Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

This article will discuss the ten best hardware synthesizers for Synthwave in 2023.

Synthwave is an electronic music genre inspired by 1980s film soundtracks, video games, and pop culture. Synthesizers, arpeggiated chords, and retro-futuristic visuals characterize it. As a result, synthwave music often has a nostalgic, retro-futuristic feel and is often associated with the neon-lit streets of an imagined, futuristic version of the 1980s.

It often incorporates 1980s pop and rock music elements, futuristic sound effects, and futuristic themes. In addition, we have curated a list of comprehensive synthesizers great for composing synthwave and related genres and doing sound design and music production work for them. So let’s dive right in.

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

Sequential OB-6 By Dave Smith

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

Sequential OB-6 is a six-voice and 49-key polyphonic analog synthesizer by Dave Smith. 

It consists of two main VCOs and one sub-oscillator, a 64-step sequencer, an LFO, an X-MOD section, an arpeggiator, a state-variable filter, a filter envelope, an amplitude envelope, and an effects section. The X-Mod consists of two sources and five destinations, resulting in great modulation capabilities.

Everything from the digital effects to the step sequencer, its advanced arpeggiator, and modulation options makes it perfect for synthwave, dream pop, 80s pop, and other synths-based genres.  Plus, its expressive keyboard makes it great for live performances and studio alike.

Character & Sound: 

The OB-6 features six analog voices with two digital effects engines. You can choose from a wide range of effects, including the studio-grade reverbs, delays, chorus, flangers, and accurate re-creations of Mr. Oberheim’s renowned ring mod and phase shifter. That lets you effectively shape your sonics and create anything from warm and ambient pads to fat plucks, punchy basslines, upfront leads, and more.

The six-voice VCOs and the Oberheim filters make the synth sound the way it does: warm, inspiring, upfront, wide, etc. It’s the perfect ear candy for your music!

Key Features: 

  • Sound sources
    You can set the sound in portamento mode, have unison voices, detune it, transpose it up and down by two octaves, and mix the two oscillators with a sub-oscillator and noise oscillator in different proportions. You can adjust the frequency, and waveform between the triangle, saw, pulse width, and pulse width of the VCOs, and set VCO 2 as an LFO.
  • Expressive playing
    The synth features a semi-weighted, velocity- and aftertouch-enabled keyboard that allows you to express yourself creatively. In addition, the arpeggiator and sequencers let you create interesting and detailed patterns, melodies, bass lines, and more. The aftertouch response could also be adjusted, and the synth has a Hold switch.
  • Workflow
    The workflow of the Sequential Oberheim OB-6 is designed to be intuitive and straightforward. It has a logical layout with a range of controls that are easy to access and adjust. For example, it has a touch-sensitive interface, which allows you to control various parameters by simply touching the screen.
    In addition, it also has a hold function, which allows you to freeze a specific note or chord and play over it.
  • Powerful filter section
    The filter section consists of a 24db/octave low pass filter, a high pass filter, and a band pass filter. The classic low pass filter allows you to create a range of sounds from smooth and mellow to sharp and biting. Similarly, you can use the high pass filter for creating bright and piercing sounds or for removing unwanted low-frequency content from a sound.
  • Create interesting patterns
    The Sequential Oberheim OB-6 has a built-in arpeggiator that allows you to select from various patterns and adjust the arpeggiator’s speed, range, and octave. It also has a step sequencer that allows you to input up to 32 steps per sequence and offers a variety of options for adjusting the length, timing, and velocity of each step.
    This can be a powerful tool for creating complex melodies and rhythms or evolving soundscapes.
  • Presets
    The synth has a whopping 500 user presets and 500 factory presets collection, giving you a versatile sound set. Whether you are inspired The Weeknd, Mike Dean, Doja Cat, 1975, Tame Impala, Bruno Mars, etc., you will find the sound you’re looking for or find something close that you can tweak to your liking. It covers various genres, from funk, pop, R&B, hip-hop, and more.

Pros: 

The sounds are inspiring and of great quality. It has the robust build quality and tweakability required in a long-lasting synth. It’s one of the best synths in the market for synthwave, because of its raw tones and inspiring workflow.

