Let’s be honest – buying a synthesizer can be quite an investment.
But there are also some great budget-friendly synthesizers worthy of consideration.
Either way, with a vast number of good options in the market, choosing the right synthesizer might be challenging.
But we hope we can make things easier for you – we compiled a list of the best synthesizers in the market right now.
We will briefly explain why they’re worth checking out as well as point out their main features.
1. Korg Volca FM – Best portable FM synth
Made by one of the most popular manufacturing companies, the Volca FM is one of the most convenient and affordable digital synths in the market.
Korg manufactured this polyphonic digital synthesizer with the goal to reproduce a classic FM sound engine.
In essence, FM synthesis uses one signal (the “modulator”) to modulate the pitch of another signal (the “carrier”); so it takes a simple waveshape and alters its timbre.
The Volca FM provides easy sound editing and a chorus effect to add depth to your sounds.
There are also some new functions that allow you to generate more irregular rhythms.
But one of the best things about this digital synth is that it is easily portable – you can just fit it in the bag and carry it around wherever you go.
2. Arturia MicroFreak – Best hybrid synth
Arturia is another popular name in the world of electronic musical instruments.
The MicroFreak model is hands down one of their best synths.
It’s a hybrid synth, so it blends wavetable and digital oscillators with analog filters.
It offers excellent playability, and thanks to its pressure-sensitive keys and poly-aftertouch, each key can control parameters in a different way depending on how much you touch.
You can also use its USB, MIDI, and CV outputs to control instruments in your DAW and modular synths.
Moreover, the MicroFreak allows you to record up to four automation, edit notes, and use the Spice and Dice sequencer functions to experiment and find ‘happy accidents’.
There’s also a randomization to create evolving, original patterns.
So, if you’re looking for an affordable hybrid synth that will allow you to be expressive and creative, you can’t go wrong with the MicroFreak.
3. Behringer Neutron – Best semi modular synth
Behringer Neutron is a semi-modular desktop synthesizer that offers great value for money.
A semi-modular synth gives you a complete synthesizer, while letting you interrupt some of the pre-made connections, or make completely new connections, to create new sounds.
So, they are more flexible, but it does take a while to figure out how everything works.
For those who understand what matters in such a synth: the Neutron has a paraphony mode for two-part sounds, a multimode VCF with resonance, and two analog ADSR envelopes for VCF and VCA.
And it has a jack matrix with 32 inputs, 24 outputs for enhanced sound, and connectivity with other modular synthesizers and sequencers.
All in all, it’s a reasonably priced semi-modular synth that won’t let you down.
4. IK Multimedia Uno Synth Pro – Best keyboard
The IK Multimedia Uno Synth Pro is introduced by the manufacturer as the award-winning, analog sound in a limited-edition finish.
Well, one thing is for sure – this is one of the best synthesizers you can find.
It comes with a variety of features and functions that will allow you to create music in an easy way.
The full 37-note keyboard allows you to be creative and expressive, and quality stereo effects will enrich the whole process.
There’s also a fantastic 64-step sequencer and more than 200 presets.
All in all, if you’re looking for a reliable synthesizer that is both versatile and portable, the IK Multimedia Uno Synth Pro is a great choice.
5. Arturia MiniBrute 2 – Best best semi-modular monosynth
Arturia MiniBrute 2 is hands down one of the best semi-modular monosynths out there.
It has a patch bay that makes it flexible, along with fantastic connectivity.
In terms of sound, the MiniBrute 2 won’t disappoint you – MiniBrute 2’s signal path and sound control abilities are second to none.
It has plenty of analog grit, and it provides an astounding ability to mix and shape multiple waveforms to create an impressive variety of sonic results.
On the other hand, the MiniBrute 2 is based on simplicity and ease of use, so it’s suitable for beginners as well as experienced players and producers.
Arturia MiniBrute 2 has a reputation for being among the top synthesizers in the world for a good reason.
6. Korg Minilogue XD – Best compact synth
The Minilogue XD is introduced by Korg as the next-generation analog synthesizer.
It’s compact and portable, yet it offers versatility and flexibility.
With the Minilogue XD, you can let your creative juices flow – it has 37 velocity-sensitive keys and a variety of effects to play with, including Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Ensemble, and Phaser.
It comes with 16 user oscillator slots and 16 user effect slots that you can customize.
Another advantage is excellent connectivity; you can use it with headphones, stereo output, audio in, sync in, sync out, USB, 2x CV in, and it’s compatible with MIDI.
