The best synths to buy in 2020: 14 best polysynths

Complex chords, multi-timbral parts or lush ambient progressions – if you’re looking to fulfil any of these duties on a synth, then you’ll likely want one with polyphonic talents.

In the last few years, hardware instruments have been enjoying a major resurgence; polysynths and their monophonic brethren now come in more shapes, sizes and employ more varied forms of synthesis than ever before.

Generally speaking, polysynths also tend to be more expensive than their monophonic counterparts; because each voice includes not just an oscillator, but often its own filter and envelope shaping components – things can get expensive fairly quickly.

In our list, we’ve compiled the best polysynths over a range of prices, so that – whether it’s a steadfast studio companion you’re looking for, or something compact to join the rest of your setup – you’ll be able to find the best one for you. Let’s dive in.

14 best polysynths at a glance:

  • UDO Super 6
  • Roland Jupiter X
  • Ashun Sound Machines Hydrasynth
  • Korg Wavestate
  • Waldorf Kyra
  • Moog One
  • Novation Summit
  • Arturia PolyBrute
  • Korg Minilogue XD
  • Waldorf Quantum
  • Elektron Analog Four Mk II
  • Sequential Prophet-5
  • Behringer Poly-D
  • Roland JU-06A

UDO Super 6

UDO Super-6

Bristol-based UDO caused quite the stir when they unveiled the Super 6, its inaugural instrument, at the 2019 Superbooth in Berlin. We’re happy to report that the polysynth lived up to the hype, earning not only a perfect score in MusicTech’s review, but a well-deserved Innovation Award as well.

The Super 6 is a 12-voice polysynth equipped with FPGA-driven DDS oscillators and a host of useful features and effects. One of the polysynth’s biggest draws is also its namesake; a unique binaural mode lets you mash its 12 voices down into six super voices, creating a distinct texture-thickening effect. This mode is the pathway down uncharted sonic territory, where riveting spatial effects shine and help set the synth apart from its peers.

The Super 6 is definitely an expert-level synth, especially for the money, but if you’re looking for something replete with functions to get lost in – definitely consider it.

Read our full review here.

Price: £2200
Synthesis type: Analogue-hybrid
Polyphony: 12 voices
Keyboard: Fatar keybed, 49 keys
Effects: Stereo chorus, stereo delay

Roland Jupiter X

The voice of reason screams at the very thought of paying £10,000 for a pre-loved Roland Jupiter 8 – and yet, it’s hard to deny that few vintage polysynths have ever come to earn such high regard. Enter the Jupiter X, a convincing doppelganger of the esteemed classic that’s as much a joy to look at as it is to actually play

Let’s address the elephant in the room: the Jupiter X is not an analogue device. However, Roland’s ZEN-Core technology, along with some cleverly engineered elements let you get pedantic with the emulation. There are options that let you decide the synth’s age (up to 100 year); detuning due to operating temperature, and also, whether to use a faux ‘circuit warm-up’ cycle.

Digital modelling also means that you aren’t limited to just emulating the Jupiter 8; the Jupiter X comes preloaded with other models such as the Juno 106, SH-101 and even drum machines like the TR-808/909 and CR-78.

Read our full review here.

Price: £2,199/€2,499
Synthesis type: Analogue-modelling
Polyphony: 32 voices
Keyboard: Semi-weighted, 61 keys
Pads: 16 button triggers
Effects: 90; multi-effects, 5x EQ, 7x Reverb, 4x Chorus, 5x Delay, Overdrive, Compressor

Ashun Sound Machines Hydrasynth

Ashun Sound Machines hydrasynth desktop version
The desktop version of Hydrasynth

Deep sound designing talents and expressiveness come together in the Hydrasynth. This eight-voice polysynth has three wavetable oscillators per voice that let you create and morph sounds out of a selection of 219 single cycle waveforms.

The layout of the Module Select section is one of the Hydrasynth’s unsung strengths. This concise hub lets you access its three oscillators; four mutators; two filters; five envelopes, and five LFOs with the push of a button. Plus, it ensures that a glimpse of the Hydrasynth’s entire signal path is always just a head turn away.

Rounding off the Hydrasynth are some intuitive expression controls, including the brand’s own polyphonic aftertouch technology – aptly named polytouch – and a programmable ribbon strip controller.

Read our full review here.

Price: £1,299 (with keyboard) / £800 (desktop)
Synthesis type: Wave morphing
Polyphony: 8 voices
Keyboard: Full-sized, 49 keys
Effects Types: 4x Reverbs, 5x Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Rotary, Phaser, Lo-Fi, Tremolo, EQ, Compressor
Other I/O: 2x Mod in, Pitch out, Gate out, 2x Mod out, Clock out

Korg Wavestate

Korg Wavestate

In the early 1990s, Korg introduced the world to the Wavestation, and with it, a rhythmic new looping concept dubbed wave sequencing. Not completely unlike step programming, it allowed music-makers to combine samples to form new sounds which could be triggered via MIDI.

Wavestate, and its wave sequencing 2.0, modernises this concept by introducing a smattering of new parameters tied to pitch, volume and more. This lets the Wavestate achieve its signature hypnotic sounds, while boasting a much more organic feel than its predecessors.

