Would you choose DIVA or Serum or something else?

Looking at sticking my toe into the synthesis pool so I’ve been at DIVA and Serum. I know just enough about sound synthesis to be dangerous, but would like to find a synth that would be a good way to learn. Both of these synths appear to be so deep that you would never be able to exploit all features.
My assumption is that you buy something like this to create your own sounds as opposed to just using the presets. Is that a valid assumption?

So far my impressions:
Pluses for DIVA - Good presets I would use
Minuses for DIVA - Can be hard on processor, UI a little daunting

Pluses for Serum - Easier to follow UI (like the graphs)
Minuses for Serum - Can be hard on processor, presets don’t seem to be as usable

Cost appears to be about the same around $190

For those of you that have either of these what do you like and dislike about what you have?
What is the learning curve?
Which presets do you tend to use?
How long did it take before you built a sound from scratch?

If you use something else, what is it and why did you choose it?

I would use mainly for pads, keys of various types.

Hey Steve,

there are a couple of synths I’d recommend to get your feet wet. First, there are three free ones that I’d use to start out

  • TAL-U-No: a reproduction of the good old Roland Juno 60. An easy synth for your first steps with a very simple and logical layout. Only one oscillator, so a bit limited, but you can still create pretty lush pads using the built-in chorus.
  • OB-Xd by discoDSP: a pretty good free reproduction of the good old Oberheim OB-X. This one has two oscillators plus noise, so you can get a bit wilder - and it gives you (a variant of) the famous Oberheim sound…
  • Surge - a great piece of software, not built to copy any “classic” directly but incorporating most synthesis engines you’ll need when starting out. It’s easy on the CPU unless you go really wild and sounds pretty good. It is my main workhorse for basic synth sounds.

As for the paid synth plugins, I’d start out with u-he Hive. Everything on one page, a clear fundamental logic, and very CPU efficient. If you want, you can also go pretty wild with Hive and create extremely complex and evolving sounds. It’s not an emulation of anything “classic”, and it seems more targeted at modern production needs, but you can get nice “classic” sounds from it as well with little effort.




Thanks @Torsten, I will check those suggestions out. I am assuming that when I find a good tutorial that the basic principles of sound creation are the same across all synths subject to the features of a given synth…

Exactly - I suggest you start out with the basics of subtractive synthesis, based on standard waveforms and get comfortable with waveform shapes, filtering and envelopes, and then work your way out to modulation, multiple oscillators, wavetables, funky things like ring modulation or phase distortion…

A great source of systematic synth training starting with the absolute basics is Syntorial - if you want to build a solid foundation and train yourself to start with a sound in your head and build it on your synth, it’s absolutely worth the price!




Torsten gives great advice as usual in terms of starting out.

If you are ready to take the plunge then DIVA is without a doubt one of the best subtractive soft synths out there, and with its mix and match approach to oscillators and filters from classic synths it covers a lot of ground, but it is very demanding (hence its name) in terms of CPU power. Hive is a more CPU friendly and covers a lot of ground itself, although I cannot get its filter to self oscillate like you can with DIVA.

As well as the tutorial Torsten points out, then all 63 articles in Sound On Sound;s Synth Secrets are online

That will keep you going for a long time. :slight_smile:

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Wow, thanks guys for the great info. I do want to get to the point where I can get a sound in my head and then create it.

When you take a break from your synthesizer studies you can have some fun with the free Minimogue VA.

I got it from Pluginboutique.com (which has provide me with a bunch of very inexpensive AIR products
such as $2 for Hybrid) but you need to make an account:

Here is another website to download it from: