Another way to get your feet wet with very little cash outlay is to get Syntronik. If you have an ipad, you can buy the app very cheaply, they even have a free download with restricted functionality. You can generate some massive soundscapes with it, because unlike mono-timbral synths, this app can play 4 sounds at once, mapped across the keyboard as desired. And the effects are killer.
The onscreen display gives you most of the knobs of a knobby synth, and allows you to play with many different sounding synths, and change up the filter as desired. That way you can learn a bit more about how subtractive synthesis works, how important effects are to the final sound, and start developing your ear for what you like and don't like about the synth sound. For easy chair auditioning, it doesn't get much better- sit down with an iPad in your lap, hook up the headphone out (or dongle) to a speaker, and audition sounds, adjust parameters, etc. A cheap, used 37 or 49 note controller, as little as $100-$150 new, or less if you buy used, makes this auditioning of sounds more enjoyable than just playing the iPad onscreen keyboard.
For myself I really don't like how piercing/shrill the high end of many synth sounds are, but you can tame with the filter cutoff and eq. The presets of many sounds on Syntronik sound like they were made for EDM, most of which are a turn off to me.
The problem with a well-endowed program like Syntronik, is there's a couple of thousand presets! Same goes for many soft synths out there that need a controller. Learning to hear what you like and don't like is an education in and of itself, esp as many of the sounds are bizarre and not in the usual pallette of music colors. There are many resources on the web for learning subtractive synthesis, some of which start very simply and train your ear for understanding what you're hearing, so you know how to adjust the sound.
Are you interested in learning about it?
Last edited by Randelph; 02/09/19 05:26 PM.