This article will discuss the best desktop hardware synthesizers, both analog and digital, in 2023.
A desktop synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument designed to be used on a desk or tabletop rather than being portable or handheld. They are often more feature-rich and have larger controls and inputs/outputs than portable synthesizers.
Desktop synthesizers can be analog or digital and have more controls and inputs/outputs than portable synthesizers, making them more flexible and versatile. They are also often more powerful and can produce a wider range of sounds.
In addition, they tend to have a higher build quality and are more durable than portable synthesizers, making them a good choice for professional musicians who rely on their equipment. We have curated a list of the best analog and digital desktop hardware synthesizers in 2023. So let’s dive right into it.
Top 20 Desktop Hardware Synths 2023 (Analog & Digital)
1. Access Virus TI2 Desktop
The Virus TI2 Desktop is a virtual analog synthesizer produced by the German company Access Music.
It was released in 2010 and is the successor to the original Access Virus TI synthesizer. The synth features a new hardware platform with a faster processor, more memory, and a larger display than its predecessor. It also includes many new features, including a built-in arpeggiator and a redesigned user interface.
- Virtual analog synthesis
The device uses digital signal processing to recreate the sound of analog synthesizers. It can produce sounds similar to classic analog synthesizers, such as warm and fat basses, punchy drums, and bright and clear leads. However, it also has many digital capabilities that allow it to produce more complex and unique sounds.
- Multiple oscillator types
The instrument includes a variety of oscillator types, including analog, digital, and sample-based, which can be mixed and matched to create a wide range of sounds. For example, users can layer an analog-style oscillator with a digital oscillator to create a hybrid sound.
- Extensive modulation options
The TI2 has many built-in modulators, including envelopes, LFOs, and step sequencers, which can shape and manipulate your sounds and create interesting movements. For example, users can use an envelope to control the attack and decay of a sound or an LFO to create vibrato or tremolo effects.
- Built-in arpeggiator
The device includes a built-in arpeggiator that allows users to create complex rhythmic patterns and melodies. The arpeggiator can be programmed with various patterns and settings, such as the number of octaves, the rate, and the direction.
- Effects processing
The TI2 has some onboard effects, including reverb, delay, Tape Delay, Frequency Shifter, new Distortions, and Character and distortion, which can be used to shape the sound further. These effects can be applied to individual sounds or the entire output of the synthesizer.
- Large display
The instrument has a large, high-resolution display that allows users to see and edit their sounds and settings easily. The display shows various information, including the current sound settings, the status of the onboard effects, and the current tempo.
Character & Sound:
The TI2 can produce a wide range of sounds, from classic analog-style tones to complex digital timbres. Still, its sound is characterized by its clarity, definition, and ability to create complex, layered sounds using its extensive modulation and effects options.
Its sound sources include 100 Wavetables, 62 Spectral Waves, Saw, Pulse, Sine, Triangle, etc. It also has some onboard filters and envelopes that allow users to shape and sculpt their sounds in various ways.
Despite its high-quality sound and flexible modulation options, the Virus TI2 Desktop is reasonably priced compared to other virtual analog synthesizers on the market. In addition, you can add 120+ parallel effects to the sounds. Lastly, it also has an additional wavetable synth engine, which opens up its scope for sound design to a huge extent.
One con of the synth is that it has many features and controls, which can overwhelm some users. Learning how to use all of its capabilities may take some time. Secondly, the synth is a desktop unit and takes up a significant amount of space, so it may not be practical for users with limited space. Lastly, the desktop synth does not have onboard sampling capability.
2. Moog Subharmonicon
The Moog Subharmonicon is a semi-modular synthesizer introduced by Moog Music in 2018.
It is a semi-modular analog synthesizer designed to create complex polyrhythmic patterns and has two VCOs (voltage-controlled oscillators), a dual-mode VCF (voltage-controlled filter), a white noise generator, a sample and hold circuit, and two envelope generators. The synthesizer also has a sequencer with four channels that can be used to create complex, evolving patterns.
- Dual VCOs (Voltage Controlled Oscillators)
Each of the two VCOs in the synth can generate a variety of waveforms, including sine, triangle, square, and sawtooth. You can control the pitch and shape of the waveform using the various knobs and controls on the panel.
- Subharmonic oscillator
The synth consists of a special oscillator that generates frequencies that are integer divisions of the input frequency. For example, if you set the subharmonic oscillator to generate a frequency that is one octave below the input frequency, it will generate a frequency that is half the frequency of the input signal. You can use the subharmonic oscillator to create rich, complex sounds by layering subharmonics on top of the main oscillators.
- Ring modulator
The Subharmonicon’s ring modulator is an audio processor that multiplies the frequencies of two input signals to create new harmonics. When you apply the output of one oscillator to the input of the ring modulator and the output of another oscillator to the carrier input, the ring modulator creates a new audio signal that contains the sum and difference frequencies of the two input signals. This can produce a variety of strange and otherworldly sounds.
- Analog sequencer
The device has a six-stage analog sequencer that allows you to create and store complex patterns of notes and rhythms, such that each stage of the sequencer has its pitch and gate outputs, and you can use the various knobs and controls on the panel to adjust the pitch, duration, and timing of each stage.
- Modulation options
The synth has various modulation options, including envelope generators, low-frequency oscillators (LFOs), and a noise generator. You can use these tools to modulate the pitch, shape, and timbre of the synthesizer’s sounds in real time, creating dynamic and expressive performances.
The Subharmonicon has a patchbay that allows you to create complex signal flows and modular patches using patch cables. You can route signals from different synthesizer parts to each other and connect external devices such as pedals and effect processors.
Character & Sound:
The synth can produce a wide range of sounds, from warm and mellow to abrasive and aggressive. The ring modulator can add a metallic and unique character to the sound and be used for various electronic genres like dubstep, drill, and other dark, industrial, experimental, and underground genres.
In addition, the various modulation options allow you to shape and animate the sound in real time, and the patch bay allows you to create complex modular patches using patch cables.
The synth is built with a durable metal chassis and high-quality components, ensuring long-lasting performance and reliability. In addition, its ability to produce diverse sounds, flexible & customizable modular patching workflow, and in-built sequencer and arpeggiators are its pros.
It is a semi-modular synthesizer, which means that it has a lot of interconnected components and requires some patching to get started. This can make it more complex to use than a fully self-contained synthesizer. In addition, it is a high-end synthesizer and is priced accordingly, and it may not be affordable for some musicians on a budget.
3. Korg Minilogue XD Module
The Korg Minilogue XD Module is a synthesizer module that combines the sound generation capabilities of synthesizers with the ability to load and play back samples from an SD card.
It has four voices of polyphony and features two oscillators per voice, a multi-mode filter, an envelope generator, and an LFO. The synth also includes a built-in digital effects processor, which can be controlled via MIDI or its internal sequencer. It has a compact, portable design and can be used in various settings, including as a standalone synthesizer or as part of a larger synthesizer rig.
- Two oscillators per voice
Each instrument’s voice has two oscillators, which can create more dense and layered sounds. Oscillators generate waveforms that can be modified using various controls, such as the pitch, waveform shape, and pulse width.
