As the title suggests, what makes a good synthesizer for beginners? Well as a beginner you'll need simple sound design controls, hands on parameters, something with scope to grow and it'll need to be affordable.
Simple sound design controls will help you get to grips with the synth parameters and help build an overall experience of how synth parts interact with each other.
Hands on parameters will allow you to hear the results of your physical changes, helping build a stronger connection with what's going on and this experience will help you translate over to other synths very easily.
It needs to be simple enough to get started but wide enough to allow your sound design growth without being initially overwhelming.
Finally, if you're starting out you probably won't want to break the bank right away whilst you get a feel for this.
Yamaha Reface CS
Arguably the simplest in layout and operation with minimalist simplicity in its design. If you're completely new and wanting to dip the toe quickly and easily then perhaps the Reface is right for you.
Its' simplicity doesn't limit its potential however, with 8 note polyphony, 5 wave types including multi saw, LFO, Envelope and built in Phaser, Flanger and Chorus effects.
It also has a cool looper feature which lets you capture your performance and play it back.
This is useful in a number of ways, first, you can use it to jam over top of a bass line or other part, second, it's a great way to dial in a sound by tweaking the panel while the Looper plays for you. This helps build your skill set and exposes you to initial steps of multi tracking.
Finally it has a really useful software counterpart so is easily integrated into your DAW setup if you have one.
Oh and it's battery powered with internal speaker and headphone out giving up to 5 hours standalone usage.
Here's the Yamaha Reface in action.
1 Oscillator, 2 filters, an envelope generator, sequencer and a bit of a mod matrix allowing future potential. Also it is a true analogue synthesizer.
It's packed in a very compact bagable form factor, built in keyboard and all controls laid out in front with absolutely no menu diving allowing for a true "hands on" sound experience.
It also has further interesting features such as being able to process external audio through it's filters allowing some further sound experimentalism.
Other features include CV/Gate with allows it to grow with you should you get bitten by the analogue synth bug.
Being RRP at around £220 it's incredibly affordable and sounds fantastic thanks to its all analogue design.
For largely the same reasons we've recommend the Microbrute above the Korg Monologue is also worth some proper consideration.
This time two true oscillators, mixer, Muti mode filter, sequencer and unlike the Microbrute it also has the ability to save your presets which can be crucial in early stage learning of sound design.
Another big plus over the Brute is the ability for it to be battery powered, this with headphone out means a truly portable beginner synth powerhouse!
Again like the Brute it's affordable at around £250.
Roland Boutique JU-06A
It would be easy to put most if not all of Rolands' Boutiques on this list but we chose the Juno re-creation specifically for it's easy hands on control, visually appealing front panel layout, preset save features.
It has built in sequencer, arpeggiator and chord memory functions.
Its ability to run on batteries combined with the separately available K-25m Keyboard Unit and the synths built in speaker means nothing will get in the way of switching it on wherever you are and having a play around.
Finally, USB, Midi and ext clock means easy connectivity with any other devices modern or vintage.
Behringer DeepMind 6
RRP £450 / £550
A True powerhouse and perhaps initially overwhelming.
But if you already know you're serious about this and want to really get stuck into something that will serve you well for years as your experience and tastes evolve then the Behringer Deep Mind 6 completely nails it.
It's got an absolute plethora of features 2 Oscillators with 6 voices Noise generators 3 Envelopes 4 Independent FX with 30 different algorithms Huge modulation matrix We could go on... Yes there's menu diving, but it's not required for quick hands on sounds but as your skills grow there's so many additional features to tap into that'll grow with you so you'll not be left wanting any time soon.
And its' sound? Well...
So there's the round up. Stay updated as next time we look at top 5 software synthesisers for beginners.