There are countless different types available, but which are the most versatile synths around?
The range of synthesizers available is staggering. From pocket-sized (Monotron), to semi-modular (MS20 MINI), to full workstations, the options are endless.
For many players, a synth is used primarily as a library of quality sounds to draw upon for any musical situation, from synthetic, to realistic, for both gigging and studio situations.
In these instances, an instrument with the widest range of high quality sounds is the order of the day.
There are many models that fit this description, but which are the most versatile synths? Here are some great choices if you need a great library of sounds, whether it’s to be used as a main keyboard, or a 2nd tier instrument…
Roland Juno-DS61 61 Note Synthesizer
Roland’s history in the world of synth design is long and illustrious. And, whilst the Juno-DS61 61 Note Synthesizer may not be as glamorous as other synths in its back catalogue, like the Aira for example, it’s undoubtedly one of the most useful.
Packed with over 1,000 onboard sounds once downloaded from Roland’s Axial website onto a USB stick the Roland Juno-DS61 61 Note Synthesizer is has just about every sound for every situation.
Its astonishingly low weight (5.3kg), and built-in microphone input (with independent reverb and vocoder) add even more to its gig credentials. And, for when you need to practice, a song-player allows you to play backing tracks in WAV, AIFF, or MP3 format via the built-in USB connection.
Add in a straightforward interface, and you have a perfect portable library of sounds.
The Korg Kronos truly raised the bar for modern synths. With its armoury of synth engines, an onboard hard-disk recorder, 16-track sequencer and more, it could do everything, and sounded incredible.
For some players, however, it had features that wouldn’t ever be used. Thankfully, Korg distilled some the key elements of the Kronos into a smaller, lighter synth – the Krome.
This has sounds from the stunning Kronos piano and drum engine, and excellent electric pianos in a huge sound-bank (640 programs and 288 combinations). Add some great effects, a 16-track sequencer and a easy-to-use touch screen interface, and you have a superb versatile synth.
Whilst this isn’t a synth with a keyboard, it is still a synth, and it easily justifies its place in this list. Roland hadn’t released a ‘flagship’ sound module since the Fantom XR. When it did, however, it created something of a monster.
The easiest way to think of the Integra-7 is as the best sounds from all of Roland’s flagship gear in a single box. That includes SuperNATURAL sounds from the TD-30 drum kit, HP series pianos, synth sounds from the Jupiter-80… you name it, and you’ll find it here. It even includes all of the sounds from Roland’s legendary XV-5080 sound module, complete with expansion cards.
Add in the ability to edit sounds wirelessly from iPad, place sounds in a 360-degree surround panorama, and stunning modelled effects, and you have a truly modern sound module.
You also have quite possibly every sound you’ll ever need in one box- just add a controller keyboard…
Each of the synths above will add a huge amount of functionality of an existing stage piano, and provide a massive palette of sounds to draw upon, too, regardless of the musical situation.