Although you can find more or less anything for free these days on the web it often comes with a price; donation ware, one month free trial, limited functionality etc. But there are really good stuff out there and this time around we will link you to five different places where you can find five vintage softsynth emulations that will trigger your weekend creativity.
First we have the Oberheim
The first of the OB series Oberheim synths, this is a classic analog synthesizer available in 4, 6 or 8 voice configurations. It featured a 2 pole VCF lowpass filter with its own ADSR, a VCA with ADSR, a flexible LFO section, polyphonic sample and hold, polyphonic portamento and 32 patches of memory. Although it has been over-shadowed by the bigger and more popular OB-Xa and OB-8 synths which offer more flexible programming, the OB-X still holds its own. Capable of lush analog synth sounds comparable to the Sequential Prophet 5 but at a reasonable price. The OB-X also gives you Polymod functionality, something that the OB-Xa and OB-8 do not have.
About the soft version – OBXD synthesizer
While not copying originals, some of the features were taken to a better point. Continuous blendable multimode filter (HP-Notch(BP)-HP in 12 dB mode and 4-1 pole in 24 dB mode). VAM button is last played note allocation mode. 32 and 64 bit versions included.
Next one up is the classic Yamaha DX7
The Yamaha DX7 is an FM synthesis based digital synthesizer manufactured by the Yamaha Corporation from 1983 to 1989. It was the first commercially successful digital synthesizer. Its distinctive sound can be heard on many recordings, especially pop music from the 1980s. The monotimbral, 16-note polyphonic DX7 was the moderately priced model of the DX series keyboard synthesizers that included the larger and more elaborate DX1 and DX5; the feature-reduced DX9; and the smaller and not directly compatible DX100, DX11, and DX21. Over 200,000 of the original DX7 were made, and it remains one of the best-selling synthesizers of all time.
Dexed is a multi platform, multi format plugin synth that is closely modeled on the Yamaha DX7. Dexed is also a midi cartridge librarian/manager for the DX7.
Dexed requires a AU/VST host (like Savihost or Reaper) in order to run the plugin.
- Multi platform (OS X, Windows or Linux) and multi format (VST, AU, LV2)
- The sound engine music-synthesizer-for-android is closely modeled on the original DX7 characteristics
- 144 DAW automatable DX7 parameters available from one single panel
- Fully supports DX7 input and output Sysex messages; including controller change. This means that you can use this with a native DX7/TX7 as a patch editor and sysex manager
- Each operator have a realtime VU meter to know which one is active
- Can load/save any DX7/TX7 sysex programs. It is also possible to save a single program into a different sysex file.
Number three is of course the SH-101
Roland SH-101 is a synthesizer from the early 1980s, manufactured by Roland. It is a small, 32 key, monophonic analog synthesizer. It features one oscillator with 3 simultaneous waveforms, an ‘octave-divided’ square sub-oscillator, triangle and square/pwm waveform. It has a low-pass filter/VCF capable of self oscillation. The self oscillation filter can be used to make bass drum sounds. The controls are simple to use as there is a slider or switch available for every single parameter, and there is an external trigger input to control the speed of the sequencer or the arpeggiator. The LFO is very fast and can be used to make fast arpeggios with decay down to zero volume, without retriggering the ADSR. Another unique feature is being able to select noise as a modulation source for both pitch and the filter, resulting in distortion-like effects. External control is achieved using CV/Gate and not MIDI. The SH-101 was produced in three colors: gray, blue, and red. Contrary to legend, the SH-101 never came in white. A shoulder strap can be connected to it, and a small handgrip can be plugged into the side which contains a pitch bend wheel and a pitch modulation trigger. When slung over the shoulder it doubles as a “keytar”.
TAL-BassLine is a virtual analog bass synthesizer especially made for bass, acid sounds and effects. It’s based on a robust core and has the usual controls of analogue hardware synthesizers.
A unique -18dB low pass filter with a lot of asymmetric and random components introduce a warm and analogue sound. Very fast, non linear envelopes are also a part of this synth.
- Bandlinited oscillators (saw, pulse).
- Sub-oscillator: square -1 oct., square -2 oct., pulse -1 oct, pulse -2 oct.
- -18 dB/octave low-pass filter (resonant/self-oscillating).
- LFO (frequency: 0,1 .. 30 Hz, waveforms: sin, tri, saw, rec, noise).
- Very fast nonlinear envelope (A: 1.5ms..4s, D: 2ms..10s, S: 0..100%, R: 2ms..10s).
- Simple Arpeggiator (up, down, one octave mode).
- 2x Unisono Mode.
- Panic button.
- MIDI automation for all sliders and pots.
- Precise fader control while holding down the “Shift” button.
- Supports all sample-rates.
- 2x oversampling.
- 23 presets.
- Tutorial and installation guide.
- ~2.5% CPU (Intel Core 2 CPU 6700, 44.1KHz, 24Bit, buffer-size 1024 Samples)
Going forward we have the Nordlead emulation
Ichiro Toda has released this nice emulation of this classic synth from 1994. The original Nordlead re-defines analog synthesis in a modern synth. Using Virtual Sound Modeling technology the intricate nuances and character of analog synth sounds are beautifully recreated on this amazingly flexible synth. This synth is polyphonic and multitimbral, it has a very flexible filter, LFO and Envelope control, portamento/legato, a great arpeggiator and analog-like dedicated knobs for quick and easy synthesizing!
Everything is MIDI’d up and controllable, there’s a great pitch bender and a ‘morphing’ feature. A performance mode allows certain parameters to be stored with a sound such as unison or poly modes, legato and portamento. It is available as a Keyboard, a Rackmount module and as Virtual PC Software.
And finally we round this freebie session of with the Combo Model F
Combo Model F is a freeware virtual combo organ, modelled after a well-known Italian combo organ from the 1960s.
- 4-octave C-to-C keyboard.
- Harmonic range 6 polyphonic octaves.
- 4 footage tabs: 16′, 8′, 4′, 2⅔′.
- 3 treble voice tabs: Dolce, Principale, Strings.
- Multi-Tone Booster voice with All Booster tab.
- Knee lever control.
- Bass voice (grey keys).
- Vibrato unit with adjustable speed and depth.
- Volume pedal.
- Adjustable tuning per note.
- Scala scale file support.
- Fully modelled (no samples inside).
- Model includes oscillators, dividers, crosstalk, noise, filters, key contacts and key click.
- Velocity-sensitive key contact attack and release.
- Reverb unit.
- Speaker cabinet simulation.*
- Fully automatable.