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Analog Synthesizer 101: How To Achieve That Classic Sound (Top 13)

Analog synthesizers are not just musical instruments.

 

They are the heartbeats of many classic and modern tracks, imbued with the ability to breathe life and warmth into music. 

 

Analog synths can help you create unique sounds that digital synths might struggle to replicate, offering a tactile and immersive experience in sound design. 

 

That’s why, as a music producer, knowing the best analog synthesizers can be a game-changer in elevating your music production.

 

In this article, we’ll be breaking down:

 

  • The essence and fundamentals of analog synthesis ✓
  • Key components like oscillators and filters ✓
  • The distinction between analog and digital synthesizers ✓
  • Semi-modular and monophonic designs ✓
  • The top 13 analog synthesizers around ✓
  • Importance of MIDI integration ✓
  • Impact of polyphony on sound design ✓
  • The role of sequencers and modulation ✓
  • Much more ✓

 

By the end of this article, you will have access to comprehensive insights on the 13 best analog synthesizers 一 enabling you to make informed choices for your studio setup. 

 

You’ll be equipped with the knowledge to select the perfect synth that aligns with your creative vision.

 

So, let’s dive in…

 

What are Analog Synthesizers?

 

Analog synthesizers have been a cornerstone in music production for decades, offering musicians a vast array of sounds and control. Understanding what sets them apart is key for any music producer looking to explore their sonic capabilities.

 

  • The Essence of Analog Synthesis

 

analog synthesizer

 

Analog synthesis is a method of sound generation that employs analog circuits and voltage-controlled components like: 

 

  • Oscillators
  • Filters
  • Amplifiers

 

This approach to synthesis is renowned for its warmth and richness in sound, characteristics often sought after by musicians and music producers

 

The continuous signal flow in analog synthesizers creates a unique tonal quality that digital synths struggle to replicate.

 

  • The Building Blocks of Analog Synths

 

LFOs - Unison

 

At the heart of an analog synthesizer are oscillators that generate raw waveforms.

 

These waveforms are then shaped and manipulated using various modules such as filters (low-pass filter, high-pass filter), envelope generators, and LFOs.

 

NOTE: An LFO is a synthesizer component that modulates sound parameters at low frequencies, adding texture and movement to the audio.

 

These filters play a crucial role in sculpting the sound by controlling the frequencies that pass through.

 

An envelope generator provides control over the dynamics of the sound 一 shaping its attack, decay, sustain, and release characteristics.

 

  • Control and Connectivity

 

Pitch Wheel - Unison

 

Modern analog synths often incorporate MIDI connectivity, allowing seamless integration with digital setups.

 

This feature is crucial for music producers who wish to combine the warmth of analog with the flexibility of digital systems.

 

Plus, elements that offer hands-on control like: 

 

  • Pitch wheels
  • Modulation wheels
  • Knobs/switches

 

This makes analog synthesizers highly expressive musical instruments.

 

The key to mastering analog synths is getting familiar with these vital controls.

 

Analog Synths vs Digital Synths: Breaking it Down

 

As a music producer, knowing the details of analog synths and digital synths is imperative. This way you can search for the right synth for you. So, let’s break it down.

 

  • Analog Synthesizers

 

Analog Synths - Unison

 

Analog synthesizers use analog circuits and signals to generate and process sound.

 

They’re known for their: 

 

  • Warm, rich tones
  • Unique character they impart to the sound

 

Analog synths are revered for their tactile control when played.

 

It allows for direct manipulation of physical components like oscillators, filters, and envelope generators.

 

  • Digital Synths

 

Digital Synths2 - Unison

 

Digital synthesizers use digital signal processing (DSP) to create and shape sound.

 

They’re known for their: 

 

  • Precision
  • Consistency
  • Ability to reproduce a wide variety of sounds

 

This includes endless emulations of analog synthesizers.

 

Digital synths often offer more extensive polyphony, memory for storing presets, and integration with digital audio workstations (DAWs) through MIDI.

 

They are generally more portable and less expensive than their analog counterparts.

 

Now, let’s dive into the top 13 analog synthesizers for all music producers.

 

#1. Moog Mavis

 

Mavis - Unison

 

Moog’s Mavis emerges as a powerhouse in the realm of analog synthesizers, bringing the legendary Moog sound into a compact and affordable format. 

 

This synthesizer exemplifies the resurgence of analog synth popularity in recent years. 

 

Its semi-modular design offers a hands-on approach to sound creation, appealing to both beginners and seasoned musicians. 

