Best Synthesizer Keyboard Review – Top Rated Models in 2019 with Buying Guide
If you are looking for the best synthesizer keyboard out there, but you lack time to read what the specialists say about this topic, we’ve got you covered. After going through countless product reviews and feedback comments, we have concluded that the Korg microKorg is the product that is worth your time and money. This top-selling highly trusted unit has an integrated, 8-Band vocoder (with an included gooseneck mic) that allows the user to select an arpeggiator and add new sounds to the music being played. Additionally, the model also features 37 mini-keys, a 2-Band EQ, 3 Delay Modes, and 128 presets that can be edited whenever you consider it necessary. If the Korg microKorg is out of stock, do consider the Korg Minilogue 4-Voice as it is a reliable unit that you might also enjoy using.
Our Top Choice
The product is extremely compact, making it the number one choice of clients who travel a lot and require an item that can be easily set up. The user-friendly panel can be deciphered even by newbies, without requiring instructions or tutorials. Another great feature of this synthesizer is that it allows you to adjust the sound of each note.
Some customers claimed the item is quite outdated and doesn’t deliver an authentic sound.
This synthesizer is compatible with most Windows and Mac OS versions, allowing you to use it with your favorite laptop.
What we liked the most about this Korg item is the number of available functions. It comes with 100 sounds and 200 program memories. The menu is intuitive and easy to use, which makes it perfect for beginners who just started experimenting with music. The Oscilloscope function allows you to visually see the waveform.
The soft case isn’t included in the price, so you’ll have to purchase it separately.
Most users were pleased with their acquisition, claiming this item is easy to use. It comes with many useful features.
Featuring a compact and lightweight design, this is the mini version of the popular Korg MS20. Thanks to the dual filters, you can create a wide variety of sounds, allowing you to experiment with various musical genres. It is portable and very practical for those who are always on the move but still require a unit of high-performance.
Since we are talking about the mini version, some of the dials seem small and more difficult to operate.
Purchase this item if you don’t want to sacrifice quality over portability. Customers said the sounds delivered are hard to compete with.
10 Best Synthesizer Keyboards (Reviews) in 2019
Because we know just how tricky finding a good synthesizer keyboard can be, we took it upon ourselves to put together a list of top-notch products that you should have on your mind before you decide what product to buy. So, read ahead and select the unit that you consider the most appropriate.
- 1. Korg Microkorg 37 Key Analogue Modelling Synthsizer
- 2. Korg Minilogue 4-Voice Polyphonic Analog Synth with Presets
- 3. MS20 Mini – Korg – 37 Mini-Key Analog Synthesizer
- 4. Yamaha MOXF8 Music Production Workstation
- 5. Novation Ultranova Nova Series Analog-Modeling Synthesizer
- 6. Roland GAIA SH-01 Synthesizer
- 7. Korg KROME 88-Key Music Workstation Keyboard & Synthesizer
- 8. Korg microKORG XL-PLUS 37 Key Synthesizer/Vocoder
- 9. Novation MiniNova Analogue Modelling Compact 37 Mini-key Synth
- 10. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | 25-Key Portable
- Yearly Guide & Report
1. Korg Microkorg 37 Key Analogue Modelling Synthsizer
If you are interested in a highly appreciated unit that has been vetted by previous buyers, check out the Korg microKorg. This model is very compact, a reason why it is effortless to set up and carry around during performances. Moreover, the product has a simple panel that is easy to understand and operate.
This synthesizer is liked because it features no less than six types of arpeggio patterns (trigger, random, UP, ALT1/2, DOWN). Even more so, the user has the ability to adjust the resolution and the length of each note.
Additionally, this unit also includes five real-time edit knobs, three effects, external audio processing, 128 editable presets and three delay modes. The model can be used to record songs without the need of additional technological equipment. Similarly, this product can also be used when performing in front of audiences.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($384)
2. Korg Minilogue 4-Voice Polyphonic Analog Synth with Presets
Another similar unit produced by the same manufacturer is the Minilogue 4-Voice. This model is said to be fully programmable as it features 200 program memories and no less than 100 included sounds. Because of this, the product features a voice mode that enables the buyer to configure his/her own voice in accordance with his/her needs.
