This article will discuss the ten best plugins that Martin Garrix uses or has used in his music.
Martin Garrix is a household name in the music industry, who took the EDM genre by storm with his fresh and innovative sounds. He is a music producer, and DJ and has revealed his workflow and the tools he uses to create his productions plenty of times to the public.
Whether through a YouTube video, or an Instagram story post, the young producer has disclosed that his primary DAW is FL Studio. He uses some specific soft synths, effect plugins, and processing software. The following list will reveal the best tools out of the lot, which you could also use. So let’s dive right into it.
10 Plugins That Martin Garrix Uses or Used In His Projects
Lennar Digital Sylenth1
Sylenth1 by Lennar Digital is a virtual analog synthesizer plugin with a subtractive synthesis sound engine.
It also has a screen that helps you browse through the presets, categories of presets, effects, and an arpeggiator, and it has four different tabs. The plugin consists of two oscillators with adjustable pitch, volume, phase, octave, detune, phase, stereo width, and pan. In addition, you can select the waveform as Sine, saw, triangle, pulse, half pulse, quarter pulse, tri saw, or noise.
Further, you can have up to eight voices of polyphony on each oscillator and can also enable a “retrigger” on it. In addition, there’s one amplitude envelope/ADSR and one filter, to which you can send either both the oscillators or only the first oscillator. Finally, there’s an additional filter that applies to the complete sound.
Regarding modulations, there are two envelopes, two LFOs, and two miscellaneous modulators to which you can set the source as velocity, modwheel, key track, aftertouch, velocity, and more. All modulators can apply to any two parameters of oscillators, effects, and some other destinations.
The effects included in the plugin are distortion, phaser, chorus, EQ, Delay, Reverb, and compressor. Overall, the plugin has great functionality and features. It’s one of the best plugins for the house, dance, and EDM pop genres. You can create anything from punchy and fat bass sounds, upfront leads to full and bright synths, especially saw synths, as the saw waveform of the plugin sounds great!
Sylenth1 is also suitable for various other genres, given its flexible, comprehensive, and versatile synth architecture. You can also find plenty of Martin Garrix preset packs for the synth. Lastly, many paid and free online tutorials teach Martin Garrix-style sound design on Sylenth1. Also, in the following video, Martin Garrix breaks down the production of his song “Animals,” and he uses Sylenth1 for many sounds.
NI Massive 1
Massive 1 by Native Instruments is a versatile wavetable synthesizer.
A wavetable is simply a collection of waveforms, and a wavetable synthesizer lets you load a wavetable and select a single waveform out of the wavetable. So you can have waveforms and wavetables of different textures, harmonic content, and complexities to suit your needs,
That is why Wavetable synthesis is so flexible and versatile, as you can load up the basic and complex waveshapes of different sounds and then tweak them as per your sensibilities. After loading up the wavetable, Massive works like a hybrid of subtractive and additive synthesizers. You can sculpt the sound using filters, modulators, and effects, subtracting and adding from the basic waveform simultaneously.
Massive has three main oscillators, one noise oscillator and one modulation oscillator. In addition, there are two filters, one amplitude modulator, and many other modulators like LFOs, steppers, performers, etc. There are two effects and one EQ effect to sonically shape the sounds.
It also has two-step sequencer modes, eight macro controls, and many other features beyond what this small write-up can cover. Overall, the synth sounds as good as the wavetables loaded in it and the sound design done on it, but the signal flow is highly flexible, and the scope of creativity on it is endless.
However, Massive may have some learning curve, especially if you’re a beginner at sound design or music production. But the good thing is that it is a widely popular virtual synthesizer with immense online resources to help you learn the synth and find preset packs for it. You can easily find Martin Garrix-style sound design videos on Massive, and Martin Garrix-style presets online.
Serum by XFer Records is an expansive and popular wavetable synthesizer.
The sound sources in Serum are two main oscillators, one noise oscillator, and one sub-oscillator. You can route the output of these oscillators to a multi-mode filter, which could be set as a high-pass, band-pass, or low-pass filter, notch filter, comb filter, phase filter, etc.
As modulators, you get three envelopes and four LFOs which could also be turned into envelopes, velocity, and note-mapping. You can apply the destinations of these modulators by simply dragging and dropping the modulators on the parameters you want to modulate. The workflow of Serum is insane, as you can flexibly change the signal flow and apply modulations to any parameters, including that of effects.
