9 Best Synthesizers For Serious Musicians

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We round up 9 of the best synthesizers for those musicians who want a vast array of sounds, great control and something fun for recording and performance.

best synthesizers

The best synthesizers in the world are the ones that combine great playability, quality sounds and above all, fun. Choosing the right one for your needs can be a little difficult though, so today we’ve rounded up a selection of what we feel are some of the best synthesizers available on the planet right now.

These encompass all the things we need for stage and studio, namely ease of use, versatility, great selection of sounds and finally, they’re fun to play thus encouraging a positive playing experience.

Whether you’re a regular gigging musician looking for your next upgrade or you’re a seasoned pro, you’ll find a synth that works for you here. bear in mind, these are the higher-end models which tend to be a little more expensive. So if you want a range of cheap synthesizers that don't suck, read this blog on cheap synths instead.

1. Korg Prologue 16 Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer

Korg Prologue 16 Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer

First up we have the professional level Korg Prologue 16 Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer which is perfect for those who want a wider keybed, massive sonic palette and multiple voices.

You have a 61 note Natural touch keyboard which responds beautifully to the dynamics of your playing – ideal for musicians who really want to feel the music. You have 4 voice modes built in; POLY, MONO, UNISON and CHORD as well as the ability to blend the intensity of these modes via the DEPTH knob.

There’s a built in arpeggiator with a 4-octave range and 6 Arp types so you can create complex and intricate runs, a Noise Generator, FM Oscillator and a new analogue Comp/Boost feature. Finally, a host of DSP effects allow you to sculpt your sound to your liking and the easy to navigate layout makes music creation a breeze.

2. Moog Grandmother Analogue Synthesizer

Moog Grandmother Analogue Synthesizer

If you’ve ever wanted an original analogue synth, but either couldn’t really afford one or felt a little too apprehensive about learning how to use one, then the Moog Grandmother Analogue Synthesizer is the perfect answer. This won’t break the bank as it’s under £800 and it has been designed to help you create highly complex sounds and modulation without the need to manually patch parts together – it’s plug and play and a lot of fun.

The 32-note Fatar keyboard with velocity responds to your touch, which makes it great for experienced players. The built-in arpeggiator, sequencer and spring reverb tank are amazing features and the semi-modular design means you don’t have to use patches if you don’t want to, although the option is there. There’s also 2 Analog Oscillators with selectable waveshape and hard sync so you can get to grips with the likes of Sine, Sawtooth, Ramp and Square Modulation Oscillators, too, making it one of the best synthesizers on the market today – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

3. Roland JD-XA Hybrid Synthesizer

Roland JD-XA Hybrid Synthesizer

The Roland JD-XA Hybrid Synthesizer is packed with warm analogue synth sounds, oscillators and an analogue filter making it one of the best synthesizers for musicians who are serious about their sound.

We’ve added this to our best synthesizers list as it helps you deliver everything from warm analogue bass and lead tones whilst allowing for endless tweaking of your sound in a quick and easy fashion – it’s the perfect coupling of digital and analogue synthesis. This is packed with a four-part digital engine powered by Roland’s SuperNATURAL synth technology, as well as a four-part, all-analogue sound engine with true analogue filters and a direct dry output, so both sides of the spectrum are covered. Best of all you can use them independently or interactively making the Roland JD-XA a flexible synth for live and studio use.

There’s also a 16-track pattern sequencer, impressive oscillator section which includes Cross Mod, Ring Mod, and OSC Sync and a host of comprehensive effects. Finally, you can add it into your existing workflow with ease thanks to onboard USB, MIDI, and CV/GATE connectivity plus flexible MIDI control.

4. Yamaha MODX6 Synthesizer

Yamaha MODX6 Synthesizer

Next up we have the Yamaha MODX6 Synthesizer which is a 61 key synth designed for those who need compact instrument for the studio and live environment. We love the MODX6 as it’s packed with the same Advanced Wave Memory 2 (AWM2) as found in the hugely popular Montage series. This means you have an extremely powerful sample and synthesis engine with 8 elements at your disposal.

The 61 key keybed has a maximum polyphony of 128 which then allows you to engage with the lush emulations of synth sounds, drums and more. There’s 10,239 Arpeggios built in and you can even play 8 arpeggio parts simultaneously.

There’s also the FM-X Frequency Modulation features with 8 operators, 88 algorithms and a max polyphony of 64 as well as the 7” LCD touchscreen which helps you make changes and view settings quickly.

