by Matt Tytel

Helm is the highest ranked virtual analog synthesizer on this year’s list for two reasons. Number one, it’s a brand new freeware synthesizer and not an updated version of an older synth. And number two, it is a bloody awesome VA synthesizer that is also fully cross-platform and open source. You can run it on almost any Windows, Mac OS or Linux based digital audio workstation (apart from Pro Tools and Reason), be it 32-bit or 64-bit. All popular plugin formats are supported, apart from RTAS.

Helm comes with pretty much all the basic functionality you’d expect to see in a standard VA, however it also includes a set of interesting bonus features such as cross modulation, unison, oscillator feedback, an arpeggiator, a step sequencer, polyphonic LFO and a formant filter section, among others. The GUI is very easy on the eyes and the control layout is quite user friendly. We also loved the external modulation section, which makes it a breeze to connect external modulation sources such as velocity and aftertouch to various synthesis engine parameters.

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