12 Best Synthesizers for Both Professional and Amateur Musicians!

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Last updatedLast updated: January 31, 2021
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Do you want to impress the crowd with incredible tracks? If so, getting the best synthesizer is a great idea. Synthesizers allow you to be creative in developing your music with almost endless possibilities. But finding the best synth isn’t easy, which is why we’ve done all the hard work for you. We’ve researched the market high and low to compile a list of the top-rated models to make your choice easier.

What makes the best synthesizer? Well, there’s plenty to think about, such as the signal type, which affects the quality of the sound. Next, we’ll check the keyboard to make sure that you are comfortable with it, along with the connectivity options. In terms of functionality, you need to consider the polyphony, oscillators, filter, envelope generator, and sequencer. Do you like to learn more? Stick with us, and we’ll cover everything so you can be confident in your buying decision. Let’s get started!

Top 12 Synthesizers Review 2021

Features
  • Signal: hybrid
  • Polyphony: monophonic or paraphonic modes with up to 4 voices
  • Keyboard: 25 touch-sensitive keys with aftertouch
  • Oscillators: 13 digital oscillator with variable mode
  • Filter: state variable analog
  • Envelope generator: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 64-step
  • Connectivity: CV / Gate / Mod outputs, USB, Clock and MIDI in and out

In our experts’ opinion, this is the best all-around synthesizer available today. It has a wide range of excellent features while also being easy to use. It ticks all of the right boxes while also offering exceptional value for money.

There’s nothing not to love here. It has everything that you need and even has a hybrid signal. Along with that, there is a versatile digital oscillator, variable analog filter, and a 64-step sequencer. It means your creativity has no limits.

It’s a great size and has 25 touch-sensitive keys that feel great. Connectivity won’t be an issue, and that includes MIDI in and out ports. It has everything you need here with plenty of versatility to get the exact synth sounds you want.

What we liked:

  • There is a lot to love about this synth. Along with all the features we mentioned, it also has very low latency. You'll have an immense amount of fun exploring how to use this synth, and it's not too hard to learn. It all comes with an affordable price tag.

What could be better:

  • Part of the reason it has that affordable price is that there are some cheaper plastic parts on it. That’s not a huge issue as the durability is still quite good. Apart from that, it’s hard to pick any fault with this synth.
2.

Korg Volca FMBest Value

Features
  • Signal: digital
  • Polyphony: 3 voices
  • Keyboard: multi-touch
  • Oscillators: FM
  • Filter: modulator/carrier
  • Envelope generator: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 16-step
  • Connectivity: headphones out, Sync in and out, MIDI in

If you wanted a purely digital synth, then you can’t go wrong with this model. It’s a great bridge between the past’s synth machines, but with the modern wonders of technology, it has a classic FM sound engine that will give you a lot of fun.

The FM synthesizer has three voices that can replicate the sound engine available on classic FM synthesizers. It has a user-friendly interface that is intuitive and allows you to get the results you’re looking for effortlessly.

It has a 16-step sequencer that allows you to make countless powerful rhythms. On top of that, there are an ADSR envelope generator and a multi-touch keyboard. It’s a fantastic synth and a perfect example of a high-quality FM model.

What we liked:

  • We loved the wide range of sounds that can be produced by this synth, which we thought was the best budget synthesizer. That’s helped by the large variety of presets available, along with the range of features available. On top of this, it's entertaining to use, and you'll love learning with it.

What could be better:

  • Why you’ll enjoy the learning experience, it does have quite a steep learning curve with it. The amount of time this takes will depend from one person to the next, but hopefully, you enjoy the experience.
3.

Moog Grandmother SynthesizerBest Sound Depth

Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: monophonic
  • Keyboard: 32-note Fatar keyboard with velocity
  • Oscillators: 2 analog oscillators with selectable waveshape and hard sync
  • Filter: low-pass filter
  • Envelope generator: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 64-step
  • Connectivity: EXT in, DIN MIDI in/out/thru, and USB MIDI

The Moog Grandmother is well-known for its immense quality both in terms of construction and sound. It’s a semi-modular analog instrument that many synth enthusiasts love using due to the depth of sound.

