What’s the best ‘first synth’ for be­gin­ners?

Future Music - - ADVICE -

You might think that choos­ing a first synth would be easy – de­cide on your price point, look at the re­views and choose the one that scores high­est – but it’s not quite as sim­ple as that. Buy­ing a sin­gle synth that may, for a time at least, be played in iso­la­tion, is a very dif­fer­ent thing to adding one to an ex­ist­ing setup, as it needs to be re­ward­ing to use as a stand­alone piece of gear. It also needs to be af­ford­able, easy to learn on, de­cent sound­ing and with the po­ten­tial to be­come part of a broader setup in the fu­ture.

If you want a key­board that you can make com­plete songs on, you could do worse than go for a work­sta­tion. Korg’s Kross 2 is a pretty good bet on this side of the mar­ket – it comes with loads of sounds and also fea­tures a se­quencer, sam­pler and au­dio recorder, and the fact that it con­tains a USB au­dio in­ter­face as well means that you’re well set if you want some­thing that can be used in con­junc­tion with a com­puter and DAW. The 61-note ver­sion of the Kross 2 can be had for £689.

While a work­sta­tion is cer­tainly a prac­ti­cal choice, this isn’t a synth in the purest sense, and might not quite have the ‘cool fac­tor’ that you’re look­ing for. To be on-trend, an ana­logue synth may ap­peal, but though an af­ford­able mono­phonic model may sound tempt­ing, there’s only a cer­tain amount that you can do with it on its own.

If you can push your bud­get a lit­tle, you could go for some­thing like Roland’s JD-Xi. Not only does this fea­ture a mono­phonic ana­logue en­gine, but it also comes stuffed with dig­i­tal sounds, all of which can be brought to­gether with the four-part on­board pat­tern se­quencer. Fur­ther bonuses in­clude a built-in vocoder and two-in/two-out au­dio in­ter­face. If you can put up with mini keys, at £459 it’s hard to ar­gue with as far as value for money is con­cerned.

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