From palm-sized powerhouses to reissued classics, join us as we run through our top analogue options at every price point from pocket money to life savings.
The monophonic analogue synth market has been revitalised over the last few years, which means we now have a huge range of options to choose from. What struck us immediately as we started putting together this list was how much the market has bunched up around what would very recently have been considered the budget price range and can now realistically be described as the midrange. Between £400 and £500 you’ll find some of the best value for money ever offered in the history of analogue synths. Look back half a decade and you’d find a very different set of options to what we have on offer now. In fact, only one synth on our list was released just five years ago.
Here we present ten of the best analogue monosynths on the market today.
We begin with the most affordable option by far, and one which played a major role in kickstarting the analogue revival.
Korg’s Monotron is one of the cheapest and most basic analogue synths you’ll ever come across. A palm-sized plastic box which runs on batteries and offers only the most rudimentary controls. But before you dismiss it, consider this: the Monotron is directly responsible for a large proportion of the analogue synths on the market today. By releasing an all-analogue product in 2010, Korg issued a statement of intent. This was proof that a Japanese giant could look to the past for inspiration, drawing on the legendary MS-10/MS-20 filter design to give the Monotron its trademark howl. That it was still possible to create commercially viable analogue products.
Thanks to the success of the Monotron, we got the Monotribe, with its built-in sequencer, analogue drum sounds and self-tuning VCO. Then the MS-20 Mini. Then the Volcas. And later this year we’ll get Korg’s reissued version of the ARP Odyssey. When you consider the impact of those synths on other manufacturers, it’s clear the Monotron played a major role in shaking up the entire analogue synth market.
But we’re recommending the Monotron on its own merit, and not just because of the impact it had. You’ll find a Monotron in countless pro studios, and it’s not just because they’re cheap and fun to mess about with in front of the TV. This might be a simple synth, but it can produce sounds which rival the MS-10 for sheer analogue brutality. Record it, sample it, run other synths through its filter – the Monotron has huge creative potential. It’s not always as clean as you’d like and the ribbon keyboard’s seriously fiddly to play accurately, but it’s almost guaranteed to inspire new ideas and back them up with a sound that belies its appearance.
The Delay and Duo versions are worth a look too.