As a shop that focuses on synthesizers, we're frequently asked—what is the best synthesizer for beginners? Of course, the answer changes based on your needs...but when talking with newcomers, we find ourselves returning to the same handful of instruments. So if you want a direct answer? The best synthesizers for beginners are the Korg Minilogue, Hydrasynth Explorer, Arturia Microfreak/Minifreak, Novation Bass Station II, Korg Monologue, Cre8audio East Beast/West Pest, Moog Mavis, Arturia Minibrute 2, Korg Volca Series, and Roland Aira Compact Series. Whew.
Of course, taste is subjective, and different musical instruments suit different people. And of course, there are way more instruments out there than just these. For the purposes of this article, we chose to focus on affordable instruments (all under $600 USD as of the time of publishing this article) which all suit slightly different purposes/different types of music. So if you don't see your favorite synth on here, don't worry—this is just here to help newcomers understand what kind of options are available to them without having to break the bank.
Getting Oriented & How to Use This Guide
If you're just getting into synthesis, you might be starting to realize that not every synth is created equal. Consider this article a guide that outlines a few basic types of synthesizers and makes a suggestion in each category—but of course, you can dive deeper into your research from here and find a whole world of instruments. Once you know how to navigate some basic terminology and have a rough idea of what synth is right for you, it'll become much easier to make a final decision, and to determine what makes one synth different from the next. (Side note: if you want to learn more about what sorts of synthesizers exist, check out our article Different Types of Synthesizers for all the details!)
Before getting into things, I'd like to say that this list is comprised only of instruments that we think are actually good for beginners. What does that mean for us? Well, it needs to sound good—it needs to be well-made—it needs to be fun—and it needs to have enough depth that it can really help you learn about synthesis and give you plenty of room to explore for years to come.
So, all that said, here's how this article is going to break down—feel free to use these links and brief descriptions to navigate to the section of the article that makes sense for you and your music:
- Vintage Tone and Lush Atmospheres: The Best Analog Polyphonic Synthesizer
- Modern, Cutting-Edge Sound Design: Best Digital Synthesizer
- Analog + Digital Combined: an Affordable Hybrid Synthesizer
- Bass + Lead Machines: Great Beginner Monophonic Keyboard Synthesizers
- Diving into Modular: Semi-Modular Starter Synths
- Best of Both Worlds: Best Semi-Modular Keyboard Synth
- And of course—Best Synths for Beginners on a Budget
Best Analog Polysynth for Beginners: Korg Minilogue
The lush sound of synth pop pads...the edgy textures of John Carpenter film scores...the chord stabs from countless dance classics; polyphonic synthesizers have defined the sound of so much music from the late '70s onward. Of course, not every synthesizer is capable of playing chords—in fact, a lot of synthesizers are monophonic, which means that they can only play one note at a time. In fact, a lot of keyboard-based synthesizers in an affordable price range are monophonic, simply because in an analog synth, more voices means more internal components, which ultimately means a higher production cost.
The Korg Minilogue is a glowing exception. With four voices of polyphony and a selection of ways to stack and layer these voices, the Minilogue is great for all sorts of chords/pads—but it also can function in monophonic modes for creating biting leads and huge bass sounds. It even includes a built-in sequencer and arpeggiator, meaning that you don't have to be a keyboard whiz to get it to make musically useful sounds. So no matter what type of role you're looking for, the Minilogue can definitely fit into your mix.
What's also great is that the Minilogue features a classic analog synth signal path—two oscillators, noise, a filter, and amplifier, two envelopes, and an LFO. It even has a built in delay/echo effect for adding some space to your sound. This signal flow is probably the most common layout you'll find in synthesizers altogether (even in synthesizers five times the Minilogue's price!), so it's a great way to learn about analog synth signal flow. And of course, there are plenty of presets to get you up and running. Odds are that the things you learn on a Minilogue will translate to basically every other synth out there...so it's a great way to find what types of sounds and techniques work well for you. This will translate to soft synths, other hardware, and even to modular synthesis—so if you ever decide to dive deeper into the world of synths, you'll be well-equipped to decide what the right next step is.
