by Stefan Wyeth | 4,4 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
The best budget polysynths

The best budget polysynths.  ·  Source: Nicolas Picard / Unsplash / Behringer

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Traditionally, polyphonic synthesizers were priced on the expensive side. Even the DX-7 – which was regarded as more affordable – cost close to $2000 when it was launched back in 1983. Times have changed however and we show you our pick of the best budget polysynths

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Budget Polysynths – it’s a term that once upon a time simply didn’t exist! Thankfully in recent years, manufacturers have taken major steps toward making these instruments more accessible. Moreover, the home recording and content creation revolution we are currently experiencing means that the demand for quality at the budget end of the market creates healthy competition.

This means we will continue to see innovation, with exciting new synths being developed in the future at a price that more of us can afford.

Choosing the best budget polysynths

Don’t be fooled by the marketing of synth architecture stereotypes. Analogue oscillators do not guarantee a warm sound and digital or wavetable synths are not automatically harsh in comparison either.

There are plenty of examples of hybrid digital instruments with digital oscillators and analogue filters; they’re equally capable of producing incredible warmth and texture like the famous E-Mu Emulator II sampler.

The key factor to finding the perfect synth is all about how you contextualize it into your musical process, which goes beyond the sound alone.

Yamaha Reface DX

Like the other synths in this series, the Reface DX brings you back to the mid-1980s when the DX-7 dominated pop music. It does have some of the famous patches from the original, but more importantly, it’s a simple way into FM synth programming.

Although you might find the mini keys a little quaint, the overall build quality is surprisingly good. The touch sliders may be limited, but you can easily program and attach a controller of your choice to expand the tweakability.

Yamaha Reface DX

Yamaha Reface DX

Yamaha Reface DX

Yamaha Reface DX

Customer rating:
(70)

Modal Cobalt5s

The Modal Cobalt5s is a smaller version of the Cobalt8, but still a lush-sounding virtual analogue-style synth. It has five-voice polyphony, which is sufficient for basic chord progressions, and the aftertouch produces really authentic results.

The knobs and interface might not be for everyone, but having a polysynth that sounds this good at this price makes it worthwhile. Whether you use the patches or design your own sounds, you will be pleasantly surprised by what is possible with the Cobalt5s.

Modal Cobalt5s

Modal Cobalt5S

Modal Cobalt5s

Modal Cobalt5s

Customer rating:
(4)

Behringer DeepMind 6

The DeepMind series may have started off as a modern alternative to the Juno-106, but it has evolved steadily. Rather than simply being a vintage reissue, the DeepMind 6 provides far more synthesis capabilities with an extensive mod matrix.

Overall, the interface is familiar enough to immerse yourself immediately, and the user community has grown enough to allow you to even buy 106-style patches for the DeepMind if you so desire.

Behringer DeepMind 6

Behringer DeepMind 6

Behringer DeepMind 6

Behringer DeepMind 6

Customer rating:
(124)

ASM Hydrasynth Explorer

The Hydrasynth Explorer is an excellent entry point into the underexplored world of wavetable synthesis. The obsession we have with vintage-style synths often leads us to neglect the overall synthesis capabilities of an instrument, which would be ill-advised in this case.

The Explorer can produce an incredibly diverse range of sounds, and its interface is remarkably intuitive for such an advanced instrument. Equipped with eight voices, organic sounding aftertouch, and excellent built-in effects, it’s a great synth for the price.

ASM Hydrasynth Explorer

ASM Hydrasynth Explorer

ASM Hydrasynth Explorer

ASM Hydrasynth Explorer

Customer rating:
(22)

Korg Minilogue XD

The Minilogue XD is a powerful analogue polysynth with wavetable capabilities. Although it only has four-voice polyphony, there are several voice modes including, Poly, Unison, Chord, Arp/Latch, and a 16-step polyphonic sequencer.

The effects section has been expanded considerably, compared to the standard Minilogue, with modulation effects, delays, and reverbs. In addition, the multi-engine oscillator allows youto to load your own wavetable presets via the desktop app.

Korg Minilogue XD

Korg Minilogue XD

Korg Minilogue XD

Korg Minilogue XD

Customer rating:
(148)

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Note: This article contains promotional links that help us fund our site. Don’t worry: the price for you always stays the same! If you buy something through these links, we will receive a small commission. Thank you for your support!

Image Sources:
  • Yamaha Reface DX: Yamaha
  • Modal Cobalt5S: Modal
  • Behringer DeepMind 6: Behringer
  • ASM Hydrasynth Explorer: ASM
  • Korg Minilogue XD: Korg
The best budget polysynths

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9 responses to “The best budget polysynths for your home studio & playing live”

    gzzzt says:
    1

    two words: dreadbox nymphes.

    Joe Shlabotnik says:
    0

    It’s more expensive, but for the money, the Korg opsix (which costs the same as the DeepMind 6 on this list) is a far better buy than the Reface DX for FM synthesis.

    Pericles says:
    0

    really missing the minifreak in thus list

    John says:
    0

    “In addition, the multi-engine oscillator allows youto to load your own wavetable presets via the desktop app.” you can load any kind of synthesis engine you can write in 32K combined code+data space; FM, additive, VA, karplus-strong, modal, wavefolders, Phase modulation, anything; not just wavetables – and it’s 32 entry wavetables to be precise.

    René says:
    0

    As real budget DIY alternatives I would recommend two amazing projects: Microdexed Touch and TubeOhm Jeannie. But they are only available for musicians who also have skills in electronics, soldering and little mechanics. But these two polyphonic DIY desktop synthesizers sound absolutely incredible and have rich features.

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