Cons: 

If you’re a pianist or keyboardist looking for an expanded synthesizer, its 49 keys may not satisfy your needs. Secondly, it can’t layer and split sounds, as it’s mono-timbral. Another huge deal breaker may be its lack of CV/Gate I/O. Lastly, there’s a glitch in the workflow that doesn’t let you name or label your patches; you can only recall them by the program number.

Roland Jupiter-X

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

Jupiter-X is a 61-key and 4-oscillator analog synthesizer by Roland. 

It consists of an oscillator section with the ability to tweak Type, Mod, Pitch, and Detune, a mixer section where you can balance all four oscillators, a filter section, an amp, two envelopes/ADSRs, and an effects section with multi-fx, drive, reverb, chorus, and delay. Plus, it’s multitimbral and allows you to split and layer sounds.

Character & Sound: 

It can reproduce sounds from classic vintage analog synthesizers like the Jupiter-8, Juno-106, and SH-101 and digital synths like  XV-5080 and RD Pianos. It can also emulate the sounds of drum machines like the TR-808, 909, 707, 727, 606, CR-78, and more. That makes it great for synthwave, as you can get everything from warm and vintage analog sounds to digital textures and classic drums.

Key Features: 

  • Expansive arpeggiator
    The I-arpeggio in the synth is a great way to speed up your workflow. It’s a smart arpeggiator that uses artificial intelligence to program interesting patterns for melodies, bass lines, percussions, etc. It also allows you to export the MIDI data of the generated patterns to your DAW via USB.
  • Great build
    The Jupiter-X has a metal chassis and a premium grade, along with high-quality knobs and buttons, so you can recklessly carry it around and use it in the studio, for live shows, and more.
  • Advanced underlying technology
    The synth is based on the Zen-core sound engine with various Model sound generators, a cutting-edge technology with a great sound that the R&D team at Roland has created and developed over the years to precisely emulate the sound of classic synthesizers.
  • Multiple synthesis types
    The Jupiter-X can perform a variety of synthesis types, including analog, PCM, and wavetable. This allows users to create various sounds, from classic analog synth tones to modern digital sounds.
  • Onboard effects
    The synth comes with various onboard effects, including reverb, delay, and chorus, which can shape and enhance your sounds. Plus, it has performance controls, including a pitch bend wheel, mod wheel, and aftertouch, which allow you to add expression to your playing.
  • Multi-timbral capability
    The instrument can play multiple sounds simultaneously, making it ideal for creating complex multi-layered patches and splits, from classic analog synth tones to more modern digital sounds.

Pros: 

Everything from the onboard effects engine to the 256-note polyphony, the connectivity, the i-Arpeggio, the pitch and mod wheels, etc., make the synth great! Another pro is that it’s readily usable with 4000 preset tones,  256 User Tones, 90 Drum Kits, and 256 Scenes. Lastly, it has a 61-key expressive keyboard with great modulation and playing capabilities.

Cons: 

The screen on the synthesizer could have been bigger than it is. In addition, the workflow is flawed because it remains in Scene mode, which makes it confusing and prone to errors. Next, it offers limited slots for sound or preset memories. Lastly, the manual could have elaborated more on the best use of the synth.

Roland Juno-X

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The Roland Juno-X is a synthesizer with a built-in sequencer and various onboard sounds and effects.

It is designed for various musical settings, including live performance, recording, and production. The Juno-X has several features that allow users to create and shape their sounds, including virtual analog synthesizer engines, waveform oscillators, and filter types.

The Juno-X has several virtual analog synthesizer engines and waveform oscillators, which can create various synth sounds. In addition, the Juno-X has a built-in sequencer, which can be used to create complex, layered arrangements. Overall, the Juno-X is a good choice for creating synthwave music, as it offers a wide range of sounds and effects that can be used to create the signature synthwave sound.

Character & Sound: 

In terms of tone, the Juno-X can produce a wide range of timbres, from warm and smooth to harsh and aggressive. It has various built-in effects, including reverb, delay, and chorus, which can add depth and texture to your sounds.

In addition, its Zen-Core engine also supports several different synthesis techniques, including subtractive synthesis, FM synthesis, and wavetable synthesis, allowing users to create a wide range of different types of sounds.