Korg's Minilogue XD is a bit more expensive, but expands on some of the Minilogue's capabilities by adding an extra digital oscillator and a more flexible effect section, giving it access to a somewhat more extensive sound palette than the classic Minilogue...but if you're just getting started out, both models have plenty of features to keep you busy and inspired. If you're looking for a fully-featured analog polysynth with a great sound at a great price, the Minilogue is still one of the best deals out there.
It's also worth noting that if you want something similar to the sound of an analog polysynth but don't have the budget for a Minilogue, you could always look at a virtual analog synthesizer—which provides a similar sound and workflow to analog synthesis, using digital technology to make it happen. Some awesome examples include Korg's MicroKorg (one of the best-selling synthesizers of all time), or the aforementioned ASM Hydrasynth Explorer.
Awesome Affordable Analog Polysynths
Best Digital Synth for Beginners: ASM Hydrasynth Explorer
Honestly, if you ask me what I think the best all-around synth for beginners is...I don't really have to think too much. I'd personally recommend the ASM Hydrasynth Explorer, a compact keyboard synth with an insane amount of functionality. The Hydrasynth Explorer uses the same sound engine as all other models of Hydrasynth—so you're getting the same sounds, playability, and (with some exceptions) the same connectivity options as you find in synthesizers literally twice its price.
The Hydrasynth is an eight-voice polyphonic digital synthesizer, but what does that mean? Well, it means that it can play up to eight notes at once (great for chords or other keyboard work), and it produces its sounds using digital technology. Now, you might have seen debates in which people proudly and loudly exclaim that analog synthesizers are better than digital synthesizers. This, as they say where I'm from, is hogwash. Frankly, there are very few things these days that an analog synth can do that digital synths cannot, and it's much better (and more interesting) to make personal judgments on an instrument-by-instrument basis rather than establishing some blanket categories that could risk you missing out on some awesome, powerful instruments.
With that point out of the way, I think it's fair to say that many of the Hydrasynth's greatest strengths lie well beyond the capabilities of any analog synthesizer in its price range. It offers extensive options for sound modification, including many effects and waveshaping methods found nowhere else, and it offers extensive options for modulation—allowing you to customize the way it responds to your playing with a surprising level of ease and an unmatched level of control. It'll do everything from beautiful, spiraling analog-style arpeggios to modular-esque bleeps and bloops all the way to insane, experimental noise...and it does them all equally well. So, regardless your musical style, the Hydrasynth is bound to fit right in. Conveniently, the Hydrasynth ships with a huge number of highly usable presets in a variety of styles with intentionally-mapped front panel controls, making it easy to get started making sound right away.
One of its finest points is its keyboard, which uses 37 mid-sized keys with polyphonic aftertouch, something found in no other keyboard in its price range (and in few keyboards altogether, frankly). This means that you can use the pressure of your playing to create highly expressive performances, allowing you a strangely organic and intuitive way of taking control of how your sounds evolve over time. You also have a solid built-in arpeggiator, MIDI I/O, and CV Outputs—heck, the list goes on. It also allows for power via AA batteries, making it easy to make music wherever you are.
Most importantly, though, is that the Hydrasynth presents a truly uncommon combination of flexibility and ease-of-use. It's true that it's a quite advanced synthesizer, which may cause some newcomers to shy away...but honestly, I do believe that the Hydrasynth's user interface makes it easy to learn, and its truly extensive options for sound design mean that you'll be exploring this thing for years to come.
Some More Digital Synths You'll Love
Best Hybrid Synthesizer for Beginners: Arturia Microfreak
If an all-analog sound path isn't necessary for you and an all-digital signal path doesn't feel quite right, take a look at Arturia's Microfreak—a synth that packs an astonishing range of sounds into a small and surprisingly affordable package. The Microfreak isn't a strictly digital synthesizer...in fact, it's a hybrid synth, which means that it combines some analog and some digital elements together. In the case of the Microfreak, the sound generation itself is digital, but it includes an analog filter.
