What synths compare well to A4/AK?

I’m definitely in a honeymoon phase with my A4. The sonic “a-ha!” moments keep happening. The overall sound works very well with my music. There is a smoothness to the A4 that I can really appreciate, but when I need it to growl and bite it can do that too. It’s also a joy to program now that I know my way around. More and more of my tracks have A4 up front and center, and I’m constantly inspired by its capabilities. So much that I’m considering an Analog Keys down the road for expansion.

But this has made me wonder what other synths out there compare?
Before I add 4 more voices of what I already love, perhaps there is something of similar value that does the same, but differently?
By that I mean with regard to sonic capabilities. Let’s even set aside the powerful Elektron sequencer, and just compare the synthesis.
I use the both SUB OSCs often, usually with one in the 5th for chords. This has me looking toward other 3 and 4 OSC synths. Also, the dual filters play a big role in the sound of the patches I am making. I also like using all 4 tracks, so that it makes it a bit difficult to find an analog counterpart with such capability.

Analog:
Pulse 2? 3osc, no sub, 1 filter - (but Paraphonic up to 8 voices.)
Forthcoming kickstartered project, Prava synth? 3osc, no sub, 2 filters. (configurable for multiple voices)
Bass Station 2? 2osc, 1 sub, 1 filter (1 voice) points for cheap 2nd hand prices
Mopho X4? 2osc, 1 sub, 1 filter (4 voices)

Hybrid:
DSI Pro 2 4osc, 1 sub, 2 filters (1 voice +paraphonic w/ gated envelopes)
DSI Prophet 12 Module? 4osc per voice, 1 sub, 2 filters (12 note poly, 2 part timbral)

Are there any comparable synths out there I am missing?

On a score card, I can take points off all of these when comparing to the A4/AK, mostly with regard to respective multi-modes (I especially wish the P12 were 4 part multitimbral). Because of the sound locking sequencer and the 2osc+2sub on each of the A4/AK’s voices, it just does not feel that limited with only 4 voices. Each track can be so powerful.
I give a lot of points for OSCS and 2x filters, so DSI looks good. However, it just seems like the A4/AK gives so much more for the price. Also considered Nord Rack 2x, but I feel like I am growing a way from the Nord Lead sound. Is the Virus TI with its modeled analog filter good enough to compete with the likes of DSI, in the name of massive polyphony and multitimbrality?

Your thoughts?

That’s kind of tricky to compare the A4 with others synths because very difficult to focus on the sonic capabilities only.

All the synths that you mention are really different (that’s the point you will argue :joy: )
[li]- The pulse 2 is the closest in my opinion. But pricey.[/li]
[li]- Bass station is second but wihout the same crazy modulation offered by the pulse’s matrix. It is cheap and bread and butter tho.[/li]
[li]- Mopho X4 i don’t know but the Mopho’s filter is…well if you google it you will see that it is not the best.[/li]

Other DSI…dunno due to my bad experience with the previously mentionned Mopho.

I assume that you want to focus solely on new gear?

I had a Virus. I really liked it but after 2 years of owning it along side the Elektrons, the menu diving started to drive me nuts.

Hate to be so obvious here but nothing else compares.

If you like the Elektron flow, sound, etc - just bite the bullet get another one.

I’ve also briefly owned some of the DSI stuff - same situation I first mentioned.

might not tick most of your boxes, but the microbrute offers a tonne of sound variation for not a lot of money (per voice), it’s refreshingly all hands on, hooks up nice to the A4 and is quite astonishing in terms of versatility - i adore the traditional prophet-5, SEM type filter, but whilst the P8 is a fine instrument i find the sound design potential of the A4 far more rewarding as the filter is less constrained, the microbrute goes further down that trajectory away from ‘safe’ - there are not many analog voices which are as high on bang for buck as that per voice - it’s gnarly
.
digital: blofeld is astonishingly good value and very flexible, very credible VA and oh so deep plus there’s the mighty non analog oscillator side to push through very flexible filters - again not what you’ve pitched for, but worth flagging up on the value side if you’re not familiar with either - fwiw, the original waldorf pulse+ (3osc) is also cheap s/h and is a monster with (only) a moog style ladder filter and a lot more flexibility, also cv - desktop evolver is cheap s/h, crazy flexibility for one voice - anyway, i’m sure there are tonnes more that better suit your needs tbh

1 Like

I second - even if for similar price (second hand) the BassStation II may offer a little more.

