This article will discuss the best hardware synths with built-in arpeggiators in 2023.
Arpeggiators are important to add the required rhythm and movement to your sounds. It’s great to generate ideas and is often used in electronic, 80s pop, R&B, and hip-hop music. All you have to do is press a chord, and you get a great moving sound created with the notes of that chord.
Hardware synths usually cost a lot, and it’s important to consider their playability, interface, overall functionality, and personal enjoyment. Hence, we have created a comprehensive list of the best eight hardware synthesizers with built-in arpeggiators. So let’s dive right into it.
Top 8 Hardware Synths With Arpeggiators Built-In 2023
1. Roland Jupiter-X
Jupiter-X by Roland is a 4-oscillator synthesizer with an I-arpeggio and 61 keys.
The I-arpeggio is an artificial intelligence-based arpeggiator that allows you to rapidly play rhythmic, melodic, and polyphonic patterns by clicking a few buttons or keys. It’s great for instant inspiration and musical ideas and adds better movements to your chords. In addition, it allows you to change the algorithms, rhythms, tempo, duration, shuffle, and more properties of the arpeggiator.
- The workflow
The synth consists of four oscillators which allow you to select the type, modulation, pitch, and detune. In addition, there’s a mixer section, a filter, an amp, two envelopes, and an effects section that includes effects like reverb, delay, drive, chorus, etc.
- Great vintage sound
The instrument is designed to emulate the sounds of analog beasts like Jupiter-8, Juno-106, XV-5080, RD-pianos, SH-101, and more. In addition, Jupiter-X is a one-stop shop for all vintage sounds and textures.
- Hands-on control
The synth allows you to creatively express yourself with its 61-key piano with aftertouch control, pitch bend and mod wheels, and 256-note polyphony. In addition, the metal chassis makes it a robust machine that you can carry around for tours.
Character & Sound:
Jupiter-X is based on the cutting-edge ZEN-Core sound engine with sound sources emulating various styles of analog synths. In addition, it features polyphony and multiple layers to give you the warmth, shimmer, and impact you require in your sounds. It’s best for vintage sounds and different genres of electronic music.
It has a great sound and high-utility arpeggiator with performance capabilities exceeding expectations. The aftertouch-enabled keyboard is a joy to play, and the build is tough and rugged. The effects include some great sonics, from the classic Juno chorus to the precise delay sound.
Also, the layering capabilities are insane, and the digital-analog interplay is on point! Lastly, the cherry on top is its great-looking metal body and design.
The sounds are loosely organized and may need clarification if you go through the manual first. Plus, the PC editor needs to be better. The PC connectivity and virtual settings are loose, tedious, and time-consuming. The sounds can come across as “not modern” as it’s a vintage-based instrument.
2. Roland Juno-X
Roland Juno-X combined the classic JUNO106 sound engine with its modern ZEN-core synth engine.
Zencore features samples-based and virtual analog characteristics, developed by Roland, to emulate its classic synthesizers. It has great presets, bundles of synth models, and the intelligent Roland I-Arpeggio. It consists of an Oscillator window, a High Pass Filter window, a Filter section, an envelope section, an effects section, and more.
- Sound sources
The synth features the classic Digitally Controlled Oscillators combined with a sub-oscillator and a noise oscillator. You can turn on the super saw mode and pulse width modulation for the fat vintage Juno texture. In addition, you can use the input mic to tap into the full potential of the Vocoder.
The instrument has more than 4000 presets from classic Roland products, including the Juno-106, Juno-60, XV-5080, and RD series. It includes everything from vocoder sounds to strings to leads and more. In addition, the preset management and arrangement are great!
- Extensive Effects
Roland has included 90 different and more effects you can download from the Roland cloud. On the synthesizer, the effects included are Drive, Reverb, Delay, and Chorus, which give the classic Juno sonic effects.
Character & Sound:
The instrument is perfect for the classic 80s and 90s sounds you hear in the soundtrack of Stranger Things, songs by The Weeknd, 1975, and more. In addition to the classic Juno sound, it also features multitimbrality, polyphony, and thousands of new sounds derived from combining the Zen core and Juno synth engines.
It consists of strings, orchestral sounds, guitars, acoustic instruments, etc., apart from the synth stabs, arpeggios, fat bass sounds, upfront leads, and more.
