This article will explore the best rompler plugins for 2023 and what a rompler plugin is.
Rompler plugins are a great way to get out of a creative rut since they come equipped with loads of inspiring sounds and require no time spent on sound design. However, before we get to the meat of the article, it’s essential to analyze what exactly is a rompler plugin and how it differs from other synthesizer plugins.
What’s The Difference Between Rompler, Sampler & Synth? Is There Any?
The difference between a rompler and a sampler is that you can actually load your own samples into a sampler and modify them. A rompler comes with sounds that you can’t adjust in much detail. On the other hand, a synthesizer is a tool that helps you craft sounds from scratch without needing audio samples.
A rompler is a synthesizer that plays ready-made sounds based on audio samples.
The appeal of romplers is how convenient they are. The chances are that a rompler will come with 100-200 sounds. After a while, you will familiarize yourself with them and be able to recall them when you need a quick sound to flesh out an idea.
Instead of tweaking a synthesizer for hours to get a sound right (by which time the original idea you had might be gone), a rompler helps you flesh out your production ideas fast without spending time on sound design.
Top 6 Rompler VST/AU Plugins 2023 You Can Get (Paid & FREE)
1. TheSynthFactory HoriZEN (Paid)
HoriZEN is a hybrid rompler synthesizer by TheSynthFactory. It combines a rompler with a dual OSC engine.
HoriZEN is one of the more flexible rompler options since it includes an oscillator for subtractive synthesis. Add a broad range of effects, an excellent user interface, and an interactive X/Y pad, and you get a sophisticated rompler synth.
- Hybrid sound
The main feature of a traditional rompler is its sample engine, where the sounds you trigger are stored. HoriZEN has a four-voice sample engine, and you can control each voice through the matrix panel. Each voice has knobs for envelope and filter modulation, pitch, tremolo, vibrato, volume, panning, FM, and many more options. You can also enable and disable sample voices as you see fit. Where HoriZEN truly innovates is in the dual oscillator synth engine. This engine consists of three subtractive synth voices. Each voice is made of two oscillators that are cross-faded together. You can control the volume, panning, FM, vibrato, Filter 1 & 2, and tremolo from the synth engine. If you click the E button, you enter the synth voice editor, where you get more control over the oscillator.
- Player pages
HoriZEN includes three player systems that help users generate melodic and rhythmic ideas quickly and effortlessly. First, there is an arp page that works as a straightforward arpeggiator. It can run on six different modes, including latch and MIDI thru. The second page is called gates and hosts three master gates, two gain-based gates, and a filter gate. The filter gate uses a dedicated multimode filter which you can edit according to your needs and select between nine different types of filtering. The gain gates allow you to select the number of steps, modulation depth, tempo, and inter-step smoothing. Finally, the last player page is called chords. It’s a robust system that helps you generate chords with ease. This is particularly useful for producers who are not familiar with music theory. You can even augment the basic chords it provides by adding extra notes for exciting voicings.
- Nine effects
HoriZEN includes a compelling selection of effects. Each of the four sample voices can hold up to two dedicated independent effects. The effects come from a selection of nine choices which include options like reverb, delay, saturation, convolution, wave shaper, phaser, EQ, and compressor. You can also select up to four independent master effects from the same list of effects. These will affect the sound of HoriZEN as a whole.
HoriZEN has two independent filters. Each of them has nine different custom filter shapes. They come with the usual cutoff, resonance, envelope modulation, and key track controls. Interestingly, each filter has a dedicated LFO assigned to the frequency knob. The LFOs come with six different shapes, including a custom one that the user can draw. They can run freely or synced to the host DAW tempo and can also be set to loop or one-shot modes.
- X/Y pad
One of the most fun features of HoriZEN is the X/Y pad. It’s assigned to the volume of the four sample voices, and the idea is that you can interactively mix them by drawing on the pad. The pad sounds excellent and smooth, the result of hard research by TheSynthFactory, which ensured the pad will sound musical at all times. In addition, you can record your patterns on it, which you can later retrigger, something that makes HoriZEN an insanely powerful live performance tool.
HoriZEN is available on Windows and macOS in VST3 and AU formats, 64-bit only.
