Best of 2020: Virtual Instruments

2020 saw a heavy focus on classic synth recreations, scoring collections and ever more advanced instrument designs. Here’s 9 of the best…  


1. Artistry Audio Origin X Modern Loop Engine

Artistry Audio Origin X Modern Loop Engine

This Kontakt-based instrument is the first from new kids on the block, Artistry Audio. And it’s quite a debut. With 1400 loops divided across 350 presets, it’s built to cover all kinds of musical bases from dance music production all the way through to film scoring. With an insane depth of sequencing, slicing and editing tools on offer not to mention an extensive FX section, you can mix and match all kinds of sound treatments, layer things up and even use the randomise function to come up with whole new ideas. There’s something here for pretty much everyone whether you just crack it open and get playing, or dive deep into what it can do.

2. Arturia Analog Lab V

Arturia Analog Lab V

Arturia’s V-Collection covers a large number of faithfully recreated classic synths and keyboards. For some years now, the company has also made Analog Lab, which draws some of the best sounds from across the collection together in a single instrument. The smart browsing interface in this latest version makes finding what you need easier than ever, and sounds are tweakable to your heart’s content. Easy to learn and use but with some awesome features it’s a great way to get into Arturia’s analog world.

3. UVI JP Legacy

UVI JP Legacy

Running inside UVI’s free Player or Falcon, this is a collection of four recreations of iconic Roland JP synths - the Jupiter 4, Jupiter 6, Jupiter 8, and MKS 80. With over 800 presets and more than 85,000 samples it’s a huge collection and sounds amazing, bringing the controls and instantly recognisable sound of classic Roland hardware to your tracks.

4. Native Instruments Komplete 13

Native Instruments Komplete 13

OK so this is cheating a little since it’s a collection of instruments, and a huge one at that. The sampled instruments got a big upgrade in 13, with a bunch of new string instruments, advanced session guitarist instruments and Mysteria for creating vocal textures. Super 8 is an FM synth, Starlight and Pharlight bring granular synopsis for scoring to Kontakt and this is on top of the massive amount of content and incredible range of instruments already in the package. Truly, a monster of a bundle.

5. UVI World Suite 2

UVI World Suite 2

UVI’s World Suite 2 uses over 65,000 samples for its 369 instruments, an amazing selection from around the globe that sound stunningly authentic. Whether you’re looking for specific instruments that would be difficult to locate in real life and even harder to learn and play well, or just browsing for new and interesting sounds, there’s a wealth of fascinating stuff to be found and explored here. Of particular interest is the Traveler section which gives you ready-made but editable performances that can be used as music beds or quick soundtracks, and everything syncs and meshes beautifully.

6. Arturia OB-Xa V

Arturia OB-Xa V

Recreating the classic Oberheim OB-Xa, a sound so familiar from the 80s, can’t have been an easy task. But Arturia excelled themselves with this version. Upgraded from the original, it adds 16 voice polyphony, 8 unison voices and a bunch of cool effects. Best of all it brings all those sounds that are again so popular - Stranger Things and other recognisable textures - to your setup. it’s perfect for scoring and all kinds of other music production.

7. Sample Logic Trailer Xpressions 3

Sample Logic Trailer Xpressions 3

Consisting of 28 Kontakt instruments and 1161 samples, this scoring instrument from Sample Logic is designed to help you build dramatic and dynamic soundscapes quickly and easily. Its tools let you stretch and morph samples to fit your desired pitch areas, and there are onboard effects to help things along. It’s a creative scoring tool that’s easier to use than some others, and has a wealth of options.

8. Heavyocity MOSAIC TAPE

Heavyocity MOSAIC TAPE

Heavyocity’s most recent addition to the MOSAIC family is all about bringing the sound and character of analog tape to your tracks. And not just via insert effects, but actually at the level of multi-instruments, with three fully independent sound sources per patch, all of which can be tweaked to your liking. It provides lush atmospheres, dynamic and moving sequences and ethereal soundscapes perfectly suited to the kinds of 80s-themed scores and soundtracks that are popular today.

9. Eventide Generate

Eventide Generate

A polysynth developed by Newfangled Audio, Generate combines several chaotic oscillators and lets you create everything from warm keys through rich pads, staccato bass sequences and complex textures. Drawing inspiration in part from west coast and Buchla synthesis techniques, it’s not your run-of-the-mill instrument, churning out highly unusual but very rewarding sounds. It even contains over 450 presets from highly influential composers and sound designers.



Hollin Jones was classically trained as a piano player but found the lure of blues and jazz too much to resist. Graduating from bands to composition then production, he relishes the chance to play anything with keys. A sometime lecturer in videographics, music production and photography post production, Hollin has been a freelance w... Read More


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