Best synths for sound design

I’m slowly building a dawless setup and I’m curious what hardware synth offers the most timbral possibilities. I’m not interested in any classic sound or an analog sound (in fact I’m more pro digital), just some tools for sonic exploration. I’m very happy with my Digitone in that regard, but sometimes get tired of its fm-workflow.

Maybe not the best but what about Hydrasynth?

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Access Virus TI2 has kept me extremely happy with sound design and multi-timbrality. It boasts VA but can do a lot more than that.

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novation peak
DSI Pro 2 or 3
dsi polyevolver
Analog four is quite deep
nord modular (but is dependent on software)
waldorf iridium?
hydrasynth

probably countless other digital synths.

a modular system

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I think for such a small amount of money, the Modal Skulpt is pretty good.

£200…

Virus, goes without saying, but pretty expensive. You can’t really beat modular for exploration, unless you’re looking for more traditional sounds, then you’re just pissing money away. Hyrdrasynth, but I hear mixed feedback, so idk.

I know you said hardware, but tbqh U-He Zebra is amazing for serious sound design, it sounds as good as decent hardware with enough time spent.

Argon 8m?

Tempted to get that myself, pretty reasonable price.

Polyend Medusa. I saw a B-stock for £500, sadly it had been sold… Though I hear on the v2 version they’ve made the wavetables a lot better.

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I was thinking about Peak, but it kind of disappeared from online discussions (or so was my impression) and I wondered if it’s stood the test of time.

Not cheap, but Gotharman LD3 also covers a lot of possibilities. It involves a lot of digital FX, filters and LFOs. Great and deep machine for sound design!

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Stay with the digitone. It takes years to master anything. Digitone is deeep.

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C&G Organelle M covers a lot of ground, if you don’t mind using Pure Data. Sampling, synthesis, fx whatever you can dream up, tons of patches to download, and you can customise to suit your needs.

Arturia Micro Freak seems pretty versatile, a few synthesis methods and analog filter.

Digitone is pretty versatile.

Monomachine.

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Yeah, I know Zebra quite well. Actually looking for something like Zebra in a hardware form.

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Absolutely stood the test of time, novation just added user wavetables to it too. It’s a beast for sound design

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Peak, Digitone, A4 and Hydrasynth.

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Hydrasynth
Waldorf Quantum
Eurorack, Buchla, Serge modular
Eventide H8000 / H9000
KYMA
Yamaha FS1R
Nord Modular

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I think that’s what everyone is looking for, whether they know it or not.

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In no particular order

Hydrasynth
Peak
Korg Z1
A4
PolyEvolver
Digitone

Not played one but the Korg OASYS covers many bases I believe.

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When I bought my Digitone, I was amazed by it, I spent hours and hours playing with it. Then I started to get a bit annoyed with how “FM” it sounded and went off it a bit. With a fair amount of perseverance and learning, I have slowly started to understand FM synthesis and am at the start of my journey towards trying to master it.
I bought a DX7 last month. I think it goes really well with the Digitone, even though they’re both FM. You can pick them up dirt cheap as well, so won’t lose any money if it’s not for you.
Seriously though, I’m never going to stop being amazed and the sound design possibilities of the Digitone and of FM synthesis in general, so deep.

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modular

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Iridium!!! Because it’s a synth that can give you wavetable, fm, analog modeling, granular synthesis and also sampling. You also get 3 osc, 6 lfos, 3 assignable envelops including envelops for your amp and filters, a huge mod matrix, two filters with several algos, a distortion circuit and several effects per patch. You can have two patches going at once effectively doubling everything. All this and I didn’t even mention the onboard sequencer, performance pad similar to the Korg Kaoss pad and an arp. This is a beastly synth.

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Fucking hell, you’re making me want to buy one.

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You’ll love it!