It also has a built-in arpeggiator along with and an immense 64-step sequencer. You can start using it straight away as no patching is required. You can then explore the infinite sound possibilities that this synth gives you.

There are many things to love here, such as the immersive ambient sound you get from the analog spring reverb. An ADSR envelop generator and low-pass filter are added positives here, and it’ll also have all the connections you need.

What we liked:

  • With Moog, you know you’re getting fantastic quality but also high value for money. You’ll love the features here to go with its solid build. It’s a good synth for portability while also being fairly simple to use.

What could be better:

  • One of the factors that do make this an affordable synth is that there is a lack of versatility here. It’s important to see whether or not this is suitable for the results you’re looking for. If it is, then that lack of versatility won’t be an issue.
4.

Korg Minilogue XDBest Analog Synthesizer

Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: 4 voices
  • Keyboard: 37 slim keys, velocity-sensitive
  • Oscillators: 2 VCO, LFO
  • Filter: VCF, HPF
  • Envelope generator: ADSR and AD-only
  • Sequencer: 16-step
  • Connectivity: headphone, output L/Mono, R jacks, CV in 1, CV in 2, SYNC in, SYNC out, MIDI in, MIDI out, USB-B jack, damper

As technology improves, there was always a chance analog would be left behind, and that has been the case with other forms of technology. With music, however, many people still swear by that analog sound.

Companies such as Korg have moved with the times and created analog synths that are suitable for the next generation while still having that classic sound. With the Minilogue XD, they have found that balance perfectly.

Plenty of functionality is offered here with its digital multi-engine, a powerful 16-step sequencer, and micro tuning. The result is a synth that gives you exceptional possibilities for your sound design and musical performance.

What we liked:

  • Creative minds will love the sound customization offered here as the possibilities are near-endless. It’s very well made with a solid build quality that should see it lasting for many years. The intuitive sequencer is also a joy to use.

What could be better:

  • It's worth noting that the output is mono, which may not be ideal for everyone. The effects are stereo, but the sound will still feel centralized. This won’t be an issue for all users as it depends on your preference.
Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: 6 voices
  • Keyboard: four-octave semi-weighted
  • Oscillators: true voltage-controlled oscillators
  • Filter: 2-pole
  • Envelope generator: filter envelope and oscillator 2 modulation sources
  • Sequencer: 64-step
  • Connectivity: USB, MIDI in/out/thru, footswitch-sequence, sustain, EXP pedal volume, EXP pedal filter, 1/4″ audio outputs, headphones

The Dave Smith Instruments OB-6 is another brilliant analog synth that has a long list of excellent qualities. It has a 6 voice polyphony that works very well with a keyboard that has just four octaves and semi-weighted keys.

The sequencer on this synth is another impressive feature as it has 64-steps to give you excellent control over your music creativity. Other features include a 2-pole filter and true voltage-controlled oscillators that we loved.

It’s perfect for musicians on the go, especially considering the wide number of inputs and outputs it has. You can also use it easily as a MIDI keyboard and even attach effects pedals. It has everything you need in a solid device.

What we liked:

  • Along with all of the features that we've looked at here, it also has brilliant build quality, which makes it highly portable. The sequencer is also exceptional. On top of that is the analog sound that many people adore.

What could be better:

  • It's hard to pick any fault with this keyboard. If we had to pick one, it may be that the keyboard is not large enough. It only has 4 octaves, which may limit those looking for a little more range.
6.

Yamaha Reface DXBest Digital Synthesizer

Features
  • Signal: digital
  • Polyphony: 8 voices
  • Keyboard: 37 keys (High-Quality mini)
  • Oscillators: 4-operator FM sound engine with 12 algorithms
  • Filter: FM only (no filter)
  • Envelope generator: EG
  • Sequencer: loop
  • Connectivity: headphones, MIDI in/out, AUX in, L/MONO, R, USB (to host), sustain

This is a fantastic FM synth for anyone that wants a high level of portability. Along with having a power adapter, the synth has a battery that can last up to 5 hours. It also has an auto power-off function that will save battery.

