THE BEST Synthesizers

Thousand Oscillator MegaDrone

Thousand Oscillator MegaDrone

Look Mum No Computer is always building strange and wonderful electronic musical instruments. His latest creation is a massive wall full of oscillator circuits, which, when played together, create an equivalently massive wall of sound. If a symphony played synths instead of strings, it might sound something like this.

Roland TR-6S Rhythm Performer

Roland TR-6S Rhythm Performer

Roland’s latest electronic rhythm maker, the TR-6S packs a six-track sequencer into a portable, battery-powered box. What really makes it special is its ability to play sounds from famous drum machines like the 808, 909, 707, 606, along with preset and custom samples, as well as FM-generated tones.

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Funky Watermelon

Funky Watermelon

French musician MEZERG kicks out some groovy sounds using one of the silliest musical instruments – a watermelon. He connected slices of the melon – along with cantaloupe and a kiwi – to a Playtron MIDI Controller to create an edible keyboard. His cover of The Doors’ Light My Fire is pretty awesome too, even if it has no fruit.

Game Boy Talkboxing

Game Boy Talkboxing

The Daft Punk track Lose Yourself to Dance has some great robotic vocals that were created with an electronic talkbox effect. StarvingGOGO was able to replicate the sound using a Nintendo Game Boy running LSDj to play the melodies, and a tubeless talkbox gadget called the ElectroSpit ESX-1 he’s wearing around his neck.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

The MicroFreak Vocoder Edition, is an an updated version of Arturia’s hybrid analog/digital synthesizer with voice-enhancing capabilities. It includes a 16-band vocoder and a gooseneck electret mic for capturing your voice. Those with a standard MicroFreak can add vocoder ability via a firmware update.

Blipblox After Dark Synth

Blipblox After Dark Synth

Playtime Engineering presents a (slightly) more grown-up version of its easy-to-use Blipblox synthesizer. The After Dark model has over 300 new pre-loaded melodies, more sound filters, a drum machine, and more. In addition to the built-in speaker, it has a 5-pin MIDI input and a 1/4″ stereo output so you can use it in the studio too.

TheoryBoard Thy333

TheoryBoard Thy333

This unique MIDI controller makes it easier to play by teaching music theory. Simply select one of its 840 pre-loaded scales, and it maps only the applicable notes to its right pads, and chords on its left pads, so you can’t play a bad note. It has 96 velocity sensitive pads with polyphonic aftertouch and RGB backlighting, plus 24 hotkeys.

How to Create Blinding Lights

How to Create Blinding Lights

Musician and blank-starer Seth Everman is an expert at deconstructing songs and figuring out how to replicate them. This time out, he shows us his method for playing The Weeknd’s hit Blinding Lights using his couch, a toilet, and various other things around his house. Naturally, he still needed his keyboard for the ’80s synth bits.

Windows Sounds Piano Medley

Windows Sounds Piano Medley

We’re already quite familiar with the evolution of Windows sounds. Now listen to a variety of Windows startup, shutdown, and error sounds played on piano, courtesy of Bored Piano, where you can also check out digital piano covers of familiar game console startup sounds. More on his Japanese language channel.

Earth, Wind & Fire & Synthesizers

Earth, Wind & Fire & Synthesizers

Musician Doctor Mix once again proves he’s a synthesizer god, with an awesome cover version of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1979 classic ballad After the Love Has Gone, played entirely on electronic instruments. With a heaping helping of vocoder, it sounds like a bonus track off of Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

EYESY Video Synthesizer

EYESY Video Synthesizer

Clearly inspired by the old Atari Video Music, Critter & Guitari’s EYESY creates abstract visuals to go with your sounds. Its dials and buttons let you tweak its images to your heart’s content. It accepts audio via a 1/2″ jack, and outputs its real-time art via HDMI or composite video for a retro look. It can also be controlled via MIDI.

Synthesizer Pillows

Synthesizer Pillows

Artist Alona Dudich runs a shop called Crazy Pillows. There, she specializes in handmade pillows that look like classic electronic instruments like the Roland TR-808 and SH-101, along with some playful original designs. She also makes pillows that resemble Technics turntables. They’re great gifts for musicians and DJs.

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

MIDI-Controlled Pipe Organ

With help from the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, musician Rob Scallon got to check out how a pipe organ works, and noticed that the one they have is capable of outputting MIDI signals. After a bit of experimenting, he figured out its keyboard and pedals can also be controlled via the digital music protocol.