- Multi-mode filter
The synth has a multi-mode filter, a circuit that shapes the timbre of a synthesizer sound by removing or boosting certain frequency ranges. The filter can be set to different modes, such as low pass, high pass, or band pass, which will affect the character of the sound differently.
- Envelope generator
The envelope generator in the synth consists of four stages: attack, decay, sustain and release. The envelope generator can be used to shape the volume of a sound (via the amp envelope), add interesting movements, or control other parameters, such as the filter cutoff frequency.
The LFO (low-frequency oscillator) is a control that modulates other parameters of the synthesizer at a low frequency. This can create various effects, such as vibrato, tremolo, and pitch modulation.
- Digital effects processor
The Minilogue XD Module has a built-in digital effects processor that can add various effects to the sound, such as delay, chorus, ensemble, warm tape delay, a versatile range of great-sounding reverb types, and distortion.
- Built-in sequencer
The device has a built-in sequencer that can record and play back sequences of notes. This can be useful for creating repeating patterns or for live performances.
Character & Sound:
The synths oscillators can generate a variety of waveforms, including sawtooth, triangle, and square/pulse waves. The multi-mode filter allows the timbre of the sound to be shaped by removing or boosting certain frequency ranges, and the envelope generator can be used to shape the way the sound evolves.
In addition to these sound-shaping controls, the instrument includes a digital effects processor that can add further character to the sound. Finally, it is well-suited for creating leads, basses, pads, and more for EDM, pop, hip-hop, and rock music genres.
It is a compact, portable synthesizer module with a wide range of sound-creating capabilities. Its built-in sequencer, digital effects processor, and ability to be controlled via MIDI make it useful for live performance. Additionally, its ability to load and play back samples adds a layer of versatility and is one of its biggest pros.
Its compact size may make it less suitable for a studio setting, where a larger synthesizer with more controls may be preferred. In addition, some users may find the number of available controls limited, particularly if they are used to working with more complex synthesizers.
4. Erica Synths Pico System III Desktop
The Erica Synths Pico System III is a compact modular synthesizer that is portable and easy to use.
The synth includes a range of modules, including oscillators, filters, and envelopes, that can be patched together to create a wide variety of sounds. It also includes a built-in speaker and can be powered by a battery, making it a great option for on-the-go music creation.
- Patching capabilities
The synth can have patching options, with 31 inputs, 20 outputs, and 7 mode switches. It includes modules like sequencers, modifiers, envelopes, oscillators, and filters. In addition, it has five Voice Cards with preset patches to make rapid and immediate patch changes.
- Modular design
The synth includes a range of modules that can be patched together to create various sounds. These modules include oscillators, filters, envelopes, and more. By patching these modules together differently, you can create everything from classic analog tones to more experimental and experimental sounds.
The instrument can be powered by a battery, making it a great option for use in various locations. This means you can use it outdoors, at a park, or anywhere else where you might not have access to an electrical outlet.
- Easy to use
The synth is designed to be easy to use, with a user-friendly interface and clear labeling of all the controls. This makes it a great option for those new to synthesizers or those who want a synth that is easy to use and understand.
Character & Sound:
Due to its flexible modular design and workflow, the tone of the synth is warm and thick, and you can manipulate it in any way to create a wide and versatile range of sounds. Its Don Buchla-inspired Lowpass Gate and two voltage-controlled amplifiers add crispness and further analog characteristics to the sound.
The Erica Synths Pico System III is a compact, standalone modular synthesizer that offers a wide range of electronic music sounds and the ability to customize its functionality through its modular design. Its small size and self-contained operation make it easy to use and set up.
In general, modular synthesizers can be more complex and require a certain level of knowledge and experience to use effectively. They may also be more expensive than other synthesizers. Lastly, the device is monophonic, and its 4-step sequencing capability is also limiting.
5. Waldorf Kyra NEW*
The Waldorf Kyra is a digital synthesizer module that utilizes a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) as its main processing unit.
It is designed to offer high-quality sound and a wide range of synthesis capabilities, including wavetable synthesis, granular synthesis, and virtual analog synthesis. The Kyra has a modular design and can be used as a standalone synth or as part of a modular synthesizer system. It is known for its rich, complex sound and versatile modulation options.
- Four synthesizer channels
The synth has four synthesizer channels, each with wavetable and virtual analog oscillators, allowing you to create rich, complex sounds by layering and blending different synthesis types. It also improves the synth’s overall expandability, application, and versatility.
- Granular synthesis engine
The instrument’s granular synthesis engine allows you to manipulate sounds with features like real-time pitch shifting and time stretching. Granular synthesis uses small audio pieces, called “grains,” to create sound, which can be arranged in various ways to create a wide range of sounds, from subtle timbral changes to completely new sounds.
- Versatile modulation options
The synthesizer has four LFOs and four envelope generators per channel, allowing you to shape and modulate your sounds in many different ways. It also consists of step sequencers that allow you to create rhythmic patterns or sequences of control values. There are, in total, four-step sequencers available, each with up to 32 steps and many playback modes and options.
- Sonic shaping
The Kyra has four digital effects processors, which can add reverb, delay, chorus, and other effects to your sounds. In addition, it has four assignable macro controls, which allow you to quickly and easily shape your sounds with a single knob or slider.
Character & Sound:
The FPGA-based architecture of the synth allows it to generate a wide range of sounds with a high level of detail and complexity. This can result in a warm, rich, and full-bodied sound. In addition, it offers a wide range of synthesis techniques which means it can produce a wide range of timbres, from classic analog-style sounds to more experimental and unconventional sounds.
Kyra has many built-in effects and connectivity options, including USB, MIDI, and CV/gate. It also has a 4-inch color touchscreen display and a compact size, making it easy to see and control various synthesis parameters and integrate them into various setups.
Its modulators and control options allow you to shape and animate the sound in various ways, making it very dynamic and expressive. Lastly, its flexible modular design is another huge pro!
The synth may require a learning curve to understand and take advantage of all of its features fully. It is also relatively expensive and has limited external control options. Additionally, it does not have any onboard storage for saving patches or wavetables, and it does not have an audio input for processing external audio signals. Lastly, it is purely a synthesizer with no sampling or audio processing capabilities.
6. Mayer EMI MD900 NEW*
The Mayer EMI MD900 is a digital desktop synthesizer produced in the early 1990s.
It has a user interface that allows users to create and edit their sounds and access a range of preset sounds. The synth is equipped with various synthesis techniques, including an algorithm oscillator with standard waveforms, wavetable synthesis, and sample-based synthesis.
It also includes an onboard sequencer for creating and editing musical patterns. The synth is known for its versatility and powerful sound and is still popular among electronic musicians today.
- On-board sequencer
The synth’s onboard sequencer allows you to create and edit musical patterns by specifying each note’s notes, duration, and other characteristics. This can be used to create everything from simple melodies to complex compositions.
- Wide range of sounds
The MD900 comes with preset sounds that cover various musical genres and styles. In addition, the synth allows users to create and edit their own custom sounds, giving users almost limitless sound design possibilities.