Everything from the multi-effects to the seme-weighted keys with the aftertouch feature to the robust arpeggiator and the classic 80s sound makes the Juno-X a powerful machine. In addition, the vocoder sounds clear and wide and has a great tone!
Juno-X has a steep learning cover if you want to get into detailed sound design. The screen on the synth could have been bigger to get more flexibility and insight into the sound design process. Also, the vocoder mic is dynamic and has no phantom power option enabled.
3. ASM Hydrasynth Keyboard (Most advanced Arpeggiator)
The Hydrasynth is a digital instrument with 8-voice polyphony that comes in two different versions.
One comes with a velocity-sensitive 49-keys keyboard with polyphonic aftertouch, and another comes in a desktop version. Both are fully digital synths with virtual analog FM and wavetable oscillators, five envelopes and five LFOs per voice, and an extensive effects section, which makes them perfect for creating bass sounds of all genres & styles.
The arpeggiator has four knobs: Mode, Octave, Division, and Swing, by which you can create expansive arpeggiator patterns in different directions, scales, and swings. For example, selecting the division allows you to go for varying up or/and down movements and adjust the timings.
The Hydrasynth is the debut synthesizer of Ashun Sound Machines, a Chinese company. They priced it at about $1299, which is pretty affordable, given its advanced features and innovative design.
- Next Level Virtual Analog sound design capabilities
The ASM Hydrasynth packs a 32-slot modulation matrix, three Wavescan oscillators with 219 waveforms, and four waveshaping mutators. Each of the five envelopes can sweep through exponential and logarithmic curves, which creates scope for long-evolving modulations and make the synth great for bass sound design.
- High-performance Parameters
For live sound designing and performances, the ribbon controller gives you accessibility to control pitch bend or modulation amount. That lets you create 8o8 sounds with interesting slides and funky 80s-type basslines with groovy bends.
PolyTouch gives you more command over the aftertouch curves, offsets, and release times, shaping your sounds in more controlled and creative ways. Lastly, it also gives you macro controls, that is, ways by which you can control multiple parameters with a single knob.
- Hands-on control of the interface
The intuitive interface makes your sound design process simpler and easier, with plenty of knobs and buttons to tweak what you’re looking for. In addition, we can easily access each section and functionality of this synth with just a press of a button.
Character & Sound:
ASM places a lot of importance on recording the expression of the performance by packing the Hydrasynth keyboard with aftertouch, connectivity for sustained peddles, and velocity sensitivity. Hence, what you play on this instrument will truly be recorded. Moreover, sonically, the low-end sound is analog and warm for a digital synthesizer.
Apart from varying bass sounds, you can create anything from a pad to a pluck sound to percussions to fat, and gritty synth bass sounds to strings with varying ADSRs to punchy and bright 80s stabs, etc., hence making it a good sound design tool for modern music producers.
Hydrasynth combines several sound design methods, like wavetable synthesis, subtractive synthesis, linear FM, Pulse Width Modulation, and more, giving it limitless functionality, which means there’s no limit to the genre and style of bass you want to program on it.
Further, eight macro control presents make the sound design workflow easier, combined with a solid build and a high-quality effects section. Lastly, the Polyphonic aftertouch and Ribbon Controller are its topmost USP after its attractive price point.
The LFOs have 11 different assignable waveforms.
One of the best features of the Hydrasynth is its advanced arpeggiator which comes with great hands-on features and editing options, making it a flexible and expansive arpeggiated instrument.
The keyboard has a complex & overwhelming sound design workflow that may take time to get used to. Hence, Hydrasynth is not the most beginner-friendly instrument. Lastly, lacking sequencers could be a huge dealbreaker for many music producers, making its versatility questionable.
4. Novation Bass Station 2
Bass Station 2 by Novation is an analog mono synth that you can control digitally.
It’s a hundred percent analog synthesizer with digital controls, such that it has two switchable oscillators with four adjustable waveforms, either of which can be easily edited. In addition, you can set the course and fine pitch of the oscillator, along with a modulation envelope, LFO, and a pulse-width knob.