The Wavestate also steps up the original’s user experience significantly, introducing an array of knobs, switches and buttons that befit the wave sequencing experience.

Read our full review here.

Price: £700
Synthesis type: Wavetable
Polyphony: 64 stereo voices
Keyboard: Full-sized, 37 keys
Effects: Chorus, Flanger, Phaser, Wah, Delay, Tape Echo, Reverb, Ring Modulator, Guitar Amp, Compressor

Moog One

Moog One

The Moog One was the first polysynth announced by the iconic brand in 35 years – so it goes without saying that expectations were stacked particularly high. Fortunately, the long gestation period led to the development of a synth – packed with innovations and features – that will surely stand the test of time.

Heavy on the sound design experience, the Moog One offers 200 knobs and switches on its front panel. It offers tri-timbral polyphony, bolstered by three dual-output analogue VCOs with ring mod and frequency modulation, two independent analogue filters, a dual-source analogue noise generator, an analogue mixer with external audio input, four LFOs, and three envelope generators.

The fully analogue device also sports its own sequencer, arpeggiator, and an array of useful effects – including reverbs from Eventide.

Price: $6,499
Synthesis type: Analogue
Polyphony: 8 voices
Keyboard: Fatar keybed, 61 keys
Effects Types: Chorus, delay, phaser, bit-reducer, vocoder, reverbs
Other I/O: 4x 1/4″ TS (CV out), 2x 1/4″ TS (CV in), 1x RJ45 LAN (expansion)

Waldorf Kyra

Waldorf Kyra

The Waldorf Kyra is a powerful virtual analogue desktop synth capable of delivering absolutely massive sounds. It splits into eight independent parts, each offering 32 voices of polyphony; its own effects chain, and two comprehensive oscillator groups, where you’ll find saw, pulse, and a selection of 4096 wavetable shapes.

Each oscillator voice can be run in either Wave or Hypersaw mode. The former gives you the freedom to construct sounds through subtractive synthesis, while the latter’s algorithm features six oscillators that can very quickly create lush soundscapes.

The Kyra is also particularly appealing if you’re working in contemporary production; its user-friendly interface and the immediacy of which you can sculpt colossal sounds just means more time to focus on the creative process.

Read our full review here.

Price: £1,749
Synthesis type: Wavetable
Polyphony: 128 voices, 32/part
Effects: Distortion, Stereo Delay, Phaser, Chorus, Flanger, Doubling, Reverb, Filter
MIDI I/O: In/Out/Thru/USB

Sequential Prophet-5

Sequential Prophet-5
Image: Sequential

Sequential’s Prophet-5 is back and this comprehensive reboot of the iconic synth culls some of the best features of previous generations, while adding some modern ones too.

A new Rev switch lets you access the filters from the Rev 1, 2 and 3 models, while a new Vintage knob lets you rewind the synth’s sonic characteristics back in time, from the stable Rev 4 to the temperamental Rev 1.

Bringing the Prophet-5 up to speed with the 2020s are velocity sensitivity and aftertouch for greater expression, as well as MIDI and USB connectivity. Music-makers working with modular will also be pleased to know that CV ins-and-outs are also present.

Price: $3,849
Synthesis type: Analogue
Polyphony: 5 voices
Keyboard: Semi-weighted Fatar keybed, 61 keys
Other I/O: 2x 1/4″ (CV in/out), 1x 1/4″ (gate in/out), 1x 1/4″ (release)

Roland JU-06A

Roland JU-06A

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a battery-powered JUNO-60 or 106 with built-in speakers – well, here it is. The JU-06A is a compact synth offering from Roland which evokes the spirit of some of its most beloved and recognised vintage synths.

Judge the JU-06A not by its (adorable) size – the polysynth is an adept all-rounder, capable of putting out huge sounds. With it, you get four voices of polyphony, an intuitive pattern sequencer, an arpeggiator with hold function and built-in effects such as chorus and delay too.

Read our full review here.

Price: $399
Synthesis type: Analogue-modelling
Polyphony: 4 voices
Pads: 16 button triggers
Effects: 2x chorus, 1x delay
Other I/O: 1 x 1/8″ (external clock in)

Novation Summit

Novation Summit Text

The Novation Summit puts together two of the brand’s Peak desktop synths into a single package – but it’s not quite as simple as doubling up on everything.

In addition to bi-timbral operation, new hardware and software features make it onto the Summit, including a semi-weighted keyboard with 61 keys and a new voice section with five mono and poly modes.

Through its three oscillators, you’re able to craft sounds through subtractive, wavetable (60 waveshapes) and FM synthesis. Plus, access to twin Peaks gives you the flexibility to run two simultaneous patches – split or stacked – for key-centric or layered sounds.

Read our full review here.

