i did a search for favorites, and only got 4 results for that, and no results for top 5 or top 10, so i figured i'd start a topic to see what everyones favorites are, and maybe gain more insight on the differences between modules of the same type, and maybe just how people are using their favorite "utilities & modulators" if those make lists. everyone is going to have different styles & priorities. my top priority is TONE so probably more than half of my list will be oscillators & filters.
my top 10 favorites list:
cyclonix shapeshifter - intellijel - it's a SICK wavetable synth with tons of deep options i can't even fully understand in demo videos, but it makes all kinds of crazy tones and so many things that it's funny watching it blow an expert's mind as he giggles like a little kid on christmas playing with it. it can morph between ANY wavetables (and save a "mixed tone" as a new preset) smootly creating some wild effects including sounding like scratching in one case, it has dedicated wavetables that can be used as "hi-fi LFOs", but also as wavetables and all of its wavetables can serve as LFOs too, it can do FM, it has a SEPARATE wave folder that can be used with other modules, it has a crazy vocoder that goes way beyond the tradition robot voice, has two voices and just does stuff i've never seen or heard ANY synth do
morpheus - rossum electro-music - is to filters what shapeshifter is to wavetables. it can do all kinds of crazy effects you just can't do with regular filters, and unlike the 1st versions of the filter in emu synths, this one has enough processing power to modulate ALL vectors within a "tone cube". technical mumbo jumbo aside, it sounds amazing and totally unique
rings - mutable instruments - bridges both oscillator & filter territory by adding "modeled resonance" (eg. materials) as i understand it for a filter that makes resonances that are actually quite pleasing & unique vs. analogue squeal
ES3 mKIII - expert sleepers - must be the #4 rated module out of EVERYTHING for a reason. to me, just using it in combination with a DAW/sequencer where i have full control over both sloppy (read funky) timing of every note as well as the ability to capture mod wheel expressions or even hand draw complicated modulations that go way beyond what can be done with analogue sequencers, LFOs & clocks etc.
RK2 XS-VCA - metasonix - (tube VCA/distortion) as fat tube warmth to distorted growl to sounds that solid state and especially can't. it turns any rack into a poor man's snarling (unobtanium now?) S-1000 wretch machine to tame those digital oscillators & filters or grunge whatever up. their various bright yellow tube VCFs might do the job even better, but i have issues with mismatched modules. LOL
polaris - intellijel (multimode VCF) can do most of what a bunch of other filters can though maybe not as well as specialist filters eg. it might not get as juicy as an ARP or SEM, but it gets juicy enough and can also do chunky, grungy, rubbery, & vocal too. not bad from ONE filter!
dual ADSR - intellijel - the CORRECT way to do an envelope generator is with sliders as far as i'm concerned (unless you're doing envelope following)
pamela's NEW workout - i admit that i don't fully understant this module, but it sounds like it can do the work of both a batumi quad LFO & a quad clock distributor COMBINED with its 8 outputs & advanced digital modulation INCLUDING being programmable & storing presets! there's some things digital does better. if i'm wrong, i'd love it if someone who understands clock modulators better to explain what a different module like batumi does better, besides live knob & slider twisting maybe
Z 3000 smart VCO Mk II - tiptop audio - is an analogue VCO that includes a handy frequency counter that could be used for tuning as well as duophonic sync, plus it includes a waveshaper making it pretty flexible for a VCO
SEM - studio electronics - is an oberheim SEM filter clone and does some extra juicy "classy tones" without annoying resonance howling. i like that sound better than overrated moog any day. i like both the "1950s futuristic" look and smaller profile of the studio electronics SEM more, than the SEM 20 V/S/F by bubblesound instruments which is more popular, i'm guessing because people have figured out it sounds better, though i'd like to hear the 2 and other SEM clones duke it out side by side. from what i've read about the doepfer SEM, it isn't the greatest on some settings.
now... what are YOUR favorites, & why?