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Synth (Analogue / Subtractive) Plugin by reFX
Vanguard by reFX is a Virtual Instrument Audio Plugin for macOS and Windows. It functions as a VST Plugin, an Audio Units Plugin, a VST 3 Plugin and an AAX Plugin.
VST, VST3 or AAX host software
Pentium class 2.0 GHz processor with SSE3 support
8GB of RAM (16GB or more highly recommended)
Display with 1024-by-768 or higher resolution
Windows 8, Windows 10, and Windows 11
Internet connection to download license
64-bit only
AudioUnit, VST, VST3 or AAX host software
Apple Silicon M1 or Intel 2.0 GHz processor
8GB of RAM (16GB or more highly recommended)
Display with 1024-by-768 or higher resolution
macOS 10.13 and later including macOS Ventura
Internet connection to download license
64-bit only
Copy Protection
My KVR - Groups, Versions, & More
259 KVR members have added Vanguard to 20 My KVR groups 304 times.
Not In Your MY KVR Groups
(or group limitation prevents versioning)
+20 in private groups

KVR Rank

Overall: 127   102   126

30-Day: 119; 7-Day: 137; Yesterday: 121

Vanguard 2 - The legend reborn. This is not just remastered. This is remade, enhanced, and improved.

New Features:

  • A new, cleaner Vector-Based UI:
    • Sharp and crisp.
    • Resize to what is convenient for you.
    • No matter the resolution of your screen, Vanguard 2 always looks good.
  • Ten new wavetables:
    • Async PWM.
    • FM Simple 1, 2, and 3.
    • Mirror.
    • Nasty 1 and 2.
    • Sinebend 1 and 2.
    • Yay.
  • Two new filter-types.
  • New delay-type.
  • A new reverb: The same reverb found in Nexus 4 (RutaVerb).
  • A new distortion FX.
  • Synced LFOs.
  • 136 completely new factory presets.
  • Advanced Librarian:
    • Featuring three columns for easy navigation.
    • Color-coded tags, bookmarks, favorites, and a dedicated location for user presets.
    • Easily go back a step (or two, or three, or more) - and forth again if and when needed.
    • Quickly find what you're looking for with instant sound preview, search-while-you-type, filter by category and tags, and much more.
  • All Vanguard expansion previously sold on reFX are included for free.

Vanguard 2 is compatible with existing Vanguard 1 projects and libraries. You can load your old beats into your DAW and load the sounds you've had before. Everything just works.

Vanguard 1 Feature highlights:

  • Advanced analog-modelling synthesis with 3 oscillators and up to 32 voices.
  • 31 different oscillators.
  • 3 low frequency oscillators.
  • 13 different filter types with resonance.
  • 2 ADSR envelopes with several modulation targets.
  • Amplifier section with drive.
  • Flexible and easy to use arpeggiator (not available in Vanguard Lite).
  • 16 step trancegate (not available in Vanguard Lite).
  • Built-in delay with four different types (not available in Vanguard Lite).
  • Built-in reverb (not available in Vanguard Lite).
  • Temporal effect parameters are tempo-sync'd to the VSTi host.

Latest User Reviews

Average user rating of 3.89 from 9 reviews

Reviewed By Boy Wonder [all]
December 5th, 2022
Version reviewed: 1.0.1 on Windows

I'm not familiar with the first Vanguard, so I can't compare them. Taken for what it is, Vanguard 2 is a powerful softsynth with a plethora of filters and interesting sounds. Its gray-on-gray lettering makes reading the controls difficult, though. Also, the lack of a mod matrix limits which controls can be modulated as only a few controls are hard-wired to the envelopes and LFO's. Maybe I shouldn't compare it to Thorn, Diversion, Serum, etc and just accept its limitations as they are. Makes it a hard sell, though.

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Reviewed By Piraino [all]
May 31st, 2022
Version reviewed: 1.8 on Windows

This was one of my favorite VST instruments. It's a horrible shame that they did not port this to 64-bit. I would really love to bring this instrument back into my arsonal of sounds. Instead it appears that reFX is on the greedy train concentrating on Nexus 4 instead of servicing the customers that got them to where they are today. Shamefull reFX, you should be full of remorse.

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Reviewed By Sendy [all]
May 21st, 2011
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Windows

I don't understand it - a good synth is a good synth, now and in five years time. And Vanguard is most definitely a good synth, maybe even an excellent one. With a sound somewhere between a vintage analogue and the C64's SID chip, and a character of presence all of it's own, Vanguard is an instrument capable not only of the much advertised big trance sounds, but also experimental, abstract pads and tones, chippy blips and bloops, oldschool sequences via it's arpeggiator... and the trance gate is useful well beyond the realm of trance music, combining with the arpeggiator in interesting and fun ways.

Vanguard features a highly fixed architecture, which is in many ways very limiting. You have three oscillators - each has it's own triangle wave LFO which can alter PWM, detune and the master filter's cutoff. You then have two envelopes, which have preset knobs to affect the patch's parameters in a hardwired way, such as cutoff, resonance, volume, PWM, detune, etc.

Throw on some classy effects which augment the sound rather than glossing over it - such as variable unison/spread, a very nice overdrive, reverb and delay... and then make the filters AND oscillators multimode, and you have quite a variety of sound, which will both require and inspire creativity.

To make up for this very fixed routing, the oscillators can make a variety of different shapes, and many of them respond in their own unique ways to the PWM parameter - we have Amplitude Modulated sine sweeps, synced noise, a strange digital burbling waveform which seems to work by turning on and off the digital bits in a logical way, as well as the old classics such as variable pulses, pitched noise, and Phase Distortion style morphing sines. Similarly the filter has a whole bunch of modes, including rare choices such as a resonant 6db lowpass, bandpasses feeding a waveshaper, and dual filters.