It’s a digital synth that comes with 8-voice polyphony. That comes from a 37-key keyboard that is central to the creativity you can produce from this synth. It has a loop sequencer along with the EG envelope generator.

You get a 4-operator FM sound engine that contains 12 different algorithms. The connectivity options are quite good, and it has an in/out MIDI option. It looks great and is quite affordable, which makes it an excellent choice for many users.

What we liked:

  • It has the affordability and build quality you'd expect from Yamaha. On top of that, it has excellent sound and key feel from the keyboard. In many ways, it's per perfect FM synth and can be integrated will with the dedicated app.

What could be better:

  • It can be a little hard to edit envelopes here when compared with other models. You get used to it eventually, but it can be quite a difficult learning curve.
7.

Behringer NeutronBest Modular Synthesizer

Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: paraphonic
  • Keyboard: not available
  • Oscillators: 2 with waveform control
  • Filter: multi-mode VCF and state variable
  • Envelope generator: 2 ADSR
  • Sequencer: not available
  • Connectivity: 32 In x 24 Out TS 1/8″ (3.5 mm), MIDI I/O and Thru, USB/MIDI DIN

This synth is genuinely brilliant for anyone that wants to create any monophonic sound that they could possibly want. It allows you to make those sounds with delicacy while also be relatively easy for you to use.

It’s a pure analog synth that has a flexible multi-wave LFO along with a variable filter. Another impressive aspect of this synth is the paraphonic mode that allows you to use those analog oscillators independently for a wide range of tonal options.

The design here is semi-modular, and you don’t need to start patching straight away for high performance. The portable is also fantastic, which makes this synth perfect for both home studio and those on the road.

What we liked:

  • This is another synth that finds that perfect balance of being true to the synths of mold while having all the modern touches. It's brilliant to use, and this is aided by responsive online support.

What could be better:

  • They aren't really downsides as such as it's just the type of synth it is, but there isn't any patch storage or a sequencer. If you want those, you'd either need to get extra devices or look for another model.
8.

Behringer DeepMind 12Best 12-Voice Synthesizer

Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: 12 voices
  • Keyboard: 49 full-sized, velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch
  • Oscillators: 2 analog OSCs per voice with oscillator sync mode, 2 LFOs per voice with 7 waveform shapes
  • Filter: dual slope 12/24 dB analog low pass filter with adjustable resonance and tracking, 4 envelope faders, HPF
  • Envelope generator: 3 ADSR generators per voice
  • Sequencer: 32-step
  • Connectivity: USB MIDI, EXP pedal/ CV, 2 x 1/4″ TRS, headphones out, MIDI in/out/thru, wireless control with RTP MIDI support, configurable Wi-Fi client

This is another Behringer synth that has fantastic analog sound. It’s brilliant for many different reasons, including that it has a 12-voice polyphonic synthesizer. That gives is enormous potential for making exceptional sounds.

The features here are incredible, including a 32-step sequencer, 8-channel modulation matrix, 3 ADSR generators, and 4 FX engines. Along with that are dual analog OSCs and LFOs per voice, so you can see that you’ll never be short of creative options here.

A unique feature here is the remote control, as you’ll be able to control it via many different Apple and Android devices. Along with that, it has many other connection options, and that even includes built-in Wi-Fi.

What we liked:

  • We've listed many great features here, but the synthesizer is also brilliant for patch building. The quality of the controls is high, and you can see that in the knobs and sliders. It all adds up to fantastic value for money and a synth you'll fall in love with.

What could be better:

  • While the knobs and sliders feel good, the overall build quality isn't quite as high as on other models. It's not terrible by any means, but it's worth noting. If you take care of it, you'll have a great synth for a long time.
9.

IK Multimedia UNOBest Beginner Synthesizer

Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: monophonic
  • Keyboard: 2-octave multi-touch keyboard
  • Oscillators: 2 VCO with variable shape waveforms, noise generator, LFO
  • Filter: 2-pole VCF
  • Envelope generator: 2 EG for filter and amplitude
  • Sequencer: 16-step
  • Connectivity: 3.5mm audio out, 3.5mm audio in, 2 MIDI DIN, micro USB

This is another excellent synth for those looking for one without a keyboard. It’s a monophonic analog synth that may be suited to your style. Next, it has a good range of connections and can be used with batteries along with the power cable.

