The best synthesizers are used to create and alter sound effects that you design yourself or import from real audio sounds. Unlike a MIDI controller which acts as a trigger, hardware synths actually create the effects they produce.
Synths range from small, personal models to hardware installed in larger panels in studios with switches, buttons and sliders to distort and warp sound effects, as well as making loops for backing.
Choosing the best model for your needs, between a hand held model or a studio fixture, can be daunting if you are uneducated in this area or have a specific budget in mind. We’ll put that mind with this article.
The Best Models
Specs (H x W x D)
Rating & Price
|Moog LPSSUB001 Sub Phatty||25 keys, 31 knobs, 13 switches, two oscillators, sub-oscillator, noise generator, Moog ladder filter||6.75″ x 20.25″ x 14.75″
|Novation MiniNova Analog Modeling Sythesizer||37 mini keys, modeling sound engine, Distortion, reverb, compression, EQ, chorus/phase, delay, Gator, 256 presets||2.95″ x 23.2″ x 9.06″
|Yamaha MX61 Production Station||61 semi-weighted keys, Reverb, Chorus, Insertion Effects, Master EQ, Arpeggiator,||4.4″ x 38.74″ x 11.77″
|Korg KROME 88-Key Synthesizer||88 Hammer-Action keys, 640 sounds, 288 combination patches, 193 effects, pitch bend, modulation||5.16″ x 57.01″ x 12.32″
|Arturia MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer||Analog sound engine, 25 keys, aftertouch, multi-wave oscillator, analog distortion, CV Gate source selector||2.76″ x 15.35″ x 12.79″
More about Analog Synths
Sounds you can create include a wide variety of instruments, both real and virtual, and other more exciting sounds like bleeps and twangs.
Each of the sounds produced can be linked and blended with other sounds, notes and chords to create truly unique and funky sounds.
The majority of synthesizing devices that are available on the market can take a single sound and manipulate it thousands of different ways, opening up a whole new tonal dimension for professionals and serious newbies alike.
A synthesizer is classically built for producing and then altering virtual analog sounds from no original input- the sounds are entirely novel and unique to the creator.
However, the models can launch samples too which are small soundbytes in the form of an audio file.
These can be assigned to specific buttons or triggered by simply pressing a certain key on the keyboard if it has one included.
Computer-enabled modules that provides virtual soundbytes are called ‘soft synths’, allowing it to be compatible with all forms of programs used to sequence and audio from a computer.
Every note and chord played by an instrument in the real world has a specific sound that is made by a variety of factors; how hard you strike the instrument or the construction material for example.
Each note vibrates at the same frequency whenever you play it, and what a synthesizer does it allow the user to break down that individual sound into different perspectives: harmonic, tone, vibration, wavelength.
You can then begin to tinker and adjust the various controls on the synthesizer to create a different version of that sound.
After you have got the sound exactly as you want it, you can save it in the memory bank for recalling at a later time. They available have a ton of memory and pre-set banks for you to choose from.
Who are synthesizers designed for?
It is truly an amazing tool to have at your disposal, and the possibilities for new sounds are unlimited. The synth can be configured to produce the natural sounds of any instrument, such as a piano, flute or percussion instrument.
It can even generate sounds that cannot be made naturally, such as those heard in modern sci-fi movies and sound effects on videogames.
For those who are professionals in the music, television and radio industries, synthesizers are a part of daily life and their job would be difficult, if not impossible, without one. They’re used on all kinds of control panels when audio manipulation or triggering is necessary.
People who just want to create songs in a specific genre, i.e. electric house, can pick up a synthesizer and make magic with it fairly easily.
It is a key piece of hardware to have when you need to get that tune out of your head and into reality…. and onto the charts.
What do you get with a synthesizer?
Synthesizers are generally either handheld, with pressure pads and simple knobs, or studio standard, with a whole gamut of switches, knobs, buttons and sliders, complete with a million flashing lights.
For the professional, a small handheld device is usually more than enough to get your tune out there, and the larger equipment is used for fine-tuning the production.
On a synthesizer, you will often see many knobs that affect the varied functions of the music. Making adjustments to these in a careful and subtle manner will allow you to create exactly what you want to hear from the sound.
Sliders are great for volume control of certain elements of the song, as well as for blending sounds or slowly introducing a new loop to the tune.
Don’t be daunted by the amount of buttons and panels when choosing the best device for yourself, they all have a function that is advantageous to you – it will just take some time to accustom yourself to them all.
