Modern Digital Synths

In thinking about the demise of the MnM, I have had difficulty in locating a definitive list of modern hardware digital synths with which to compare to it. So with your help, I would love to start and maintain one here (if no one minds). What I have here is not complete, so please add anything you can think of, and I will add an additional section at the bottom for hybrids that contain both digital and analog oscillators (hybrids that do not contain digital oscillators can be reserved for another list).

Not interested in pianos for this list.

Cut-off dates are tough because there are a lot of useful synths out there. But let’s stick to machines that are currently in production, or that were taken out of production since the year 2000. So Nord Lead 3: Yes. Nord Lead 2: No.

The List:

Access Virus TI Series
Access Virus TI2 Series
Alesis Fusion
Alesis Ion
Alesis Micron
Arturia Origin
Audiothingies P6
Audiothingies Micromonsta
BASTL Trinity
Clavia Nord Lead/Rack Series
Clavia Nord Drum Series
Clavia Nord Modular Series
Clavia Nord Wave
Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass
Electron Monomachine
Electron Machinedrum
Emu Proteus Series
John Bowen Solaris
Korg Electribe Series
Korg Kaoss Pad Series
Korg KingKORG
Korg MicroKorg
Korg MicroKorg XL
Korg Radias
Korg Volca FM
Kurzweil K2661
Kurzweil PC3 Series
Meeblip Anode
Modor NF-1
Mutable Instruments Ambika
Mutable Instruments Shruthi
Novation Mininova
Novation Ultranova
Ploytec PL2 MIDI
Ploytec PL2 Leukos USB
Radikal Technologies Accelerator
Roland Aira System-1(m)
Roland Aira TB-3
Roland GAIA SH-01
Roland JP-08 (Boutique)
Roland JU-06 (Boutique)
Roland JX-03 (Boutique)
Roland Fantom Series
Soulsby Atmegatron
Studiologic Sledge 2.0
Teenage Engineering OP-1
Teenage Engineering PO-12 Rhythm
Teenage Engineering PO-14 Sub
Teenage Engineering PO-16 Factory
Teenage Engineering PO-20 Arcade
Teenage Engineering PO-24 Office
Teenage Engineering PO-28 Robot
Twisted Electrons TherapSID
Waldorf Blofeld Series
Waldorf MicroQ
Waldorf Microwave Series
Waldorf Q
Waldorf Streichfett
Yamaha MOTIF Series
Yamaha Reface CP
Yamaha Reface CS
Yamaha Reface DX
Yamaha Reface YC

Euro Rack:

Waldorf nw1

DSI Evolver Series
DSI Pro 2
DSI Prophet 12
DSI Tempest
Modal Electronics 001
Modal Electronics 002
Mutable Instruments Ambika
Mutable Instruments Shruthi
Radikal Technologies Spectralis 2
Roland JD-XI
Roland JD-XA

Quite a list.
Would add Nord Drum 2 and 1 but it’s discontinued…

I certainly don’t mind, but do you mind me asking what you want to use this list for? And what is the cut-off date (or criterion) for “modern”?


Nord Lead/Rack 2X
Nord Lead/Rack 3
Nord Modular G1, G2 etc

many, many Proteus variants

the Kaoss Pads include synths

V-Synth /XT/GT


I think that’s hard. There’s nothing really in the same realm. I’m thinking the concept of integrated sequencer & synthesis engine (with several different ones to choose from).

But - I just ordered a DSI Prophet 12 module. So I’ll add that to the list!

I would add …

  • Arturia Origin
  • John Bowen Solaris
  • Modor NF-1
  • Twisted Electrons TherapSID

Your lists mixes a couple of different synth concepts … like virtual analoge synths and synths, which try to exploit other digital synthesis methods. This are very different machines and very different results … soundwise … :wink:

The real question should be, which sonic territory is in your mind? What do you miss? What do you want to add?

The MnM is an unique instrument with it’s sound engines combined with an Elektron sequencer. What is it that you want to replace or make completely different. IMHO your list can’t give you the answers.

Lists are helpful (See: Modern Analog Synths- The Elektronauts List). But since this is a question (when it comes to digital synths) perhaps what you and others are trying to tell me is that no one cares about such a list. But I care, and perhaps others do also.

I’ve done some recent research on digital synths, so I’m sharing what I’ve looked at. But I also hope to research machines that I am ignorant of because ignorance appears to be one of my most persistent qualities. Thank-you for the items you pointed out, I will update.

Cut-off dates are tough, because there are a lot of useful synths out there. But let’s stick with machines that are currently in production, or that were taken out of production since the year 2000. So, Nord Lead 3: Yes. Nord Lead 2: No. Someone else can do a vintage-to-1999 list if they want to.

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Alesis Fusion

Korg Wavestation series
Korg DW6000/8000

Novation Supernova and entire heritage

Radikal Technologies- Spectralis 2 - a mixed hybrid but incredible sequencer, analog/digital/samples

Quasimidi Polymorph (1999) but relevant

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Kurzweil K2661

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That’s a good point. I’m not sure what the distinctions should be to define a modern digital synth. Perhaps it might be more useful to forget the 2000 cut-off and divide them into categories. What are the different types of DSP synths besides VA, FM, and 8-bit?

I wouldn’t call the bit-resolution a specific method of synthesis, it’s more about aliasing and dynamics of a generated sound. Striktly speaking there is also a difference between synths and samplers or romplers. The difference is that a synth generates it’s sound by repeating a single waveform … but a sampler uses recorded sounds and often more than one sample only.

If you are interested in physical modeling, the Yamaha VL series comes to my mind. I have a Yamaha VL70m, which is great for woodwind and brass sounds and even strings.

The Korg Kronos comes with the STR-1 synth, which is a physical modeling synth to create string and bell like sounds … and the MOD-7, which is a DX7-patch compatible FM-synth that adds the use of samples and waveshaping. Both geneerate amazing sounds and are IMHO modern digital synth concepts.

AFAIK for Karplus-Strong-like synthesis you have to go modular (well, there maybe plug-ins of cause …). There are Mutable Instruments Elements and Rings, or Make Noise Mysteron.

A very specific digital synthesis method provides the Make Noise tHelharmonic module

If you are interested in digital synthesis out of the mainstream, I would recommend to visit to the world of modulars, because there is absolutely new sonic territory, which you will not find in other synths … :smiley:

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The Alesis Andromeda and the Modal 008 are analog synths

Mutable Shruthi & Ambika
Prophet 12

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Thanks for the catch.