We’ve heard arpeggios in lots of modern songs, but did you know about these 10 best arpeggiator plugins that make it almost too easy?
Arpeggios have been around for a long time. We can find variations of it in the oldest classical pieces. In fact, Beethoven’s famous Moonlight Sonata is a great example of an arpeggio in classical music.
Contemporary music producers have made arpeggios an even more significant part of modern music, and we can’t deny how exciting and catchy they sound either. And that’s what we’ll talk about today.
This list will cover the best arpeggiators, some in the form of synths and others as midi effects.
Top 10 Arpeggiator VST Plugins 2023 (Best Synths, MIDI Effects & Tools)
1. Dymai Sound Proclethya
Proclethya, developed by Dymai Sound, is a virtual analog synthesizer.
It’s designed using the Big Three of analog computing, DISTORTION, NOISE, and DRIFT. This synthesizer has several useful features, such as an advanced arpeggiator, equalization, effects, a dual mix mode, a Bottom & NOISE oscillator, individual oscillator synchronization, and more.
Here, you may set the duration, tempo, and note values for your arpeggio or sequence. You can modify the sequencer’s motion, speed (up to 1/64t), octave cycling, and shuffle to discover your groove, and the maximum number of steps is 64. You can also create a dynamic pumping sound with the help of a programmable Length knob and a pump fx.
The A oscillator has five distinct waveform options (Sine, Saw, Square, Triangle, and Noise). Both the square and triangle waveforms have a variable pulse width. In addition to the primary oscillator, both Oscillator A and Oscillator B each feature a secondary doubling oscillator that you may engage by pressing the “2nd” button.
A subtle combining effect is achieved by detuning the doubling oscillator and switching the output to mono, which is very useful when making pads. With the “Drift” knob, you may recreate the pitch fluctuations or drift that came standard on antique instruments. Per oscillator, you can adjust the detune and spread to achieve unison with up to ten voices.
- FM Module
Each oscillator is given its dedicated circuit, with Oscillator A going to a global tuner and FM shaper. Each of the three types of tuning—octave, semitone, and finetune—can be adjusted separately. To activate the FM shaper, press the FM button; the control adjusts the dry/wet balance of the modulated sound.
CRS controls the FM oscillator’s coarse frequency response, and the oscillator’s adequate frequency response is controlled by FIN. Finally, the COL parameter controls the tone color of the shaper oscillator.
- Mix Module
The MIX module, which you may use in two different ways, receives signals from both oscillators. CROSSOVER allows for a seamless transition between oscillators A and B, and MIX allows for independent volume control of each oscillator.
Just click the MIX button to switch between the two options. In addition, sub and noise oscillator toggles can be activated or deactivated by clicking their corresponding SUB and NOISE labels.
- LFO Modulator and Filters
Two low-frequency oscillator modulators (LFOs) can alter the quantity, cutoff, pitch, and bipolar amount (on the second modulator). As a result, the modulation’s intensity, as well as the modulation’s pace and tempo, can be adjusted.
Multiple filter modes are available in a standard-parameter section (analog, ladder, etc.). Highpass and Lowpass filters for each oscillator in their dedicated module.
Delay, Reverb, Phaser, and Chorus are the accessible sonic effects modules. Depending on how much “Duck” is turned, the impacted signal is “ducked” when an input signal is detected in the Delay or Reverb modules, providing a wide range of unique effects.
The OS requirements for this plugin are Windows 7 or higher for PC and macOS 10.9 or higher for Mac. It comes in VST/RTAS/AU/AAX formats and supports 32 and 64 bit systems.
Proclethya can offer good results and is close to being a great synth. It has a good graphic equalizer and arpeggiator and has decent effects.
Unfortunately, only three or four parameters can be routed in Proclethya’s matrix, while modern synths typically offer dozens. If it were possible to programmatically adjust various aspects of the mix, such as the volume, pan, filter Q, or anything else, that would be great.
2. u-he Hive 2
Going beyond a mere subtractive synthesizer, u-he takes on wavetables and complex modulation with this synth plugin.
Hive 2 is a unique synth featuring an arpeggiator and a sequencer that can create intricate modulations and rhythmic patterns. The plugin features two main oscillators, with a sub-generator each. Furthermore, you can modulate most of the parameters using the 12-unit modulation matrix.
