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 Monotron - Analogue Mono Synth

Korg Monotron

£34.99

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.

 

 

28th July, 2014

Comments

  • No love for the Vermona mono lancet? Wicked dual osc mono synth with one of the best square waves around imo

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  • My two cents…. I’ve heard some pretty terrible things about Cyclone Analogic TT-303… and I would personally take a x0xb0x over it any day.

    Also… Korg Monotron? Top ten best analog monosynth? I guess SH-101 and MC-202 were too close to the 303 or what? I agree that the Mono Lancet should be in there, perhaps instead of Monotron. Well, actually there are a bunch of better candidates.

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  • Borg – new synths only in this one, so 101 and 202 don’t qualify.

    As always with our Ten Of The Best features these are our favourite options at a range of price points, listed from cheapest to most expensive.

    We like the Mono Lancet too but as far as modules go the Dark Energy and Pulse 2 get the nod here.

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  • got the bass bot since a while and must say the sound is quite good, creamy and very 303 authentic, the filter is good as well. probably better to test it for yourself than judging on it by “hearing terrible things”. the rest of the list seems to fit as well.

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  • Monotron is my favorite synth of all time. I have plenty of synthesizers (also some which are mentioned in this post).

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  • Future Retro’s XS should be on there too IMO

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  • Analogue Solutions Leipzig S is a killer monosynth !

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  • Can definitely recommend ANYTHING from Studio Electronics.

    SE-1 is a great and cheaper alternative to the minimoog + has an SEM filter in there!

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  • Mono lancet should be there imo

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  • Really surprised the Moog Minitaur didn’t make the list…

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  • For something e little different, check out an Eowave Domino. It has an interesting character

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  • vermona mono lancet, eowave domino, mfb micro/nanozwerg (price is ridiculous) just to name some very strong contenders for this list.

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  • Analogue Solutions Telemark ? Happy the Dark Energy got in their tho

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  • I am surprised not to see the EMS’s Synthi A, or VCS3 on the list. When it comes down to sonic flexibility, those two remain peerless.

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  • No DSI Pro 2???

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  • BASS STATION II …All the way! it’s amazing.

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  • The MicroBrute is made of very solid metal not plastic. And the MiniBrute also has only one oscillator.

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  • lol cool article

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  • x0xbox its better than cyclone!

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  • Waldorf Pulse 2 is the best sounding synth from all of those however it would be beneficial having more knobs. Pulse 2 is proper analog modular synth with the patch memory.

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  • If you think the analogue revival started with the MonoTron you must have just jumped on the bandwagon recently.

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  • Hypersynth Xenophone should be on the list, I would say in place of the Mopho which is bland and undistinguished. Or if you want a DSI, put the Evolver up there, the best monosynth for under a grand. I would put both; remove the Minimoog which is always admirable but overpriced and does not have a place on this list of affordable monosynths.

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