Which Beginner Synth?

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I’m on the synth hunt I’m looking for something that keeps me entertained and doesn’t end up gathering dust. Which would you recommend out of Korg Minilogue XD, Korg Minilogue, Yamaha Reface DX or CS?
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  • JMP220478JMP220478 Frets: 319
    edited April 1
    Buy a midi controller / workstation n use a laptop or ipad / tablet - n buy some soft synths / apps etc - much cheaper way to go imho  - and less redundancy if you decide what you buy is not for you .. 

    as an example - PC / Mac 

    https://www.arturia.com/store/analog-classics/analoglab

    for Ipad 

    https://www.arturia.com/products/ipad-synths/iprophet/overview


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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 28220
    edited April 1
    JMP220478 said:
    Buy a midi controller / workstation n use a laptop or ipad / tablet - n but some soft synths / apps etc - much cheaper way to go imho 
    This is usually the best way to start. ^^^

    But if you want a hardware synth then it is good to identify what sorts of sounds you like.
    Analogue, digital, virtual analogue, FM, additive, subtractive, wavetable etc?
    Do you want polyphony, or happy with a mono synth?
    Do you require multi-trimbrality?

    IMHO skill with a specific synth is dependant upon two things- 1) technique 2) time spent experimenting with the synth.
    It is almost never the specific synth that determines how good it sounds- they all sound pretty good these days- it is how you use it.

    So pick one you like the look of, with the right architecture and dig deep.


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  • builttospillbuilttospill Frets: 414
    Great advice @JMP220478 and @octatonic think I’d prefer polyphony. I’d prefer a hardware based synth as I want to get away from computers and tablets And I love physical keys. I love all genres of music, sounds textures etc from terrible cheesy eighties up to nineties, ambient, post-rock, experimental soundscape stuff.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 28220
    edited April 1
    OK, personally I would stay away from anything with mini keys.
    If you want polyphony then Virtual Analogue is probably the way to go.
    You will get many more voices than you will from a true analogue device.

    Do you have a maximum price in mind?
    I would buy used- there are a lot of bargains out there.

    A few used bargains worth considering- Roland JP8000, Korg MS2000, Novation Supernova (you'd need a keyboard), Nord Lead 2, any of the Access Virus models.
    The Virus is the top of the food chain VA, for most people.
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 6880
    Korg Minilogue XD, Korg Minilogue, Yamaha Reface DX or CS?
    For the immediacy of just twiddling the controls to find out what they do, a pre-owned Minilogue is a good start.

    Part of me wants to recommend a Behringer Pro-1 clone but this is monophonic. On the other hand, its sounds will ALWAYS be usable.


    Be seeing you.
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  • blobbblobb Frets: 1480
    Novation KS (rack & a cheap midi keys or full with keys - KS4 or 5) is a great hands on starter synth. Well laid out and ideal for learning how all the features interact.  Very intuative, 'Liquid' sound. Underrated.


    Feelin' Reelin' & Squeelin'
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  • paulmapp8306paulmapp8306 Frets: 642
    edited April 1
    Deep Mind 6 or 12 (budget dependant).

    The 6 is similar price to the Minilogue XD - but has 2 extra note polyphony.  Its got full sized keys with aftertouch, a good FX section as well as nicely laid out controls - and its proper analogue as well.

    Miniloguie XD is good - but mini keys and 4 notes might restrict you.

    A little more gets you a Studiologoic sledge which is a large board (both in key count and physical size), but actually really nice and great to learn subtractive synthesis on.  Its VA not true analogue but still sounds pretty good. 

    If you want to go the minilogoe route - the XD version is a LOT better than the original.  The 3rd open source oscillator opens up a lot of sonic potential.  Its a solid choice IF you can put up with 37 keys, IF your happy with mini keys and IF your happy with 4 notes (fine for leads, basses and held chord pads).

    Personally I wouldnt go softsynth to learn.   Actually grabbing a real know and twisting it - or tow at once and seeing the result is a FAR better way to learn that manipulating a mouse on a PC - IMO.


    All that said - things need considering.  As octotonic says, mini keys arnt great IMO.   Budget is a must to recommend.  I was guessing given the synths you suggested you in  £500 ish range.  Might/will put a lot of options out of reach.

    Then there the type of sounds you like.   Are you a 70s bleep/bloop guy - and 80s poly analogue man, do you prefer wavetable, or FM synthesis (neither that great to learn on but offer different tones).  Are you a 90s dance/rave type person - which would need a different base of sounds (such as the JP8000 supersaws).  Do you want evolving trance/ambient sounds?  All those choice will change recommendations.

    Ultimately though - for basic subtractive synthesis, to learn Oscilators, filters, LFOs, Envelopes, FX, Sequencing etc - I still recon the Deep mind would be my 1st choice.


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  • Macca_25387Macca_25387 Frets: 65
    Behringer Deepmind 6 might be worth a look. It was my first synth. 
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  • chotu495chotu495 Frets: 112
    Deepmind 6 or 12 are great.

    also, take a look at the Modal Argon 8. Similar pricing to Minilogue xd, and new to market and very well received. British company too.


