Sweet dreams are made of synths! We've trawled through the GS forums and many a vocal opinion or two to offer up some of the best keyboard synthesizers that are available right now, so without further ado, here we go - in alphabetical order:

Arturia MicroFreak

Arturia kicks off our list with the MicroFreak, a compact synth with a unique feature set highlighted by an exquisite oscillator section designed by none other than the 'Eurorack extraordinaires' at Mutable Instruments, and a lovely PCB keyboard without any moving parts. This freaky little contraption can output up to four voices and it also comes with an interesting cycling envelope alongside a regular ADSR, a multimode analog filter, flexible modulation matrix and a highly programmable sequencer/arpegiator section. As stated above its OLED display, the MicroFreak truly brings a very much welcome "grain de folie" to the synth game.

Behringer DeepMind 12

A polyphonic analog synth that the masses can afford: that is the premise of the Deepmind 12. This synth marked Behringer’s foray into the synth market, and it is hard to think of a better debut than a 12-voice true analog synth that is packed with features and that doesn’t burn a hole in your bank account. Based loosely on the famous Junos of the 1980s, The Deepmind series also sprouted a desktop unit and a 6-voice version, both with even lower price points (as one might expect) so there is little excuse for not nabbing one of those if polyphonic analog synths are your thing and you're on a budget!

Behringer Odyssey

The highly-controversial synthesizers coming from Behringer have sparked more than a few heated debates in this community and there are absolutely no signs that either the rampant output of synths or the insane arguments are going to go away any time soon! After an ambitious start with the Deepmind 12 and an affordable Model D clone, Behringer presented their take on the classic Odyssey which instantly captivated our audience by combining the revered vintage sound with modern amenities not present on the original - such as presets and effects - and all presented with Behringer’s famously low price tag.

Dave Smith Instruments OB-6

Lennon & McCartney. Peanut butter & chocolate. Now Dave Smith & Tom Oberheim... and when these two giants of synth design join forces greatness is all but certain, and that is precisely the case with the OB-6, a six-voice polyphonic analog synthesizer built upon the classic SEM circuitry from the 70s and packed with modern features. The OB-6 comes with two huge-sounding oscillators, state-variable filter, deep modulation options and two effect engines loaded with high-quality reverbs, delays, chorus, flanger and Oberheim’s signature ring modulation and phase filter. If one is looking for a modern version of the coveted OB-X series, this is arguably the closest thing currently out there.

Dave Smith Instruments Sequential Prophet X

The somehow both forward-and-backward-looking Prophet line of synthesizer never ceases to amaze, and the latest entry on the series looks more forward than backward by combining both 'pure' synthesis and now sampling too like few other hardware synths ever have. The Prophet X brings together the signature DSI synth sound and 150 GB of high-quality sampled content from 8Dio to present a five-octave keyboard powerhouse that can seamlessly take on any task. The Prophet X can work as a bi-timbral unit and comes with three voice modes that can pour plenty of polyphonic goodness (up to 32 voices) on the paraphonic mode. All that is wrapped up by a vast array of modulation and effects for what is certainly the most versatile - and most post-modern - incarnation of the Prophet to this day.

Elektron Digitone Keys

It’s been a while since Elektron last released a keyboard synth, but they’re back in black with the stylish Digitone Keys, a fascinating multitimbral FM synthesizer with up to eight voices which comes with a 3-octave keyboard (the acclaimed Fatar-made keybed) and the brand’s trademark step sequencer with per-step trigger conditions and parameter locks. This synth also comes with three send effects, four dedicated outputs for each of the sequencer tracks, four MIDI tracks so you can trigger other synths and Overbridge support for seamless DAW integration. Certainly a synth to look for if you’re a fan of Elektron machines and want FM synthesis without the unintuitive programming of the past.

Korg Minilogue XD

Korg struck gold with the first Minilogue a few years ago, making it one of the most popular and accessible analog synths of recent times. The Minilogue’s success ensued a few follow-ups for the “logue” series, namely a monophonic synth (the 'Monologue'), a bigger polyphonic entry with the 'Prologue', and more recently the Minilogue XD, which comes in two flavours: desktop and keyboard. On top of the analog section this new version adds an digital oscillator with FM and wavetable capabilities, a new effects engine, four voice modes, all of which certainly make it more versatile than ever. The name may look like a old-school keyboard emoji, but it has certainly put a smile on our faces!

Korg Prologue 16

The big brother in Korg’s latest line of analog synthesizers, the Prologue 16 packs a robust feature set and takes the voice count several notches above with eight and sixteen-voice (featured) versions, with 49 and 61 keys respectively. Besides the increased polyphony the Prologue comes with the new editable oscillator present on the XD version which can be updated with more synthesis styles, an upgraded filter with gain loss compensation and drive for extra grit, two FX engines with 43 effect options to choose from, and it can also work as dual-timbral synth for two entirely sounds split across the keyboard. With so much to offer the Prologue 16 is the big brother that we respect.

Roland JD-XA

One synth to rule them all - that’s what the Roland JD-XA is all about. This hybrid synth offers analog and digital oscillators, both going through a set of analog multimode filters, and can deliver up to 64 voices in digital mode and four voices on the analog side for the ultimate polyphonic spree. The JD-XA also packs a plethora of effects including delays, reverbs and EQs, 16 sequencer tracks, flexible output routing and multiple modulation options for great expressiveness. With a comprehensive set of tools encompassing pretty much all the essential aspects of the game this one certainly has to be high up in the “best workhorse synth” conversation.

Waldorf Quantum

Who better than the masters at Waldorf to close our list (well, the company name does start with 'W') - but despite their alphabetical position we can’t think of a better synth than the Quantum for the curtain call anyway! The Waldorf Quantum is an 8-voice multitimbral synth with plenty to offer, boasting a premium Fatar-made keybed with six octaves, three flexible oscillators, stereo analog filters, eight LFOs, five effects, arpeggiator and a programmable step sequencer with parameter automation. This is a synth that should be examined very seriously if one wants excellent sound quality, programming depth and versatility. A terrific all-rounder.

That's the cutoff! We're certainly in a price-performance ratio golden age for synths - which of these do you have your eye on? Which ones did we miss out on?

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