MATRIXSYNTH: Top 10 Synths of All Time

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Top 10 Synths of All Time

As we all know there was a bit of controversy over Sonic State's Top 20 Greatest Synths of all time. The controversy of course was what was on the list did not match up to what might have been on your list. Mick decided to put up a post on his top 10 synths of all time. Title link takes you to the list with descriptions on why for each. The number one synth on his list? The Yamaha CX5M. Its fascinating to see what people pick and why.

BTW, if you want to share your top 10 or top three for that matter, feel free to leave the list in the comments with the reason why for each. If we get enough entries, I'll add this to the sticky posts list on the right.


  1. would you call tha Akai Samplers a synth? thats what this guy did in his top 10

    TOP 4
    1 EMS Synthi VCS3
    2 ARP 2600
    3 Oberheim Xpander
    4 Roland Jupiter 8

    There needs to be a TOP 10 Drum machines

    1 TR 909
    2 TR 808
    3 Sequential Circuits Drumtrax
    4 Linn Drum

  2. ghostdog: stretching it a bit, perhaps, but if you consider the sample itself as just a waveform, the instrument lets you apply envelopes, filters, etc. They're much more flexible than the the #2 - CSM10!

  3. Here's the undisputable truth ;-)

    Top 5 drum machines:

    1. Korg kr-55
    2. Roland Cr-78
    3. Roland Tr-808
    4. Simmons Sds-V
    5. Linn Lm-2

    Top 5 synths:

    1. Minimoog
    2. Roland System 100
    3. SCI Pro~one
    4. Arp Odyssey
    5. Memorymoog (lamm)

  4. My personal top five, in no particular order:

    Eurorack Modular
    Moog Modular
    Oberheim Xpander
    Serge Modular


  6. My Personal Top 5 Synths:

    1 ... Modcan Modular (closest to sex)
    2 ... Korg Oasys 88 (shiatsu massage)
    3 ... Minimoog Voyager (wheat grass smoothie)
    4 ... Kyma/Capybara (orbiting death ray)
    5 ... Ionic Performer (time travel)

  7. 1. Moog Modular (remember "Switched-On Bach" and the way it started outside the avangarde circles)
    2. Minimoog (still the lead and bass synth all others have to compared with)
    3. Yamaha CS80 (if you ever really enjoyed to play it yourself, you will know why,. The tone parameters and the ringmodulator in the master section alone are superb for real individual sounds)
    4. ARP 2600 (the light version of a modular)
    5. EMS VCS3 / Snythi A(KS) (being THE noise machine and starter for many european synth masters)
    6. PPG wave 2.2 ("the best of both worlds" was an slogan for an add of them)
    7. Prophet 5 (the first poly synth for so many artist. Still sounding great)
    8. Waldorf WAVE (for being the best wavetable synth ever. And with such a beautiful interface and design)
    9. ARP Odyssey (THE other monosynth of the old days)
    10. DX7 (for changing the synth market and introducing Midi to the masses)

    keep on turning these knobs

    Till "Qwave" Kopper (own of 2 synth listed above)

  8. 1 ems synthi 100
    2 buchla 200e
    3 korg ps-3300
    4 arp 2600
    5 roland jupiter 8

    of course i dont exclude the original 200 modules, and the only reason synthi aks didnt beat out arp 2600 is because i already put a synthi on my list, but you get the idea.

    ps. why am i the first to mention synthi 100? am i the only one on this blog with a copy of r.u.o.k.?

  9. It's subjective, but here goes...

    1. Buchla 200. All aspects of the user interface from the tactile element to the visual layout tie directly into the soul of the individual's musicality, both as performer and composer. It also sounds solid as a rock.

    Actually, I'm not sure the Buchla 200 should even be on the list. It is more of an instrument unto itself, not really part of the "synth" lineage. The 100 was pretty wonderful, too, but clearly an evolutionary forerunner.

    Ok, I'll start the list over...

