Cheap Synthesizer Roundup

Get impressive features, sounds and tone shaping while staying within your budget with one of these inexpensive synths.


Analog sound modeling has improved through the years, allowing manufacturers to produce cheap synthesizers that can get the job done. We looked at units below the $500 mark, and picked out the ones that offer analog synth modeling with reasonable quality, while considering their ability to let you better shape your sound - without re-shaping your savings.

And if you're looking for a stand for you synth the check out The Best Keyboard Stands on

Casio XW-P1

Having just been recently released, this cheap synthesizer offers an impressive array of features that are normally only found on more expensive units. Synth tweakers will love the XW-P1's intuitive and yet deep control options, providing amazing control over the contour and shape of its sound in real-time. Aside from the typical lead and pad textures, the XW-P1 comes with a great sounding drawbar organ which you can also tweak to your preference, and it has a unique feature called hexlayer, where a single sound is made up of 6 layers which you can also split and adjust on-the-fly. This is currently the best bang per buck synth under the $500 mark, and is suitable for those that require deep tone shaping features.

Korg microKORG Synthesizer

The microKORG Synthesizer takes Korg's vast experience with synths and packs it all in into a compact and stylish form factor that is both affordable and portable. Many (including us) are impressed by the modeled analog synth sounds that are available on this small unit, easily comparable to Korg's high end synthesizers. Although the small keys might take some time to get used to, your ears will hear the same familiar quality found on other Korg instruments. Other features like vocoder, the ability to run on battery power and the availability of alternative color schemes helped make the microKorg one of the most popular synths on Earth!

Novation MiniNova

The MiniNova is Novation's response to the popularity of the microKORG. Although it is also portable and flexible, what makes the MiniNova stand out is its impressive array of features that enhances live performance. The interface lets you easily tweak your sound in as you perform via its 5 knobs, or totally warp your sound via the 8 'animate' buttons. The onboard vocoder is just as impressive as its synthesizer features, giving you the ability to synthesize the incoming signal as you perform. You can even connect other instruments like bass and electric guitars to the vocoder input to use the MiniNova's built-in effects. If you are looking to enhance your electronic music performance, or want to add unique textures to your current instrument, the MiniNova offers a practical solution.

M-Audio Venom 49 Synthesizer

Instead of just modeling classic analog synths like other low-cost synthesizers, M-Audio went for a unique and aggressive sound that would distinguish Venom from the others. The result is a versatile keyboard synth that will satisfy your demand for modern buzzy, gritty and dirty sounds, while reasonably covering classic tones. Having been made by M-Audio, another highlight of the Venom series is its computer interface options, making it extremely versatile and useful, especially for its price tag. This bargain synth is ideal for those that are starting to seriously considering synthesizers, as a tool for making music.

Yamaha PSR-E433

We gave a spot to the PSR-E433 because this unit gives you amazing value for your money. As expected from Yamaha, this particular portable keyboard comes with heaps of features, and is far from the toy-sounding portable keyboards of the past. What makes it even more interesting is the availability of control knobs that give you real-time control over the filter, effects, and sound envelope. You can use these knobs to turn this versatile keyboard into a practical and affordable entry level synthesizer. Going for a versatile portable keyboard is the cheapest and a practical route, because you get added portable keyboard features on-top of the synth qualities.

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