And the wavetable feature is fascinating thanks to its Multi-Table feature. You can split a wavetable into multiple parts (up to 16), each acting as a 2D oscillator.
Hence, if you were to split a wavetable into 3 parts, you can either crossfade between the three parts or use velocity or multi-sampling to wavetable modulation within each of the parts.
Frankly, it’s unfortunate that you cannot create new wavetables inside Hive 2. Anyway, let’s focus on the other aspects of the synth next.
- Arpeggiator And Sequencer
Hive 2 features an excellent arpeggiator section with a 3-octave range, 6 direction options, and 4 orders. You’ll also find a time base, swing, and other features. Similarly, Hive 2 employs a 16-step sequencer where you can assign the gate, transposition, velocity, and modulation per step. Furthermore, you could also use the sequencer only to send out CC data or use the Record Mode to enter notes with your keyboard. Also, you can record the midi into your DAW, which you can then edit further if you want to.
- Shape Sequencer
Build intricate modulations or rhythmic patterns using the Shape Sequencer. There are four Shape Modulator lanes with a time base, trigger, and order controls each. However, you cannot have four shapes for each lane; it’s one shape for all lanes per step, but you get to decide which lanes will modulate at all.
- Effect Processors
Hive 2 features some of the best-sounding effect processors you could find integrated into a synth. There are seven effects: distortion, reverb, chorus, EQ, delay, phaser, and compressor. You can enable/disable each effect and move them up or down in the effects rack. Further, you can modulate each parameter on the FX page.
Hive 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS 10.9 or higher, and Linux, all of them 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Considering how feature-rich this plugin is, it’s no surprise that Hive 2 has a bit of a learning curve. The UI design might seem stylistic, but they don’t hinder workflow at all. Furthermore, features like four integrated XY Pads for performance and an output scope meter make the plugin a lot of fun.
I also love how the scope displays modulation envelopes, LFO, and so on. Also, if you dislike the look of Hive 2, check out the arctic Izmo skin featured in v2.1.
3. Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
Omnisphere is a behemoth of a synth and obviously features one of the best arpeggiators on the market.
Spectrasonic’s flagship synthesizer is a powerful and versatile instrument capable of producing an enormous variety of sounds that have inspired artists worldwide. It features many forms of synthesis, including wavetables, subtractive, sampling, etc.
Furthermore, its arsenal of effect processors makes it capable of producing fully mixed sounds right out of the box.
Furthermore, Omnisphere is also the first synthesizer to integrate with hardware synths, making this plugin the face of your professional hardware.
Of course, we’ll focus on this feature first. A 32-step arpeggiator with velocity, shuffle, strumming, chord voicing, and pattern settings lets you create intricate parts. This module also includes step modifiers, which are for parameter modulation per step. And lastly, each of the eight Omnisphere sections has an arpeggiator, allowing you to have up to eight different arpeggiators playing within a single plugin.
Omnisphere probably has the largest soundbank in a synth plugin. You’ll find over 14,000 sounds fit for music production, media scoring, and sound design. And with each update, the sound library keeps growing thanks to Spectrasonic’s continued development.
- FX Units
The plugin features 58 effect processors, each with a unique and appealing UI. You’ll find everything ranging from standard reverb, delay, compressor, EQ, chorus, and phaser to guitar amps, limiter, tube slammer, wah-wah, expander, etc.
- The Synth
Each patch can feature up to four layers. In total, you can have up to 20 oscillators, either synth or sample-based. Furthermore, each patch has 8 complex LFOs, over 34 types of filters, 12 envelopes, and more.
Omnisphere 2 is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS 10.13 or higher, and Linux, all 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
In short, Omnisphere is gigantic. There are so many incredible features that it becomes nigh impossible even to list them all. In this review, I’ve focused on the essential elements that a music producer looking for an arpeggiator might prefer to understand.
However, since it’s a rather expensive plugin, you should make sure you know how deep the synth actually is. Hence, I will leave the following video for you to check out:
4. Tone2 Icarus 2
Discover a vast range of sounds and synthesis with Tone2’s epic magnum opus.
The most prominent features of Icarus 2 must be its synth methods and filters. However, close behind, you’ll find other features like multiple kinds of sequencers, wave-table editors, and more. Despite all that, though, it remains intuitive and sensible, with easy drag-and-drop support for modulators.