    1. Minimoog, just like anonymous said, anything else trying to do bass or lead is a second fiddle. It is not only a massive improvement on the user interface of its awkward modular predecessor, but it also set the standard for ALL keyboard synthesizers to follow.

    2. CS80. Each person who plays a CS80 sounds like himself. Just like a real instrument.

    3. Anything made by Roland from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Anything. System 700, Jupiter, Juno, SH-whatever, TR808, TB303, Vocoder Plus... anything.

    4. Prophet-5. You can record an entire album with one, no problem.

    5. Minimoog. It should be on the list twice.

    1. 2. CS80. Each person who plays a CS80 sounds like himself. Just like a real instrument.

      Err, no. Each person who plays a CS80 sounds exactly like Vangelis. Even Eno said the CS-80 has limited sonics, but it sounds really good. I've owned two so I know of what I speak.

  10. 1. casio cz-101
    2. e-mu drumulator
    3. moog opus 3
    4. elka twin 61
    5. yamaha dx100

    actually reed's list is a little better.

  11. Ok so here we go.
    Matt P's Top 5 Greatest Synths

    Number 5: Yamaha DX7

    While not many people can program these synths, its EP's, punchy basses, and glistening bells launched the digital revolution and defined a decade's worth of pop music.

    Number 4: Clavia Nord Lead

    Rescued the synth enthuiasts from said bells, EP's and moreover the terrible interfaces of the mid to late 80's digital synths /workstations. Brought back the analog sound and an intuitive user interface plus other features at an affordable price point. Bringing analog sounds to a whole new generation.

    Number 3: Sequential Circuits Pro One

    This synth redefined what a "simple
    " mono synth was capable of. From the sequencer to the fairly extensive modulation capabilities, the Pro One is not to be underestimated. According to Vince Clarke, who essentially created an entire album with the Pro One "you can make any sound you want on it."
    Enough said.

    2. Sequential Circuits Prophet 5

    THE poly synth for almost any artist worth his salt back in the late 70's/early 80's. The Prophet 5 oozes charisma and to this day is one of the best sounding synths ever. Also significant for the fact it was the first synth to employ microprocessor controll and integrated circuit oscillators.

    1. Moog Minimoog

    I know it's beyong cliche' at this point, but lets be honest. None of us would be here if it weren't for the mini. It is the measuring stick when one talks of fatness or warmth. A timeless synth.

  12. Much obliged reed. Cheers

  13. as i said on CDM blog,

    you have to add the Vox Continental, and or the Farfisa duo compact deluxe. listen to early pink floyd and you think he's using a synth.

  14. Don't people know the difference between a synthesizer and a rompler/sampler/something-that's-not-a-synthesizer? A third of the items on Sonic State's list weren't even synths at all. Even less on Mick's list...

  15. My Top 10 synths, well OK:

    1 CS80
    2 Prophet VS
    3 Elka Synthex
    4 TB303
    5 Jupiter 8
    6 Waldorf Wave
    7 Oberheim 8 voice
    8 EMS Synthi AKS
    9 Arp Odyssey
    10 Moog Minimoog

  16. 1. EMS Synthi 100
    2. CS-80
    3. Oberheim 8voice (SEM)
    4. Polymoog
    5. Korg PS3300
    6. ARP Chroma
    7. ARP 2600
    8. Fairlight CMI
    9. PPG Wave 2.3
    10. Roland SH-3A

  17. Buchla 200
    Korg MS 20/MS 50
    Oberheim OBX

    mmmmmm... heavenly

  18. 1. EMS VCS3 (Synthi A) - the first really portable synths, with great flexibility and sound... very inspirational instrument, with wonderfull sound and its special phylosophy.
    2. Buchla 200 - exeptional modular... agin, very special phylosophy, not moogish and thats great in my mind.
    3. Moog Prodigy - very simple monosynth... but wonderfully sounding... and the best sync sound I've ever heard.
    4. Oberheim Matrix12 (Xpander) - the greatest polysynth ever... The sound quality, flexibility, character, user interface... a master piece...
    5. Theremin... Yeas,yeas ... thats it... :) No comments.
    6. Waldorf Wave - some one here already said my thoughts about that beaty.
    7. Polyvox - russian... but very uniq synth...
    8.SCI Pro One...Small and dangerouse... Cold harted killer.
    9.Arp 2600. Click and kill at a high-end level.
    10.OSCar... No comments. Thats subjective... I like rubbbber....rubbber... rubbber sound...

