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Our desire to synthesize sounds has never seen such a diverse and feature-rich range of options.

With synthesizers, we want big sounds, lots of control and that certain something wrapped up in a stylish electronic musical instrument. Whether it’s for sound design, composing, basslines or massive cinematics synthesizers keep evolving and reaching parts we never knew existed. While some recreate a vintage perspective others push us into the future with new ideas and blends of technology – it’s an exciting time to be into synths.

In this roundup of the best synthesizers of 2022, I’m looking at recent synths that really bring something awesome to our fingers and our ears.

Our picks for the best synthesizers of 2022 include:

  • Sequential Take 5
  • Dreadbox Nymphes
  • Korg Modwave
  • Arturia PolyBrute
  • Modal Electronics Cobalt8
  • Reco-Synth Mutuca FM
  • Roland Jupiter-X
  • UDO Super 6

Want to explore more synths? Check out our previous articles on the best cheap synthesizers under $100, awesome synths under $500, best modular synths, best polysynths, and top eurorack synths.

But first, some FAQs:

Your Questions About Synths Answered

How do I choose a synthesizer?

Robin Vincent

Your first consideration is going to be the cost because the price of a synthesizer can vary from around a hundred dollars, like a Behringer Crave, to many thousands, such as the Sequential Pro 3. Once you have an idea of your budget then the next factor will be the type of sound or synthesis you want to play with.

Do you want classic vintage sounds like the Mutuca FM? Do you want digital sounds with presets like the Korg Modwave? Are you after monophonic basslines and melody or big pads and multiple layers? Think about the sort of music you like and want to make and let that guide your decision and if you can, go to a music shop and try some out.

What's the best synthesizer for beginners?

Robin Vincent

Something simple that has the ability to run its own tunes and can be easily expanded. That means a synth with a sequencer so you can enjoy the running of notes while you play with the sound design.

Good examples would be the TD-3 from Behringer (based on the classic Roland TB-303 bassline) or the Modal Craft Synth 2.0 for its unique range of sounds. For something larger with polyphony and a proper keyboard, I’d look at the Korg Minilogue XD as a great synth to start your synthesis journey with.

How much is a good synthesizer?

Robin Vincent

Behringer has released a bunch of great synths from around $150 to $300 which offer a thoroughly decent synthesizer experience, from the TD-3 to the CAT. But the more you spend the greater the depth, the bigger the sound, and the wider the possibilities.

Pushing up towards $500, you could snag the Dreadbox Typhon, or a Korg Monologue or Behringer MS-1 monosynths.

You’d need to head above $500 to get into polysynths like the Dreadbox Nymphes, Modal Cobalt8, and Korg Modwave.

Once you are past $1,000 then the world is your oyster with big keyboards, fat monosynths, and your choice of varied and astonishing synthesis — but great little synths don’t have to cost the earth.

Best Synthesizers 2022

On to this year’s best synthesizers.

Sequential Take 5

While any one of Sequential’s synthesizers could make it on to this list their latest instrument puts their design and sound generation capabilities into the hands of the biggest audience yet with the affordable Take 5 compact Polysynth.

Take 5 is a 5-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer using two analog VCOs and a sub-oscillator per voice. The sound is sculpted through a classic Prophet-5 style 4-pole filter giving that warm, smooth and punchy sound that is recognisably Sequential. To keep things authentic Take 5 has a “Vintage” knob that deepens the divisions between components for some genuine character. There’s plenty of modulation, a 64-step sequencer and multimode arpeggiator to keep things moving before hitting the digital effects.

It may have only 44 keys but that makes this more portable and gig-proof than any previous Sequential synth and the Fatar keybed ensures it has an even and premium feel. You can even split the keyboard into two creative zones to maximise the sound and playability potential.

While it’s still not a bargain basement price it’s the cheapest way into the Sequential family and is difficult to beat in its range.

Street Price: $1,499

Dreadbox Nymphes

Every now and then something comes along that’s a little bit special. Nymphes from Dreadbox is one such synthesizer that somehow packs 6-voices of gorgeous analog sound into a tastily small desktop unit with great control and a stunning price.

Dreadbox isn’t trying to be all synths to everyone but it knows what it is and performs that function perfectly. It oozes fat unison basslines, radiates warm gooey pads and wants to help you find your joy in synthesis.

It has a classic polyphonic analog architecture that’s straight out of the 1980s. It has a single oscillator with variable waveshape feeding into a low and high pass filter controlled by ADSR envelopes and a pair of LFOs. The LFOs seem to have a life of their own with groovy delay and fade functions that take you all the way up to audio rate modulation.

The sliders on the front double up for accessing dual functions that save space while still giving you that hardware feel. A simple menu system unlocks playing modes, modulation options and the fabulous chord mode for capturing notes for instant one-finger playback.

Nymphes does lack effects and some of the functions are hidden but with a MIDI controller and a couple of effects pedals, it is genuinely superb for the price.

Street Price: $599

Korg Modwave

Wavetables are all about movement, modulation and dynamics and the Korg Modwave has all that in spades. Filled full of wavetables and coupled with rich analog filters it reflects the idea of the classic 1985 DW-8000 synthesizer and takes it to a whole other level.

Each of the two oscillators can access over 200 wavetables containing up to 64 waveforms. If you run out of waves then you can also add your own with a simple piece of software. Hidden away there’s also a bank of PCM sample-based instruments so you can blend regular sounds with the weirdest and most varied selection of waveforms you’ll find anywhere.

But wavetables are nothing if they don’t move, well, the Modwave has over 30 modifiers to push, pull and twist the waveforms, filters and other parameters into new sonic territory. The Motion Sequencing engine gives you per-step control over the movement of notes and modulation of parameters so that every key-strike is an adventure. And then over on the left is an XY pad with a physics-based Kaoss engine for real-time interaction and multi-dimensional modulation. This thing moves!

