We run through ten of our favourite new hardware synths from the last year, including some budget bargains, semi-modular beasts and a credit card-melting option from a new manufacturer.

It’s a sign of the times that when we sat down to put together this list, we had an array of great options to choose from. It’s an amazing time to be into synths; so many exciting new models have hit the market in recent months that we had a hard time narrowing down the selection to just ten.

Here we present a pick of our favourites from the last year, showcasing the diversity of the current hardware synth market. As always in Ten Of The Best, our selections are presented in ascending order of price.

We start with a Greek classic…

Dreadbox "Hades", Bass Synthesiser

Dreadbox Hades

€279,00

Greek boutique synth makers Dreadbox first hit our radar a couple of years ago when they released the Murmux semi-modular synth, a beautifully made unit with a powerful analogue sound. The more affordable Erebus followed in its wake, offering paraphonic synthesis at a great price.

The Murmux has now sadly been discontinued, with Dreadbox’s patchable options now available in the form of a tasty range of Eurorack modules, but the Hades is the next generation of Dreadbox’s monophonic output. A much more basic affair than the Murmux, with just a few patch points, its key selling points are its competitive price point and, of course, its powerful sound. 

With the Hades you get the basic setup that’s been the mainstay of so many monophonic synths over the years: a single oscillator (with sub-oscillator signals one and two octaves below), an excellent 3-pole resonant filter, two envelope generators, an LFO and a distortion circuit. You also get eight Eurorack-compatible patch points for key signals, allowing you to expand the synth with other modules. It’s a proper, old-school, hand-built synth with bags of character.

18th January, 2016

Comments

  • Wow, 2 oscillators, 4 waveforms, filter, lfo to modulate it. It’s no wonder electronic music hasn’t really advanced in the last decade as people are still getting boners for things we’ve all seen/heard before. New synths are just tools for muso-posers to show off with, posh handbags for guys/gals who don’t leave their bedrooms. All you really need if you want hardware to make music is a £100, 20 year old Roland W-30 and a good idea.
    This ain’t a dig at Attack.

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  • wow, the original really is a lot better sounding. Much richer and thicker sounding. The update is somehow ‘skimmed’.

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  • @Duncan

    Ridiculous isn’t it. I went into a music shop the other day and all the guitars still only had six strings! Retrograde madness

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  • @Nathan

    Not a fair comparison at all. Synths are based on technology that is constantly changing. And due to Moore’s Law, the technology is constantly getting cheaper. These two things dictate that synths should be evolving a lot more than they seem to be. What is new and unique here?

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  • @ Duncan

    Plenty of unique synth design out there. That’s mostly what the eurorack format is about. Also, what would you consider “unique”? 99.999999% of soft synths are based on hardware. The only truly novel synthesis in software comes from stuff like MAX/MSP, PD, Kyma, etc.. Do you think the Roland W-30 was some sort of revolutionary design at the time? I’m old enough to remember and it wasn’t. I say the more synths the merrier.

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