HoriZEN is not your typical rompler. It includes features not commonly found in romplers, like the X/Y pad, the three-voice synth engine, and the ability to generate musical ideas through the player pages. All of these features combined with an intuitive user interface make HoriZEN an excellent choice for all new or experienced producers.
2. Nils’ K1v (Free)
K1v is a VST rompler plugin that emulates the Kawai K1 digital synthesizer.
The original Kawai K1 hardware synthesizer used digital synthesis to create luscious synth sounds and evolving pads, although it lacked hands-on control over the tone of the sound. Nil’s emulation with K1v is extraordinarily faithful and includes all ROM cards from the original hardware, which add up to over 1000 presets.
- Four sound sources
K1v has four sound sources per voice. Each sound source holds 256 waveforms, 204 of which are additive, while the rest are PCM waveforms. This is one of the main features that give K1v its characteristic digital sound. The overall sound is rich and thick, courtesy of the 256 waveforms per sound source.
- Detailed control
As most romplers do, K1v has a variety of controls to help you fine-tune the samples stored inside it. You can adjust an ADSR envelope mapped to the volume of the sound, a coarse tune knob, and a fine tune knob. Furthermore, you can adjust the modulation properties of K1v, like velocity, pressure, filter modulation, and volume modulation. An LFO can be used as a modulator to affect different parameters, while ring modulation can also be applied between the layers.
- Faithful digital sound
The biggest aim of K1v was to faithfully emulate the Kawai K1 digital synthesizer. The result is a highly faithful emulation of the original synthesizer with patches that closely copy ones from the original and the inclusion of all original ROM cards. Furthermore, the presets stored in these ROM cards are divided into banks with search capabilities, something that makes for a quick learning curve.
- Preset browser
One of the most well fleshed out features of K1v is its preset browser. The browser includes the ability to edit and store presets so that you can create your custom sounds. What’s even more impressive is the ability to communicate with the original hardware Kawai K1 synthesizer. So, for example, you could copy presets from the original hardware and transfer them to your K1v software and vice versa.
K1v is available on Windows, Linux, and macOS in VST2.4, VST3, and AU formats.
K1v is a fantastic free rompler. Its digital sound is versatile and can be used in virtually any genre you can imagine. It’s faithful to the original it pays tribute to and has some nifty features, like ring modulation and a well-thought-out preset browser.
3. Audiolatry RetroVibes (Paid But Cheap)
RetroVibes is a rompler plugin designed by Audiolatry.
RetroVibes offers precisely what its name suggests. It’s dedicated to bringing to life retro synth sounds from the 80s for you to use in your contemporary productions. It can be used in EDM, Pop, Synthpop, Trap, or any other modern music genre.
- Basic control
RetroVibes looks and feels more like a traditional rompler plugin. This is evident from the basic controls it offers to adjust the sounds it includes. You get access to an ADSR amp envelope for sculpting your sound and a filter. The filter is dual-mode with lowpass and highpass modes, and you can adjust just the cutoff frequency.
One of the big perks of RetroVibes is the LFO it includes for modulation. The LFO can be set to either triangle, sin, saw, square, or exponent wave, and you can adjust the speed and depth of the modulation. You can also send it to three different destinations: pan, expression, or pitch. Finally, you can set the source to aftertouch, velocity, mod wheel, or none.
- Reverb and Glide
RetroVibes has one master effect in the form of reverb. You can only adjust the reverb amount with a single knob which will add space and depth to your sound. There is also a fun glide knob that will give you the famous glide sound when set on legato mode. You can set the voicing to legato, polyphonic, or monophonic.
RetroVibes has 48 presets for you to get inspired and use. The preset menu is well organized and maps each sound to a different category depending on its type (bass, lead, etc.). There is also a free version called RetroVibes Lite which only includes 16 presets.
RetroVibes is available on Windows and macOS in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
RetroVibes is a straightforward rompler plugin. What you see is what you get, which feels much more in line with what you’d expect from a traditional rompler plugin. The sounds are inspiring, and the addition of a detailed LFO for modulation is much appreciated. I’d say it’s worth trying the free version, and if you enjoy it get the full RetroVibes.
4. MonsterDAW Monster Bass (Free)
Monster Bass is a bass rompler plugin designed by MonsterDAW.
Monster Bass is all about the bass and low-end focused sounds. The sounds come in presets divided in three categories depending on the type of bass sound they offer. It’s an excellent choice for producers working in bass-centered styles of music like Trap, Dubstep, and Bass music.
