The past several years has given us an explosion of cheap, high quality analog synthesizers to the point where its hard to know what to buy. If you're on a budget, looking for a gift for the synth-lover in your life, or just want to find some new synthesizers you've never heard of, this list should help you understand your options. All the synths on this list are analog, came out in the past several years, and all are available for under $500 (if you buy used). If you've never bought a synthesizer used, don't worry! Use sites like Reverb.com and only buy from sellers with a good reputation, i've never had a problem (even on Ebay).
The list is mostly ordered by price (depending on if you buy used or new), so you should be able to find the best analog synth that fits your budget. I purchased each of these synthesizers with my own money, and love them all in their own ways - but I will point out which ones are my favorite along the way. I will also point out that i'm going to exclude drum synthesizers and drum machines for this list to avoid any confusion.
For $299 brand new, everyone should buy this synthesizer. Its a modern day clone of a Moog Model-D for a price so cheap you could buy 10 of these for the price of 1 Moog. Its a monophonic analog synthesizer with 3 VCO's (voltage controlled oscillators), a beautiful VCF (voltage controlled filter), VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) ADSR (attack-decay-sustain-release), VCF ADSR and a noise source.
In the past Behringer has been known for some questionable quality decisions, but their modern synthesizers are built very well with a high attention to detail at rock bottom prices. It has a few patch points and can be mounted into a Eurorack setup. Take a listen for yourself, I think you'll love what it can do:
Also for $299, the Behringer Neutron is a modern designed synthesizer with vintage flair. It features 2 VCO's, a switchable VCF, VCA ADSR, VCF ADSR, analog delay, saturation, a noise source, and 56 patch points. With the patch points and Eurorack size format, you can easily integrate this into a Eurorack setup for some powerful paraphonic synth sounds.
Take a listen for yourself:
I've also created a first impressions and overview of what the Behringer Neutron can do.
Korg MS-20 Mini
The Korg MS-20 Mini is a modern recreation of the vintage Korg MS-20 for a very good price of $459 new. Its a monophonic synthesizer with a built in keyboard, in a kind of desktop format with semi-modular capabilities. Even though its brand new the MS-20 Mini has that vintage vibe, with a lovely gritty resonating filter, huge bass tones, lush ambient leads, and more. It has a reputation at being great for ambient tones and weird space-FX. It features two VCO's, a LPF and HPF, 2 envelopes, an LFO, and external sound processing section, and a modular patch bay.
I wish it came in a smaller rack-mount or Eurorack format, but Korg clearly wanted to keep the original vibe of the original. The only downside to this is that the keyboard feels quite small and cheap, but for a beginner this may be the perfect all-in-one type of synthesizer they need to get into the world of synths without breaking the bank.
The Moog Mother-32 is Moog's entry into the semi-modular synthesis world. It features 1 oscillator that can switch between Pulse and Saw waveforms, an LFO, a white noise generator, and an external audio input. It also has a 32 step sequencer, 32 patch points, Eurorack compatibility, and a 13 note keypad.
If you're looking for a great first synthesizer to get into Eurorack, the Mother-32 is a great one. My first hardware synthesizer ever was actually the Mother-32, and it was the perfect companion as I started buying Eurorack modules since it has a lot of features built in.
Behringer Deepmind 12 & Deepmind 12D
The Deepmind 12 is Behringer's modern interpretation of the Roland Juno-106, without being an actual recreation of the original. This is the only polyphonic analog synthesizer on this list, and is the most powerful in terms of features. It comes in both a keyboard version and a desktop version (I have the desktop version rack-mounted). The keyboard version is $699 brand-new while the desktop version is $599, but you can find the 12D available used for $500. Personally I always go for desktop or rack-mounted versions to save space, since I always control them from my keyboard controller. The Deepmind 12 has so many features, i'll list them out in bullet format:
12 Notes of polyphony (voices)
2 DCO's (digitally controlled analog oscillators)
Extensive modulation matrix
Four digital FX engines
Built in Wi-Fi
Very powerful computer editor
This synthesizer is perfect for ambient and atmospheric pads due to its powerful effects and modulation matrix. At the same time it could easily function as your only synthesizer, able to create brutal bass tones, soaring leads, and crazy special FX.