Mainstage Mondays: Mainstage Synths Reviewed

There are ton of awesome synth plugins that come free with Mainstage, but it can be a bit confusing as to what the advantages are of each synth, and how they work. Here’s a list of each synth, what they do well and what they don’t, and how I rate them overall for sound quality and usability:

 

(Note: I’m only reviewing the synth plugins in this blog, and I’ll be skipping the drum and acoustic instrument plugins).

 

Alchemy: the end all do all synth

 

Strengths: powerful sound creation abilities, flexible tone shaping options, massive sound. 

 

Weaknesses: difficult to use. 

 

My rating: 4.0 stars

 Alchemy was originally developed by Camel Audio until Apple bought them in 2014.

Alchemy was originally developed by Camel Audio until Apple bought them in 2014.

 

 

EFM1: a synth from the 80's, this models the classic DX7 synth

 

Strengths: really great sounding FM synthesis, with a no nonsense usable interface.  

 

Weaknesses: limited to FM synthesis only. 

 

My rating: 4.5 stars

 This synth does what it does well, but is fairly limited.

This synth does what it does well, but is fairly limited.

 

 

 

ES E: simple, monophonic synth 

 

Strengths: not a bad little synth, and excellent for making quick, simple sounds.  

 

Weaknesses: feels very dated. Sound quality not that excellent. Interface a bit clunky. 

 

My rating: 2.5 stars

 The ES E is probably my least favorite Mainstage synth- it was originally released in the early 2000's, and is really showing its age. 

The ES E is probably my least favorite Mainstage synth- it was originally released in the early 2000's, and is really showing its age. 

 

 

ES M: Moog inspired monophonic synth 

 

Strengths: rich sound, easy to use, great bass sounds.  

 

Weaknesses: limited to monophonic tones only. Limited tweaking abilities. 

 

My rating: 4 stars

 The tones in this are so beefy, even by today's standards. 

The tones in this are so beefy, even by today's standards. 

 

 

 

ES P: Classic additive synth perfect for beeps, clicks, and video game sounds

 

Strengths: fun little synth with the ability to blend multiple tones together quickly. 

 

Weaknesses: it as a very strong character that is charming, but somewhat limited.  

 

My rating: 4 stars

 This synth has got to be one of the most entertaining synths I've ever used. 

This synth has got to be one of the most entertaining synths I've ever used. 

 

 

 

Es1: bread and butter synth sounds with limited controls for ease of use. 

 

Strengths: great sounding filters, simpler design, solid oscillators.   

 

Weaknesses: this was Logic’s first big attempt at a power synth, and it’s showing its age. 

 

My rating: 3.5 stars

 This synth is powerful, but has a lot of limiting features that keep it from being as versatile as it's big brother, ES2. 

This synth is powerful, but has a lot of limiting features that keep it from being as versatile as it's big brother, ES2. 

 

 

 

Es2: a feature packed synth with a semi-modular routing system. 

 

Strengths: the most powerful synth in Logic until last year, you can do just about anything with this synth.  

 

Weaknesses: you can do just about anything with this synth, which can make it hard to use.

 

My rating: 5 stars

 Everyone from Flo Rida to Lady Gaga has used this synth, and I still prefer it over almost all other plugins. 

Everyone from Flo Rida to Lady Gaga has used this synth, and I still prefer it over almost all other plugins. 

 

 

 

EVOC 20 PS: Mainstage’s vocoder synth  

 

Strengths: if you want that classic vocoder sound, this is a great little synth to get the job done.   

 

Weaknesses: the interface is a little dated. Not as powerful as modern vocoder plugins. 

 

My rating: 4 stars

 I rarely use this synth, but it comes in super-handy when you need that Daft Punk vocoder sound. 

I rarely use this synth, but it comes in super-handy when you need that Daft Punk vocoder sound. 

 

 

 

 

EXS24: sampler synth

 

Strengths: the only synth in Mainstage to use samples instead of tones, this little sampler has a ton of great synth samples that I use regularly.  

 

Weaknesses: it’s not possible to generate tones using oscillators with this plugin.

 

My rating: 5 stars

 While you can use this synth for a range of tones, it's synth presets often get missed. 

While you can use this synth for a range of tones, it's synth presets often get missed. 

 

 

 

Retro Synth: does exactly what it says: models FM synths, Moog synths, and a few other classics. 

 

Strengths: a new addition to Mainstage last year, this synth does a great job emulating classic tones in an easy to use interface. 

 

Weaknesses: the tonal quality doesn’t quite match that of Alchemy and ES2, in my opinion. 

 

My rating: 4 stars

 I rarely use this synth, but what I've seen has been impressive. 

I rarely use this synth, but what I've seen has been impressive. 

 

 

 

Sculpture: physical modeling synth that imitates acoustic, real world textures. 

 

Strengths: amazing tone, amazing sound shaping options, and one of a kind routing combinations. 

 

Weaknesses: difficult to use, and CPU intensive. 

 

My rating: 4 stars

 This synth boasts some bizarre features like pickup patterns, a mappable morph section, and so much more. 

This synth boasts some bizarre features like pickup patterns, a mappable morph section, and so much more.