12 Best Synthesizers in 2017

A synthesizer is an electric instrument which is capable of producing a wide range of sounds by mixing several input signals of different frequencies. As the name says, this instrument can recreate several sounds that one can use for various purposes (soundtracks, stage performance, etc.).

If you are on the lookout for the best synthesizer, this guide will throw in a couple of hints on how you can choose them. It will tell you everything you need to know in order to make a right buying decision so that your music will never be lacking in quality.

Top 12 Synthesizers Comparison Chart

DesignNameTypePolyphonyRating (1-5)
  1. Arturia MicroBrute Analog SynthesizerAnalogMonophonic 4.7
  2. Korg MS20 Mini Semi-Modular Analog SynthesizerAnalogMonophonic 4.7
  3. Teenage Engineering 002.AS.001 OP-1 Mini SynthesizerDigitalPolyphonic5.6
  4. Korg Volca Keys Analog SynthesizerAnalogPolyphonic 4.4
  5. Yamaha Montage8 Synthesizer WorkstationAnalogPolyphonic 4.4
  6. Novation MiniNova Analog Modeling SythesizerAnalogPolyphonic 4.4
  7. Casio CTK2400 PPK 61-Key Portable Keyboard PackageDigitalPolyphonic4.4
  8. Novation Bass Station II Analog Mono-SynthAnalogMonophonic4.4
  9. Korg microKorg 37-Key Analog Modeling Synthesizer with VocoderAnalogPolyphonic 4.3
  10. Gakken SX-150 MARK II Analog SynthesizerAnalogPolyphonic 4.2
  11. Stylophone Retro Pocket SynthAnalogPolyphonic4.0
  12. Arturia MiniLab 230401 25-Key Mini USB/MIDI Keyboard Controller with SoftwareDigitalPolyphonic3.8

If you ever tried to buy the best synthesizer without doing proper research, the chances are that you weren’t able to figure out which one did what. If you don’t inform yourself beforehand, you’ll only be disappointed when you actually get the synthesizer in your hands.

Here are a couple of things you need to consider when buying a quality synthesizer.

Analog vs. Digital

The primary thing you should look for is whether the synthesizer is analog or digital.

The analog synthesizer will work with the sound waves directly, meaning they will have separate modules for handling every kind of sound wave. Since these separate models need to be connected in order to use various sound waves, the process is more cumbersome.

Digital synthesizers, on the other hand, let you manipulate the sounds digitally on your computers. They have been adapted into the MIDI (Musical Instrumental Digital Interface) system, and therefore, they are easier to alter.

Polyphonic vs. Monophonic

Polyphony is the synthesizer’s ability to play more than one note at the same time, therefore creating more layers of sound. Most analog synthesizers were made to be monophonic, but some of the newer models can also be found as polyphonic.

On the other hand, most digital synthesizers are polyphonic. They were made to permit computer modifications and additional sound layering.

If you plan on using the synthesizer as a leading instrument, you won’t need more that a monophonic or a duophonic synthesizer; however, if you plan on mixing a complex sound with more added instruments, then a polyphonic synthesizer may be a more suitable choice.

Consider the Oscillators

Oscillators are used to create various kinds of sounds through the use of sound waves. Those sound waves are:

  • Sine Wave
  • Square Wave
  • Triangle Wave
  • Sawtooth Wave

An oscillator will only use one wave. Therefore, if your plan is to use multiple sound waves, you may want to go for a synthesizer that possesses more than one oscillator.

The usual synthesizer will have three oscillators, but the user will be the one to decide how many they need.

Modes and Presets

Synthesizers nowadays come with various presets and modes that a user can select for a sound. They can play a particular tone or instrument simply with the touch of a button that can be combined with other sounds.

For instance, one can opt for a certain piano tune and combine it with another violin sound. The result will be something that has never been heard before.

Deciding on the Budget

Synthesizers can go from a couple of hundred of dollars to a couple of thousands in a heartbeat. This is exactly why you need to keep a budget in mind every time you decide to go shopping for a synthesizer.

If your plan is to use the synthesizer as a backup to already-created music, you may want to go for less expensive devices. On the other hand, if the synthesizer is supposed to act as a leading instrument, you may want to go for a larger, more versatile one. They may be more expensive, but they have more features.

Top 5 Best Synthesizer Reviews

1. Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer

Arturia created this synthesizer after the MiniBrute came on the market. Their purpose was to take the small synthesizer and make it… well… smaller.