The instrument consists of a four-knob arpeggiator with an adjustable tempo between 40 and 240 BPM. You can set the rhythm between a bar and 1/32 bar, select arpeggiator octaves up to the four octaves, and control the direction of the arpeggiation.
You get a headphone, line output, external input, sustain pedal switch, MIDI i/o, USB connection to use with a computer, and a DC power supply. Hence, you can connect external equipment, including a computer, to the system.
- Sturdy-built and hands-on-control
The knobs, sliders, switches, pitch bend/modulation wheels, and other controllers are high-quality and tweakable, along with an LED display and a 2-octave keyboard with an after-touch.
- Synth engine
There are two main oscillators, one sub-oscillator and a noise oscillator, to start with. Then there’s a filter with cutoff, resonance, overdrive, and LFO 2 & envelope knobs. Finally, you also get an arpeggiator, 2 LFOs, an ADSR envelope, and a distortion effect knob.
Character & Sound:
Bass Station 2 is great for programming progressive and dark bass lines, especially the type that Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor make. The dark, mysteriously underground, gritty soundtracks like that of Delhi Crimes, The Social Network, Limitless, and Tron Legacy could be best created by the synth due to its analog texture and the arpeggiator movements, tweakability, and flexibility.
It has a warm analog characteristic and can easily adapt to cool movements with the opening & closing of LFO-modulated filters.
The extended filter options increase the scope of your sonic horizon with a heavy-duty arpeggiator, step sequencers, and good hands-on onboard control. The sound is fairly analog, and the ring modulation & square and saw waves enable you to create dirty bass sounds, which are harmonically rich.
Its aftertouch is not as sensitive and requires a lot of pressure. Also, it’s very similar to the Arturia MicroBrute and doesn’t have a control voltage input or output. You cannot trigger the arpeggiator/sequencer from an external source, and the instrument size is limited.
5. Moog One
Moog launched its first polyphonic Moog synthesizer in thirty years, called Moog One.
It’s a tri-timbral analog synth with great capabilities in terms of the richness & punch of the sound and a state-of-the-art design, and it is capable of generating fat and punchy bass sounds. Physically, it’s a large machine that requires a lot of space.
The front panel features single-function knobs like oscillators, filters, envelopes, and LFOs together by module. We can also add digital effects to our sounds, but for the purists and the fans of analog sounds, we also have the option to bypass the digital effects if we want it to be 100% analog.
The arpeggiator in the synth consists of switches for octaves and directions and a knob for adjusting the rate of the arpeggiator. You can select the modes between up, down, up/down, and down/up, and select up to four octaves of arpeggiator movement.
Packed with up to 48 voices, digital synth effects, a 20-slot modulation matrix, various input/output and control options, an arpeggiator, and a 64-step polyphonic sequencer, this is a highly ambitious piece of equipment. However, the central control section with a large screen to search and browse presets and its laid-out knobs & buttons make the workflow easier.
The analog circuits of Moog are known for their richness, harmonic nature, and natural quality basslines, due to which Moog has been one of the primary instruments of artists/bands like George Harrison, Beastie Boys, The Doors, etc. Moog One is also widely used in programming groovy basslines for West Coast/G-Funk, club genres, and other styles.
This synthesizer carries that nature of sound, its elaborate programming capabilities, and its polyphonic & multitimbral character, which gives you a good combination of classic analog sound and modern tech to manipulate and shape the sound.
- Cutting-edge Sound Design Capabilities
Moog one comes in 8- and 16-voice versions and three Voltage Controlled Oscillators (VCOs), that is, up to 48 voices at once, and also packs two independent analog filters- Variable State filter and Moog Ladder filter, giving the perfect analog texture of fatness to design bass sounds.
- Rich Waveforms & Premium Modulation Options
The 3 oscillators could output a user-defined blend of triangle/saw and square/pulse oscillators, giving it a harmonically rich texture. To that, digital modulations like Ring Modulation, Frequency Modulation, Hard Sync, etc., can be applied for grittier bass.
There’s an option to add a dual-source noise (pink, white, red, purple, etc.) generator with its own envelope shaper, giving you a sound with full-spectrum and transient capabilities.
