Best Synthesizers For Your Home Studio

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If you want your music to sound professional, you need quality equipment to record music in your home studio. 

It’s that simple. One of the most essential pieces to invest in is the synthesizer.

Roland, 37-Key Synthesizer, 37 Keys (JD-XI)
IK Multimedia UNO Synth portable monophonic analog synthesizer
Korg Volca Keys Analogue Loop Synth Bundle with Power Supply and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer
Behringer Synthesizer (NEUTRON/BEH)
Our Rating
9.4
9.1
8.9
8.6
8.4
MSRP
$499.99
$129.99
$159.99
$299.00
$298.99
Dimensions
28 x 13 x 5 in
10.7 x 2 x 5.7 in
13.8 x 6.5 x 2.8 in
12.2 x 9.2 x 0.2 in
5.3 x 16.7 x 3.7 in
Weight
4.14 pounds
1 pound
2.3 pounds
2.25 pounds
5 pounds
Synth Engine
Analog
Digital
Analog
Hybrid
Analog
Number of Keys
37
N/A
N/A
25
N/A
Sequencer
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Power
AC Adaptor
Battery or USB
Battery
USB
AC Adaptor
Roland, 37-Key Synthesizer, 37 Keys (JD-XI)
Our Rating
9.4
MSRP
$499.99
Dimensions
28 x 13 x 5 in
Weight
4.14 pounds
Synth Engine
Analog
Number of Keys
37
Sequencer
Yes
Power
AC Adaptor
More Information
IK Multimedia UNO Synth portable monophonic analog synthesizer
Our Rating
9.1
MSRP
$129.99
Dimensions
10.7 x 2 x 5.7 in
Weight
1 pound
Synth Engine
Digital
Number of Keys
N/A
Sequencer
Yes
Power
Battery or USB
More Information
Korg Volca Keys Analogue Loop Synth Bundle with Power Supply and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth
Our Rating
8.9
MSRP
$159.99
Dimensions
13.8 x 6.5 x 2.8 in
Weight
2.3 pounds
Synth Engine
Analog
Number of Keys
N/A
Sequencer
Yes
Power
Battery
More Information
Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer
Our Rating
8.6
MSRP
$299.00
Dimensions
12.2 x 9.2 x 0.2 in
Weight
2.25 pounds
Synth Engine
Hybrid
Number of Keys
25
Sequencer
Yes
Power
USB
More Information
Behringer Synthesizer (NEUTRON/BEH)
Our Rating
8.4
MSRP
$298.99
Dimensions
5.3 x 16.7 x 3.7 in
Weight
5 pounds
Synth Engine
Analog
Number of Keys
N/A
Sequencer
Yes
Power
AC Adaptor
More Information

What does a synthesizer do? 

Basically, a synthesizer is a keyboard but it works in a different way to a regular keyboard. 

It reproduces a wide variety of different sounds, from sounds produced by instruments to sounds that you’ve never heard before.

When you want to add something special to your music, a synthesizer can come to the rescue to give you a unique and rich sound, whether it’s the sound of ocean waves, piano-like sounds, or even the sound of something completely original that you created yourself. 

Here are some of the best synthesizers for your home studio.

Roland 37-Key Synthesizer JD-Xi

Roland, 37-Key Synthesizer

What sets the Roland synthesizer apart from the rest is that it combines a lot of different synthesizer essentials in one package: the company’s beloved supernatural synth sounds as well as an analog synth engine.

Benefits

  • This synth keyboard has 37 keys that help you create various sounds, such as warm analog bass and lead tones, as well as strings, bass, and more essentials. It also has built-in drum kits, which is a nice bonus.
  • It’s basically a mesh of analog and digital sound engines, so you get the best of both worlds at your fingertips.
  • There are four separate tracks on the sequencer. You can build rich loops for any music genre, thanks to the two digital synth parts, drums, and analog synth. Such features make this the best analog synthesizer you can find.

