'Immediate' synths


I’ve got a few Elektron machines, and a 6U Eurorack system, but at the moment I find myself almost exclusively using my Juno 106. The Juno is so basic, and it’s pretty fucked up and broken, but still, I love the ‘immediacy’ of the interface, and how it feels like there’s absolutely no barrier between myself and the sound design.

This is an aspect of synths I’ve never really put much importance in before. I’ve always looked for complexity and programming power. But now I’m thinking that maybe I’ve had it wrong, and that I should seek out other synths that give me this totally unmediated access to music making.

Does anyone else feel the same way? What synths do you think are similar to the Juno in that respect? Are there synths that manage to combine that immediacy with an original or interesting architecture?


The Juno has the largest sweet spot imaginable. I love that synth.

It’s also very straightforward in its design & layout (which is probably part of why that sweet spot is so large). One synth that I’ve felt has a similar immediacy is the System-1, and I guess the System-8 by extension (I’ve only played with one in a shop but it does seem to be simply an 8-voice poly version of the System-1, with a few more effects and a sequencer). Probably no coincidence, being a bit of a throwback design, and by Roland.

It’s very conventional though. The SH-101 has a few more unusual tricks and so on, but I’d also add it to a list of simple / immediate / rewarding synthesizers.


Nord Lead is super immediate for me. Every time I turn it on I end up making nice sounds from scratch, and having a really great time just playing it. I get the same satisfaction with the Digitone, in that I can quickly build patches that are very expressive and lovely to play, but the Nord feels a bit closer to my ideal sound. It’s probably the Autechre connection :stuck_out_tongue:

The obvious choices here would be the Novation Circuit and OP-1, both machines I’ve owned but sold, but kinda want to buy again, simply for the ability to take them to the couch and sketch out some super quick ideas.


Hey dude I have exactly the same feelings about synths as you. This is why I own a Juno 60 and sold my A4. Patch creation should be fun and efficient imo. The old Rolands almost challenge you to try and make them sound bad!

I too highly recommend the SH101. It has that exact same immediate feel of the Juno but gets a little quirkier. It’s the most tweakable synth I have ever played and you can seriously just get lost in moving the faders up and down while it plays a sequence.


I use the Juno VST a lot. Love the Juno sound and interface. I have never used it and wished it was more complicated. It just sounds so good as is. The 808 of synths.


How does the Juno Boutique fare against the old ones? Same immediacy?


I’ve always wanted a 101…

But how about things beyond the usual classics? How about new things? Are there modern synths that are as immediate and musical?


The JU-06 is very popular, despite only 4-voice polyphony. It’s commanding probably the highest second hand prices of all the boutiques.


I had the same feeling with the Korg MS20. Makes me sometimes wont one again.


MC202, NL4 and A1 are my faves for getting where I want to ultra fast…


You write down exactly my thoughts. I’m in the same boat, totally. Many complex things here (which is great sometimes), but nothing immediate.
I think of buying a Yamaha Reface CS for that reason. Many people call it a sweetspot only synth. It’s very cheap… My nord lead 2x had also a lot of sweet spots. Miss it a bit.
I can imagine the Juno is sweetspots only. I use the TAL-UNO and Diva’s Juno version a lot, and I get great sounds with almost no effort. Great, when writing tracks…


Yamaha CS-01? I mean, destinations are quite limited, but you’ll get there super quick



…boutiques only feel good with faders…all poti stuff is pretty fragile and will never give u that straight tactile feel of any original…

but on the 101 boutique, with all this little faders only, it does the trick quite good…

apart ftom that, i was always more into simplified specialists doing ONE thing right, but that forever…
so, i completely feel u, when u talk about ur juno…

only other hardware that does that that for me is also the nord lead 2…

a mpc with jjos and a nordlead 2 xt rack is the most powerful and simple combo i’ve ever had my hands on…

while no elektron gear ever felt that straight forward…
just touched my a4 mk1 for the first time in month again…and fuck, what an everlasting great sound, but the overall handling drives me nuts each time i get it started again…which is really a pity…it’s sounds soooooo creamy expressive in all ways…no matter what u want from it…but it always puts u on the test first again before u’re getting there…really annoying…and nerve wracking…


I think a lot of people feel that way about the old school Elektron gear, but the DT and DN are a deliberate step by Elektron towards offering products that are a lot easier and faster to get your head around (and to get a good sound out of).

I wouldn’t change my MnM for the world but I also wouldn’t recommend it to someone that I wasn’t sure was going to persevere with it.


…oh, i’m also struggling with both digis here and there…to be honest…
if they would’nt sound that good, i’d kick them out straight away…really…
but hey, what can u do, once u fell in love…

and there’s definitly headroom left for elektron, if we’re talking straight forward handling here…
no matter how complex the machines are…
mass storage and overall project handling is still quite something that needs to be adressed…on all machines…
but let’s wait for ob another while…i have good hopes, that we’re getting there with all this one day…


In recent years the Korg Minilogue has been the closest to the Juno I terms of immediacy. It is set out so well and is a joy to use!

Of older kit the Nord Lead was my other favourite alongside my Juno.


Yeah, I mean they’re still very complex instruments compared to a vintage 1 or 2-osc analogue monosynth… They have simplified them a lot though.


Immediacy is important to me, the very best examples IMHO are not too complex and should have only 1 parameter per control, some examples that I own are TB-303, SH-01a, JU-60, Monotribe, Grendel drone commander - all of those fit the criteria.

But I also like complex stuff too, so long as it has a UI that isn’t too obtuse. I think mostly Elektron get it fairly right, the screen adjacent to the knobs makes it a lot easier than say Waldorf’s matrix type editing, which I did not enjoy using.

I suppose really one of the most important criteria for me is useability, gear can be complex or simple, immediate or deep, but if it isn’t enjoyable or has a bad UI then no matter how good it sounds or how powerful it is I probably won’t use it. Sadly a lot of gear suffers from being almost perfect only to be hampered by a clumsy UI.


I feel you. As soon as I got my beloved Dominion 1 I sold the A4 instantly. The Dominion sound crushes the A4 in every aspect and the UI is a breeze to use.

Together with the El Capistan and Valhalla Shimmer Reverb the Dominion 1 gives me Goosebumps every time. They’ll bury me with this synth.


6U of euro is way too many options for me. I prefer simplicity and immediacy to endless tweaking. as mentioned, if you like the 106 you’d love the 101. or a juno 6, if you need polyphony.

the trade-off really is patch memory. if you’re OK working without it, then almost any synth you buy will be immediate and reasonably simple, except for modular and some semi-modular. once you incorporate patch memory, the immediacy is mainly from being able to recall patches. but then the interface is off so the feeling of immediacy goes away. of modern day synths taking on this obstacle, Elektron do an excellent job.

the other issue is sliders versus knobs. the former give you a better visual interpretation of how the sound is being made by simply glancing at the synth. of current synths that do this, dreadbox seem to do a good job. manther also does a good job but then you get back into slider location versus patch memory recall…