The best mono synths under $500 for leads and basslines
There’s no denying the power of the software synthesizers available these days. However, some of us still enjoy the feel of creating sounds on a piece of real hardware. For this purpose, we’re checking out some of the best mono synths under $500 for leads and basslines that don’t necessarily rely on internal sequencers. Let’s kick it old school!
Even in the age of seemingly limitless voice counts and more oscillator waveforms than emojis on a chat app, there is some appeal to playing a standalone instrument on stage or in the studio. The user experience when playing a synth and its controls live is far more spontaneous than browsing through endless patches in your DAW.
Which are the best mono synths under $500?
Each synth has a slightly different approach. This may favour a certain production workflow or style of music. Some synths also offer slightly more range than others as far as sound creation possibilities go. It’s up to you to choose a go-to tool for a single purpose or a more versatile instrument.
The Monologue is more than just a scaled-down version of the Korg Minilogue. Centered around its 16-step sequencer, which is also a modulation sequencer you have a good deal more sound design capabilities than it may appear at first.
Sure, it may not have that tanky Moog-like build quality, but it still sounds like an analogue synth you’d expect to pay more for. Once you get used to the interface, you can get some great sounds when you start incorporating the harmonic drive into your workflow.
IK Multimedia UNO Synth Pro Desktop
IK Multimedia might not be a go-to name in synthesizers yet, but the UNO Synth Pro Desktop is a worthwhile creative tool for those looking to get their first hardware synth. The layout is somewhat reminiscent of the old Waldorf rack synths from the 90s, with each parameter accessed via four main rotary controls.
The overall design and touchplate keys might not be for everyone. However, it has plenty of features and connectivity for something in this price range. When you get the hang of it, the UNO Synth Pro Desktop sounds decent enough and it’s fun to use too.
Don’t be fooled by appearances, the MicroFreak is no toy. The combination of a digital oscillator section and a variable analogue filter makes for some interesting possibilities. The touch-plate keyboard may not be designed with virtuosos in mind, but it is certainly geared for live performance.
The MicroFreak also has a 4-voice paraphonic mode with polyphonic aftertouch and plenty of modulation capabilities, so you have more possibilities than you’d get from the average mono synth.
Novation Bass Station II
Without becoming overelaborate or gimmicky, the Bass Station II continues the legacy Novation began back in 1993. The dual DCO, dual envelope architechture, allows you to quickly dive into creating your own leads and basses.
To add to the fun, there’s an arpeggiator and a 32-step pattern sequencer. This makes the Bass Station II a great choice for collaboration and connecting with other hardware, regardless of the style of music you plan on creating.
Korg MS-20 mini
Based on Korg’s single-digit answer to the Minimoog back in 1978, the MS-20 mini offers a unique semi-modular experience at an affordable price. No, it certainly isn’t high-tech by any means and the interface might seem a bit archaic compared to most other synths.
However, if you know a thing or two about analogue synthesis, you can still create anything between rude and absolutely ridiculous sounds with it. It may not be the juggernaut that the original MS-20 is, but this thing still packs a punch.
More about mono synths:
- All about monosynths
- Thomann’s guide to synthesizers
- Creating the Minimoog sound with plugins
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- Korg Monologue: Korg
- IK Multimedia UNO Synth Pro Desktop: IK Multimedia
- Arturia MicroFreak: Arturia
- Novation Bass Station II: Novation
- Korg MS-20 mini: Korg
Behringer Model D. And if you’re paying more than $500, you’re just not a very good shopper.
So I obviously these are opinions and I can’t argue with your choices. These wouldn’t be my picks per se…
I’d include the Rare Waves Hydronium, the new Cre8audio East Beast & West Pest, the Moog Mavis, the Dreadbox Typhon, and the eoWave Quandratid Swarm in there. The QS may be the only one that doesn’t quite hit your price point; it’s right at the edge.
behringer k2, odissey, neutron, cat, wasp, pro1, model d off course!
Each of these one are better than the other except the microfreak.
ms20 is more than 500. Get an Odyssey or a 2600, or maybe a Model D? Any of the amazing recreations of the analog classics. Monopoly? Pro 1? everything on my list goes for under 500.