The strengths of digital synthesis are front and center in the Microfreak's design. Its strongest suit is that its oscillator features different modes which provide access to completely different synthesis methods. As such, it can generate typical analog-style sounds—but it can also make chords, can do speech synthesis, and can even produce digital models of plucked strings or struck physical objects. It can do everything from soft, gentle tones to aggressive glitches and monstrous basslines...so if you're looking for a lot of sonic variety, the Microfreak is a top pick. Note, though, that it isn't truly polyphonic...it's paraphonic, which means that it can play several notes at once but can't necessarily articulate them all separately. However, given the way many of its synthesis modes work, this isn't necessarily that big of a deal.
One of this synth's most visually striking aspects is its keyboard. Rather than using a typical black-and-white mechanical keyboard, it uses a series of touch plates which can sense the presence of your skin, making for a peculiar yet expressive performance experience. Additionally, it includes an integrated arpeggiator/sequencer for performance control, as well as a deep modulation matrix, which makes it easy to control the way sounds change over time in a variety of ways. With tons of options for introducing randomness or taking precise hands-on control of your sounds, the Microfreak is astonishingly powerful for the price.
It's worth noting—if the paraphonic behavior and touchplate keyboard don't seem right for you, Arturia has also introduced the Minifreak, which expands on the Microfreak's capabilities considerably. The big points of difference: Minifreak is truly polyphonic, with six independent voices (each with their own analog filter!); Minifreak uses a black-and-white mini keyboard with monophonic aftertouch rather than the Microfreak's touchplate keyboard; Minifreak offers two indpendent oscillator engines for each voice rather than one in the Microfreak; and Minifreak offers an extensive effect section, which is absent from the Microfreak. All in all, I'd say that if you want a hybrid synthesizer with a ton of character and have the money to spend, go for the Minifreak—but if you're on a tighter budget, the sheer value of the Microfreak is hard to beat. (If you want to learn more about Minifreak, check out our full article about its unique features!)
Best Monosynth for Beginners : Novation Bass Station II + Korg Monologue
Sometimes, though, what you need is a classic monosynth—which, unlike polyphonic synthesizers, is designed to play just one note at a time. While you're not going to get chords or rich pads out of these, they can be just the right thing for making leads, bass sounds, drones, and wild sound effects. What's great about monophonic synths is that they often have a lot more options for sound manipulation when compared to polysynths in the same price range. So while you don't get as many notes, what you do typically get is a much more customizable sound.
Novation's Bass Station II is an excellent example of a feature-packed analog monosynth. This synth was originally introduced in 2013, so it doesn't always get a lot of spotlight these days...but even now, it is well worth a look. You can think of the Bass Station II as a modern-day Roland SH-101 or TB-303; it is perfect for heavy leads and squelchy, acid basslines. It includes two oscillators and one sub oscillator, two multi mode filters, and a wide range of modulation, sequencing, and arpeggiation options...as well as a pretty gnarly distortion and filter modulation option. Compared to the Minilogue, for instance, the Bass Station II has a much more flexible synthesis architecture—with the trade-off being that it is not polyphonic. So if you want sonic flexibility more than you want polyphony, this could be a great place to look.
Of course, Novation's post-release firmware updates have provided plenty of reasons to keep your eye on this unassuming synth. New firmware updates have led to paraphonic operation (meaning that you can use it to play chords or multiple melodic lines), as well as the mind-bending AFX mode, in which you can assign a different group of panel settings to each key on the keyboard. This makes it such that each key could have a completely different sound—perhaps something percussive like a kick or snare sound, or a squelchy bass sound, or an outrageous sound effect—and you can then switch sounds rapidly in performance either by using the keyboard itself or the sequencer. This leads to sequences that switch rapidly from one sound to the next, making it possible to create entire tracks of spastic program changes. Developed in collaboration with Aphex Twin, this mode is completely unique to the Bass Station, and it gives it an edge all its own.
