VST instruments with minimalist # of parameters

Lately I’ve been really inspired by working with constrained mobile environments like nanoloop and sunvox. One of the things that’s refreshing is that there are just a few synths with a very small number of parameters. This lets you get very familiar with exploring every last bit of parameter space. By contrast, I find setting up a VST and picking out parameters to automate from a list of like 300 or so in renoise kind of an inspiration killer. Don’t get me wrong, I like to tweak stuff, it’s just that it seems impossible to explore that many degrees of freedom in a lifetime (it’s also not aesthetically pleasing to be navigating around 300-item drop down lists).

Is there an equivalent sortof minimalist VST kit out there anyone would recommend? I’m looking for a set of VSTs (or maybe one) with high sound quality, low CPU FM / waveform / wavetable set of synths and a minimalist set of parameters. I’ve been trying to make zebralette fit the bill, but even that has quite a lot of parameters (no FM either).

This is such a gem!! Its one of my favs, and “all the time,” I am using this…


Yes, “it has FM,” but its got the most, “unique,” implementation of FM, that I have ever seen.

Edit = btw, you will not be able to load wavetables into this. I am not sure if your post is asking for that…

It does have waveforms, its got oscillators and all, but you just can not load your own oscillator.

Fabfilter One sounds excellent, and only has about 20 paramaters.


Most of the times you just want cutoff, resonance, lfo & adsr settings… I use the search field option for those, it can be irritating having to go through a long list if they are labeled differently. Maybe Renoise could display the list of parameters in a different more immediate way for better overview?

For some VSTi it’s easy, because the parameters have obvious names (etc. filter cutoff), but some of them (like Tyrell N6)… I couldn’t even find oscillator tuning!
If you are looking for VSTi with minimum set of parameters, I suggest Charlatan (only oscs, filter, LFO and envelopes). I’m sure there will be many freeware wavetable synths with just the envelopes and filters, but I’m concerned about their sound quality.
Perhaps some “simplified” version of Instrument Automation where just the most used parameters will be tweakable? (I don’t use much more than filter cutoff or resonance, tune, LFO speed or depth, volume, PWM…) or to sort the parameters from the most used to the most awkward ones?

I spend quite a bit of time re-theorizing music theory that I’ve studied in the past,
so when I finally do get to patch making and making every sound fit, I like going for the kill stroke and not spend aeons in flux.

I’ve probably logged about 42 hours using Curve vst.

  • Currently my go to synth and I remember the functions after not using it for awhile, there’s a permanent mouse hover style info box in the bottom right if I don’t remember the functions, however this info box could be more descriptive.
  • Patch saving has a social approach to it, you could write notes include a profile pic, link your social sites, all this with option to sync or not to a public patch database.
  • Single screen is what I like the most, check out their site, it looks like it might meet your needs.
  • I don’t know if their feature voting is really being taken into account but I voted for OSC Sync which is second on the list, “Wavetable-like scanning / Multiple waves” is third.

Sonic Charge Synplant


Thanks for the replies. I should’ve mentioned at the outset that I’m on OSX.

The fabfilter line looks pretty cool. I’d heard that name pop up before and mistaken the company’s name for the name of a filter plugin. I used to use synth 1 all the time, it’s a great workhorse synth with a great combination of functionality. But these days I think the sound of its oscillators and filters are a little too ubiquitous and a bit dated (also, last I checked there wasn’t an AU version). Suggestions are good, but alas, I think the reality is nothing on the desktop exists that quite captures the minimalism of something like those 6-parameter nanoloop synths or 4-parameter OP-1 synths. the desktop is a different world and a different market.

I might just bite the bullet and focus on specializing in zebralette/zebra 2. The sound quality is worth dealing with the complexity, although the parameter names in the parameter dropdown are definitely a nightmare to deal with. I suppose I’ll get used to working with it if I focus on one plugin at a time…