This is a solid distortion unit, especially in its overdrive modes. It's nice that it comes in multi-band and single band options, which should be standard for distortion VSTs. It excels for the types of distortion used on drums and bass in drum and bass, but also works weirdly well for polyphonic/melodic distortion such as an electric guitar or epiano.
An intermediate-functionality sampler with a solid core sound (good pitching, envelope curvature, and filters). Supports drag-and-drop from your host's browser which is a critical function for samplers. It would be nice to have more looping options and more complex envelopes but for a free sampler it's unbeatable for most people's needs.
This synth is ancient, but I haven't found a better one for learning FM (phase modulation and frequency modulation are identical with sinusoidal operators - the DX7 was phase modulation, marketed as FM because FM is conceptually easier to wrap your head around).
How to pickup FM is one of the most common questions among electronic production communities. Most people make it much too hard for themselves by watching confusticating tutorials and starting with fully featured synths like Dexed. All the tutorials, user manuals, wikipedia pages in the world don't hold a candle to simply locking yourself in a room with a simple synth like our guy Panzer here.
There are only 4 operators, each operator's parameters are vertically lined up (making it easier to visualize what's going on), and schematics for each algorithm (the different routing configurations between operators) are right on the panel for quick reference. You have no excuse for not having learned FM, and this is unbeatable for learning FM on.
I didn't know dirty FM was a niche I was looking for.
Brzoza has an emphasis on gritty, dirty sounds rather than 80's funky basses or soap opera keys. It's easy to run into delicious mush and you can make lots of great faux-distorted leads and reeces. It's not the type of FM synth to chase the clear, bright qualities of a synth like Dexed, or a passing DX7 emulation; it's more for metallic grime. I love it for horrific dissonance.
The developer isn't kidding about its Juno inspirations. You can test out its faithfulness by dialing in a hoover sound, which it excels in making.
The core sound quality of Tyrell is a mixed bag, as it is based on solid analog modelling, yet it isn't effectively antialiased so you can come across some harshness in the high registries. This sometimes makes me want to close it out and use something else, but the foamy/creamy textures you get when moving its filters over more complex sounds keep me coming back. Aliasing aside, the oscillators and snappy envelopes are brilliant. Be sure to turn on its oscillator drift to go from a DCO Juno sound to more of an old school VCO Juno sound.
I'm reaching back into my old plug-in folders and some of these really stick out as being great beyond their time for old VSTs. The distortions may not fare well compared to modern freebies, but the two modulation plugs are indispensable in my collection of freeware modulation plugs. Particular the Univibe emulation, so creamy and lush, especially when played across your favorite chords.