The product contains a 6-step polyphonic note that is automatable and a practical motion sequencer. As a plus, this digital synthesizer sounds very well, in any circumstances.
The feature that most users have appreciated is the Oscilloscope, a nice element that adds to the overall design of the unit. The product has a very intuitive menu, and it is often described as the go-to synth if you are a beginner looking for a model that you can practice on.
Most of the product’s previous buyers were happy with their acquisition.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($499.99)
3. MS20 Mini – Korg – 37 Mini-Key Analog Synthesizer
Designed as the more compact version of the authentic MS-20, this mini model is equally powerful as the prior version. With an amazing price to value ratio, this unit is considered quite versatile thanks to its dual filters that allow the user to create interesting twists and fun sounds in general.
The product has a sturdy construction and a stable turning that you will certainly like. Very compact and easy to transport from one place to another, this is the ideal model if you are interested in a product that is portable.
The only aspect that differentiates between the mini model and the original one is that the mini has smaller dials that are a bit more difficult to play (the little ones). However, this is not an issue that many have complained about so far.
Lastly, it is often said that the sounds produced by the unit are hard to compete with.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
4. Yamaha MOXF8 Music Production Workstation
Another product that you should consider is the MOXF8, a device manufactured and designed by Yamaha. The MOXF8 stands out because of its impressive collection of sounds and samples that all music enthusiasts will certainly enjoy. This new and highly functional product was built by combing what the manufacturer calls a MOTIF XF sound engine with expandable memory and a feasible MIDI keyboard controller.
Additionally, the product features onboard sequencing, USB Audio/MIDI interfacing, a DAW / VST software bundle and extensive DAW and VST control. The model includes a performance model that can help combine different voices in order to end up with high-quality songs.
This synthesizer is extremely lightweight (it has a total weight of 15.7lbs) and, is therefore, easy to transport from one gig to another. All in all, this choice is arguably one of the most powerful workstations ever created by Yamaha.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
5. Novation Ultranova Nova Series Analog-Modeling Synthesizer
This model incorporates easy to use touch-screen controls that allow the user to compose high-quality music with little to no effort. Also, the product comes fitted with a Patch Librarian software and a plug-in editor that give the user total control over the music he/she composes.
Another huge advantage of the model is its portability. In fact, one can take this model when out on a gig. The unit has a vocoder, 37 full sized keys (with three octaves) and plenty of controls that are highly intuitive and, as a result, easy to operate.
Likewise, it has been said that the model is excellent for beginners and for players with small hands that find it difficult to play on wider synthesizers. The product contains two balanced audio inputs as well as four unbalanced outputs.
Three MIDI sockets are also included in the design. Power can be supplied via USB or an adaptor.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
6. Roland GAIA SH-01 Synthesizer
One of the most price-efficient units on the market, the GAIA SH-01 model is another synthesizer that you should simply not miss out on. This product is said to consist of 3 virtual analog engines (each of them featuring a filter, an oscillator, an LFO, an envelope as well as a feasible amplifier).
By using this product, you can layer as much as five distinct effects such as flanger, low boost, delay, distortion, reverb, and many more.
The control panel of the model is easy to manage while its compact body and low weight make it great for when on the go.
This synthesizer is particularly liked by its current users because it also includes a phase recorder, a D Beam, and an arpeggiator onboard. Last but not least, this device comes provided with USB ports that you can use to connect different flash drives to it.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($599.99)
7. Korg KROME 88-Key Music Workstation Keyboard & Synthesizer
What differentiates the KROME 88 from the various other models that we have talked about before is that it comes fitted with a handful of features that are normally found in more expensive units. For once, the KROME 88 includes quality piano and drum sounds that are close to the real deal. As a consequence, you will be able to create realistic, beautiful music.
