Today we’ll bring you the best wavetable synth plugins available in 2022.
Many synthesizers are available today, either in the classic VST format or in physical hardware. Every modern producer should’ve come across one. On this list, we’re diving into the particularly unique world of wavetable synthesis and all the possibilities that come from its power of sampling and morphing sounds.
In a nutshell, here are the best wavetable synth plugins in 2022:
- 1. Parawave Audio Rapid
- 2. NI Massive X
- 3. Initial Audio Sektor
- 4. Vital Audio Vital
- 5. KiloHearts Phase Plant
- 6. Arturia Pigments
- 7. XFer Serum
How does wavetable synthesis work?
Wavetable synthesis is a method of sound synthesis based on waveforms created from an oscillator. A wavetable synthesizer can store many waveform cycles called wavetables, modifying and combining different waveforms to generate a characteristic sound or alter an existing one.
What is the difference between FM synthesis and wavetable synthesis?
An FM synthesis is based on different oscillators interacting with one another, also known as an algorithm. You can manipulate a signal through two or more oscillators (or operators), and they can create new layer sounds according to the amplitude of an input signal.
Wavetable synthesis does the same interactions and modifications, but with the addition of a periodic reproduction of single-cycle waveforms, tweaking each sound according to a particular form and dealing with the variations caused in each waveform. The number of possibilities is almost endless because you’re using the oscillator within the frequencies of any sampled sound loaded into the synth.
What is wavetable synthesis good for?
Wavetable synths are sought after by those who look for an exciting sound layer, either a pad or atmospheric patch, while also having a clean-sounding waveform.
These synths can achieve this cleanness because of how it aliases the wave-cycle, not letting undesired frequencies undermine the quality of the tone. It’s essential for sound textures to be as clean as possible, either in musical or sound design productions.
Is wavetable synthesis an analog synthesis?
Wavetable synthesis is based on periodic reproductions of a single-cycle waveform. This happens to any sound you import into the synth, so digital processing is required.
In this situation, the wavetables act as the electrical components would on an analog oscillator, comprising samples that include a particular number of waveforms.
What type of synth is wavetable?
Wavetable synthesizers are based on samples, in this case, the waveforms of any audio you’d insert on the instrument. The sounds can be morphed and altered according to the wavetables; it’s a synth dealing with sample audio files directly fed into the oscillators.
Top 7 Wavetable Synth Plugins 2022
1. Parawave Audio Rapid
RAPID is Parawave Audio’s attempt to bring a powerful polyphonic synth with a clean interface and controls.
This polyphonic hybrid synth has comprehensive synth manipulation tools required to do the most extreme modifications in a waveform based on an extensive eight-layer architecture. It will bring you the same powerful results on production or live performance.
The layering engine works smoothly and allows you to customize every aspect of a particular sound, bringing identity to your sounds. For this, you have clean oscillators capable of playing high-quality samples, each generating up to 8 unison voices and adding insert effects to your taste.
You can easily drag and drop modulation sources on any knob or slider, controlling the effect directly at the main interface. With this easy method, you won’t need to search for a hidden modulation window. This can be very helpful when working with many effects or parameters at the same time, especially for sorting them out.
Building harmonies and creating unique note sequences with the dynamic arpeggiator is as easy as it gets: separate each layer and play the series of notes in different modes, speeds, and patterns. You can even import and export MIDI file sequences and create patterns very quickly.
- Many effects
Each layer contains a separate FX chain with seven sortable slots with 18 FX types. And, of course, it has lots of control options to nail that tone you’re looking for. For instance, if you’re dealing with many modulators, you can quickly copy and paste all parameter settings from one window to another. You’re even able to copy a whole layer, stacking and combining different ones. All usual LFO controls are present, such as “Envelope” and “Cut-off”, and so are common FX such as EQ and Reverb.
- Fast workflow
Processing power is very important on a wavetable synth. Thanks to the fast preset browser, you can easily shape any sound you can think of without lags or crashes. You don’t need a complex setup to have that perfect sound, only a clever interface that works perfectly with your preferred DAW and CPU settings.
