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