With dimensions that aren’t any bigger than a shoebox, the MicroBrute is meant for people that are tight on space. It crams all the knobs and switches into a mini keyboard, without making it look untidy.

Despite the fact that it is meant as an analog synthesizer, it CAN be connected to a computer. All you have to do is integrate it to the DAW via USB port. You can also opt for a MIDI in port when connecting the synthesizer.

This MicroBrute is more “macro” than it lets off in terms of performance. Despite the fact that it only has one oscillator, you can still mix multiple waveforms to create unique songs. Plus, every sound wave has its own knob, which you can use to bring harmony to the piece.

Not only is the MicroBrute a great analog/digital synthesizer, but it is also compact enough to be easily handled. It has a design and functionality which is perfect for beginners, but also a level of control and depth that is worthy of an experienced user. It’s a rock-solid synthesizer that you will definitely love.

2. Korg MS20 Mini Semi-Modular Analog Synthesizer

This synthesizer is an update to the original MS-20 made in 1970. Since space has become more and more of an issue lately, it was a given that a mini-version of this kind would eventually appear on the market.

But don’t let its compact aspect fool you! In this case, size doesn’t matter – at least not when it comes to the sound.

It’s a user-friendly analog synthesizer that has remained faithful to the original model while tweaking in some extra ones.

When it comes to a small synthesizer, many people complain that the mini keys are too troublesome to handle; however, that problem doesn’t apply to this device. They are something between mini and regular-sized keys, but large enough so that the hands of an adult will not have any issues pressing the keys.

Another reason why this analog synthesizer is so great is that it is also able to receive information through a MIDI control. As a result, you can use a MIDI controller to influence the sound waves at higher octaves.

Bottom line, this analog synthesizer is an affordable and versatile alternative to most expensive synthesizers you will found out there.

If you are concerned with complexity, depth, and sound variety, then you should definitely go for the MS-20 Mini.

3. TEENAGE ENGINEERING OP-1 Mini Synthesizer Pack

Due to the fact that it looks very cute, compact and sporting a very unusual design, many people may end up mistaking it for a toy at first. But once you start exploring it, you will realize that this is by no means a toy – it’s a gold mine.

This synthesizer combines multiple synth engines, four sequence types, sampler, tape-style 4-track recorder, FM radio and a motion sensor; it’s truly a unique palette of tools.

You can also connect a 3.5 mm headphone jack in the output to ensure you aren’t waking up your roommates or disturb any persons in the process.

This device can obviously be connected to your computer and be used as a MIDI controller. It brings “digital” in the mix, which is why you’ll definitely want to have this baby around.

4. Korg Volca Keys Analog Synthesizer

If you truly wish to strip everything away in order to challenge your creative side, then the Volca Keys by Korg is exactly what you need. Cited as the best portable synthesizer on a budget, this tool provides you everything that a high-quality synthesizer should offer.

Boasting a true analog sound, the Volca synthesizer allows you to have some fun with various presets while creating something unique.

The Volca instruments can be purchased separately; to some, this may be more convenient, since you only get the devices that you want (keys, beats, bass or samples), without spending more on other tools that you may not even need.

On the other hand, if you are the kind of person that is undecided on the instruments, this may not be the best choice for you. Purchasing all extensions may end up being more expensive that it’d be if you bought one of the synthesizers mentioned above.

5. Yamaha Montage8 Synthesizer Workstation

Once more, Yamaha manages to blow away through sheer quality and professionalism. It mixes a great number of sounds that are rich, fuzzy, full, tight and warm. It literally sounds as if it’s out of this world.

This synthesizer will make you feel as if you are playing on a grand piano, and with the press of two buttons, you are suddenly playing a vintage organ before going full-orchestra level.

There isn’t really anything this device can’t do. It’s like bringing an entire band in just one instrument.

You can also add a whole load of effects – all you will need is some time and practice to learn all of them. Overall, this one is an instrument you will definitely not want to miss out on.

Final Thoughts

A synthesizer is a great medium if you want to mimic the sounds made by various instruments – even something as usual as a car horn or a police siren. Furthermore, they can also be used to create complex notes by layering the sound waves.

Today, we made our pick of the most popular synthesizers that brought the best results. The Arturia MicroBrute is the “brute” that won the race, the best synthesizer that you can buy. On the other hand, Korg also seems to be very popular, along with the never-disappointing Yamaha.

Get out, create a song and impress the world with your music, regardless of your tool of choice!