- Granular Synthesis
This oscillator mode creates tiny sound particles – called grains, hence the name – from your source sample and blends them. These tiny pieces are from one to 1000 milliseconds long, and act pretty much like an old film tape: grains are relatable to what frame images are to movies. The idea here is to have a much-refined control over the sample, respecting the duration of each segment. The final result is a fabulous texture, perfect for ambient and pads sounds – where the slightest detail is noticeable.
The plugin is available for Windows 7 or higher in 32 and 64-bit format, and macOS 10.12 or higher, 64-bit only. It comes in VST and AU formats.
Wavetable synths can be very overwhelming and full of controls, but not many can have such a clean interface as this does. The parameters and layers are there, just like any other wavetable synth would have, but you can modify and process any sound with extreme rapidness. It’s vital when producing to guarantee that creativity is not limited to extensive FX chains or difficult arpeggiators. RAPID is an excellent choice if you need many configurations for your sound with an intuitive workflow.
2. NI Massive X
Native Instruments’ Massive is one of the best-known examples of wavetable synth plugins, and this is its successor.
The X version of the classic synth brings a renewed and even more complex instrument, more powerfully than ever. Revamped oscillators offer you over 170 wavetables, the possibility to set two phase-modulation and ten different reading modes.
The complex routing system of this synth makes it possible to alter and switch between different inputs and outputs, reconnecting or bypassing each signal path in a colorful diversity. You can create audio sources directly via the oscillator and treat them just like any sound input, even sending them through new modulators.
- Gorilla Mode
The three oscillator sub-modes available – King, Kang, and Kong – can be of great help if you need extra fatness on the low-end scope. They can add aggression on any wavetable loaded, with “Over” and “Bend” controls. This is desired when you need to enhance the dynamics of a particular waveform, either to make it more noticeable n the mix or just to boost some low frequencies on your favorite preset.
- Performer Modulation
An entire section of the plugin is dedicated to the modulation pattern you need. You only have to draw it and be creative. Each pattern can be saved, stored, and edited at will, perhaps saving some hours tweaking knobs around. The possibility to assign them to specific parameters (and also trigger them from your keyboard if needed) is one of the reasons why this is one of the most complete synths available.
The complete control of every aspect of the main screen lies on the 16 assignable macro controls, which can be managed at your DAW. Any standard feature, such as pitch bend, mod wheel, or modulation, can instantly be set to whatever parameters.
- Dual oscillators
Massive X works so well thanks to the pair of oscillators, which brings the wavetables and modes a click away from you. Like the Gorilla mentioned above, each mode has a sub-mode offering different playback styles and their respective controls. The more you edit the parameters, the better you can shape the perfect audio signal to be manipulated.
- Four tracker mod sources
This feature lets you freely adjust the pitch or velocity-based modulation, while at the same time, the voice randomizer outputs a random value for each note triggered. It brings an analog feel to how the modulation will respond to such notes.
- Gorilla Mode
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.14, 10.15, or 11 (latest update), and Windows 10 64-bit only (latest Service Pack). It comes in VST, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats and doesn’t run in standalone mode. Intel Core i5 or equivalent and minimum 4 GB RAM recommended.
Massive X is an updated and reimagined version of the classic Massive, best suited to anyone who wants to push the limits of sound crafting. The most appealing part of this synth involves the abundance of controls available to alter any sound or wavetable, as well as the many ways you can make the modulators or each oscillator interact with one another. The workflow on this plugin is very smooth, thanks to a friendly interface and easy-to-find configurations in a somewhat familiar look.
3. Initial Audio Sektor
Sektor is a synthesizer created for those who want as many customization features as possible without using much of your system resources.
You can customize every visual aspect to bring the best workflow possible. Be it the background color, the whole skin of the interface, or just the color palette; these are all configurable options on this plugin. You can also customize your tools – such as the arpeggiator or sequencer – and add your samples to work with.
More modern “drag and drop” features are also present, making its working routine very fluid and illustrated. There’s even a “hover your mouse over” option, where the program will tell you precisely what is happening to each control instantly.
- Modulation options
Modulation envelopes, ASDRs, and LFOs can be routed to all synth parameters simply by dragging and dropping. It can be significantly more efficient to shift around these controls between windows and quickly copy values to one another. The Expression Page works jointly and gives you options related to velocity, aftertouch, and more.
- Factory Library
Over 750 unique presets are present and include a variety of genres such as EDM, RnB, Dubstep, and much more. You can edit each of the 200 factory wavetables via the built-in Wavetable Editor or even create your own from scratch by uploading any sample audio file.