The sequencer here is very impressive with its 16 steps and selectable length between 1 and 16. It also has real-time and step-recording with parameter recording along with real-time parameter recording.

It features a 2-octave keypad for those who like a change from a traditional keyboard. On top of that is 2 VCO with variable shape waveforms and LFO. It’s a brilliant option, and you’ll get lost in many hours of playing this synth.

What we liked:

  • This is a fantastic option as a beginner synth, considering how easy it is to use. It's lightweight and portable, too, so you can take it anywhere. The sound potential is tremendous, and you'll love the smooth synth sounds.

What could be better:

  • The build quality here is on the lower side, and we do have questions about its long-term durability. It seems to play very well, however, but you’ll want to ensure that you take good care of it.
10.

Roland SYSTEM-8Best Versatility

Features
  • Signal: digital and analog
  • Polyphony: 8 voices
  • Keyboard: 49 keys with velocity
  • Oscillators: digital and analog-style oscillators with unique waveforms
  • Filter: JUPITER and JUNO, Side Band (LPF, HPF)
  • Envelope generator: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 64-step
  • Connectivity: headphones, L/MONO, R jacks, CV/GATE out, Trigger in, pedal jacks, MIDI in/out, USB-B

You can always trust a Roland instrument and this is no different. It’s another brilliant option for those who love the sound and feel of those classic synths. It mixes both digital and analog to give you the best of both worlds.

The dedicated multiple dedicated effects means that you can switch between modern and vintage oscillators and filter types. You can then use your own creativity to split and layer them into new sounds.

The range of features here makes this one of the most versatile synths available today. The high resolution controls mean that it can produce whatever type of sound you’re after. It puts everything you need into one synth for ultimate usability.

What we liked:

  • We've already mentioned it, but the versatility is probably the best feature of this synth. The customization options are phenomenal, and excellent sound quality is produced. Added to this, its user friendly, so the learning curve isn't too steep.

What could be better:

  • There a few limitations to note, such as being unable to map an expression pedal to arbitrary parameters. Also, it shows up as two MIDI devices in your DAW, which can be a little annoying.
11.

Elektron Digitone 8-voice Digital SynthBest Portable Synthesizer

Features
  • Signal: digital
  • Polyphony: 8 voices
  • Keyboard: 16 pads
  • Oscillators: 2 assignable LFOs per voice
  • Filter: multi-mode, base-width
  • Envelope generator: two FM controls paired with envelopes
  • Sequencer: 4 tracks
  • Connectivity: MIDI In/Out/Thru with DIN Sync out, USB, 2x 1/4″ audio in jacks, 2x 1/4″ imdepedance balanced audio out jacks, headphones

The Digitone is an example of how FM synthesis can be modernized. It beautifully combines FM sound generation with a subtractive synthesis signal flow for fantastic results. It’s going to bring a lot of fun for you.

It allows you to create a whole new world of sound from harsh, chaotic noise to mellow and soothing tones. There are multiple FM algorithms to choose from which each of them having carefully selected parameters.

It has 8-note polyphony along with 16 keyboard pads. For envelopes, it has two FM controls and a filter that has multi-mode and base width. On top of this is a 4-track sequencer that you’ll enjoy working with to create your unique sounds.

What we liked:

  • We liked the level of sound experimentation that you can get from this synth. It's very well engineers and produces deep sound with plenty of bass. The presets available also give you a great starting point for your music.

What could be better:

  • The 4 tracks of the sequencer do limit its usability quite a bit. It's not an issue for everyone, but it's worth noting. Aside from that, it's hard to find fault with this excellent synth, which many people love.
12.

