EM editor Geary Yelton and Sonic Charge's Magnus Lidstrom
Sonic Charge Synplant (Mac/Win, $89)
Picking the best from the year's broad selection of low-cost and innovative "Downloads of the Month" is never easy; they're all winners. Top choices from 2009 included the free version of Submersible Music DrumCore and a mysterious sound-forager called Forester from independent U.K. developer Leafcutter John (also free). This year's award goes to Sonic Charge Synplant, one of the most unusual synths we've seen. Synplant adapts the model of genetic evolution to an analog synth engine, and most importantly, the results are convincing. It is dead-simple to evolve sounds, and although they cover a broad timbral range, you can exert great control over the outcome. You won't quickly tire of programming or playing this synth.