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Best Pad VSTs

Want to jump straight to the answer? Our choice for the best Pad VST is Omnisphere 2 by Spectrasonics!

Atmosphere and body are pieces that can define the mood of a song. Originally organs ruled the way people would create a steady drone to their music, and eventually it morphed into synthesizers and pads. So many artists and musicians have used pads that it has become universally accepted and used in almost every genre. You can find it in pop, rock, melodic hardcore, lofi beats, rap, religious music, pretty much anything. For your writing and recording process, you want to have the best quality you can with the best pad VST for you. 

Quicklook: Best Pad VSTs

What To Look For When Choosing a Pad VST

For our list today, we wanted to mention all of the pieces that are normally overlooked in Pad VSTs. A plugin can sound great but not be the quite right fit for you yet, that is where factors like these come into play. 

Pricing

The pricing of synthesizers are all going to be about the same. There aren’t really any quality pad VSTs that will run under $100 (barring some sort of sale or discount). But you get what you pay for and with each option below, you are looking at some of the best synth/pad VSTs there are. 

Compatibility – System Requirements

A synth can pull a lot of CPU power depending on the program and how much you have going on with it. If you are working with it solo, you should run into no issues. I would say that if you get the sounds you want and are not planning on changing anything, commit the changes and deactivate the plugin just to save power during the mixing phase. 

DAW Compatibility

All of these plugins have been built to be as versatile as possible. Every major DAW should be able to run these VSTs as long as they are up to date. 

Frequency of Use

The best part of these pad VSTs is that they are able to create many more sounds. From soundscapes, to leads, to arpeggiators, you name it, these synths can probably make it. You won’t be stuck with a one trick pony. 

Skill Level

Generally working with synths, you want to have a decent knowledge of how to create and shape the sounds you’re working with. With all of the pads we are looking at, we suggest making 

7 Best Pad VSTs

Finally here are our choices for the Best Pad VSTs (in no particular order). 

1. Circle 2 – Future Audio Workshop

Circle 2
Circle 2

The presets that come with Circle 2 by Future Audio Workshop will set you up for success. You can even check out this video from Splice that shows how to make a wobble pad in Circle 2. Even if you only use it to get you started , you can see how soft of a sound you can make with Circle 2, showing just how wide a variety of sounds you have at your fingertips. 

Want to learn more about Circle 2 from Future Audio Workshop? We did an entire review on it that you can read here!

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
  • Price:
    • Total Price on Plugin Boutique: $129
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Logic

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.9 and higherWindows 8 and higher

2. Zone – Audiaire

Zone
Zone

Zone has been regarded as one of the overall best digital synths out there today. Audiaire put their heart and soul into creating this because the raw possibilities are fantastic. From the premade waveforms to the grid automation, you have so many options available. There are also multiple pad presets available on Audiaire’s site specifically for Zone that provide incredible atmospheric sounds.

Check out our review of Zone here to get a more in-depth look at the capabilities of this synth.

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
  • Price:
    • Total Price on Plugin Boutique: $115
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Pro Tools

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory2 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
2 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.9 and above (64-bit only)Windows 7 and above

3. Omnisphere 2 – Spectrasonics

Omnisphere 2
Omnisphere 2

Omnisphere is one of the largest synths imaginable with a library of over 14,000 sounds to choose from. Almost any sound you can think of is represented in this plugin. It can handle creating sounds of harsh melodies as well as the warmest and deepest pads imaginable. With the amount of presets, you can select sounds without needing to change a single thing for it to fit into your track.

  • Who’s it for? Beginner and above
  • Price: $479
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Studio One

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory8 GB RAM
More recommended 
8 GB RAM
More recommended 
Operating System10.11 and higherWindows 7 and higher

4. Serum – Xfer Records

Serum
Serum

Serum is known for its creative sounds and pads. It contains many customizable options from wavetables, to oscillators and a plethora of built in effects. Not only do you have all of these capabilities with the initial program, but you can purchase additional presets for so many different genres. You can trust to make some heavenly pads with Serum.

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
  • Price:
    • Total Price on Plugin Boutique – $189
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Cubase

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory8 GB RAM
More recommended 
8 GB RAM
More recommended 
Operating System10.10 and laterWindows XP and later

5. Straylight – Native Instruments

Straylight
Straylight

For suspenseful and edgy sounds, there is nothing better than the sounds from Straylight. Native Instruments is great at creating soundscapes and moods with all of their VSTs.

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
  • Price: $199.00
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with FL Studio

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
6 GB Recommended 
2 GB RAM
6 GB Recommended 
Operating System10.12, 10.13, 10.14, 10.15Windows 7, 8, 10

6. Pigments 2 – Arturia

Pigments 2
Pigments 2

Pigments 2 was built to be modular and allow for dynamics in as many ways as possible. This is in addition to the 3 page workstation that helps you focus on different sections at each point in the Synth, Effects, and Sequencer pages.

Want to see a more in depth look at Pigments 2? Click Here to see our review!

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
  • Price:
    • Total Price on Plugin Boutique: $199.00
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Reason

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
1GB Free Hard Disk Space
4 GB RAM
1GB Free Hard Disk Space
Operating System10.11+Windows 7+

7. Flow Motion FM Synth – Waves

Flow Motion FM Synth
Flow Motion FM Synth

Flow Motion is built with 4 powerful oscillators that you can mix together to create a long list of sounds. You can add them together to get any sort of pad from gritty to atmospheric. It comes with modulatable effects and over 1000 presets to choose from.

  • Who’s it for? Intermediate and above
  • Price: $99
  • DAW Support: All popular DAWs supported, works well with Reaper

System Requirements: 

MacWindows
Memory4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
4 GB RAM
8 GB recommended 
Operating System10.7 – 10.14Windows 7, 8, or 10

Motion of the Ocean

Pads can make up almost any portion of a song. They dwell in the background and add body and resonance, they can push to the forefront to give the song presence, they can just sometimes be that little piece of a chorus that is missing and ties it all together. You will not always need to have your pads pushed to the forefront of your mix, I would actually advise against it. But even mixed lightly in the background, a pad can transform your track from sounding empty to being full and lifelike. 


If you found this information helpful and are wanting to take a look at more lists of plugins like this, click here to see our full catalog of plugin reviews. 

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