- Versatile effects
The MD900 includes a range of effects, such as reverb, delay, chorus, flanger, compressor, EQ, and more, which can add depth and character to sounds. These effects can be used to create everything from subtle enhancements to more dramatic sound transformations.
- Built-in speaker
The device has a built-in speaker, allowing you to listen to your creations without needing external speakers. This can be convenient for on-the-go use or for quick and easy listening without the need to set up additional equipment.
The synth consists of 4 envelopes, 3 LFOs, and a modulation matrix with 24 slots, allowing for extensive modulation, movement, and dynamics while producing music and performing live.
Character & Sound:
The synth’s combination of FM synthesis, wavetable synthesis, and sample-based synthesis allows it to create a wide range of timbres, including classic synthesizer sounds like pads, leads, and basses, as well as more unconventional and experimental sounds.
FM synthesis makes it great for hard-hitting genres like dubstep and drill and melodic percussive sounds like a xylophone, glockenspiel, bells, etc. Plus, you can add interesting effects and modulations to your sounds.
The Mayer EMI MD900 is a versatile and powerful digital synthesizer capable of producing a wide range of sounds thanks to its diverse synthesis engine. It has an onboard sequencer and arpeggiator for creating and editing musical patterns, a wide range of preset sounds, a powerful effects processor, MIDI connectivity, and a built-in speaker. These features make it a convenient and flexible tool for electronic musicians and a good choice for those looking to create a wide range of musical styles.
The synth is a device with limited polyphony, lacks built-in memory, has a complex user interface, lacks some modern features, and may be difficult to find or purchase, especially if you are located in a region where it was not widely distributed. Additionally, as it is an older synth, it may be difficult to find replacement parts if something goes wrong.
7. Vermona PERfourMER MkII
The Vermona PERfourMER MkII is a four-voice analog synthesizer designed for use in a desktop setup.
It features two analog oscillators per voice, a noise generator, and a sub-oscillator. The synth has a multimode filter, an envelope generator, and an LFO, and it also includes a built-in patchbay for routing and modulating various signals. The PERfourMER MkII also has a step sequencer and several performance controls, making it suitable for live use. It has a compact size and rugged construction, making it portable and durable.
- Modulation sources
The synthesizer has several modulation sources, including two envelope generators and two low-frequency oscillators, which can be used to shape the sound over time. The envelope generators control the attack, decay, sustain, and release parameters of a sound, while the low-frequency oscillators can be used to modulate various parameters, such as the pitch or the filter cutoff frequency. The synthesizer also has a noise generator and a ring modulator, which can add texture and complexity to the sound.
- Filters and effects
The synth has many filters and effects that can be used to shape and manipulate the sound. These sound manipulators include a resonant low-pass filter, a high-pass filter, and a band-pass filter, and delay and reverb effects, which can create space and depth in your sounds.
- Built-in sequencer and arpeggiator
The synthesizer has a built-in sequencer and arpeggiator, which can create complex patterns and phrases. The sequencer allows you to record and playback sequences of notes, while the arpeggiator can automatically generate patterns based on the notes being played.
- Compact size
The synthesizer is relatively compact, making it easy to incorporate into a studio or live setup. Its dimensions are approximately 20 x 10 x 5 inches (50 x 25 x 12 cm), and it weighs approximately 11 pounds (5 kg).
Character & Sound:
The PERfourMER MkII is based on the design of classic analog monophonic synthesizers and is known for its rich, warm sound. The synthesizer uses analog voltage-controlled oscillators, filters, and amplifiers to create its sounds, which gives it a characteristically “analog” sound that electronic music producers and musicians highly prize.
The synth has many sound-sculpting capabilities, including two oscillators per voice, a multimode filter, and multiple effects. The instrument also features a great step sequencer, arpeggiator, and a variety of modulation options. It has a compact design and is easy to use, making it a great choice for live performances and studio work.
Some users have reported issues with the instrument’s build quality, with some components feeling flimsy or prone to breaking. Additionally, the synth’s user interface may confuse some users, as it has many features and functions packed into a relatively small space. Finally, the PERfourMER MkII does not have a built-in screen, making it difficult to see and edit certain parameters.
8. Waldorf M
The Waldorf M is a wavetable desktop synthesizer.
It has a flexible wavetable workflow that allows users to easily manipulate and modulate waveforms to create a wide range of timbres. The synth also has many built-in effects, including delay, reverb, and chorus, which can be used to further shape and sculpt the sound. It has a user-friendly interface and is well-suited for studio and live performance use.
- Wavetable synthesis
Its 8-voice wavetable synth engine is based on digital oscillators that use a series of waveforms stored in a table as the basis for generating sound. The oscillators can access different wavetables, which allows the user to change the timbre of the sound by selecting different waveforms. It allows you to choose from 96 factory wavetables or load your custom tables to up to 32 user slots.
The M has a four-part multitimbrality, such that each oscillator can be set to a different wavetable, so it is possible to create complex, multi-layered sounds by layering multiple wavetables on top of each other.
- Flexible architecture
The synth has a flexible architecture that allows users to connect and modulate different modules within the synthesizer easily. For example, its 16-step sequencer can be used to create complex patterns. Further, its 16-step sequencer can be used to create complex patterns, and the synth also has a range of effects that can be used to shape the sound further.
- User-friendly interface
The Waldorf M has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to navigate and use. It has several physical controls and buttons, as well as a clear display, which makes it easy to see and adjust the various parameters of the synthesizer.
The synth can be expanded with additional hardware modules and software plug-ins, allowing users to customize and extend its capabilities further. In addition, the USB and MIDI In/Out/Thru enable flexible routing and expandability.
The synth has a built-in arpeggiator that allows the user to create intricate patterns by automatically stepping through a sequence of notes. The arpeggiator has a range of modes, including up, down, up/down, random, and play order, which determines the order in which the notes are played. The user can also adjust the speed of the arpeggiator and the octave range it covers, sync it to the project’s tempo, or select a free tempo of the project.
Character & Sound:
The M is well-suited for various electronic music styles, including ambient, techno, house, and more. Some users have described the synth as having a “vintage” or “analog” sound, even though it is a digital synth. The instrument’s sound is rich, full, and complex, with a smooth and musical character.
Lastly, its wide range of wavetable oscillators and various filters, envelopes, and LFOs make it capable of producing a wide range of timbres.
The Waldorf M is well-suited for both studio and live performance use. It is compact and portable, making it easy to take with you on the go. Secondly, it has 2,048 sound programs plus 128 multi-programs, offering a huge sonic range to explore. Lastly, its onboard arpeggiator has sixteen preset patterns and the feature of chord mode.
The synth has a range of advanced features and a flexible architecture that can have a steep learning curve for some users. It may also be more expensive than some other synthesizers on the market, and some users have reported issues with the M’s firmware and software. Some users may prefer the sound of an analog synth to a digital synth.
9. Roland – SE-02
The Roland SE-02 is a monophonic analog synthesizer module released in 2017 as part of Roland’s Boutique series of synthesizers.