Novation Circuit Mono StationBest for Drum Patterns

Features
  • Signal: analog
  • Polyphony: monophonic or paraphonic
  • Keyboard: 32 RGB backlit velocity-sensitive buttons
  • Oscillators: 2 (individually controlled)
  • Filter: multi-mode filter (high-pass, low pass, or band-pass)
  • Envelope generator: with trigger
  • Sequencer: 32 sessions
  • Connectivity: 1/4″ L/R jack sockets, 2 MIDI, USB-B, headphones, CV/GATE output

If you wanted a fun and brilliant introduction to the world of synths, this would be a fantastic option, which is great to learn with. It looks great while also being fun to use, intuitive, and importantly, highly affordable.

You can use its two six-note polyphonic synths with four drums. They all have an independent filter, decay, distortion, and pitch controls. You can then introduce your own samples to create original music you’ll be proud of.

The connection options here are immense. You can send MIDI to other synths or even synchronize with other drum machines using a DAW. The 3.5mm MIDI jacks make it as simple as possible to expand your creativity.

What we liked:

  • The build quality of the synths was very impressive, and you get the impression that this will last for a very long time. There is also plenty of software support, so if you get stuck, you'll always find an answer out there for you.

What could be better:

  • This synthesizer does have its limitations. It can’t be powered by the battery, and also, there is no built-in speaker. That limits its portability as you’ll be relying on other devices to get the most out of it.

Things to Сonsider

When buying any product, you have to look for something that goes along within your budget while not compromising on features. This is the reason why we’ve written this guide, so you’ll be prepared with the latest information. We’re taking a closer look at all the synth’s features, so you can judge if its features match your needs.

Unlimited capabilities of synthesizers

There are many reasons why you should get a synth. They are a fun way of making electronic music, and there is an endless amount of possibilities to explore. It’s easy to get lost in the world of your synth as you spend hours trying to perfect your sound.

It can be a steep learning curve for a beginner, but you’ll soon get used to terms such as envelope generators and oscillators. If you’re already well versed in the world of synths, then it can be exciting to get something new and perhaps a different type of synth to what you’ve used before.

A synth is a unique instrument as it presents so many opportunities for creativity that you can’t get elsewhere. It’s that limitless potential that makes them so exciting. They also tend to be quite portable, so you can create and enjoy music wherever you are.

Things to consider before getting the best synthesizer

Everyone’s had that sinking feeling of buying a product only to find it’s not exactly what you wanted. That’s what we wanted to avoid here. This means knowing which features will be most important to you while looking for a synth in your budget.

Are you looking for a digital or analog sound? How many steps do you need in your sequencer? Do you want a keyboard? These are the types of questions that need answering, and if you’re unsure, then hopefully, this buying guide will clear everything up for you.

Signal type

Some musicians find it easier to use the analog model because they can produce warmer music, and its price isn’t usually high compared to the digital model. On the other hand, digital synthesizers no have processors and oscillators that help emulate analog synthesizer sound.

Listening closely, many audiophiles will prefer analog, but there are not many differences between them aside from their waveform and circuitry. Synth experts and novices prefer to use analog synthesizers because they are easier and have more functionality. Digital synthesizers, such as the Yamaha REFACE DX, are still excellent to use and are cheaper than analog models.

Polyphony

12 Best Synthesizers for Both Professional and Amateur Musicians!

Monophony is playing one note at a time, while polyphony refers to how notes can be played simultaneously without any being cut out. Many people prefer polyphony as you can produce rich sounds, but others prefer monophonic as it presents a different style.
A great example of a polyphony synth is the Elektron Digitone, which has 8 voices available. There is also the option of the Arturia MicroFreak, which is versatile and can switch between the two. This ultimately comes down to personal preference.

Keys

One of the most critical features of the synth is the keyboard and the number of keys that it has. The keyboard can determine the genre or the type of music that you are making and how the music can be felt. At the same time, it will help you know how many notes you are required to play at the same time.

Some others may prefer touchpads as they won’t have use for a keyboard. If you do have keys, their feel is also substantial.

Weighted keys resemble a feel of an acoustic instrument, adding dynamics and making notes more comfortable to press. This will also give you the same vibes as from an acoustic piano.