Overall, the synth is suitable for DnB, trap, EDM, hip-hop, and similar genres. You’ll find plenty of parameters to modulate and create intricate rhythms and soundscapes.
This power comes with a surprisingly low CPU usage, which is always a massive plus for modern productions.
- Synth Engine
Icarus 2 features an incredible amount of synthesis methods, including wavetables, sample resynthesis, vocoder, additive, subtractive, analog, 6-operator FM, formant, ring-mod, AM, physical-modeling, granular, harmonic-morphing, FFT-filtering, and many more. You’ll find 3 oscillators in the synth, and each synthesis mode gives you many other features like stacking, 3D morphing, and unison. It truly feels limitless.
Tone 2 developed the prestigious FilterBank3 plugin. So, it’s no surprise that Icarus 2 also features a giant collection of filters. In this plugin, you’ll find two filter modules, each featuring several modulation options and 9-mode distortion. Also, each module offers 63 kinds of filters.
- Arpeggiator And Sequencers
Icarus 2 comes with a powerful arpeggiator, where you can input transpositions, modulation, and performance per step. So, you can have a slide, up, down, chords, etc. The plugin’s auto-chord feature is convenient for instant inspiration. Similarly, you’ll also find a drum sequencer in this plugin. It comes with a wide variety of drum sounds, percussions, and waveforms. Furthermore, you can also import audio samples and save the kit. The sequencer itself supports shuffle, swing, effect send, key split, and so on. And finally, Icarus 2 features a glitch sequencer. You can create glitchy, stuttering, or gated synth sounds and also pitch stops. It achieves the effect using 10 effect modules like the gate, tremolo, low-pass, bit-crush, degrade, etc.
Icarus 2 comes with 54 effect processors and a master limiter. These effect processors include reverb, delay, chorus, phaser, flanger, vibrato, compressor, EQ, saturation, micro-tuning, auto-pan, surround encoding, etc. And the effect chain is modular with the function to save and load the chain separately.
The plugin is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit and macOS 10.7 or higher 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
While synths like Serum and Zebra keep stealing the limelight, Icarus 2 is an unsung legend when it comes to synthesis. Our review barely covers the parts that matter for arpeggiations and sequencing.
It features two multi-state envelopes, four regular envelopes, sixteen sine-wave LFOs, three morphing LFOs, and a step LFO/gate for modulation alone. So, if you are after a new kind of sound, Icarus 2 will not let you down.
5. VPS Avenger
VPS Avenger is a synth workstation that delivers solutions for just about everything in sound design.
Boasting itself as the last synth you’ll ever need, this plugin features a highly capable engine with an extensive library of presets. Avenger has 8 oscillators, each with an array of features and parameters that make it sound like an entire synth on its own.
These include a super-saw with 7 voices, 4 octaves, and a pan spread. Similarly, each oscillator has a separate vibrato, unison, sub-OSC, etc.
Furthermore, you can use OSC Transformation parameters to further shape oscillators. For instance, Xcite bends the waveform, and Formant adds pulse width modulation. Similarly, you can generate noise, perform FM and AM, edit using an FFT filter, and so on.
Next, let’s talk about the other vital features of this synth, but please note that there are several more worth talking about for every feature I list.
Each oscillator features the following generators: classic VA, single cycle waveform, freeform (hand-drawn waveform), wavetable, resample, multi-sampler, drumkit, granular, FM, feedback, and guitar player. Avenger comes with thousands of single-cycle waveforms, over 600 wavetables (128-shape resolution), over 1000 multi-samples, 160 drum kits, etc.
- Arpeggiator And Sequencer
You can add up to 8 arpeggiator and 8 sequencer modules in an instance of Avenger. The 32-step arpeggiator has four sub-patterns, which let you create complex melodies with up to four polyphonies. Arpeggiator modes include up, down, random, and poly modes. Moreover, you can also edit the note length, transposition, and velocity per step.
Similarly, the sequencer module features contour, decay, gate, and velocity per step. You can use it to modulate parameters and create effects like trance gates.
