Synthwave, Retrowave and any other sub genre of Wave is on the up! What with the rise of nostalgic pop culture as of recent the more popular the style of music is becoming. Plus…it’s bloody cool.
Here are my top picks of free; yes that’s right free, VST Plugins you can download now to get you started on that Aesthetic soundtrack you’ve been craving to make.
Starting off with my favourite VST – SQ8L. SQ8L is a software model of Ensoniq’s classic 1980s synth SQ80. Although this is merely a demo version for the full SQ8X, it could easily pass as it’s own stand alone VST. There is no limits to what you can achieve with this. The built in presets are amazing, however there is more than enough opportunity to create your own sound with it’s multiple 8 Voice options and filters. With it’s abundance of strong nostalgic sounds you’d be crazy to miss out.
I use SQ8L in quite a few of my projects and I cannot fault it. I would highly recommend downloading this right now from KVR Audio’s website below;
Synth1 is an incredible VST. The options for creating bespoke and nostalgic sounds are endless. It holds up on every DAW every time and even champions some of those VST’s you have to pay for. If SQ8L doesn’t have quite the right sound I’m after Synth1 never lets me down.
The software provides:
- 2 Oscillators, FM modulation, ring modulation, sync, modulation envelope.
- 4 types of filters, distortion.
- 2 LFOs (synchronized with host).
- Arpeggiator (synchronized with host).
- Tempo delay (synchronized with host), stereo chorus/flanger.
- Legato mode, portamento.
- 16 notes polyphony.
- 128 presets.
- Thoroughly optimized for light CPU load using SSE instructions, etc.
Again, you can download from KVR Audio below;
Wow & Flutter
If you’re after that old Vinyl or Retro Tape effect Wow & Flutter hands down needs to be your go to VST. With so many options on how you can manipulate and distort your audio to your desired effect, it achieves so much. I can’t really say too much about this as it’s one you have to experience to understand fully. As seen on the link below all the reviews are very positive and you will understand why!
My favourite preset is “VHS Tape” 😉
SxM June, short for “Six Month June” is a VST Emulation of the fantastic Roland Juno 6. I mainly use this for the amazing Arpeggio feature, but there are so many more possibilities to be created. Give the Stranger Things theme a go!
The VST prides itself in featuring;
- VCO with Sawtooth i Pulse (PWM) waves.
- Noise Generator.
- LFO: Triangle.
- VCF: lowpass – cutoff, emphasis.
- A/D/S/R envelope with invert option.
- Keyboard: no velocity / aftertouch.
If you’re after that true Roland experience then look no further with Sxm June.
TAL-U-No-62 is another one of my favourites – In my early music creations I used this a lot, especially for my most popular track “VHS Action Heroes”
The TAL-U-No-62 plugin is a polyphonic virtual analogue synth with a unique filter sound. The plugin is capable of self-resonance and thus could be used to some degree as a tone generator. The filter section also features controls for envelope amount and polarity, LFO modulation and keyboard tracking. In addition, a non-resonant highpass filter is provided to thin out lower frequencies.
I would definitely say have this in your library of VST’s it’s amazing!
Well those are my top picks to get you started; you can create some absolutely amazing soundscapes and music with all the plugins. It just goes to show you don’t need to break the bank to create an amazing piece of Art. Good luck and have fun!
Also, if you have any other VST suggestions we would love for you to share them in the comments! Before I leave, here is a groovy Synthwave playlist on SoundCloud I was listening to in the car today.