The Bass Station II is rad—but if you want a slightly different take on a feature-packed analog monosynth, it's well worth looking at Korg's Monologue. Smaller sibling to the Minilogue (discussed above), Monologue is a stellar-sounding monophonic synth designed for creating animated basslines, driving sequences, and more.
Monologue features two oscillators per voice, a resonant filter with awesome-sounding drive/distortion, assignable attack/release envelope, and an LFO capable of modulating oscillator pitch, shape, and filter cutoff. The oscillators can be synced to one another and ring modulated—and with the variety of shapes available for each oscillator, you have a nearly infinite tonal palette to work from. Pass that into the aggressive drive and rich filter and you have the ingredients for soaring leads, heavy-hitting basslines, and much, much more.
Sound aside, one of the most interesting aspects of the Monologue is its sequencing capability. In addition to containing an excellent note sequencer, the Monologue also features its own take on Korg's classic motion sequencing technology. Motion sequencing allows you to sequence non-pitch parameters—making it possible to create rhythmic variations on your LFO speed, filter, and much more. This allows you to create much more rich, dynamic sequences than possible with a note sequencer alone...making for highly detailed arrangements that will make you question what a monosynth can be capable of.
There's much more to the Monologue—it also offers microtonal tuning options (with plenty of presets courtesy of Aphex Twin), a built-in oscilloscope, extensive I/O, and of course, 100 program memories so that you can always return to your finely-tuned sonic creations.
Between the Bass Station and Monologue? They're quite similar in some ways, but I'd say the truly unique strengths of the Bass Station lie in the "Aphex mode", while the Monologue's character really hinges on its motion sequencer. Each are different ways of approaching similar ideas—so I'd choose based on which sounds more inspiring to you.
Getting into Modular: Cre8audio East Beast/West Pest + Moog Mavis
All of the synths we've discussed so far in one way or another assume the use of a keyboard as part of your workflow—but of course, many people interested in exploring sound and synthesis aren't keyboardists. This, among other things, is one of the reasons for the current popularity of modular synthesizers, which don't necessarily require a keyboard or traditional "musical" knowledge to use for making sound and music. Of course, building a modular synthesizer can be expensive, and it generally takes a long time to get up and running in a way that feels right to you—and that can make the entire prospect seem pretty intimidating. This is why, when people are first thinking about getting into modular synths, we commonly recommend checking out semi-modular synthesizers...and more often than not, our recommendations include the Cre8audio East Beast/West Pest and Moog Mavis.
Designed in collaboration with Pittsburgh Modular, Cre8audio's East Beast and West Pest are designed to act as the perfect entry-point to the world of modular synthesis, packing as many features as possible into an affordable package. Based around the concepts of East Coast and West Coast synthesis, respectively, these synths provide a concentrated overview of two of the most influential concepts in modular synthesizer design at an unprecedented price.
The East Beast focuses on so-called East Coast synthesis, which hinges on the use of a stable, harmonically-rich oscillator and a characterful filter. Much of the sound design potential lies around creative manipulation of the filter—and we've got to hand it to them, the East Beast's filter sounds excellent. Pittsburgh has long been known for the smooth, rich tone of their filter designs, and the East Beast features a new revision that feels like it's all sweet spots. No dead zones, no unhinged resonances, just pure, warm, almost liquid tone. If what you want is a monophonic synth capable of classic Moog-like bass lines and leads, the East Beast will do it.
