Best of 2019 (opens in new tab): There's been a wealth of great new software and plugins released in 2019. The theme for your favourites from the last year seems to be established firms breaking new ground. For instance, Reason 11 gets a significant nod, perennial favourite Arturia bags two of the final five places, while ValhallaDSP takes the top spot, as the reverb-master turns its attention to delay effects.
1. ValhallaDSP ValhallaDelay
ValhallaDelay is the company’s first proper workhorse delay, aimed at handling everything from bread-and-butter echoes to vintage tape emulations through to altogether weirder, creative effects. There are seven different delay modes, which all sound great. It all adds up to an exceptionally well-tooled processor, that excels at everything from subtle delays to esoteric ambient effects.
Read our ValhallaDSP ValhallaDelay review
2. Arturia V Collection 7
Still the best all-round vintage synth bundle on the market. Version 7 of the Collection adds Synthi V and CZ V, both of which add huge value to what was already a powerful group of tools. V Collection remains the definitive bundle of vintage synth emulations. There may be some plugins that do certain things better than Arturia’s version, but as an all-round package it’s very hard to beat.
Read our Arturia V Collection 7 review
3. Native Instruments Massive X
A hugely characterful, immensely powerful synth. Massive X is a fabulous instrument with real personality, that can do things no other synth can. Like its sibling, it specialises in epic, ear-twisting basses and leads, complex digital pads and textures, and mad sequences, but it sounds even bigger, bolder, wilder and more up-front, and grants access to plenty of genuinely new creative avenues.
Read our Native Instruments Massive X review
4. Reason Studios Reason 11
Reason has been on the back foot for some time now. However, Version 11 feels like the most attractive the DAW has looked in years. Whatever your preference, it offers a significant new step forward. The stock instruments and effects really shine in plugin form and Reason now feels ahead of the curve rather than behind it.
Read our Reason Studios Reason 11 review
5. Arturia Pigments
Known first and foremost for its dazzling and extensive V range of classic synthesiser emulations, Arturia has never actually built a software synthesiser ‘of its own’, as it were - until now. Ambitious, expansive and oozing quality from every pixel, Pigments easily earns a place at the top table of synthesis.
Read our Arturia Pigments review