Live Performance Synthesizers

If you’re a studio musician and you need a synth tone, you can use a midi keyboard and a VST to dial in the tone you want. But, if you’re a stage musician, the complexity of carrying a laptop and a midi keyboard opens you up to potential failure.

If you require live synthesizer tones, you need something reliable, portable, isn’t too complex to set up, and that sounds great. In short, you need a purpose built board.

Finding the ideal synth for your needs can be a daunting task. You might be faced with questions like “Do you need a hardware synth or a digital one?”. So, to make your decision a little bit easier, we’re going to look at some of the most popular live performance synths on the market.

If you’re familiar with Roland, you will know that the Fantom series was one of their most powerful products. No keyboard or synth that Roland has made since the Fantom has come close to offering what the Fantom offered – that is until Roland released the FA Workstation series. Click here to read more about the FA Series.

The Roland JD series ticks all the right boxes; it’s powerful, affordable, versatile, and thanks to Roland’s SUPERNatural sound engine, the JD-XI synths sound amazing. The JD-XI is the ideal synth for a player who needs to add a synth to their existing rig, or someone who wants to break into the synth market without first needing to break into a bank.

We are often faced with a dichotomy when buying gear; do you go for a digital synth or an analogue synth? What are the benefits of each? With the Nord Wave, you don’t need to make a decision at all.  By combining analogue, FM synthesis, wavetable, and sampled waveforms, the Wave series will give you full control over the sound types that you use.

Another hybrid option if you need analogue and digital tones is the powerful JD-XI crossover synthesizer. With its unique crossover sound engine, the JD-Xi provides the best of both worlds: the warm, smooth response of classic analogue and the clarity and versatility of modern digital synths.

The Yamaha MODX range of synthesizers uses the same sound engine and technology of Yamaha’s flagship Montage range. Featuring Yamaha’s FM-X (frequency modulation), the MODX range is an expressive synth that can handle anything you throw at it. 

The Juno-DS, available in 61- and 88-key models, includes a vocoder with pitch quantization, trigger pads, and a stereo audio interface. With the Juno series, you have the ability to load your own samples into the synth engine, eight pads for triggering sequences and samples, and pitch quantization to go with the built-in vocoder.

The Gaia is an analogue modelling synthesizer and is the successor to the Roland SH-series. The Gaia retains the most popular traits of previous SH-series synths, hands-on tweaking, user-friendly layout and compact design while offering an updated sound engine to ensure modern synth tones for today’s player.

The SE-02 synth is the result of a collaborative effort between Roland and Studio Electronics. Studio Electronics is most known for its innovative synth modules such as the Omega 8, Boomstar, and Tonestar. The SE-02 is a 3-oscillator analogue monosynth module which delivers an unmatched tone. If you need an analogue synth, and won’t settle for second best, you should play around on an SE-02.

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