We realise there are many classic vintage synths that could be in our top 5, but we decided to limit this list to what is readily available right now and what we have personally tested. We have also kept this list as non - modular! That would be a whole other list and Modular is just that - modules!
We have put this synth as our No. One synth for a number of reasons. First and foremost this synth sounds great! It's so rich and thick sounding. Never does it sound cutting even when the filter is over driven - it just gets creamier. It can sound raw or lush! We love the 4 voices that can be used in a number of ways. Use the Analog 4 as a dedicated 4 voice polyphonic synth and create big lush pad textures or use each voice as 4 discrete mono synths, each with it's own dedicated sequencer track. The sequencer is also very useful. Each step of the sequencer can be a completely different sound using what Elektron call parameter locks. Although simple, the 3 effects sound tasty and enhance each sound rather than hide it.
Summary - Killer sound, 4 voices, great 4 track sequencer, nice effects and well built!
If I was looking for an analog synth strictly for bass this would be my go to. Moog are well known for producing solid, sub sonic tones and the Moog Sub 37 doesn't disappoint. I don't know what it is about this synth, but you just turn it on, hit a low note and there it is - big old pants splitting brown notes! It's just there, it just has it! Don't be fooled though, it's not all about bass with this bad boy. It can produce distinct shredding lead sounds, clanging metallic tones and subtle textures too. Did you notice the wooden ends - crafty!
Summary - Bass, Bass and more Bass! Fast attack, one knob per function, ripping tone!
The Modal 002 is a strange exotic beast. It actually has digital oscillators (gasp!) - the rest of this synth is analog. Although digital these oscillators sound more analog than a lot of analog oscillators i've heard - from modern to vintage synths. It has 12 voices of polyphony and we all know what that means - massive, expansive, pad textures. This synth has it by the bucket full. You only need to lean on this synth and out comes some giant of a sound, swirling around like a lizard with it's tail chopped off. It's built so well too. It just feels like money. The screen is bright, the knobs feel secure, the casing is metal. I love this synth! I love playing it and I love it's sound.
Summary - Beautiful British design, big open sound that goes for days, ethernet connectivity for upgrades and online community patch library. It is expressive though - at $7999 it's not for the faint hearted!
I know, I know... I hear you - "but this is not just analog!"
True, but it's a really special case. You can just run it as a fully analog synth or as a combination. I'm not going to break it down so I'll treat it as the synth that it is.
So the reason why I like it so much is that you can run it as a 4 voice fully analog polyphonic synth or a fully digital synth or a combination of both. Neat! Better still you can run the VCO's into a VFC and VCA followed by digital FX. You don't want digital FX? No problem use the analog ones. You want to add a digital wave form but the analog filter - easy just enable it.
The Roland JDXA is an underrated synth and one that really hasn't been given enough kudos. This is why we think it belongs in our top 5 analog synths.
Summary - Truly flexible synth architecture, rubbery - bouncy roland analog sound, not so well known.
A lot of you may be thinking why is this synth in your top 5, surely there's a heap more synths better than this one. There just may be but I really like this synth for its simple operation and raw, obviously analog sound. Yes, obviously analog because you turn it on and it just rips. The Arturia Minibrute is what black and white is to colour - stripped back, raw, retro and without pretension! No presets mean you pull up a sound and use it - no fuss no saving it for later. It's instant. This synth is the closest i've seen to a vintage analog synth in a modern design
Summary - simple, raw retro sound. Great value. No presets, just turn it on and make noise!
Well there you have it. You may agree or disagree but this is our top 5 analog synths based on the criteria set out above. We'd love to hear your top five so please add it in the comments.
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