MATRIXSYNTH: The Top 100 Synths According to the A-Z of Analog Synths

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Top 100 Synths According to the A-Z of Analog Synths

via Ethan Callendar in the comments of this post. Thank you Ethan! Click the image to shoot Peter an email on the availability of the A-Z Books. I have them and they are very, very good - an absolute must have for synth enthusiasts.

"Here are the top 100 according to Peter Forrest's "A-Z of Analogue Synthesisers:

1. Moog Memorymoog (LAM)
2. Roland MKS-80 (w/MPG-80 + MKB-1000)
3. Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 (Rev 3)
4. Moog Memorymoog Plus
5. Sequential Circuits Prophet-10
6. Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 (Rev 2)
7. Oberheim Matrix-12
8. Sequential Circuits Prophet-T8
9. Moog Original Prototype
10. Oberheim Xpander
11. Roland Jupiter-8
12. Yamaha GX-1
13. Korg PS-3300
14. Moog Minimoog
15. Roland System 700
16. Yamaha CS-80
17. E-MU Modular
18. Moog Memorymoog
19. Serge Modular
20. ARP 2600
21. Korg PS-3200
22. Moog 55/35/15
23. Roland JX-10 Super JX (w/PG-800)
24. Roland MKS-80 (w/MPG-80)
25. Roland System 100M (15 Module Rack)
26. Oberheim Eight Voice
27. ARP 2500
28. Moog 10
29. Moog 12
30. Oberheim OB-Mx
31. Oxford OSCar
32. Roland System 100 (Whole System)
33. Wurlitzer EP-200
34. Oberheim OB-8
35. Synton Syrinx
36. Yamaha CP-80
37. ARP Odyssey
38. Buchla System 200-361
39. Elka Synthex
40. Hammond Organ B-3
41. Oberheim Four Voice
42. Sequential Circuits Pro-One
43. Studio Electronics MIDIMoog/Midimini
44. Yamaha CP-60M
45. Yamaha CP-70/CP-70B/CP-70B(M)
46. ARP Centaur
47. Korg PS-3100
48. Korg Trident Mark II
49. Oberheim OB-Xa
50. Roland Jupiter-6
51. Roland JX-8P (w/PG-800)
52. Studio Electronics SE-1
53. EMS VCS3
54. Oberheim OB-X
55. Roland MKS-70 (w/PG-800)
56. Roland SH-5
57. Steiner-Parker Synthasystem Modular
58. Akai AX80
59. EMS Synthi 100
60. EMS Synthi AKS
61. Fender Suitcase 88
62. Moog Polymoog
63. Rhodes Chroma
64. RSF Kobol Expander
65. Aries System III
66. Digisound Mod 80
67. Fender Stage 88
68. Hammond Organ C-3
69. Korg Sigma
70. Oberheim OB-1
71. Rhodes EK-10/MkIII
72. Roland SH-101
73. Roland System 100M (5 Module Rack)
74. Solina String Synthesizer
75. Akai AX60
76. Boehm/Böhm Soundlab
77. E-MU 4600
78. Fender Suitcase 73
79. Hammond Organ A-100
80. Hohner Clavinet D6
81. Moog Multimoog
82. Oberheim Two Voice
83. Octave Voyetra Eight
84. Roland JX-10 Super JX (w/o PG-800)
85. SMS Voice 400 Synthesiser
86. Yamaha CS-60
87. Akai VX600
88. ARP Quadra
89. Chroma Polaris
90. EMS Synthi A
91. Farfisa Compact Duo
92. Fender Stage 73
93. Hohner Clavinet C
94. Roland Juno 106
95. Roland Juno-60
96. EML Electrocomp 101
97. Korg Trident
98. Moog Taurus
99. Yamaha CS-30
100. Cheetah MS6"


  1. Wow...he liked the MemoryMoog so much that he had to list it three times? With its CEM oscillators its less of a Moog synth than the Andromeda.

    And where is the PPG Wave? Surely it is more "best" than the lowly MKS-80, which inexplicably edged out the Jupiter 8.

  2. what???? MKS-80 as the #2 synth of all time?

    don't you think the jupiter-8, on which it's based, would deserve the spot more..

    MKS-80 over the minimoog? the PPG? the MS20? the synthi? the synclavier???

    to each his own, i guess!

  3. Actually the MKS-80 is more like an 8 voice Jupiter 6 in a rack than it is a Jupiter 8.

  4. There are synth's on that list that were never even manufactured?
    Proto types that never saw the light of day..what a joke

  5. "There are synth's on that list that were never even manufactured?
    Proto types that never saw the light of day..what a joke"

    Still better than that Sonicstate list though.

  6. Peter Forrest5/23/07, 2:53 PM

    Ahem, I dreaded someone doing this! It shows what a stupid idea scoring synths was, and how difficult it would be to invent a scoring system that gave the right weight to every facet. I changed my mind on lots of these (many of them given scores ten or more years ago), including the MKS-80, which is nice but nowhere near that nice. In my defence, the books only include (mostly old-ish) analogue (and OSCar...), so that cuts out quite a few possibilities.
    It was a dumb idea and it came up with a pretty dumb result.
    Whether the best monosynth is better than the best polysynth is anyway a difficult question to answer, I think.
    But whatever, I would say a different top ten or twenty if you asked me now.
    Peter Forrest

  7. Actually the MKS-80 is listed twice. One with a master keyboard (decidedly ranking higher than one without)

  8. This was written before the Andromeda?

    What about the Korg Oasys?