It is based on the classic Roland SH-101 synthesizer and offers many of the same features, including a single oscillator with sawtooth, square, and pulse waveforms, a filter section with low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass modes, and an envelope generator for shaping the sound.
- Synth engine
The SE-02 is modeled after the Roland SH-101 synthesizer, which was released in the early 1980s and is known for its simple yet powerful design and iconic sound. It’s a self-contained monophonic analog synthesizer that can also be used in conjunction with another synth setup.
- Modulations and sound animations
The synth has an LFO (low-frequency oscillator), a four-stage envelope generator, and a pitch bend control that allow you to add dynamic movement and modulation to your sound. The LFO can be used to modulate the pitch, filter, or other parameters of the synthesizer in real time. The pitch bend control allows you to bend the pitch of the sound up or down.
- Built-in sequencer for creating patterns
The synthesizer has a built-in sequencer that allows you to create patterns of up to 64 steps. You can specify each step’s pitch, duration, and other parameters to create complex musical phrases. Lastly, the sequencer can be used in real-time or step-by-step mode.
- High-quality filters
The filter section in the synth has three modes: low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass. In low-pass mode, the filter allows low frequencies to pass through and removes high frequencies, resulting in a smoother, warmer sound. In high-pass mode, the filter allows high frequencies to pass through and removes low frequencies, resulting in a brighter, clearer sound. In band-pass mode, the filter allows a narrow range of frequencies to pass through, resulting in a resonant “peak” sound.
The Roland SE-02 has 128 preset locations for storing sound patches and 385 preset patches. These preset allow you to save your settings and recall them later, which can be convenient if you want to access a particular sound quickly or if you want to save your settings for later use.
It also has 128 locations for patterns, which should be sufficient for most users. But if you need more memory, you can use an external storage device, such as a USB thumb drive, to save and load additional patches and patterns.
Character & Sound:
The synth has a single oscillator, which can produce three waveforms: sawtooth, square, and pulse, such that the sawtooth waveform has a distinctive “sawtooth” shape and a bright, harmonically rich sound, the square waveform has a “square” shape, and a harsher, more aggressive sound and the pulse waveform has a variable pulse width and can produce a wide range of timbres, from smooth and mellow to punchy and aggressive.
Overall, the SE-02 is known for its punchy and aggressive sound and can produce a huge range of timbres, thanks to its robust oscillator and filter section.
The Roland synthesizer is known for its versatility and can produce a wide range of sounds, and it is compact and portable, making it easy to take wherever you go. It is also reasonably priced for an analog synthesizer module and offers good value for money.
Some potential cons of the synth include its monophonic design, which means it can only produce one note at a time, and its limited number of controls, which may not be enough for some users. Lastly, it also does not have any built-in effects.
10. Behringer DeepMind 12D
The Behringer DeepMind 12D is a 12-voice analog desktop synthesizer that offers a range of features and capabilities.
It has a two-oscillator per voice design, with each oscillator offering a range of waveforms, including sawtooth, triangle, pulse, and noise. The synth also has a 4-pole low-pass filter with resonance, three envelopes (amplifier, filter, and auxiliary), and three LFOs (low-frequency oscillators).
Other features include a flexible modulation matrix, a 16-step sequencer, a joystick for pitch and modulation control, and a built-in effects processor with reverb, delay, and chorus. It also has a multi-mode arpeggiator and a range of performance controls, including a built-in step sequencer, a sustain pedal input, and a USB port for MIDI connectivity.
- Flexible modulation matrix
The modulation matrix allows you to route various sources (such as envelopes, LFOs, and the joystick) to various destinations (such as the oscillator pitch or the filter cutoff). This allows for complex and dynamic sound shaping and modulation.
- Performance controls
The DeepMind 12D has a range of performance controls, including a built-in step sequencer, a sustain pedal input, and a USB port for MIDI connectivity. These features allow you to integrate the synthesizer into a live performance setup and control it from external devices.
- Interactive interface
The synth has a compact and intuitive interface with various controls and features that allow you to create and shape sounds in real-time. The main control panel features dials, buttons, and sliders that allow you to adjust parameters such as oscillator waveform, filter cutoff, envelope settings, and more. There is also a large OLED display that shows information about the current patch and settings and a joystick for pitch and modulation control.
The synth comes with a wide range of preset sounds, or “patches,” that you can use as a starting point for creating your sounds. These patches cover many timbres and styles, including basses, leads, and pads. You can access and select the preset patches using the control panel buttons or the OLED display.
Character & Sound:
The synth produces sound using analog circuits and components rather than digital processing, which gives it a warm texture and rich characteristics of the classic analog synthesizers. In addition, each oscillator in the synth offers a range of waveforms, including sawtooth, triangle, pulse, and noise.
In addition to its analog sound generation, the DeepMind 12D also has a built-in effects processor with reverb, delay, and chorus effects, which can add depth and dimension to the sound. The combination of analog sound generation and digital effects processing allows you to create a wide range of sounds and tones.
The Behringer DeepMind 12D has the classic Lexicon and EMT onboard reverb effects, which include five high-quality reverb models — Hall, Ambient, Rich Plate, Room, and Rich Chamber from the Lexicon 480L. In addition, it has 1024 patch memory locations and thirty different types of unique and high-grade effects.
First, there’s a lack of audio input in the synth, which means you cannot process external audio signals through its effects or processing. It also has limited polyphony, with a maximum of 12 voices or notes simultaneously, which may be limiting for some users who need more polyphony.
11. Erica Synths SYNTRX
The Erica Synths Syntrx Analog Synthesizer is a modular analog synthesizer.
It comprises several modules, including oscillators, filters, envelopes, and other components, which can be connected in various ways to create unique and complex audio signals. The synth also includes a built-in step sequencer and several control inputs and outputs, making it easy to integrate with other equipment in your studio.
- Modular design
The Syntrx has a 256-patch modular design that allows you to create a wide range of sonics by connecting the modules in different configurations and using them to modify each other’s output.
- Mod Matrix
This flexible routing system allows users to assign any of the SYNTRX’s modulators to control any of the synth’s parameters. This allows for a wide range of creative possibilities, as users can create complex modulations without a fixed set of modulation assignments.
- Other Modulation options
The synth has a range of modulators that can shape and animate the synthesizer’s sound, including envelope generators, LFOs, and velocity/aftertouch. The envelope generators allow users to shape the contour of a sound over time, while the LFOs can be used to modulate various parameters in a repeating, cyclical manner.
Its keyboard also has velocity and aftertouch sensors, which can control various synth parameters in real time.
- Control inputs and outputs
The synth has several control inputs and outputs, including MIDI, USB, an XY joystick, and CV/Gate, which allow you to integrate it with other equipment in your studio. For example, you can use the MIDI input to control the synth from a keyboard or sequencer or use the CV/Gate outputs to control other modular synthesizers or Eurorack modules.
- Intuitive interface
The synth has a relatively simple interface, with several knobs, buttons, and inputs and outputs on the front panel. The main interface comprises many modules, each of which has its controls and inputs, and outputs. These modules can be connected using patch cables to create complex audio processing chains.
