The Best Synthesizers Under $300 (2023 Ultimate Guide)

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Looking for the best synthesizers under $300 in 2023? Check out our ultimate guide to find the perfect synth for your music production needs. We review the top 6 models based on sound quality, features, design, and value. Whether you want a classic analog sound, a versatile digital workstation, or a hybrid of both, we have something for you. Don’t miss this opportunity to upgrade your studio with the best synthesizers under $300 in 2023.

1. Arturia MicroFreak

VERSATILE HYBRID SYNTH.

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2. Korg Volca FM

FM SYNTH REPRODUCTION.

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3. Sonicware Liven

CREATIVE 8-BIT SYNTH.

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4. Arturia MiniBrute 

POWERFUL ANALOG SYNTH.

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5. Behringer Model D

VINTAGE ANALOG REPRODUCTION.

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6. Korg Volca Modular

EXPERIMENTAL MODULAR SYNTH.

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1. Arturia MicroFreak

VERSATILE HYBRID SYNTH.

12 oscillator modes for versatile sound.Analogue filter with warm character.
Touch-sensitive flat surface keyboard.Powerful sequencer and arpeggiator.
Picture by Arturia

   Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • If you’re in search of a synth that combines fun, quirkiness, and affordability, the Arturia MicroFreak might just be the perfect choice for you. This pint-sized powerhouse is a hybrid digital-analogue synth that offers an incredible amount of value. Here are four compelling reasons why you should seriously consider adding it to your collection:

    First and foremost, the MicroFreak boasts an impressive array of sound sources. With 12 distinct oscillator modes at your fingertips, including wavetable, virtual analogue, FM, physical modeling, and granular synthesis, this versatile machine allows you to generate everything from timeless synth sounds to outlandish and otherworldly tones.

    In addition, the MicroFreak features an analogue filter based on the iconic Oberheim SEM filter. This lends it a characteristically warm and smooth quality. Whether you prefer the low-pass, high-pass, or band-pass mode, you can modulate the filter cutoff and resonance using the envelope, LFO, or pressure pad, giving you exceptional flexibility and control.

    Further adding to its allure, the MicroFreak sports a keyboard unlike any other. Its flat, touch-sensitive surface responds to both pressure and velocity, enabling you to effortlessly play notes, chords, arpeggios, and sequences. Additionally, you can manipulate various parameters using your fingers, unlocking a whole new world of creative possibilities.

    Last but certainly not least, the MicroFreak is equipped with a powerful sequencer and arpeggiator. You can store up to 64 steps per preset in the sequencer, complete with four automation tracks for each step. To inject some spontaneity and variation into your patterns, the Spice and Dice buttons allow you to introduce random elements. The arpeggiator offers multiple modes and options to help you craft captivating melodies and rhythms.

    In conclusion, the Arturia MicroFreak is a synth that promises to ignite your passion for sonic exploration while ensuring you have a blast in the process. As one of the top synthesizers available for under $300 in 2023, this is an opportunity you won’t want to miss if you’re yearning to embark on a freaky musical journey with Arturia.

CONS

  • The Arturia MicroFreak is an affordable and versatile synthesizer with digital oscillators, an analogue filter, and a unique touch keyboard. It is a top choice for synthesizers under $300 in 2023, but it does have a couple of drawbacks to consider. Firstly, the sound quality lacks warmth and richness compared to analog oscillators. The analog filter adds some depth, but it’s not very powerful. Secondly, the touch keyboard is not very expressive or comfortable. The keys are small and flat, making it difficult to play complex melodies, and it lacks responsiveness and accuracy. Despite these cons, the MicroFreak remains a great synth with many other advantages and features. If you’re seeking a fun and eclectic synth capable of producing a broad range of sounds, the MicroFreak may be perfect for you.

2. Korg Volca FM

FM SYNTH REPRODUCTION.

6 operators, 32 algorithms, 6 voices.Double polyphony for complex chords.
Built-in chorus and reverb effects.Enhanced MIDI functionality for control.
Picture by Korg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

PROS

    • If you are in search of a budget-friendly synthesizer with the ability to produce retro digital tones, the Korg Volca FM might be the perfect choice. As a compact and portable device, it draws inspiration from the legendary Yamaha DX7, an iconic FM synthesizer from the 1980s. Here, we will explore the four prominent advantages of the Volca FM that position it as an excellent addition to your synth collection.

      Firstly, the Volca FM boasts six operators and 32 algorithms, allowing for a wide array of sounds through frequency modulation. Furthermore, it enables the loading of patches from the original DX7 and other compatible synths, granting access to an extensive library of presets numbering in the thousands.

