list by catagory

Ok, you did jeff’s sf2 survey. Now do my VSTi survey. Same deal. List your favs by catagory, with description, where it can be got from, and cost (if any). Also, if you have a couple you just absolutly LOATH, perhaps list them as well with a “why”. I will post mine later. I got to go tutor my kindergardeners (5 year olds) right now.

One of my favorite freebies: polyIblit

Another monster: Rhino from Big Tick (great stand alone verisons too):

And all the freebies and others at rgc audio:


With those, who would ever need anything else?


Bass: 4front Bass Module- decent synth bass for failry natural or synthy bass

Organ: ORGANized Trio21- Good organ sounds with plenty of adjustability

Keyboard style strings: The only decent traditional string vsti I have found is Stringer. It isn’t great, mind you, but it is better than any other around for free that I have seen.

String Synths: For good synthy string sounds, you can’t beat “String Theory”. Everything from good background sounds to simi-autonomous musicality.

Traditional oscillator synths: JG-3 by eloxoga is a great 3 osc synth that will get the job done on that front.

Cool Monophonic synths: Triangle I & II are both great and have a lot of good presets and tons of knobs to play with.

VSTi’s I haven’t taken off my PC for some reason that I absolutely LOATH:

Cosmogirl 2 and Sun Ra- these aren’t musical instruments. They are uncontrolable noisemakers. I don’t get the point.
ds8- I can’t get it to work. I don’t get it. perhaps I am missing something?
JC Spooky Organ- Umm… this is the most horrid sounding thing in the world. period.

Ok. That’s my list for the moment.


I friggin’ love SampleTank 2. I got laid off at the beginning of the summer and the severance fairy was very good to me so I splurged. It is not the best sounding ROMpler for everything, but almost everything it has is very usable. The strings are not the best, but the guitars, drums, bass, and ethnic patches are great. I use it all the time. Pop over to the music review part of the board check out the accordion thing I did with SampleTank. I love it. If I already had a keyboard and wanted new sounds, SAmpleTAnk is an easy decision. I think it sounds better than most any keyboard out there assuming you are wanting real instrument sounds and not analog synthesis.

Steinberg’s Groove Agent demo is awesome to. I don’t care at all about the patterns which is what you pay for in the real version. I just use it as somethng to output my sequences to. The sounds are great, the ambience control is super. Great freebie.

SFZ, we all know what that is and I use it all the time too.

Edirol Orchestral. I got this for Christmas last year (I think, maybe it was for my birthday… ??? any way) and it is very good for an ignorant type like me. Very usable patches. I got my hands on Garritan’s orchestral library for a little bit and I think it is a better library, but you have to know more about arranging for orchestras to get a lot out of it and I am too lazy/ignorant to do the thing justice.

World’s most kick-ass VSTi: Native Instruments B4. Not cheap, unfortunately (under $200).

BTW, let’s include DXi plugins as well, of course.

There’s another free drawbar organ VSTi similar to OrganIZED. I found that I liked the sound best when using both. I don’t remember how I plumbed that up – could have been using MIDIOX, or maybe I just cloned the already-existing MIDI track and changed the output on one to the other organ. Neither of them sounds much like a Hammond. The drawbar tones aren’t too far off, and at least one (and maybe both) did the rollback thing where as you go to the ends of the keyboard, lower/higher tones drop out and get replaced by a drawbar tone an octave away. But two elements that are critical for Hammond techniques (like palm slides) just aren’t there: vibrato and voltage stealing. Voltage stealing is how a Hammond isn’t 10 times as loud when you’re playing 10 keys. (It’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea.)

Still, for freebies, those are both worth checking out. I’ll try to find the other one, but it’s archived at home and I’m at work; won’t be home til past midnight tonight (blues jam nite).

Delay Lama.

I recommend takeing a looking at KVR. They have a searchable database of plugins, free downloadable patches, and vst related forums.

KvR Database

Yeah. I use kvr all the time. I am just doing a survey of everyone’s fav instruments. It is interesting to see what everyone uses.


String Synths: For good synthy string sounds, you can't beat "String Theory". Everything from good background sounds to simi-autonomous musicality.

Maybe I am nt thinking of the same synth, but String Theory is more of a harp/plucked string emulator. It isn't bowed strings in the orchestra sense, right?

Can you please tell me how exactly you set up Groove Agent to play your sequences? This would be great if I could learn how to do this. Thanks.

Well, there are several sounds, both plucked and bowed. But it isn’t “orchestral”. That is, it isn’t the sound of a group of strings playing together. It is actually kinda hard to describe, because some of the presets are really off the wall. I recommend people download it and play with it. It is kinda intersting anyways.

A couple I use, as recommended by Future Music magazine:

Ichiro Toda Synth1 - a great little beast that seems to have most of the sounds from your basic soundcard jazzed up as pre-sets in the VSTi, along with the ability to add a load of your own pre-sets. Its subtractive synth with 2 osc and 2 LFOs

Green Oak Crystal 2 - I could mess with this for hours - subtractive FM and wave sequencing synth

I think I’m the only one on the planet that didn’t really like Crystal. :(

Quote (etaws @ Oct. 07 2004,19:01)
Can you please tell me how exactly you set up Groove Agent to play your sequences? This would be great if I could learn how to do this. Thanks.

Read the manual first to get the mappings to their kits and learn how the MIDI channel you use affects this. Then, right click the MIDI track in N and choose output to Groove Agent. There isn't much to it.

By the way,

I recently downloaded a few drum synths to try out. I found ersdrums and drumatic 3 very good. Drumatic especially has tons of alterable sounds with a paramtric for all the sound parts. good stuff.


Some that haven’t benn mentioned: Claw, mda JX10, mda Piano, Plugsound Free, Spook Keys (theramin), Superwave8, tapeworm (Melotron-like).

Quote (Bubbagump @ Oct. 06 2004,16:09)
I friggin' love SampleTank 2...

This got me wondering, cos I downloaded SampleTank2Free a while back and never really gave it much attention. Well, having read Bubba's review, I gave it a go. Mine has 3 instruments: bass, classical guitar (steel strings) and drums. Well, I gave the bass a good ten coats of looking at and was quite impressed. The classical guitar sounds better than anything I have used to date. So, I've started to update some of my music


If you like SampleTank 2 check out SonicSynth2. There is a free version based on the ST2 engine. It features samples of famous synths w/ patches based on famous songs by groups like Genesis.