Avenger features 8 modulation envelopes, 8 pitch envelopes, 4 amp envelopes, 4 filter envelopes, and 4 LFO modules. The first two feature unlimited points/nodes. And the amp envelopes are for the oscillators, should you wish to control some separately. Similarly, the filter envelopes control the 47 kinds of filters available in the plugin.
- FX Busses
Avenger employs four FX racks, one send-FX rack, and one master FX rack. Each rack features 8 FX slots, where you can add from the 30 effect processors included with the plugin: reverb, delay, Impulse Response, flanger, chorus, phaser, bit-crusher, fuzz, EQ, limiter, etc.
This plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
VPS Avenger is a masterpiece of a synthesizer. Featuring a vector-based resizable GUI, you can use this on any screen size, although larger is better. Furthermore, it features 16 external outputs, which come in handy for drum sequencing. Similarly,
I also like its drag-and-drop support for modulation. Overall, it’s an extremely vast synthesizer that necessitates a try before you can believe, justifying the moderately high price.
6. Arturia ARP2600 V
Bring Alan R. Pearlman’s 1972 icon ARP 2600 back to life with Arturia’s deep hardware emulation.
Arturia’s ARP2600 V is a semi-modular synth that shares the UI design almost precisely with the original hardware. It features three oscillators and one filter with multiple types featured in the ARP 2500 hardware synth. It has 2 to 32-voice polyphony.
These idiosyncrasies do make Arturia’s plugin have a much more comprehensive range of sounds.
However, thanks to the modular approach, beginners may not find it the easiest synth to use. Still, it features over 500 presets and in-app tutorials, making the learning and user experience a lot more intuitive.
- Synth Engine
As I mentioned earlier, three oscillators release these signals: triangle, sine, saw, square, and rectangle waveforms. There is also a noise module, ring modulator, a sample/hold module, and a mixer. You can pass these to a 24 dB/oct low-pass or a 12 dB multi-mode (LP, HP, BP, notch) filter.
You’ll find two envelopes: an ADSR for the low-pass filters and an AR filter for the amplifier. And, unlike the original hardware’s OSC 2 used as an LFO, ARP 2600 V employs a separate LFO, which is pre-routed for vibrato. But you can also route it to anywhere else, of course.
On top of the reverberation already present in the original instrument, the effects section allows you to add a Stereo Delay and Chorus to your sound. These effects give much more depth and a contemporary vibe to the sound.
You’ll find an emulation of the ARP model 1601 sequencer in this plugin. The design may catch you off guard, but it’s pretty easy to use. The top row of faders lets you select which “bus” outputs the signal per step (a gate). And you can choose transposition or modulation in the faders below. So, you could use this sequencer for note arpeggiation or modulation.
ARP 2600 V is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
If you don’t already own a modular synth plugin, you should give ARP 2600 V a try to understand the concept. It’s quite easy to use as all of the modules are on the UI.
Furthermore, you’ll love it if you enjoy the analog sound, which Arturia is renowned for recreating. You can also consider their V-Collection, which includes this instrument. However, it does require a reasonably fast CPU to operate well.
7. Kirnu Interactive Cream
If performing with an arpeggiator is your thing, Kirnu Cream is a must-have.
Cream isn’t merely a MIDI arpeggiator; it also features several additional functions that make composition and performance convenient and quicker. It also has plenty of presets that can inspire creativity instantly. And finally, it boasts a sample-accurate performance at negligible CPU usage.
You can create up to 12 patterns per track (out of 4). Each pattern features 9 various parameters for you to tweak, including length, gate, accent, transposition, and CC data. The latter is useful for modulation instead of merely playing noes. So, you can combine Cream’s power with your favorite synth/sampler. Other features include global transposition, rate, scales, etc.
Cream has a feature called “Chord Memory” that essentially stores chord notes that you can recall using only a note. Furthermore, it can also create chord inversions with the click of a button. These features make Cream excellent for live performance.
ARP 2600 V is available for Windows 2000 or higher and macOS 10.5 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and LPX MIDI FX formats.
Cream is super simple to use, but it can create an astounding level of complexity simply with the sheer number of control data it can modulate simultaneously.
Furthermore, you can also use the Pattern Sequencer to create a “playlist” of the patterns you have made. Overall, it contributes a lot to music production.
Welcome the classic yet slightly lesser-known Roland SH-101 to the digital world through TAL’s excellent emulation.