What about a Happy Ending Kit and an Intellijel Atlantis, and you could fill out the rest of the rack as you choose? You’d both expand your A4 and get a new synth voice to play with.

I like the filters on the Pro2 better than the Prophet 12… If the Prophet 12 had the Pro 2 filters, I might get it… The Prophet 12 as is just does not make me love it enough. I don’t want a ton of gear so each machine has to really please me and fill a central role.
Madal makes some intriguing stuff… very expensive
In the meanwhile, I find the Rytm to be a great companion to the A4/AK (I got the AK). It adds a bunch of voices, has the same great sequencing, and it is flexible enough to do some lovely leads and basslines and fx sounds. Because you can do sounds based on samples put through the analog circuitry, it can have a quite different palette than the A4/AK.

My CV track is fully occupied at the moment, triggering Nord Drum.

Thanks. My Rytm and Monomachine+ are great at flanking the A4.
The Rytm is loaded up with thousands of sample hits and single cycle waveforms. I’m a big proponent of waveform chains. Great basses, indeed.

I’m not necessarily looking for something else, or something to add to my A4. in fact the MonoMachine with the Oxford Overdrive and Immortal Waves digibanks makes for a great VA sound. Just interested in the conversation about what, if anything, can compare to the A4/AK, before I add 4 more voices of that great sound.

Perhaps djadaonis is correct. And, as far as the A4/AK is concerned…

I really enjoy my Bass Station II, but I enjoy it because it it sounds quite different than the Analog 4 and I use it for different things. The BSII is best for deep bass and high def leads. Also it can be used as a sort of undocumented analog FM synth if you turn the filter Res up to self oscillation along with the filter FM, and LFO 1 with key sync modding OSC 2 you have a 3 OSC FM synth. Which the A4 cannot do as it’s LFO’s do not track and you can’t modulate anything from the OSC’s.

I think the A4 is better for poly stuff, modulating weirdness, sparkly chip sounds and wild overdriven dirty tones.
The Bass Station is very clear sounding, I prefer the raw sound of it’s oscillators (although the A4 has more options for tone) and has a phatter characteristic to the overdrive while the A4’s IMO is dirtier. The distortion knob on the BSII sucks and I never use it but the filter overdrive is plenty. The BSII is limited in comparison to the A4 in the modulation department but all the important mod options are there.

It’s not what I would go for if I wanted the same sound or features as the A4 but if you want more sound options it’s an amazing synth, especially for the price.

+1 for Evolver. I haven’t bothered with Analog Four at all because I have five voices of Evolver (desktop + Poly (rack)).
Each voice has 4 oscillators (two analogue and two digital), and the modulation options are incredible.
For interface considerations, you might prefer the Poly Evolver Keyboard configuration.


If you’re into VAs, may I heartily recommend that you buy my Alesis Ion keyboard. Four-part multitimbral, beautiful design, and lots and lots of modulation and envelope goodness. [/ad]

+1 for Evolver. I haven’t bothered with Analog Four at all because I have five voices of Evolver (desktop + Poly (rack)).
Each voice has 4 oscillators (two analogue and two digital), and the modulation options are incredible.
For interface considerations, you might prefer the Poly Evolver Keyboard configuration.


If you’re into VAs, may I heartily recommend that you buy my Alesis Ion keyboard. Four-part multitimbral, beautiful design, and lots and lots of modulation and envelope goodness. [/ad][/quote]
Thanks, Peter, and avantronica…
The Evolver has been on my radar as well. I especially like the portability, program matrix, and at $400 per voice s/h, it’s probably the #1 alternative with the type of criteria I am looking for. Sequencing each oscillator independently seems to give it some unique mojo, as well. Lots of bonus points.