      Secondly, with six voices of polyphony, the Volca FM doubles the capacity of its predecessor. This expansion permits the creation of more intricate chords, pads, and layered sounds, resulting in richer and more nuanced textures.

      Thirdly, the device encompasses a built-in chorus and reverb effect. These effects add depth and dimension to your sounds, with the reverb being particularly captivating as it generates a lush and icy atmosphere that complements FM synthesis exceptionally well.

      Lastly, the Volca FM possesses enhanced MIDI functionality, facilitating control from an external keyboard or sequencer. It also allows synchronization with other Volca devices or any gear compatible with MIDI or sync in/out.

      The Volca FM stands as a versatile and enjoyable synth, offering significant value considering its price range. In fact, it is hailed as one of the best synthesizers available for under $300 in 2023.

CONS

  • 1. Despite its limitations, the Korg Volca FM still offers a great value for its price. Its compact size and affordable price make it a popular choice for beginners or musicians on a budget. Additionally, its built-in sequencer allows for easy creation of patterns and loops, making it a versatile tool for electronic music production.

    2. If you’re looking for a synthesizer with more polyphony and memory options, you may want to consider other models in the Korg Volca series. The Volca Keys, for example, offers a three-voice polyphony and a wider selection of sounds, while the Volca Sample allows you to create your own drum patterns using sampled sounds.

    3. It’s important to note that the noisy output issue can be somewhat mitigated by using external effects processors or audio interfaces. Additionally, investing in rechargeable batteries can help save on costs in the long run and provide a more sustainable power solution.

    4. Overall, the Korg Volca FM is a beginner-friendly synthesizer that offers a unique and affordable way to explore FM synthesis. While it may have some limitations, it still provides a solid foundation for learning and experimenting with different sound textures and modulation capabilities.

3. Sonicware Liven 8bit

CREATIVE 8-BIT SYNTH.

Four synth engines: WARP, ATTACK, MORPH, FM.Powerful voice modes with versatility.
Built-in effects section with versatility.128-step sequencer with automation.
Picture by Sonicware

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

PROS

  • If you’re in the market for a synthesizer that captures the essence of classic video game sounds or allows you to explore new possibilities in the realm of 8-bit music, look no further than the Sonicware Liven 8bit Warps. This innovative 8-bit wave memory synthesizer with a built-in step sequencer is specifically designed for live electronic performances. Let’s dive into the four major advantages of this synth:

    First and foremost, the Sonicware Liven 8bit Warps boasts four distinct synth engines: WARP, ATTACK, MORPH, and FM. Each engine offers a unique approach to manipulating 8-bit waveforms, allowing you to experiment with cross-fading, cutting, morphing, and frequency modulation. With these versatile engines, your sonic possibilities are virtually limitless.

    Secondly, this synthesizer features a powerful voice mode that empowers you to choose between polyphonic, monophonic, and arpeggiator modes. Additionally, it offers detune and alias noise functions, enabling you to add depth or thinness to your sound. The sweep function is also available for crafting those classic 8-bit effects.

    The third notable attribute of the Sonicware Liven 8bit Warps is its built-in effects section. It offers a rich selection of effects, including chorus, flanger, delay, bitcrusher, and various reverb types. With these effects at your disposal, you can add character and dimension to your sound. Moreover, the cassette tape effect allows you to create that beloved lo-fi tape sound.

    Last but not least, this synthesizer incorporates a 128-step sequencer, empowering you to craft intricate patterns and chain them together seamlessly. The parameter lock function enables you to automate the synth parameters within your patterns, while the swing control introduces a touch of groove to your rhythms.

    The Sonicware Liven 8bit Warps is a remarkably versatile and enjoyable synthesizer that taps into the nostalgia of the 8-bit gaming era while also inspiring new sonic adventures. The best part is that it comes at an affordable price of only $239.00. If you’re interested in learning more about this synth, visit the official website or read reviews from various blogs .

CONS

  • Sonicware Liven 8bit is a highly versatile and portable synthesizer, offering four 8-bit voice modes, an impressive assortment of 128 waveforms, a built-in sequencer, and a looper. While it excels at generating appealing retro chiptune sounds, it is also capable of handling various electronic music genres. However, it is essential to consider the following drawbacks before making a purchase.

    Firstly, the Liven 8bit has limited polyphony and memory, allowing only four voices to be played simultaneously. This lack of polyphony can restrain the creation of intricate chords or melodies. Additionally, with only 64 preset and user slots available for sound storage, users with an inclination towards exploring extensive sonic possibilities may find this inadequate.

