I know nothing about synths so I asked the guys over on KVR what the best synths were. chk71 gave me an amazing writeup which I've used here with slight formatting changes. Thanks chk71!
u-he Tyrell N6 scroll down past the two pictures to find the links.
Tyrell does does a nice job on analog emulation
really, the filter is nice and self resonant, sound overall is very fat
Charlatan kind of hits the same spot, as does
TAL-Noisemaker, but they're more on the tame side unlike Charlatan,
which has some distortion in the filter. They're all rather simple
synths, 2-3 oscillators, one filter, amp and filter envelope, 1 or 2
LFO's, no mod matrix or anything, limited polyphony, so more basic stuff
A bit more complex:
Synapse Audio Dune LE
Dune LE is a full blown synth with features you'd rather expect
from a payware synth. It's actually the full version stripped off the
effects section of the payware Dune. Unison on oscillator level, and
also a global unison for all oscillators, so you can make huge sounds,
and it offers a mod matrix where you can modulate stuff per voice, which
is a nice feature which I'd wish other synths had too. The sound is OK,
not the best I ever heard, but surely not the worst either.
Ichiro Toda Synth1.
there's Synth1 which is still considered the best (probably in terms of
features and sound) freeware synths nowadays, even though it's pretty
old now, and for me lacks a bit filter wise. The sound is pretty good
though, and feature wise it's not as sophisticated as Dune LE, but it
has quite a few feature which lifts it off from being basic.
Greenoak's Crystal is a gorgeous-sounding semi-modular masterpiece with
three voices and 90 modulation parameters. Each voice has a sound
source of synthesized or sample-based (sf2) waves. Each sound is shaped
by two fully editable multi-stage envelopes for filters and amplitude,
and all voices are modulated by six envelopes, LFOs (with swing!) and
MIDI through a mod matrix. As you may imagine, it enables astounding
evolving sounds. Those sounds are then sent to a mixer for chorus,
flanger, delay, and reverb, filtered by frequency. If all that
modulation makes your brain explode too, just pick a program out of 20
banks by top designers, Breed two patches to create a third with varying
amount of Mutation, and go from there.
Thank to Michael L from KVR for the description.
PTV suggested Madrona Labs' Aalto Solo.
thecontrolcentre suggested Obxd and PG8X.