Analog poly or Analog mono + Digital poly?

Hey guys, i was wondering if you could help me decide on something?

So, i have a bit of a budget (about 1.5k) to spend on a synth, my only synth at the moment is the OP1 which i love and has a great workflow but the quality of the synth sounds are very niche and so i find myself using samples more and more with it. I was thinking of investing in an analog polysynth (probably an old one, am looking at a korg polysix) but for the price of one of them i could get a pretty good moog and a digital polysynth so before i pull the trigger on an analog poly I thought i would ask your guys opinion (btw, yes, i know all about maintaining / mending old synths so thats not part of the desiceon making, purely is about sound) Im looking for a synth that does a particular thing very well, i dont want a jack of all trades master of none type synth (i count the prophet 8 / 12 in this category, it just doesnt have any personality to my ears altho they are very good synths) Hence looking at analog vintage synths, but could be tempted by (for example) a Moog Sub Phatty and a Roland D50 (i also quite like 80’s music…)

Here is the kind of music i am making to give you an idea of the soundworld i am after (all sounds from OP1, machinedrum and guitar pedals) but am generally thinking of bands like M83, Sigur Ros, Nils Frahm, Winged Victory For The Sullen etc… (so ambient, post rock, lush chords etc…)

What i need from the rig are:

- good bass sound
- variety of pad sounds
- arp
- minimal menue diving
- presets

So yeah, your thoughts please on the analog poly Vs Analog Mono + Digital Poly debate?


I was testing the Dominion 1 today at my local music shop. Actually wanted to buy it, but then… I still want it but I don’t know if I need one really… I have a workstation at home that sounds very good and has endless possibilities.
So what I want to say is, If youre not an analog purist it doesnt matter if youre getting a virtual analog or a real analog synth. Do you have a keyboard already?

For pads you will need a poly or paraphonic synth like the SubPhatty or Dominion 1 or Prophets

for VA you can get a KingKorg, R3, Super/miniNova, NORDs, any Workstation etc. VA has more posibilities but its not analog. IMO in the end you won’t hear any difference really. It’s a matter of taste and identification.

An old Mono/Poly or PolySix are cool too. TBH - endless choice as you probably know ; )

I want the Dominion…but it’s biiiiig

Maybe have a look at the perFOURmer from Vermona, thought about that after listening to your music. But it has no keys.

I think you’d get bored of a polysix pretty quickly. It has a nice characteristic sound, but only one modulation shape if I call correctly. Not an overly deep instrument. For the budget you could get something analogue with character and plenty of modulation options, something like the moog sub 37 and make it polyphonic by sampling it into the OP-1. The sub 37 has more sonic range than just about any DCO poly from the 80s before even engaging the overdrive or multidrive. The only problem in this scenario is that you won’t be able to use key tracking properly with samples, but if you’re only used to the OP-1 which lacks key tracking altogether you won’t even mind.

You could also look at older va. The Alesis Ion often goes for under $500 in the US and is massively capable. Not the sexiest va synth, and lacking on board effects, but it has some serious tricks. Three oscillators, white/pink noise, and ring modulation that can be freely routed between the two filters which each have several models and routing options of their own. Three envelopes, two lfos, and a 16 point mod matrix.

It’s really a personal choice, but I think you will find better bang for the buck with an analog mono + VA. An analog poly will eat your entire budget in one mouthful, but so will something like a Virus TI.

Beyond that, so many choices…

Pulse 2 + Blofeld, Bass Station 2 + Nord Lead 2, MiniBrute + JP-8000/8080, Minitaur + MS2000… or like @lymtronics said, get a really nice mono and sample it for poly sounds.

@mixrasta, yeah i haven’t properly checked that one out yet, will do so, its certainly knobby :smiley: So long as it accepts MIDI then keys or no is not really problem. Do you know if the 4 voices can be used as a 4 voice poly like the elektron synth can?

Thanks @lymtronics - i have been checking out the moog stuff, looks great, no arp tho :confused:

The sub 37 looks great, expensive for just a mono synth, btu as you say (without even sayign the word modular) deapth of sound shaping is going to be important for longevity. Also has an arp…

Key tracking: im not even sure what it is! Im coming from a guitar pedals background and although i can play piano im not an experienced synth buff.

key tracking - the filter cutoff ‘follows’ your keyboard playing, opening or closing more depending on what notes you are playing.