While it can function monophonically like its hardware inspiration, the TAL-BassLine-101 is a polyphonic bass synth with a vintage analog flavor.
The user interface is intuitive and straightforward, making it far more accessible than its hardware. It uses its precisely calibrated engine to produce familiar sounds in any kind of setting. BassLine includes a 24dB/oct low-pass filter that sounds as smooth as hardware counterparts.
- Hardware Emulation
As with Roland’s original design, you’ll find a VCO, a VCF, and an LFO. It also employs an envelope to control the amplifier. Unlike the original hardware, it can generate up to the 6-voice polyphonic sound. So, you could use it as a key-style synth too. However, what makes the synth iconic is its smooth filter, which sounds even smoother when modulated and pushed.
The built-in arpeggiator/sequencer employs a maximum of 96 steps with a recording option. Of course, there are standard features like swing, arpeggio modes, rate, etc. After creating your pattern, you can also drag and drop the midi straight to your DAW software.
TAL-BassLine-101 is available for Windows XP or higher and macOS 10.7 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
While the plugin does rather basic work, compared to other synths, devotees of the Roland original will love the similarity in sound and design.
Furthermore, the 300 included presets demonstrate what the plugin is capable of doing. I would suggest giving it a try and seeing if you enjoy the workflow before making a purchase decision.
9. XFer Cthulhu
Give your composition skills a boost using this arpeggiation and chord playing tool.
Xfer has packed two kinds of tools in one in Cthulhu. The first is the Chords Module, which features a large library of factory chords and allows you to record new ones.
The second is the Arp Module that contains a sequencer for manipulating incoming notes or chords generated by the previous module. Of course, you could also disable either of the modules if you don’t need it. Let’s have a look at these two in more detail:
- Chords Module
Cthulu includes over 150 chord-presets that you could use out of the box instantly or for inspiration. Furthermore, the module can also detect the notes you input and suggest various chord sorting options like Chromatic, Low Notes, Circle of Fifths, etc. All of these chords can then be triggered using a single note on your keyboard, which is particularly handy for live performance.
- Arp Module
After you have your chord patterns ready, manipulate their rhythm and melody using the Arp Module. You can modify the note, randomization, octave, pitch, velocity, gate, latency, and harmony. You can create up to 8 of such patterns. And each of the patterns can function on its own length, opening doors for even polyrhythmic patterns.
Cthulu is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.11 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Cthulu is an interesting approach to arpeggiation. Instead of merely allowing you to sequence notes, it also lets you create chord patterns. The feature and the inspiring presets can undoubtedly come in handy if you struggle to come up with new ideas.
Furthermore, the polyrhythmic features make it suitable for advanced users too. And finally, if you need some random fun, try the blatant but accurate “WTF?” button.
10. Venomode Phrasebox
Get creative with this plugin’s piano roll-like sequencer to create custom arpeggio patterns and even complete melodies.
Phrasebox functions based on the pattern and various criteria you set in the plugin’s grid. The chords you play via midi are translated into the plugin’s patterns, and then you hear the performance.
In the image below, you’ll notice eight rows on the grid labeled 1 through 8. These are the notes of the chord you’re inputting.
Suppose you play a C major chord. The C note is mapped to 1, the E note to 2, and the G to 3. You could create a pattern involving the three notes or more in any form you like, and it will translate perfectly into any chord.
- Special Rows
I’ve described the eight simple rows, but the rows above them work differently. You’ll notice that some of them are pairs of opposites. Let’s go from the top down:
First, ‘All’ plays every note you’re inputting simultaneously, which is excellent for creating synth stabs.
Second, ‘High’ and ‘Low’ play the highest and lowest note you input. Then, the ‘First’ and ‘Last’ are self-explanatory, and so are ‘Loud’ and ‘Quiet,’ which work based on velocity. You can control the low and high-velocity levels on the left panel.
And we reach ‘Fixed,’ which is a fixed note, also selectable in the left panel. Finally, we have a ‘Random’ note, which plays a random note from the notes you’re inputting.
Another control you can assign is the Chance value, which changes the probability of a note sounding each time the pattern plays. It’s excellent for adding humanization to your performance.
