Of all instruments, synthesizer keyboards are some of the most special. Unlike a typical electronic keyboard, a synth workstation is programmed to generate rich, beautiful sounds and make music production a dynamic, effortless experience. Musicians love synthesizers because of their expressive yet versatile capabilities. The sounds one can produce and manipulate to their liking include aspects such as pitch, velocity, pulse, tone, and many others. With an excellent synthesizer keyboard workstation, the possibilities really are endless. These are the best synthesizers of 2018.
The best synthesizers to buy this year:
- Gig-ready instruments with pro-sounds, enhanced performance features, and battery powered operation.
- Beautiful organ and synth tones
- Incredible versatility features
- Simplicity and ease of use; the keyboard has an immaculate user interface
Korg KROME synthesizer keyboards are up there with the best of them. Of course, when talking about keyboard instruments this brand has to show up. Even for a beginner, the level of excellence this music synthesizer entails is felt in an instant. For this type of keyboard synthesizer, it is actually quite light weight in terms of mass. Frequency, bassline, sequencer, and stereo are all as sharp as ever on this and even connectivity is exquisite on this new keyboard. Even though it is light in weight, the weighted keys again are a brilliant feature that only increase how premium this device feels. You really can’t go wrong with this synthesizer at all – it’s totally balanced in every category. Check out the review for this product.
- Loaded with 640 Programs, 288 Combinations, 900 Arp patterns, and more than 600 drum grooves
- Features KRONOS-derived piano and drum sounds, plus new electric pianos for uncompromising quality
- Full-color Touch View display with advanced graphic UI delivers an intuitive and satisfying experience
- Light-weight device with premium build and craftsmanship
This Yamaha Synth is quite possibly the most unique digital synthesizer on this list. It comes at a higher cost, but for good reason. This groundbreaking device takes the production of music to the next level; whether it be through heart-pounding drums or crystal clear sine waves, it just gets the job done, and then some. It truly is exceptional. From the pads, strings, to the choir sounds and organ sounds, it just excels. The sounds produced by this elegant yet fiery synthesizer are rich and full. Those who purchased the Yamaha Montage8 Synth are pleased, to say the least. Check out the Yamaha Montage 8 review.
- Motion control synthesis engine combines and uses two iconic sounds engines in one package – AWM2 for higher quality waveform and synthesis, while FM-X is there to produce modern, and pure frequency modulation synthesis
- The motion sequences are tempo-synced, and the control sequences are completely customizable; they can also be assigned to almost any synthesizer parameter and provide marvelous new ways of creating sound
- The Yamaha Montage8 features professional, stereo balanced outputs that have “pure analog circuit” digital to analog conversion
- Eight rotary encoders and faders with step ladder LED
- Loaded device – high definition reverbs and remarkably detailed virtual circuit modeling
This is a bit of an unorthodox synth as it doesn’t really play the part of what a keyboard instrument typically looks like, but do not underestimate it. Although it is like a mini keyboard piano and it’s fantastic at what it does, this product entails so much more than your average synthesizer. You can really sample virtually anything you want with this Teenage Engineering workstation as it is a deep and tremendously powerful instrument, and it’s a joy to use and play as well. The build quality is surprisingly impressive too – lightweight yet equipped. It has synths, drums, a sampler, and sequencer with four track recorder. The best word you could use to describe this synthesizer is fun, and that makes it one of the best synthesizers you can look to purchase in 2018. It’s no 88 key keyboard, but when you play this instrument in the studio, it’s difficult to leave! Check out the Teenage Engineering OP-1 review.
- Loaded with kits and capabilities
- Phenomenal microphone for sampling anything
- Outstanding build quality – made to last
- Able to recreate multiple sound variations such as envelope and sine wave
This keyboard workstation is more of a mini synthesizer, but don’t let that fool you since this analog synthesizer still packs a punch – It’s still in the conversation of the best synthesizer keyboards. In that way, it almost resembles a vintage synthesizer, all the while coming with new sounds and features you would not otherwise receive on an older product. Most people really love this Korg electronic synthesizer and it’s page is flooded with overwhelmingly positive reviews. It’s exactly what you would expect from a Korg Krome instrumental keyboard and that is pure excellence in every aspect. The sounds produced by this little beast are subtle, yet entirely crisp and for that reason along many others, it’s a great choice if you’re looking for cheaper synths that are not totally massive. Read the Korg MS20 review.
- Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
- External signal processor (ESP)
- Flexible patching system
- USB MIDI plus 5-pin MIDI
- Responsive UI with top of the line build-quality
This 61 key keyboard is very similar to the 88 key Korg Krome synthesizer discussed earlier – it is also one of the best synthesizers on the market. It is lightweight, very user friendly, jam packed with capabilities and features, and the piano sounds produced by this breathtaking synthesizer are spectacular. However, it should be noted that this instrument is better suited for the modern player, as you cannot really expect to get that classic Korg sound from this workstation. It really is a good product though, and in regards to more compact keyboards (compared to the larger 88 keys) it certainly is among the top rated synthesizers of the year. The console is clean and very simple making this outstanding synthesizer easy to use, and the speakers are astonishing. View the review to get more insight.
- Enormous library of sounds – utilizing twice as much PCM memory when compared to previous products
- Distinctive and stylish two-tone color design
- Pro-quality EDS-i sound engine, with a total of seven effects available for simultaneous use
- Step sequencer inherited from the Electribe, MIDI sequencer, drum track, and an arpeggiator
Moog is one of the most iconic brands when it comes to synthesizers, and this is one of the greatest. It is a beautiful sounding acoustic digital piano capable of producing a sound that will blow you away. It is a device that is very easily controlled, it has quite a bit of flexibility, but at the same time it is a bit of a soft synth as well. This Moog synthesizer is something special. Sound editing is a breeze, and it has the capability to sync (compatible) with many other devices at the same time. This Sub Phatty synthesizer keyboard makes music production a pleasure to be a part of, and the bass is maybe some of richest you’ll ever hear. Check out the Moog Sub Phatty review.
- 25 semi-weighted keys; 100% analog signal path
- 31 knobs and 13 switches give you direct, immediate control
- 2 ultra-stable variable-wave shape oscillators
- Square-wave Sub Oscillator in mixer section
Yet again, another Yamaha keyboard fails to disappoint. This particular music synthesizer comes in a few different variations – 49 key, 61 key, and 88 key, and the sound quality is great on all of them. It’s not hard to see why this is considered one of the top rated synth keyboards on the market, if you’re a true keyboardist you can see why this is such an amazing amount of appreciation for this item. If you’re looking for portability without too much bulk, then you might want to consider the Yamaha MX61. There are many new sounds of this synthesizer, but it still retains many of the old-school classic sounds that many can remember from older models. Read the Yamaha MX61 review to learn more about this product.
- Class Compliant USB Audio/MIDI for true “plug and play” connectivity without installing any drivers
- Motif Sound Engine: layer, zone, switch, cycle, randomize and control up to 8 elements within a single voice
- Virtual Circuit Modeling re-creates the sound and behavior of vintage effects and signal processors
- 128 notes of polyphony ensures dropout-free performance playing live or with full 16-track sequences
9. Korg MicroKorg 37-Key Analog Modeling Synthesizer with Vocoder
This MicroKorg 37-Key synthesizer by Korg is one of the most popular. It’s a very nice synth, and it’s surely good enough to make this list of the best synthesizers. Obviously, if you’re in search of a much larger instrument, then this might not be the product for you. However, if you’re looking for a more lightweight, mobile but still highly advanced synthesizer, then you might want to consider this Korg MicroKorg as your go-to instrument. The sounds are some of the best there are, and the adjustments are really well laid out. At the price, it’s hard to find something to match this analog synthesizer, and that’s what makes it one of the best synthesizer keyboards this year. The MicroKorg really has a lot to offer.
