5 Worthwhile Compact Synths On The Market

Post date:

Tue, 09/11/2018 - 15:11


Naomi Bolton

The renewed interest in synthesizers have prompted many manufacturers to not only release new versions of popular hardware, but also to come up with portable synths for people who don't have a lot of space. Many of these synths are compact enough that you can take them wherever you go and use them to jam on when you feel inspired. Here's just a small selection of the compact synths that are currently available on the market.

Novation Circuit

Website: https://global.novationmusic.com/circuit/circuit

Price: US$378.99


Novation describes their Circuit as a classic Nova synth that has been combined with a drum machine as well as sample sequencer in one standalone groove box. With the circuit you don't need any additional hardware or software to get your groove on. It is not only compact, but also battery powered and features its own built-in speaker to make music on its own. This ability to create entire tracks from scratch without having to be anywhere near a laptop is great, but thanks to USB and MIDI ports along with Line outputs, the Circuit also connects easily to your other hardware when needed.

Novation Circuit Mono Station

Website: https://us.novationmusic.com/synths/circuit-mono-station

Price: US $574.99


Also from Novation is the very popular Circuit Mono Station. It's not quite as compact as the Novation Circuit, but it comes with plenty of features to play with. Novation took the inspiration for the Mono Station from their Bass Station II and Circuit groovebox resulting in a synth that paraphonic. However, it is just one of the great features found on the Mono Station along with many others, like the modulation matrix. It is also "so filthy it'l hook-up with anything" which basically means that whatever other gear you have on hand, you should be able to connect the Mono Station using its USB MIDI, MIDI IN/OUT/THRU, CV and GATE hook-ups.

Arturia MiniBrute 2

Website: https://www.arturia.com/minibrute-2-landing

Price: $649,00


The original MiniBrute was relatively straightforward as far as monosynths go, but Arturia really stepped up their game for the MiniBrute 2. This is a good thing too, as the analogue monosynth market now features a lot more competition than it did back in the days of the MiniBrute. With the MiniBrute 2 you get huge analog tone, a step-sequencer, arpeggiator, as well as a modular patchbay. The other nice thing about the MiniBruite 2 is the smooth-action keyboard it sports, the same as the MatrixBrute in fact, complete with aftertouch. The MiniBrute 2 is not just a very powerful, but portable standalone synth, but also comes with all the connectivity features you would want to make it part of your setup at home.

Korg Minilogue

Website: https://www.korg.com/us/products/synthesizers/minilogue/

Price: $500


Compact synthesizers don't come much more stylish looking than the Korg Minilogue. This fully programmable analog polyphonic synthesizer features a 37 slim-key design and comes with pretty much everything you would want from a compact synth. It is not virtual analogue either as the Minilogue is a true four-voice analogue/digital hybrid polysynth. Everything about the Minilogue is well designed and the fact that Korg managed to accomplish what they did with this synth while still keeping the price reasonable is quite an achievement. About the only downside to the Minilogue is that the keys are slim keys, but this is hardly a deal-breaker.

Roland Boutique D-05

Website: http://my.roland.com/products/d-05/

Price: $349


Analog synthesizers get a lot of love these days, but sometimes it's nice to delve into the digital side of things too. You also don't get a lot more influential than the Roland D-50 digital keyboard when it comes to songs and film soundtracks from the late '80s to early '90s. It is this that makes the Roland Boutique D-05 such a coveted synth as it is a create recreation of the D50, just a lot sleeker and more compact. This is probably due to the fact that recreating a digital instrument is a much easier task than trying the do the same with analogue circuitry. In addition to all the features found on the original hardware, the D-05 also throws in a couple of extras like a multi-mode arpeggiator and 64-step polyphonic sequencer.


The five instruments listed here are by no means the only options when it comes to buying a portable synth as there are still plenty of offerings by Korg, such as the Monologue and Volca FM, as well as Roland with their System-1, and SH-01 and SE-02. Even the Pocket Operators range by Teenage Engineering are nice to fiddle around with when you are not close to any bigger synths. As synthesizers continue to grow in popularity the range of portable products are also sure to grow, so it will be interesting to see what the next "big" thing in a small package will be.

Let us know what your thoughts are on portable synths. Do you own any? Have they made you more productive or provided some inspiration when you are away from your non-portable synths? We would love to hear from you, so comment below, or discuss it on the forums.