Synthesizers are costly.
Whether you want an analog synth or digital synth, you have to spend a few hundred dollars.
You can start with $500 because there are many analog and digital synthesizers available at under this price range.
But, the question is,
What is the best synth under $500?
Don’t worry; you’ve some solid options that allow you to create a wide number of sounds & music.
It’s a costly instrument, so there are a lot of things to consider before buying it. I tried to cover each & everything in this article, so it’s a long one.
If you don’t have time to read the whole article, then the next section is perfect for you where I shared the number one analog synthesizer under $500 you.
My Personal Recommendation
If I have to recommend one synthesizer that comes under the $500 mark, then I’ll go with Korg MicroKorg 37 Key Analog Synth.
You must be thinking,
“Why are you recommending this?”
Korg MicroKorg 37 Keys Synth is one of the most popular analog synths on the market, therefore, you can easily find guides, lessons, videos, and so much stuff for this instrument.
Along with that, it offers so many features at an affordable price, and that’s why it’s popular.
The easy to use interface is another thing that makes it popular. It’s really easy to use and learn.
It is a polyphonic instrument so you can play multiple notes at a single time. Along with the necessary synth features, you’ll also get a built-in vocoder.
You can operate it with DC 9V power supply or with 6 AA alkaline batteries.
But, here, you can’t get the built-in speakers. You have to connect it with the external speakers or with the headphone.
As we know, we can’t get everything at an affordable price.
This is the best one in my choice because you’ll only need the external speakers and everything else is included in it.
This short video about Korg MicroKorg shares so much quality information about this synth that you can’t miss it. It’s a few years old video, but still it’s one of the best that you can find.
So, take a pause, and watch this video first.
Before even thinking about other digital or analog synths, I highly recommend that you at least take a look at the customer reviews of Korg MicroKorg 37 Key Synth that will help you to understand what people really think about it.
Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Synth
Analogue vs. Digital Synth
There are two types fo synthesizers.
- Analogue Synthesizer
- Digital Synthesizer
In the analog synthesizer, analog circuits and signals are used to generate sound & music. Analog synths come as both monophonic and polyphonic. But, in the polyphonic synths, they offer a limited polyphony. But, the analog synths also have their own benefits.
In the digital synthesizers, DSP or digital signal processing techniques are used to generate sound & music. The digital synths offer various features as compared to analog synths.
By watching this short video you can get more information about how analog synths are different from the digital synths.
Polyphonic vs. Monophonic Synth
Whether you like analog synths or digital synths, both of these musical instruments comes as monophonic and polyphonic.
You may think that what is polyphony or monophony?
The monophonic synths allow you to play only one note at a time, while with the polyphonic synths you can play multiple notes at a single time.
You can read this article to learn about the monophonic and polyphonic concept, or you can watch this very short & interesting video explaining about it.
Many musicians prefer monophonic synths because it produces more clear & rich sound as compared to the polyphonic synths.
While the sound produced by the polyphonic synths is a bit thinner but comes with a lot of options so you can play both leads and chords.
Generally, the digital synths are polyphonic because, in them, there is no requirement of any complicated and complex circuits.
While for making an analog polyphonic synth, you have to route individual voice from a single chain to create a sound. So, it becomes difficult to fit more than one voices.
By considering all these things, it’s easy to understand that various monophonic synths can be cheaper than their polyphonic versions, just because of their simple construction.
Size & Portability
The gigantic synths look cool, but these big synths can be difficult to move from one place to another.
Whether you want a synth for your home or studio, if you have a limited space, then going with a compact synth is the best choice you have.
Along with that, if you have to travel a lot, and you want to take your synth along with you, then go with a compact & portable synth.
There are many high-quality synths that are used by professionals because they have to transport their instruments a lot, and in that case, a compact synth is great.
Almost all the synthesizers come with the connectivity options that allows you to connect it with your computer.
But, the thing is how easily you can it.
There are some synths that are very easy to connect, and support various platforms, while there are some that support only a few.
So, it’s one of the things that need to be considered because sooner or later, you will need to connect it to another device for extra functionality.
Number of Keys
You can buy a synthesizer that has 37 keys, 49 keys, 61 keys, 73 keys, 75 keys, and 88 keys. Even, some synths are also available that comes with less than 37 keys.
The more number of keys means, you can produce a wider type of sounds, and you’ve more control over it.