You have multiple filter models, two layers of sound, digital effects, randomisation and gigabytes of sounds. This is one fun little monster synth that punches well about its weight and price point.

Street Price: $849

Arturia PolyBrute

Ever since Arturia released the MatrixBrute 3 oscillator analog synthesizer in 2016 people have been wondering what a proper polyphonic version would sound like. Arturia took their time but their answer to that question is the PolyBrute and it’s fabulous.

PolyBrute is a 6-voice analog synthesizer with a raw and exciting sound coupled with an expressive interface that elevates it to a new level of playability. It has a powerful modulation engine that can be patched into anything while offering a limitless supply of tones as you morph seamlessly from one preset to another. And then it pours itself through a digital effects processor, bounced around by an arpeggiator and motioned by a sequencer.

This is not just a synth, it’s an instrument. It has a ribbon controller like on the classic Yamaha CS-80 for slides and stretches and then it has the Morphée touch and pressure sensitive 3D controller for inhabiting sounds and bringing the touch of the virtuoso to your movements.

PolyBrute has 2 analog VCOs per voice, dual filters combining a Steiner Parker filter with a Ladder filter in series or parallel, 3 LFOs, 3 envelopes and a 12×32 modulation matrix for keeping everything moving. It’s not lacking in any area of form or function and will keep you in analog synthesis heaven.

Street Price: $2,699

Modal Cobalt8

The Cobalt8 is the sort of synthesizer that makes you smile. It’s the most easy going synth I’ve played in a long time. Every time you touch it it sounds golden and as you play and move and tweak and get deeper in it rewards you by sounding brilliant.

Cobalt8 is a virtual analog synthesizer which means it digitally recreates analog sounds and waveforms. This means that you can start with more complex waveforms than a traditional analog synth and then morph between, mix and blend together in interesting ways and enjoy the way it sounds. You have up to 8 voices of polyphony with 8 oscillators per voice. The oscillators are split into 2 groups giving you this mixing of algorithms that produces some wonderful tones.

Modal has curated these waveforms for you and included a couple of key parameters to play with that best suit that waveform. So there are elements where you feel looked after and guided rather than being fully open to explore but that’s why this synth is so immediately pleasing. You don’t need to be a Sound Designer or Engineer to discover fantastic sounds, all you have to do is play.

Cobalt8 is great value for money, fun to play, looks fantastic and is available in a 37-key, 61-key or desktop version. Who could ask for more?

Street Prices:
Cobalt8m – $649
Cobalt8 – $749
Cobalt8X – $819

RecoSynth Mutuca FM

Reco-Synth makes classic synths to die for. The sort of thing that sounds fantastic while looking completely fabulous in the way only a piece of vintage gear can. While it is not dripping with features the Mutuca FM is beautiful, fat and full of character.

It has two analog 3340 VCOs and a matched transistor 24dB/Oct low pass filter giving it that classic vintage synth sound. From there it’s the simplicity of the VCA and ADSR combination that makes this the ideal place to discover the joys of synthesis. What’s particularly special about the Mutuca FM is how you feed the second oscillator back into the first for some crazy FM sounds.

It can be controlled via the quirky button keyboard or you can plug in a MIDI controller for more nuanced playing. And check out the VU meter on the output.

These are handmade boutique synths that are as stunning as they are rare and Reco-Synth is always coming up with new instruments.

Street Price: $649

Roland Jupiter-X

The Jupiter-X is Roland’s flagship synthesizer that owes much to the legacy of the legendary Jupiter-8. It couples together Roland’s futuristic world of modelled synthesis with the hands-on vintage vibe of their classic heritage synths. It’s a lovely looking synthesizer.

The Jupiter-X runs on Roland’s innovative ZEN-Core synthesis engine which has the power to perfectly model all of Roland’s synthesizers down to the last component and offer them up with masses of polyphony, hyper-modern effects and the finest detail of editing. If you wanted every synthesizer in one instrument then that’s the Jupiter-X and it’s growing all the time.

Combining classic tones with futuristic synthesis techniques results in a very unusual sound generating environment where sounds that never existed before are born and evolve into unmapped sonic territory. You have multiple layers with simultaneous arpeggiators working different things into different places, rhythms and adventures.

The Jupiter-X is definitely a synthesizer for the explorer, for the people who like to experiment and bring creative ideas together in sonic forms. The hardware itself is built to last and would look beautiful in any studio. And with the software editor, you can integrate it fully into your DAW.

Jupiter-X is a super-synth. And if it all seems a bit too much then there’s a smaller version, the Jupiter-Xm with the same ZEN-Core engine in smaller form.

Street Price: 
Jupiter-X – $2579
Jupiter-Xm – $1499

UDO Super 6

My last selection is the futuristic 12-voice polyphonic binaural analog hybrid synthesizer called the Super 6 from UDO Audio. It’s been a long time coming but it’s promised for this year and has been blowing minds wherever it’s demonstrated.

Super 6 looks like a sci-fi adventure in sound synthesis, combining familiar controls with fantastical sound quality and state-of-the-art technology. It’s all based in FPGA technology, which means the entire synthesizer engine operates inside a digital brain while being manipulated and modulated by control voltage and analog controls. It exudes rich and evolving textures filled from the super-wavetable core and sent down a binaural analog signal path with stereo and spatial effects.

You wouldn’t have heard anything quite like it, while at the same time it conjures up dreams of Oberheim and other fat analog polysynths. It has plenty of modulation, an arpeggiator and sequencer, 24-bit digital effects, and 128 presets.

The potential inside this synth is enormous and we’ve not yet scratched the surface.

Street Price: $2,500

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