Recently I was thinking about Elektron’s fallow period and how hardware makers change over time. Some companies seem to hit it out of the park with every product they release while others grow stale. The synth market is more crowded and competitive than ever, which puts pressure on those companies to walk the line between remaining interesting/innovative while selling enough volume to stay afloat.
What hardware companies do you think are the most consistently interesting and/or innovative?
Elektron gear was my biggest inspiration at the beginning of my hardware journey, and continues to be the backbone of my rig. I love almost everything that Erika Synths releases. Soma Labs always manages to blow my mind.
But for me, Arturia has unexpectedly vaulted to the top of my favorite synth-makers. They don’t have the name recognition or pedigree that Moog or Sequential has, but I think they make the coolest shit. I love the chances they’ve taken with flagship-level hardware such as the Matrix- and Polybrute. And their mid- and lower-tier stuff is really underrated. I never see anyone mention the Minibrute 2S in any “best of” list, but that thing is a jam party with its 4 lane sequencer and parameter knobs for each step. And of course this is the company that brought us the Microfreak. You definitely see the genius of Pigments leaking into their hardware development.
How about you people? What hardware makers generally inspire you the most and why?