But, along with that, it can also be tougher to perform for a novice player.
There is another thing that needs to be understood that if you’re buying an 88 key synthesizer, then you’ve to pay more money as compared to the price of 37 keys synth.
So, make sure, you know your requirement. You can also see this thread about the discussion on how many keys are required in a synth.
If you want a synth, just for playing it in your home or for learning, then 37 keys, 49 or 61 keys synth can work well for you.
But, if you are a professional player or want to become one who has to do stage performances, then 88 keys synth is the best choice for you. But, such instruments can be more than $500 depending upon the functions & brand.
The more price you may, the better quality & features you’ll get.
There are many synths available on the market that comes below the $500 mark, and also offers a good number of features.
But, if you want a polyphonic synth that doesn’t burn holes in your wallet, then go with the digital synths.
For a novice musician, a synth can be a little scary instrument because of the various buttons, lights, keys, and functions.
For a novice musician, it can be a lot difficult to operate this musical instrument and produce a good sound. Even, some new players take a lot of time to learn how to operate a synth properly.
So, if you can get a synth that is easy to use, and the functions are easy to understand, then there is nothing better than that.
If you’re new to the musical instruments, then probably, you won’t have a mixer, monitor, or the soundcard to route the audio.
So, it’s always better to buy a synthesizer that comes with a built-in speaker.
Of course, the built-in speaker won’t produce a supreme quality sound just like a good speaker. But, it’s a really good function that you can’t miss.
You can play and listen to the sound easily without any need of using headphones again and again.
Best Synth Under $500
Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer
The Arturia MicroBrute is a very compact analog synthesizer that weighs only 2 kilograms.
Its dimensions are 17 x 10 x 3 inches that make it very portable and easy to carry. This monophonic analog synthesizer is a good choice of the beginners because it’s very straightforward and easy to use. For the novice musicians, this is a good option because they want an instrument that is easy to operate and easy to learn.
It is one of the top-rated synths, so you should definitely read the reviews of customers who purchased Arturia MicroBrute.
It comes with all the features that you can find in a synth like filers, voltage controlled oscillator, mixer, USB MIDI In/Out, and the 1/8 inch headphone output.
This is a monophonic synth, so the sound produces by this instrument is very clear. But, if you want an instrument that gives you the ability to produce more than notes at one time, then you should try something else.
It produces a wide range of sounds, and by just doing little tweaks, you can easily modify the sound waves that will produce a new music. As it’s an analog synth, so it doesn’t take any time to respond to the adjustments.
The user manual is also a very helpful thing that you’ll get with this instrument, and it’s highly recommended to read the manual before operating it. After reading this easy to digest user manual, you can easily operate it.
It is more like a beginner synthesizer because the company tried to cut the cost. It is definitely less than $500, even way less than that.
To make the price as low as possible, only necessary features are added in it, and reduction in price also has some disadvantages.
Here, you can’t produce more than one notes at a time, and it doesn’t have a built-in speaker. To produce a loud sound, you’ll need to connect it with an external speaker.
It’s perfect for new musicians because it’s affordable, easy to understand & use, and produces a wide range of sounds. You’ve full control over it.
But, if you want a big synth that comes with a lot of features and keys, then you may not find it satisfying.
There are two color options available in it, red & black. So, it depends on you.
This video review of Arturia MicroBrute can be very helpful for you. So, make sure to watch it.
- Easy to Use & Straightforward
- Lightweight & Portable
- Analogue & Monophonic
- Produces a number of sounds
- Easy to connect with other devices
- Easy to operate
- Beginner Friendly
- User manual available
- Built-in speaker not available
- Not a polyphonic synth
Who Should Buy This Synthesizer?
This is a perfect synthesizer for the beginners or novice players.
It is a very straightforward instrument that’s very easy to operate. For the learning purposes, you can go with it.
If you’re looking for an analog synth under $500, then Arturia MicroBrute is a really good option for you.
But, it doesn’t come with a built-in speaker. So, you have to connect it with an external speaker or try it by using the headphone.
Korg MicroKorg 37-Key Analog Synthesizer
The Korg MicroKorg is a 37 keys analog synthesizer that is a budget-friendly musical instrument.
This is a great easy to operate analog synth and you have to spend less than 500 dollars.
