Top 7 Best Analog Synths Under $1000

The warm chaotic character of analog synths has become one of the most desired qualities in modern electronic music, this is probably due to the advancement in technology and everyone having access to digital and software-based synths.

Aside from the audio qualities, there are also many other reasons you might want to get your hands on an analog synth. Nothing compares to the tangible feedback you get from adjusting a parameter by hand and feeling the sound change at your fingertips.

In this post, I’m going to go over the top 7 best analog synths under $1000, as well as helping to explain some of the more technical aspects. Few items in your studio will have the same reverence as the synth. Part computer, part keyboard, the analog synthesizer changed the way music was made, and hopefully, this guide will help you put a new tool in your personal musical toolkit. So, let’s jump into some of the jargon you need to know first.

Monophonic vs Polyphonic

By far, this is the simplest feature to understand, simply put: Can the synthesizer produce more than one note simultaneously? Monophonic = one note only. Polyphonic = multiple notes at a time. While it might seem like multiple notes would always be the better option, monophonic instruments allow for a very specific sound that many people prefer, especially in a bass line.

Oscillator

The oscillator of a synthesizer is what actually generates the sound that you hear. The more oscillators and options that are available, the wider the range of sounds and tones you will be able to create with the synthesizer. The shape of the wave generated is usually controlled here, and usually a selection of Sine, Sawtooth, Triangle, and Square.

Modulation

In synthesizers, one of the main attractions is the vast control that you have over your sound. A modulator is a component that can be adjusted to control another component of your sound. Without getting too deep into exactly how waveforms affect each other, modulation in a synthesizer allows you to really dial in a specific sound you’re trying to achieve.

Arpeggiator

An arpeggiator takes either a single note, or a series of notes (sometimes held down at once, or sometimes ‘latched’ together by the instrument) and creates a running pattern. It is one of the most well-known effects of a synthesizer, and most can be highly customized.

Filters

Filters do exactly what you’d expect they do – they let some things through and block others. In this particular instance, the ‘things’ we are talking about are sound waves and using filters to shape the tone. Different shapes of filters will produce different shapes of sound and create unique tones. This one is pretty hard to verbalize, and hopefully you’ll have some experience listening to different filter types.

Envelopes

This is what you use to shape a sound – to make it short, long, plucky, or sustained. An envelope on a synthesizer controls automation over one or more parameters. The most common type of envelope is the ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release) and allows you even more control to contour the shape of the sound that the synthesizer is generating.


Affiliate Disclaimer

Basic Wavez is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.


Here are the 7 Best Analog Synths Under $1000

Korg Monologue

The Korg Monologue starts us off with a compact, well-built machine at an entry-level price point. It is a monophonic synth with two VCO (Voltage Controlled Oscillators), an LFO (Low-Frequency Oscillator), and a 16-step sequencer. The Monologue also offers 80 factory presets with an additional 20 user presets to allow you to save and call up your favorite effects with the push of a button.

One of the key features of the Monologue is an internal drive circuit that allows you to add some bite to your sound, from just a little nibble to full-on distortion. Finally, the last item that stands out for the Monologue is the ability to power it with 6 AA batteries (though for many, the power supply being optional is a bit of an issue).

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: Mono
  • Keys: 25 (from E – E, not C – C)
  • Oscillator: 2 x VCO (square, triangle, sawtooth)
  • Filters: 1 x LFO
  • Envelopes: 3 Envelope Generator modes
  • Sequencer: 16-step
  • MIDI In/Out: Yes, and Sync

If you’re playing in a band and want to spice up your sound, the Monologue is a great place to start. Not only does it offer a slew of options in a small machine, the fact that the keyboard is set up from E to E really lets you fit seamlessly with a guitar or bass.


Korg Minilogue

Stepping up from the Monologue, we have the Korg Minilogue. Of course, the first thing to notice is an added octave on the keyboard, and also the fact that this synth is Polyphonic up to four voices. Speaking of voices, this synth allows you to customize them with eight unique voice modes: Poly, Duo, Unison, Mono, Chord, Delay, Arp and Sidechain. In particular, the Delay option is an interesting feature, recreating the analog sound of tape delay.

If you are new to oscillators and synths in general, you’ll love the OLED display of the waveform, something rarely seen in hardware synths, and if you’re a pro with oscillators and envelopes you’ll love the control offered by the Minilogue.

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: 4 note polyphony
  • Keys: 37
  • Oscillator: 2 x VCO (square, triangle, sawtooth)
  • Filters: 2-pole/4-pole Lowpass Filter with Keytrack, Velocity
  • Envelopes: AMP ADSR, ADSR
  • Sequencer: 16-step Polyphonic sequencer
  • MIDI In/Out: Yes, and Sync

Want something a little bit bigger, something that you’ve got a little more control over? The Korg Minilogue offers some of the best features in a still small package. The MIDI In/Out and sync allow you to use either Korg with your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) of choice with the ability to send signals to your workstation, or to receive from it. Used as a tool or a controller, this instrument is ready to help you make music.


Arturia MicroBrute

The Arturia MicroBrute has a lot in common with the Korg Monologue, both offering a big sound in a small package. Big sound is something that stands out with the MicroBrute, touting itself as “the biggest-sounding single-oscillator synth you’re likely to hear”.

Combining the sound of the VCO with the Steiner-Parker filter creates a unique sound that is reminiscent of the fat synth sounds of the 1970s, allowing you to generate massive low end, but also allowing for powerful distortion that gives leads bite and energy.