- Heat Up 3 engine
This multisampling engine is ideal for handling different interactions between wavetables without weighing too much on CPU power. Even between the built-in effects, every interaction is processed with your machine’s performance in mind, so the overall sound processing won’t be affected.
- Make it your way
One of the best features of Sektor is how you can customize its appearance. It might sound luxurious, but it does make a difference to change the skin color so it can better fit your home studio setting. After all, producers spend a lot of time dealing with long exposure to computer screens, and the number of knobs, parameters, and information can be overwhelming to our vision.
- Modulation options
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.6 or higher (64-bit only) and Windows 7 or higher (64-bit only). It comes in VST and AU plugin formats. Minimum 4 GB RAM recommended.
A very customizable interface and a powerful engine optimized to bring the best out of this instrument are the two main reasons this plugin is interesting. It can be very unappealing to have loads of buttons and controls on a screen, especially for those starting to venture into the synth world. A wavetable synth shouldn’t be an exception, and all the customizations available transform this into a welcoming audio-shaping experience.
4. Vital Audio Vital
Vital’s synthesizer brings spectral oscillator warping to add new life to your wavetables.
Acting directly on a waveform’s harmonics, this technology can create drastically different tones and shapes from a signal source. Thanks to this simple tool that creates endless possibilities, what was already incredibly customizable just became even more so.
If you want to import your samples to create a wavetable, Vital’s pitch-splice and vocode converter are two great and easy add-ons to get even more specific on your sound design. You can also develop wavetables from scratch via the built-in wavetable generator or even directly from the text!
- Excellent oscillators
These oscillators have a shallow low noise floor and a sharp cut-off at Nyquist for almost no aliasing, creating the cleanest sounds with the best quality possible. “Nyquist” means that each periodic signal should be periodically sampled at a rate twice the size of your audio signal. So, in order to overcome this, a higher quality sampling is sought after on synths like Vital – and a cut-off might be the simplest tool you’d ever need.
- Microtonality at its best
This synth can load .tun, .scl, and .kbd files – which can alter and configure how the tuning’s used will perform -- and play in a microtonal setting without any troubles. A brand new tuning system can unlock new possibilities regarding how the samples are performing. This expands not only how you’ll play notes and frequencies, but also how to sample and interact with one another via the oscillators.
- Key-tracked LFOs
It’s possible to create key-tracked bass lines with this LFO setting, combining it with an audio-rate modulation and using your LFO as an oscillator modulation source. This enables you to instantly automate certain modulation parameters in relation to whatever notes are being played.
- MPE support
If you have a ROLI keyboard, a Linnstrument, or other MPE-compatible gear, Vital offers full support and controls. This way, you can add more expression to your sound and make use of dynamics the way you’re used to.
- Audio-rate modulation
The audio modulator kicks in when you have an audio signal or a parameter being varied and brings much more personality to your tones. The variations can be tracked down and edited in the most creative ways possible. The signal whose waveform is used to trigger is modulated accordingly, with extreme precision and character.
- Excellent oscillators
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.12 or higher, Windows 10 or higher, and Ubuntu Linux 18.04 or higher. All 64-bit only, with OpenGL 3 or higher. It comes in VST, AU, and LV2 plugin formats.
Vital Audio brings a different wavetable synth than most ones out there, especially regarding creating new sounds. Most do allow you to develop wavetables based on any audio files, but this is probably the only one on this list that can handle microtonality, text input, and effects like vocoder and pitch-splice too. The warping oscillator ensures that each harmonic will be shaped at your desire, and this is truly unique to find in a synthesizer.
5. KiloHearts Phase Plant
An award-winning semi-modular soft synth with many configurations and endless combinations suited for a demanding sound design professional.
At first, when you open Phase Plant, you’ll see a blank page and not much else. Although it can be pretty intimidating, KiloHearts ensures that this is a welcoming invitation to try it out and see what’s best for you. Of course, there’s a list of presets so you can get started if you want it.
The variations are almost infinite, allowing you to build a solid tone on that bass part or re-create the sound of a sword slashing through the ice for your movie. In any way, Phase Plant gives you the options and flexibility to do this, all in one box.