Other than notes, you can also send up to 8 MIDI CC data using Phrasebox. You’ll have a linear curve editor, where you can create any shape you like to automate synths, pitch bend, etc. Abusing this feature can make your patterns sound much more intricate and well-designed.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit, macOS 10.12 or higher 64-bit, and Linux (Ubuntu 18.04 or higher). It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
Phrasebox can turn any simple chord progression into a dynamic and expressive performance. While synth arpeggios and the like go without saying, it works exceptionally well to create background piano parts. Introducing extra features like CC data modulation and transposition can make the pattern sound even more dynamic.
Furthermore, you can lock your pattern to a scale to force transpositions to always remain in key.
The 4 Best Free Arpeggiator Plugins 2023
1. u-he Podolski
One of the older synths created by u-he, Podolski, is a virtual analog synthesizer.
In essence, Podolski has one oscillator, one filter, one envelope, and an arpeggiator. The oscillator has a variable shape ranging from saw to triangle (PWM). The user interface is resizable and skin-able, so you’ll also find a couple of UI skins in your download. Furthermore, there are over 300 presets that show the capabilities of this synth.
Podolski features a 16-step arpeggiator, where you can control the step mode, gate, length, transpositions, and modulation. Furthermore, you can also enable glide to make the arpeggio sound smoother. It’s quite simplistic but works well.
- Multi-Mode Filter
The plugin features a single multi-mode filter that has low-pass, band-pass, and high-pass filter curves. It also features drive, FM, and key follow. Modulation plays a big role in creating good arpeggio parts, and the filter does support modulation from the arpeggiator.
Podolski features one envelope with the following modes: ADSR/HDSR, Linear, or Exponential. The sustain parameter features a fall/rise control too. Furthermore, the plugin has a straightforward but efficient LFO.
At the bottom of the interface, you’ll find a delay and a chorus/flanger. While they don’t fulfill everything necessary for mixing, you can use them for widening the sound and adding interest to the arpeggio parts.
Podolski is available for Windows 7 or higher, macOS 10.9 or higher, and Linux, all of them 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
As with all u-he plugins, despite being a free plugin, Podolski sounds phenomenal. The filter is extremely smooth and doesn’t create artifacts despite heavy modulation. The arpeggiator is simple but works well. Overall, I think it’s a great synth.
2. VSTZone Eclipsis
Eclipsis boasts a sleek interface and hides a lot of power up its sleeves.
The plugin is a hybrid wavetable synthesizer. It employs three oscillators with 118 wave shapes. Furthermore, the oscillators include three tools to adjust the wave shapes.
Each oscillator also features output routing, detuning, phase, amp envelope, and smoothing control (6 dB/oct low-pass). Another critical feature is FM modulation with a selectable input source (frequency, pitch, or velocity).
The plugin features two filters. And each of them employs 17 types of filters. These include low-pass, band-pass, high-pass, and notch types. Some of them also emulate hardware synths like the famed Roland 303.
Eclipsis features 9 modulation input sources and 39 targets. There are 6 LFOs and an arpeggiator/gate module. The arpeggiator features 32 steps in total, but you can divide it to get two 16-step patterns too. It features playback control, rate, transposition (±5 octaves), etc.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit only. It comes in VST 2 format.
While I think Eclipsis is a very capable synth, the workflow may not suit everyone. It uses an almost modular approach to synthesis, which can cause some learning curves for beginners. However, it does have a large number of presets alongside a randomizer. These come in handy to get started without having learned much.
3. Mucoder Hypercyclic
Hypercyclic is a midi arpeggiator that keeps LFO modulation at its heart.
On top of that, Hypercyclic can also function as a gate effect and a step sequencer for manipulating inputted chords. Thanks to its unconventional option to modulate the sequencer size itself, it also has a reputation for being an experimental tool. It’s helpful for creating modern stuttering and chaos effects.
The LFO panel on the right of the interface lets you create various shapes to either arpeggiate your notes or send midi CC signals. I like using the LFO as a ducking effect on synth pads.
At the bottom left of the interface, you’ll find the arpeggio panel. This panel features a parameter called Arp Mask. This parameter lets you choose which notes to play. So, suppose you choose Note 1, then only the first note of your chord will be triggered by the engine. Hence, you need to click on the modulation icon (a sine icon) and use the LFO to trigger various notes in patterns resembling a traditional arpeggiator. The benefit of this approach is that you can create chaotic effects, but it lengthens the process of achieving simple arpeggios.