 

Raw, Rich Tones

 

The raw, rich tones that Mavis produces are quintessentially Moog, influenced deeply by their longstanding brand history in the world of analog circuits. 

 

It’s a testament to Moog’s commitment to quality and innovation 一 making it a standout choice for music producers seeking authentic analog sounds.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Mavis2 - Unison

 

  • Semi-modular design with a wide range of patching options.
  • Monophonic sound with classic Moog oscillator and filter.
  • Versatile LFO software & envelope modules for dynamic sound shaping.
  • MIDI compatibility for integration with digital setups.
  • Compact and portable, perfect for on-the-go music creation.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#2. Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer

 

MicroBrute - Unison

 

The Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer is a testament to the power of compact analog synths.

 

It’s a small synth that punches way above its weight, delivering a sound so vast and powerful that it belies its size. 

 

The MicroBrute brand is a monophonic powerhouse, packed with: 

 

  • An impressive oscillator
  • A famous Steiner-Parker filter
  • An array of modulation options

 

It’s an ideal choice for musicians looking to explore analogue synthesis without sacrificing space or budget. 

 

With its rich features and intuitive design, this analog synthesizer stands as an excellent example of modern analog synthesizers.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

MicroBrute2 - Unison

 

  • Powerful single oscillator with multiple waveforms.
  • Steiner-Parker filter for rich and dynamic sound shaping.
  • Built-in sequencer and arpeggiator for complex rhythms.
  • Compact size, ideal for small studios and portable amplifier setups.
  • Extensive connectivity, including MIDI, for versatile use.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#3. Novation MiniNova Analog Modeling Synthesizer

 

MiniNova - Unison

 

The Novation MiniNova Analog Modeling Synthesizer is a digital synth that skillfully emulates the warmth and depth of its analog counterparts.

 

It’s a testament to how digital synths have evolved, offering a wide range of voices and effects.

 

The MiniNova is particularly notable for its vocoder and variety of filters, including: 

 

 

These allow for immense sound sculpting possibilities. 

 

Endless Sounds

 

This analog synthesizer is a favorite among music producers for its versatility, portability, and the sheer range of sounds it can produce.

 

It represents a perfect blend of digital precision and analog warmth 一 making it an essential tool in any modern music production setup.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

MiniNova2 - Unison

 

  • Advanced analog modeling engine with a wide range of sounds.
  • Built-in vocoder with unique vocal effects.
  • Extensive filter options include low-pass filter, high-pass, and band-pass.
  • Compact and portable design units, suitable for live performances.
  • 256 preset sounds with additional space for user patches.

 

#4. Korg microKorg 37-Key Analog Modeling Synthesizer

 

MicroKorg e1702169463128 - Unison

 

The Korg microKorg 37-Key Analog Modeling Synthesizer is a fusion of vintage charm and modern functionality. 

 

As a digital synth that emulates analog qualities, it stands out for its versatility and ease of use. 

 

The microKorg offers a vast range of sounds, from classic to contemporary (thanks to its powerful synthesis engine).

 

Portable & Approachable

 

Its 37 mini-keys make it both portable and approachable, while the inclusion of a vocoder adds an extra layer of creative potential. 

 

This analog synthesizer is a staple in the music production world 一 combining the best elements of analog synthesizers with the precision/flexibility of digital technology.

 

This makes it a top choice for musicians, audio engineers, and producers.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

MicroKorg2 e1702169505427 - Unison

 

  • Advanced analog modeling engine with versatile sound capabilities.
  • 37 mini-keys for a compact and user-friendly design.
  • Integrated vocoder for unique vocal manipulation details.
  • MIDI compatibility for seamless integration into modern setups.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#5. Korg MS20 Mini Monophonic Analog Synthesizer

 

MS20MINI - Unison

 

The Korg MS20 Mini Monophonic Analog Synthesizer is a faithful recreation of a classic, embodying the essence of analogue synthesis. 

 

This monophonic synthesizer is renowned for its raw, powerful sound and flexible semi-modular design. 

 

The MS20 Mini offers an immersive experience in sound design, thanks to its: 

 

  • Dual oscillators
  • Versatile filters
  • Patchable modulation options

 

Its authentic analog circuits deliver a sound that is both nostalgic and timeless. 

