Our guide to choosing the right synth plugins for each major genre

Which Synth Plugins Are Good For Which Genre - Our Guide To Help You Navigate

Some synths are so versatile they can find a place in any genre of music. Others are designed to specialize on one approach and scope of sounds. If your music production focus lies in a specific style you need tools that are tailor-made for it.

Luckily, we’ve done some of the research for you. We selected 10 of the most popular electronic genres and found some of the best-in-class plugins for them.

Best Plugin for Drum & Bass - Kilohearts Multipass

Kilohearts Effects plugins

The drum and bass genre lives in the low end. Bass frequencies are difficult enough to get right, but when they’re the focal point of the music they need to be dialed in perfectly. What better way to get everything just right than a plugin that lets you do…everything?

Multipass splits the signal into five frequency ranges, and you can build effects chains onto each of them. You can build, mold, and shape the processing in ways other plugins can’t come close to by effecting different areas of the EQ spectrum. Then signals can be further processed through the modulation section.

Multipass sets itself apart with how open-ended and modular its design is. By essentially letting you craft any type of effect and apply it the mixing process becomes a lot more interesting.

Best Synth Plugin for Synthwave - U-he Repro

u-he repro-5 au and vst synth plugin

Electronic music doesn’t get more 80s than synthwave. Think every science fiction and horror movie you’ve ever seen from that decade. Or more recently, the intro to the hit show Stranger Things.

Analog sounds drive synthwave, and Repro brings these thick, warm synthesizers from a defining era into the digital age. Specifically, the Prophet 5. It uses component modeling to accurately recreate the notorious 5-voice polyphonic synth digitally.

The effects section is especially noteworthy. An all-analog lineup covers all major categories so you can process everything from the plugin’s interface. A guitar pedal GUI adds to the overall visual appeal that Repro knocks out of the park.

If you’re looking for a synth plugin for synthwave that puts the sound of 80s analog hardware, this is it. There are even additional sound packs to keep things interesting!

Best Synth Plugin for Electronic Music - Arturia Pigments

Electronic music is a very broad style with so many subgenres it’s impossible to list them all. And because of that you need a synth plugin that can pretty much do anything. Pigments is that plugin, whether you’re starting with the impressive library of presets or doing a deep dive into the sonic details.

It uses four synthesis forms over a bank with more than 1,500 sounds and interesting, forward thinking functions that enhance user experience. Color coding, dynamic visualization, single click modulation and sequencing work with multiple customization options that allow the plugin to work best for the user.

Pigments add color, and this plugin earns its name. The balance in depth of features and accessibility is impressive and makes it one of the best synth plugins for electronic music production.

Best Synth Plugin for Pop - Minimal Audio Current

Minimal Audio current

Pop is another genre that’s so wide ranging it’s almost impossible to pick a single best synth plugin. If you’re looking to add to your library you need a plugin that meets the ever-changing demands of the genre, it’s best to start with a versatile tool that can essentially do it all. And Minimal Audio Current is just that.

It’s a hybrid virtual instrument and effects processing that’s built on five sound engines with a robust modulation section and MIDI effects. One of the features that sets it apart is Stream, a cloud browser that’s updated in real time (which adds weight to the plugin’s name…) with samples, presets, and wavetables that you can use in your productions.

For effects the GUI resembles a rack setup. You can create, chain, and rearrange effects signals, and it includes all of the company’s standalone plugins! Advanced editing and mixing tools let you finalize sounds right in the plugin without needing to use additional features in your DAW to support a streamlined and creative workflow.

There’s nothing minimal about Current. It’s so expansive that it makes a great synth plugin for many genres, not just pop. Minimal Audio describes it as a “unified sound engine” and once you scratch the surface of what’s beneath you’ll find that to be true.

Best Synth Plugin for Ambient - Synapse Audio Dune 3

Dune 3 synth plugin

Ambient music is known for smooth, relaxing soundscapes with a dose of trippiness for good measure. With a genre this diverse you need a versatile synth plugin, and that’s exactly what Dune 3 is.

It builds on the legacy of the previous model and adds a number of new and upgraded features like a larger sound library, dual multimode filter, a dual programmable arpeggiator, and improved polyphonic oscillators.

The effects section is overhauled with new algorithms to provide professional grade mixing and mastering processing right in the plugin. It’s even got wavetable and .Wav file editing for shaping, morphing, and contorting sounds that fit perfectly in an ambient music context.

All of this comes in an easy to program package with a smooth GUI that isn’t too cluttered, which is amazing considering what Dune 3 can do.

