The 10 Best Mini Synthesizers
This wiki has been updated 15 times since it was first published in August of 2019. If you’re looking for a mini synthesizer for recording, rehearsal, and performance purposes; to take a first step into electronic sound synthesis; or just to add something different to your gear collection, we've curated a list to help showcase the best models currently available. They range from simple, affordable options that'll fit in your pocket to professional-grade, classic analog units. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 24, 2019:
Most of the models on this list are intended for serious use in performance & recording contexts. The market for mini synthesizers is relatively new, and the few players who have thrown their hats into the ring have done so thoughtfully and unhurriedly. The Arturia MiniBrute (#3), for example, was the first hardware unit that the company produced after being at the forefront of audio synthesis software for years. When they realized that there was a desire for powerful hardware synthesizers in a compact form, they developed the MiniBrute. Since its release, it's been commercially successful while developing a loyal following. The Korg Minilogue (#2) is another unit that has been widely praised in the community, and even though it has only been a couple of years since it's been released, you'll frequently see it as part of the rig of electronic musicians and producers.
Those looking for a powerful synth that stands out from the more standard options might look to the Moog Sub Phatty (#1) or the Novation Mini-Nova (#5), both of which are fairly complex to maneuver, yet equally rewarding once tamed. The Mini-Nova's vocoder is no mere novelty — it functions fairly well, and with a bit of creativity, it can really open up artistic doors.
For off-beat, inexpensive synthesizers that can both entertain and instruct, look to the Teenage Engineering PO-32 (#8), Korg Delay Monotron (#9), and the Stylophone Retro (#10). Thanks to their price point, these are also fantastic gifts for a budding sound engineer, keyboardist, or synth-enthusiast. And they're very portable, too, so even seasoned vets might enjoy buying one to slip into their pockets on long road trips or plane rides.
Vermona Mono Lancet '15 This German-made device has been catching the attention of those in the know due to its capabilities, which are made even more impressive its tiny size. Two oscillators and a noise generator work in conjunction with a low-pass filter and a voltage-controlled amplifier to create sounds that compete with those of costlier and larger analog synthesizers. vermona.com
Roland JP-08 A limited-edition offering from the Roland Boutique series, this one incorporates much of the best aspects of the company's flagship synth from the early '80s: the Jupiter-8. Though it's only the size of a book, it offers the user plenty of control over the parameters. It's highly programmable, easy to experiment with, and rugged, too, thanks to its metal front panel. It can be powered by batteries or a USB connection, and also can be connected to your DAW via the USB port to record directly from the device. roland.com
Audiothingies MicroMonsta This one boasts 8-voice polyphony, which trumps the majority of mini synths that are frequently championed by gear-review publications. Aside from this, it includes a arpeggiator (with a step-pattern editor to allow for manual tweaking), a deep modulation matrix, internal effects, and 384 preset memory slots, not to mention a very small form and intelligently-designed layout. audiothingies.com