 

The MS20 Mini is more than just a musical instrument…

 

It’s a piece of history, offering any musician the opportunity to explore the roots of analog synthesis in a modern context.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

MS20MINI2 - Unison

 

  • True analog signal path for authentic sound quality.
  • Semi-modular design with extensive patching possibilities.
  • Dual oscillators created with selectable waveforms and sine/octaves.
  • High-pass/low-pass filters for dynamic sound shaping.
  • MIDI input for compatibility with digital gear.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#6. Elektron Syntakt 12-voice Drum Computer and Synthesizer

 

Syntakt - Unison

 

The Elektron Syntakt 12-voice Drum Computer and Synthesizer represents a groundbreaking hybrid of analog and digital synthesis. 

 

This innovative instrument combines powerful drum synthesis with melodic capabilities, offering a wide array of creative possibilities. 

 

12 Tracks

 

The Syntakt is equipped with 12 tracks, each capable of producing complex rhythms and melodies, thanks to its mix of analog and digital sound generators. 

 

Its 64-step sequencer and diverse range of effects make it an indispensable tool for modern music production. 

 

The Elektron Syntakt is a prime example of how synthesizers have evolved 一 bridging the gap between analog warmth and digital versatility.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Syntakt1 - Unison

 

  • 12 tracks for drum/melody synthesis with analog/digital engines.
  • 64-step sequencer for intricate rhythmic patterns.
  • Wide array of onboard effects units for creative sound processing.
  • Versatile connectivity options, including MIDI.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#7. ARP 2600 M Semi-modular Analog Synthesizer

 

ARP 2 - Unison

 

The ARP 2600 M Semi-modular Analog Synthesizer is a legendary instrument, revered in the music world for its incomparable sound and flexibility. 

 

As a semi-modular analog synth brand, it offers a perfect blend of preset routings and modular flexibility.

 

This makes it both approachable for beginners and rewarding for experienced users. 

 

Rich Sounds

 

This analog synthesizer is famous for its rich sound and has been a staple in the creation of numerous iconic tracks. 

 

Its robust build and intuitive design make it a timeless piece, continually influencing the landscape of music production with its unique sonic capabilities.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

ARP2 - Unison

 

  • Semi-modular design with both fixed routings and patchable modulation.
  • Built-in speakers and mechanical spring reverb for unique sound textures.
  • Versatile oscillators and filters for a wide range of sound possibilities.
  • MIDI input for integration with modern digital equipment.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers that will hook you in.

 

#8. Buchla Easel Command Desktop Synthesizer

 

Buchla2 - Unison

 

The Buchla Easel Command Desktop Synthesizer is a marvel in the world of analog synths, offering a distinctive approach to sound creation.

 

This semi-modular synthesizer is known for its unique West Coast synthesis style, which emphasizes complex waveforms and modulation. 

 

Easel Command

 

The Easel Command stands out with its focus on experimental and avant-garde soundscapes 一 encouraging musicians to explore and create sounds that are out of the ordinary.

 

Its compact design makes this analog synthesizer a desirable choice for those looking for a powerful yet space-efficient instrument.

 

This analog synth embodies the perfect fusion of artistic expression and analog synthesis.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Buchla - Unison

 

  • West Coast synthesis approach for unique sound exploration.
  • Semi-modular design with an array of patchable components.
  • Integrated spring reverb for lush soundscapes.
  • Emphasis on experimental and avant-garde sonic possibilities.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#9. Sequential Trigon-6 6-voice 49-key Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer

 

Trigon2 - Unison

 

The Sequential Trigon-6 is a polyphonic analog synthesizer that marks a new chapter in the realm of analog synths.

 

Its six voices and 49 keys offer unparalleled polyphonic capabilities 一 allowing for lush and complex soundscapes.

 

The inclusion of a unique analog ladder filter adds a new dimension to its sound.

 

It provides a warm and resonant quality that stands out even among high-quality analog synthesizers. 

 

Power and Versatility

 

It’s a favorite among professionals for its robust build, intuitive keyboard design, and the sheer range of sounds it can produce.

 

This makes it a prime example of the power and versatility of modern analog synths.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Trigon - Unison

 

  • 6-voice polyphony for rich and layered sound compositions.
  • 49-key keyboard for full-range output and playability.
  • Respected brand.
  • Unique analog ladder filter for warm and resonant sound shaping.
  • Multiple modulation sources for creative sound design.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#10. Oberheim OB-X8 8-voice Polyphonic Analog Synthesizer

 

Oberheim - Unison

 

The Oberheim OB-X8 stands as a monumental achievement in the world of analog synthesizers.

 

This 8-voice polyphonic synthesizer is a modern reinterpretation of the legendary Oberheim sound, beloved by musicians and artists for its rich, powerful character. 

 

Combination Synth

 

The OB-X8 combines the best features of classic Oberheim synths, offering an unmatched depth and warmth in its sound.