Extra Features

  • There are four simultaneous effects sections that can boost your music production, but what further makes this such a great feature is that you can turn the effects sections on or off so you can be as creative as you like with them when you want them.
  • You get a gooseneck microphone included that can be used with AutoPitch and Vocoder. AutoPitch helps you create robotic sounds that are popular in modern music, while Vocoder enables you to sing into the mic as well as control the keyboard sounds so that they have the pitch and tone you want to achieve in a music track.

Drawbacks

  • One of the drawbacks about this synthesizer is that it’s not easy to save your work. It’s much easier to press the wrong button and lose everything, so you have to be cautious when using it until you get the hang of it.
  • In addition, it would be better if the LCD was a little bigger to make seeing functions displayed on the screen a bit easier.

Buying Guide

The Roland synthesizer costs under $500. It’s got lots of features and frills that make it a synthesizer that’s worth purchasing if you want to enhance your music production. 

In fact, it can be said to be quite low-priced if you consider that many digital synthesizers will set you back between $1,000 to $4,000, while analog synthesizers cost under $1,000. 

As a combination of the two, it’s really value for money and the best digital synthesizer.

IK Multimedia UNO Synth Portable Monophonic Analog Synthesizer

IK Multimedia UNO Synth portable monophonic analog synthesizer

This synthesizer is a two-oscillator one. If you’re not well-versed when it comes to synthesizers that basically means that it will be able to create a stronger analog signal.

Benefits

  • It’s very versatile – you can use it on its own or with your computers and MIDI keyboards.
  • Adding to its versatility is the fact that it can be battery-powered or even USB-powered, so you can take it everywhere you go. To use it with batteries, get four AA batteries, and to power it with a USB simply use your laptop! It couldn’t be easier.
  • You can play it as soon as you unpack it, thanks to its 100 presets, with 80 of them being rewritable, thus making this synthesizer one that will boost your creative juices.

Extra Features

  • You can program sequences in real-time or even in steps, and you can include 20 parameters per step which makes it a powerful piece of equipment.
  • You can make use of the MIDI in and out ports to connect MIDI gear and keyboards to the synthesizer.

Drawbacks

  • If you like being able to use a synthesizer in dim lighting, such as at night, then you won’t like that the keys aren’t backlit. But this is a small price to pay for an otherwise great product.

Buying Guide

This synthesizer costs $195.99. It’s value for money, portable thanks to its small size, and full of great features.

Korg Volca Keys Analogue Loop Synth Bundle

Korg Volca Keys Analogue Loop Synth Bundle

This synthesizer is basically an analog sound engine with digital control. 

One of the biggest benefits of the synthesizer being an analog-digital mix is that, as Music Radar reports, you can record its dial tweaks into the sequencer, which is then accessed via MIDI.

Benefits

  • It has a nifty self-tuning function so you can be assured that the pitch will remain constant.
  • It’s got functions like Flux and Active Step that add changes to your sequences.
  • In addition, it has some great filters that are always great even though they pretty much come standard, such as decay, frequency, resonance, and more.

Extra Features

  • You can record phases as you play them, thanks to the loop sequencer.
  • It can run on batteries.
  • It comes with a handy travel case so you can keep it safe when taking it places.

Drawbacks

  • There are two elements that aren’t user-friendly, and which have been noted by people who’ve purchased this synthesizer from Amazon. First, the keys are said to be difficult to use, so the recommendation is to use a MIDI controller. Second, the sequencer can be a bit limited.
  • Although it can run on batteries or be plugged into a power source, if you want to make use of the latter you’ll have to organize your own power supplies as these aren’t included.

Buying Guide

This synthesizer costs $189.98, which is quite cost-effective. 

Due to its few limitations, such as when it comes to its keys, it’s probably best for someone who’s interested in using a synthesizer as a hobby. 

More serious musicians might want something that’s a bit more user-friendly with more options for connectivity and creativity.

Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer

Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer

This is a digital-analog hybrid that has some really nice features while looking stylish in its black and copper color scheme.

Benefits

  • You can play up to four different voices at once, and they will have the same filter and settings.
  • You can really have fun with this synthesizer, thanks to its unusual oscillator modes that add more creativity to your music production.
  • It offers you a lot of ways to connect, from a USB connection to power it up and a headphone output to a 3.5mm MIDI In and Out connection.

