The Best FM Synth VST Plugins

The Best FM Synth VST Plugins

Let’s get you crafting your best sounds with the best FM synth VST plugins for your audio production.

Quick answer: Native Instruments FM8 is our recommendation if you’re looking for a simple and basic FM synth to produce high quality synth sounds for your tracks.

If you’re more into sound design, then pick up a trial version of Vengeance Sound VPS Avenger Synth and check it out.

If you already have the above options, or they are not to your specific requirements, we have a few more options for you to select from. All you need to do is keep reading until you find the one that’s right for you.

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Top 7 Best FM Synth VST

  1. Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger
  2. Native Instruments FM8
  3. Arturia DX7 V
  4. u-he Bazille
  5. Sugar Bytes Aparillo
  6. Kilohearts Phase Plant
  7. Digital Suburban Dexed

Best FM Synth VST Reviews

Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger

Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger

Pros
  • More than 900 factory presets
  • More than just an FM synth
  • Lots of additional FX
  • Additional granular synthesizer
Cons
  • GUI might feel a bit complicated
See price @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger is a very mighty and versatile synthesizer workstation. It offers you more than just FM synthesis. It also has an AM synthesis, 17 different LFO shapes, a granular engine, and 30 different FXs. Add modular capabilities on top and you have an almost unrivaled synthesizer in terms of creating and customizing synthetic sounds.

User impressions

Users agree that Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger offers a wide range of top-shelf sounds which are easy to implement in your mix straightaway. It’s a good choice for someone who wants to explore a world of soft-synthesis easily and compose a lot of electronic club dance music.

What we think

Considering vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger offers almost unprecedented capabilities in terms of synthesis, it has a rather complicated GUI which is kind of expected considering that all of those capabilities have to be controlled somehow. The good news is that it has a very gentle learning curve, so it takes almost no time to get yourself acquainted with all of the controls.

Bottomline

Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger is a great choice for someone who is looking for an all-around versatile and capable synthesizer. If you are looking for just a classic FM synth, Vengeance-Sound VPS Avenger expectedly gives you that option but you will be missing out on a lot of things if you don’t at least try its other capabilities.

Native Instruments FM8

Native Instruments FM8

Pros
  • Over 900 presets
  • A lot of patches from classical FM units
  • Relatively low price
  • Loads of patches from classic FM hardware units
Cons
  • Rather outdated GUI
  • No free demo
See price @ Native Instruments
Best features and specs

Native Instruments always made top-shelf sample-based instruments, and the same goes for its synthesizers.   Native Instruments FM8 offers you that famous classic FM sound with a few rather useful additions on top. It has a built-in arpeggiator and a few interesting morphing capabilities. It also loads existing patches from classic hardware synths such as, you guessed it, Yamaha DX 7.

User impressions

Users like Native Instruments FM8 as it is absolutely great for composing any sort of electronic music, especially futuristic. Also, it would be a fit as a soundtrack to a video game or part of a soundtrack to a movie. One downside is that the software for an inexperienced user might be a bit overwhelming and complex. It is also a great tool to know more about synthesis and master your sound design abilities and skills.

What we think

Native Instruments FM8 is a great synthesizer overall if you are looking for that classic FM sound. But we weren’t very impressed with its GUI. Yes, it’s a matter of taste, but we like to look at nice things while we compose. And while it does the job, it somewhat feels like something is missing.

Bottomline

Native Instruments FM8 is a very capable FM synthesizer that offers you a lot of classic sounds with the ability to load even more. Its engine is also impressive since you have a lot of customization options and a built-in arpeggiator. Although we weren’t impressed with the GUI, it shouldn’t stop you from giving it a go. Considering its relatively low price and superior capabilities, Native Instruments FM8 is truly a bargain.

Arturia DX7 V

Arturia DX7 V

Pros
  • Over 400 factory presets
  • Free trial version available
  • Physical modeling technology
Cons
  • None that we know of
See price @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Arturia DX7 V is a meticulous and very convincing recreation of the legendary Yamaha DX7. Arturia is quite famous for its groundbreaking approach to recreating vintage analog gear. They use something that is called a physical modeling engine. This technology doesn’t involve any sampling but rather recreates vintage gear with mathematical algorithms, which results in great precision without any penalty to CPU or storage space.

