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Which synthesizer you should buy? Differences and Recommendations

Welcome to this guide that will help you to find the synthesizer you need and which synthesizer is right for you, according to your needs.

If you already know the basics of synthesizers and types you can go directly to our selection with the best synthesizers of the moment. A careful selection of synthesizers based on different parameters.

A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument that allows the musician to create sounds by means of electrical signals, in order to have sounds emulating other instruments or to create new tones and modify them with multiple functionalities.

Synthesizers can be differentiated in many ways, either according to the way they are played, their voice polyphony, whether they are digital or analog, or their type of synthesis.

Although it is an instrument that is over 100 years old, the synthesizer has become one of the fundamental instruments in today’s music and has managed to displace the guitar in sales today.

Everyone wants a synthesizer in their studio or on their live set, but which one is right for me? In this guide, we will analyze synthesizers from different aspects so that you can find the right synthesizer.

Types of Synthesizer

Keyboards Synthesizer

Depending on the way we play the synthesizer and its construction, we can encounter these types of synthesizers:

They are the most common because they have piano keys, usually soft, to play the instrument as if it were a keyboard taking advantage of the sound creation functions; it is common that they have mini-keys and few octaves.

We have a lot of reviews and after explaining the different types below we will tell you about brands and even about 88-key keyboards with synthesizer functions.

Rack Synthesizer

They do not have a keyboard and are sized to fit into a rack system, have MIDI input and are run by sending MIDI through a connected controller or master keyboard or by sending MIDI from a sequencer or PC.

MIDI is a connection interface for the devices to communicate with each other knowing which musical notes have the sound wave being transmitted. At the end of the post we explain it in more detail and link a guide to know more about the subject.

Tablet synthesizer

Like rackmount synthesizers, they do not have a keyboard, but their interface is more table-top, usually has more controls than the rackmount synthesizer, and like the rackmount synthesizer, it can be played with its MIDI inputs via a controller keyboard, sequencer, or PC. This way you can feel it like a synthesizer keyboard if necessary.

Modular Synthesizer

They are the most expensive on the list, since they are a system of different modules, which can even be from different manufacturers, bought and assembled to suit whoever will use it, making it an excellent option for the most advanced users in synthesis. In this category we can also talk about semi-modular synthesizers, which can sound without the need for additional modules, but can fit perfectly into modular systems because of their patch-bay.

Digital and Analog Synthesizer.

Okay, now let’s explain the other classification. Which is to distinguish them according to whether they produce sound digitally or analogically.

Digital synthesizers and analog

Digital synthesizers vs analog synthesizers

An analog synthesizer uses analog circuitry with potentiometers or knobs, while the digital synthesizer uses discrete values, closer to those used by a computer, which gives greater stability in the sound.

Analogs are characterized because they have real time control of all their parameters thanks to the fact that each knob is assigned to a functionality of that equipment while digital synthesizers can have more parameters, but generally do not have as many possibilities of real time control.

We couldn’t say that one type of synthesizer is better than another, each machine can work very well according to the user’s needs.

Polyphony of Analog Synthesizers

Analogs can be monophonic, polyphonic or paraphonic.

Synthesizers are also divided into how many notes they can play at the same time and this is a more notable aspect in analog ones, because in their internal circuitry they must have the same number of instances as polyphony voices, that is, if an analog synthesizer has 12 polyphony voices, its internal circuitry has to repeat 12 times most of the circuits of that synthesizer; for this reason it is cheaper and easier to manufacture for some brands to bet on monophonic analogs, which are quite used in music for many years; the concept of paraphony refers to synthesizers that can reproduce several notes at once in paraphonic mode without having to repeat part of their internal circuitry and they achieve this by distributing each voice on their oscillators, so that these synthesizers have as much paraphonic polyphony as oscillators, this type of synthesizers are appreciated by some synthesis lovers for the possibility of creating different colors to those created with polyphonic synthesizers.

Digital synthesizers are polyphonic since creating polyphony in their internal mechanism does not require as much cost and design as in analog synthesizers.

Which synthesizer keyboard you should buy

When you buy a synthesizer you have to think about what you like to do best. Do you like working at home? Or maybe you want to play live and need a synthesizer keyboard with real-time controls?

Synthesizer Brands

There are many brands of synthesizers, but the ones that stand out the most are the Yamaha, Roland, and Korg synthesizers (here our selection with the best Korg) although the Arturia models are also hitting hard and there is talk of moog brand. Especially the Moog Mother 32.

The Yamaha brand of musical keyboards has a very powerful sound line and has left legendary models like the DX7. We’ve prepared an article in which we talk about Yamaha synthesizers. Many of them are also keyboards with counterbalance and a very good touch on the key.

We also recommend that you take a look at the new line of Korg Volca synthesizers.

Synthesizers for beginners

So far we have tried to clarify the concepts so that you know a little bit where to start in the world of sound, synthesis and music production.

If you are on a tight budget, there are synthesizer devices for you to practice on very affordable budgets. Several brands have made models with a simple design and an affordable price and the truth is that several of them are very handy. Here they are in our guide with cheap synthesizers.

Concepts for Synthesis

Let’s go over some basic concepts of synthesis and sound but without going too deep.

A sound is composed of a wavelength and a frequency, and from this more concepts such as oscillators and filters arise.

In order to get the most out of your synthesizer, it’s important that you not only experiment, but also delve deeper into the parameters that influence the creation of a sound. Mainly to not do everything “boleo” and have a little more control over the creation of them.