The West Pest, on the other hand, takes inspiration from so-called West Coast synthesis: an approach that uses continuous waveshaping and lowpass gates to generate sonic interest rather than relying so strongly on a resonant filter. This approach finds its roots in the work of Don Buchla, whose instruments are famously quirky, rare, and quite valuable—and as such, it's rare to find equipment that uses these sound-making techniques in the West Pest's price range. If you're interested in exploring the more experimental side of modular synthesis, West Pest will give you sounds that are impossible to achieve through more conventional synthesis methods.
Of course, the East Beast and West Pest have some features in common: they each share identical form factor, feature a built-in keyboard and sequencer, multi-function modulation sources, MIDI input (yep!!), and can each be removed from their own cases to be placed into a Eurorack modular synthesizer. They're both semi-modular, which means you don't necessarily need to patch anything in order for them to make sound—but once you start exploring their patch bays, you'll start to get a taste of the sonic flexibility that modular synthesis has to offer. And at their price...they're honestly a solid deal, with extensive connectivity that'll help to keep them useful as your setup expands.
But the East Beast and West Pest aren't the only affordable semi-modular desktop synthesizers on the market—and they're not the only such instruments to intentionally explore the concepts of East Coast and West Coast synthesis. That brings us to another of favorite semi-modular synthesizers for beginners: Moog's Mavis.
Moog's Mavis is a monophonic analog synthesizer voice in desktop-friendly semi-modular format. Like the East Beast and West Pest, it can be removed from its enclosure to be added to a Eurorack system. Unlike those two, Mavis ships as an easy-to-assemble kit—so when you open the box, expect to have ~30 minutes of assembly time before you start making sound (don't worry, it's very easy to screw together).
Mavis is Moog's most affordable Eurorack-friendly semi-modular synthesizer to date, and simply put, I believe that it is one of the best introductions to modular synthesis that a newcomer could possibly have. Featuring a straightfoward, plainly-labeled panel and all the basic building blocks you'd expect to see in an analog modular synthesizer, it's the perfect turf for learning synthesis and experimenting with modular signal flow. That said, what all is in the Mavis?
Sound in Mavis begins with an oscillator, which offers a continuous blend of saw and pulse shapes (with the option for pulse width modulation!). The sound then passes into a classic Moog ladder filter (so good), and into a VCA. Alongside this main audio signal path, you also have a variable-shape LFO, a classic four-stage ADSR envelope generator, and even a built-in keyboard for hands-on control. All of these elements work in tandem with one another without needing to patch anything—so to create standard leads and basslines, you don't even need to touch the patch bay.
But of course, as you might expect, the patch bay is where some of Mavis's most interesting tricks take place. Once you start exploring the patch bay, you'll realize that there's much more at work behind Mavis's panel: it also contains a mixer, a multiple, a sample & hold, a wavefolder (yep!!), an offset geneartor, and CV inputs for parameters absent from the front panel alone. It's difficult to emphasize how truly well-rounded this functionality is: it may not immediately be obvious, but having access to these sorts of basic utilities in addition to an excellent-sounding oscillator, filter, etc. means that you have a ton of mileage in exploring advanced modular synthesis techniques. I'd go so far as to say that Mavis might be the best entry-point into modular synthesis for those who want to dive deep into the broad theory and techniques of analog synthesis altogether: it has a lot to teach.
When compared to East Beast and West Pest, there are some tradeoffs. The biggest, for me, is that Mavis doesn't feature the digital control aspects of the East Beast or West Pest: so there's no internal sequencing, and there's no MIDI interface built in. That said, it'll play well with external CV-capable sequencers, keyboard controllers, and MIDI to CV converters, so it's not necessarily a problem...but if you're planning to control it directly from your DAW, for instance, you'll need some extra hardware for interfacing. That point aside, though? I think Mavis is an excellent way to go.
It's worth noting, of course, that Moog has a quite extensive line of semi-modular instruments aside from Mavis, as well—and they'll all play along quite nicely. So if you get a Mavis and love it, it'll easily interface with/coexist with/and enhance the experience of using a Mother-32, DFAM, or Subharmonicon. If you'd like to learn more about those, I'd recommend checking out our Moog Semi-Modular Comparison article.