The vermona can be used in 4polyphony two twopoly and 4 multitimbral as far as I know @aswefallintostatic.

@KrisM - Thanks for the explanation man!

@mixrasta - cool, its seems pretty extensive, im liking it so far.

Out of interest, does anyone know of a mono analog that has presets and a built in arp / keyboard with latch? The Minibrute comes close but no presets, and the moog stuff seems to be devoid of easily accessible arps until you get to the Sub37. Am not a fan of DSi…


Elektron’s Analog Keys comes to mind (poly, not mono). 6 arpeggiators, press the “Hold” to latch. The menu-diving is supposed to be pretty minimal.

Waldorf Pulse 2 is analog, cheap and has 4-voice paraphonic mode. AnalogFour/AnalogKeys are also analog and can do a lot of different things. I’m not sure how much you wold like their sound character, though.

If you decide to buy a monosynth, I would recommend to get a V-Synth (original, not GT) as a companion keyboard. It’s cheap, has good VA capabilities, great effects and can do crazy things with samples. It also has aftertouch, two-dimensional touchpad, two D-Beams and a programmable arpeggiator. The best thing about it, though, is that it can scale a single sample trough all 61 keys with most of them sounding pretty good.

There’s the bassstation ii, which fits the description you’re looking for.

But I’ve never been impressed by its sound. No warmth. Which, of course, is an entirely subjective descriptor. (before fans of it get on my back for saying that… :stuck_out_tongue: )

Again, the dominion 1 has all those features, it has presets (128). But kind of minimalistic (bass sounds, hihats etc) maybe good to have a starting point to tweak your own sounds easily. @aswefallintostatic forgot to say you can play the three oscillators in paraphonic mode on the D as well. So three voices, good for simple chords.

For that kind of money, I’d scour the used market and pickup a few synths instead of one:

Roland Alpha Juno 1 or 2 ($200-300)

Moog Concertmate MG-1 ($400)

DSI Mopho tabletop ($320)

Arturia Microbrute ($300)

There are others too, but going this route you could get a lot more dimension in your sound for the same amount of money you would spent on a single bit of kit. Of course it’s nice to have an expensive device that does a lot on it’s own (O cough P cough cough -1 cough, just kidding), but buying a lot of less expensive synths has its benefits too.

I enjoyed listening to your track @aswelfallintostatic, thanks for posting it. I have been more into ambient electronic music than before.

I would agree with those that have commented that an analog mono synth with a VA poly synth would be a good choice for your money.

I was close to buying a Juno 60 earlier this year but passed on it because of the price. I ended up buying a used Monomachine, and more recently a Blofeld desk top. I have been very pleased with both of those synths.

How about a used little phatty and a Blofeld desktop synth? The LP has keys, an arpeggiator with latch, and presets, which you mentioned being interested in. I have several LP/SP sound banks that I load into my phatties for more patch options.

Oh yeah. I second the Blofeld.

Thanks for the thoughts guys!

Your feedback is definitely echoing my thoughts, of going analog mono digital poly. I’ll check out the blofeld, good thought. I always was wary of those guys for the menue diving but have been hearing some really positive things recently!

@module8 - what are your thoughts on the mnm? Can it do 6 note poly? If so that is a really good thought because you not only get the sequencer but the synths are really great (and i am pretty up to speed with the workflow, owning the MD and all…)

Am really tempted by the Sub 37, seems to be a great little (ish) synth. Am going to try out a minibrute early next week tho, cant argue with the price, tho not been a massive fan of the online demos…

Whatever i get, wll be this coming week so will update! :slight_smile:

polymode gives you one 6-voice track @aswefallintostatic. I forget the specific Machines/Synths off the top of my head, but a couple of them offer four note chords, too, on the newer MnMs

That’s right @KrisM, MnMs can play six note poly, but it uses all 6 synth engines to play on one track. Some synth engines offer ensemble mode with up to 4 note poly on one track.