 

Its comprehensive control set, including pitch wheel and modulation options, allows for intricate sound shaping.

 

This analog synthesizer is not just an instrument 一 it’s a piece of musical history, reimagined for contemporary music production.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Oberheim2 - Unison

 

  • 8-voice polyphony, offering lush and complex sound layers.
  • Authentic Oberheim sound with a modern touch.
  • Extensive control options for detailed sound sculpting.
  • Pitch and modulation wheels for expressive playing.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#11. Minilogue

 

Minilogue e1702171970428 - Unison

 

The Minilogue synthesizer is a prime example of versatility and innovation in the analog synth market.

 

This four-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer is known for its user-friendly interface and powerful sound engine.

 

The Minilogue offers musicians a wide range of features, including a 16-step sequencer and multiple voice modes.

 

Versatile and Flexible

 

This makes it a versatile tool for various musical styles.

 

Its ultra sleek design and intuitive layout make it a favorite among both beginners and experienced synthesists.

 

The Minilogue created a perfect balance of performance, quality, and affordability in the world of analog synthesizers.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Minilouge2 - Unison

 

  • Four voices of polyphony for versatile sound creation.
  • Intuitive interface with a clear layout for easy operation.
  • 16-step sequencer for intricate pattern/octave creation.
  • Multiple voice modes for diverse sound possibilities.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

#12. Make Noise Strega

 

Strega e1702172242401 - Unison

 

The Make Noise Strega synthesizer is a unique and innovative addition to the world of analog synths.

 

It stands out with its focus on experimental sound creation, combining an analog oscillator with a lo-fi digital delay for unique textures. 

 

Touch-Sensitive Plates

 

This analog synthesizer is designed to encourage exploration and experimentation 一 featuring touch-sensitive plates that allow for real-time modulation and sound manipulation.

 

This synthesizer, like some Erica Synths, is ideal for musicians and producers looking to venture into unconventional sonic territories.

 

It offers a fresh perspective on analog synthesis.

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Strega2 - Unison

 

  • Unique design focused on experimental and unconventional sounds.
  • Combination of analog oscillator and lo-fi digital delay.
  • Touch-sensitive modulation plates for interactive sound shaping.
  • Compact form factor, suitable for modular/semi-modular setups.
  • Ideal for creative sound designers and musicians.

 

#13. Moog Mother-32

 

Moog1 - Unison

 

The Moog Mother-32 is an exceptional example of a semi-modular analog synthesizer, blending Moog’s rich sonic output with modern functionality.

 

This analog synthesizer is celebrated for its powerful sound engine and versatile patching options 一 making it a favorite in both studio and live settings. 

 

Intuitive Design

 

The Mother-32’s intuitive design and robust construction offer musicians a reliable and inspiring tool.

 

Its semi-modular architecture allows for both standalone operation and easy integration into larger modular setups.

 

This showcases the flexibility and depth that Moog is known for in the world of analog synthesizers.

 

Key Features of This Analog Synthesizer:

 

Moog2 - Unison

 

  • Semi-modular design with a wide range of patching possibilities.
  • Iconic Moog sound quality with a single oscillator and ladder filter.
  • Step sequencer/MIDI input for enhanced control and connectivity.
  • Robust build and intuitive layout/overtones.
  • Excellent for integration with Eurorack and other modular/semi-modular systems.
  • One of the best analog synthesizers.

 

Analog Synthesizer: Final Thoughts

 

The world of analog synthesizers is as diverse as it is fascinating.

 

Each analog synthesizer we’ve explored offers unique features and capabilities, contributing to the rich tapestry of sound available to today’s music producers.

 

Whether you’re drawn to the warmth of a Moog, the flexibility of a Korg, or the experimental nature of a Make Noise Strega, there’s an analog synth for you.

 

As you venture into the realm of analog synthesis, remember that the journey doesn’t end with hardware.

 

In the digital age, tools like Xfer Records’ Serum offer a bridge between the analog and digital worlds.

 

To help you get started, you have to check out the legendary free Serum Essentials pack, which includes 16 presets modeled after the very analog synths we’ve discussed.

 

This pack emulates the character and feel of analog synthesizers, giving you a taste of their unique sounds right within Serum.

 

It’s a perfect tool for those looking to blend the reliability and versatility of digital software with the rich tonality of analog synthesis.

 

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, the beauty of analog synthesizers lies in their ability to transform and elevate your tracks.

 

So, go discover the magical world of analog synthesis, and make tracks that are timeless and dynamic.

 

Until next time…

 

 

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