As a plus, this product comes outfitted with no less than 193 sound effects, an 88 NH keyboard, an EDS-X, a touch-view display, a USB port for effortless connection and a Krome editor that allows the user to edit any songs on his/her computer.
The model’s pros are the portability, the good response to commands, and the fact that it supplies the user with good audio and a sensitive touchscreen. Still, you should know that this unit does not include a set of speakers.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
8. Korg microKORG XL-PLUS 37 Key Synthesizer/Vocoder
Another affordable unit that you might want to check out is the Korg microKORG XL+ 37. This product comes shipped with a 16-band vocoder and an XLR gooseneck mic that you can use to record your favorite tunes. As a plus, this unit has a genre sector option that current users are appreciative of.
Likewise, if you decide to purchase this synthesizer, you should know that it has a Kaoss engine that will allow you to use a lot of effects while composing music. A highly portable Natural Touch 37 mini-keyboard is also incorporated in the design.
Among its other advanced features, we should also remind you of the product’s five edit knobs, its interactive arpeggiator (that has selectable steps), 128 editable presets and its three delay modes. The unit does not include editing software, and, as a result, you will have to invest in an interface that allows you to record an analog line level signal.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
9. Novation MiniNova Analogue Modelling Compact 37 Mini-key Synth
If you are in the market for a new synthesizer but you don’t want to invest a lot of money in one, check this MiniNova 37 model out. The product has a VocalTune option that you can use to actually recreate hip-hop and urban tunes as well as other techno beats and effects.
The unit’s display consists of 8 buttons that give you the option of twisting and wrapping sounds. An oversized pitch and editing knobs are also featured.
The product comes outfitted with 256 onboard sounds but you can also add 128 sounds of your own, and you can add up to 5 effects to each voice.
The model has a compact design, and you can make use of it at all times, as it is very portable. This sync has MIDI ports that you can use and you can connect the device to a larger keyboard if you want to.
Click to see the price on Amazon!
10. Akai Professional MPK Mini MKII | 25-Key Portable
A bestseller in this line of products, the MPK Mini is the product that you should purchase if you are in need of a cheap unit that does the job. The model has a compact keyboard that is easy to use, and that can effortlessly fit in your backpack when you are on the go.
This model can be connected to your personal computer by using a USB port. Once you connect it, you will have access to free virtual instrument packages. When ordered, the product comes provided with the new VIP3.0 music software that can help you develop great music.
The unit features eight sensitive rubber drum pads and 25 mini keyboards. Because of its plug-and-play connectivity and its lightweight design, this product is warmly recommended by current users.
By accessing the online MKII MIDI Editor, you will surely be capable of reaching your potential and create great music.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($98)
Yearly Guide & Report
If you are still unsure what features to look for in the best mini synthesizer keyboard, do not despair as we are here to help. After reading a handful of synthesizer keyboards reviews, and after analyzing what the specialists had to say on the subject, we have composed a comprehensive list of features that you should pay attention to in a product of this type.
Keyboard and ability to upgrade
Before you decide on a model from the myriads of those that you can find up for sale, it is essential that you consider the type of keyboard that the unit includes as well as the product’s upgradability. To put it in simple English, the specialists often say that a synth bass keyboard should have a variety of keys that will allow the user to compose various genres of music.
If you want to find the best budget synthesizer keyboard, you should think about your needs, as in, you should determine which combination is best for you from this point of view. For example, while polyphonic units enable the user to play more notes at the same time, monophonic models can only play one note at once.
Similarly, if you want to end up with a reliable product, you should pick the unit that allows you to add more memory to it. Therefore, invest in a model with modifiable ROM/RAM and you will have more space to experiment with your new acquisition.