Let’s start with this video which reviews the types of controls you can find on a synthesizer:

The following video is already more theoretical and talks about types of waves, etc. There’s nothing wrong with sounding out these concepts:

Music Production Software DAW and Virtual Synthetics VST

So far we have talked about physical synthesizers but today you also have virtual ones and they are free. These are computer programs that emulate the functions of a synthesizer.

Some like the Arturia V Collection 6 or the Korg Legacy Collection come in our post with the best virtual synths of the moment.

The above are digital virtual synthesizers because they produce the sound from your sound card but they are really good to learn. Then on the other hand you have the most popular DAW or audio and production software like CUBASE. These are programs for recording and producing music that also have their own synthesis modules.

Of course you can combine any VST with a production program like Cubase. That already depends on which interface you prefer to work with.

There are several DAW software available on the market and here is a list of the most popular ones.

A synthesizer will have presets to save your sounds and work with it live but if you plug it into a computer you can save your tracks, edit them and combine them with other musical instruments. That’s the whole part of music editing and production that’s very powerful.

The best audio and accessory shops

If you want to buy a musical synthesizer or look at electronic musical instruments you can go to a physical store to try them out but they may not have all the stock you would like.

For variety and reliability I and any musician would recommend you to have a look at the most powerful shop in Europe. The German Thomann (the truth is that the Germans of electronic music a lot).

You have all the accessories you can imagine at the level of connectivity, audio and electronics to increase effects and possibilities.

88-Key Synthesizer Keyboards

There are many interfaces for synthesizers. You have them small with a pad and buttons or if you are a pianist you may want it all integrated.

There are digital musical keyboards that are also synthesizers. If you’re looking for an 88-key piano, the Nord Stage 3 is the best choice. It has a weighted keyboard and 88 keys so you can feel comfortable using it as a piano.

If you look at many concerts you will see this model in many of them. It’s the favorite of the professionals.


The number of keys on an acoustic piano is 88 keys and this serves to provide the musician with a record of musical notes that allows him to play any piece of music that exists.

These keys also have a weight and a sensitivity that allows to regulate the intensity with which a musical note sounds and thus be able to play with more nuances and expressiveness.

It’s quite possible that if you’re starting out in the audio world you come from another musical instrument and we’re not going to lie to you. It would be great for you to know some music theory and keyboard to take your music to another level. If you don’t do this over time your music will sound repetitive and you may well get stuck. Take a look at our guide on how to learn piano, you will surely be interested in starting there.

As you may have seen in Nord Stage it is a very expensive digital synthesizer keyboard but there are many options in the market much more affordable with keyboards that have many functions for electronic music. The Yamaha PSR series keyboard line is very interesting.

A keyboard that I personally like very much is the Roland FA 06 that also comes with a synthesizer pad that can be used for example as a percussion. Very versatile:


MIDI connectivity

I wanted to address the issue of MIDI connectivity as it is an important concept in the world of electronics and music production. You probably already know what MIDI is, but in case you don’t, I’ll tell you quickly.

MIDI is a connectivity standard that allows devices to communicate musical information. Not only a sound signal, but in the MIDI signal you can tell which other musical notes are in the audio signal. This is important because with our synthesizer or synthesizer keyboard we can record a MIDI audio track that can then be exported to a score and shared with other musicians in a single click, very powerful isn’t it?

Here is a guide to MIDI and keyboard controllers if you want to know more about it.

Both this MIDI topic and learning some music are interesting aspects if you want to set up a studio for music production.

Do I need to know about music to use a synthesizer?

Now that we have a lot of concepts, I wanted to address this sometimes controversial issue a little.

You don’t have to know about harmony and music theory to produce your own music. There are very intuitive people and very good DJs who didn’t know about music. They are the so-called “ear” musicians. It’s the same with percussionists, guitarists…

Don’t let anyone take away your desire to start experimenting. Thanks to all the electronic gadgets we have today, anyone can start creating without almost any knowledge.

Let’s not go to the extreme on this side either. If you learn music theory and were a good musician by ear your creations will improve and become more exquisite. Besides, you’ll improve your live performance skills.

It all adds up and I encourage everyone to experiment and have fun.

Another issue is age. It seems that sometimes you can only create music if you have started at a very young age. A lot of people think he doesn’t have the skills for it anymore. No case!

Today we already know that there is such a thing as brain plasticity. Neurons are capable of constantly creating new structures. So if you train your brain and you are constantly acquiring new knowledge you will be more and more trained and it will be easier for you. Regardless of age. We can literally become “smarter” than when we were young.

I’ve dealt with this subject in an article and I hope it motivates you. Can you learn the piano as an adult?

Will electronic music end up displacing traditional music?

The other day I read an article confirming a rumor that was already circulating in the world of musical instruments. The Gibson guitar manufacturer is going bankrupt and the reasons are the decline in sales of guitars in general.

This is a bombshell for guitarists as Gibson has been the manufacturer of the most iconic guitars ever used by musicians. Famous are his Gibson Les Paul, Epiphone Sheraton, and a long etc.

The truth is that children are no longer asking for guitars as they used to, but rather that electronic music is asking more and more strongly and people are going more and more to see their favourite DJ. A real paradigm shift.

It is true that the current possibilities of creation are tremendous and the quality of the interfaces and sounds have improved a lot allowing to create any sound you want.

I don’t think what I put in my headline is going to happen anyway. Stringed instruments have a lot of strength, although it is true that they came to have so much supremacy that that was just the odd thing. The popularity that the guitar has had is unparalleled in history. So we could say that it’s only natural that this one will end one day.

What do you think?

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