It’s a polyphonic analog synth, and according to some users who tested it well enough to share their feedback on Amazon that it can play 7 tones simultaneously at a single time. This is a really good function for a 500 dollar analog synth.
To use this instrument, you’ll need DC 9V power supply, or you can also use 6 AA alkaline batteries. Of course, you’ve to purchase the alkaline batteries separately but, this is an awesome functionality because, with the batteries, you can operate it anywhere you want. There will be no restriction of the place or power source.
If you want to operate it, then you don’t have to be a master in using new technologies, because it’s very easy to use it. Everything is written on the board that makes it so much easier for the novice players because they don’t know the function of each & every button available in the synth.
The built-in vocoder is also one of the features that makes it different from all other instruments available at this price range.
When it comes to the compatibility, it can work with Windows 98, XP, Mac OSX10.6.8 and later versions of these operating systems.
As the design and structure are very compact, so you can easily carry it and set up wherever you want.
But, it does not have sampling capability, and also, you’ll not get built-in speakers. You have to use headphone or connect it with the external speakers.
There are 37 keys that make it easy to use for the beginners, but at the same time, for professionals or experienced musicians, they may find a lot of scope of improvement.
- Easy to use interface
- 37 keys analog synth
- Can be operated with batteries
- Compatibility with various devices
- Built-in vocoder
- Polyphonic instrument
- Compact & portable
- Comes under $500
- No built-in speakers
- No sampling capability
Who Should Buy It?
This is perfect for the beginners. However, the functions that are available in it also makes it a good option for the experienced musicians also.
The affordable price, various functions, and easy to operate interface is what makes it one of the best analogue synthesizers on the market.
Yamaha Reface DX Synthesizer
The Yamaha Reface DX is one of the advanced FM synthesizers that you can purchase below $500.
There are 32 voice memory locations that allow storing & recalling favorite voices.The mini keyboard has 37 keys so it’s easy to operate because you have to deal with a lesser number of keys as compared to the 88 keys.
Along with that, there are a few things that make it one of the top-selling synthesizers.
Like it has a built-in speaker system, so you can play at any place and you don’t have to think about any external speakers or dealing with the headphone.
If you like to travel a lot with your synth, then this is a great instrument because it’s lightweight, compact, and portable.
Along with that, it also works on 6 AA batteries and you can use it continuously for 5 hours without any problem.
With this modern size FM synth, you can create a number of creative sounds that comes to your mind. It’s a great instrument to turn your imagination into a real music.
The connectivity is also a good feature it has because it’s easy to connect it to a computer or any iOS device via USB.
It also supports making up to 8 notes simultaneously at a single time, and that makes it a polyphonic synth.
Along with these, it has all the necessary features that a common synth has.
- Compact & portable
- Various connectivity options
- 32 voice memory locations
- 5 hours of battery life
- 37 keys keyboard
- Built-in speakers
- The sound of built-in speakers is not very loud
Who Should Buy It?
This synth is good for both beginners and experienced musicians.
For the players who do a lot of traveling with their synth, then it’s a good choice because the built-in speakers allow them to generate sound without any external speakers.
It can also work for up to 5 hours on the 6 AA batteries, and that’s great features at this price range.
IK Multimedia UNO Portable Synth
This is a highly portable analog synthesizer that you can take anywhere you want.This only weighs 1 pound with dimensions 10.7 x 2 x 5.7 inches which allows the musicians to take it anywhere without any difficulty. With such a compact design, you can proudly say that this is one of the monophonic analog synths available on the market.
Despite the small design, it has all the features that you need in an analog synth. The monophonic function produces only one note at a time. The monophonic feature produces a rich and clear sound that everyone wants.
But, for some people who want a polyphonic synth, they may be disappointed.
It comes with a great sounding audio path along with multimode filter and 2 oscillators.
Despite having a small design, it offers 2-octave multi-touch keyboard with step sequencer & arpeggiator.
You can easily connect it to a MIDI keyboard, Mac/PC or an iOS device.
You can either power it by 4 AA batteries which are included along with the synth or you can use USB power from laptops or battery packs. This is a good thing because there are many battery operated synths, but you have to purchase the batteries separately, but you’ll get them included with this instrument.
When it comes to the price, then it is way less than our $500 mark. So, if you want to save money, then this is a really good option.
The compact design of this synth has many advantages but this also makes it a little difficult to operate. Just imagine, you’ll have all the things fixed in a small space. The keys & buttons, everything is small in size, so sometimes, you can press the wrong key accidentally.