    Secondly, the absence of MIDI or USB connectivity restricts the Liven 8bit from establishing connections with external devices or software. This limitation affects its potential use as a controller, sound module, or component of a larger setup. Users are confined to syncing the device with other instruments solely through the provided sync in/out jacks, which are exclusively compatible with Korg Volca and Pocket Operator series.

    Taking these limitations into account is crucial when considering the Sonicware Liven 8bit. However, it’s important to note that these cons may not be deal-breakers for everyone. Overall, the Liven 8bit remains an outstanding synthesizer under $300, boasting numerous pros and positive attributes.

4. Arturia MiniBrute

POWERFUL ANALOG SYNTH.

Powerful oscillator!multi-mode filter with Brute Factor
Patchbay for connecting modular gear.Keystep-style sequencer with 64 steps.
Picture by Arturia

                                                                                                                                                                                                  

PROS

  • If you are on the lookout for an exceptional synthesizer that won’t break the bank, the Arturia MiniBrute should be at the top of your list. Priced under $300, this 100% analogue monosynth offers an impressive array of features and flexibility. Let’s delve into four key reasons why the Arturia MiniBrute stands out:

    1. Its oscillator boasts immense power, capable of generating saw, triangle, and square waves simultaneously. Moreover, each wave has its own modifier control, allowing for intricate and peculiar wave-shaping. You can even introduce white noise and external audio sources, further expanding your sonic possibilities.

    2. The Arturia MiniBrute possesses a remarkable multi-mode filter that effortlessly transitions between low-pass, high-pass, band-pass, and notch modes. Additionally, it is equipped with a dedicated Brute Factor knob, which facilitates the injection of saturation and feedback for creating more aggressive and adrenaline-inducing sounds. The filter can be conveniently modulated by the envelope, the LFO, or the keyboard tracking, adding an extra layer of creativity to your compositions.

    3. Another enticing aspect of the Arturia MiniBrute is its comprehensive mini-jack patchbay. This enables you to effortlessly connect and route the MiniBrute with other modular gear, such as Eurorack modules, drum machines, or effects pedals. In addition, the patchbay unveils hidden features of the synth, such as the ability to explore oscillator FM, filter FM, VCO sync, and much more.

    4. The Arturia MiniBrute incorporates a Keystep-style sequencer that allows you to record up to 64 steps of notes and rests. Thanks to the swing, gate length, and time division controls, you can infuse your sequences with a natural and dynamic feel. Furthermore, you have the option to transpose the sequence on-the-fly using the keyboard or experiment with the arpeggiator mode for creating captivating rhythmic variations.

    The Arturia MiniBrute is undoubtedly a highly versatile and expressive synthesizer, able to generate an extensive range of sounds, ranging from warm and smooth to harsh and noisy. Thanks to its intuitive interface and extensive connectivity options, it is incredibly easy to integrate and use in conjunction with other devices. For a more in-depth understanding of the Arturia MiniBrute, we recommend checking out some of the informative reviews available online .

CONS

  • The Arturia MiniBrute is a popular analog monosynth with various features and sound-shaping possibilities at a reasonable price. However, before buying, there are two cons to be aware of.
  • Firstly, with only one oscillator, it can only produce one note at a time, limiting its polyphonic capabilities and suitability for chords or complex melodies. Layering with other synths or using external effects is necessary for richer sounds.
  • Secondly, the MiniBrute has a distinctive and aggressive sound, which can be a pro or con depending on personal taste. Some users might find it too harsh or noisy. Ultimately, the decision to purchase depends on individual preferences and needs.

5. BEHRINGER MODEL D

VINTAGE ANALOG REPRODUCTION.

Affordable analog synth with rich sound.Versatile, patchable semi-modular analog synth.
Compact and lightweight portable synthesizer.Affordable at $299
Picture by BEHRINGER

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

PROS

  • If you are searching for an exceptional synthesizer under $300, the Behringer Model D is worth considering. This semi-modular analog synth draws inspiration from the legendary Minimoog Model D, and here are four reasons why it is an excellent choice for your music production needs.

    Firstly, the Behringer Model D delivers amazing sound. By utilizing the original Minimoog’s circuitry with matched transistors and JFETs, it flawlessly reproduces the warm and rich tones of the classic synth. With three oscillators, a 24dB ladder filter, and an overdrive circuit, this synth offers a wide range of tones, from fat basses to soaring leads and complex pads.

    Secondly, the Behringer Model D boasts versatility. Featuring a semi-modular design, it can be patched to other devices using the 3.5mm inputs and outputs on the front panel. This allows you to connect it with other Eurorack modules, external effects, or MIDI controllers, expanding your sonic possibilities. Additionally, with built-in MIDI and USB interfaces, it can also function as a standalone synth.