Key Features: 

  • Sound engine
    The Zen-Core engine, on which the Juno-X is based, is designed to provide a wide range of sound design capabilities and can produce a wide variety of synth sounds. It includes virtual analog synthesis, waveform oscillators, different filter types, and a selection of built-in effects and modulation options.
  • Easy integration
    The Juno-X also has several onboard audio and MIDI connections, which allow you to integrate it into your music production setup and use it in conjunction with other devices and software.
  • Onboard Sequencer
    The Juno-X has a built-in sequencer that can be used to create complex, layered arrangements. It includes support for real-time recording, step recording, editing, and many different performance modes, including arpeggiator, chord memory, and phrase sequencer.
  • Other features
    It also includes a variety of built-in effects, including reverb, delay, and chorus, as well as many onboard audio and MIDI connections. The Juno-X is a versatile synthesizer that can be used in various music production settings and is suitable for both beginner and advanced users.

Presets

Its sounds are organized into categories, including basses, leads, pads, and more, and can be accessed using the onboard sound selection buttons. The preset sounds are created using the synthesizer’s virtual analog synthesizer engines, waveform oscillators, and filter types and are designed to provide various timbres and tones.

Pros: 

The Juno-X can produce a wide range of synth sounds, including classic analog-style sounds, complex wavetable and FM sounds, and more. In addition, its built-in effects, onboard effects, audio and MIDI connectivity, and ease of use are some of its pros.

Cons: 

Its limited polyphony and lack of aftertouch which leads to inexpressive and less dynamic playing, are some of its major cons. In addition, its lack of a screen leads to difficulty in workflow, and navigation is another con.

Korg Volca Sample 2

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

Volca Sample 2 is a compact and affordable sample sequencer by Korg. 

You can connect with your PC, and tweak, sequence, and automate samples to create interesting sounds. It consists of 100 pre-loaded sounds. It has a step sequencer of sixteen editable steps and connectivity for MIDI, USB, sync, headphones, etc.

It’s great for programming synthwave bass lines, repetitive melody patterns, drum sequences, and more. It’s also good for live performances, as it lets you load and play patterns live in real-time.

Character & Sound: 

The sound of the Volca Sample 2 is highly dependent on the samples you use and the settings you choose so that it can produce a wide range of sounds. Some common sounds created with the Volca Sample 2 include electronic drum sounds, basslines, melodies, and sound effects.

The instrument also includes several built-in effects, including reverb, delay, and filter, which can be used to shape and sculpt the sound of your samples. It is a versatile and fun instrument that is great for musicians experimenting with sample-based synthesis. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced producer, the Volca Sample 2 is a great tool for creating unique and creative sounds.

Key Features: 

  • Hands-on control
    The machine grants you the flexibility and freedom to create innovative sounds with a matrix of step-programmable parameters, including four sample knobs, pitch knobs, amp knobs, and other important parameters. It lets you control the ADSR, length, hi-cut, envelope generator, tempo, swing, reverb mix, volume, and more.
  • iOS app compatibility
    The iOS app allows you to record samples anywhere and use them in the synthesizer. That sparks creativity for sound designers, as they can flexibly work anytime on samples so that you can record, manage, and download apps from the app.
  • Other features
    The Volca Sample 2 has a built-in 16-step sequencer, which allows you to create patterns using your samples or the ones included with the unit. It also has various effects, including reverb and delay, to add depth and character to your sounds.
  • Sample Manipulation
    One unique feature of the Volca Sample 2 is the ability to use “slicing,” which allows you to divide a sample into individual slices and then play those slices in any order you choose. This can create some interesting and unexpected rhythms and melodies.

Pros: 

The instrument is about $100 and can easily fit into your bag. It operates on 6 x AA batteries or a KA-350 power adapter. The Korg Volca Sample 2 is a powerful and versatile tool for creating synthwave and other electronic music. It is easy to use and has many features that make it a great choice for both beginners and experienced producers.

Cons: 

The Volca Sample 2 has a limited number of sample slots (16), which may not be sufficient for users who want to use many samples. It has a relatively basic sample editing interface, with limited options for adjusting sample parameters such as pitch, start and end points, and loop points.

Overall, the Korg sampler-sequencer is a simple and affordable drum machine and sampler well-suited for basic sample manipulation and drum pattern creation. However, it may not be suitable for users who require more advanced sample editing or sequencing capabilities or who need more extensive connectivity options.

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The Behringer DeepMind 12 is a digital synthesizer that utilizes a 12-voice polyphonic architecture and features two oscillators, filter types, and expansive effects.

