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Synth (Analogue / Subtractive) Plugin by Synapse Audio
Newer Version:
DUNE has been replaced by: DUNE 3
DUNE by Synapse Audio is a Virtual Instrument Audio Plugin for macOS and Windows. It functions as a VST Plugin and an Audio Units Plugin.
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DUNE is a subtractive/virtual-analog type synthesizer which introduces new, innovative features.

The differential unison engine (DUNE) takes the concept of subtractive synthesis to the next level, by allowing full control of each unison voice. This greatly extends the range of possible sounds, reaching deep into FM and Wavetable synthesis.

Whether you're looking for lush pads, fat basses, punchy kicks, cutting leads, multi-layered pads and textures, complex FX sounds or morphing - anything is possible in Dune.

Some key features include:

  • The differential unison engine ('Dune'), giving extensive modulation abilities.
  • A strong synthesis core housing alias-free oscillators and warm, analog-sounding filters.
  • An innovative arpeggiator, with a creative mode that facilitates composing new melodies.
  • Vast range of possible sounds, not only covering analog type sounds, but also FM, Wavetable synthesis and completely new realms.
  • A high-quality effect unit including Reverb, EQs, Delay, Phaser, Flanger and Chorus.
  • Two factory banks filled with patches made by experienced sound designers.
  • Integrated patch browser and patch categories like Bass, Lead, Pads etc. for fast searching.

Technical Specifications:

  • 2 Oscillators with Osc Sync, Pulse Width, Ring- and Frequency Modulation.
  • Sub Oscillator.
  • FAT knob for both oscillators, each generating 7 detuned oscillators.
  • Oscillator waveforms comprise Sawtooth, Pulse, Triangle and a wavetable.
  • The wavetable contains 69 additional waveforms which can be modulated to obtain Wavetable Synthesis type patches.
  • 3 FM Modes including FilterFM.
  • Noise generator with brightness control.
  • Multimode Filter with Lowpass, Bandpass, Bandstop, Highpass and combo types.
  • 3 LFOs with Sawtooth, Pulse, Triangle and S+H Noise.
  • 3 ADSR envelopes with additional parameters in the modulation matrix.
  • Arpeggiator with 7 different modes, including the new creative mode "Dynamic", which adapts sequences according to how many/which keys are being pressed.
  • Mono-Legato Mode with Glide.
  • Complex modulation matrix, which can not only modulate the front panel knobs but includes many additional parameters for experts; additionally the ability to modulate MM Slots by other MM slots.
  • Host Tempo Sync for the Arpeggiator, all LFOs and the Delay Unit.
  • Up to 8 unison voices, which can be further controlled by the mod matrix.
  • Comprehensive, high-quality effect section with Distortion, two EQs, Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Delay and Reverb.
  • All patches can be sorted and browsed by categories (Bass, Leads, Pads etc.).

NOTE: The DUNE technology multiplies the basic synth features by a factor of 8. This means there's actually 24 oscillators, in FAT mode up to 120 per note. Same for all other features; it is possible to e.g. have 8 different filter types in parallel for a single patch.

Latest User Reviews

Average user rating of 4.67 from 9 reviews

Reviewed By fisherKing
April 22nd, 2012

DUNE is the latest addition to my arsenal; am extremely picky about the plugins i have (i recently deleted two very-popular synth plugins, both excellent, but not what I personally needed); I only keep what i use…(am an avowed minimalist).

What I need most is presets, lots of them. Lots of USEFUL presets.

My workflow goes like this: I open a custom template in Logic, start making music. SIMPLE. I want nothing interrupting my workflow. Once I'm on my way to a worthwhile track, I will THEN modify a sound, customize things. I just want a lot of great starting points.


The architecture is excellent: no layers, pages to click thru, no scrolling. Everything is right there; the GUI is nothing much to look at; instead it is useful. (BTW, is there a way to 'lock' the effects panel so it's ALWAYS there? I can't see any reason to look at a mini-keyboard…I have a real one right next to my mac; please give us a way to hide the keyboard panel).

I can tweak, customize sounds without much thought; this is a very intuitive synth. And there are a great-many things to tweak. (I need to explore the modulation matrix more, seems pretty extensive).

Ultimately, it's the sound that matters. Listeners don't care about what DAW, what plugins we use; it's the sound (and of course, the song) that matters. And DUNE sounds great: Clean, clear, well-defined. Noisy when I need that, lush when I want that. Great for leads, pads, fx...

I feel that I can make a whole song with this (and did, in fact, with just the demo, when I first tried DUNE out).

