Top 5 current popular Wavetable plugins and their pros and cons
The versatility of Wavetable plugins have made them the rage – Let’s look at the pros and cons of the current favourites.
Almost every plugin developer currently offers a wavetable plugin, the versatility of wavetable oscillators makes them incredible tools for sound designers.
Each of the wavetable plugins has a variety of pros and cons that could potentially make or break the plugin for your particular workflow. Let’s discuss the pros and cons for some of the most popular wavetable plugins currently on the market.
What is it:
xFer Serum is arguably the godfather of modern Wavetable plugins, it set a standard for competitors to follow. It features one of the most advanced Wavetable editing and generation systems alongside impeccable oscillator quality and a very easy-to-use interface. It is probably the most popular plugin on the market right now, with an insane amount of commercial sound packs available in almost every genre.
- Incredibly easy-to-use
- Huge variety of filter types
- Insane versatility with the oscillator Warp Modes
- Tons of tutorials and sound packs available, make it a great tool to learn synthesis
- Limited routing capabilities
- Only 2 main oscillators, a sub and a noise – sufficient for most tasks but still limited
USD $189 (Around R2800)
Kilohearts Phase Plant
What is it:
In short, Kilohearts Phase Plant is the sound designer’s dream synthesizer. It’s incredibly versatile, with a huge variety of generators, effects and modulators. The plugin is built around a very modular system, allowing you to send audio almost anywhere within the patch, even as modulation to a number of parameters in other generators. There are several layers of effects racks, allowing you to split signals as you wish – and as of lately, the plugin features Kilohearts Multipass system for insane effects capabilities.
- Insane audio-rate modulation capabilities
- Almost no limitations in sound design
- Built-in multiband effects processing
- Modular interface and routing capabilities
- The plugin is quite complex for newcomers, so there is a bit of a learning curve
- It’s not cheap, and there are various packages that alter which Snapin effects are included, that being said it is definitely worth it if you’re into heavy sound design, and you can still load patches which have effects which you may not own, you just can’t edit those effects modules.
Kilohearts Phase Plant (Including the synth and 6 effects) – USD $169 (Around R2500)
Kilohearts Toolbox Starter (Including the synth and 12 effects) – USD $199 (Around R3000)
Kilohearts Toolbox Professional (Including the synth and all of their effects) – USD $349 (Around R5200)
Keep in mind that their effects can be used standalone or inside their plugin hosts, Snapheap and Multipass.
UVI Falcon 2
What is it:
UVI Falcon 2 is an incredibly diverse hybrid sound design workstation, it brings together the world of sampling and synthesis, offering huge diversity in each aspect. It’s a lot more than just a wavetable plugin, however, the wavetable capabilities are decent, especially when combined with the huge modulation capabilities and vast effects.
- Variety of incredible resampling engines
- Huge number of different effects, filters and performance scripts
- Scalable macro system for simplifying advanced patches
- Great for combining multi-sampling alongside deep synthesis
- Falcon is advanced and it accomplishes tasks slightly differently to what we may be used to, so it has a steep learning curve
- The plugin is so versatile that there is no way around having a huge amount of menu-diving
USD $349 (Around R5200)
What is it:
Arturia Pigments 2 combines Wavetable, virtual analog, granular synthesis and sampling – all within an incredibly intuitive and great sounding synth. The core focus of Pigments is simplicity and user feedback, making it a great tool for making sounds very quickly. The effects section is pretty versatile, offering several routing configurations, and a ton of different effects to choose from.
- Oscillator modulation quantize – for random melody generation
- Unique modulation types from function generators to combinators
- Incredibly versatile arp & sequencer with various random options and polyrhythm capabilities
- Wavetable editing capabilities are rather limited, however, you can import your own wavetables you may have created in another plugin – and combined with the various FM, Wavefolding and Phase Modulation you can get some great results.
EUR €199 (Around R3200)
u-He Hive 2
What is it:
u-He Hive 2 is an incredible example of function and simplicity, they did away with a lot of the very advanced features that we may see on some other synth plugins, in favour of some truly inspiring features and a focus on impeccable audio quality. There are obvious inspirations drawn from both highly-renowned software instruments alongside interesting modular capabilities that you don’t often see in other plugins – the result is a familiarity when first stepping into the plugin, with the ability to really push things beyond expectation.
- Incredibly intuitive
- Great sounding oscillators and filters
- Hugely versatile modulation section where each row features quantize, slew, compression settings and more
- Unique 2D Wavetable scanning
- Support for oscillator scripts, to code your own
- No “real” FM or audio-rate modulation
EUR €149 (Around R2400)
Different features often bring different results…
Of course, these are just the features that stood out for me, so I may have missed something. There are also various other options, however, I feel these ones cover most of my needs, very well.
I use all of the above wavetable plugins for various tasks and styles, I think the difference in features allows for very different approaches and thus resulting in unique results.