It also includes several performance-related features, such as a chord mode and a sustained pedal input. It has a user-friendly interface with a large display and intuitive controls, making it easy to create and edit sounds. The synthesizer can produce various sounds, from classic analog tones to modern, digital-sounding patches.

The Behringer instrument is a versatile and powerful instrument suitable for various musical styles and applications.

Character & Sound

In terms of character, the Behringer DeepMind 12 is known for its warm, rich sound and ability to produce a wide range of classic analog synth tones. It can produce a wide range of timbres, from smooth and creamy to aggressive and edgy, making it a versatile instrument for various musical genres.

Key Features: 

  • Sonic capabilities and patch management
    The instrument has several onboard effects, including reverb, delay, and chorus, which can add depth and character to your sounds. The synthesizer has 100 patch memory locations, allowing you to save and recall your favorite sounds quickly and easily.
  • Ease of use
    The synthesizer can be connected to a computer via USB, allowing you to use it as a MIDI controller or to transfer patches to and from the synthesizer. The DeepMind 12 is relatively compact and portable, making it easy to take with you on the go.
  • Comprehensive workflow
    The synth has several physical controls, including knobs, sliders, and buttons, allowing users to shape and manipulate their sounds easily. In addition, it has a dual-layer architecture, allowing users to split the keyboard and assign different sounds to each layer.
  • Affordable price
    The DeepMind 12 is generally considered an affordable synthesizer, making it a good option for musicians on a budget. In less than $1000, you get 12 independent analog voices, each with its oscillator, filter, and envelope generator. This allows you to create rich, layered sounds and use the full range of the keyboard.
  • Expandability
    The synth has an expansion port, allowing users to add additional functionality through expansion cards. In addition, it has onboard memory for storing patches and settings. It also has USB and MIDI connectivity, allowing it to integrate easily with a computer or other MIDI devices.

Pros: 

The synth is relatively inexpensive compared to other analog synthesizers on the market, making it a good choice for those on a budget. With 12 voices of polyphony, the DeepMind 12 can produce complex, multi-layered sounds. In addition, the synthesizer includes a range of effects, including reverb, delay, and chorus, which can add depth and texture to your sounds.

Lastly, it has a large display and intuitive controls, making creating and editing sounds easy. The keyboard has 49 full-size keys, making it easy to play melodies and chord progressions.

Cons: 

The keys may feel less quality and unresponsive, and some knobs and controllers could be loose or faulty, as the users have complained about. In addition, it generates noise while playing some patches. Lastly, the onboard effects sound somewhat basic and lack depth compared to dedicated effect pedals.

The Behringer DeepMind 12 is a relatively affordable, feature-packed synthesizer suitable for various musical styles and applications. However, it is not without flaws, and some users may be disappointed by certain aspects of its performance or build quality.

Oberheim OB-X8

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The Oberheim OB-X8 is a polyphonic analog synthesizer produced in the 1980s.

It has eight voices, meaning it can simultaneously play up to eight notes. It has two oscillators per voice, a filter section, and two envelopes for shaping the sound. It also has a range of modulation options, including a low-frequency oscillator (LFO) and a keyboard tracking generator, which allow the user to create a wide variety of sounds.

It is a popular choice among synthwave musicians and those who appreciate vintage analog synthesizers, as it has a flexible modulation section, allowing users to shape and modulate the sound in various ways.

Character & Sound: 

The OB-X8 is known for its rich and punchy sound, which is typical of analog synthesizers. It has various capabilities, including creating leads, basses, pads, and effects sounds. It is a popular choice among musicians and producers who want a classic, vintage sound in their music.

In terms of character, it has a smooth, creamy, and warm sound, a round character that is well-suited to various musical styles. Its filters are smooth and responsive, and the envelope generators provide plenty of control over the shaping of each sound.

