by Stefan Wyeth | 4,0 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 4 Minutes
The best pocket synths.

The best pocket synths for creativity on the go.  ·  Source: Valentin Müller / Unsplash

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Ever have a creative itch to scratch while traveling, or just looking to geek out affordably after work? We’ve selected some of the best pocket synths that are not only light and compact, but also won’t hurt your pocket too much either.

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In recent years, products like the Teenage Engineering OP-1, the Korg Volca series, and the Roland Boutique series have changed the way we think about portable instruments.

The line between what is a toy or a tool has become increasingly blurry, as new and innovative pocket synth designs are constantly being released with seemingly endless features.

Teenage Engineering PO-14 sub

The PO-14 sub is another pocket beast from the dreamers at Teenage Engineering and Cheap Monday. Although it may be limited in its synthesis capabilities, it more than makes up for it by making rude noises and being loads of fun to use.

It’s battery-operated and very bassline orientated, so you can easily get the most noxious synth patterns going no matter where you are. It generates instant acid nightmares and electroclash hooks with an intuitive sequencer and impressive effects.

Teenage Engineering PO-14 sub

Teenage Engineering PO-14 sub

Teenage Engineering PO-14 sub

Customer rating:
(59)

Korg NTS-1

If you’ve been toying with the idea of building your own synths, the Korg Nu:Tekt NTS-1 ships as a DIY kit to assemble. The raw “Lego Technic” aesthetic might not be for everyone, but the NTS-1 does have some great features if you have the patience.

There is certainly no shortage of parameters you can access, and once you get used to the interface it’s easy to use with other gear. The NTS-1 is USB-powered and also offers MIDI connectivity, but these cables are sold separately.

Korg NTS-1

Korg Nu:Tekt NTS-1

Korg NTS-1

Korg NTS-1

Customer rating:
(86)

Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1

On the more vintage side of things, the Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1 brings nostalgia both with its sound and interface design. If you’ve never used a Stylophone, it’s definitely a fun party trick to try out and requires far less skill to play than a theremin.

These synths may look rather archaic, but they have achieved a cult-like status through appearing on some famous recordings by the likes of Kraftwerk, Queen, and The Beatles. The question is: can you play the Funky Worm?

Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1

Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1

Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1

Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1

Customer rating:
(55)

Roland J-6

The Roland J-6 is part of the AIRA compact range, Roland’s rather belated answer to the Volca series. The J-6 might be equipped with the very nice sounding ACB engine, but it’s the sequencer that steals the show here.

It allows you to create and sequence polyphonic patterns in a very intuitive way, and you can easily connect it to other polysynths in your studio. Overall, some amazing capabilities, especially from a songwriting point of view.

Roland R-6

Roland R-6

Roland J-6

Roland J-6

Customer rating:
(3)

Critter & Guitari Organelle S

The Organelle S is the slightly scaled-back version of the Organelle M from Critter & Guitari. It might not get the same level of hype as an OP-1 but it combines sequencing, sampling, and synthesis in its own unique way.

The patch library is always being updated, and you can build your own using the Pure Data programming language. This gives the device an open-source sensibility which has a different type of appeal, especially when incorporating other instruments.

Critter & Guitari Organelle S

Critter & Guitari Organelle S

Critter & Guitari Organelle S

Critter & Guitari Organelle S

Customer rating:
(1)

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Image Sources:
Image Sources:
  • Teenage Engineering PO-14 sub: Teenage Engineering
  • Korg Nu:Tekt NTS-1: Korg
  • Dübreq Stylophone Gen-X1: Dübreq
  • Roland R-6: Roland
  • Critter & Guitari Organelle S: Critter & Guitari
The best pocket synths.

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4 responses to “The best pocket synths for getting creative on the go”

    René says:
    0

    What about the 1010music Fireball and Lemondrop? Very, very powerful synths in tiny form factor.

    Matt says:
    3

    How are the Dirtywave M8 and Nanoloop not on this list?

    Caleigh says:
    0

    Does every synth have to have a sequencer? As an original musiqe concrete and tape manipulation type this obsession with what I consider regimented music is quite disturbing. And limiting. It’s always more over texture.

    Joe says:
    0

    Somehow the iPhone, the most powerful and comprehensive music tool of its size, was left off the list. You can literally make an entire album on your iPhone, unlike the almost-toy-like products listed in this op-ed.

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