LennarDigital Sylenth1
I'm not sure why I haven't bought this VST instrument earlier because I remember trying the demo a while back and then I forgot about it for one reason or another. As I was engaged in a forum thread regarding good trance VST instruments at the trance.nu forums I saw it being recommended and I had another download of the demo yesterday and within a few minutes I was back at their web site and purchased it (€170 including VAT). Delivery of the Sylenth1 and license took a few minutes and unfortunately the 64-bit version of the DLL crashes Cubase 5 which is odd because the demo version in 64bit worked fine. I'll contact their support soon and see if we can resolve the issue. I can still use it by simply installing the 32-bit version for the time being.

To start off with you get a lot of presets (over 1300) with this synth spread across three factory banks to play around with. The quality of presets included is very high with a huge selection of ARP (arpeggiated and gated sounds), leads, basses, pads, sound effects, keys, and some sequences. I found it very entertaining to listening through the presets with some lead and bass lines I created for this purpose.

It may not be the prettiest GUI (graphical user interface) I've seen but saying this I must admit that it's very easy to understand and use. I'm usually a bread and butter type of guy who prefers to use presets and tweak them slightly. With the simple design of Sylenth1, however, I was instantly tempted to start creating my own sounds.

First of all, at the top of the GUI, you've got the global ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release) settings for the instrument along with the sound emitting oscillators where you can set your waveforms, detuning, volume, etc.

Below you have a access to a window to perform stuff like basic I/O operations (load and save) and also enable the different effects that can be applied. The effects allow very easy access to add different forms of 1) Arp (arppegios and trance gates which in effect plays a sequence of notes automatically (ARP) and chops up the instrument by altering volume (gate); 2) distortion (like overdrive, bitcrusher, foldback, etc.); 3) Phaser for a pulsating and sweeping motions; 4) Chorus for added width to the sounds; 5) delay for nice echoing effects; 6) reverb for added atmosphere and spatial sense; and 7) compression to alter the dynamics. What's powerful about this control window is the simple approach and accessibility to tweak your sounds and this ease of access is what steps up the game for this VST.

In addition to the oscillators and effects you have control over some LFO (low frequency oscillators) that can be used to alter the sound where examples are sweeping the cutoff frequency, altering the volume, and applying phaser or chorus effects.

What does it sound like?
Check out this video tutorial I created on creating trance leads and melodies where I use Sylenth1.

Sound: 9/10 (fantastic)
GUI: 7/10 (looks outdated but very easy to use)
Value for Money: 7/10 (nicely priced for what you get)
Purchase Process: 10/10 Quick (I used PayPal and received the software and license in a matter of minutes)

Reference Tracks
* Imphenzia - Aura of the Alien (coming soon - check out this preview clip)