    I think you can rate synths, but you need to give them a vector, not a scalar, so you can create the basis for 'synth space' and weight your particular dimensional preferences and just do a k-means clustering algorithm to pull subsets of sexy synths from the space.

  9. "What about the Korg Oasys?"

    Its great for anyone who likes 48khz 16bit DACs. Everyone else who actually cares about the sound quality of their synths need not apply.

  10. So Mr Peter forest:
    Would you supply us with your current top 10 (or 20)? Just for fun?

    btw- I had a friend's copies of your books at my place and my roomate 'lost' them. Damn hard to track down these days! Any plans to reprint those? Thanks!

  11. I took a quick look at the books again, and each synth is rated with the following:

    Ease of Use

    Each is rated from 1 to 10. My guess is the top 100 is based on the overall score for each?

    Fun stuff. : )

  12. BTW, after taking a look at the books again, I can't emphasize how good they are. I think I'm going to need to pick me up another set just to keep by my side at all times and not worry about keeping in immaculate condition. I can be anal that way...

    : )

  13. LOL...the Oberheim OB-mx is rated higher than the OB-Xa,OB-8,OB-X, the Four voice...this is

  14. These lists are so dumb.

  15. The polyphonic ARP Centaur in the top 50 ?
    I remember ARP's s R&D guy Phil Dodds saying it was one of the most convoluted boondoggles that never worked right and helped sink the company, only a few proto's were made and the company shelved it in favor of the Chroma..

  16. "Its great for anyone who likes 48khz 16bit DACs. Everyone else who actually cares about the sound quality of their synths need not apply."

    I don't think 44khz 16 bit DAC's really matter once I've sent it through a Metasonix TS-21 Hellfire Modulator :)

  17. Actually, Doc, you need that high resolution to capture the subtle nuances of the mangling the Metasonix box will impart to your signal. Better yet, you should have the TS-21 retrofitted with some of those $450 wooden knobs in order to make it mangle things in an even more 'natural' way. :)

    Aside of that, I found it interesting that Peter Forrest himself put something of a disclaimer on this list. Not everyone's Top 100 is going to fit anyone else's Top 100, so it's a bit of a waste of bicker about it, I should think. It's just A view of what a Top 100 might be, in amongst everyones' subjective views of what should fit there. Interesting, albeit not definitive.

  18. the SE-1 made it, but no Mono/Poly?
    am i missing something here?

  19. There is no Mono/Poly, because they are less synths, and more 'realizations' (decended from the Realizer?)

  20. great books but these ratings are subjective. ignore them. buy the books and some synths and come to your own conclusions.

  21. heckadecimal, the books are still available. Click on the image in the post and it will bring up and email to Peter where you can ask him how to go about ordering one.

    Buy one so Peter doesn't kill me for putting up the list, but... I'll point the finger at Ethan.

    Regardless these lists are fun.

  22. I like this list not because there is some magical right answer, but because the books helped me to think about differences between synths I would have overlooked. I now have a much better idea of what to look for if I'm using eBay, for example. I suggest that everyone contact Peter for copies of the A-Z books to get a better idea of what the ratings actually mean (and why the PPG Wave, for example, was not included).

  23. BTW — I spent a lot of time tallying the scores in Excel for my own fun. I hoped that posting the order wouldn't constitute any kind of copyright infringement, because I wouldn't include the actual scores or data Peter collected. Again, you'll need to check out his books for the actual info, which is invaluable.

  24. Interesting. I didn't realize you created the list based on the ratings. For some reason I thought the list was in part of the book I missed. Awesome work Ethan. I for one do appreciate it. I remember when I was first going through the books, I was curious what the list would look like. Thanks again.

  25. C'mon... put the Alesis A6 Andromeda somewhere... and the DSI EVolver too...
    this two alone blowns away most of the synth in the list...

    this list is really a joke...

  26. Iw ould also like to see Kawai K-5000, Waldorf Wave and Prophet VS in that list.

  27. Ok, I've spent a long time thinking about this and i came up with a very complex scoring system that takes into account the following categories;

    plastic quality
    colour range
    tape player
    air movement
    stage presence
    air miles
    carbon footprint

    and this is it, the definitive top ten keyboards ever...

    1. Yamaha PSS 140
    2. Casio SK-5
    3. Casio VL Tone VL1
    4. Philips PCM100
    5. Yamaha SHS-10
    6. Yamaha PSS 170
    7. Casio SA-5
    8. Bontempi 104
    9. Casio PT-80
    10. i-Smart 37

  28. well isn't it an ALL ANALOG SYNTH list? ...

    so no Waldorf Wave, PPG, K5000...

  29. I know that Peter loves PPG WAVE.
    I think he has one in his studio.
    But in the books he states that clearly: no hybrids!
    He hadn't no Sequential Prophet VS also: DCO's because have the classic analog waveforms conts as analog but he can't include hybrids:
    think that many samplers have analog filters but they're not count as analog synths.

  30. 23. Roland JX-10
    63. Rhodes Chroma

    *head explodes*

  31. Also the books came out before the Andromeda. Too funny.

  32. i am downright disgusted at where ems synths are in the list.

  33. C'mon... put the Alesis A6 Andromeda somewhere... and the DSI EVolver too...
    this two alone blowns away most of the synth in the list...

    this list is really a joke...

    1:00 AM

    You sir know nothing about synths



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