Key Features: 

  • Sound generation
    The synth is a polyphonic analog synthesizer that can play up to eight notes at the same time. Each voice has two oscillators, which can produce sawtooth, square, and pulse waveforms and noise. The oscillators can be detuned, which gives the synth a rich, full sound.
  • Filters
    The sound is then shaped by a multimode filter, which can be switched between low pass, high pass, and band pass modes. The filter can also be modulated using an envelope or an LFO, which allows users to create a wide range of timbres.
  • Timbre control
    The OB-X8 has three envelopes: one for the filter, one for the amplifier, and one for the modulator. These envelopes allow users to shape the attack, decay, sustain, and release of the sound, giving them control over the timbre of the sound over time.
  • Modulation control
    It also has a flexible modulation section, which includes two LFOs, an envelope generator, and a noise generator. These can be used to modulate various aspects of the sound, such as the pitch, filter, and amplifier. This allows users to create complex, evolving timbres.
  • Presets
    The instrument has 32 preset sounds that can be selected using a switch on the front panel. These include a variety of classic synth sounds, such as basses, leads, pads, and effects. The presets cover various musical genres and can be used as starting points for creating new sounds.
  • User control
    The OB-X8 allows users to create sounds by adjusting the synthesizer’s parameters, such as the oscillator waveforms, filter cutoff and resonance, and envelope settings. This makes the synth a versatile instrument for live performance and studio use. It also has a simple, easy-to-use interface, with a front panel that is clearly labeled and organized. This makes it accessible to users of all skill levels.

Pros: 

It has many programmable parameters, including pitch and mod wheel assignments, portamento, and vibrato, by which you can easily shape your sonics. In addition, its voice architecture allows you to allocate these voices in several different configurations, giving you a lot of flexibility when creating different types of sounds.

With two oscillators per voice, a high-pass and low-pass filter, and an envelope generator, the OB-X8 can produce a wide range of timbres.

Cons: 

The synth has no onboard effects, so you need to use external effects processors to add effects to your sounds. In addition, it does not have MIDI connectivity, which may be a drawback for some users who want to integrate it with modern music production systems. Lastly, its high price is also a con.

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The ASM Hydrasynth is a 49-key, 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer.

It is known for its versatility and powerful sound design capabilities, including synth engines like wavetables, linear FM, wave Pulse Width Modulation, subtractive and more. It is known for its rich, powerful sound, which is well-suited for various music styles and applications. It also includes onboard effects like reverb, delay, and chorus and several more unique effects like granulation and wave folding.

Character & Sound: 

It can produce a wide range of sounds, from classic analog-style tones to more experimental, futuristic sounds. The movement and depth you can create with the synth and its multiple analog waveforms, modulation options, and synth engines make it great for synthwave.

Key Features:

  • Sound Design Capabilities
    Its wave morphing synthesis engine allows you to blend between different waveforms to create complex, smoothly evolving sounds. It also has a large selection of onboard wavetables and waveforms and many powerful modulation options.
  • Performance packed
    It has various performance features, including an arpeggiator, step sequencer, and real-time mod and pitch bend control. Its connectivity options, including MIDI and USB, allow you to use the Hydrasynth as a standalone instrument or as part of a larger music setup. In addition, the envelope generators, LFOs, and a mod matrix are great for tweaking your sounds.
  • Modulations
    The synth has a powerful modulation option that includes five envelope generators, five LFOs, and 32-slot mod matrix routing options.
  • Expressive playing
    It has polyphonic aftertouch that allows you to add expression and depth to your performances by applying pressure to the keys. It includes user-definable scales and tuning that allows you to create custom scales.
  • Key split and layer functionality
    You can divide the keyboard into two or more zones and assign different patches to each zone, allowing you to create split and layered sounds. In addition, the multitimbral mode allows you to play and control multiple patches simultaneously, making it easy to create complex and layered sounds.

Pros: 

Hydrasynth consists of multiple filter types, many effect types, a 32-slot mod matrix, 11 waveforms per LFO, and many features that make it a flexible synthesizer. In addition, WaveScan offers 219 waveforms to work with, which, combined with the seven mutator waveshaper types, multiple synth engines, etc., proves its expandability and feature-richness.

Cons: 

It is a high-end synthesizer, which may make it more expensive than other options on the market. Secondly, its many features and capabilities make it more difficult and complex for some users to learn and master.

Roland JD-Xi

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The Roland JD-Xi is a hybrid synthesizer that combines analog and digital synthesis in a compact, portable package.

It features a four-part analog synth engine, a digital synth engine, a drum engine, and a built-in vocoder and arpeggiator. The analog synth engine allows you to create deep and analog synth sounds using analog oscillators and filters, while the digital synth engine provides access to a wide range of digital waveforms and sound-shaping options.

