Budget Synths

Best Cheap Synthesizers Under $500

If you’re like me, you likely want to own every type of synthesizer available. The problem here is that would be incredibly expensive and not possible for most individuals. This is exactly why I put together a list of the best synthesizers under $500.

I think that this is a great price point as it allows for a bunch of different types of synthesizers to make the list. There are also some really awesome picks that are used every day by some of the best producers in the world.

While you’re not going to be getting a Moog Voyager at this price, you’re still going to be able to get some really great synths for this price.

These are all synths that I’ve used personally and that I would actually recommend. Because of this, the list is short and sweet and discludes some options that I don’t think are worth the money.


How I Graded These Synths

Sound: Most synthesizers have at least some use for them. There are others that are really good at certain things such as arpeggiators or bass sounds. All of these options have good sound qualities about them and are specified below.

The reason why I don’t recommend certain synths is that I think you get your money worth better from a MIDI keyboard.

Price: I tried to narrow down my picks based on pricing. My top pick happens to be right at the price point, but I also do just find it to be the best possible option.

Features: Certain synths have a lot more you can do with them. Some have more oscillators, some have digital oscillators and some also have analog oscillators. These synths, for the most part, have a lot of tweaking that you can do with the sounds.

Best Synthesizers Under $500

Korg Minilogue XD – Best Under $500

Minilogue XD

The Korg Minilogue XD is easily my top pick at the moment. This synth is a masterpiece for the price and I had a blast when diving into it.

The low-end is fantastic and extremely warm. One of the main features with the Minilogue XD is that there is a polyphonic step sequencer.

There are 16 different steps and you can record in real-time or with step-recording.

As far as sounds go, I would say this is personally my favorite sounding synth near this price point.

The Minilogue XD is a 4 voice polyphonic analog synth that delivers a super powerful digital sound engine with stereo effects.

Bundled Software

Korg has been pushing the envelope when it comes to bundled software. You are given an abundance of surprisingly great software including the following:

  • Korg Collection – M1 Le
  • UVI Digital Synthsations
  • AAS Ultra Analog Session
  • AAS Strum Session
  • AAS Loung Lizard – Incredible electric piano VST
  • Propellerhead Reason Lite – Free DAW
  • Skoove 3 month trial
  • IZOTOPE Ozone Elements
  • Korg Gadget 2 Le

Pros

  • Sequencer
  • Analog sound generator & digital sound generator
  • 500 voices
  • 2 analog oscillators
  • 4 voice arpeggiator
  • Incredible bundled software
  • Extremely lightweight (6 lbs)

Cons

  • Most Expensive option on this list

Overall

The Minilogue XD is about as solid as it gets anywhere near this price point. I would recommend this to anyone who can afford it as I really do think it’s the best option currently.

Behringer MS-1 – Monophonic Beast

Behringer MS-1 Synth

The Behringer MS-1 is a synth I would recommend for hardcore gear enthusiasts. This synth pays homage to an incredibly popular monosynth from the 1980s and it has been a great success.

Behringer stayed true to the original analog circuitry with the VCO, VCF, & VCA designs.

The bass is extremely fat and you can create patches pretty quickly. It has an overall extremely warm sound and it’s hard to believe its price point.

The Behringer MS-1 is equipped with a 32-step sequencer, an arpeggiator and it has full-sized semi-weighted keys. I personally really enjoy the keys on this synth as far as their action as well.

Pros

  • Comes in red, black or blue colors
  • Monophonic analog synthesizer modeled after a classic
  • 32 step sequencer
  • Arpeggiator
  • Pitch-bend & modulation trigger
  • CV I/O, Gate I/O, Velocity out, VCF CV in, External Clock in
  • Portamento strips
  • Full-sized keys
  • Extremely vintage

Cons

  • Limited presets

Overall

If you’re looking to spend a little less and you want to add to your synth collection, this is an amazing pick.

Keep in mind that it is monophonic, so it might not be exactly what you’re looking for. Monophonic means that it can only play one note at a time.

Novation Bass Station – Bass Machine

Novation Bass Station II Synthesizer

The Novation Bass Station II is exactly what you would expect: a monophonic bass powerhouse of an instrument. This is an extremely popular synth for bands who are looking to fatten up their low end as it is inexpensive, yet powerful and intuitive.

The arpeggiator on the Bass Station ii is a little underrated as well in my opinion.

There are also 2 oscillators and a sub-oscillator to provide some extra thickness on your tracks.

Pros

  • Massive bass sounds
  • Very warm sounding
  • 64 factory presets and 64 user presets
  • Arpeggiator & 32 step sequencer
  • 2 Oscillators
  • Analog synthesizer

Cons

  • Not polyphonic (if that’s what you’re looking for)

Overall

The Bass Station ii is a great pick for artists who are looking to take advantage of the lower register. The low-end is extremely thick and it’s also warm sounding as this is an analog synth.

Roland JDXI

Roland JDXI

The Roland JDXI was Rolands answer to the Korg Microkorg. With this being said, I believe that the JDXI is an extremely underrated synth.

The synth-engine is true analog and one thing that really surprised me was the low end and drum samples with this synth.

If you’re someone who is looking to build loops, you can take advantage of the 4-track sequencer with the JDXI.

Pros

  • 128 note polyphony
  • 4-track pattern sequencer for building loops
  • Great drum samples
  • Vocoder
  • Pitch-bend & mod wheel
  • Headphones Jack
  • Great preset sounds
  • Intuitive customization and patch tweaking

Cons

  • The included software is a little confusing

Overall

The Roland JDXI is a great polyphonic synth that is extremely versatile. If you’re a fan of the Microkorg, you will most likely love this synth as well.

Korg Microkorg

My Microkorg XL

Making this list would be impossible without including the iconic Microkorg. Keep in mind that there is the original Microkorg as well as the Microkorg XL and the Microkorg XL+.

This synthesizer was used for most of The Killers record, “Hot Fuss” and you can instantly hear it once you play on it.

I personally have always loved this synth and I have found pretty much all of the patches fun and exciting.

If you’re a fan of 80s sounds and you like arpeggiators, this would still make as a perfect synth for a beginner.

The durability is something that has always stood out to me with the Micrkorg. I’ve had this thing on tour and it held up throughout the years like a champ.

Pros

  • 128 Presets
  • Polyphonic
  • 2 oscillators & a noise generator
  • Lightweight
  • Iconic patches
  • Easy to use
  • Great for beginners

Cons

  • Not a lot of customization ability
  • Hard to record arpeggiator at times to a click

Overall

The JDXI is a great synth that gives you 128 note polyphony. I really enjoy polyphonic synths as I love to play chords on them.

Conclusion

When it comes to synthesizers under $500 there are going to be a ton of different options. I purposely selected these synths and left others out that I didn’t think were truly great options.

Let me know if I missed any of your favorites below!

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