- Ease of Creation
With more than 73 knobs and 144 buttons, and 61 keys, the Moog synthesizer is designed to spark creativity. It’s a great technology due to its innovative bass design and ease of use. You can save tens of thousands of presets and recall a time-stamped snapshot of a preset using an LCD center panel, in which you can browse and control different presets and settings.
- Analog-Digital features
You can also use digital effects on your synths and master output, for example, the eventide reverb (Room, Shimmer, Hall, Blackhole, and Plate) and other high-quality effects of distortion, compression, etc., for versatile bass sound design.
The four LFOs and three DAHDSR Envelope Generators can be applied in series or parallel to each voice to add sonic depth and movement to your basslines.
- Easy connectivity
There are 2 x 1/4″ stereo headphone outputs, 1 x ¼” external audio input (line-level), 4 x ¼” hardware inserts (TRS), 1 XLR + ¼” TRS combo external audio input, 9 assignable CV/GATE I/O (5-in/4-out), a LAN port, and USB drive support for saving and backing up system settings and presets.
This machine’s tone generators, filters, and modulators are of the best quality. On top of that, it’s tri-timbral, which essentially makes it a three-in-one synthesizer, along with which its interface is intuitive and well-thought-out, with very few hidden features. You can do a lot more than create basslines with the synthesizer.
It has a great sound design workflow, and the ease of applying modulations, filters, and effects makes it stand out. The Moog one is a reliable gadget with a rich & vast sonic universe. Its classic Moog circuitry gives this machine a sweet, warm, and unique analog low end & overall tonality.
Film & Music studios, sound designers, and engineers looking for a machine with uncompromising abilities, who do not have any constraints on the budget, and who have a good know-how of how analog synthesis works are the ideal customers for the Moog One.
Priced at $8,999, many bedroom music producers cannot afford such an expensive machine. However, it’s only designed for premium music and film studios. Apart from being pricy, this is a heavy machine and weighs about 45 lbs, making it quite challenging to carry around.
The Moog One is also huge in size, with an area of 7 x 42 square inches. Lastly, it’s complex and not easy to use, and it could take a while to get used to its workflow, especially for beginner sound designers & music producers. Unfortunately, it’s ahead of time and may not be the best product-market-fit.
6. Roland SYSTEM-8
Roland SYSTEM-8 is an ABC-based polyphonic digital synthesizer that combines the best of worlds: classic and modern, together to produce a sonically diverse universe of vintage and futuristic sounds, owing to Roland’s tried and tested analog circuit behavior is at the core of its engine, which has proven itself over decades.
Historically, this derives from the digital synths revolution of the 1980s, which evolved from the multi-oscillator modulator synthesizers revolution in the 1970s, a golden period for analog music machines. After forty years of technological development at Roland, they have released the Roland System-8.
The SYSTEM-8s arpeggiator has six modes and six steps to customize the arpeggiator from. The six steps also include triplets, sixteenth notes, and more. You can turn it on by selecting the Arpeggio switch and pressing the Key Hold button to extend the arpeggiation even when you get rid of the chords keys.
They have tried to capture the essence of the famous JUNO-6, JUPITER-8, and JX-3P, with their down-to-circuit recreations. This extension of the Roland S-1 uses an 8-voice polyphony, split & layered synths, an integrated vocoder, and three PLUG-OUT slots.
- PLUG-OUT Expansion
You get three expansion slots for connecting and controlling plug-out synths, by which you can load up a different sound engine, by which the Roland S-8 can be transformed into a different instrument. We can connect with many synthesizers and create interesting fused sounds using layered voices and custom splits.
- Easy Connectivity
Regarding connectivity, we can connect our rig using MIDI/USB and CV/Gate, input and output audios using 2 1/4″ I/O slots, and monitor the audio using the 1/4″ headphones slot. This makes it a great instrument for both LIVE and Music Studios.
- Advanced Sound Engine & Digital FX
Based on the architecture of S-1, this digital instrument is packed with the ABC Sound Engine by Roland, 3-variable oscillators with eight notes of polyphony, 25 & 49 keys, an arpeggiator to enhance your musical performance, a step-sequencer, an SD Card Slot, and effects like Delay, Chorus, Phaser, Overdrive, Flanger, Reverb, etc., by which you could extensively morph your sonic palette.