The drum engine includes a selection of drum and percussion sounds and a drum sequencer for creating beats. The vocoder lets you use your voice to control the synth sounds, while the arpeggiator allows you to create intricate patterns and melodies. The JD-Xi also includes a 37-note mini-keyboard and a range of performance controls, making it a versatile and powerful tool for creating music.

Character & Sound: 

The tone and sound of the Roland JD-Xi are generally described as warm and rich, thanks to its analog synth engine, which allows you to create a wide range of classic synth sounds, from smooth and mellow to punchy and aggressive, using a combination of analog oscillators and filters.

The digital synth engine also provides a wide range of sound-shaping options, including various digital waveforms and effects. The drum engine includes a selection of high-quality drum and percussion sounds that can be easily edited and shaped to create a wide range of beats and rhythms.

Key Features: 

  • A great choice for synthwave
    Its analog synth engine provides access to classic synth sounds often associated with synthwave music, such as warm, rich pads, punchy basslines, and bright, sweeping leads. Its sonic manipulation options include various digital waveforms and effects that can also create modern and futuristic sounds.
    Plus, the built-in arpeggiator and drum sequencer allows you to create intricate patterns and rhythms characteristic of synthwave music.
  • Vocoder
    To use the vocoder, you’ll need to connect a microphone to the JD-Xi and set it up as the vocoder’s input source. You’ll then be able to use your voice to control the synth sounds in real time, either by singing or speaking into the microphone. The vocoder includes a range of parameters that you can adjust to shape the sound of your voice, including the filter frequency, formant shift, and envelope settings.
  • Vocal effects
    In addition to the vocoder, the instrument also includes an auto-pitch effect, which can automatically adjust the pitch of your vocal input to match a specific musical scale or key. This can be useful for creating harmonies or creating more polished, professional-sounding vocals.
    Plus, it also includes a range of vocal effects, such as reverb, delay, and chorus, which can add depth and character to your vocals.
  • Sequencing capabilities
    Its pattern sequencer allows you to create and edit sequences of notes and rhythms for both the analog and digital synth engines and the drum engine. You can input notes and rhythms using the step-by-step input mode or record them in real time using the recording mode.
  • Versatility
    The synth can produce many tones and sounds, ranging from classic analog synth sounds to modern digital sounds and beats. In addition, the JD-Xi’s vocoder and vocal effects can be useful tools for creating vocal-based music or adding a unique, expressive element to your synth sounds.

Pros: 

The JD-Xi’s compact size and portable design make it a convenient option for producing music on the go. Plus, its pattern sequencer includes a range of editing tools, such as transpose, copy, and delete, which can be used to refine your patterns. In addition, you can also save and recall your patterns for later use, making it easy to build up a library of sounds and ideas.

Cons: 

The synths size may be a limitation for those who prefer a larger keyboard or more extensive control options. In addition, it has a limited polyphony of four voices for the analog synth engine and eight for the digital synth engine. Due to its relatively limited number of inputs and outputs, the synth may not be sufficient for more advanced studio setups.

Arturia MicroFreak

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The Arturia MicroFreak is a hybrid synthesizer that combines digital oscillators with analog filters and an expressive touch plate.

It offers a wide range of synthesis methods, including wavetable, waveform, digital, granular, and more, and allows you to create a wide range of sounds. It has a compact and portable design, making it a great option for musicians on the go. It also has a built-in sequencer and arpeggiator, as well as a variety of modulation options, allowing you to create complex, evolving sounds.

Character & Sound: 

Its digital oscillators and analog filters can create a wide range of classic synth sounds, including rich, warm pads and aggressive, punchy basses. Its wavetable synthesis can create sweeping, evolving sounds, while its granular synthesis can create more experimental, textural sounds.

Key Features: 

  • Rhythmic powerhouse
    MicroFreaks’ built-in sequencer and arpeggiator can help you create the rhythmic patterns that are often a key part of synthwave music. Its touch plate can also add expression and nuance to your performances. Plus, its poly aftertouch makes it natural and dynamic.
  • Connectivity
    The MicroFreak has a USB port for connecting to a computer and a MIDI input and output for connecting to other devices. It also has a headphone output and line outputs for connecting to speakers or an audio interface.
  • Presets
    Its presets cover many sounds, including classic synth sounds and experimental textures. They are organized into categories, such as basses, leads, pads, and arps, which can help you quickly find the type of sound you’re looking for. You can also create and save your custom presets, which is useful if you want to save your sound creations for later use.
  • Great for synthwave
    The synth’s hybrid synthesis capabilities and wide range of sound design options make it well-suited for creating the retro-inspired sounds often associated with synthwave music.

