The 10 Best Synthesizer Keyboards

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in January of 2018. If you make electronic music of any kind, you can greatly expand your sound by investing in one of these synthesizer keyboards. These instruments give you an incredible amount of control over the tones and patterns you create, with oscillators, loopers, sequencers, and arpeggiators built in. We've ranked them here by their audio quality, expressiveness, portability, and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Moog Subsequent 37

2. Dave Smith Instruments Prophet Rev2

3. Arturia MatrixBrute Analog Matrix

Editor's Notes

October 15, 2019:

In defining what differentiates a keyboard from a synth keyboard, it's important to look back at what constitutes a synth in the first place, and to realize that a good synth keyboard will position its keys as pre-tuned oscillators first and foremost. To that end, you should be able to affect those tones in much the same way you would with any modular synthesizer, just with the added benefit of starting out with notes that are securely within Western 12-tone harmony.

That's why something like the Juno DS-88 from Roland was replaced on our latest ranking. It's a fine keyboard to be sure, but it isn't quite built in the spirit of a synth. It has some nice synthesizer features, but lacks the kind of tonal flexibility and possibilities for expression that should form a baseline for this list. This is also why the Korg Minilogue remained on the list, while the MicroKorg took a hike.

New arrivals to the ranking epitomize this synthesizer-first ethos, in particular the Alturi MaxiBrute, which is a beast of a synth designed with its own wireless, push-button patch bay. The Moog Grandmother is another great example of a modular design built around a finely crafted keyboard, and its layout makes it especially easy to use.

Special Honors

Moog Minimoog Model D If you want a combination of classic tone and vintage-inspired controls, you'll appreciate this model's retro knobs and switches. Its three oscillators and nine analog circuit boards help provide a sound that's incredibly reminiscent of the company's early offerings. As you can expect from a unit that has been made to original specifications from 1970, it's a bit bulky, but for many, this is part of its charm.

Moog One Assembled by hand in Asheville, North Carolina, this model offers near-infinite possibilities in expressiveness and musicality. It's a tri-timbral, analog synth that features three newly-designed analog VCOs, two analog filters, and a dual-source analog noise generator. It also has four LFOs, three envelopes, and a wide array of modulation and reverb options. Its Fatar TP-8S keybed boasts velocity-sensitive keys with aftertouch.

4. Yamaha Montage8 Workstation

5. Moog Grandmother

6. Roland JD-XA 49

7. Korg Minilogue 4-Voice

8. Roland SH-01 Gaia

9. Korg Arp Odyssey

10. Novation MiniNova Analog

Daniel Imperiale
Last updated by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel Imperiale holds a bachelor’s degree in writing, and proudly fled his graduate program in poetry to pursue a quiet life at a remote Alaskan fishery. After returning to the contiguous states, he took up a position as an editor and photographer of the prestigious geek culture magazine “Unwinnable” before turning his attention to the field of health and wellness. In recent years, he has worked extensively in film and music production, making him something of a know-it-all when it comes to camera equipment, musical instruments, recording devices, and other audio-visual hardware. Daniel’s recent obsessions include horology (making him a pro when it comes to all things timekeeping) and Uranium mining and enrichment (which hasn’t proven useful just yet).

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