The best cheap synth?

Microbrute new if you’re lucky with price


Microbrute can go from nasty acid to smooth Berlin school. It takes effects super well and is hands-on fun. The keybed is not good, but everything else on mine is solid.



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As has been mentioned the Skulpt and Craft synths are flimsy IMO and I’ve got both. Wobbly pots and plasticky plastics. They sound okay but for me they’re not a pleasure to play or programme.

My advice as others have pointed out would be to try and find a used BS2. Not the heaviest of heavyweights but still a decent build and very well specced for the price. It sounds great, the multimode filter makes it very adaptable and it covers a lot of bases. Bus power is super handy too.

I can’t speak for the Korg as I’ve not got one. I’ve plenty of other Korgs though so I’ve no doubt it’s worthy of the strong following it has.

Atruria might be of interest too. The original MiniBrute has an issue with its keys deciding they don’t like being in the synth any longer and start falling out. I think I read it was related to a glue used? Don’t know if it affects all of the original MB’s but it happened to mine. If you can live with mini keys the MicroBrute might be worth a look? I’ve got the MB2S and I love it. The keyboard version looks a strong prospect too but it would be out if your budget I guess, even used? The build quality of the 2 is vastly superior to the originals too

You can’t go far wrong with the MS1 if you can find one in budget. Proper solid build, sounds great and looks cool. It’s not got all the bells and whistles of the BS2 (which would still be my first choice) but a good solid inexpensive synth all the same. TD3 sounds great but it’s very limited in comparison to the other synths discussed.

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OP + $150 = AS-1. Hard to beat.

A little bit more expensive is the Dreadbox Typhon. A very good bang for the buck.


200 buys you a copy of Serum or a ‘used’ copy of Bitwig 3.0 with its Grid, or is that cheating? :stuck_out_tongue:

If so, another vote for Monologue

Be wary of those soft-touch coated knobs too. They can turn into a sticky mess over time, especially if exposed to sun light. The Microbrute I had felt like it was covered in jam (jelly). Having spent several hours removing the horrible stuff (with Isopropanol and a melamine sponge), I can only hope for Matrixbrute and Polybrute owners that Arturia chose to use better quality knobs. :crossed_fingers:

TD-3 build quality stinks IMO. Feels like a cheap toy really. You generally get what you pay for in the synth world from my experience. That being said I’d probably go Modal from your choices. Maybe spring for a 2nd hand Circuit? 2 poly synth voices and 4 drum tracks with sample swapping. Not a bad bang for your buck.

I am going to be frank. You listed toys. I’d say, get something more usable. It’s not that these are particularly shit, but they are not worth your small money.

If you want digital more versatile synth, then get Arturia Microfreak.
If you want analog, then get Behringer Crave.

Some Volcas are also okayish. I’d go fo Volca Keys in that case. Or FM, if you want FM.


One exception might be Blofeld. I sometimes feel I got more than I paid for (£300) with that one.

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Hey, what are your intentions buying a synth ? Do you have a particular music style in mind ? How do you imagine yourself playing with it/exploring it ?

If you have absolutely no idea about what you want, scroll through demos and find the one with the demos/sound you like the best. There are other important aspects to check out, but if you don’t like the sound, you’ll just end up feeling frustrated.

Also, everybody has different ears and you’re the one that’s gonna end-up paying money so, keep that in mind if you’re not sure or being peer-pressured into buying a particular synth :sweat_smile:

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I had the monostation for a bit and thought it was really well built for a chunk of plastic :). Probably pick one of those up second hand ?

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Sounds like secondhand price though. I guess should clarify that I meant when paying for new/unused.

That was new (2016). Wunjo Keys - kind of place you can ask ‘what’s the lowest you can do?’ Nice guys

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What build issues have you had with your TD 3? They’re lightweight but so was the OG 303 (800g vs 1kg). The knobs are solid with no wobble, they feel positive in use with a nice amount of resistance. Rotary switches feel good and positive too. I’ve had no issues with any of the jack sockets either? The case is solid for plastic construction; mine don’t squeak or rattle and are very hard to twist.

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Yeah, depending on the sounds you like…

I recommend the Microfreak and the Typhon.

Althought the Typhon is a bit pricier…you’ll get rewarded in no time…yesterday I had a go with it, damn it sounds so lush and fat.

It really is a joy to play with, it added so much character to some tracks laying around that I wanted to finish…


I am also now realizing you are in the UK and are using pounds. Even in dollars that is still a really good deal. Well done!

Right! I believe Waldorf stuff is really expensive in some countries :frowning:

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I know that the OG units were the same light plastic feel, but I feel like I could blow mine off a table with a strong enough fan (only half joking here). As for the knobs I find them far too stiff for my taste, but wouldn’t say they are wobbly. I’ll conceded that this is really a subjective thing as far as its relation to price. I would say overall it’s reasonable for paying a little over $100 for it, but aside from this it feels more toy-ish than any other cheap(ish) synth I own. (Circuit, PO-33, TR09, Microbrute, Drumbrute). I also overestimated how much I actually need an acid bass line in my arsenal.