User impressions

Users are quite impressed with Arturia DX7 V as it has a vast library of different sounds, all of which are of high quality. The programming would take you 20 minutes tops to compose the best music possible. This VST can be used in a variety of musical genres making your mixes memorable. GUI is pretty straightforward and resizable, which the majority of users find to be a cool thing.

What we think

Arturia DX7 V impresses with its versatility. You can use all of the original presets that came with the original DX7, or you can create your own original sounds. Arturia always gives something extra, which heightens the playability and usability. The problem with new toys is that you eventually get bored with them. With Arturia DX7 V, you can play for ages with the same excitement.

Bottomline

Arturia DX7 V is a perfect choice for someone who is looking for a classic FM synth sound but at the same time wants to have more options compared to the original unit. You can easily experience the benefits of DX7 V for yourself since Arturia offers you a free trial version without any time limitations. It also has a very sleek GUI which is always a nice thing.

u-he Bazille

u-he Bazille

Pros
  • More than 1700 factory presets
  • Modular capabilities
  • 16-step sequencer
  • 4 built-in effects
Cons
  • Rather complicated GUI
See price @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

U-he Bazille is a monster of a synthesizer. With this one, you have full and unprecedented control over each aspect of the sound. Its modular capabilities give you almost limitless options in terms of synthesis. With Bazille, u-he decided not to recreate some specific hardware synthesizer, but instead to give you full control of the essence of the FM synthesis.

User impressions

Users say that u-he Bazille has a unique multiple-synthesis architecture and a vast library of best quality sounds. Also, this VST has some excellent analog-sounding filters and classy effects. GUI isn’t that user-friendly, and you need to spend some time to understand which knob does what. This plugin will be a great addition to futuristic-like electronic dance music.

What we think

Although we generally love to tweak things and push buttons, even for us, its GUI and controls at times felt a bit overwhelming. But once you get the hang of it, you start to grasp what you are really dealing with here. U-he Bazille gives you full control over the synthesis, which lets you create some truly unique sounds. But all of those sounds always have that unique and distinguishable flavor of an FM synthesizer.

Bottomline

U-he Bazille is a perfect choice for someone who is looking for full and undisputed control over the sound. And the best thing is that you can go even deeper with integrated MIDI learn functionality which lets you control u-he Bazille with your favorite MIDI controller in real-time. It also has more than 1700 factory presets in case you don’t like to tweak things or just don’t feel like doing it.

Sugar Bytes Aparillo

Sugar Bytes Aparillo

Pros
  • Over 500 handpicked presets
  • Great sound-morphing capabilities
Cons
  • Not a classic FM synth
See price @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Sugar Bytes Aparillo isn’t your classic FM synthesizer but rather a modern approach to FM synthesis. Here, FM synthesis isn’t used as a pinnacle but rather as a basis for something very complex, moving, and cinematic. It was designed to be able to create complicated and always evolving sonic palettes and soundscapes. Its Orbiter engine is the best part about this synthesizer since it lets you create various moving sounds effortlessly and in no time.

User impressions

Users like Sugar Bytes Aparillo for a range of space-like experimental atmospheres and ambient textures. Sugar Bytes Aparillo can help you to broaden your horizons as an audio engineer as you will have a lot of possibilities to experiment with sound. Additionally, it has a very user-friendly GUI, and it is easy to use. This VST is a great choice for creating scores for movies, computer games, and all sorts of electronic dance music.

What we think

Sugar Bytes Aparillo is a fresh take on the FM synthesis. Sometimes audio producers, while looking for a perfect FM synth, may get lost in search of vintage and classic sounds. And this might make us overlook what great capabilities the FM synthesis can give you if combined with digital modern morphing algorithms.

Bottomline

Sugar Bytes Aparillo is a great choice for someone who is looking to expand their horizons in terms of FM synthesis. It is a perfect tool for creating very cinematic evolving soundscapes with a very distinguishable vintage feel to them. That being said, although this was clearly designed as a cinematic tool, you still can use it as a capable classic FM synthesizer.

