what's a good first synthesizer?


I wanna buy my first synthesizer but I’m not 100% sure yet what to get.

nice to have’s:

  • standalone
  • portable
  • affordable
  • step sequencer with recording
  • midi in/out

on my list are:

  • Volca FM (willing to learn FM synthesis for it)
  • MicroMonsta
  • Novation Circuit

I had an OP-1 but wasn’t into it.
what would you recommend? and what’s your first synth?

1 Like



Perhaps add Korg Minilogue or Monologue to the list? Both great affordable synthesizers and fairly portable.

Novation Circuit is the one that stands out from the rest being a small combination of synth, sampler, drum machine and sequencer. Almost a little workstation.

I think you need to define a little bit more what you want to be able to do with the synth/workstation? Since Volca FM, MicroMonsta and Circuit are all very different type of synths. All three are very fun and fairly easy to use.

I have a collection of synthesizers. Everything from old analogues such as Yamaha CS-5 to more modern synths like the MiniBrute, Reface CS and so forth.

So I’d say it depends a lot on what you want to be able to do with your first synth.

1 Like

I had both the minilogue and monologue in mind, but find them too normal for their price tag and don’t like the piano-like keys.

the synths on my list are so different because I eventually wanna get them all and use them together, it’s more like… which one should I get first? :stuck_out_tongue:

I want to start with a synth I can use with my pc or jam on the couch, table or take with me. (for on-the-go I have my PO’s)
I want to make full songs on it or live record on my pc.
nice to have is: I want to control my DAW with it, in my case that is currently FL Studio.

so I guess the only one of them which can do all that, is the Circuit!

I apreciate your comment, but like you wrote, it’s a midi controller.

You are against the fact that I expressed my opinion, posting a picture? I can remove.

For since I linked the wrong main adapter to my keyboard and the drumloop started to sound weird, smoke came thru the speakers wich melted into each other, I prefer plug ins alot! ;D

1 Like

I didn’t say that, but we’re talking about synths… so it makes sense to show your first synth, right? no need to remove it.

Sounds like a groove box might be up your alley? Since you like the concept of the Circuit.

Perhaps a Korg Electribe? They contain both sequencers, rhythm and synth parts. Very affordable and portable.

They’re not pure synths. But seem to suit more what you’re after. To begin with.

Do you know about the Elektron synths? Perhaps out of your price range? A used Analog 4 isn’t that expensive and a great synth.

1 Like

it’s great that the Circuit can do so much, but at the same time I want a good synthesizer… since the Synth is just a part of the Circuit, I’m not sure if it can do itself justice to compromise and shine as a synth.

the MicroMonsta is perfect, but then I need a seperate Midi Sequencer… so ideally I’d get it after the Circuit.

I’m not into the Electribe for various reasons.
the Elektron series seem awsm, but even used they’re pretty expensive.

I think you will benefit from buying synths dedicated to what they are good at.

May I ask why don’t want keys on the synth? Both Monologue and Minilogue has sequencers.

Also, have you looked at the latest series from Roland. JX-03 and the rest of the boutique series? They have step sequencers as well.

The Elektrons are great. I’ve had both the original A4 and MachineDrum. Getting the new Analog 4 soon and the Analog Rytm later on.

1 Like

the Monologue seemed very attractive as a first synth, but then I saw reviews and comments and got the idea that it is more like a stripped down Minilogue… but for me 575.– is a heavy price tag for a first synth.

my (foolish) reasons why I rejected them:

  1. it takes up more space on my table.
  2. I’m not good at playing keys.
  3. the minilogue seemed more attractive and feature rich and is polyphonic (while monologue is not) but a bit too pricey.

the Elektron ones are just too much for me to justify it.

now I realized the monologue and minilogue just sound too generic to me.

conclusion: I’m gonna buy a JX-03, because it really has all I want and more!

Ah, great that you found something you like.

Sorry for the late reply. Busy weekend. The boutique series all have different strengths. I really like the new SH-01A. The SH-101 clone with extra features. A little bit more expensive than the JX-03.

no worries… yea, that one also looked and sounded interesting too, and that green is awsm… but that price makes a difference, since I also got the Keys for it.

found out that these are limited editions and it was the last JX03 they had, so lucky… that can only mean that Roland is cooking something new, otherwise they could’ve sold millions of these units.

I’m sure you gonna be happy with it. There’s always time to expand if you want. There’s so many smaller, fairly cheap and good synthesizers out there right now.

I would expand it like next year…
on my watch/wishlist are:

  • Bastl Dude
  • MicroMonsta
  • OP-Z
  • Atmegatron (not sure about that one but it looks interesting)

they’re not cheap, but special… but for now I’m fine :smiley:

The OP-Z sure is interesting in the sense that it’s very portable. Has some great features. I was at TE’s office a couple of weeks ago when they had garage sale. They’re moving offices. Picked up a couple of Pocket Operators for $5 a pop.

Played a little with the Atmegatron. A friend has one. Fun little synth with a very specific sound.

Why do you want the Bastl Dude if I may ask? It’s just a small battery powered mixer.