Finding the right synth sound at any given moment for your productions is never an easy task. Whether you’re sound designing from scratch or searching for an inspiring synth preset to tweak - it can be a time consuming process and sometimes you need an expensive plugin just to get a decent synth sound.
The good news for Ableton Live users is that there are a lot of third-party Instrument Racks available that offer a perfect balance of quick sound customization (with the macros) and sonic quality. As an Ableton Certified Trainer one of my jobs is to scour the internet for free, quality synth packs I can recommend to my students as a low-cost way to elevate their productions.
My Best Picks
While Ableton.com does offer some good synth packs in their store, I’ve found some of the best ones to be created by third-party vendors. I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 FREE third-party Ableton Live synth packs below (in no particular order):
Puremagnetik: The Foundation Analog Synths and Digital Synths for Ableton Live
These are 2 of the 8 Free Ableton Live packs included in “The Foundations” by Puremagnetik. This bundle also features drums, keyboards, guitars, effect racks and even video game glitch sounds - all showcasing some of Puremagnetik’s best work from it’s paid collection.
The synth packs both feature high quality sampling from hardware synthesizers. The “Analog” version includes samples from some of synthesizer history’s most famous machines (1970s Moogs and ARPs to modern Buchlas) and the “Digital” version was built from Puremagnetik’s extensive catalog of digital synth libraries (Yamaha DX-7, Casio phase distortion synths, KORG Wavestation and Ensoniq Fizmo).
There are 20 diverse Ableton Live synth presets included in the 2 packs ranging from super aggressive basses to lush keys and synth strings. What impressed me most is that each preset included a very unique set of macros that were highly usable while being vastly different from one another.
My top 5 presets:
- Bass-Raw Sinister.adg (Analog)
- Lead-Electric Avenue.adg (Analog)
- Strings-Dark Strings.adg (Analog)
- Keys-DX7 Litenite.adg (Digital)
- Pad-Labryinth.adg (Digital)
You can get these Ableton Live synth packs here: Foundation | Free Ableton Live Packs | Over 1 GB of Samples
HelloSamples: Multi Drived Synth & Wavetable Free Essentials for Ableton Live
The Multi Drived Synth Pack carefully samples the Moog Subphatty and has a solid collection (over 50 presets) of bass, SFX and synth presets. The advantage of playing this as an Ableton Live is the added polyphony as the Subphatty is monophonic.
The Wavetable Free Essentials is a Wavetable only pack that includes 50+ quality dreamy arps, chords, keys, pads, plucks, basses and synths made specifically for Ableton Live Wavetable.
Out of the two I prefer the sound of the latter pack and felt it was more refined as all instruments came packed with useful macros.
My top 5 presets:
- HS_Arp_Beauty G#.adg (Wavetable)
- HS_Arp_Digi Birds G#.adg (Wavetable),
- HS_Ambient_Combo_Saturn Chord Rings_F#.adg (Wavetable)
- HS_Bass_Club LA.adg (Wavetable)
- HS_Pluck_Guitarristic Piano.adg (Wavetable)
You can get these Ableton Live synth packs here: Download Free Sounds & Kits for Ableton, Maschine & Akai MPC
Brian Funk (AfroDJMac): FREE Ableton Live Racks
Brian Funk (producer, songwriter, and Ableton Certified Trainer) has released over 200 free Ableton Live Racks since 2011. This ranges from sampled synth and instrument sounds to obscure arps and wild environment ambience. They all come with super intuitive macros that are easy and fun to use right off the bat.
You can download each Ableton Live Rack for free but I recommend spending the $10 and getting all 200+ packs in one shot. It will save you plenty of time and it's absolutely insane value for that cost. The bonus is that all presets are packaged in a way so that they show up in their rightful places under the "Categories" section, making it easy to find the sound you need.
My top 5 packs:
- Korg Monotron: Free Ableton Live Pack #13
- Dubstep Lawnmower Man: Free Ableton Live Pack #7
- 8-Bit Trance Arps: Free Ableton Live Pack #129
- 12 Synths Of Christmas: Free Ableton Live Pack #149
- Environment Synths: Free Ableton Live Pack #153
You can get these Ableton Live synth packs here: https://brianfunk.com/free-ableton-live-packs
ELPHNT: FREE (21 awesome free Ableton Live Packs)
“FREE” is a collection of unique instruments and effects for Ableton Live including drum machines, samples, synth presets, and FX made by sound designer/Ableton Certified Trainer Tom “ELPHNT”.
“FREE” is essentially the demo of his all-in bundle “EVRYTHING” which features the premium versions of everything included in “FREE”. Outside of the synths there’s a lot of value in this pack with other unique presets like “INSPIR Lite” which is a Max For Live device that gives you various suggestions on how to break through creative block.
The included Ableton Live synth packs are:
- FRZN GRAINS Lite: rich expansive presets for any style
- ANLG Free: analog style synth sounds
- ARPS Free: arpeggiated synth presets
My top 5 presets:
- Arper.adg (ANLG Free)
- Neptune.adg (ANLG Free)
- Vessel.adg (FRZN GRAINS Lite)
- Glacial.adg (FRZN GRAINS Lite)
- Chord Arps.adg (ARPS Free)
You can get these Ableton Live synth packs here: https://elphnt.io/store/free/
PROMU: Faded Trap, Freaky Synths and Essential Synths for Ableton Live
PROMU offers a good selection of Ableton Live packs made by Ableton Certified Trainers and Billboard hitmakers. Each pack comes with unique macros that maximizes on sound design creativity for each preset.
Faded Trap is a free Ableton Live pack that includes 8 synth presets for modern EDM Trap that is useful for creating dark atmospheres and chilling melodies. Includes a collection of haunting keys, leads pads and basses.
Essential Synths the ultimate Ableton Live pack featuring a wide range of classic synths sounds heard in your favourite mainstream records. From deep basses, warm analog pads, bouncy plucks to West Coast G-Leads - you’ll find all of your go-to synths in this bundle. The free demo gives you 10 of the 70+ presets offered in the premium version.
Freaky Synths is an Ableton Live pack featuring futuristic synth sounds (sampled from my Arturia MicroFreak synthesizer) from gnarly basses to expressive pads, lush plucks and screeching leads. The free demo gives you 10 of the 50+ presets offered in the premium version.
My top 5 presets:
- Bounty Dry Pad.adg (Freaky Synths Demo)
- Mana Grains.adg (Freaky Synths Demo)
- Cold Sub Pad.adg (Essential Synths Demo)
- Lead - Ghost Verb Pluck.adg (Faded Trap)
- Pluck - Dark Soft Stab.adg (Faded Trap)
You can get all of our freebies by visiting the “Free Packs & Demos” section of the PROMU products page!