NI Rounds


Native Instruments Rounds, New Synth Plugins

With plugins like Massive and FM8 hogging the limelight, it’s sometimes worth a quick reminder that NI make dozens of other synths, many of which deserve just as much attention in their own right. Rounds is one of the newer additions to the line-up, released at the end of 2014 alongside Komplete 10 (which also introduced the similarly impressive Kontour synth plugin).

The basic architecture of the synthesis engine in Rounds is solid if not particularly groundbreaking, offering a classic two-oscillator virtual analogue engine alongside a three-oscillator FM engine. Where things really get clever is the way Rounds allows you to combine those analogue engines and sequence the voices. NI describes Rounds as a “sequence synthesizer”, which helps to explain what makes it unique: the main interface in Rounds features eight blocks, each containing four cells. Each of these cells can be sequenced in a range of ways, allowing you to step or morph between different sound settings (from both the analogue and digital engines) as you play notes.

When you start to explore the sequencing options, the creative potential of Rounds really comes to the fore, whether it’s programming microscopic differences in each voice for a lush, subtly inaccurate analogue-style sound, or setting completely different sounds for each voice in order to create dramatic shifts as you step through the notes in a sequence.

Very few synths combine voice sequencing with synthesis as seamlessly as this. The closest thing we can think of is the Korg Mono/Poly, but the potential of Rounds is much greater. This is undoubtedly one of the most original synths we’ve come across in recent years. Don’t miss it.


27th April, 2015


  • Thanks for digging up these awesome synths! One more for consideration: Xfer’s “Serum”, programmed by Steve Duda. That thing’s an absolute powerhouse.

  • No serum?

  • Deadmau5 association means it’s banned from the list.

  • Surprised Serum did not make this list.

  • Nice list. From the ones mentioned I only have NI Rounds and Synapse Dune II. Both are rock solid options. I’m curious to try some of them, Kaivo especially.

    If this was my personal list I would switch Oscillot with XFER Serum or Waves Codex, simply because Oscillot requires M4L and once you have M4L and know your way around it, there’s no reason to have a plug-in that adds virtually nothing new to the table, since everything it does, can be done by M4L itself.

    Reaktor 5 is a good example against what I’ve said. Doesn’t require third party software, it can run both standalone or via host, and the ensembles provided with the bundle are diversified and have a purpose.

    I’ve got nothing against Oscillot, I’m just failing to understand, at the moment, all the hype generated around it.

    Keep it up Attack o/

  • Fist things first: SERUM not in this list = smh Instead you put Basic in there!?

    Let me tell you something about Basic: The simplistic approach to Basic is a nice concept. BUT the execution not so much. Sure, the GUI looks fancy and the visulization can be helpful – although it’s more eyecandy than anything.

    The real Problem with Basic are it’s controls! Especially in the Oscillator Section. “Tune” Values are always in between pitches – there’s no musical stepping of the pitch (Octaves, Semitones, Finetuning) possible. If you could enter numerical values or use keyboard modifiers to lock it in on Pitches that would be no big deal. But there are no such options.

    I am also missing basic routing functionalities as well. Everything is fixed in terms of Signal flow. That’s not really 2015-ish. A “basic” and “advanced” look would have been nice.

    On the sound side of things everything you do with this thing tends to sound similar, techno-ish.

    Even the simpliest Reaktor Ensemble of the Factory Library like 2-OSC does provide more flexibility. But hey, better than SERUM, right? 😉

  • Serum fanbois are everywhere now

  • I don’t think it’s fanboyism, the list features Ten of the best new synth plug-ins. And, guess what?
    Serum is both new and, whether you like it or not, it has definitely proven himself to be one of the best softsynths out there, and I’ve used tons of them.

    I’m not a fan of Deadmau5 music, same goes for Steve Duda, but when it comes down to coding, I tip my hat to this Duda guy.

    But don’t take my word for granted, give it a shot and draw your own conclusions, since your comment made it clear that you haven’t tried it yet, or, if you did, your “know how” regarding synthesis isn’t on par with what this plug-in offers.

  • Virtual CZ is not a perfect emulation of the sound of the hardware, far from it. The original sounds quite a bit different, far more grainy and sharper,
    however it does sound excellent and much smoother than the hardware and compliments it well.

  • Serum is genuinely the best soft synth of the last few years

  • That Kaivo sure looks interesting!

  • Attack dropped the ball by not even mentioning Serum or NI’s new Kontour.

  • Bazille is the best synth on the list..imo.




  • My top

    Zebra 2
    Reaktor 6
    Omnisphere 2

  • Serum is a bit of enigma. So MANY bad, cliche EDM presets out there, and hard on cpu. But beyond that a very powerful softsynth, that sounds very smooth and big, with a professional sheen on top.

  • “Urs Heckman’s plugins are occasionally criticised for being a little on the greedy side when it comes to their appetite for processing power. It’s a fair enough criticism…”

    I think a fairer criticism would be that most plug ins are anemic in their processor consumption, due to compromises in sound quality for the sake of marketability to users with inadequate processing power . Thus we have decades old digital synths ( Access Virus, Nord Lead, Novation Supernova ) that obliterate the sound of most modern plugins. And a whole generation of producers that think the poor sound quality of their mix ( caused by layer after layer of compromised sound sources ) can be fixed by some magical mastering trick, or overhyped analog summing box.

    I found it hilarious when people posted spectrograms of Hive on the KVR forum pointing out issues in certain aspects of the sound quality and Urs calmly responded by explaining that those are unavoidable byproducts of “CPU efficient” MIPmapping you find in many popular synths.

    TL;DR When it comes to sound quality, you get what you pay for.

  • lol, these serum comments make me laugh. on the one hand, i might literally die if i listen to another EDM “producer” talk about how great serum is, why the sound is so much better than say, NI Massive, (because less artifacts bruh!). yeah, your dubsteppy growling synths are so much more pure sounding now…lmfao. however, this is not a thread dedicated to musical stylings. rather it might be prudent to keep an article, or whatever this page is, relevant to the topic. serum does have some pretty cool features…although honestly i find the workflow not so great and i never use it personally. i’m not really a huge fan of wave table synths, as i never use massive much either. however, when i go for one it is definitely still massive. the functionality is definitely more a bit more limited, but the way routing and automation is setup is way more intuitive (for me at least).

    after watching a video of deadmau5 simply dragging and dropping pre-made midi loops, and subsequently struggling for about 5 minutes to ascertain whether one of these midi loops was in major or minor, i can’t entirely fault anyone for not wanting to associate with any music he does. granted, i’ve listened to an interview of him. he seems pretty cool. but his music is definitely garbage, and the lack of basic rudiments was plenty to prove that, if the end product were not enough already.

  • Amazing!
    Sounds just like Nord Lead 1/2 “Pelle Mode”
    must buy this vst!

  • TIL that Massive was made by Chris Randall. Source: his own AI vlog.

  • Very subjective list.


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