This is EXACTLY what I want from a synth; to be versatile, and rich (as I am versatile, and want to be rich :-) )

I want nothing to get in the way of music-making; no extreme learning curve, no constant need to check the manual; nothing that ISN'T intuitive, direct, obvious.

So am very happy, and will be using the plugin a lot. PLUS it runs as a 64bit AU (thanks for that).

I rarely find anything worth 10 stars, but DUNE qualifies. It's a 'must-have'.

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Reviewed By Aiynzahev
February 27th, 2012

I planned to review D.U.N.E months ago, but only after spending many many hours with this synth do I really feel confident I can offer any useful insight.

At first glance it may seem that D.U.N.E is a fairly standard three osc, one filter, three envelope and three LFO per voice affair with unison. However this is not at all the case.

D.U.N.E stands for Differential Unison Engine, and what this does is significant for a few reasons to "get" what D.U.N.E is really about. What is so useful about this feature is that it is both not unison and unison at the same time. Unison on most synths is just a multiplication of voices, D.U.N.E can do that too.

You can think of it as an eight layer synth controlled from a single a single matrix, the brain of the synth if you will. So if you have three envelopes per voice for example then with all voices active you have twenty four in total. But that's the beauty of this design. If you activate all eight voices you still only have three envelopes, you actually have twenty one more potential envelopes. Unless you specify otherwise in the mod matrix, all voices will respond to all envelope and LFO routing the same. Then you can simply adjust one for a specific voice.

Its a good middle road between complexity and ease of use. There are some draw backs though. For example, you may change the speed of any LFO for any voice, but you must use more mod slots to do this and you cannot select the LFO waveform from the mod matrix, so you only ever have a choice of three LFO wave forms. You also cannot specify from the matrix whether the LFO for voice four for example resets or syncs. This can only be done from the front page. What this means in effect is once you get past using three LFO's you can then choose to modulate any voice with anyone one of those three and alter the the speed and phase of the LFO for that voice but nothing else.

It can be limiting, but at the same time it really helps to keep things moving. Too much complexity can just overwhelm people.

Now as for the OSCs themselves they are very good. D.U.N.E has a nice strong sound. Its smooth at the same time as it is sharp. Its difficult to describe, but I have been thinking for a while about its sound. Some have described it as flat and lifeless. Interestingly I can see why people would use those descriptions and at the same time disagree with what is meant. While I would say that the synth sounds flat and still I would not use the term lifeless. Its got a precise sound, but its not clinical, I would say its got a tight and focused sound but its not thin. Its not overly aggressive and its not overly soft either.

This is just my opinion, but after a lot of listening and experimenting I think D.U.N.E sounds just right for a lot modern electronic music. If you listen to some of the latest tunes people are favouring a lot of less agressive sounds. Not so much analog sounding, but not harsh digital sounding either. I am thinking for example of Yahel's pop star remix on Oakenfold's Four Seasons. Again this is just my opinion, but D.U.N.E to me is a new and interesting flavour and I think it sounds perfect for a lot of the new sounds being used. It can't do everything though. If I wanted an analog synth I would either buy one or buy an emulation. When making dance music you don't always want a largo overwhelming analog style sound.

However, while I don't always want the drift, dirt and instability of analog sound I do like to have decent analog styled filters for some things, what is nice is that D.U.N.E gives you a choice of lower CPU-consuming filters and Analog modeled filters, which sound lovely in my opinion and really match the rest of the synth in terms of sound character well.

The wave-tables give a huge expansion to the sound. They are all good, they are not always this good with every synth. You should read the manual about the wave-tables, you can do wave sequencing but there can be clicks, you have to work with it. If you want to scan through the waveforms though you can to a degree and its quite smooth depending on which waveforms you scan through. At about the centre of the table there are around 10 waveforms that are perfectly sequential in their harmonic content and are perfect for scanning.

I think Synapse-Audio have done a really good job with the effects, Especially the phaser which operates in three modes. The delay has a diffuse mode which is on of the better sounding delays out there. I expect it inverts the phase of one channel as it gives an wide stereo sound to the delay. It works just beautifully on a trance pluck for example. The reverb is good and here they give you a good choice. I think there are 5 algorithms, the first two are CPU savers, and they sound pretty good.