Kilohearts Phase Plant

Kilohearts Phase Plant

Pros
  • Modular capabilities
  • Built-in FXs
Cons
  • None that we know of
See price @ Plugin Boutique / @ Sweetwater
Best features and specs

Kilohearts Phase Plant gives you a classic FM synth sound with a lot of modern flavor to it. It has a very clean and crisp sound which you can modulate in every way possible. Its built-in modular capabilities let you treat every already modulated signal as a carrier itself. This means that you can, for example, apply distortion to a wavetable and use every parameter to modulate the distortion. And it’s not even half of what it can do.

User impressions

Users say that Kilohearts Phase Plant has a clean, simple, and incredibly user-friendly GUI. Also, it has a lot of sampling tools and powerful synthesis. It has a lot of presets and limitless sound generation and effects processing, and it doesn’t take a lot of CPU power. Is a good choice for creating dance music.

What we think

We believe that the Kilohearts Phase Plant is one of the most capable FM synthesizers on the market which comes with a very intuitive and nice-looking GUI. That being said, you definitely will spend some time learning its numerous capabilities. We believe that the best part about Kilohearts Phase Plant is its sound. It sounds very modern and clean but still has a lot of classic FM flavor.

Bottomline

Kilohearts Phase Plant is a good choice for someone who is looking for a versatile and capable synthesizer with FM synthesis at its core. It still has the same sound that a classical FM synth can offer you, but with an impressive amount of additional capabilities on top of it.

Digital Suburban Dexed

Digital Suburban Dexed

Pros
  • Totally free
Cons
  • Complicated GUI
Get @ GitHub
Best features and specs

Digital Suburban Dexed is a very meticulous and dedicated emulation of a legendary Yamaha DX7. But with an interesting twist. This synthesizer is completely free, including commercial use. And if you think that if it’s free then it must be terrible, you are completely wrong. It has a very authentic DX7 sound with a lot of customization options.

User impressions

Users like Digital Suburban Dexed as it is the best free softsynth so far, and it has an almost unlimited amount of presets of the highest quality and the fact that you can add your own. It is a very powerful and versatile synth that can be implemented in a variety of music genres, not only in dance music. It is said to be as close to the original hardware Yamaha DX7 as possible.

What we think

It’s a very common misconception amongst audio producers that if something is free, it means that it is not good. Digital Suburban Dexed has been in our toolbox for a couple of years now and it doesn’t disappoint. The only drawback is that it has a very steep learning curve in terms of controls. To this day we still don’t know what half of it does.

Bottomline

It’s really hard to come up with the reason not to have Digital Suburban Dexed. Once you’ve downloaded it, you’d wonder why it is free. It feels and sounds like a paid commercial product. And we don’t see any drawbacks except for a rather complicated GUI.

FM Synth VST Buying Guide

Before we dive into our list of the best FM synthesizers, let’s figure out what FM synthesis is first. FM stands for frequency modulation which means that with this particular method synthesizing is achieved by modulating frequencies of a carrier signal.

Usually, digital FM synthesis is achieved with phase modulation. The first digital FM synthesizer was built in 1974 by Yamaha. In 1983, the legendary Yamaha DX7 was released, which changed the landscape of electronic music forever. But before digital FM synthesizers started to dominate the landscape, a few attempts at creating analog FM synthesizers were made.

Analog FM synthesis wasn’t really popular due to a few drawbacks such as distortion and pitch-shifting effect. You could see an FM synthesis on a few synthesizers of that era, but only as an option alongside the other forms of synthesis. Even nowadays, despite the fact that the original patent for the FM synthesis has expired, manufacturers choose not to make standalone hardware FM synthesizers. So to this day, the sound of FM synthesis is directly associated with the Yamaha DX7.

Important features

But what makes it so special? Firstly, FM synthesizers have a very distinguishable and warm sound. Although there is a bit of aggression to it, it still feels contained and manageable. The sound is so impressive that when you are thinking about the 80’s, you probably imagine the sound of the DX7.

Secondly, it’s how easy it was to use. The original Yamaha DX7 didn’t have a lot of controls, and most importantly, you didn’t need a degree in engineering to be able to use it. So this straightforward usability made it very popular amongst electronic musicians in the 80’s.

So when choosing the best FM synth VST for you, we were looking for the same warm and clean sound that translates the authenticity of classic FM synthesizers. But at the same time, our FM synth plugins should be able to give us something extra. When it comes to usability in digital synthesizer plugins, it is always better to have quite a few options, but it still has to be at least somewhat easy to use.

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