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  • builttospillbuilttospill Frets: 414
    Thanks all! will take a look at these two... still liking the look of the Arturia MicroFreak 
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 28220
    Thanks all! will take a look at these two... still liking the look of the Arturia MicroFreak 
    I love that synth. 
    I use it all the time.
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  • builttospillbuilttospill Frets: 414
    octatonic said:
    Thanks all! will take a look at these two... still liking the look of the Arturia MicroFreak 
    I love that synth. 
    I use it all the time.
    Would you recommend the MicroFreak? It looks fun and seems to have a good reputation... 
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  • paulmapp8306paulmapp8306 Frets: 642
    I NEARLY bout one lol.   It was the 4 voice Para-phonic rather than poly that put me off.   What it can do for its price is ridiculous though.

    Probably would suggest it for a first synth - if only because the control surface isnt normal.  Its touch sensitive keys, so velocity isnt registered, aftertouch is how much skin you make contact with the keys with.   If you just want to learn synthesis It might be an option, but its not really something to learn to play on.
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  • octatonicoctatonic Frets: 28220
    octatonic said:
    Thanks all! will take a look at these two... still liking the look of the Arturia MicroFreak 
    I love that synth. 
    I use it all the time.
    Would you recommend the MicroFreak? It looks fun and seems to have a good reputation... 
    Paul nails it above.
    If you want something to learn to play on a keyboard with then choose something else.
    It is a fun synth and can do some interesting things- as a first synth... I dunno- yeah maybe.

    I was using the keyboard earlier to send CV to Maths and then to the Eurorack guitar looper before.
    It was hilarious fun.
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  • KDSKDS Frets: 103
    As others have said deepmind 6 or 12, on saying that I ended up buying a nord A1, sounds great and really easy to do
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  • chotu495chotu495 Frets: 112
    Yeah, the microfreak looks good!

    Careful, i started out looking to get a minilogue xd, then saw the Modal (not released at that time), and actually ended up with a DSI Rev2, Arturia Minibrute2 and a behringer crave. Oh, and a Elektron Digitakt  =)

    They all play nicely with reverb and delay pedals as well.

    You could get a microfreak for now, then once the zombie apocalypse is over, go and try the others....they are all ace!
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  • builttospillbuilttospill Frets: 414
    chotu495 said:
    Yeah, the microfreak looks good!

    Careful, i started out looking to get a minilogue xd, then saw the Modal (not released at that time), and actually ended up with a DSI Rev2, Arturia Minibrute2 and a behringer crave. Oh, and a Elektron Digitakt  =)

    They all play nicely with reverb and delay pedals as well.

    You could get a microfreak for now, then once the zombie apocalypse is over, go and try the others....they are all ace!
    How do you find the MiniBrute 2? 
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  • chotu495chotu495 Frets: 112
    The minibrute2 is very good. I got it because i was after an analogue synth with a hint of modular.

    Sadly for the mb2, I got a prophet rev2 soon after, and it kinda spoiled it! 

    Take a look at the loopop stuff on all your options. I’ve put a couple below for you. Decent reviews.

    Mb2 : https://youtu.be/rc7QCOe5lcw

    microfreak : https://youtu.be/-ZmwOaWNmcs

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  • clarke_111clarke_111 Frets: 48
    I’ve just got into synths and picked up a drumbrute impact and the microfreak. The microfreak is great, still very much learning it; but personally I love the key board-but wasn’t to fussed on ‘tradition’. 

    For the money it is incredible 
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  • althyalthy Frets: 92
    edited June 6
    the reface CS is the best sounding one and easiest to get great sounds with. It has less possibilities overall but the frequencies are just always right. Presets are only available via an app and not hardware switchable.

    The DX can access something like 20 presets and there is pretty good ones available both factory and 3rd party ones.
    It is FM synthesis which means loads of possibilies but a steep learning curve for most people.
    The keys on the reface series are the best mini keys I've played. 

    they both have decent built in speakers very cool for home practice.

    The minilogue is good but I don't enjoy the sound that come out of it. It lacks "roundness" to my taste and is not as plug and play as the 2 others you mentioned.
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  • DrCorneliusDrCornelius Frets: 2310
    I bought the Behringer model D at the start of lockdown as something new to dabble in. It was quickly stolen by my son and it sounds brilliant through his bedroom door I must say
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  • After decades not thinking about it I succumbed and bought myself a second hand Arturia Microbrute. It’s been lots of fun  so far, and far more expressive than you’d think for something with a single oscillator.

    The mini keys don’t bother me (I don’t have sausage fingers), and although it’s monophonic with a USB cable it works as a polyphonic keyboard for software synths on my iPad.
    When I'm done I turn it off, or the photocopying will not stop!
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  • I’ve just got into synths and picked up a drumbrute impact and the microfreak. The microfreak is great, still very much learning it; but personally I love the key board-but wasn’t to fussed on ‘tradition’. 

    For the money it is incredible 
    How are you finding the drumbrute impact? 
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