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: Mono
  • Keys: 25
  • Oscillator: 1 x VCO (square, triangle, sawtooth)
  • Filters: Steiner-Parker Multimode Filter
  • Envelopes: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 8 sequences, 64-steps
  • MIDI In/Out: In only

If you’re new to synthesizers in general, this is probably where you want to start. The MicroBrute is the lowest priced option and still offers the classic synth sound. A brilliant choice if you’re trying to figure out exactly how synthesizers work, and the robust construction allows it to handle a beating as well. The only drawback here is that it is not as compatible with DAWs, only allowing MIDI In.


Arturia MiniBrute 2S

The Arturia MiniBrute 2S is a departure from the synthesizers listed up to this point. While most of them are set up with a keyboard controller, the MiniBrute 2S replaces this with 16 pressure sensitive pads. Since the MiniBrute 2S is semi-modular, you don’t need to patch anything to create a huge sound, but the 48-point CV mod matrix allows you to truly create sounds that only synthesizers can make.

What makes the MiniBrute2S stand out is the flexibility and control that it offers. Being able to integrate seamlessly into your DAW set up, or plug directly into a much larger synth rig, the 2S is ready to go.

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: Mono
  • Keys: 16 Velocity sensitive pads
  • Oscillator: 2 x VCO (square, triangle, sawtooth, sine)
  • Filters: 12dB per octave Steiner-Parker Multimode Filter
  • Envelopes: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 64-step
  • MIDI In/Out: Yes (USB and 5-pin) and Sync

Cables and patches are what really make a synthesizer stand out from a keyboard, or any other instrument for that matter, and the MiniBrute is a perfect place to start learning how it all works. If you’re not a piano player but still want to experiment with the sounds generated by a real analog synth, this is where you want to start – no keys, and plenty of patch options.


Behringer DeepMind 12

The Behringer DeepMind 12 is a serious synth designed to be able to generate virtually any synth sound you’ve ever heard before, and help you create new synth sounds as well. Two oscillators and two LFOs per voice help create deep, rich tones that are completely controllable, and the 8-bus modulation and 32-step sequencer are there to round them out.

This synth also offers onboard FX, as the DeepMind 12 has four digital FX engines. Control is the name of the game here, and not only does the DeepMind 12 give you control over your sound, but it also pairs beautifully with any other device that you’re already using, offering MIDI In/Out, sync and even has control via a tablet app.

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: 12 voices
  • Keys: 49
  • Oscillator: 2 x VCO per voice (square, triangle, sawtooth)
  • Filters: Steiner-Parker Multimode Filter
  • Envelopes: 3 ADSR per voice
  • Sequencer: 32-steps
  • MIDI In/Out: Yes, and Sync

Big, powerful, but expensive, the DeepMind 12 is not for the faint of heart. This synth offers the opportunity to control and shape your sound in any way you might imagine. Want to recreate a classic sound from the past? This synth can help you do it. Want to create a sound that has been floating around in your head and no one has ever heard? This synth can help you do it. While not the best for beginners, those with the knowledge to take advantage of all this synth has to offer will find an incredible machine at an incredible value.


Novation Bass Station II

True to the name, the Novation Bass Station II really shines in the low end of the sound spectrum. A small but powerful instrument, the Bass Station II allows you to use the sub oscillator at TWO octaves below and creates bass lines deep enough to rattle your teeth.

Besides the incredible low end offered by the Bass Station II, it has two unique features that are worth checking out: an ‘acid filter’ (a special type of low pass filter with a 24/dB slope) and a feature Novation refers to as “LFO Slew”. The LFO Slew allows you to control and distort the LFO waveforms themselves.

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: Mono
  • Keys: 25
  • Oscillator: 2 x VCO (square, sine, pulse)
  • Filters: Distortion filter, Oscillator FM
  • Envelopes: ADSR
  • Sequencer: 32-steps
  • MIDI In/Out: Yes, no Sync

If you’re looking for a synth because you want to round out your bass sound, look no further. While coming in at a much lower price point than some of the beefier synthesizers, don’t be mistaken, the Bass Station II delivers in a big way. One concern worth mentioning is the actual construction, the Bass Station II doesn’t feel as sturdy as some of the other synthesizers, so be warned if you’re traveling a lot – this instrument isn’t quite the ‘road warrior’ you might be looking for.


Moog Grandmother

The Moog Grandmother is aptly named, taking its place at the top in the hierarchy of synthesizers around today. Moog is the first word in synthesizers, and the Grandmother is a prime example of a company doing what it does best. This semi-modular synth is ready to go right out of the box with no patching necessary, but it also offers the ability to integrate patch points and generate sublime tones.

Built-in spring reverb adds that little something extra to your sound and really allows the Grandmother to separate itself from other synths. When it comes to Analog Synthesizers under $1000, the Grandmother raises the bar for all others to aspire to.

Tech Specs

  • Mono/Polyphonic: Mono
  • Keys: 32
  • Oscillator: 2 x VCO (square, triangle, sawtooth)
  • Filters: 1 x Analog LFO
  • Envelopes: 1 x ADSR
  • Sequencer: 3 sequences, 256-steps
  • MIDI In/Out: Yes, and Sync

Moog is THE name when it comes to Analog Synthesizers, and if your budget can afford it, you’ll find little to regret with your purchase. Powerful, small, and robust yet expensive, the Grandmother provides absolutely amazing sounds housed in an excellent retro styling. If you want the best, look no further.


Conclusion

While every synth listed here has its own selling points, the real star of the show is the Moog Grandmother. It has everything you could ask for in an analog synth, so long as you know what you’re doing. If you’re coming into this purchase to try and learn more about the art of synthesizers from a beginners standpoint, you might be better off going for something more palatable like the MicroBrute.

Other Resources

Gearing up your home studio? We also have buyer guides on:

Leave a comment