It is semi-modular, combines substractive and FM synthesis, can load soundfonts, has many many components and is able to produce very composite and evolving sounds. You can find many presets for it, on KvR or Patcharena, and that is great, because this synth is difficult to understand and set. Absolutely original, a must-have. Pretty interface... vst / au / win / mac
H.G. Fortune began to make synths in 2003, with the first version of Wheel of Fortune, and he never stopped developing new astonishing instruments since, sample-based for most of them, made for complex multilayered sounds, evolving space pads, rich and beautiful soundscapes, like no one else did. Never satisfied with his work, he made many versions of his software, always improving them, making more and more complicated new ones, removing from his site the instruments he did not like anymore, changing again and again... It is the reason why I decided to stop writing detailed descriptions of his products, and prefered to give only this general presentation and the link to the site of H.G. Fortune, where you will find a lot of good synths, with unique quality sounds that will necessarily seduce you... You will find there free and limited (but quite usefull) versions of commercial instruments, like The Tiger synth, Serenity, Scapes wizard, Ultra Swamp, Alionoctis, The Dreammachine etc, and also full versions of previous commercial synths that became freeware, but are ever good, like STS-21 Pro 2011, Protoplasm 2011, Shunji Pro 2011, Laserblade Pro 2011 etc... Do not miss them...

krakli cygnus

Krakli's Cygnus is a very good surprise in Krakli's production, and sounds great for long evolving and fascinating space pads and atmospheres... Not very far from the H.G.Fortune sound style, it does not use samples (I assume). It comes with 2 GUIs, and I recommend you to use the OdO's one, much clearer than Krakli's one, because it can load soundfonts for each of the 3 OSC

orgone liteOrgone lite by Astralis is a reduced version of a complex dual sample based synth, coming with 25 of the 150 samples of the commercial full version, and only one of its two synths. Among many parameters, there is a 32 steps polyphonic gate sequencer, a modulation matrix allowing to map 12 sources and 5 destinations from 31, a fully featured arpeggiator with 17 modes, a complete section of effects, a randomization system to make it easier to use, a polyphonic BPM based modulation sequencer, and much more settings... The sounds are interesting, varied, but rather cold and a bit harsh. They lack of softness,  thickness and suavity... Registration required.

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