If you’re new to producing music or you just love unique sounds, I can’t recommend Labs by Spitfire audio enough. The samples are completely free and royalty-free, and range from traditional indie and rock samples to the cinematic and orchestral - all housed within a simple interface.
They also release new free sample packs and instruments regularly so check them out.
Iris 2 combines sampling and modulation, with the uniqueness and flexibility of Izotope’s RX audio processing. The easiest way to use this instrument is to select a patch, utilize the macro controls to alter the timbre, and then use the paint tool on the left to highlight a sample region.
That region of the sample is now what Iris references when reading midi data.
IK Multimedia makes some great underrated plugins, and the same can be said about their samples - with Syntronik you have access to multiple real samples from vintage hardware. Then you can alter the sound with effects like compression, distortion, and more to shape the over timbre, dynamics, and image.
Lastly, you can access a simple but useful arpeggiator.
Arcade is a great way to make music quickly and in what might be the most fun possible. You can quickly cycle through downloadable sample kits, note kits that are more like traditional synths, or individual samples which can also be turned into a sample kit.
It matches to your host BPM, so if you want all you’d need to do is hold down a key and layer multiple samples. But if you want more control you can access the Tweak section.
I think the most exciting part about this plugin is the ability to take a sample you’ve made, drag and drop it into Arcade, and then generate a sample kit using that sample.
Massive X is probably the most complex instrument we’re covering here - it includes 2 oscillators, 2 noise generators, and multiple filters. At the bottom, we have a 3 layered arpeggiator, multiple envelopes, LFOs, velocity grids, all of which can be assigned to individual parameters - but a slew of presets help out.
The routing section at the bottom shows the relationship between all effects, letting you reroute the signal for even more versatility.
Kontakt like Labs by Spitfire houses multiple instruments, which you can cycle through, preview, and alter the timbre of from within the plugin. The easiest way to use the plugin in my opinion is to select Libraries, then scroll until you find the instrument group you’re interested in.
Each instrument is different, usually from different developers, and will vary regarding what you can and cannot control.
If you’re looking for great-sounding orchestral samples without having to spend an absurd amount of money, try BBC Symphony Orchestra which offers both a great comprehensive orchestra and an easy-to-understand design. The plugin is $49 or free if you sign up and wait roughly 2 weeks.
Everything is organized into color-coded sections, and a great-sounding reverb canbe introduced.
For classic sounds and advanced modulation perfect for making unique synths, check out Twin 2 by FabFilter. Although still intimidating at first glance, FabFilter has organized everything in a sensical way, in which everything is organized left to right, just like the oscillator and modulation section’s routing.
This plugin is definitely best when used for unique lead and bass synth,not for realistic sounding sampling.
FM8 reminds me a bit of Izotope’s Iris, in that you start with multiple finished samples that you can browse through, and then you decide on how to alter and deconstruct them. The plugin lets you easily navigate to multiple effects and a complex arpeggiator with convenient randomization.
Then you can alter the timbre, ADSR, pitch, dynamics, and image of the sample in the Easy/Morph section - or dive into the Expert section for even more control.