The groove parameter can create a humanization effect by either slowing down or speeding up the rhythm. The effect ranges from half a beat early to half a beat late. Furthermore, you can also modulate this parameter to make the effect random and dynamic.
Hypercyclic is available for Windows 7 or higher 32-bit and 64-bit, macOS 10.9 or higher 32-bit or 64-bit, and Linux 64-bit. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
The plugin is a complex midi effect. However, it also features a basic built-in synth to help you learn how it affects the sound.
If you only intend to create traditional arpeggio patterns, I would recommend you stay away from Hypercyclic. However, if chaotic experiments are your thing, this plugin is probably the best in business.
4. CodeFN42 RandARP
A little randomness goes a long way with CodeFN42’s exciting arpeggiator plugin.
RandARP is a straightforward arpeggiator with all the standard features. However, it’s different because it offers you a randomization feature for several parameters that can help make your sequences more humanized and unpredictable.
As with most standard arpeggiators, you can control the rate, note direction, octave, and velocity mode. However, it also features random modes in many of these standard options too. For example, you can set the octave order to change randomly using the drop-down menu.
- Other Randomization
There are seven knobs at the top of the UI. And five of them have Random knobs below them. So, you can randomize the corresponding parameter using these knobs. A small amount of randomization on velocity, gate, and swing makes it sound humanized, whereas a large amount of randomization on everything sounds chaotic.
RandARP is available for Windows XP or higher 32-bit and 64-bit. It comes in VST 2 format.
If you are after a simple arpeggiator plugin, you’ve hit the right spot. RandARP is a complete success as a traditional arpeggiator that can add a small amount of humanization and also as a chaotic machine.
Also, enabling the Latch mode and disabling the Restart can be helpful for live performance.
1. Imagine by Expressive E
Create novel acoustic instruments unheard-of from a synth before.
Imagine is a synthesizer based on physical modeling. It models the sound of various instruments that are struck with different kinds of mallets. The combination of these two creates a unique instrument layer. You can have up to two layers per session of the plugin.
Since it generates sounds similar to bells or string plucks, it ends up becoming an excellent tool for arpeggio patterns. Furthermore, you can modulate many parameters of the synth and effect processors, making the arpeggiation even more exciting.
- Physical Model
The plugin features several atypical acoustic bodies. These include tubes, bars, skin, and strings. You can combine two of these (or use one twice) to create your instrument layer. Since there are two layers, you could essentially use all of them together to create an instrument that sounds natural yet unheard of.
Since the models are merely bodies, you will need an “excitator” or a mallet to create sound. It can be a mallet, noise, or a sequencer. With a mallet, you can adjust the instrument’s timbre, striking position, etc. You can use noise to excite the instruments continuously (like a synth pad/lead). Conversely, the sequencer features two arpeggiators, which we will discuss next.
The plugin’s sequencer features two arpeggiators. You can have both of them play together or control the balance between them. The arpeggiator lets you create unique patterns by allowing you to choose from these arp orders: up, down, up&down, up&down2, and chords. It features a 16-step grid, where you can enable or disable the steps to create rhythms. You can also make it play patterns up to 3 octaves higher, lower, or both.
Imagine features a modular FX page shared by both instrument layers. You’ll find a vibrato/frequency shifter, EQ/compressor, stereo delay, plate reverb, and an Expressive FX module. The last module features effects like distortion, filters, chorus, phaser, etc.
Imagine is available for Windows 10 or higher and macOS 10.13 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3 and AU formats.
Imagine is quite capable of creating a variety of sounds. It can sound ethereal and happy, or it can be downright creepy and weird. However, the sounds may not be appropriate everywhere. For example, you’ll probably want to stick to a regular synth for electronic dance music.
Still, thanks to its 300 instrument-presets and 250 arpeggio-presets, this plugin is an excellent way to introduce different vibes (no pun intended) to your music.
2. Sugar Bytes Consequence
Consequence is an arpeggiator that features sounds as well as the option to act as a midi effect.
The plugin uses notes you input to create its sequences. At the center of the interface, you’ll find the grid where you can create patterns. The various controls are labeled on the right end of the interface. You’ll find modulation, octave, glide, tie, mode, trigger, gate, and chord.