  19. 1.TB-303
    2.FR Revolution
    8.Syntechno TeeBee

    For real


  20. yamaha cs01
    arp string machine (any)

    not ten, i know.i agree with a lot of what's on the list already and would say that with the adaptable outline for the list some new stuff although unproven and likely derivative is also noteworthy. 'Ever' seems to imply sentimental vintagism. ?. the pieces i listed are some crucial personal favorites. if you haven't tried them out you may be surpised by the richness and depth of their sounds. i'm always inspired

  21. here are my favorite synths:

    10 - yamaha TX816
    eight DX7s in a box - 'where did I put that manual?'

    9 - sequential T8
    big rich sound and everything in its right place

    8 - EMS VCS3
    complex, flexible and clever. always the most 'organic' sounding synth in the room

    7 - ARP 2500
    'the concert grand of synths'

    6 - fairlight CMI 2X
    cold-war style synthesis with a green screen and light pen

    5 - yamaha CS80
    massive as well as infinitely subtle polysynth

    4 - serge modular
    each module has multiple functions depending on how you patch them, the filters have VC slope.....say no more

    3 - symbolic sound Kyma
    the ultimate geek-fest - you can sequence any combination of digital synthesis in a timeline. Nested modules!

    2 - NED synclavier PSMT
    incredible sounding DACs and inspirational user interface bringing together additive, FM, sampling and resynthesis

    1 - moog modular 3C
    it really does sound bigger, richer and better than any other analog system i know. And its a moog

  22. Huh, so hard to choose. Here's one more...

    1) Moog Modular (1-2-3 not the later System ones), early oscillators sound best.

    2) Buchla modular - any incarnation. Superb design and execution.

    3) Alesis Andromeda - I know people don't love them, but it has AMAZING power of patchability (truly a polyphonic modular synth, plus MIDI). The BEST touch response ever - as you program it yourself to make anything respond however you want...

    4) Minimoog - damn sensible package, great results.

    5) Con Brio ADS-200: the best SOUNDING digital synth and with the best interface as well. (And it looks great)

    6) ARP 2600 - a great design in a sensible package.

    7) Yamaha CS80 - agreed here - it IS a monster of tone.

    8) Oberheim 2-4-8 Voice: Almost as good as the CS80 and with more sound options. Sick to program, but the changes between voices make it that much more fat. Eats ANY other Oberheim for breakfast!

    9) Yamaha SH3/SH5 - seriously strong tone, very clear and powerful. (Minimal sound options though.)

    10) Rhodes Chroma - really good sound, yet impossible to program, but the KEYBOARD FEEL is the greatest on any keyboard I've ever played (including mice pianos etc). Best MIDI controller ever.

  23. If we're talking "greatest" & not "best", (there's a difference)then the Korg M1, Kurzweil K250 & Yamaha DX7, definitely deserve a place on the list. Those were 3, revolutionary & innovative keyboards, that had a HUGE impact on the music world. And let's not forget the Korg Wavestation, Yamaha SY22 ("vector synthesis") & Kawai K5000, Ensoniq Fizmo & Alesis A6 Andromeda. It seems like most people have listed only analog synths & completely ignored digital or hybrid synths. There are some really great digital synths. I also think the Korg Kronos deserves honorable mention. It's not "vintage", but it's an amazing instrument & by far, Korg's best synth to date.



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