The Best 61-Key Hardware Synths 2024

The Best 61-Key Hardware Synths | integraudio.com

Access Virus Ti2 Keyboard (Analog Modeling Synth With Unique Bass)

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Access Virus Ti2 keyboard is known for its versatile and unique bass sounds and its high-quality & analog low-end.   

It’s a wavetable synth with a distinctive characteristic sound and great capabilities, so you can load up some great wavetables that are specifically for bass from different genres. That gives you the flexibility to create some fresh & unique bass sounds, and also basslines of almost any genre and style.

Key Features:

  • Powerful effects section

In addition to a bunch of time-based effects like phaser, chorus, flanger, and frequency-based effects like Ring Modulation, ring shifter, and EQ, the Ti2 lets you add studio-quality effects like Tap Delay, frequency shifter, and distortion effects for harmonic enhancement.
Specifically, the distortion, ring modulation, and ring shifter effects allow you to create some dirty and gritty basslines.

  • Analog Nature

In addition, there are new “character” effects, which lets you adjust the timbral characteristics of sounds using Analog Boost, Bass enhancer, Lead enhancer, Vintage 1/2/3, and Stereo widening, resulting in huge earth-shaking bass sounds. In total, there are 129 parallel effects that you could choose from.

  • Virus control plug-in for more control

You can enhance the control over Virus Ti2 using its plug-in version in your preferred DAW, in which you can also access a wider range of presets that you could also sort, edit and search. You can also use the dedicated remote mode to turn this keyboard into a universal remote control for VST/AU plug-ins.

  • Efficient sound design capabilities

The Ti2 contains three LFOs (with 64 different waveshapes) and two ADSTR envelopes. It also has two fully independent filters (High pass, low pass, band pass) and a MoniMoog cascade filter-inspired Analog Filter. In addition to that, it also contains a 2-dimensional mod matrix.

  • Sound Sources

Further, there are three main oscillators and one sub-oscillator available per voice, in which you can access Wavetable oscillators and HyperSaw oscillators, capable of using up to 9 sawtooths. That results in some fat and solid bass sonics, especially using the hyper saw and sub oscillators.

Character & Sound

The color in the sound is added primarily by the hypersaw and wavetable synthesis, along with a wide variety of effects that this machine offers, which is perfect for creating 80s synth-pop music. A lot of renowned acts like Madona, Nine Inch Nails, Stevie Wonder, Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren, etc., have used this synth and its presets in a lot of hit songs because of its massive and anthemic bass, lead and sub sounds, which cut through the mix with a lot of punch and impact.

It is equally capable of creating ambient soundscapes with its long ADSRs, which translates into creating lush sounds. With that, Virus has developed a trademark sound.

Access Virus TI2 FM Bass Sound / Sound Design

Pros:

The Ti2 is a very reliable and heavy-duty piece of gear, made for the rigors of touring due to its high build quality which is usable even in temperature changes and dust and is rock-solid. Built on the virus synth engine, it has a unique flavor, which is hard to emulate by any other synthesizer.

It uses the best of both software and hardware worlds and also comes as a plug-in that we can use inside our DAW. It can also be used as a soundcard, hence the name TI, which stands for total integration. We can control the plug-in synth via the hardware synth, and can Ti2 can also act like a MIDI device and record musical information from it.

It’s a 61 keys velocity-sensitive keyboard with good quality knobs, buttons, and solid construction. In addition, it has 6 Analog outputs of 6.3 mm jack, and 2 Analog inputs of 24 bit of bit depth. 

Cons: 

It is not the best device for creating heavy and hard-hitting percussive sounds, which makes this a not-so-versatile instrument because of its one-of-a-kind sonic scape. Also, many of its customers and users have complained about bugs and software issues.

Moog One (Analog Synth)

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Check on Thomann

The Best 61-Key Hardware Synths 2024 - 2024 Update

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 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.

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 various other styles.

This synthesizer carries that nature of sound, along with its elaborate programming capabilities, and polyphonic & multitimbral character, which gives you a good combination of classic analog sound and modern tech to manipulate and shape the sound. 

Key Features:

  • 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, which can give 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 can also 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.

  • Modulations

The four LFOs, and three DAHDSR Envelope Generators can be applied in series or parallel to each voice, to further 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.

Moog ONE - Simple Bass Tutorial - Part 1
Sound Design with the Moog One!