Interface

All synths will have different interfaces. You’ll often see a wide array of keys, knobs, and sliders. The number and position of these will change from one model to the next. If you’ve owned a synth before, you may feel comfortable getting one that matches that previous model.

You may also want a digital display such as the one found on the Behringer DeepMind 12. This can provide valuable information and allow you to work more seamlessly. It’s good to study the interface before you buy a synth to check you’ll be comfortable with it.

Oscillators

To give the music a rich tone, then you’ll have to look for a good oscillator installed in the synth. Without oscillators, you cannot produce high-quality music. An oscillator can simply detect and use any audible notes to allow the music to have a richer flavor in it.

One great example is the Behringer Neutron, which has 2 oscillators. They have waveform control that will allow you to have excellent control over your music and make those rich sounds.

Filters

One of the things you should also look for in a synth is the number of customizations that you can make with your music. The filters played a vital role, as it can remove two different audio frequencies. The synth has two kinds of filters, which are the low and high pass filters.

The low pass filter can permit a different audio frequency to pass below the cut-off point. Meanwhile, the high pass filter does the exact opposite to what the low pass can do. A synth can also have a band-pass, which only permits a mid-range sound.

Envelope generator

Envelope generators can change the sound, such as adjusting the music’s amplitude, filters, and pitch. In a regular acoustic piano, when you press the keys, it can create an initial sound that could decrease its volume to zero. What the envelope generators can do is to use different control tools that can be done with four parameters called the ADSR – attack, decay, sustain and release.

Let’s define the four stages of ADSR. The attack is the time for the initial run-up, while the decay is doing the opposite. Next, sustain is where the sound is being sustained until the key is released, and the release is where the level of decay up to the level of sustain is kept to zero until the key is released. Some synths, such as the Moog Grandmother, have excellent ADSR ability.

Sequencer

12 Best Synthesizers for Both Professional and Amateur Musicians!

The sequencer is the synth’s ability to create a sequence of notes. This is the basis of most musicians in creating drum patterns out of the different notes they have created. Some synths, such as the Novation Circuit Mono Station, have this feature included, which can give any music an excellent dynamism. Other synths don’t have one included as they either don’t need one or allow you to connect to one externally, which some people prefer.

Effects

Effects play the same role with the filters, which they can modify and alter the sound frequency. It’s also changing the original notes, which gives the music a more mind-blowing sound. All of the Behringer DeepMind 12 effects have a ridiculous control because of the external control voltages. This will allow the MIDI to control the sound. Another great feature is adding pedals that could help in modulating a single parameter.

Connectivity

It’s important to know what you’re going to connect to your synth, whether that is a computer, external sequencer, or something else. It’s a good idea to think of what your set-up is going to be before you decide what synth to get. Many of them have similar inputs and outputs, but they aren’t all the same. Double-check this beforehand to avoid disappointment.

Portability

Do you want to use your synth at home, or do you plan to take it from one place to the next? If it’s the latter, then portability is going to be important. Key features to look out for here are the size and weight, as you won’t want to use something that is too bulky.

Build quality is also vital as a synth that goes on the road will be more susceptible to bumps and drops. Makes sure you get one that can stand up to such punishment. If it’s just going to sit in a studio, all of this will be less important.

FAQ

Top-end synths can cost thousands of dollars, with some being available for under $100. Most will cost 200-300 dollars, such as the Arturia MicroFreak, and you can get many other great synths in that range.

Each synth is going to need a slightly different set-up. You’ll probably want to connect to music software, and you may need external gear such as a sequencer. Each synth is slightly different, so check this before you buy.

Our Verdict

We were impressed by all of the synthesizers in this list. If we had to pick a top model, then it has to be the Arturia MicroFreak. We think this one offers the best balance between functionality, sound, and price.

If that was a little too much for you, then the Korg Volca FM would be a great option. On the flip side, if you wanted a premium quality synth, then the Moog Grandmother would be perfect with its flawless sound and solid construction.

While we loved these three, we could have easily highlighted any of the other synths here. It’s vital to get the best synthesizer for you, and hopefully, our buying guide has helped you with that. All you need to do now is pick your favorite and start creating music!

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