Korg Triton (or Triton LE)
The synths of the 90s will undoubtedly feature heavily in the next wave of music gear to be afforded classic status. Prices of late 80s and early 90s staples like the Roland D-50, Korg M1 and Wavestation are already on the rise, so their mid 90s successors are almost certain to follow.
As synth technology progressed through the late 80s, the dominant synthesis method shifted from analogue to FM to sample-based approaches. Sample-based synthesis isn’t for everyone – it’s far more complicated to program patches than any of the analogue or virtual analogue synths here – but it’s the best way to achieve many of the retro 90s dance sounds which are currently so popular. The Korg M1 would be the obvious choice if only for its piano and organ sounds, but it’s emulated with incredible accuracy by Korg’s own plugin (which costs just $49), making the original hardware much less appealing.
We could suggest something a little more leftfield like the incredibly versatile Kurzweil K2xxx series (something of an unsung hero of techno production, used by the likes of Carl Craig, Anthony ‘Shake’ Shakir, Kirk Degiorgio and Kenny Larkin), the more expensive D-50 or the cheap-as-chips Kawai K1ii, but instead, we’ll suggest something slightly newer. The Korg Triton is a 90s favourite with the potential to turn into a modern classic over the next few years.
Unlike the older M1, the Triton isn’t particularly trendy at the moment, but it’s already made a mark on a few genres. It’s a staple of classic grime, used extensively by Wiley and Jammer (load up the ‘Gliding Squares’ or ‘AMS Feedback Lead’ presets and you’ll immediately be in eski territory). You definitely heard it on countless 90s pop hits. But maybe most famously of all, Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo raided the Triton’s presets on a regular basis for their early Neptunes productions. Those amazing drums on ‘Grindin”? Triton presets. ‘Nothin”? Triton presets. ‘Milkshake’? Triton presets.
As an added bonus, the Triton also includes a lot of the classic M1 samples, so those iconic 90s house piano and organ sounds are easily recreated. It’s a cult favourite with the potential to become a modern classic, but most importantly it’s a great all-rounder that can slot into lots of production styles. Whether you go for the original or the cheaper Triton LE, this is a synth with a lot to offer in the context of dance production styles.