Most Powerful “Minisynth” Ever

In a recent article in Synthtopia on the newly announced ASM Hydrasynth Explorer, the author writes:

The Hydrasynth Explorer is arguably the most powerful minisynth ever

Now i realize hyperbole is easy, and this is no doubt something said and set in the moment. And perhaps this is an abuse of the word “minisynth”. The Explorer is small, and does run on batteries, but is it a minisynth ?

But the Explorer does wrap the full Hydrasynth engine, with a poly-aftertouch keyboard, and microtuning scales and a complex sound engine with a ton of modulation, in a 7.5 lb ( 3.4 kg ) low cost package.

So the question then is, What is the most powerful small synth ever ?

Other present day synths that might be in the running, in no order:

  • Micromonsta
  • Modal Argon or Cobalt
  • Korg Minilogue XD
  • Model:Cycle or Model:Sample

What else ?

Granted this is a subjective question, but you surely have an opinion. What else and why.

Or is the HS Explorer now really the most powerful minisynth ?


If keys aren’t a must for this list then the Typhon definitely deserves to be on it. Not as powerful in terms of modulation as the HS but covers a lot of sonic territory.


There is the Jupiter XM, it is not as deep a sound designer but certainly more powerful in other ways.

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That’s a good one, as you can layer 4 sounds, and there is a drum machine engine.

nord micro modular ?
axoloti ?
depends on definition of mini synth (inc keyboard? , seq, fx, mono/polyphonic, multitimbral, cost).

the original text is just marketing bullshit, as we all know and can smell.
you could probably call the akai mpc live 2 a small powerful minisynth…depends on what is focused on / ignored .


It is tough to clarify, what exactly a mini-synth is. Because to me, mini just seems small.

I think my pick for most powerful mini synth would be the Waldorf Iridium.

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Micromonsta 2 is hard to beat.


I’d say the Sonicware ELZ_1, maybe not on spec in terms of LFO, envelopes, etc but the variety of sound engines, the well thought out modulation, the effects, and THE SIZE! In its case from Analog cases, it fits in my backpack with a lot of room to spare. I think the depth is a big thing, the Hydrasynth Explorer is fairly small but still has considerable depth due to the keyboard, same with the Minilogue series. ELZ_1 is like a stick of gum in comparison. Hard to argue with that poly-AT keyboard on the Explorer, that’s a pretty awesome feature and justifies the size even if I think the interface looks pretty weak-sauce.


The Korg OPSIX, Wavestate and Modwave are all contenders.

In terms of synth functionality per unit mass, the Volca FM or Modular might be winners.


I’m partial to the MM2 in terms of raw power and features to size ratio. It’s so small, but bi-timbral/combi, and 12 voices. Hard to beat considering it rests on top of my HSD.

Tough to ignore the Digitone in this convo. I only wish that it had a higher voice count to avoid voice stealing when you have 4 complex patches running


I think if it doesn’t run on batteries, with the battery compartment built in, it should be out of the running. Yeah a powerbank is fine but on a plane or public transport, they are a pain in the ass, and any cord that sticks out of the device is anxiety inducing.

I think if the Digitone had a battery compartment, and its little keys were velocity sensitive, it would be the winner.


I’ve been researching the Access Virus synths a bit lately. Seem like pretty strong contenders.

  • not battery powered though…

Opz packs a lot in for its size


I’ll bet there’s some Axolotl-type thing that runs on USB charge and is the size of a deck of cards and has the potential to be more ‘powerful’ than an iridium - but is a huge headache to program.

Norns, that’s pretty small and powerful!

Now that you mention it, Shruti-1 & Evolver are both feature packed monosynths but are no longer in production.




My virus snow is the best small synth I’ve ever used, and I run it off a powerbank with my OT when mobile


Definitely the most powerful and diverse ‘minisynth’ I’ve got/used


If we count the Jupiter XM, then we have to count the other ZenCore hardware, including the MC-101, which is physically smaller, yet can still load Zenology Pro patches.

Thanks @Unifono for finding this


I suppose it qualifies as a minisynth in the same way the MicroKorg does, small keyboard, battery power, multiple synthesis engines.

Kind of hate those kind of demos though, a bit too slick and give the impression (to the layman) that it can do all that at once.

But seems like a nice synth anyway, not my cup of tea though, I’d rather have the desktop vesrion.