- Built-in effects
The device has a built-in spring reverb with feedback control that lets you create lush atmospheres, resulting in beautiful ambient shaping. In addition, you can also add tilt-EQ-style output filters to your sound.
Character & Sound:
It is difficult to describe the specific sound of the Erica Synths Syntrx Analog Synthesizer, as it is a modular synthesizer and is capable of producing a wide range of sounds depending on how it is patched. Its three VCOs, with adjustable waveshapes, hard sync, and paraphonic capabilities, are known for their warm and rich analog tones, smooth, fat, and full continuous sound. Lastly, you can add some more depth and atmosphere by using its built-in spring reverb unit.
The Syntrx has several control inputs and outputs, including MIDI, USB, and CV/Gate, which make it easy to integrate with other equipment in your studio. Despite its powerful capabilities, the synth is relatively compact and easy to integrate into various studio setups. Lastly, it is built with high-quality components and is known for its reliability and durability.
One con of the Erica Synths Syntrx Analog Synthesizer is its cost, which may not be practical for those on a tight budget. Secondly, it has a learning curve, which may require time and effort to understand and use effectively and fully. Lastly, some other cons are its limited storage for saving patches and its dependence on patch cables, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient.
12. Modal Cobalt8M
The Modal Electronics Cobalt8M is an 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer module with a virtual analog architecture.
It features a 100% analog signal path, with each voice having eight analog oscillators, including a sub-oscillator and a noise generator. The oscillators can generate a wide range of waveforms, including sawtooth, triangle, and pulse waves, wavetables, and user-uploadable waves.
The synth also has a multimode filter with 12 filter types and a flexible modulation matrix, allowing for complex sound design capabilities. In addition to its synthesizer capabilities, the device has a built-in effects processor with reverb, delay, and distortion effects.
- Great underlying technology
The synth has a virtual analog architecture, which means it uses digital processing to simulate the behavior of analog synthesizers. This allows for the creation of sounds similar to those produced by analog synthesizers but with the added versatility and convenience of digital control.
- 100% analog signal path
The synth has a fully analog signal path, meaning that the audio signal generated by the synthesizer passes through entirely analog circuitry from start to finish. This can give the sound warmth and character often associated with analog synthesizers.
- Multimode filter with 12 filter types
The Cobalt8M has a multimode filter, which shapes the sound’s timbre by filtering out certain frequency ranges. It has 12 different filters, including low-pass, high-pass, and band-pass filters, and more unusual types, such as formant and comb filters.
- Built-in effects processor
The Cobalt8M has a built-in effects processor with reverb, delay, and distortion effects. These effects can add depth and dimension to the sound and can be controlled via the modulation matrix for even more creative possibilities.
The presets in the synth cover a wide range of sounds, including classic analog-style basses and leads and more experimental and unique timbres. The number of presets and the specific sounds they contain will depend on the firmware, but you can find 500 user preset locations, 300 editable factory programs, and 100 sequences that can be saved and linked to any patch.
The Modal Electronics Cobalt8M interface consists of a series of buttons, knobs, sliders, and a few OLED displays. The buttons are used for navigating the menus and making selections, while the knobs and sliders are used for adjusting the various parameters of the synthesizer.
Character & Sound:
The synth can produce many sounds, from classic analog-style basses to more experimental and unique timbres. The Cobalt8M has analog oscillators, a sub-oscillator, a noise generator, a multimode filter, and a flexible modulation matrix, all of which can be used to shape the sound in various ways.
Some pros of the Cobalt8M are its flexible modulation matrix, and built-in effects processor add even more creative possibilities. Further, it is compact and lightweight, making it easy to integrate into a portable setup or a larger synthesizer rig. Lastly, it has MIDI and USB connectivity for integration with other music equipment and software.
The synth has only 8 voices of polyphony, which may not be sufficient for some users. Secondly, it does not have a built-in keyboard, which may be inconvenient for some users. Also, its limited built-in effects processor only has reverb, delay, and distortion effects.
13. ASM Hydrasynth Desktop
The ASM Hydrasynth is a digital synthesizer that is designed to be powerful and flexible.
It has 8 voices of polyphony, meaning it can simultaneously play up to 8 notes. The Hydrasynth also has a feature called “wave morphing,” which allows the user to smoothly blend between different waveforms to create a wide range of sounds.
It also has a large selection of modulation options, including envelopes, LFOs, and step sequencers, which allow the user to shape the sound in various ways. The synth has an onboard arpeggiator, which can create complex melodies and patterns.
- Onboard arpeggiator
The Hydrasynth has an onboard arpeggiator, which can create complex melodies and patterns by automatically playing a series of notes in a specific order. You can adjust the arpeggiator’s speed, range, and pattern to create a wide variety of effects.
- USB and MIDI connectivity
The device has USB and MIDI connectivity, allowing you to connect it to a computer or other MIDI devices. This allows you to use the synthesizer with a wide range of software and hardware and integrate it into your studio setup.
- Multiple audio output options
The desktop synth has multiple audio output options, including stereo and multi-channel configurations. This allows you to connect it to various audio equipment, such as speakers, headphones, and recording devices.
- Intuitive interface
The instrument has an intuitive and easy-to-use interface, with a large display screen showing all the important information and settings. This makes it easy to navigate the synthesizer and find the sounds and features you need.
- Patch storage
The Hydrasynth allows you to load and save patches, which are collections of settings and configurations that you can use to recall your favorite sounds and settings. This is useful if you want to switch between different sounds quickly or if you want to save your creations for later use.
- Macro Controllers
The synth has 8 macro controllers, such that each macro controller can be assigned to control up to 4 different parameters, and the parameters can be weighted differently to create more complex and dynamic control. You could use a macro controller to control a patch’s volume, filter cutoff, and pitch simultaneously, or you could use it to control multiple LFOs or envelopes.
Character & Sound:
The ASM Hydrasynth can produce everything from classic synth sounds, such as basses, leads, and pads, to more experimental and unique timbres, thanks to its wave morphing technology and extensive modulation options. One of the strengths of the Hydrasynth is its ability to create very smooth and fluid transitions between different waveforms, which can give your patches a sense of motion and evolution.
In addition, the device also has a large selection of modulation options, including envelopes, LFOs, and step sequencers, which allow you to shape the sound in various ways. You can use these tools to add vibrato, tremolo, or other modulation types to your patches or to create more complex and dynamic soundscapes.
The synth has a touch-sensitive keyboard and onboard arpeggiator that allow you to add expression and complexity to your playing. Secondly, it has USB and MIDI connectivity that allows you to use it with a wide range of software and hardware. Next, it has multiple audio output options and an expansion port that allows you to connect it to various audio equipment and add additional features and functionality to the synthesizer.
Some potential cons of the ASM Hydrasynth include that it is a digital synthesizer, which may not have the same warmth and character as an analog synth. It is a relatively new product with less information and support than established products. Additionally, it is relatively expensive and may be overwhelming or intimidating for some users due to its complexity and the many features and options it offers.
14. IK Multimedia UNO Synth
The IK Multimedia Uno Synth is a monophonic analog synthesizer with a compact, portable design and a wide range of sound-shaping capabilities.