There are four signal generators present: Analog, Wavetable, Sample, and Noise. It’s possible to add as many as possible of these while switching between them simultaneously. Utility modules, such as groups, mix, and aux options, allow you to have even more freedom in designing your waveform.
- Load your snapins
The KiloHearts Ecosystem offers snapins between the three distinctive effect lanes on the main screen. Regular effect plugins that also work as modules in hosts, mixing and configuring them is as easy as it gets. They can be purchased individually or in bundles, but there’s a free option available at kilohearts.com. A per voice processing mode allows all the effects in that lane to each voice individually.
- Content banks
In addition to the wavetables and presets that already come with the plugin, you can quickly expand your library with banks, also available to purchase at kilohearts.com. It’s a good option if you require more LFOs or sources to work with, and they were all created by the team to best fit Phase Plant’s architecture.
- Drop-down menus
If you want to re-route the Generators or replace the sound targets for the modulation to work with, the menus are easily configurable. They will readjust every configuration needed in a heartbeat. No complex windows or parameters mean more creativity when you’re creating new sounds.
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.7 or higher and Windows 7 or higher. It comes in VST2, AAX, and AU plugin formats. A 2GHz or faster CPU and 1 GB RAM are required.
Synths may not always be very welcoming at first look, but it’s all about how you operate the controls. Your signal path, effects controls, and many more settings are visible to you almost as if in a DAW itself, even with effect lanes that resemble tracks in a project. KiloHearts knows this, and they brought an instrument qualified to deliver the most intriguing and specific sounds in a clear form.
6. Arturia Pigments
Combining classic analog and wavetable synths, this is a flexible and versatile plugin that gives you the power of every shade of sound synthesis.
Arturia is well-known among audio producers for its incredible-sounding plugins, such as the V Collection. Their product’s quality is undeniable, and here we can see why. This excellent polychrome synthesizer has colorful sound engines, effortless modulation, and studio-grade FXs.
Pigments mash up the capabilities of premium hardware and software, so you can effortlessly build, animate, customize, and refine complex patches in your very unique way. You can choose between 4 sound engines and utilize two simultaneously, while an extra oscillator and up to two layers of sampled noise are essential for your custom timbres to come to life.
- Professional FXs
There are 18 stunning FX algorithms available to make your sound truly unique. Bus A, Bus B, and Send Bus are present to include three FX algorithms at the same time. Be it inspired by a more vintage approach or requiring cutting-edge sounds; there’s more than enough for your sound design projects, from a Jun-6 Chorus to a tape echo.
- Massive modulation
Modulate any samples or wavetables simply by dragging and dropping. Nowadays, it’s a regular feature on most synths, but that’s precisely the kind of easiness needed to demystify such incredible instruments. It also showcases how well this software handles processing sound synthesis.
A powerful sequencer that can deal with arpeggios, advanced randomization, scale quantization, and polyrhythms never like before. This tool is essential to bring the most out of a simple cycle wave, and the endless editing possibilities regarding automation.
This feature is relatively recent and of great addition. It allows you to create versatile frequency modulation behavior between both active engines, expanding the sonic abilities to transform sounds the way genres like dubstep, drum & bass, and more require.
- Distortion module
A combination of 16 modes of distortion can bring the desired amount of grit for your production, all with a built-in filtering option. This is perfect to dial in that smooth dynamic range on certain frequencies, without compromising the rest of them on a sample file.
- Expand comb filter
The classic comb filter is now upgraded to three modes: LP6, BP6, and HP6. Each can filter out specific frequencies in the feedback loop and expand control over the comb filter, bringing a simulation of the natural sonic behavior of acoustic instruments.
- Professional FXs
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.13 or higher and Windows 8.1 or higher, 64-bit only. It comes in VST, AAX, AU, and NKS plugin formats. A 2.5 GHz or faster CPU, Open GL 2.0 or higher, and 4 GB RAM are required.
The multitude of ways you can tweak a waveform to your liking is incredible on this software. The variety of FXs, allied with the engines available, create a platform to build and shape almost any wavetable precisely the way you want it. As mentioned earlier, the best sides of both worlds of synthesis – analog and digital – are present, ensured to deliver the highest-quality possible samples to your productions.
7. XFer Serum
A classic among wavetable synths, XFer Serum, remains one of the most popular choices regarding this kind of synthesizer.