On top of that, the Minilogue XD has good build quality, so you can be sure this synth will serve you well for a longer period of time.
7. Korg Wavestate
This is another Korg synthesizer worth checking out.
The Wavestate stands out from its competitors because of its comprehensive modulation options and great design.
The synth features 37 velocity-sensitive keys, which is more than enough to create unique melodies.
The Wavestate also has amazing sequencing potential, and although it takes a while to get used to it, it’s a top choice for musicians and producers of all levels of expertise.
With this kind of digital synthesizer, you will be able to turn your ideas into music without hassle.
So if you want to buy a reliable synth that will enrich your home studio, the Wavestate is worth the money.
8. Arturia MiniFreak – Best for versatility
Arturia MiniFreak is another great option for musicians and producers.
It’s a hybrid synth that combines dual digital sound engines with analog filters.
Thanks to its sequencing options and a range of stereo effects, it offers versatility, flexibility, and plenty of features.
Its polyphony is based on 6 voices (12 voices in paraphonic mode), and there are 3 digital FX slots in insert or send mode, with 10 FX to choose from.
Modulation is also top-notch, providing customizable multi-segment LFO shapes, FM & ring modulation, and ‘Spice & Dice’ randomization.
Finally, the Mini Freak’s 37 slim velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch will allow you to express your ideas in a more accurate, expressive way.
9. Roland JU-06A – Best compact Roland synth
Roland is one of the most popular manufacturers of electronic musical instruments.
And its JU-06A is the best of the JUNO-60 and JUNO-106 in one synth.
It’s compact and rather small, so you can easily carry it around wherever you go.
That said, it’s an excellent choice for traveling musicians and producers who have to work on the go.
With USB audio/MIDI and full-sized MIDI jacks, you can easily connect it to your gear.
The JU-06A also features an external clock input, so you can sync to vintage analog instruments or modern Eurorack systems.
10. Dreadbox Nymphes – Best all-analog synth
Dreadbox Nymphes is an all-analog synth with 6-voices polyphony.
It looks simple, but it has plenty to offer – it has a single oscillator with variable waveshape and a pair of LFOs with fade functions.
Thanks to the sliders on the front double up that allow you to access dual functions, everything is very convenient in terms of space, but they still provide a hardware feel.
The menu system is rather simple, so you can easily explore all the modulation options and its cool chord mode.
Plus, it’s USB-powered and compact for maximum portability.
All in all, Dreadbox Nymphes provides everything you need to make music at home in a creative and easy way.
It’s a good piece of audio equipment that will fit any home recording studio.
How to Choose a Synthesizer
With so many great options on the market, it’s easy to get confused.
How are you supposed to make a choice, and what should you look for in a synthesizer?
Although this is a personal choice, there are several things you should factor in when choosing a synthesizer.
First and foremost, you should think about your budget – how much are you willing to invest in a synthesizer?
Knowing your price range will significantly narrow down your choices.
If you’re not looking for a high-end synthesizer, you can search for affordable synthesizers that will meet your needs.
And if you’re just starting out, opt for a beginner-friendly synthesizer with a sequencer.
By the way, if you’re a complete novice, don’t pay more than $300.
The thing is, expensive synthesizers have more features and flexibility, and if you’re just starting out, that might be a bit confusing.
The size of the synth is another factor that might affect your decision.
What size you should opt for primarily depends on the space where you intend to put it.
Most people opt for a compact synth, especially if this is their only synthesizer, as this allows them to easily move it or travel with it.
Luckily, most good synths are designed to be easily portable, and even the more advanced models can fit in an average-sized home studio.
Analog or digital?
The synth sound is another important factor you should think about when buying your first synth.
If you’re a beginner, you probably won’t notice the difference between analog and digital synthesizers.
However, a more experienced ear will claim that analog synth sounds warmer than digital.
FM digital synthesis also tends to be more complex, having more features, parameters, and sonic options.
Digital synths also tend to be cheaper than analog synths.
Nevertheless, analog synths like subtractive synthesis are a popular choice among piano beginners, and they are often the first choice for players who prefer vintage piano sounds.
Best Synthesizers – Final Thoughts
A good digital or analog synthesizer can improve your workflow and enrich your music production process.
Our list of the best synthesizers covers all types of synths – from hybrids synthesizers to budget-friendly digital synths for beginners.
All of these synths are popular and reliable, so you just need to find the one that meets your needs, familiarize yourself with it, and start creating!
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