I can't bring up the topic of beginner-friendly semi-modular synths without also mentioning a modern classic—the Make Noise 0-Coast, which also borrows from both East Coast and West Coast sensibilities. In some ways, it's the most fully-featured of the instruments we've listed here, and it is a great way to get started with modular synths if you're looking for a somewhat more experimental approach.
While the 0-Coast does have a more-or-less typical signal path, it borrows from workflows from both Buchla and Moog-style synthesizers, meaning that it has some features you wouldn't necessarily find in every synth out there—like a wavefolder, voltage processor, random voltage generator, looping envelope, and a lowpass gate. In my experience, it overall encourages a more experimental, exploratory patching style...so while you're not going to get big resonant filter sweeps out of it, it can be a very rewarding way of dipping your toes into modular synthesis. It also offers MIDI input, and it simply sounds incredible. I don't think that it's necessarily the easiest first step if you're otherwise completely unfamiliar with synthesis—but if you've already got the hang of other synths and want something to take you into wilder territory, I can't recommend it enough. Note, though, that it doesn't offer a built-in playing interface the same way that the Cre8audio and Moog offerings do—but if you want to use it to create self-contained generative soundscapes or you already have a controller to pair with it, it's a great option.
If you're specifically interested in semi-modular synths, I'd recommend checking out our Semi-Modular Synthesizer Buying Guide, in which we talk through several of the other awesome options out there, as well.
Awesome Semi-Modular Synthesizers
Best Semi-Modular Keyboard: Arturia Minibrute 2
The semi-modular synths we've discussed so far are all desktop-format devices—but that's not the only possible form factor. If you're a keyboardist interested in diving into the world of modular synthesis via semi-modular synths, you're in luck: there are a number of semi-modular keyboards out there, including a few within a budget-friendly price range.
The one I'd most like to recommend is Arturia's Minibrute 2—an instrument which combines monosynth-like architecture with a semi-modular workflow, complete with a lot of sounds/patching tricks you'd ordinarily find in a fully modular synthesizer.
The Minibrute 2 has a different set of strengths than the seemingly-similar Bass Station, though it definitely follows the tradition of packing a ton of tone-shaping features into a single monophonic voice. The synth features two oscillators, a unique-sounding multi-mode filter, and plenty of modulation options. Perhaps the most interesting part of the Minibrute 2 is its oscillator section—the second oscillator is a fairly typical VCO with standard wave shapes, but VCO1 offers a huge range of sounds, even offering the option to create a mix of saw, square, and triangle shapes. What's even more interesting is that each of these waveforms has its own special tone-shaping parameter, allowing for swarmy "ultrasaw," pulse width modulation, and wavefolded "metalizer" sounds. These features are fairly uncommon in keyboard synths, and uncommon in most self-contained synths altogether.
The Minibrute also features a sequencer/arpeggiator, which allows for more some deceptively intricate sequence-based workflows. One of the most obvious features common to each is the patch bay in the upper right hand corner, which allows you to take advantage of its semi-modular signal flow. While using patch cables isn't necessary to get a wide range of sounds out of a Minibrute, it definitely allows you to discover much more complex and knotted means of interacting with sound...which can make it a great gateway into the world of modular synths. All the patch points are fully compatible with Eurorack modular synths as well, so if you ever decide to head that direction, the Minibrute already contains several useful utilities for interacting with modular synths.
Some Rad Keyboard-Format Semi-Modular Synths
Best Synths on a Budget: Korg Volca Series + Roland Aira Compact Series
So far, the synths we've discussed have been ~$300 and up. For some, this is a manageable budget—and it's certainly far less than many high-end synthesizers—but in reality, you don't even need to spend $300 to get a very capable synthesizer. For that reason, we must mention Korg's Volca series, which is comprised of synthesizers and drum machines that all fall below a $250 price point. Truthfully, most Volcas have a somewhat stripped-back feature set, and instead focus on a more limited set of sonic possibilities than some of our other recommendations, but for the price, they're all an astounding value. They all include a built-in touch keyboard, a sequencer, speaker, headphone output, and can even be battery powered—making them the ultimate in affordable, portable, go-anywhere music-making devices.