1 Like

About six months ago I decided to sell my synth rig and start fresh. I first acquired a Bass Station II and immediately knew I had struck gold–especially considering the price. After trying 3-4 other synths to use with the BSII I was consistently underwhelmed so I managed to double my budget and pirchase an A4. Admittedly I still have an enormous amount of learning ahead but I am certain these are two of the best pieces of gear I have ever owned. The BSII and A4 complimement each other extremely well in sonics, size and quality.

Thanks, sabcult.

I’m 90% certain BS2 is in my future. I just keep coming back to it, and that has to count for something. Also the Evolver is one I’d like to get my hands on some day.

One synth I never considered, due to its massive price when it was announced is the Alesis Andromeda A6. It appears to be very similar spec wise, to having an AK + 3 A4s, at a far less price per voice. The catch is you have to buy 16 voices at once.

On paper similarities:
2 OSC, 2 SUB, SYNC, PWM, 2 FILT, 3 ENV, FX, ARP, SEQ,

It adds a 3rd LFO too.

At around $150-$175 per voice based on used prices, it somehow comes across as a bargain for all those voices. (AK used = $338/voice, A4 = $238/voice). However, for my live needs and purposes, I’d have to add an Octatrack to it, as there is no way I am getting a 61 key analog synth to gigs, so performances would have to be from samples. OT seq won’t hurt either… Ah… slippery slope! Too bad they never made a 37 key version.

I’ll probably just grab an AK. Though, the Andromeda A6 will be in the back of my mind for some time now.

  • +Mono Evolver Keyboard poly chained to Poly Evolver Rack
  • Alesis Ion

The Evolver is like what some alien civilization would have for an entertainment device on spaceship consoles. It has never ceased to surprise me. The A4 compliments it, but by no means matches it.

Alesis Ion is a powerful beast that with all the various damn great filters, you really can emulate just about anything you can think of ‘vintage’ but it’s when you go off the deep end of sonic exploration, it’s quite powerful and can sound quite analog.

What your rig was like before you hit the reset button?

Also, I’m curious about the Evolver. It’s been on my radar for a really long time. I have a Shruthi-1 and a Microbrute and it seems to overlap both of those as well as having some unique tricks up its sleeve. What kinds of sounds is it good at?

I want one of those so badly.
I sold my desktop Evolver and still regret it. Ballsiest synth I played.
Although the A4 is really really close but more flexible.

I have the desktop Evolver and it’s great complement piece to the A4. You can do crazy modulated sounds on both. A4 sounding warmer and Evolver sounding harder.

The sound isn’t for everyone but if you want a hard crazy modulate sound it’s one of the best in a compact unit.

You have 4 OSC, 3 ENV, 4 LFOs, another 4 modulation slots, and 4 16 step sequencer which can play notes and be used as a modulation source. FM and Ring mod. OSC as a mod source. You can have OSC4 FM/Ring mod a OSC3 which FM/Ring MOD the OSC 4.

It’s the closest thing to a modular in a compact unit.

Now for the negative:

I’m not a biggest fan of the Curtis filters. Then again I’m not big on A4 filters either although it’s better than the Curtis filter.

I’m also not a big fan of matrix interface. There are free patch editors and you can also buy the Soundtower version. I mainly use the free Ipad app which is pretty good. The Evolver has pretty good midi implementation and many of the parameters can be control via midi CC. I have mapped most the CC params on my Akai MPD32 which I use for live tweaking or quick patch editing.

Not a big deal for me but some have complained about not having a USB port.

1 Like

ahem ! :wink:
.

.
best synth per footprint by a long way imho
pure red gold

Alesis Ion has come up a couple of times, worth mentioning that Akai Miniak and Alesis Micron also use the Ion engine and can be had for next to nothing second hand. Granted, patch editing is painful on both, unless you use a computer.

I’ve got a Miniak - it was one of my first purchases, and I still use it all the time. Very capable VA, with a lot of charm, but I wouldn’t compare it to my A4 either sound or functionality wise. Afaik the only difference between it and the Ion is extra real estate on the front panel.

1 Like