Layering these, and making careful use of the envelopes and LFO's, you can get some very cool abstract sounds, covering bass, lead, pads, effects, and videogame effects. The sound quality of Vanguard has been described as 'plasticky', and it can do that sound very well, although the sound has undergone a number of revisions, and going into the setup panel allows you to choose between a few different setups regarding antialiasing and oscillator versions. A lot of people liked the way Vanguard aliased, but it's nice to have the option for a more silky sound, if you so desire.

Typically I use Vanguard for abstract leads, SID inspired leads and pads, digital sounding effects, and arpeggios. At times I wish for more flexibility, for example, the modwheel is hard routed to raise the filter cutoff, and aftertouch will always bring in vibrato, but I've made a staggering range of sounds, and the sexy interface really pulls you in and makes you want to tweak.

All in all a very rewarding, and unique sounding synth, which looks and sounds like a solid object, rather than code. If you're looking for pure analogue emulations, look elsewhere, but lovers of SIDs and digital/analogue hybrid sounds should find the sound of Vanguard very enticing.
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Reviewed By bongodrums [all]
February 19th, 2006
Version reviewed: 1.5 on Windows

Can a GUI get any better than this? I think not!
This thing oozes quality all the way. An absolute gem.

Sounds: Big'n'fat are the order of the day here. With a simple twist of a knob, you can turn a mono sound into a big fat stereo sweep. Crank up the filter and get THAT 303 squelchy lead. IT has discreet control for overdrive and numerous (and quite odd) use of envelopes. There are quite a lot of base waveforms to use on the 3 oscs, but I find them too similar. However, it makes up for this in filter types, fx, arpeggiator, etc. The big filter sweeps reminds me a lot of the Korg Prophecy; it had that same huge sound.

GUI: Everything is laid out logically and for quick access, which is always a plus. Just click on an osc window to display a drop-down selection list. Quickly switch FX on and off for auditioning. As I've said earlier, the GUI is sexyness all the way.

Presets: There is quite a bit of diversity here, and there appears to be a bit of crossover to reFX's other synths, which is great in my opinion. This synth is very versatile.

This really is one of a handful of top-notch synths out there, free or otherwise. I place it in the same quality league as Novation's V-Station. Excellent stuff.
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Reviewed By 11011011 [all]
October 31st, 2005
Version reviewed: 1.5.1 on Mac

It was love at first sight with the Vanguard. I've had it since it was released, and have used it quite a lot. It's easy to program and has revealed itself to be an extremely versitile instrument.

The factory patches it comes with are very good, but I have to say so dance-focused that you may get the false impression that's all Vanguard is (very) good at.

In fact, I was recently looking at fancy new synths because some of their sound samples blew me away. I figured I'd play with my trusty big V a little before shelling out another $200+ and I was impressed. If you pull yourself off the beaten path, you can make really modern sounds that rival some of Albino's more interesting patches.

If you want to get a better idea of the limits you can take this amazingly well-designed synth, check out the "SOUNDSHOP" link at the reFX site. The samples of the patches are really eye-opening, particularly "Xenox Signature 2" (although you shouldgive a listen to all the bank samples). By the way, these sound banks are high quality, pretty inexpensive and at times simply wonderful.

reFX have added a few tricks since version 1.0.x which should be noted:

- A "VCS" knob. One simple little dial that controls how rich the sound is. My patches went from "cool" to "holy crap" with a quarter turn. This was almost like getting a whole new synthesizer in itself.

- The tracegate now supports stereo patterns. You can dial up your own ping-pong gate effects, very nice.

- Also with the trancegate, you can save and load "gate patches" from a right-click menu, which is really convenient.

User Interface: lovely, but a bit big. I like the extra space between thing, but the knobs are small on my big screen.

Sound: Excellent. Two caveats: 1) make sure you have at least 1 more voice than you think you need; 2) don't use 0ms attack or release (in most cases), back it down to 1ms.

Features: There's almost everything you could want in a synth in here. The arpeggiator could use the ability to customize, but this is my only feature gripe.

Documentation: don't need it, but it's good anyway.

Presets: Shipped with very good presets, but "dance-heavy". However, a quick visit to the "SOUNDBANK" (which you can also access using the "ROM Pack" link in the setup) will deeply satisfy.

Customer Support: I had a few questions with 1.0.x and they were answered almost immediately.

Value for Money: Excellent.

Stability: Version 1.5+ seems rock solid.
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Comments & Discussion for reFX Vanguard

Discussion: Active
6 October 2015 at 4:32am

Has it been discontinued? I can't find it on sale anywhere...

6 February 2019 at 8:24am

i dont see anything at all on their website, only nexus and vengence stuff for sale.

so i guess its no longer supported, as expected because its only made it to 32-bit.


4 January 2020 at 4:11am

Vanguard is discontinued.

21 September 2020 at 4:56pm

I asked today through a reFX support ticket wether it is somehow possible to purchase Vanguard legally. The response:

"Vanguard 2 will be releasing very soon. I don't have an exact ETA on its release though.
You'll receive an email once it's released since you're signed up for our newsletter. Shouldn't be much longer."

I even have a screenshot! Just can't attach it here.

22 September 2020 at 3:01am

That would be incredible.



5 December 2022 at 1:36pm

just bought vanguard 2 today on their site, so it's def out :).

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