We're not going to cover every Volca here, but there are definitely a few worth recommending to newcomers to synthesis. The Volca Keys is a great choice if you're looking for a polyphonic synthesizer: it offers three voices of polyphony via MIDI or the built-in touch keyboard. It uses a classic analog synth-style signal path. The Volca Bass and Volca Nubass are monophonic analog synths, great for producing sequenced bass lines. The Volca Bass specializes at acid-style sequences, whereas the Nubass uses an integrated tube distortion for creating more aggressive sounds.
We'd also strongly recommend checking out Korg's Volca Modular—another excellent way to see how you get along with modular synths. The Volca Modular takes an approach similar to the 0-Coast, using a Buchla-inspired experimental synthesis signal path capable of a wide range of gnarly sounds. Again, this isn't going to provide you the typical analog filter sweep sound, but it will give you a taste for what working with "West Coast" modular techniques is like, and will introduce you to a whole range of sounds not possible with most synthesizers. Like most semi-modular synths, the Volca Modular doesn't require any patching to get sound going—and like the rest of the Volca series, it includes a built-in keyboard/sequencer. You can use the included breadboard-style jumper wires to create connections between the synth's internal modules, though, making for everything from extended monosynth sounds all the way to self-playing random patches.
Of course, the Volca Drum, Volca Beats, and Volca Kick are great ways to get started making sound too, offering a wide range of options for creating rhythmic grooves and drum sounds. Maybe we'll come back to these in a future article! In any case, the Volca series is a rich and growing series of instruments which makes portable, affordable music-making easy.
But Korg aren't the only ones out there making affordable, portable, fully-featured instruments: there's also Roland's Aira Compact series, which provide many Volca-like features at a similar price point...but focused on Roland's own rich legacy of instrument design.
Roland's Aira Compact series (as of the time of publishing this article) contains three devices. The first two, the Aira Compact T-8 and Aira Compact E-4 are a drum machine and a crazy vocal/instrument processor, respectively. So, for the purposes of this article, we'll focus on third unit: the Aira Compact J-6, a "chord synthesizer" designed to produce rich harmonic progressions, cascading arpeggios, and much more.
The J-6 uses Roland's Analog Circuit Behavior (ACB) modeling technology to pack the sonic character of the classic Juno-60 into a pocket-sized package, with a streamlined interface designed to make it simple to create harmonic progressions even if you're not otherwise familiar with music theory. With a 64-step chord sequencer, nine styles of arpeggiator, and hands-on control for all the most important aspects of the instrument's sound (including delay and reverb controls), it'll have you making pads and animated textures in no time.
One of the strong suits of the Aira Compact series is its connectivity: each unit offers analog sync input and output, MIDI input and output, onboard daisy-chain style mixing capability, and MIDI and audio over USB...making it a breeze to connect to computers for recording and control, or to connect it to other instruments. If you want an incredible value for a chord-oriented synth, the J-6 is a great choice.
Our Favorite Budget-Friendly Synths
Which Synth is Right for You?
Again, there are plenty of other synths within this price range which could make excellent starting points for learning synthesis: this list has just been a quick guide to some of our favorite and most frequently recommended options. However plenty of others could make for great places to start looking too—so if nothing here feels quite right, don't be discouraged...the synth for you is probably still out there.
Hopefully you've gained some insight into how to find your ideal synthesizer—and if you still have any lingering questions, feel free to reach out to tell us what you're looking for, and check out our article about the different types of synthesizers to keep learning about what makes each synth different from the next. Odds are that we have something that could fit perfectly into your musical goals, and that will keep you entertained as you start to learn about how synthesis could suit your music-making.