Similarly, on the left, you’ll find options regarding the controls I mentioned above. For example, you’ll find the glide time and the modulation target selector in this section. Let’s get deeper into the instrument.
- Sound Engine
Consequence features 3 oscillators, each of which can load an instrument from its 800 MB sound library with 222 presets. Each oscillator features an amp envelope and two effects: age and crush.
At the bottom, you’ll find a keyboard and a row of numbers from 1 through 16. Each represents a chord. You can either create your own chords or use a bank from the Chord Bank on the left.
After you have your chords ready, you are prepared to begin creating your arpeggio pattern. You’ll generally want to start from the bottom up. Start with the Chord row, where you can select which chord is triggered in each of the 32 steps. The Gate row shows the velocity of each step. You can choose to play the next, previous, or the same note in the Mode row. The rest are pretty self-explanatory.
- MIDI Out
Finally, you can use the MIDI Out feature to connect Consequence to another synth plugin to control it. Remember to use Consequence as a midi effect or place it before the instrument plugin, depending on the DAW you use. Furthermore, you can also save the performance as a midi file.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher and macOS 10.9 or higher, both 64-bit only. It comes in VST 2/3, AU, and AAX formats.
If you’re only after a midi arpeggiator without any built-in sound, the price of this plugin may not be very appealing. However, I must say that the sound library can come in handy, especially if you make hip-hop and trap. Still, it may seem limited compared to using a full-fledged synth. In terms of the arpeggiator itself, though, Consequence is undoubtedly rich and capable.
What Is Arpeggiator In Music?
An arpeggiator is a midi tool that plays inputted notes in a sequence at a specific rate. Some arpeggiators can also include notes higher or lower than the inputted notes using various commands. The word comes from the musical term arpeggio, which describes the same action performed by instrument players.
What Is The Purpose Of Arpeggios?
You can use arpeggios to add exciting passages of instruments as background or sometimes even as melodies. Similarly, arpeggios make great pieces as the introductory part of a song. Other times, you might use them to add harmonic excitement during the bridge/chorus part of your song.
How Do You Use An Arpeggiator?
An arpeggiator is often integrated into a synth. If it isn’t, use a separate arpeggiator plugin, which you place before the synth or sampler plugin, as it’s a MIDI effect. Some DAWs like Cubase also feature specific effect slots for such plugins. Once done, try inputting chord triads or inversions.
How Do You Make Arpeggiated Sound?
Short, accented sounds represent the rhythm in an arpeggio passage well. Hence, articulations like pizzicato or spiccato in real instruments and plucky sounds with a little attack in synths are the best choices for arpeggios. For example, try a saw wave with no attack or sustain and short decay and release.
What Is The Difference Between A Sequencer And An Arpeggiator?
A sequencer is a midi tool that lets you compose a passage of melody over a time grid, where you select each note manually. In contrast, an arpeggiator automatically plays the inputted notes in a selected sequence at a specified rate. So, it works based on a pre-determined algorithm.
An arpeggiator could be an integrated part of a synthesizer, an external MIDI effect, or even a hybrid. If you are looking to use an arpeggiator on a synth you already own, you should look for an external MIDI effect, which is also the cheapest.
However, if you don’t have a synth yet, I suggest choosing one based on your requirements and budget.
For example, Omnisphere 2 and VPS Avenger are incredible, but they may not even be necessary for many people. Suppose you create mostly EDM or hip-hop. Since you are more likely to modulate parameters and show your creativity through traditional synths, you could probably benefit from u-he Hive 2 or Tone2 Icarus 2 instead.
That isn’t to say that Omniphere or Avenger would be useless for you, but it correlates to your budget and priorities.
If you don’t have a spending budget yet, try the free u-he Podolski. It’s also massively capable. And the free Hypercyclic and RandARP are excellent as well. If you own a synth and only miss an arpeggiation module, you don’t have to think twice about getting RandARP.
Finally, if you want some inspiration and assistance in composing itself, you should give Xfer Cthulhu a try. Its Chord module is handy for creating chord cycles. And with that, we’ve reached the end of this article. I hope you’ve discovered a few new plugins you want to try out. Happy music-making!
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