- Wide range of sounds
Monster Bass includes sounds that can cover almost any genre of music. The bass sounds are split into three categories: synth bass, electric bass, and acoustic bass. In the synth’s bass category, expect to find Dubstep-appropriate wobble bass sounds and thick fuzzy bass sounds. The other two categories include bass sounds that can be used in any genre, from pop to rock music.
- Basic control
Monster Bass is exceptionally straightforward and includes just a handful of knobs to shape your bass sounds. There is an ADSR envelope for volume shaping and a filter for sonic sculpting. The filter has lowpass and highpass modes which add a bit of extra sonic flexibility.
The most hands-on feature of Monster Bass is easily the LFO. It’s a single LFO that can modulate a few different parameters. You can choose from a few different shapes, such as triangle, square, and saw, and send the LFO to destinations like pitch or expression to add interest and movement to your sounds. The source of the LFO can be set to aftertouch or mod wheel, something that adds a bit of life and expression to your sounds. You can tweak rate and depth knobs to fine-tune the effect.
- Low RAM
Because it’s such a simple plugin, Monster Bass requires minimal RAM to run. It requires a tiny percentage of your CPU, so you can run multiple instances of it without worrying about lags or freezes. This is another reason why it’s a great first choice for someone just starting out producing.
Monster Bass is available on Windows and macOS in VST and AU formats.
Monster Bass is a fantastic choice for a beginner producer who needs a quick and reliable synth to create bass sounds. The interface is simple and easy to learn, the sounds are varied and cover a lot of styles, and the low RAM usage means it can run on the cheapest machine without issues. Not much to fault here.
5. Electronik Sound Lab 808 Bass Module 4 (Free)
808 Bass Module 4 is a rompler plugin by Electronik Sound Lab that focuses on 808 sounds.
808 Bass Module 4 is a very cohesive plugin since it focuses entirely on 808 bass sounds. If you produce Trap music, Hip Hop, Electro-Pop, or any other modern genre, you’ll probably need an 808 sound. This plugin can help you get there with ease. The plugin is not free, but a free Lite version includes just 16 presets to get you started.
- Thick sound
808s are some of the most popular and influential sounds of modern music. Everyone knows what an 808 bass sound is, no matter what music genre you produce or if you’re familiar with the original drum machine of the same name. 808 Bass Module 4 offers a wide variety of 808s that cover the entire spectrum of what an 808 can be. You get fuzzy 808s or extremely deep ones, but the sound is always rich and thick.
- Sound sculpting
For sound sculpting, 808 Bass Module 4 includes a lowpass filter to roll off unwanted high frequencies from your 808s. There’s also an ADSR amp envelope to sculpt your 808s shape and ensure it fits your track. Finally, there is a distortion effect with a single knob that adds harmonic distortion to your 808. This is precisely what you need for your 808 to cut through the mix and be felt on all playback systems.
- Main controls
There are four knobs in the main controls panel inside 808 Bass Module 4. The glide knob will give you the legato glide feel many producers (including myself) are known for. There is a gain knob for adjusting the level of the 808 and two modulation knobs. The modulation knobs (rate and depth) control the LFO that modulates the 808 to add interest and variation.
Romplers are all about presets since they are sample-based instruments and can’t generate sounds from scratch. 808 Bass Module 4 passes the rompler quality test with flying colors since it comes with 318 presets. All presets are of high quality and cover a wide range of 808 styles and sounds.
808 Bass Module 4 is available on Windows 8.1 – 10 and macOS 10.13. or higher in VST, VST3, and AU formats.
808 Bass Module 4 is a highly versatile 808 tool. If you use 808s in your everyday productions, then this could be a worthy investment. The bank of 808s is broad, and the interface is simple enough for anyone to learn quickly. If you’re unsure, try the Lite version for free and see for yourself if this awesome little rompler can suit your workflow.
6. MonsterDAW Monster Synth (Free)
Monster Synth is a free rompler plugin by MonsterDAW.
Created by Agus Hardiman, Monster Synth is the ideal rompler synth plugin for beginner producers. The sounds are of excellent quality, and the interface is easy enough for anyone to learn.