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Humble Music Producer Bundle

Humble Music Producer Bundle

Music folks, upgrade your digital sound game with this pay-what-you-want bundle of sound packs and synthesizers from Applied Acoustics Systems and Humble. Sounds can be played using the included AAS player, or patched into your favorite digital audio workstation. Spend $20 or more for the full pack. (Expires 4/15/2020)

Video Game Stylophone Medley

Video Game Stylophone Medley

Electronic musician Maro Maro lets his hands fly with an impressive medley of video game music performed on pair of stylophones. He had to tune the rudimentary analog synthesizers to different ranges in order to produce a wider range of notes.

Famous Vocoder Songs

Famous Vocoder Songs

From Earth, Wind, and Fire to Kraftwerk to ELO, the vocoder has been part of some of the most famous dance, disco, and electronic tracks ever. Musician Doctor Mix shows off his vocoder skills along with his nifty Behringer VC340, a modern day synthesizer that replicates the analog sounds of the ’70s and ’80s.

The SEGA Genesis Synthesizer

The SEGA Genesis Synthesizer

Look Mum No Computer loves to build music making equipment from retro technology. Here he shows off an awesome build – a synthesizer that uses the sound chips inside an old SEGA Genesis (aka Mega Drive) game console to crank out some wild electronic noise.

LIVEN 8Bit Warps

LIVEN 8Bit Warps

Sonicware’s little electronic music maker cranks out some seriously fat sounds. It packs four synth engines, including 8-bit frequency modulation, as well as a step sequencer, effects, and looping, all for less than 200 bucks. It has 27 keys, MIDI in/out, stereo in/out, headphone out, and can run on batteries too.

Korg Wavestate Synthesizer

Korg Wavestate Synthesizer

Korg packs the awesomely rich and rhythmic sounds of its classic Wavestation synthesizer into a compact 37-note model called Wavestate. Its wave sequencing sound engine generates totally unique tones, and can produce up to 64 stereo polyphony. In-depth demo video here.

Modular Synth Days Calendar

Modular Synth Days Calendar

Musicians, here’s a great way to keep track of the passing days. Ingrana’s perpetual calendar is inspired by the design of a classic modular Moog synth. Use the included patch cables to mark the day of week, month, day, and year. While it won’t make any sounds, you can press its keys.

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Beer Can Sounds

Beer Can Sounds

One of the most satisfying sounds on earth is that noise a cold can of beer makes when you pop it open. Musician Koji Kobura agrees, and decided to sample a bunch of sounds he could make with a beer can, ultimately turning them into a short EDM track.

BOSS SY-1000 Guitar Synth

BOSS SY-1000 Guitar Synth

This amazing gadget for guitarists takes the analog sounds of your instrument and layers them with thick synthesized enhancements. The Boss Synth SY-1000 pedalboard gives guitars a whole new range of capability, with its sophisticated sound engine, and the ability to produce a mix of rich acoustic and electric tones.

Orba Musical Instrument

Orba Musical Instrument

Artiphon’s Orba is a unique instrument that is sort of the musical equivalent of a fidget spinner. It combines a synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller all in one, and is small enough to hold in the palm of your hand. It’s great for tinkering around with all kinds of sounds whether you’re bored or working on your next great composition.

Expressive E Osmose Keyboard

Expressive E Osmose Keyboard

Expressive E’s keyboard gives musicians an incredible amount of expressiveness, with each key capturing subtle movements that influence pitch, loudness, and many other attributes. It works in concert with a robust sound engine by Haken Audio to produce amazingly warm and enveloping sounds. It also works as a MIDI controller.

LEGO Tamburo Meccanico

LEGO Tamburo Meccanico

Inspired by a mechanical drum-playing machine designed by Leonardo Da Vinci, this LEGO music maker by Giuseppe Acito uses a series of pegs placed onto a spinning wheel to trigger sound sequences as its “fingers” press keys connected to synthesizers.

Carrier37 Synthesizer

Carrier37 Synthesizer

Artist and designer Love Hultén shows off another one of his amazing custom builds. This time, he took a modern Korg Minilogue analog synthesizer, and built a Commodore SX-64-inspired portable wooden enclosure to house its electronics, then outfitted with cool orange knobs, and a matching keyboard in retro shades of tan and brown.

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