Along with that, it’s great for the beginners, but when it comes to the experienced players, then they may find some limitations.
- Compact design
- Highly portable
- Price is way less than 500 dollars
- Battery operated
- 4 AA batteries included with the instrument
- Can be connected with MIDI keyboard, Mac/PC and other devices
- For expert musicians, it may not be sufficient
Who Should Buy This Synthesizer?
The IK Multimedia portable synthesizer is perfect for the new musicians who want to learn operating synth.
The highly portable design makes it very easy to transport. So, if you are a person who does a lot of traveling, or you want to take it on the other places for having fun, then it’s perfect.
It’s also for those who just want a good analog synth that they can purchase at a very budget-friendly price.
Roland Synthesizer (SH-01A)
Roland is a well-known name in the music lovers because it’s one of the top brands that manufacture musical instruments.
Here, Roland has manufactured an analog circuit synthesizer that is polyphonic in nature.The lead, noise, and sound effects make it a favorite instrument in the young generation.
The classic design also attracts people because everything is so clearly labeled on the board so you will not get confused while using it.
The built-in sequencer with the 64 patterns allows you to save and recall when required.
The other features that must be considered before deciding whether you should purchase it or not are three-way transpose switch, note hold, arpeggiator with 3 playback modes.
The 3.23 pounds weight is not very heavy, so you can call it a quite portable synthesizer that costs less than five hundred dollars.
- Trusted brand
- Various features
- Analog circuit
- Less number of keys
Who Should Buy This Synth?
This Roland Analogue synth is good for the people who love an instrument from a reputed brand.
If the brand name is very important to you, then you should definitely consider it.
Along with that, it also offers the functionality of making more than one notes at a single time in the analog circuit. So, it can also be used by both beginners as well as experts.
It designed with two modes of operation support such as the keyboard mode and step mode. It allows making up to 32 step processes and it allows storing more than 64 in the memory unit.
Here, Moog-Mother-32 semi-modular analog synthesizer designed with specially updated features on the market. My friend suggested me to make use of this device and it allows me to use with no patching when you come to the swift.
I can simply inspire on using this device for the major creation of music. It has the option to go with the low pass and high pass filter support that allows me to filter voltage controlled resonance.
I was impressed on the common major performance such as the restart sequence, real-time mute, step sequence, real-time ratcheting, and much more additional option.
- It builds with excellent quality
- It Delivers legendary Moog’s sound
- It is a very effective and powerful sequencer
- It allows playing comfort with other eurorcak modules
- It is highly tweakable
- It comes with simple and user-friendly support
- It has only two VCO waveforms as well as two LFO wave shapes
- It is hard to work but documentation is very detailed on its use.
It is one of the top brands and a very popular instrument for beginners who are interested in the modular synthesis. This instrument has capable one oscillator synthesizer voice along with the Moog design filer and also step sequencer. Hope it assures to meet all your need on using this device to learn in full confidence.
I was amazed by using such an instrument due to its tweaking as well as noodling into the different small package. I enjoy backing effect and also used for the drive a melody and also speed knob which impresses me on it.
I was new to use this instruction but I simply learned about the analog synths without hiring support from the experts. It is out on the market at an affordable price so everyone can invest and start enjoying updated features of this instrument. Even it is quite simple and easy for me to play various sounds at every time.
- It has a great sound effect
- It has all vanilla style filter
- It is highly compact and simple to transport
- It is well programmable and works well at the time of playing
- It is impossible to use the midi clock function
- It has no keys
- It requires at least one note polyphony
It delivers great timber wolf which is being a great LFO effect and it also delivers the other effect at the time of the playing. This device allows making use of the onboard sample along so you can get great spectrum sound and style out.
Apart from that, it builds with the modernize features which defiantly meet all your needs of using with the special and additional support.
In the above, I shared the reviews of some of the best polyphonic as well as monophonic synthesizers that you can buy under $500.
Whatever synth you choose, make sure you consider all the required things before buying your first synth.
All of these are perfect for the novice players because the synths that cost less than 500 are good for new players, but if we talk about the professional or expert players, then you may not find all the necessary features that an experienced player needs.
However, these are great instruments at this price range.
For any questions, you can comment down, and I’ll reply as quickly as possible.