- Versatile sounds
The sounds that come with Monster Synth are perfect for most contemporary electronic genres. They are divided into categories like bells, brass, pads, risers, weird SFX, and basses. The sounds are great and feel inspiring. They are particularly great for all EDM genres like Dubstep and Psytrance.
- Sound shaping
Monster Synth is a reasonably simple rompler, so there’s not much sound shaping to be done. You have access to an ADSR envelope, though, for basic sound shaping. There is also a dual-mode filter with a frequency knob to roll off unwanted frequencies and a glide knob to get legato effects. Moreover, a reverb knob lets you introduce reverb for space and depth. Finally, you can set the voicing to polyphonic, monophonic, or legato.
There is an LFO inside Monster Synth, which is how you can achieve some interesting sound design effects. You can assign it to targets like pitch and expression, and also map it to your mod wheel for some expressive control. Finally, you can set the rate and depth knobs to finalize the sound of the LFO.
Monster Synth is a very functional synthesizer since it requires low CPU usage, meaning you can run multiple instances of it and get no issues of lagging or freezing. There are also 100 presets, which are more than enough to get you started. However, the team at MonsterDAW is already preparing more to share for free soon.
Monster Synth is available on Windows and macOS in VST2, VST3, and AU formats.
Monster Synth is an excellent free choice for producers looking for their first synth. It has everything you are looking for in a rompler, like an easy to learn and simple interface, good quality sounds, straightforward sound shaping controls, and a good team behind it that will keep providing you with new presets.
G-Sonique X-Prog 4600 (Paid)
X-Prog 4600 is a modern rompler plugin by G-Sonique that specializes in Psytrance.
The overall design of X-Prog 4600 caters to Progressive Psytrance, Classic Trance, Minimal House, and many other similar genres that require high-energy leads and big pads.
- Amazing electro sound
X-Prog 4600 is a fantastic synth plugin for those who need a reliable and quick choice for Psytrance songs. The sounds are unique and surprisingly eclectic. There are thick lead sounds, evocative pads, experimental sound effects, and abstract textures. There are also fat bass sounds and transitional effects like risers. However, all the sounds are polished enough to inspire you and can be tweaked further for a more customized sound. Overall, there are over 172 presets included in X-Prog 4600.
The LFO inside X-Prog 4600 is very well built and provides some serious sound design options. The LFO can be set to modulate the sound’s volume, pitch, panning, and expression. In addition, you can adjust the depth and rate of the LFO to get the right effect and route it to your mod wheel or aftertouch for more expressive and evocative sounds.
- Multi-sample hard drive technology
X-Prog 4600 uses a smart multi-sample hard drive technology that saves your RAM data with high-quality sound interpolation. This means that your sounds will always be playback on the highest quality without sacrificing RAM for quality. It also means that your X-Prog 4600 will consume low CPU usage, keeping your processor light and free to work on other processes.
- Basic controls
The rest of the controls inside X-Prog 4600 are straightforward to use. You get an ADSR envelope for volume shaping, which you can use to turn sounds into pads or long, evocative patches. In addition, there is a space knob for adding reverb, a glide knob that gives you a legato effect, and a voicing bar for setting your patch to polyphonic, monophonic, or legato.
X-Prog 4600 is available on Windows XP or higher and macOS in VST, VSTi, and AU formats.
X-Prog 4600 is the ideal choice for producers that create Psytrance, Minimal, or Trance music who also need a simple synth with a quick workflow. The sounds are amazing and eclectic, and the experimental sound effects and textures steal the show. I’d recommend this to all producers, beginners, or experienced.
Romplers are a very reliable and easy choice for sound selection and production. While they don’t offer the in-depth sound design possibilities traditional synthesizers do, they have their place in a producer’s arsenal. They can be an easy way to start a project with familiar sounds or an excellent place to start when feeling stuck or uninspired.
This list is meant to help you understand what to expect when looking for your first rompler. However, even if you’ve been through some romplers before, this list can still help you get some ideas for new plugin choices and get you unstuck from a creative block.
Alvinos Zavlis is an artist/producer from Cyprus based in Bristol, UK. With three albums under his belt and plenty of singles, his catalogue covers a wide range of sounds, from hip hop and trip hop to IDM and experimental electronic styles, all fused together to create unique blends of sounds. He works as a freelance mixing and mastering engineer in Bristol for artists of all styles.