Moog Sub Phatty
On the Moog Sub Phatty Analog Synthesizer are: 25 semi-weighted keys, 31 knobs and 13 mode switches to choose from for altering sounds.
There are sixteen pre-set sounds in four banks that you can select, with an inbuilt noise generator and pumping sub-oscillator.
Popular Moog features like the Multidrive and the Ladder Filter enhance controls like no other brand, and can perform a variety of wave-shape changes to the music.
The LFO has a range of 1Hz up to 100Hz, and can be charged and connected to PCs through USB. Weighs a hefty 16lbs but packs a punch on the volume level, with dimensions at around 20” x 14” x 6”.
It’s not named a ‘phatty’ for nothing, the beats that eminate from this beast are indeed ‘phat’, which is why this Moog makes the list!
The Novation MiniNova is a great model from the Novation range, with a built-in vocoder with corresponding voice-changing effects.
Over 250 sounds have been included in the MiniNova, all which can be searched in no time at all.
There are five effects for voice manipulation, and seven effects for sound in general- like distortion and compression.
All the software you need to edit your music comes with the pack too, and a great ‘librarian’ feature.
You can plug your guitar or microphone into this device and get read-time effects for you to play with. Lightweight design is a huge bonus, weighing only 6lbs.
If you’re looking for a handy little piece that also looks futuristic and cool, then this is the way to go. The Novation brand name is also a trusted one, with many innovative released in the past few years.
Yamaha MOX6 61-Key Music Production Synthesizer
The Yamaha MOX6 is a fantastic machine that can comfortably and consistently produce music of a high quality.
The 61 keys on this contemporary semi-weighted keyboard assist users in triggering sounds and pre-sets, as well as performing with great quality and smoothness when played.
Although the MOX6 was brought out first, Yamaha quickly anticipated the need for a larger version of this model and soon afterwards brought out the Yamaha Motif XF8.
The larger keyboard provides a wider range of chords and notes available to be synthesized, and adds thousands of new sounds to your already massive collection.
Both models contain a whopping 4,000 various wave-forms, plus more than 1000 voices to toy with for endless hours.
There are 18 effect filters to choose from, including a quality vocoder and reverb, and 128 pre-sets in total. All this power makes these Yamaha’s large 50lb+ machines, but it will be on a stand so its not like you’re carrying it all the time.
Foot pedal insert possible for an extra degree of control. At 56” X 18”, there are larger, more expensive models on the market with less power so this is a great balance between price and power.
If you’re a new starter to the music industry, you may want to try the 61 key option for sound production, however professionals will obviously want that wider range of 88 keys the Motif XF8 offers to get exactly the sound they are searching for.
It comes in at a higher cost, around $1,680, but it is well worth the additional price for the huge impact it will have on your musical creativity.
Korg Krome 88-Key Workstation and Synthesizer
The Korg Krome is a great keyboard synthesizer with tons of fantastic features packed into the 32lb design. The whole thing has been totally weighted, with 88 top-class computer keys and additions for plugging in an unlooped guitar or drum sounds.
The touch-screen presents information and statuses in full colour, with timbre and EQ effects included plus a variety of others to get acquainted with.
It comes pre-programmed with more than 600 unique sounds and nearly 300 combination patches. It is not too bulky for the power it provides, measuring 5.16” H, 57.01” W and 12.32” D.
The Korg brand has been one of the leading manufacturers of keyboards and synthesizers in recent years, and when you choose any of their models you can be sure you haven’t wasted your money, and you will get to do exactly what it says it can do for you.
The Arturia MiniBrute 25 keys and various wheels, knobs and buttons assist any musician to create music to the best of their ability. Perfect analog distortion effects can be manufactured easily with the famous Brute Factor.
The LFO can be set to three differing modes, trill up/down and sine, plus vocals can be mixed with instrument sounds for sheer amusement and innovative music creations.
The strong aluminium casing is ideal for carrying the device around with you, and won’t get damaged if dropped accidentally. USB MIDI possible and charged through 12V external power source.
One audio output and two audio inputs are available for any additional plug-ins you may wish to extend the MiniBrute’s functionality with.
Choosing the best synthesizer for your needs is a big decision. It’s an investment in your future as a producer, so it’s important to take the time to sift through your options. We at MBMK hope this article has been helpful in your search for the synthesizer most suitable for you!