- Great sound-shaping capabilities
Additionally, dozens of knobs, buttons, and sliders are available, giving us good intuitive real-time control over the sound design process. There are lots of modulation & filter options also available to shape the sound as per your taste. You can change between 6 unique waveforms (saw, square, triangle, super saw, super square, super triangle) using the WAVE knob and blend these waveforms using the modulations.
Character & Sound:
Versatility is a huge plus for this synth, with a good variety of waveforms, a NOISE SAW, modulations like Frequency Modulation, SYNC, Vowel, Cowbell, Ring Modulation, Pulse Width Modulation, Cross Modulation, Detuning option, and a lot of other programming options like AMP Envelopes (Strings, Organ, Mallet, etc.), LFO of 6 different wave shapes, an arpeggiator, and a sequencer.
You can also add interesting effects like delay, reverb, chorus, flanger, etc., to improve your sounds. All the options mentioned above allow you to shape and enhance your sounds per your taste and create a wide range of sonics, letting you create both vintage and modern sounds.
We can connect our rig using MIDI/USB and CV/Gate. That makes it easy to work with, carrying it around while traveling, and the plug-out option helps you expand your instrument further. That is a great plus for both touring and studio musicians. Using the MIDI connectivity, you can work with it on a computer or laptop too, and program & record music on your DAWs.
Its switchable arpeggio with the Key Hold switch is another pro. Its small size, with only 13 lbs of weight, makes the Roland S-8 a portable tool. Moreover, it does a remarkable job sonically emulating classic synths: the Juno-6, Jupiter-8 & JX-3P.
Hence, you need not spend a tonne of money on buying analog synths when you can buy a digital synthesizer with such capabilities and functionalities. Plus, the arpeggiator adds another layer to deepen your sound design workflow.
The biggest drawback of the S-8 is that it has very few patches, which are uneditable during performance, and that it does not have much performance memory. Along with that, the performance mode does not save edits. In addition, its documentation is below average, and the hardware is made of plastic and has an external power supply.
There’s no option to connect an XLR mic input, and it is not great for keyboard players as it has few octaves. Lastly, the arpeggiator doesn’t have a gate or swing mode, only one global LFO, and the sequencer doesn’t have a metronome track.
7. Sequential Prophet-6
The Sequential Prophet 6, a successor of the much-renowned Prophet 5, is a 6-voice analog synthesizer that comes with two voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) per voice, giving us the option to use up to twelve oscillators at a time. Known for its authentic and warm vintage tone, we can smoothly transition the oscillators of this synth from triangle to pulse.
The synth has a standard arpeggiator with an On/off switch, hold mode, and Mode switch to select the movement of the arpeggio. It also has a slop knob that emulates the inconsistencies between oscillators in old analog synthesizers, outputting a fat synth sound from detuning and dephasing the voices.
Created by Dave Smith, the creator of the Prophet 5, this machine exceeds all expectations with its classic sequential circuit, which gives it its analog characteristics. This synth has a fan base and a great reputation in the market for its trademark sound, which is loved by almost anyone who uses it, and its legacy. It has four octaves of piano keys and a button to shift octaves.
- Studio Quality Effects
The Prophet 6 packs a dual effects section with studio-grade digital effects like reverb, phase shifter, chorus, delay., etc., which are bypassable to maintain the analog nature of the synth. There’s also a stereo distortion effect which is completely analog.
- Poly Modulation & Step Sequencer
A filter envelope and the second oscillator act like modulation sources, targeting various parameters of oscillator one that could be used for modulation purposes. It has a polyphonic step sequencer with up to steps and up to 6 notes on each step, which allows polyphonic sequencing. There are two filters per voice and a multimode arpeggiator available as well.
- Ease of use
Five hundred factory and 500 user programs are available as patches, which can be easily manipulated and played around to create interesting sounds. Apart from that, there’s a MIDI output, a USB slot, two audio outputs of 1/4″ each, and a headphones output.
Character & Sound:
You can expect to create sounds with a lot of movement, depth, punch, and fullness when you work with this synth, giving you a great analog-natured vintage palette. The factory presets have a huge variety of sounds ranging from plucks to percussions to spread-out ambient sounds, proving the versatility and capabilities of the Prophet 6.
