If you think you need to spend a lot of money to get started making great synthwave music, then think again!

Here are 17 of the best free plugins for creating amazing synthwave music. 

What Makes A Song Sound Retro?

Before I dive in to the plugins, let's first consider what makes a song sound retro, and therefore, fit with the Synthwave genre.

Basically it comes down to two things:

  1. Using analog synths that were used during that time period (70s and 80s)
  2. Saturation 

Analog Synths

While you might not be able to afford a physical analog synthesizer, are great software plugins that can emulate their classes sound. 

You can find some free ones listed below...

Saturation

Back in the day, they didn't have computers to handle music production.

Instead, they had to use physical hardware such as Mixing consoles, compressors, EQs, and tape machines, all of which added saturation (subtle distortion) or "color" to sound as a result of the sound signal physically passing through the circuitry of these devices. 

The result is the addition of noise and warmth that contributed to that classic "retro" sound. 

Below are also some free effect plugins that try and emulate that desired saturation effect. 


Synths:

Here are some great synth plugins to help you get started making synthwave.


Dexed

Dexed is an emulation of the Yamaha DX7 synth that was ubiquitous in the 80s, making this a great choice for creating synthwave.

Synth1

Synth1 is another great free synth that will allow you to create some great synthwave sounds. 

Analog Dreams

Analog dreams is a very easy to use plugin that comes as a part of Native Instrument's free "Play Series". 

With very few parameters to mess around with, you can get some nice Synthwave sounds fast. 

Mono/Fury

An emulation of the Korg Poly 6, the Mono/Fury by Full Bucket is another great tool creating synthy goodness. 

TAL NoiseMaker

tal-noisemaker synth wave

The TAL NoiseMaker has been a favorite of mine for creating retro electronic music for years now. 

It has plenty of great presets so you can get started fast and have something that sounds great. 

Syntronik

Syntronik is really the premier vst instrument for creating retro electronic music. It comes with the emulations of 17 synthesizers from the 1970s and 80s. 

I have the paid Delux version of this, which comes with a lot more presets, but you can get started with the free version. 

Tyrell N6

Another nifty plugin for getting that retro synth vibe. 

OB-Xd

I absolutely love this plugin, and use it all the time, especially for recreating that classic synthwave bass sound. 


Effects:

Now let's move onto some awesome free effects than can help you get that retro vibe!


Rough Rider

roughrider3

This is a great plugin for adding that retro saturation effect. 

TAL Chorus LX

tal-chorus-lx

I absolutely love this plugin. It's a chorus effect that is meant the emulate the chorus that was built into the Juno 60 synthesizer. 

You can throw this on a number of instruments to get that 80s chorus sound.

TAL Reverb

tal-reverb-4_v22

This is an excellent reverb plugin that I use on almost every track. 

TAL Vocoder

Yet another free TAL plugin, but that's because they're great. This one is a vocoder effect. And who doesn't love a great vocoder?

Klanghelm MJUCjr

This is a great compressor to use if you're wanted to get some of that vintage tube saturation sound. 

Klanghelm IVGI2

This is another great saturation plugin that you can use to get some warmth. 

Krush

This is a fun distortion plugin that you can use to add drive, bit-crushing, and more!

Protoverb

This reverb plugin looks like something out of Fallout, and it's great for giving you that vintage reverb sound. 

ValhallaFreqEcho

Want to add some weird delay sounds to your track. Try out ValhallaFreqEcho.

Want To Finish Radio-Ready Songs, Faster?

With these free plugins, you have the tools you need to make some great synthwave music.

But now you just need a system for cranking out new music so you can increase the pace at which you are improving, and growing your fanbase. 

If you want to finish more radio-ready songs, and complete them faster without having to spend months or even weeks on end working on the same songs over and over, not even knowing if you're making them any better...

Then grab my free Rapid Song-Finishing Checklist below.

You'll discover a proven step-by-step system for completing professional-sounding songs.

Create Better Songs, Faster

Click below to download my free song-finishing checklist to help you create radio-ready songs without taking months to complete them.

This will be especially beneficial if you find yourself working on songs for hours on end only to look back and wonder if you actually made your track any better. 

I hope you got value from this post on, How Loud Should You Mix, helpful!

If so, feel free to share it, and let me know in the comments below...

What's your biggest challenge when it comes to making Synthwave music?

Reagan Ramm


Hi! I'm Reagan, and I've been writing, recording, and mixing music since 2011, and got a degree in audio engineering in 2019 from Unity Gain Recording Institute. I also work full-time in Digital Marketing and Entrepreneurship, and am striving to help fellow musicians and producers improve their art and make a living doing the work they love.

- Reagan Ramm


Tags

plugins, synths, Synthwave


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