Type of synthesis and computer interface availability
Likewise, you ought to know that when shopping for the best synthesizer keyboard for beginners you should also think about the type of product that you want to use. For example, if you are interested in a unit that allows for the creation of natural sounding notes that mimic the music made by a piano, you might want to invest in a sample-playback synth.
However, if you intend to create electronic music, it is generally agreed that an analog unit is better suited than a digital one. Nonetheless, if you are not just looking for a digital synthesizer keyboard, but you want a product that can do it all, you should save some money and purchase a top-notch multiple synth engine as you will be able to use it to create all kinds of songs (regardless of the genre).
Moreover, another feature that should be on your mind is the computer interface. In other words, you should verify whether or not the model that you like has a USB interface that lets you connect it to a PC. This way, you will no longer have to invest in expensive technology to record and/or modify the audio that you create. As a plus, the latest models out there also include iOS connectivity. Consequently, you can connect the synth to your tablet/smartphone and you can save the music that you have created in the cloud and on other similar apps.
Additionally, don’t forget that some units offer the user direct access to various editing software that you might find useful in the long run. Nonetheless, if you like to experiment, it might be a good idea to buy a product that comes supplied with a sampler. A sampler allows the player to take any digital sound and integrate it into his/her (musical) creation.
If you are a beginner that is searching for a product that can be easily transported from one place to another, we recommend that you buy a portable, lightweight unit. However, you might want to know these models might be a bit difficult to play if you have particularly big hands.
Additional aspects that you should not ignore
Regardless of whether or not you want to buy the best cheap synthesizer keyboard or a more expensive item, you should always consider the sound quality of the device. From this perspective, some might argue that the analog models offer a smoother transition in between notes, something that digital units simply cannot provide. However, this detail is not essential in the case of electronic music players.
What is more, if you consider that a piano synthesizer keyboard is not enough for you, you might want to think about purchasing a unit that includes drum sounds. As a plus, most of these more feasible devices are not expressly more expensive than their counterparts. So, give this aspect some thought.
Furthermore, if the model that you like comes provided with a filter, you will have the means to actually remove certain frequencies from a given sound and, as a result, actively change the timbre of the sound.
Effects-wise, it is important that we remind you that almost all synthesizers, including cheap synthesizer keyboards, come outfitted with a number of built-in effects. These effects might vary from chorus to delay, reverb and so on. These effects are particularly useful if you intend to create top-of-the art electronic music.
Equally important, if you want to take your new purchase with you at the gigs that you are performing at, we strongly recommend that you settle for a unit that has a built-in microphone that you can use. A built-in speaker is also necessary if you intend to perform using your new synth.
Last but not least, we feel like it is prudent that say that all those that are new to using such models should, at least in the beginning, purchase a less expensive model. As expected, at first you won’t be knowledgeable enough to use the device to its full potential. Moreover, there is a high chance that you will actually mishandle it.
Therefore, you should, at first buy a practice unit and, later on, invest in a top-notch product that will meet your needs. However, if you are not a novice, you should purchase an item that can especially cater to your needs. Meaning, you should take the time to analyze the market and then settle on a model that allows you to use it to its maximum capacity. So, don’t waste any more time; decide on a budget and start shopping!
Why are synthesizers expensive?
If you are new to the field of synths, you probably don’t understand why some of these products are so expensive. Well, to answer this question it is vital to make you aware of the fact that synthesizers are more than just keyboards, as they enable the user to control the tone and the length of each note he/she produces.
Moreover, all analog units contain unique circuits that are created by hand by the specialists. To build such a device, one has to have extensive experience and knowledge that not many people possess. And, as a result, these items can cost a pretty penny.
Additionally, apart from the hand-designed/built circuits, most synthesizers also include additional functions and accessories that simply don’t go cheap. For instance, the more expensive a product of this kind is, the more features it has.
Still, if you are not very proficient at using a professional synthesizer, you can always purchase a less expensive model and practice on it. Once you get the hang of it, we are sure that you will understand the value of the former units and that you will be willing to invest in such a product.