In an age where music production software reigns supreme, many budding musicians and producers would never dream of buying a hardware synth, but this could be a huge mistake. For all the versatility and ease of the approach to creating music “in the box”, there is ultimately something inexorably special about hardware synthesis. The tactile, hands-on approach is difficult to beat, not to mention the overall sound quality and feel.
One problem with hardware synths is their price, which almost always outweighs what you would pay for a VST plug-in. Nevertheless, there are affordable and seriously powerful hardware synths out there. The iconic Korg Minilogue is routinely mentioned as arguably the best of the bunch, although there are plenty more affordable options to check out.
About the Korg Minilogue
Before we jump into some alternatives, let’s take a recap on what the Korg Minilogue brings to the table. We reviewed the Korg Minilogue with one of our special “one synth, one song” articles, and it’s safe to say the plucky little polyphonic hybrid analog synthesizer has well and truly blown people away. Featuring 37 keys, a 16-step in-built sequencer, two oscillators, filters, an LFO, and more, Korg has packed an impressive amount into such a compact chassis.
The Minilogue also comes with 100 presets, so even complete synth beginners can begin playing in no time at all. Another neat feature aimed at beginners is the small OLED display showing the waveform in real-time. It’s a nice touch, especially for people looking to understand how synthesis works on a practical level while messing with different parameters.
3 Affordable Alternatives to the Korg Minilogue
Despite the Korg Minilogue’s celebrated design and sound, there will be people looking out for alternatives. Luckily, the affordable hardware synth market is exceptionally healthy right now, so there are a few attractive Korg Minilogue alternatives to consider:
Roland JU-06A: A boutique version of the legendary Juno synth, the Roland JU-06A is an updated version of the original JU-06. It faithfully recreates the delightfully warm sound of the original Juno synths, heard in everything from disco to deep house and classic rock since 1984. Although there are fewer features than the Korg Minilogue, it is difficult to beat the JU-06A’s expansive sound. One downside is the need to buy a midi keyboard controller to play this boutique synth, but it’s more than worth it when you hear the golden sound. Reviewing the Roland JU-06A will further elucidate the intricacies of this fascinating bit of hardware.
Arturia MiniBrute: Arturia rose through the ranks as a VST plug-in provider focussing on classic synth emulation, so music production enthusiasts were incredibly excited when the company entered the hardware market. The Arturia MiniBrute is an extremely compact yet powerful analogue monosynth, perfect for those on a budget seeking that distinctive analogue sound. With only 25 keys, the MiniBrute doesn’t take up much space, yet Arturia has included tons of interactive filter controls, LFO controls, and more.
Korg MicroKorg: Did you really think we could omit the Korg MicroKorg from this list of affordable Minilogue alternatives? Perhaps the most archetypal budget synth of all time, this battery-powered, 37-key, virtual analog instrument has been in production since 2002. The fact it is still as popular two decades on is testimony to its exceptional design, with well over 100,000 units sold until now. You won’t find a budget synth with nearly as many features as the Korg MicroKorg – it even includes a vocoder!
Tired of Hardware? How to Get the Korg Minilogue Experience Elsewhere
As fun as hardware synthesis can be, it isn’t for everyone. Fortunately, there are numerous other ways to get the Korg Minilogue experience elsewhere. For example, it’s well worth checking out the new breed of mobile synth apps, such as the Korg Kaossilator or Moog Animoog. You get tons more practicality and for a cheaper price too. Meanwhile, enthusiasts love music-inspired online slots like Synth Wave, where you revel in a synth-influenced gaming experience while on the move. Many top mobile casinos host games like this, and the inclusion of bonuses such as no deposit and welcome bonuses means you don’t have to spend anything to enjoy high-quality casino games. It’s a great way to get your synth fix from your mobile and simultaneously enjoy some carefree online casino fun, especially considering there is no need to make a deposit. There are guides available on the site, as well as a thorough review of each operator. Despite the flexibility mobile synth activities allow, there are additional ways to get the Korg Minilogue experience.
For example, the most common options are VST plug-ins like Native Instrument’s Massive or Serum by Xfer Records. These pieces of software are outrageously powerful, offering far more versatility than hardware instruments with none of the physical footprint.