It has a single oscillator with saw, square, and triangle wave shapes, a noise generator, and an analog filter with low pass, high pass, and band pass modes. The synth also has an arpeggiator and a built-in effects processor with delay, reverb, and distortion effects. Batteries or a DC power supply can power it, and it has MIDI and USB connectivity for connecting to a computer or other MIDI devices.
- Monophonic analog synthesizer
The device is a monophonic synthesizer, meaning it can only play one note simultaneously. It uses analog circuitry to generate and shape its sound, which gives it a warm, organic quality.
- Analog filter
The analog filter in the device is used to shape the oscillator’s sound by cutting off or boosting certain frequencies. It has three modes: low pass, high pass, and band pass. The low pass mode allows low frequencies to pass through while cutting off high frequencies, giving the sound a mellow quality.
The high pass mode allows high frequencies to pass through while cutting off low frequencies, giving the sound a brighter quality. The band pass mode allows a narrow range of frequencies to pass through, giving the sound a resonant quality.
The Uno Synth’s arpeggiator is a feature that automatically plays a sequence of notes in a specific order. You can set the speed of the arpeggiator, the range of notes it plays, and the order in which it plays them. This tool creates repeating patterns and adds movement to your music.
- Effects processor
The device has a built-in effects processor with three effects: delay, reverb, and distortion. The delay effect adds a repeating echo to the sound, the reverb effect adds a sense of space and ambiance, and the distortion effect adds a gritty, overdriven character. You can adjust the parameters of each effect to achieve a wide range of sounds.
Character & Sound:
The Uno Synth can produce a huge and versatile range of tonalities, from warm and mellow to bright and aggressive. For example, the saw wave has a harmonically rich sound, the square wave has a harsh, percussive sound, and the triangle wave has a smooth, mellow sound. The analog filter allows you to shape the sound further, and the effects processor lets you add depth and character to the sound.
The Uno Synth has a built-in speaker and headphone output for playing and practicing on the go, and it has MIDI and USB connectivity for connecting to a computer or other MIDI devices. It is a versatile synthesizer that is suitable for a variety of musical genres. In addition, it also has onboard pitch and mod wheels, which allow you to add expression to your performances.
Some potential cons of the IK Multimedia Uno Synth include that it is monophonic and does not have a built-in keyboard, has limited memory for storing patches, and does not have an external audio input.
15. Novation Peak
The Novation Peak is an 8-voice polyphonic virtual analog synthesizer with analog waveform- and digital wavetable oscillators.
It is built to work with computers, bridging analog and digital worlds. This synth is perfect for sound design in the modern electronic music era. Therefore, it could be well utilized by bedroom producers, performing DJs, and even high-end studios. Furthermore, you can easily utilize it for more complicated modulations and routings, as, for example, the modulation matrix can have up to 17 sources and 40 destinations. But first, let’s look deeper into the main features of this machine.
- Oxford Oscillators
Oxford Oscillators are based on FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array), which creates less aliasing, hence adding more analog characteristics to the sounds. In addition, there are three oscillators with multiple analog waveshapes like sine, sawtooth, triangle, and pulse width, and 60 digital wavetables from which we could choose multiple waveforms.
- Limitless Modulation
There are 16 direct modulation assignments and a 16-slot modulation matrix that you can assign to introduce more movement to your sounds. Moreover, using the FX Modulation matrix, you can apply modulations to any effects. You can modulate almost anything on the Novation Peak with these many options.
- Wavetable Editor
The wavetable oscillator in this instrument comes with an editor which allows you to edit and even draw waveforms and oscillator shapes. You can even create waveforms from external audio samples with the Audio Import function.
Character & Sound:
Direct control of all onboard effects gives you a lot of scope for sonic shaping. For example, using effects like delay and reverb to make ambient sounds and modulation controls to create metallic texture, harsher tones, musical overtones, and dynamic movements.
Being a virtual analog synth with much more control and knobs & sliders for effects & modulations, one can create smooth and warm classic sounds and dirty & granular underground sounds. One can also use the noise generators and modulate them to create soothing windy sounds.
As a digital-analog hybrid synth, Peak offers features you will not find in a traditional analog synth, including various wavetables. Further, it’s a versatile and all-in-one synthesizer and offers a good ROI for its price. Lastly, it has high-quality oscillators, a friendly laid-out structure to sound design, and analog multi-mode filters and effects.
The biggest con of the Novation Peak is that you cannot use and load your wavetables in it. Instead, you get a wavetable editor, which makes the matter more complex and time-consuming, given that the in-built wavetables are slightly underwhelming. Further, it does not have a keyboard and is not rack-mountable.
16. Waldorf Iridium
The Waldorf Iridium is a sixteen-voice polyphonic bi-timbral stereo digital hardware synth.
It is the desktop version of Waldorf Quantum and includes Quantum’s analog filters for a lower price tag, more voices, a smaller footprint, and a few more features. In addition, it includes five synth engines: wavetable, waveform, sampler/granular, resonator, and kernels.
- Sharp & interactive touchscreen
It has a seven-inch color touch screen that is sharp, viewable from any angle, and has a good response rate to touches, whether light or hard. You could access and save presets, select effects, oscillators, and modulators, analyze waveforms using its oscilloscope, decide the signal flow, etc. In addition, the touch screen allows you to cycle through different waveforms in the wavetable.
- Solid built
The synth is heavy and well-built, the encoders and knobs are solid and responsive, and the pads are good quality. It doesn’t have a built-in keyboard, but you can use its pads, arranged chromatically, to play or record chords or notes. Chords can be customized to single pads as well in chord mode.
- Limitless sound design capabilities
Packed with powerful modulators, the Iridium has a 40-slot modulation matrix, dual filter, six envelope generators, 4×4 pad matrix, six LFOs, and a KOMPLEX modulator which offers highly accurate and precise sound shaping options. As a sound designer, you can utilize comb filtering, bit crushing, Ring Modulation, and many other modulation & effect tools.
Character & Sound:
With 16-voice polyphony and dual-timbral mode, the Iridium can produce highly dense and filled sounds. Given its five different synth engines, the range of sounds one can produce is huge. There’s no limit to what can be done with this machine, as we can utilize it equally well for different genres of music, game sound design, and film scoring.
For example, wavetable synthesis can be used to create morphing sounds with interesting movements and attitudes, resonator synthesis can manipulate the overtones & harmonic structure of any given sound, and waveform synthesis could be utilized to create sounds of more analog nature. The oscillators and modulation tools are high quality, clean and modern, and can be used to create a wide variety of sounds.
It’s an all-in-one machine that blends lots of features well together, creating a seamless user interface, given the number of knobs, buttons, and touch screens we can use to control thousands of parameters. Further, we can conveniently do many things with the touch screen, like sequencing, arpeggiating, and scrolling around through different waveforms and presets.
Lastly, the screen animations are useful and interactive for visualizing the wavetables, LFOs, modulations, etc. Physically, it looks stunning and compactly packs all features & capabilities of the Waldorf Quantum.