In addition, things like the Slop dial and effects range are created for us to shape the sounds as per our taste. Lastly, the analog sound gets accentuated by the arpeggiator in the synth, which lets you create intense movements that are great for many electronic music genres.
The semi-weighted keyboard of this synth feels very smooth to play, with an accurate velocity-sensitive and aftertouch response to the finger pressure. The VCOs, VCFs, and VCAs are perfect for the aesthetic vintage sound. The user interface is simplified and easily usable, and the performance is more ear-dependent than giving you fancy visual cues about what you’re doing.
Since the Prophet 5 and the Prophet 600 had a five-octave keyboard, many fans were disappointed when the Prophet 6 was announced as a four-octave keyboard synth. This makes it portable & compact, but it’s not the best fit for performing musicians & sound designers who play with both hands. It’s also expensive and not easily affordable. Finally, it uses digitally sourced LFOs and ADSR contours that technically make this machine a bit digital, which may put off analog purists and old Prophet fans.
8. Moog Subsequent 37
Subsequent 37 by Moog is a 37-key analog synthesizer with a re-tuned multidrive circuit and great power.
It features a 3-octave, long velocity-sensitive keyboard in an analog/digital hybrid model with an analog signal path and digital controls. It also has a well-built physical structure made of steel and wood, and its duophonic mode makes it great for performance.
The Sub-37s Arpeggiator section is detailed and well-designed, with controllers like the ON button and a Pattern switch that lets you select the movement of the arpeggio, SYNC, RANGE, BACK/FORTH, INVERT, and Latch. That makes it one of the best and most expansive synth arpeggiators.
- Duo mode
The Sub 37’s duo mode allows you to play the oscillators separately or together, so they can play a different note simultaneously. So, for example, you can hold a bass note, play a lead over it, and play in different harmonic intervals.
- Get handy
You get immense hands-on control of the device with 37 after-touch playable keys, 40 tweakable knobs, and 74 switches waiting to be manipulated and played with. Diving into menus is not an option when you get such command over your synthesizer.
- Multidrive circuit
The detuned multidrive circuit gives you enhanced gain and higher dynamic range to blast more aggressive, dirtier, and grittier analog-sounding basslines. It also gives you more headroom to enhance the signal, for example, by boosting its harmonic processing.
- Versatile & Easy Synth Engine
You get 256 presets to start with in sixteen different banks of sixteen patches, covering various sounds. In addition, it features the famous smooth Moog filter with resonance, MultiDrive, and selectable slope controls. On top of that, there are two modulation buses and a DAHDSR envelope with sync.
Character & Sound:
Overall, it’s a great synthesizer for creating bass sounds of various kinds, whether you want something funky, plucky, smooth, or aggressive. You can create everything from 80s-style bass, wobbly bass, and Reese bass to portamento bass. In addition, the arpeggiator lets you create interesting and powerful rhythmic movements, including techno-style basslines.
The synth’s versatility and ease of use, given its silky smooth interface, compact size, and velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch, making it great for studio and live purposes. It’s great for all genres and styles of bass.
The arpeggios, sequencers, and modulation controls are not as intuitive and require some menu diving. Secondly, it’s expensive, given the features it offers are not significantly enough different from the Sub-37. Further, it’s too difficult to navigate menus with just three buttons, and the lack of CV/Gate inputs makes its connectivity questionable. Overall, it could be less buggy and cleaner.
We have covered everything from analog to virtual analog to digital synthesizers to create an expansive list of synthesizers with great utility and features. Out of the list, the Roland SYSTEM-8 is a great tool to consider if you’re going for a digital synth.
With its PLUG-out feature, you can get hands-on control over up to three plug-out synthesizers and capture the essence of some of the best classic synths by Roland. Regarding analog synths with arpeggiators, the Prophet 6 and Moog One are great options, as they have authentic analog sounds for purists and lovers.
In virtual analog or analog-modeled synths, Hydrasynth is great for modern sounds, and Roland Juno X and Jupiter X are great for vintage sounds. In addition, Hydrasynth also has a great arpeggiator and is also more versatile. Lastly, Bass Station 2 is a great bass instrument with arpeggiator for techno and 80s pop music. Lastly, the Subsequent 37 by Moog is a great analog/digital hybrid synth, sonically versatile, and superior in quality.
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.