amSynth (Analogue Modelling Synthesizer) is a two-oscillator virtual polysynth.

I installed Arch Linux package amsynth (from the standard Community repository). The package includes a standalone version as well as LV2 and DSSI plugin versions.


As you can probably tell from the screen shot, amSynth includes many typical features. Here are some features that aren’t so common:

  • The filter mode is switchable between lowpass, highpass, and bandpass.
  • The filter response is switchable between 24 dB and 12 dB.
  • Each oscillator includes a SHAPE control, which allows the waveform to be continuously varied from triangle to sawtooth or from square to narrow pulse. There’s no built-in functionality to modulate SHAPE (e.g., for pulse width modulation) but presumably SHAPE can be automated within a plugin host.
  • The keyboard mode can be set to poly, mono, or (mono) legato.
  • There’s no dedicated noise source but both oscillators have noise waveforms.
  • For effects, amSynth includes reverb and “drive” (distortion).

The standalone version includes features that aren’t available in the plugin versions, such as a preset manager, a panic button, and MIDI learn. (It appears that controls set up with MIDI learn in standalone mode can be used, but not edited, by the plugin versions.)


amSynth has a few issues that are annoying to me:

  • I feel there’s something wrong with the envelope decay and release curves. Near the end of the decay and release stages the sound just stops instead of smoothly fading away.
  • I often have to turn the volume way down to avoid distortion. For example, for preset Synth Strings 1 (patch 1 in the amsynth factory bank) I reduce the volume to -20 dB. I don’t know if this is related to amSynth or to my system but I haven’t had this issue with any other instrument.
  • I’d like to be able to disable velocity. This can be done externally but it would be easier to do it within amSynth.

Despite some issues, I like amSynth and plan to use it.

More Information about amSynth

Version: 1.4.2
Author: Nick Dowell
Web Site:

Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Instruments

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