Only 600 MB of memory is available for loading up samples or wavetables, which could be expanded to 2.5 GB if you clear the factory presets. Further, the pads are really small and have no pressure after-touch sensitivity. Further, it does not have an SD card or USB stick slot to use or expert external data. Lastly, there are no macro controls, which, if included, could enhance this machine’s performance.
17. Moog Minitaur (Analog Synth)
The Miniataur is a compact analog bass machine that can also integrate with your DAW.
It’s the latest addition to the Taurus family of analog bass by Moog and is great for performing live and using it in a studio by integrating it with a computer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a dedicated keyboard, so it needs an external MIDI keyboard player to use as a LIVE instrument. However, it’s a great tool for creating huge, upfront, and analog bass sounds.
- Sound engine
Miniature starts with two VCOs which can be mixed in different proportions to create the sound, which you can switch between square wave and saw waveforms. Then, there’s a filter section, an ADSR envelope section, and an LFO modulation section to shape the sound further. Finally, its polyphony is another feature that needs to be highlighted.
- Software control
The free software accessible with the Miniataur allows you to access various hidden parameters and store & recall 128 presets. Further, the DAW integration allows you to access a new possibility of sonic shaping & control. You can control every onboard control via MIDI.
- Huge sound in a small package
The bass device can fit into your backpack, it’s so small, yet it sounds massive. You can easily integrate it into a keyboard stack, DJ rig, or studio room. It’s also extremely light, which makes it highly portable and easy to use.
The device’s backside includes a headphone Jack, a quarter-inch plug, an audio Jack out, external audio input, and 4 CV inputs. In addition, there are USB type B and MIDI connectivity available.
Character & Sound:
Despite being a monophonic synth, it sounds powerful and is great for designing and composing bass lines that stand out and shake the room, stage, club, or wherever you’re playing. Its fat analog oscillators with square & saw textures make it cut through and translate through every sound system.
Some features are unavailable on the main panel and can only be accessed using the editor or shift functions. Apart from that, the instrument is quite versatile, as it can produce a wide range of bass sounds and can also be used to create fat and upfront lead sounds. In addition, the DAW and VST/AU compatibility expands its horizons and makes it an even more attractive instrument.
It lacks a keyboard and hence can’t be used as a performance instrument, and it could have expanded to more than just a bass instrument, as it has great functionality. Without the MIDI CCs and editor, you can’t use the device fully.
18. Behringer NEUTRON (Semi-modular analog synth)
The Behringer Neutron is a Eurorack-mountable monophonic, semi-modular synthesizer that offers a switchable paraphonic mode.
Alongside the paraphonic feature, you will have access to an LFO, a filter, two ADSR generators, an overdrive and a delay effect, a sample and hold function, a slew rate limiter, and two attenuators. The semi-modular gives its bass sounds a good analog texture, the overdrive knob can add more grit & girth to the sound, and the modulators can create a good movement & rhythmic composition in your bass lines.
- Two Oscillators with Paraphonic Switch
The two VCOs can be set to act in tandem or individually if the paraphonic button is engaged and two or more MIDI notes are being played. You can shape the sound using five waveforms: tonal modulation, square/pulse, sawtooth, triangle, and sine. The voltage-controlled factor in the oscillator will give your bass sounds a punchy & warm analog feel.
- Multi-Mode Filter
You can set the filter to remove frequencies using a high-pass, band-pass, or low-pass filter. In addition, you can use the patch bay to wire in a second filter. Outside of the usual resonance control, you will have access to an optional keyboard tracking feature that will adjust the filtering according to the note being played.
That will allow you to create realistic bass lines & performances. Moreover, the filter can output an additional self-oscillating sine wave if the resonance control is at the maximum and keyboard tracking is activated.
- Bucket Brigade Delay
The BBD offers 24 to 640 milliseconds of delay. The delay unit offers three parameters: time, repeats, and mix. Depending on how the delay unit is set up and whether you have an LFO modulating any parameters, you can create various effects ranging from dub delay to chorus to flanger and beyond.
- Slew Rate Limiters
If you want to add glide or portamento into your bass sounds, then the built-in slew rate limiter can help achieve that. The limiter smoothens the signal at a rate between 1ms to 3s so you can achieve creamy lines that slide into one another. This is great for creating punchy 8o8 lines with intense movement, and also funky bass lines & lead synths sound for West Coast style of beats.
Character & Sound:
The tone of the Neutron varies wildly and can cover many bases. Depending on the base waveforms selected and how/whether each oscillator is mixed, the sonic quality of the bass can vary from thick and smooth to warped and metallic. The sonic possibilities are vast and may not be apparent at face value, especially when the patch bay is thrown in the mix.
The frequency range of the dual oscillators can be tuned low enough to become LFOs which you can patch to external gear if you use a modular setup. That makes the synth great for sub-bass and programming frequencies below 60 Hz.
The software included adds an extra level of control over the synth’s parameters and can be a great companion for those looking to tinker with their sounds at a deeper level.
The overall level of the synth is relatively high and is a hair away from saturating at all times. Also, it doesn’t have a built-in sequencer or keyboard, so you will need to connect it to external gear or a controller/keyboard if you want to perform and play bass in live settings.
Lastly, it doesn’t have a hard sync feature for the VCOs, and since the tuning knobs are extremely sensitive, you may find it difficult to sync them perfectly. That may create a problem while designing pluck bass sounds.
19. Erica Synths DB-01 Bassline (Analog Synth)
Erica Synths DB-01 is an analog monophonic synth with the prime objective of being the ultimate bass synth.
It’s a powerful mono synth with a transistor-based gritty sub-oscillator, along with overdrive, detune, and analog delay knobs/effects that can make your sounds punchier and huge. The sound is massive, and you get FM and a noise oscillator to spice things up. It has snappy, highly responsive, easy-to-use envelopes and LFOs for plucky sounds and instant modulations.
- Detune knob
The detune knob is not what you think it is; it is two analog bucket brigade delays, each with their independent LFOs that move the delay speed and creates an interesting pitch-shifting effect, wobbly textures, and thickness in the bass sound. That also adds some interesting harmonic structure to the sound, making the sounds bigger and more upfront, and it works great in subtleness.
- Sequencing workflow
The sequencer allows you to lock parameters to the lanes of the sequencer. So, for example, you can add a different cutoff frequency at each step of the sequencer. That can create some lanes of automation and result in some unique & interesting movements.
- Analog feel
The voltage-controlled oscillator, adjustable between saw, square, and triangle waves, and the transistor-based sub-oscillator result in some great-sounding analog warmth to get started with. In addition, the synth sounds fairly analog because of its Polivoks-inspired filter, analog drive, and BBD detune effect.
- Other features
The 64-step sequencer with an arpeggiation option, mod slides, and per-step pitch envelope is a great feature too. Further, the LFO has varying wave types and can be synced to the tempo. Lastly, you can use a multidirectional analog clock, and triggering with MIDI and CV/Gate is also possible.
Character & Sound:
The synth is great for creating pluck bass of different types due to its fast response to analog filters & envelopes, which makes it suitable for house, techno, future pop, and other EDM genres. The DB-01 has great sub-bass, perfect for films & trailers’ sound design & scoring, and also for creating thumpy 8o8s in trap, drill, and hip-hop music beats.
