First synthesizer

Hello all!
I want to buy my first synthesizer (I just have a Yamaha keyboard PSR E223).
I want something cheap and transportable but with minimum quality.
One thing that I love about synth is the sequencer (especially in “on the run” by Pink Floyd). So, if the synthesizer had that effect it would be great.

I had been researching on the internet and I found some that I think are interesting:

  • Microkorg XL
  • Novation Mininova
  • Alesis Micron

Concluding, I would like to know your opinion about these synthesizers and about any other that you think would fit my needs.

Forget all of these - a bit too complicated to learn synthesis and/or no sequencer.

Get an Arturia Microbrute.

I had a MicroKorg (old style) a few years back, have played a Micron, too (and since a number of others) and the ones you listed are fine ‘preset machines’ but I agree that they aren’t good for actually learning synthesis.

I do love my MicroBrute, though :slight_smile: Something with a direct knob-per-function interface is a good way to start, and the MicroBrutes have that along with a simplistic (and extremely simple to use) sequencer. And, if you end up wanting something more complex later, I think you’d still have uses for a MicroBrute since it’s got some character.

You’ll never hear someone in 15 years say “I need something that can give me that MicroKorg sound” since most of the virtual analogs which are typically used as entry level synths these days are strictly emulating other things.

It seems like you went by price, which is what I did at first, and I stumbled headlong into the Akai Miniak, which is a Alesis Micron in a different package.

It bloody sucks for learning synthesis on, and so does the Mininova, unless you like VST plugins, in which case you would be better off buying one of those.

Microbrute or Minibrute seem like good ideas, but make sure you know what they are before ordering one and discovering that you dislike it.

Happy first synhbuyingdaythatturnsintoanobsessionOBEY HIM, WORSHIP HIM, the high lord Dalek.

I had a Micron for a long time and it taught me next to nothing about synthesis (the interface is hidden away behind menus on a tiny screen). It is actually one of the best sounding virtual analogs, and certainly at those prices, but don’t let it’s looks fool you: it isn’t meant to be your first synth.

I second the Microbrute: It will teach you the most important things you need to learn about analog subtractive synthesis (Oscillator, Filter, LFOs, Amplifier and Envelopes), and it’s actually analog.

Plus, it will give you the sequencer you want (an ultra simple and very good sequencer, at that), and give you 2 things everyone getting into synths always ends up wanting sooner or later: a MIDI to CV interface and a CV controller. Considering the analog craze and the fact more and more synths are fully analog or digitally controlled analog with some kind of CV implementation (If you don’t know, CV is “Control Voltage” and it’s a system for controlling things like sequencers and syncing the tempo of one synth to another that existed before the digital system that accomplishes the same thing, MIDI), it’s a high quality and inexpensive intro to this wonderful world of music, gear obsession, and bankruptcy =)

The first thing you should do is play with some at a local store if you can. You will discover what you like and what you don’t faster that way.
I wouldn’t suggest getting a monosynth as a first synthesizer because you will most likely want to play chords. Another great feature of most modern monosynths is the ability to process external sound though the filter, but as you have no other synthesizers - that seems to be a moot point.
Really, I would suggest getting an AKAI Miniak on sale, it is a good synthesizer. It is annoying to program, but it sounds good and you can use it as a vocoder. The mic that comes with it is very nice actually.
You will also need other equipment like an audio interface and a USB to Midi converter if you want to use your synthesizer with your DAW. So going cheap is good because there is other stuff to get. The second-hand market is a bit over-priced at the moment, so buying a new synth may not be a bad idea.

must already know if you want a monophonic synth (one note at a time) or polyphonic because it´s very important to make your choice.
Microbrute, Minibrute are monophonic.
Microkorg XL – Novation Mininova – Alesis Micron are polyphonic.
DSI MOPHO 4x si à good choise, polyphonie 4 voices, 4 tracks sequencer ans keyboard. (DSI TETRA is the same without keyboard.


I got a TX802 for $80

you just have to be patient!

@RyanA4: That is what it is worth. Also, patience really does pay off, I can attest to that!
However, I have seen some CRAZY prices recently. Especially on “beginner” synths.

Do you own an iPad? In that case get the Microbrute as a mono and use its keyboard to play a good soft synth (e.g. Waldorf’s Nave) on your iPad as your poly.

"cheap and transportable but with minimum quality " with a pattern sequencer -> Have you ever considered building a Shruthi ? :slight_smile:

$80 for a 6 OP FM, multi-timbral, 8 voice synth with a much much better and easier interface than the internet says, and it has, 8 individual and 2 mixed outputs?

If that synth was for sale today it would expensive.

It’s going up in price as kids are all asking everywhere “how do I make this bass sample?” and the answer is increasingly FM. The 802 sounds awesome as well! It’s a DX7II with multitimbrality! How is that only worth $80? The VST that emulates it costs more!

Shruthi fails the “minimum quality” condition. But an XT would be great as a first Synth….

But yes lesser synths are selling for much more than that. People like vintage stuff. It makes your music better and people respect you more because more than 1% of people on earth can tell the difference between FM8 and a DX7II on a recording, right?

Yes, 80$ for that is good. No it would not be that expensive if it were released today. I have FM synths, and I guess that I really just prefer the TG33. I don’t really care for the DX7.
Also, the lately bass preset is a 4 OP patch, it is available on most FM synths, including ones even cheaper than 80$.

I thought “minimum quality” was defined by sound not number of voices.

especially for sound Shruthi fails the “minimum quality” category, doesn’t it?

I have a Wavestation A/D so a TG33 would be a bit redundant (and they’re never up for sale around here). I really wanted a TG77 but I only ever see the SY77/85/99 and they sell for $300-400.

I didn’t have an FM synth and this came up at a “non vintage” price. Of course I’m going to buy it for $80.

@RyanA4: Just to be clear, that is a good synth at a good price. That was definitely a great buy for you as you have no FM synth. Also, there is a reason the TG33 is never for sale. It has the same heart of the Wavestation, but completely different sonic results. The “tone” feature is definitely unique as it gives pseudo filter like EQing to 2OP FM waves. Not sweepable with an envelope, but still very usable. It also has great 12 bit samples and not just waveforms. The piano is pretty cool, and the drum kits are from the RX series. It is just very very usable. You are stuck with 2 FM waves and 2 sample waves though. No way around that.

A Wavestation A/D has - besides the Vectory Joystick - next to nothing in common with a TG 33…. its like saying i don’t need a VS because my Nintendo has a joystick as well.