Serum has a great FX section on which you can easily adjust the order of effects, selection of effects, and effect parameters. You get a multi-band compressor, reverb, delay, distortion, phaser, and many more effects. In addition, there’s a great modulation matrix, four MACRO knobs, and Global sound settings.
The wavetable synth is highly flexible and feature-rich but may take some time to get used to, although the interface and design are quite simple. However, plenty of tutorials and the availability of online sample packs make it accessible and easy to use. So it’s no surprise that Martin Garrix uses the synth, as it’s one of the most advanced sound design tools to have in your arsenal.
It’s great for making Future House, but it is great for other electronic genres of music as well. Lastly, you can create anything from bass, leads, plucks, pads, FX, drums (including kick, snare, hats, percussions, toms, etc.), keys, etc. Fun fact, it could also be used as a sampler or a granular synth by using its noise oscillator, which lets you load up external sounds.
Reveal Sound Spire
Spire by Reveal Sound is a polyphonic virtual synthesizer that simulates an analog/digital hybrid sound engine.
It consists of four oscillators with adjustable phase, pitch, note, and waveform. You can choose the oscillator modes between classic, Noise, FM, AMSync, SawPWM, HardFM, and Vowel waves. You can have up to 9x unison voices on each oscillator, which also lets you create hyper saws and supersaws.
There’s also an additional wavetable mix, wherein you can mix a waveform like Sine, triangle, para, brass, organ, guide, bass, etc., from different wavetables. In addition, all four oscillators can be mixed in terms of amplitude. Then there are two muli-mode filters that you can apply to the overall sound.
Further, there are four LFOs, four envelopes, two step modulators, one arpeggiator, and a modulation matrix. The interface is simple and resizeable; you can change the themes between five different styles. The plugin is available in AU, AAX, and VST versions and is compatible with Windows and macOS.
Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
Omnisphere is a virtual instrument by Omnisphere that combines many different synthesis styles.
It is the world’s first and only virtual instrument that also offers hardware integration and is supported by hardware instruments like Roland JUNO-106, Roland JD, Roland Jupiter-08, Virus, Korg MicroKing, Moog Prologue, and many more synths by Moog, Roland, Korg, Dave Smith, Nord, Yamaha, Novation, etc.
It has a great sound library, which includes presets and sounds of various genres, and styles. It also has plenty of Progressive House and EDM Pop sounds. The synthesis engine uses sampling, granular synthesis, and wavetable synthesis at its core, combined with various modulators (eight LFOs and twelve envelopes), filters, and effects.
It has over 58 high-quality FX units, 14000 sounds, an audio import feature, and an advanced arpeggiator. It allows you to use up to 20 oscillators, and the sounds/patches can be split, layered, and crossfaded with each other. In addition, the plugin is flexible in importing external sound libraries so that you can expand your sonic scope.
The great thing about Omnisphere is that it can also model realistic organic sounds, on which you can capture or program expressive playing. Martin Garrix has mentioned Omnisphere as one of his favorite plugins, alongside Valhalla, Spire, and Sylenth, in a Q/A on Instagram.
Cytomic The Glue (Compressor)
The Glue is an analog-modeled compressor plugin inspired by the British Big Console Buss Compressor.
As the name suggests, the compressor is great at making the elements sound glued together as one punchy and wide mix. It’s used mainly on the instruments bus, mix bus, and master bus, like the classic SSL Bus compressor. It has a warm and deep analog sound, and sounds can be shaped using six knobs: threshold, range, make-up, ratio, attack time, and release time.
Further, it also features an auto-release setting, a dry/wet mix knob for dialing in the tone, and a sidechain high pass filter. It gives the classic glue compression sound and features to bedroom producers, DIY musicians, and studios at an affordable rate of less than $100. For the big, fat, and punchy EDM sound/mix, The Glue by Cytomic is a great plugin!
Image Line Vocodex (Vocoder)
Vocodex is a vocoder plugin by Image-Line, the company that created FL Studio.
Everyone’s familiar with the creative usage of vocoders by Martin and that the main DAW of the DJ/Producer is FL Studio. FL Studio features a stock plugin, which is great for vocoding. Here’s how it works. You input two signals into the plugin: carrier (synths) signal and modulator (vocals) signal.
The vocoder uses the modulator’s real-time frequency spectrum to modulate the carrier signal’s frequency spectrum to create the talking synths signature sound. The plugin lets you select the number of bands divisions in the spectrum, the gender of the output voice, the number of voices, the stereo width, and the mix.