The built-in Waveform Editor can load any audio files, with many ways to analyze and break them apart into more waveforms, if needed. Whether a single-cycle waveform or many at once, the possibility to morph between various wavetables using standard linear interpolation or harmonic/spectral morphing is up to you.
Suppressing artifacts with ultra-clean oscillators is a significant feature here, mainly because they work with a very high precision of resampling. In other words, your aliasing will be as perfect as it should be. Serum got that covered using SSE2 instructions to bring this high-quality playback without making too much of an effort on your CPU.
- Real-time wavetable manipulation
In addition to moving through the set of wavetables, you can manipulate the waveforms in separate, real-time warp processes. FM/AM/RM/Oscillator Sync are possible ways to alter the audio, including the “Remap” modes, in which you have a graph editor for drawing your custom table manipulations.
- Filter types
Serum includes all filters found in LFOTool and some new ones. Any FX like flanger or phaser can key-track the musical notes you play, while dual filter types let you morph between two or more filter types.
- Advanced unison
Stacking a single oscillator to use up to 16 voices is not a problem here. These oscillators have several unison advanced parameters, and stacking settings allow for note-layering and fuller-sounding single notes.
- Modular modulation
Simply by dragging and dropping, you can reassemble routings and set up complex modulations in an easy way. The possibility to add LFOs or envelopes is here, too, aside from the effects you want to add.
- Many starters to choose from
Serum includes about 450 presets and 144 wavetables, each separated by its category. They have a great range of quality – from ambient to apocalyptic sounds. You’ll never be disappointed.
- Real-time wavetable manipulation
The plugin is available for mac OS 10.11 or higher and Windows 7 SP1 or higher, 64-bit only. It comes in VST2.4, AAX, and AU plugin formats.
A comprehensive collection of sound-shaping tools, Serum is for quite some time now one of the most popular choices for a wavetable synth. With such easiness and fluid response, the way it processes sounds makes it as appealing as any other modern competitor would. The built-in suite of effects, wavetable manipulation forms, and the very clean oscillators are some of the reasons why most sound designers prefer XFer’s take on this particular instrument.
Synthesizers have been around since the late 1960s, and they have changed the way we create, listen, and experiment with music. Many musical genres depend on this instrument to achieve a particular timbre and develop the intended atmosphere, from EDM to new wave.
Although there are a few ways to create a sound synthesis, today, we explored only one form: the wavetable. We learned that it requires sample-based oscillators to achieve that precise characteristic, and all of the examples shown here can deal with it wonderfully.
If you’re looking for a classic wavetable synth, either XFer Serum or Native Instruments’ Massive X can deliver the result you expect. Massive X is the newer version of the classic synth that brings many more features and powerful resources than its predecessor. At the same time, Serum remains a serious competitor that is kept updated and fresh to this date. Both plugins have been around for quite some time and are known today as standard models that deal with this particular synthesis very well.
Synths can sometimes be overwhelming, especially considering the number of controls and options available for tweaking. It might be worth looking at Initial Audio’s Sektor if you want a clean look with the same processing power. You get almost the same options as similar plugins, but with the advantage of customizing every aspect of the appearance – be it a new background color or just a new skin to freshen things up.
Arturia’s Pigments is a powerful option that can deal with up to two engines from the four available. Up to two layers of sampled noises make everything as complex as possible while retaining an excellent aliasing quality. It’s also possible to dial modulation tones between both engines and filter undesired frequencies with the extended comb filter.
Vital Audio’s Vital deserves mention here because it’s the only plugin that supports microtonal tunings that can be easily imported right at the main interface. Also, it’s the only plugin that supports MPE compatible gear, like ROLI keyboards. This expands the possibilities of sampling by a lot.
Never forget: the main objective is to nail the perfect software for your needs. Synths have many options and configurations, so choosing the appropriate plugin for your workflow is essential to avoid getting lost in many technical issues.
See you next time!
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Amps & Preamps:
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Processing & Sound Design:
Eduardo Cardoso is a musician and audio producer based in São Paulo, Brazil. He studied both music production and theory in college and has successfully launched his career as a solo artist in 2021. With over 10 years of experience with the music business, he currently acts as a session musician, music producer, audio editor, and content creator.