    Thirdly, the Behringer Model D is compact and portable. Compared to the original Minimoog, it is much smaller and lighter, making it effortless to transport and fit into any studio setup. Encased in durable metal with high-quality knobs and switches, it is built to withstand frequent use. Moreover, its low power consumption enables it to run on batteries or a USB power bank if needed.

    Lastly, affordability sets the Behringer Model D apart. Priced at just $299, it is a fraction of the cost of the original Minimoog or its reissue. Despite its low price, this synth delivers an authentic sound and offers a wide array of features and flexibility. It is undoubtedly a fantastic value for your money and an invaluable addition to any synth collection.

    These are just a few of the benefits of the Behringer Model D, but there are countless more to discover. To learn more about this synth, you can explore reviews available here, here, here, here, and here. Happy synthesizing!

CONS

  • The Behringer Model D is an exceptional analog synthesizer that accurately replicates the iconic Minimoog Model D, all while being affordable. Its sound is rich and warm, complemented by a reliable 24dB ladder filter and a robust, compact design. Nevertheless, it does come with a couple of downsides to consider before making a purchase:

    1. The Behringer Model D lacks patch memory, necessitating manual adjustments of knobs and switches for recreating specific patches. This can prove time-consuming and frustrating during live performances or studio sessions.

    2. Compared to modern synthesizers, the Behringer Model D has a somewhat limited architecture with fewer modulation options, waveform choices, and no built-in effects. Additionally, it lacks features like polyphony, an arpeggiator, sequencer, and complete MIDI control.

    Despite these drawbacks, if you’re seeking an affordable, genuine analog synthesizer capable of generating the classic Minimoog sound, the Behringer Model D remains an excellent option.

6. Korg Volca Modular

EXPERIMENTAL MODULAR SYNTH.

8 modules, 16-step sequencer16-step sequencer with motion recording.
Compact, portable, and battery-powered.Very affordable with great value.
Picture by Korg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

PROS

  • If you are in the market for a synthesizer that is both affordable and portable, while also offering a wide range of capabilities, then the Korg Volca Modular may be the perfect choice for you. This semi-modular analog synthesizer provides an excellent platform for the creation of experimental sounds and sequences. Here, we will delve into four key advantages that the Korg Volca Modular has to offer:

    Firstly, it possesses a unique sound engine that consists of eight individual modules, each with its own specific function and patch point. By utilizing the included patch cables, you can seamlessly connect these modules to create intricate and expressive sounds. The modules encompass a variety of elements, including sources, functions, modulators, and sequencers, to name just a few.

    Furthermore, the Korg Volca Modular features a built-in 16-step sequencer that enables you to record and effortlessly play back your very own patterns. In addition, the motion sequence function allows you to record knob movements, adding a layer of variation and depth to your sound. Moreover, the sequencer includes a randomize feature that can generate unexpected and interesting results.

    In terms of portability, the Korg Volca Modular excels due to its compact design and battery-powered operation. These features ensure that you can easily carry and play the synthesizer anywhere you desire. Additionally, you can sync the device with other Volca series products or external gear via the sync in/out jacks. The Volca Modular even boasts a built-in speaker, providing instant sound output.

    The affordability of the Korg Volca Modular is another noteworthy advantage. With a price tag of less than $300, this synthesizer delivers exceptional value for money. Not only does it offer access to the world of modular synthesis, but it also permits expansion through the addition of more modules or accessories, thus utilizing the device to its full potential.

    In conclusion, the Korg Volca Modular stands out as one of the finest synthesizers available for under $300 in 2023. Its versatility, affordability, and portability make it an excellent choice for anyone seeking to explore the creative possibilities of modular synthesis without straining their budget.

CONS

  • The Korg Volca Modular is an affordable and compact synthesizer that revolutionizes sound design and music production. With its unique semi-modular design, you can create intricate and innovative sounds by patching and rewiring internal modules. However, it is essential to consider a couple of drawbacks before purchasing this synthesizer.
  • Firstly, its connectivity is limited, featuring just one MIDI input and one sync output, making it difficult to connect to other MIDI devices and external gear. Also, using the CV inputs and outputs requires a specialized adapter, restricting integration with standard Eurorack modules.
  • Additionally, the Volca Modular has a steep learning curve, demanding extensive experimentation and trial-and-error. Its interface lacks intuitiveness, and the manual doesn’t offer comprehensive guidance, necessitating time-consuming efforts to grasp modular synthesis and patch creation.
 

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