Most of the time unless I am looking for something specific, if I put the effects on I decide to keep them on, and apart from the reverb I might not really opt to add a third party effect, which says a lot. I also want to praise Synapse-Audio for their distortion algorithms. This might sound strange, but they sound excellent without sounding analog. Some people may think that analog distortion is the warm kind whereas digital distortion is harsh. So it either sounds analog or harsh. This is not true. In my opinion D.U.N.E.'s distortion fits the rest of its sound qualities perfectly, it doesn't try to sound analog but it does sound good.

Its obvious by now that I like D.U.N.E. I've always thought it had something special to offer in terms of sound and the feature set is great. I love how easy it is to set up complex moving patches. One thing I really appreciate is you don't have to delve into its complexity to get good sound. It sounds great with just a typical subtractive set up, meaning you really could just program simple patches and get years of good use out of it, and yet at the same time when you put the work into DUNE you really get great results, and that is a rare quality.

Finally, I want to add that giving it a 10 does not at all mean I think it is the greatest be-all and end-all synth or that it is perfect. My rating of 10 reflects how much of a place DUNE has in my set-up. It means I find it to be an integral part of my set-up, one which I wouldn't now want to be without.

Update 5/8/2012

adjusting the score to 8. Although I like the lowpass filters a lot I do not find the hp/bp/comb to be as good.

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Reviewed By muLperi
December 28th, 2011

You may think that you don't need another subtractive synthesizer... but I suggest you try the demo version!

Developers have clearly paid special attention in making the interface simple but effective. Just like in Sylenth1 - you only have the most essential knobs in front of you and even though it may not look like much, it really is well enough.

What sets DUNE apart from the competition is it's special feature where you can do (modulate) whatever you want with the selected unison voices from 1 to 8. I'm only starting to get it myself and see all the possibilities but it really adds a whole new dimension to the synth.

In about 2 seconds you can create a lush, panning multioscillator analog sweeping beauty pad or nice pwm lead (for example). It actually has some patches that sound a bit like physically modelled.

It comes with the most essential FX. 2 EQs for fine sculpting the sound, reverb, delay, chorus/phaser and distortion.

And a very capable arpeggiator!

LOTS of usable sounds and 64bit compatibility both Mac and Win. (VST / AU)

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Reviewed By rob_lee
March 30th, 2011

User Interface

I love the UI of the Dune synth, i was on the beta team from the start and only in the last 2 month or so before release did we get this lovely sleek looking UI. Everything is pleasing on the eye and navaigation is so simple.


The sounds you can get out of Dune are amazing.Right from the off i was getting the Virus TI like sounds and better. I did some factory sounds for Dune during the beta test stages and also a commercial bank of 128 sounds for this synth.
The Dune synth itself doesn't take long to master and everything such as the mod matrix and other features are well organised and well placed for easy sound programming and ease of use. You can get fat unison trance leads to lush pads using the Dune sound engine.. Too many features to mention so i'd recommend you try the synth out for yourself just so you see just how easy this is to use.


Way too many to list.. way way too many. Take it from me that this synth is packed to the rafters with special features it just does all sorts :-)


I learned how to use this synth without a manual at the time of beta testing but there is a great pdf manual online.


Top notch throughout.. There are great sounds to be found in Dune from the beta test team and i believe there are other banks available apart from my own to purchase seperatly.. Factory presets are just great.

Customer Support

Perrrrrrfect.. Can praise the developer enough. Excellent guy and a great professional. 10/10

Value For Money

I got it free but i'd say it's excellent value for money.


This synth has never ever crashed on me, both 32 and x64 versions have been rock solid.
I recommend this synth highly to any professional studio owner or hobbyist as you won't be at all disappointed. This thing rocks and i would give it 11/10 if i could.
I'll be doing more presets for Synapse products soon.. Just get Dune you'll love it.


Rob Lee

Music Production,Sound Design
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Reviewed By elipsis1
February 18th, 2011

DUNE is simply stunning. The sounds can be very complex, yet there is great simplicity in using it and tweaking parameters.

The MOD matrix is VERY powerful, lots of options available.

I was amazed at how quick and easy this synth is to program.

The CPU usage is very low in my opinion, I have used it on a Pentium D, as well as an intel i7 quad core.

Low bass notes are very defined, you can really get some nice deep basses out of this synth.

It is also very stable, the only reason I gave it a "9" for stability was an anomaly caused when Ableton Live somehow got set to 22kHz sample rate, and DUNE made horrible crackling and distorted sounds. This may have been related to the system I was using, once I corrected the sample rate, all was good.

Now that I think about it, Dune is very stable and I am modifying my score to a 10.

Great Synth! And, at $139, it is a VERY good deal! Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
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