One plugin to cover synth sounds

I’m thinking I need a backup solution in case my MacBook fails one day. I can’t justify another laptop purchase, but I do have a work MacBook of lower spec - M1, 16GB. I’m thinking of installing GP and one plugin (my main MacBook has literally dozens if not hundreds of plugins and I don’t want to duplicate that).

So my question is, if you had to make do with just one plugin to cover as many of the main bases possible, what would you choose?

The answer is going to be different for everyone, because we all have different needs. What are YOUR needs? What instrument do you play? Do you want that one plug-in to be for audio or MIDI?

We don’t have close to enough information to hazard a guess. Are you keyboard player or guitarist? Other? What type of music?

Are you referring to effects or sample/synth type plugins?

Apologies folks, I didn’t elaborate on requirements because I was kind of looking for a plugin that is known for being able to cope with whatever is chucked at it, i.e. when we don’t know the requirements. But in hindsight I can see that that is far to wide open to be useful.

I’m a keyboard player in an amateur gigging band that plays pop and rock from the past 40 years. On my main GP installation I have every sound under the sun but in an emergency situation I guess I would need something that could handle the following areas:

  • Acoustic piano
  • Wurlitzer EP
  • Electric grand
  • Hammond organ
  • Analog synth strings
  • Real strings
  • Synth pads (esp PCM type)
  • Acoustic guitar
  • Distorted guitar
  • Monophonic synth lead
  • Synth bass

As this is a backup system, then I would go for the Korg Triton / Triton Extreme.

My backup system is the HW version (Triton classic pro) - which is normally staying at home :innocent:


This would be my personal favourite too!
It’s very versatile, light on resources and it’s sounding OK enough for a standard live situation.

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As a keyboard player in a cover band, I use similar sounds. I’ve already invested hundreds of hours in my current gig file to deliver sounds that are as true to the original as possible for each song and I still make minor optimizations after every performance. I mainly use the NI suite. It would be unthinkable for me to go through this effort twice with a simpler plugin just to be able to use cheaper hardware. My backup notebook isn’t quite as powerful as the main notebook, but I can still play the same gig file with it.

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Just a thought…

Why not use the free Decent Sampler and make your own sampled instruments for it using all of the sound sources on your main laptop? Totally free (as in, already paid for).

Or am I missing something?

maybe a good idea, but a lot of work, loops, effect etc.

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A complete sample based setup might require lots of RAM, at least if one doesn’t make use of the setlist feature and predictive loading.

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TO cover the usual bread and butter sounds, you are likely looking at the VST equivalent of a ROMpler keyboard. Some suggestions that may or may not have everything you need:

Or sample playback plugins that can be expanded:

Finally Roland Zenology would have been top of the list were it not for the licensing scheme, especially on a machine that is a backup and wont be powered up and put online regularly.

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If the sampler supports streaming, it shouldn’t be too bad

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Right, but wouldn’t that extend the loading time for patches?

Is (full) Kontak with every sample library available to use in it “one” plugin?

I’m not sure the objective of “one plugin” makes sense.

If IK’s Sampletank did not have (reported) issues in GP that would cover it (Since Syntronik Max can play within Sampletank, are both “one plugin”?)

If you have streaming, you don’t have to load all the samples in advance. That said, sometimes one has to compromise

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Some great suggestions, thanks all.

To answer your point jeffn1 re: the objective of “one plugin”… as the laptop is not mine, and not managed by me, there is potential for it to be wiped / altered periodically. So I need a solution that can be installed / re-installed relatively easily / quickly and doesn’t show up as hundreds of non-work-related software packages (a handful is likely OK).

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Ahh, that may really affect the analysis.

I wonder if you then want physically modeled synths, so if the computer is wiped, you can just reconnect to (for example) Arturia and install the full V Collection.

You probably do not want to re-download sample libraries, which would take much longer.

But, if you put the samples on your own separate external drive, this may change the analysis.

Well, I hope this is a bit helpful.


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It’s not glamorous but it is my most used plugin, lightweight, cheap. It’s my goto for fishing out a sound and often I’ll replace it with something else later but it has so many sounds it’s hard not to find something useful in a pinch.


I’m a little bit reserved towards AirMusicTech plugins. Most of the older ones are not Apple Silicon ready - only supported by Rosetta.

I have a license for the Hybrid 3 which I used some long time ago - never got updated. So I don’t use it anymore

The XPand!2 is also not supporting Apple Silicon…

Of course, this is only relevant, if your backup is an newer Mac…


AirMusic are currently running an open beta where they are revamping the classic plugins, including Xpand!2, to make them VST3 compatible amongst other updates.