Best Synth Plugin for Hip Hop - Reveal Sound Spire

Hip hop is such a diverse genre that it's impossible to choose a single “best” synth plugin. Some styles are built on thick, analog synth sounds and others need more modern digital vibes. We’ve covered our choices for the top 10 hip hop software synth plugins before, and we’re going to double down on one of the most versatile synth plugins for hip hop - Reveal Sound’s Spire.

It’s built on a “unison” engine that models different unison types and lets you spread out each oscillator’s nine voices over chords and octaves. The four poly-morphing oscillators are seriously versatile, offering a range of sounds.

There is a superb effects section too that includes analog and digital filtering, flexible modulation, gain, and time-based processors. Onboard arpeggiator and stepper make it easy for inspiration to strike when creating beats and melodies.

Spire is a great synth plugin for producing all styles of hip hop. And with the rich feature set and wealth of control parameters there’s no limit to how creative you can get with it.

Best Synth Plugin for DubStep - KV331 Audio SynthMaster One

Wavetable synths are a great style for a lot of music genres and dubstep is no different. We’ve covered some of the heavy hitters like Serum and the free (but by no means inferior) Vital, so we’re going with a wavetable synth that flies a little under the radar with SynthMaster One. 

While wavetable synths offer endless sound design options, they have a reputation for being cumbersome and difficult to use. But SynthMaster One is tailor made to be easy to use and provide a seamless workflow.

It has a large library of 1,200 sounds so you can dive right in. The oscillators come with 17 algorithms, and the stereo oscillators have unison voicings. But it gets better.

Through a semi-modular architecture you can mix and match oscillators through different modes, add sophisticated modulation, and play with the ADSR envelopes to get results that are perfect for dubstep. An 11-deep effects suite puts on the finishing touches. And it’s one of the most affordable wavetable synths out there.

Best Synth Plugin for Cinematic Sounds - Newfangled Audio Generate

Cinematic sound design needs to be epic. And not just in film, TV, and video games. Who says cinematic music has to be married to a visual element?

The beauty of Generate is in exactly how much it can do. You’re really only limited by how well you can use it. A Chaotic Generator is a novel kind of oscillator that went through years of research and development. It’s an evolved double pendulum design that adds movement to the sounds.

When it comes to modulation, the advanced routing matrix lets you create up to 1,440 simultaneous routings. It’s a highly visual plugin too, which gives an extra sensory level so you can see and hear what Generate is doing.

It’s pretty brazen for a plugin to be labeled as a “unique cinematic polysynth”. But with the time and craft that Newfangled Audio put into Generate you’ll quickly find out that it earns the moniker. And the controlled chaos you can get with Generate is epic, to say the least.

Best Synth Plugin for Techno - Arturia Modular V

Techno is one of the most popular styles of electronic music. Since it’s popular in club and rave settings it’s all about rhythms - not so much melodies and leads. Modular synths are great for techno music production because of the freedom they offer.

Modular V has the look, feel, and flow of an authentic analog synth without needing a room the size of a small warehouse to use it. Using Arturia’s proprietary True Analog Emulation it takes modular synth plugins to a new level.

It all starts with how flexible it is. There are no routing rules. And by this ethos the plugin dares you to be as imaginative and experimental as you want, which is perfect for techno. Routing modular synths can quickly get out of control, and the clean GUI mirrors the flow of using hardware.

Modular synths are in a class of their own. It takes intimate knowledge of signal flow to use them at an advanced level. With this plugin you get authentically modeled sounds and smooth workflow in a clean GUI. “Modular genesis giant” indeed.

Most Versatile Synth Plugin - Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2.8

We had to do it because there’s no denying it. Omnisphere is a flexibility powerhouse so including it feels mandatory. What plugin manufacturer doesn’t embellish a little bit with their marketing, but the tagline Spectrasonics uses to push Omnisphere - “Endless Possibilities” - rings true.

Through the expanded engine it brings multiple types of synthesis ranging from the familiar to next-generation, and the 1,600+ patches are just the beginning. With so many sound packs you’ll never stop discovering everything it can do.

One of the most versatile elements of Omnisphere is that it has extensive hardware synth integration. This lets you control the plugin through physical devices you’re familiar with.

Some plugins are constantly discussed for a reason. Because they’re the best at what they do. Omnisphere is the definition of that.


Every genre has qualities that make it unique. This presents creative and technological challenges, so you need innovative plugins - and thinking - to make your music productions the best they can be. 

What are some of your favorite plugins for creating genre-specific tracks?