Pros:

The tone generators, filters, and modulators in this machine are high quality and the best you would find. 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 make it stand out. The Moog one is a reliable gadget with a rich & vast sonic universe, owing to its classic Moog circuitry, which gives this machine a sweet, warm, and unique analog low end & overall tonality.

Film & Music studios, sound designers, and engineers who are 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.

Cons: 

Priced at $8,999, many bedroom music producers cannot afford to buy 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 its time and may not be the best product-market-fit.

Waldorf Quantum (Hybrid – Analog/Digital)

Replaced with Quantum MK 2

The Best 61-Key Hardware Synths 2024 - 2024 Update

The quantum by Waldorf is a bi-timbral polyphonic (8 voices) synthesizer with high-quality stereo oscillators that can route through two sets of filters, multiple LFOs, and envelopes. We can do layering and splitting of the sounds with a flexible allotment of voices in oscillators.

It’s a futuristic hybrid synthesizer of both digital and analog characteristics, which is based on four synthesis programming; on top of that, you can do complex modulations and apply effects. This instrument has been elegantly, uniquely, and efficiently designed by Axel Hartmann, with great simplification and ease of use.

Key Features:

  • Signal Flow

Apart from the three oscillators per voice, dual analog and single digital filters are available per voice. Therefore, modulation can be easily performed and applied using six envelopes and six LFOs (each with Sine / Triangle / Square / Sawtooth Down /Sawtooth Up / Sample & Hold). Lastly, the signal flow is flexible and could route anywhere between the oscillator, filter, digital, former, amplifier, etc. You can connect up to five different effects units and use its extensive modulation matrix and compressor.

  • Multi-synthesis algorithm

Four algorithms are available for synthesis: wavetable synthesis, waveform synthesis, granular synthesis, and sampling/resonator. Wavetable synthesis gives you a lot of flexibility in changing the core waveform of the sound. You can experiment with the timbre of a sound using the granular synthesis algorithm, its time scaling options, and playing around with the sample’s phase, speed, and volume. Resonator synthesis is based on manipulating your samples using cross-coupled filters.

  • High-functioning performance tools

Many tools like a pitch-modulation wheel, modulation pad, sequencer, arpeggiator, etc., are available for real-time performance and modulations of sounds. In addition, there are functions like glide, hold, chord, mono, and unison available for better shaping your sounds, along with 61 velocity-sensitive piano keys, microtonal pitch configuration, and an oscilloscope.

Character & Sound:

The sounds are wide, warm, and huge-sounding due to multiple laying of voices, stereophony, ear-candy wavetables, and multiple effects. It’s a great synth for creating all types of sonics, ranging from plucky danceable sounds to warm, spread-out, and lush ambient sounds to groovy arpeggios and time-sequenced tunes. In addition, the granular synth allows you to create futuristic and digital experimental music, like eight-bit music. It’s also great for creating pads and atmospheric sounds.

Waldorf Quantum Hybrid Synthesizer

Pros:

The Quantum is a versatile digital synthesizer that store up to 10,000 patches, which could quickly recall using the Favourites list. Furthermore, Wavetables, samples, and presets can be exported and loaded using an SD Card. Hence, the sound design aspect of this synth is flexible because of the availability of different synthesis methods.

Visually it’s a stunning instrument with a touch screen display for controlling it. The knobs are high quality, the touch screen is smooth, and the overall design is intuitive and simple.

Cons: 

The overall sound is not as analog as one would like. Hence, it’s not a one-in-all synthesizer, and you may need more tools in your arsenal to cover the analog spectrum of sounds. Another huge con is that the filters are monophonic while the oscillator is stereo, which means that once the waveform passes through the filter, a mono filter is applied. One cannot connect a USB to it to load up patches, wavetables, and other data.

Conclusion

This article should help you narrow down your choice. As we can see, all of the keyboards strive to help with functionality and help you in various ways. Each of them has implemented its features. You can pick a model that fulfills your musical needs and fits your budget. Determining your needs and doing your research will go a long way.

MIDI keyboards, for sure, will improve your workflow. But, depending on your production style, you’ll have to ensure which features will enhance your workflow. For example, if you like to make beats for sure, you will need the pads.

In addition, software integration with the keyboard is essential as it can save you time mapping your preferred DAW. These keyboards have basic functions such as pitch bend, modulation wheel, octave key, and sustain jack.

Some of the keyboards are more focused on the live performance realm. It’s important to understand that each of them has its limitations. The best advice would be to head over to the local store and check how it feels under your hands.

Check our related readings as they can also help you with the choice even more.

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