Price: £1,899
Synthesis type: Subtractive, FM and wavetable
Polyphony: 16 voices
Keyboard: Semi-weighted keybed, 61 keys
Effects Types: Analog Distortion, Reverb, Chorus, Delay
Other I/O: 1x 1/8″ (CV mod in)

Arturia PolyBrute

Arturia PolyBrute

As you might have guessed from its name, the PolyBrute is Arturia’s polyphonic take on the beloved analogue beast that is the MatrixBrute. This six-voice polysynth gives you two waveshaping oscillators; a ladder and Steiner filter, which can be run in parallel or serial; three envelopes and three LFOs.

The PolyBrute implements its expression features neatly into its overall design. In addition to mod and pitch wheels, a Morphée controller gives you pressure-sensitive X, Y and Z expression. Plus, something you might miss out on: there’s a ribbon strip worked right into the wooden front panel.

Deep shaping abilities and an elegant design come together in a luxurious-looking polysynth, and so, it’s expected that the PolyBrute comes at a premium. However, its comprehensiveness makes it an ideal studio companion for tackling productions of all kinds.

Price: $2,899
Synthesis type: Analogue
Polyphony: 6 voices
Keyboard: Full-sized keybed, 61 keys
Effects: Modulation, Delay, Reverb
Other I/O: 1x 1/8″ (sync in), 1x 1/8″ (sync out)

Korg Minilogue XD

korg minilogue xd

The Korg Minilogue XD matches capable specs with a sensible price tag, making it a great choice for entry-level music-makers looking to get into synthesis.

This four-voice polysynth is the successor to the Minilogue and offers the same two analogue voltage-controlled oscillators, but adds a third digital one (with noise, vpm and 16 user programs) for more sound design flair.

Onboard, there’s also myriad delay, mod and reverb effects, four operating modes (poly, unison, chord and arpeggiator) and, to round it off, a neat joystick controller for pitch bend and modulation depth.

Read our full review here.

Price: $650/£565
Synthesis type: Analogue-hybrid
Polyphony: 4 voices
Keyboard: Slim keybed, 37 keys
Effects: Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, Delay, Reverb, Ensemble
Other I/O: 2x 1/8” (CV in), 1/8” Sync in, 1/8” Sync out

Waldorf Quantum

Waldorf Quantum

A sound designer’s paradise, the Waldorf Quantum is a digital-analogue hybrid synth which offers eight voices of polyphony, each with three oscillators that can be run in wavetable, granular, subtractive and resonator modes.

A well-designed user experience paves the way for deep sonic exploration. Clearly marked sections denote oscillators, LFOs, filters, modulators, effects and more, plus, each parameter change is reflected in a crisp touch-screen display, showing you exactly how you’re affecting the signal. Other features include an arpeggiator with seven algorithms and sort orders and a step sequencer with parameter automation, quantisation and more.

The Quantum succeeds at empowering music-makers creatively; for how advanced it can get, it manages an easy-to-follow user experience.

Read our full review here.

Price: £3,500/$6,200
Synthesis type: Hybrid (wavetable, granular, subtractive and resonator)
Polyphony: 8 voices
Keyboard: Fatar keybed, 61 keys
Effects: Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Reverb, Drive, EQ

Elektron Analog Four MKII

Elektron Analog Four MkII - Front

Robust and designed to play well with others – thanks to CV ins-and-outs – the Analog Four MK II can be deployed as part of a larger system or on its own. This four-voice analogue synth comes with a built-in sequencer, arpeggiator, and reverb, chorus and delay effects.

The A4 lets you assign up to four notes to a voice, where each voice is made up of two oscillators and a sub. A popular on-the-go rig these days also pairs the A4 with the other Dark Trinity boxes from Elektron: the Analog RYTM, Analog Four and Octatrack. With these, you’re covered from beats to synths to samples.

Read our full review here.

Price: £1,279
Synthesis type: Analogue
Polyphony: 4 voices
Keyboard: Single octave trigger keypad
Effects: Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Overdrive
Other I/O: 4x 1/4″ (CV/Gate out)

Behringer Poly D

Behringer Poly D

Sporting a wonderful retro look and switchable mono and poly modes similar to the Korg Mono/Poly, the Behringer Poly D is a fair-priced synth with a strong vintage mindset. The caveat here is that the Poly D doesn’t feature true polyphony – this is a paraphonic synth. In short, this means that all voices will feed into one filter and amp envelope, rather than triggering a new envelope once played.

Still, you can run this synth’s four voices monophonically, in unison or paraphonically. It’s outfitted with four oscillators, each with a selection of five wave shapes. Elsewhere, there are Roland Juno-esque chorus I and II effects; a distortion section with volume and tone knobs, and a stereo sequencer where you can store eight banks internally.

There’s also a significant amount of physical I/O, making the Poly-D very adaptable to other devices; with its 37-note keyboard, it could serve as a mother brain of your setup.

Price: $1,048.50
Synthesis type: Analogue
Polyphony: 4 voices
Keyboard: Full-sized keybed, 37 keys
Effects: Stereo chorus, distortion
Other I/O: 1/4” Aftertouch pressure out, 1/4” pitch out, 1/4” V-trig out, 1/4” velocity out, 1/4” sync in, 1/4” sync out, 1/4” V-trig in, 1/4” loudness in, 1/4” filter in, 1/4” osc in, 1/4” mod source

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