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The Best Budget Polysynths for your Home Studio


The Best Budget Polysynths for your Home Studio & Playing Live  · 

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KORG

Traditionally, polyphonic synthesizers were priced on the expensive side. Even the DX-7 – which was regarded as more affordable – cost close to $2000 when it was launched back in 1983. Times have changed however and we show you our pick of the best budget polysynths.

Browsing the Best Budget Polysynths is a pastime that didn’t always exist! Thankfully in recent years, manufacturers have taken major steps toward making these instruments more accessible. Moreover, the home recording and content creation revolution we are currently experiencing means that the demand for quality at the budget end of the market creates healthy competition.

This means we will continue to see innovation, with exciting new synths being developed in the future at a price that more of us can afford.

Choosing the Best Budget Polysynths

Don’t be fooled by the marketing of synth architecture stereotypes. Analogue oscillators do not guarantee a warm sound and digital or wavetable synths are not automatically harsh in comparison either.

There are plenty of examples of hybrid digital instruments with digital oscillators and analogue filters; they’re equally capable of producing incredible warmth and texture like the famous E-Mu Emulator II sampler.

The key factor to finding the perfect synth is all about how you contextualize it into your musical process, which goes beyond the sound alone.

Yamaha Reface DX

Like the other synths in this series, the Reface DX brings you back to the mid-1980s when the DX-7 dominated pop music. It does have some of the famous patches from the original, but more importantly, it’s a simple way into FM synth programming.

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Yamaha Reface DX
Yamaha Reface DX · Source: Yamaha

Although you might find the mini keys a little quaint, the overall build quality is surprisingly good. The touch sliders may be limited, but you can easily program and attach a controller of your choice to expand the tweakability.

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Modal Cobalt5s

The Modal Cobalt5s is a smaller version of the Cobalt8, but still a lush-sounding virtual analogue-style synth. It has five-voice polyphony, which is sufficient for basic chord progressions, and the aftertouch produces really authentic results.

Modal Cobalt5s
Modal Cobalt5S · Source: Modal

The knobs and interface might not be for everyone, but having a polysynth that sounds this good at this price makes it worthwhile. Whether you use the patches or design your own sounds, you will be pleasantly surprised by what is possible with the Cobalt5s.

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Behringer DeepMind 6

The DeepMind series may have started off as a modern alternative to the Juno-106, but it has evolved steadily. Rather than simply being a vintage reissue, the DeepMind 6 provides far more synthesis capabilities with an extensive mod matrix.

Behringer DeepMind 6
Behringer DeepMind 6 · Source: Behringer

Overall, the interface is familiar enough to immerse yourself immediately, and the user community has grown enough to allow you to even buy 106-style patches for the DeepMind if you so desire.

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ASM Hydrasynth Explorer

The Hydrasynth Explorer is an excellent entry point into the underexplored world of wavetable synthesis. The obsession we have with vintage-style synths often leads us to neglect the overall synthesis capabilities of an instrument, which would be ill-advised in this case.

ASM Hydrasynth Explorer
ASM Hydrasynth Explorer · Source: ASM

The Explorer can produce an incredibly diverse range of sounds, and its interface is remarkably intuitive for such an advanced instrument. Equipped with eight voices, organic sounding aftertouch, and excellent built-in effects, it’s a great synth for the price.

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Korg Minilogue XD

The Minilogue XD is a powerful analogue polysynth with wavetable capabilities. Although it only has four-voice polyphony, there are several voice modes including, Poly, Unison, Chord, Arp/Latch, and a 16-step polyphonic sequencer.

Korg Minilogue XD
Korg Minilogue XD · Source: Korg

The effects section has been expanded considerably, compared to the standard Minilogue, with modulation effects, delays, and reverbs. In addition, the multi-engine oscillator allows you to load your own wavetable presets via the desktop app.

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The Best Budget Polysynths for your Home Studio & Playing Live

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John Smith

My John Smith is a seasoned technology writer with a passion for unraveling the complexities of the digital world. With a background in computer science and a keen interest in emerging trends, John has become a sought-after voice in translating intricate technological concepts into accessible and engaging articles.

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