Pros: 

The built-in presets in the synth provide a useful starting point for sound design and can help you quickly find the type of sound you’re looking for. In addition, it offers several different synthesis methods, including wavetable, waveform, digital, granular, and more, which can be used to create a wide range of timbres.

It’s also portable and compact, gives you hands-on control, and allows free and expressive sound design.

Cons: 

It has a polyphony of 4 voices, and its interface is relatively simple and may not offer as much in-depth editing as some other synthesizers. It does not have any built-in effects, such as reverb or delay, and the memory for storing new sounds is limited.

Roland JU-06A

Check on Amazon

Check on Thomann

Check on Sweetwater

Top 10 Hardware Synths For Synthwave 2023

The Roland JU-06A is a synthesizer module part of the Roland JUNO series.

It is designed to recreate the sound and character of the classic Roland JUNO synthesizers from the 1980s but with modern features and enhancements. The JU-06A has two independent synthesizer engines that can be used together or separately, allowing you to create complex and rich sounds. It has many built-in sounds, including classic synth leads, basses, pads, and percussion.

You can also create your sounds using the JU-06A’s oscillators, filters, and envelopes and store them in one of the 64-user patch locations.

Character & Sound: 

It consists of digital oscillators/DCOs with classic analog waveforms with pulse width modulation and ring modulation capabilities. The Roland JU-06A synthesizer module could be a good choice for creating synthwave music, as it is designed to recreate the sound of classic Roland JUNO synthesizers, which were widely used in the 1980s and are often associated with synthwave music.

The synth has many built-in sounds suitable for creating synthwave music, including classic synth leads, basses, pads, and percussion.

Key Features: 

  • Create instantly
    The synth consists of a built-in arpeggiator, which allows you to create intricate, rhythmic patterns with your synthesizer sounds. It also has a built-in chord mode, which makes it easy to play chords with just a single finger. In addition, it has many built-in sounds, including classic synth leads, basses, pads, and percussion.
  • Connectivity
    It has a compact and portable design, making it easy to take. It can be powered by batteries or an optional AC adapter and used with various devices via MIDI i/o or USB (type-B), including computers and mobile devices.
  • Workflow and synth engine
    It includes two independent synthesizer engines that can be used together or separately, allowing you to create complex and rich sounds. It also has a 16-step sequencer, an LFO section, an arpeggio, an HPF, a VCA, a VCF, and more. It has various built-in effects, including chorus and reverb, which can further shape and enhance its sounds.
    Additionally, the JU-06A has several controls and parameters that allow you to fine-tune the sound and character of your patches.
  • Other features
    JU-06A is portable and easy to carry and features an LFO that allows you to modulate your sounds’ pitch and other parameters over time. In addition, it includes the classic Roland chorus effect that adds depth and dimension to your sounds.

Pros: 

It can be used with various devices due to its great connectivity. Its interface, look, and design are reminiscent of classic synthesizers and drum machines, which make it fun to work with and give you a vintage feel.

Cons: 

It has a polyphony of 6 voices, which may not be enough for some users who want to create very dense or complex sounds. The JU-06A does not have a built-in sequencer, so you will need to use an external device or software to create and edit sequences. Lastly, it is a keyboardless synthesizer module, so you must use an external MIDI controller or keyboard to play it.

Conclusion

When it comes to synthesizers in synthwave, they are typically used to create a wide range of sounds, including bass lines, leads, pads, and FX. In addition, synthwave synths are often characterized by their distinctive, retro-sounding timbres, often achieved using analog synthesizers or by emulating their sound using digital or software.

The ASM Hydrasynth, in my opinion, is the most versatile and advanced option, as it uses multiple synth engines and tools for comprehensive sonic shaping. The next most suitable option for the genre is the Sequential OB-6 by Dave Smith, as it includes beautiful sound textures and analog sonics, which are perfect for synthwave.

The DeepMind 12 by Behringer and MicroFreak by Arturia are the most affordable options. Some synths that are not mentioned in the list, but are good options, are Moog Sub 37, Roland JP-08, Novation Bass Station, and Arturia MiniBrute 2S. I hope the article helps. Thank you for reading.

Don`t copy text!
Scroll to Top