5. Moog Sub Phatty Analogue Synthesizer

Moog Sub Phatty Analogue Synthesizer

The Moog Sub Phatty Analogue Synthesizer is a gritty, fun and extremely powerful synthesiser that makes creating music an extremely rewarding experience. Powered by Moog MultiDrive circuitry, the Moog Sub Phatty is full of warmth and grit and can be pushed harder with the Multidrive section for more distortion, making it great for those who need an extra high-mid bite to their sound.

The 25-key, 2-octave keybed make sit highly portable, yet still very versatile and the easy to operate interface and mixer section makes sound manipulation easy whether you’re taking advantage of the 2 Variable Waveshape Oscillators, filters or modulation effects. In addition, you can hook this up to your existing workflow with ease and record via MIDI or USB directly to your DAW.

One of the best synthesizers for those with limited room, and those who need a gritty, hard working synth that’ll add that extra aggression to your sound.

6. Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer

Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer

Since Bon Iver recorded his entire album ’22, A Million’ utilising the Teenage Engineering OP-1 Portable Synthesizer, this has become one of the go-to synths for those who want to be able to think outside the box with their sound.

The battery or USB powered OP-1 is entirely portable, able to fit into your bag or pocket with ease, enabling you to create music wherever you are thanks to intuitive sampling features and a built-in speaker.

We think this is one of the best synthesizers available today as it includes 10 synthesizer engines, 8 high quality effects and multiple routable LFO’s. There’s also built in sequencers and the ability to record anything with the 4-track tape feature. You can also sample direct from any FM radio station in real time thanks to the built-in FM radio. This means you can sample sections of songs, spoken word – whatever you like and create obscure sounds instantly. A host of effects including Delay, Reverbs and Phone sounds plus many more make this a perfect music making tool – part of the reason the likes of Hans Zimmer, Bonobo and Deadmau5 love it so much!

7. Korg ARP Odyssey Mini Synthesizer Black Orange

Korg ARP Odyssey Mini Synthesizer Black Orange

The Korg ARP Odyssey Mini Synthesizer pictured here in Black Orange brings back the seventies ARP Odyssey MkIII model adding modern connectivity and appointments the modern musician will appreciate.

If you’re a fan of the original ARP Odyssey but don’t want to remortgage your home trying to get an original 1972 model, this is ideal. This has been recreated from circuit level up and has been downsized to 86% of the original, so it’s easily added to your existing workflow, yet it retains all the classic sounds and functionality of the original. However, one major improvement comes in the form of the DRIVE switch which makes the VCA distort causing a rough and raw sound. MIDI and USB connectivity has been installed for recording straight to a DAW and silent practice can be achieved due to the headphones output. Filters from all three generations have been included and the Portamento behaviours of both Rev1 and Rev2/3 are also present.

 

8. Moog One 8 Voice Analog Synthesizer

Moog One 8 Voice Analog Synthesizer

The Moog One 8 Voice Analog Synthesizer is the best synthesizer for professionals who demand the ultimate Moog sound. The Moog One has been handcrafted at the Moog USA factory in North Carolina offering the latest multi-timbral technology, to produce the ultimate all-in-one poly synth. This is what we all aspire to get hold of.

Within this monster synth you have 3 newly-designed analogue VCOs as well as 2 independent analogue filters, a dual source analogue noise generator, analogue mixer with external audio input, 4 LFOs, and 3 envelopes – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this can do. This 8-voice, polyphonic analogue synth allows you to mix filters so you can have up to 2 filters per voice as well as 3 DAHDSR envelopes per voice with user-definable curves.

You also have a separate sequencer and arpeggiator per timbre, mixer with external audio input, ring modulation and Oscillator FM and hard sync with selectable routing. The list of features goes on. Easily the best synthesizer for those serious about their sound.

9. Korg Minilogue XD Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer

Korg Minilogue XD Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer

Last but not least we have the Korg Minilogue XD Polyphonic Analogue Synthesizer. Now, we’re totally in love with the original Korg Minilogue, but the XD version improves on the original by adding a host of new features.

You still have the 4-voice analogue synthesizer that made the Monologue so useful, 37 note keybed along with the Noise generator, VPM/User Oscillators and 2 Analogue VCOs. However, this XD version now adds a new Digital Multi Engine and 3rd oscillator along with new Step Sequencer and Micro-Tuning and a new Stereo output to take your music further. There are also 200 pre-set sounds built in so you can start creating music straight away – a handy feature that actually allows you to store an extra 300 user defined presets.

So, there you have it, our 9 best synthesizers for serious musicians that’ll help you create the music you’ve always wanted to!

Shop a full range of synthesizers over at PMT Online today or call in to your local PMT store and try out a selection of different synths for yourself!

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Further Reading

We've put together a list of Cheap Synthesizers That Don't Suck that prove you don't have to spend a fortune to get a great sound.

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