- Sound Generation Method: Analog Modeling Synthesis System
- Synthesizer Program: Multi Timbral=2 (max, Split/Dual Mode)
- Voices: 4 voices
- Arpeggiator: 6 types
Lastly, you have the Yamaha MOXF6. This, while lower on the list, is still a very high quality music synthesizer and is not to played with. It’s a very versatile synth and like many others are now doing, it comes in both 61-key and 88-key variations. Both variants are surprisingly lightweight and mobile! Some people have complaints, though. A handful of individuals have noted that they don’t particularly like the user interface, and others have complained about the sound quality. Really it comes down to personal preference though, because plenty of people have noted that they actually love the board.
- Motif XF Sound Quality
- Flash memory expandability
- Performance mode to enhance your creativity
- Advanced computer integration
Which synthesizer keyboard is best for you?
Without knowing anything about what you’ll be using your synthesizer for, it’s hard to say exactly which are the best synthesizers for you. Ideally, you should be able to expect each of these instruments to perform adequately in each and every scenario, but we all know that’s unrealistic. Most of them however are very versatile and can be used anywhere and anytime. For example, the 88-key Korg Krome is a highly sophisticated synth, and it can be used anywhere from your own bedroom, all the way to the biggest recital or concert of your life (yes, it’s that capable).
Some people even say that the only thing that matters is whether or not you like the way it sounds and looks! Obviously, that’s probably not enough for most people when making a purchase this large, but you could say it’s a good place to start. These are some of the other things you should take a look at. Also check out our synthesizer reviews for more input, and our synthesizers for beginners if you’re at that stage.
Style and aesthetics, as its already been mentioned, is quite important for most people when having to decide which is the best synthesizer keyboards for them to choose. You wouldn’t want to hate the way your instrument looks. There are clearly a lot of styles when it comes to synthesizer keyboards, and you can tell just by looking at the list above. Some people might prefer the look of the Roland DS88 synthesizer while others might be more inclined to buy the teenage engineering synthesizer pack. As always, it really just comes down to personal preference.
Even though how it looks is pretty important, the most important thing to take into account when having to select an electronic synthesizer keyboard is whether or not you like how it sounds. If you don’t even like how it sounds, what good is it buying it? Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do to document and describe what the sounds sound like, but you would be able to find such things quite easily on YouTube.
The features a synth brings are very important to take a look at. Chances are that you won’t be satisfied with using the same sound(s) over and over again, and you’ll want variation and versatility. Thankfully for you though, almost all synthesizer keyboards on this list are highly capable machines and features (probably) won’t be your main concern. That’s why they’re the best synthesizers of the year. Most of them do it all, and that’s why they’re on the list of the top synths of the year.
Kind of mixed in with the aesthetics and look of the instruments, the interface is something any buyer should take a hard look at. Some peoples’ main concern with their synthesizer keyboards are that they don’t particularly care for the user-interface. Some are too cluttered and clogged, while others feel too empty (rare). The interface will have a huge affect on how you actually interact with your instrument, and what kind of chemistry you will be able to build with it. Analog versus digital is a pretty big debate among keyboardists, though it seems like more and more individuals prefer analog variations over other options. Unfortunately though, many newer, high-end synths only come in the digital variation, forcing many people to go with something they wouldn’t initially prefer.
Unfortunately, price is a factor when it comes to the things we want. It also doesn’t help that music synthesizer keyboards are typically some of the most expensive instruments you can get (at least when it comes to the good ones). Most are in the range of $600 – $2000, and it’ll vary from synth to synth. It depends on what you’re looking for and how much you are willing to spend. If you want a good synthesizer that will last you many years, it’s probably best to go with one of the synthesizer keyboards above with the highest rated reviews – this shows that they are probably one of the best synthesizers. Sometimes they’ll be expensive, but at least you can have the peace of mind to know it will last you a long time. You can also see the best cheap synthesizers here.
To conclude, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from, which is both a good thing and a bad thing (mostly a positive). If you continue to do your research, it won’t take long before you find out which is the best fit for you. I hope you take the time to look around and choose the best synthesizer keyboards for you!