The 14 best synthesizers 2021: top keyboards, modules and semi-modular synths

Comments · 137 Views

From cheap monosynths to the best high-end polys, we've got the perfect synthesizer for every budget

The 18 best synthesizers 2021: top keyboards, modules and semi-modular synths

 

 

1. Arturia MicroFreak

A great fun, innovative and affordable digital synth

Launch price: $349/£279/€299 | Synth engine: Digital | Polyphony: 4 voice paraphonic | Keyboard: 25-key capacitive keyboard | Sequencer: Yes | Effects: None | MIDI I/O: In/Out | Connectivity: Mono 1/4-inch output for audio, headphone output; 3.5mm CV/Gate/Pressure outputs, and 3.5mm MIDI I/O | Power: USB-powered, AC adapter

Lots of sonic potential given the price range
Weird and wacky oscillator modes
So much fun to program
A 24dB/oct filter mode would be useful
 
With so many synthesis features packed into such a small box, it’s hard not to fall in love with Arturia’s latest hardware offering. The multiple oscillator modes cover a near-endless range of timbres; the filter is smooth and versatile; the Matrix invites exploratory modulation; and the performance and sequencing tools are the icing on the creative cake. However, the real magic lies in the combo of all these together, making this odd little beast far more than the sum of its parts. MicroFreak should be top of your ‘must try’ list.

 

 

2. Korg Minilogue XD

Prologue’s four biggest features in a compact, affordable form

Launch price: $875/£565/€675 | Synth engine: Hybrid | Polyphony: 4 voices | Keyboard: 37 slim keys, velocity-sensitive | Sequencer: Yes | Effects: Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Flanger, Ensemble, Phaser | MIDI I/O: In/Out | Connectivity: Headphones, stereo output, audio in, sync in, sync out, USB, 2x CV in | Power: AC adapter

CV connectivity
Good build quality
Only one filter pole option onboard
No low-cut/high-pass filter switch or dial

This new model slots comfortably into the Logue range between the original Minilogue and the Prologue 8. If we had to choose between this and the original Minilogue, it’d be the XD due to its more powerful sequencer, extended general versatility, user-customisable Multi-Engine/effects, the joystick for real-time control, user scales/tunings, more inspiring vibe and excellent motion-sequenceable stereo effects/output. Along with the new damper pedal jack and dual-CV inputs (to interface with modular gear), the XD is a nicely different flavour of Minilogue, and its unique personality is a hugely welcome addition to the range as a whole. 

 

 

3. Behringer Neutron

The best semi-modular bang for your buck

Launch price: $375, £299, €345 | Polyphony: Paraphonic | Synth engine: all-analogue; 2 VCO, 1 VCF (12db LPF/HPF), VCA, 2 ENV (ADSR), LFO, BBD delay, overdrive | Control: External MIDI/CV control only | Patch points: 56 | Other I/O: MIDI In/Thru, USB (MIDI in), master out, audio in, headphone out

Comments