Overall, Erica Synth DB-01 is a powerful bass machine and sound design tool with commendable analog circuitry that lets you create gritty and punchy bass lines, and one can also sequence or program funky bass movements. MIDI and CV/Gate connections are huge pros and allow us to use them as a monosynth too.
Other huge pros are the FM and overdrive controls that let you make aggressive bass sounds and even upfront & punchy lead sounds.
Except for the master volume control, which is hidden in the settings menu, the synth has a few more gaps. One of which is its envelope which is too basic, and another is that you can’t save presets on it. A visual feedback screen could have been a good addition to the synth.
20. Behringer Crave
The Behringer CRAVE has been designed to emulate the sounds of synths from an era of iconic synthesizers.
They use a ladder filter based on Moog’s 24dB ladder filter. And they sonically pay homage to Sequential’s influential Prophet-5. Behringer’s CRAVE is a semi-modular monophonic synth. Despite being monophonic, they can be chained to additional Crave units for up to 16-Voice polyphony.
In terms of features, you will have a single VCO, a VCF, an LFO, and an EG at your fingertips. To top it all off, you will have plenty of patching options since they have up to 18 inputs and 14 outputs.
- Voltage Controlled Oscillator (VCO)
A single oscillator is available for creating tones. The Voltage Controlled Oscillator can be set to either a pulse wave or a reverse-sawtooth wave. You can adjust the pulse width to create a square wave when the pulse wave is selected. In addition, the tone can be adjusted up or down one octave.
- Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF)
You can use the Voltage Controlled Filter to create your desired tone by using a high-pass or low-pass filter that attenuates frequencies by 24db/octave. The low-pass filter removes frequencies above the cutoff frequency, creating a darker/lower tone. The high-pass filter removes frequencies below the set cutoff frequency, creating a thinner/higher tone.
A controllable Low-Frequency Oscillator allows you to modulate the main tone of the synth and the filter used to shape the wave. The LFO section only allows control over the LFO’s oscillation rate and the waveform shape used. The two waveforms offered are a Square wave and a Triangle wave.
- Envelope Generator
The envelope is used to control three of the four waveform sections. You will be able to adjust the attack, which is the initial start of the tone up to its loudest point, and the decay, which is the time the tone takes to lower from its loudest point to a consistent volume and sustain, which is the consistent volume until fading to silence. The decay control also adjusts the release of the tone.
Character & Sound:
Despite the limited VCO, VCF, and EG, the tones available are diverse and can fit many areas. You can create deep bass lines, velvety synth tones, chaotic or face-melting leads, percussive smacks, and mystifying pads.
Behringer’s CRAVE offers exceptional versatility in a single package, especially if you can make the most of its available features. The oscillator can create various deep-to-piercing tones with its flexible filtering options.
As for the downsides, the manual included can be difficult to decipher. If you struggle, you can leaf through the Mother-32 manual since the two synths operate similarly.
Like a few synths on this list, they do not offer a ¼” Jack output connection, so you will need an adapter for sending the output to any outboard gear.
The CRAVE is a great choice if you want a cheaper alternative to Moog’s Mother-32! Otherwise, if you’re looking for an analog synth that offers a lot of tones and sculpting for a low price, then this one is for you.
Behringer TD-3-MO (Desktop Synth with Analog Circuitry)
The TD-3-MO is a monophonic, analog bassline synthesizer.
It offers a heft of new features over the TD-3 that allows more envelope control through additional attack and decay dials, musical expression with the sequencer through their slide and accent controls, a thicker tone through a sub-oscillator, and a variety of CV, gate, and filter inputs and outputs.
- Single VCO
The VCO has a three-way switch for switching between two waveforms and an off position. You can use either a biting sawtooth or a hollow square wave to form the basis of your bass lines. Also, you can add a sub-oscillator with a 3-pole switch for the level that plays one octave below a sequence.
- 4-Pole Low Pass Filter with Keyboard Tracking
The low pass filter attenuates frequencies above the cutoff point by 24 dB per octave and has a comprehensive range, extending as low as closing the sound off completely to roughly 5 kHz for squealing runs. Moreover, the filter does track the keyboard, so the filter’s cutoff shifts depending on the note, which gives bass lines a slightly more natural characteristic.
- 16-Step Sequencer
The sequencer has an adjustable step range that reaches a maximum of 16 steps in a sequence. You can set the timing for each step to either a sixteenth note, to tie sixteenth notes, or for a sixteenth note rest. In addition, you will be able to add accents and slides to the individual notes in your loops.
- Track & Pattern Modes
Similar to the TD-3, the MO has four selectable pattern banks with individual A and B banks; overall, you can store up to 16 patterns on the device. Once you select patterns, you can create a sequence of patterns changed together in track mode. Seven tracks are available, each corresponding to a particular pattern bank.
Character & Sound:
By default, the tones are smooth and deep, but because of the filter’s extensive range, you can create highly sharp/squelching tones. If you need to add an extra grit to your bass, the overdrive effect offers a warmer, saturated tone to the mix without becoming overly distorted.
And outside of the filter, you can use a muffler function to tame harmonics, giving you flexibility over how you want to sculpt the bass sounds in your sound.
They feature great control for creating musical passages. Steps in a sequence can be accented for a more dynamic-sounding pattern. Moreover, the decay for accented and normal steps have separate dials so that you can create a fluid distinction between the two.
Unlike the TD-3, you will have access to a filter FM input with dedicated control for adjusting the amount of frequency modulation for the filter.
The manual provided lacks in-depth explanations for the controls. It gets the job done if you just want to know the various controls. But, if you want to know what the controls do, you may find the explanations underwhelming.
We have seen twenty desktop synthesizers of various types, sizes, features, and applications. If you’re looking for a digital desktop synthesizer, the Virus Ti2 by Access is a great choice because of its powerful, multi-timbral virtual analog synth engine and versatility.
Next, Kyra is also a good digital synth that you can consider, as it has varying synthesis capabilities, including wavetable synthesis, granular synthesis, and virtual analog synthesis. Secondly, some good options to consider if you’re looking to buy a modular synthesizer are Korg Minilogue XD and Erica Synths Pico System III.
Next, Behringer Neutron and Moog Subharmonicon are great semi-modular synthesizers, as they give you the flexibility and sonics of modular workflow with the convenience of modern controls-based machines.
Lastly, if you are a purist looking for a hundred percent analog synthesizer and its warm, rich, and often unpredictable sound, you can consider the Mogg Minitaur, the Roland SE-02, and the Behringer DeepMind 12D, as they have great quality and sonics. I hope the article was of help. Thank you for reading.
Shaurya Bhatia, is an Indian Music Producer, Composer, Rapper & Performer, who goes by the stage name MC SNUB, and is also 1/2 of the Indian pop music duo, called “babyface”. A certified Audio Engineer & Music Producer, and a practicing musician & rapper for more than 6 years, Shaurya has worked on projects of various genres and has also been a teaching faculty at Spin Gurus DJ Academy.