Best Steinberg Synths for Commercial/Pop music


I was hoping for some personal recommendation.

We use Cubase 8.5 Pro in the studio, and I’m trying to create more current radio hit sounds for our clients, and I’ve only been using Cubase for a short time, so just nutting out the synths. We’re looking at adding to our collection and am wondering what our recommendations are.


Synths are like paint mixers, you can stick to presets and sound like everyone else, or you can craft your own sounds, so really all of them have great potential.

Retrologue and Padshop Pro are my favourites in this respect. :sunglasses:

Same, if I had to pick 2 I would without doubt take Retrologue and Padshop.
Since you say you already have Cubase 8 pro, you should have these synths already :slight_smile:

Absolute 2 comes with nearly all current VST instruments by Steinberg for a pretty good price. It comes with something for almost every genre, along with hundreds of synth presets, both synthesized in real time and sampled from analog synths.

I would also recommend trialing some of the expansions for Groove Agent 4. The full version of Groove Agent 4 comes with plenty of modern synth/layered drums, but these add even more.

I would also recommend absolute 2. You’ll get thousands of sounds for any genre. :smiley:

Thanks for your time. I’ve been researching Absolute which was looking like a good choice, but had no idea about the Groove Agent Expansion Packs.
As I said, I’m new to Cubase, and I work with some great Creative’s who are basic users, and an older producer stuck in his ways, so I’m trying to come up with workable solutions to amalgamate the two.

I like having the synth preset options for the creative to quickly hash some ideas, that then also gives the experienced guy some options to tweak if need be.

Awesome and many thanks

Retrologue 2 is very powerful indeed; here it is in the hands of a skilled sound designer/synth wizard (if you’re looking for some inspiration)

(If the link is not allowed, search YouTube for ‘Retrologue 2’ and find ‘Captain’s Log - new presets for Steinberg Retrologue 2’)



Retrologue2 is certainly tasty from the sounds of that video, hmmmm… going to have to go to 8.5 to get it, that’s about all that I would really want in the upgrade… so I held off…

Thanks for the link, I enjoyed that. Synths are what you make of them for sure.

Well, you can buy the retrologue 2 upgrade from retrologue.
It’s the same price as the update to 8.5 though :smiley:

Ya, I can live without Retrologue2 for a while longer. I am taking a break from the upgrade game. :confused:

You can buy a 8.5 upgrade license and continue using whatever version of Cubase you’re currently using if you find that you don’t like 8.5. When 8.5 is installed Retrologue 2 replaces Retrologue 1.

This will make the upgrade to Cubase Pro 9 cheaper too.

While the above suggestions are swell (nut out the Cubase synths) I would definitely go 3rd party. And don’t try too hard to be hip with “current radio hit sounds” because that is a sure recipe for instant failure. If you disagree, then just use Nexus2. :slight_smile: or buy a lot of Vengeance samples. :laughing:

You can look at the tools used at Maratone. Last I looked among lots of others all the NI stuff is used. But that doesn’t help does it?
RedOne used stock Logic with LadyGaGa’s big record. What does that tell you?
Stargate uses NI among lots of other tools. That doesn’t help does it?
Dr. Luke and especially Benny Blanco love to use old hardware crap that is not very popular. Having what others don’t have when you bought it at Goodwill can get you points.
SAW used most everything 90’s. But again it wasn’t the tools was it?
Benny Andersson used the Yamaha GX-1 and so far there is no emulation for that. A Memorymoon ME80 will get you maybe 75% there. But caution, you may end up with more patches for Vangelis than Katy Perry. But…if you know your tool, even the ME80…that can still sound very fresh.

Bottom line, for commercial pop it’s not usually the tools, it’s the user. Sure there is stuff to stay away from for example tools that evoke more new-age or ambient, even some of the stock Cubase VST’s, but for the most part everything is very fair game. Massive? Reaktor? An Arturia collection? Hallion?

Honestly, if you just want the current hip radio-ready sounds to make clients love you, buy Nexus or get a VST sampler and buy lots of Vengeance packs and call it a day.

Retrologue 2 compared to Omnisphere 2:

Looks like it’s the only VST that can be compared to Retrologue 2.

You’ll have to update your avatar!

I just picked up Komplete 10 Ultimate (which is 40% off until the end of July) and all the new sounds and FX led to a bunch of new song ideas.

I also demoed Chromaphone 2 (currently 50% off) and really liked what I heard.

Not a steinberg product but if you want commercial sounds out the box, especially pop dance music, 1 word, NEXUS. Many hate it and rightfully so. However, with the right expansions, you will have the sounds preconstucted into layers of many current tracks, including anthems of the past.

Although it is a sample based romplayer a lot of the riffs, loops etc. Arn’t simply a sample loop of such, they are actually the raw sounds layered, arped, gated, creating the loop. For doing the “and I’m trying to create more current radio hit sounds for our clients” this is perfect.

Martin Solvieg… Oliver Heldens… Diplo… Sigala… All there… The biggest commercial dance tracks out right now. Head for the Future House expansion, Tropical house expansion. It’s funny when I buy the latest pack, 2/3 months later i’ll hear those sounds in all the official dance remixes of the current Radio tracks.

The 90’s packs are fun too. If you want current radio sounds, no synth puts them to you like Nexus does.

XPhraze & D’Cota

Nick, I doubt they wanna make 90’s pop music now really :laughing:

Those two synths are … er, were … timeless!


Well, apart from having a go at ya :wink: , I agree, they were very cool items. Its sad when support/development stops on tools like these. Perhaps they (SB) should release the code as public domain so someone can make them into freeware and add compatibility with today’s DAWs.