You can also make the sound follow an envelope, apply an EQ band to the sound, add a noise signal, and apply high-pass filters to the carrier, modulator, and noise signals. The plugin also has Soundgoodizer, a great-sounding single-knob compressor plugin by FL Studio, built into it.
Image Line GrossBeat (Glitch & Stuttering Tool)
GrossBeat is a multi-effects plugin for real-time gate, pitch, glitch, scratch, and stutter effects.
Gross Beat is another stock plugin of FL Studio and is one of its most popular plugins. Browsing through the presets will give you an idea of how fun and interesting it is to use the plugin. The presets include plenty of cool musical effects by manipulating the sound’s pitch, time, and amplitude.
It has seven categories of presets: Flanging, Momentary, Patterns, Pitch Shifters, Repeater, Stutter, and Turntablist. Flanging includes time and filters based flagging and phasing effects, whereas Momentary, Patterns, and Repeater presets include time-based gate, speed, and swinging effects. Patterns.
Similarly, there are pitch-based effects, DJ deck effects in the Turntablist preset, and glitchy stutter effects in the Stutter preset. You can use the plugin when you’re running out of inspiration or when you want to add some creative or interesting movements to a boring sound loop, as it has the power to make things exciting and fresh.
Valhalla DSP Valhalla Room (Reverb)
Valhalla Room is one of the best reverb plugins in the market.
The plugin is not the best in terms of sound, but it’s best in terms of the simplicity and functionality with which it is made, combined with an easy-to-follow interface with great visual feedback. The main controllers include Predelay, decay, high-cut, and depth.
The other half of the reverb window is divided into two categories: early and late, which lets you edit early and late reflections separately, giving you more control over your ambiance and room. Again, you have parameters like size, cross, modulation rate, modulation depth, bass multiplier, bass crossover, high multiplier, and high crossover.
You can set reverb modes: large room, medium room, bright room, large room, dark room, dark room, dark room, dark room, Nostromo, Narcissus, Sulaco, LV-426, and Dense Rooms. These parameters and modes let you make an in-depth selection of the kind of space you’re going for.
It’s a highly versatile reverb plugin wherein you can create spaces and ambiance for almost any instrument and mix genre and style. Of course, the plugin also sounds real and organic, but there are reverb algorithms by which you can make it sound digital, depending on your taste & sensibilities.
DadaLife Endless Smile (Build-Up Tool To Add Magic)
Endless Smile by DadaLife is a plugin for creating buildups.
We live in great times where you just need to rotate a knob to create a buildup. You need not spend time programming complicated drum rolls, sweeps, risers, and sound effects, to build tension and create excitement. Dada Life is how you can do that to make your life easier.
It’s a simple plugin! You drop it on your mix bus and dial in the intensity knob whenever you’re approaching the drop or the chorus, and the plugin will create a buildup for you. Of course, you can also automate the intensity knob for the buildups.
Apart from the main functionality, the animation on the plugin is also really fun! You can use it separately on drums, synths, and guitars or throw it directly on the mix bus. There are different presets by which the plugin filters certain frequencies and adds saturation, reverb, and noise under the hood. You can also select how much the plugin acts, from soft, medium, and rich.
So we have discussed the most useful tools you could borrow from Martin’s workflow. For sound design and sound selection purposes, Sylenth1 is the one synth the artist has constantly stated as his favorite synth.
Other than that, Serum and Omnisphere are the most expansive and useful synths that you could buy. I lean more towards Serum as it has an easier workflow and more hands-on control. On the other hand, Omnisphere is a bit more complicated but has some advantages over Serum, like the granular synth engine. However, both are beasts in their ways.
No doubt, Cytomic The Glue is a great compressor, and Valhalla Room is a versatile and colorful reverb; these are also plugins that I highly recommend. If you’re not an FL Studio user, an alternative for Gross Beat is LFO Tool by Xfer Records, MRHYMTHMIZER BY MELDA, and Timeshaper by Cable records.
Some free alternatives are Gatelab from Audiomodern, Hysteresis by Glitch Machine, and Glitch. Similarly, some good Vocodex alternatives are UAD Softube Vocoder (paid), Izotope Vocal Synth (paid), and TAL-Vocoder (free). Hope this article was of help and provided you with sufficient value. Thank you for reading.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.