Extra Features

  • It’s really easy to edit sounds as the MicroFreak synthesizer has knobs for different parameters, making it quite user-friendly.

Drawbacks

  • It only has one Low-Frequency Oscillation (LFO), which is a bit of a con. LFO is crucial for adding automated rhythmic modulation and complexity to your music production.

Buying Guide

The MicroFreak synthesizer costs under $300, so it’s a reasonable price to pay for a lot of quality features and a stunning design that dares to make synthesizers more unique in appearance.

Behringer Synthesizer (NEUTRON/BEH)

Behringer Synthesizer

The first thing you’ll fall in love with about the Behringer Synthersizer is its eye-catching red and black appearance. It looks cool, but that’s just the start of its charms.

Benefits

  • It has an analog signal that’s based on VCO design to give you a classic sound.
  • You can choose from one of five sound shapes – sawtooth, tone, mod, triangle, sine, and pulse.
  • It also has a paraphonic mode, which means that its two oscillators can be controlled independently.
  • It comes with what’s known as a 12dB State Variable Filter. This allows you to play around with the envelope depth, modulation, and cutoff frequency so that you can create the best sound.

Extra Features

  • The circuit has 25-640ms of delay time. This means at lower settings the echoes in your music will be crisp, but at higher settings you’ll get roll-offs that you want in an analog delay.

Drawbacks

  • This synthesizer doesn’t have any presets included so you have to start from scratch when creating sound patches.

Buying Guide

The Behringer Synthesizer costs $298.99, so it’s right up there with budget-friendly options while not cutting back on quality.

Now that we’ve looked at the best synthesizers for your home studio so you can produce new and quality sounds, let’s take a look at some commonly asked questions about synthesizers and what you can do with them.

Synthesizers FAQ

Synthesizer Keyboard

How does synthesizer work?

A synthesizer is an exciting piece of equipment if you like to create and record music because it is an electronic keyboard that can copy any kind of sound you can imagine. 

This enables it to copy the sound of classical instruments, such as violins or pianos, and even new sounds that you’ve never heard of.

How a synthesizer works is that it has what’s known as “voices” or sound tone generators known as oscillators

These produce sound waves of different shapes and these can be joined together to create complicated and interesting sounds.

There are different sound wave shapes and these include square waves and triangular waves (both of which produce odd harmonics), as well as many more.

Now, there are two types of synthesizers: analog and digital synthesizers. An analog synthesizer tweaks electric voltages to produce new sounds. 

The oscillator will play with the voltage so that a certain pitch and frequency are produced, and it’s controlled by the keys. 

This oscillator sends its signal to the filter. The filter removes certain sound frequencies, such as by letting low frequencies pass through but blocking higher frequencies, or vice versa. 

Then, the sound moves from the filter to the amplifier, which is basically all about choosing the volume for the sound.

Things like tone and how loud or soft the volume is are put into a module, which creates a signal. 

When many modules are connected to each other, it gives you the opportunity to change or layer the sounds to create your own unique sounds or music.

When it comes to digital synthesizers, they make use of algorithms and processors that have already been programmed into them. 

They make sense of strings of binary numbers which get decoded into sound waves, as How Stuff Works explains.  

Of course, you also get analog synthesizers that are mixed with digital synthesizers for a nice blended effect: these give you dials and knobs that we’ve grown to feel nostalgic about in analog synthesizers along with digital technology.

These qualities make it clear that the synthesizer is an important piece of equipment in the modern studio where music is produced because it can produce sounds that used to require instruments.

What is the difference between a keyboard and a synthesizer?

The reason why people think keyboards and synthesizers are the same thing is that synthesizers are classified as electrophones, which fall under the keyboard category.

However, although they might kind of look the same, keyboards and synthesizers are very different. 

Some of the things that set them apart the most is that synthesizers create sound and have many more functions to enable you to produce or play electronic music in various ways. 

A keyboard, on the other hand, plays sounds that have already been recorded. It doesn’t create its own creative and unique sounds in the same way that a synthesizer can.

Synthesizers are also used to create electronic sounds. You have many creative options when using them, but the sound they produce is modern.

If you’re looking to play more classical sounds, such as the piano, then a digital or acoustic piano is probably your best bet.

Can you learn piano on a synthesizer?

You can’t really learn how to play the piano on a synthesizer. This is because a synthesizer basically just plays various sounds. 

If you want to learn how to play a piano, you’ll need to learn all the keys, and a piano has 88 keys. 

A synthesizer, on the other hand, will usually only have 25 keys, although some have more, such as the Roland 37-Key Synthesizer JD-Xi, or the IK Multimedia UNO Synth that has 49 keys.

This is still not enough if you want to play piano, though, because in order to properly learn how to play the piano, you should aim for a keyboard that has at least 61 keys. 

If you’re learning how to play piano from a teacher, you’ll need to be able to do the exercises that are given to you and you won’t be able to complete these with the use of 25 keys. 

However, even a keyboard that only has 61 keys will be limiting in this regard as well as if you are learning on your own.

It all depends on how much you want to learn when it comes to the piano. 

If you want to play musical pieces that make use of multiple octaves, you’ll need to have the full 88 keys at your disposal otherwise you’ll find yourself at a dead-end.

A synthesizer lacks many features that you will find in a piano. These include having the feeling of weighted keys. 

You won’t find these on a synthesizer, which removes the experience of playing on a piano. 

In addition, a synthesizer won’t let you feel that the harder you press a key the louder it sounds.

A synthesizer might sound appealing because it can produce so many different sounds, and it can definitely produce the same sounds as those created by a piano, but it will require advanced frills and features to be able to sound like an authentic acoustic piano. 

In fact, as reported by Piano and Synth magazine, synthesizers will create sounds of instruments but this is often at the expense of being able to play real world instrument sounds. 

They’re never going to be exactly the same.

So, if you’re interested in learning to play the piano, the best thing you can do for yourself is to learn on a digital or acoustic piano to get the full effect and be able to increase your knowledge of the instrument.

In addition, when learning any instrument it’s important not to deny yourself of the full experience.

How do I record a synthesizer on my computer?

To connect your synthesizer to your computer, you’ll have to get an audio interface. This is important because it has an external sound card. 

Now, most modern desktop computers and laptops don’t have sound cards that can deal with a synthesizer’s requirements, which could result in various problems, such as lag times when you play notes.

What’s great about the audio interface is that it will contain a few inputs to help you to record more than one instrument at the same time. 

In order to use it, you’ll have to plug in a cable from the synthesizer output to the interface, which will be connected to your desktop computer or laptop via USB.

Another way in which you can use a USB connection for your synthesizer and computer is if you make use of a virtual MIDI port, for which you’ll need a software driver that comes bundled with a MIDI keyboard or the synthesizer. 

However, some of the modern MIDI keyboards and synthesizers out there won’t require their own driver, so you’ll have to check out your gear and see what the requirements are.

Once your synthesizer has been connected to your computer, you’ll need a program that will enable you to record and edit your data. 

To do this, you’ll need a sequencer which is a computer program that’s used for editing MIDI data and multitrack recording.

You can find various types of sequencers, such as Steinberg Cubase. 

This one gets a mention because it’s valuable to purchase as it allows you to record digital audio as well as make edits such as applying effects to your music. 

Conclusion

Buying a synthesizer can be a great move if you want to add more sounds and effects to your music production, especially if you are interested in creating modern music. 

There’s really no limit to the creativity you can produce with synthesizers, and many of them come with features that you will benefit from in your home studio.

For example, some synthesizers have drum kits included, self-tuning functions to maintain your pitch, as well as many ways to connect to your devices for greater creativity. 

In addition, some synthesizers can run on batteries so you don’t have to worry about plugging them into a power source. Such features have changed the way synthesizers are used.

Luckily, the best synthesizers for your home studio don’t have to break the bank. 

By reading our best keyboard synthesizer buying guide, you’ve discovered how to find the best synthesizer to enhance the music you produce in your home studio!

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