December 4, 2013

The Synth Nerd Holiday Gift Guide...

by Chris Randall

I present to you the guaranteed-to-please good for all budgets Synth Nerd Gift Guide. You're here because someone you know is a Synth Nerd, and they have given you a link to this article, and said "anything off this list is fine." Well, they probably mumbled it, as your average Synth Nerd isn't much of a people-person. But you're here now, so settle in. You don't have to know what any of this stuff is. Just click the link for the amount you want to spend, then click "Buy Now." Easy peasy.

1. The Cheap Bastard (less than $25) You really can't go wrong with the Stylophone Retro Pocket Synth, which will set you back $24.99. Even if the Synth Nerd in your life already has one, or has an original one, or one of the new super-duper ones, they'll still find a use for this, if only to annoy their co-workers. I guarantee it.

2. The Cheap But Not A Bastard ($25 - $50) Another fun little pocket noise-maker, only a bit more capable. I chose the Korg Monotron Duo ($49.00) here, because virtually everybody bought a Monotron a couple years ago, and while it was fun and all, the shine has probably come off that penny. And of the three Monotrons, this one sounds the most interesting, in my opinion.

3. The Risk:Reward Ratio ($50 - $100) Now we're getting in to things that are actually useful to, you know, make music. Sorta. This is useful enough to actually elicit a "wow, you actually put some thought in to this and got me something you think I might like." Of course, you didn't. I did. But that'll be our little secret. Anyhow, if you want to drop a little more bank, go get that Nerd an Axle Grease Delay. It'll only set you back $69, and there are zero scenarios where a Synth Nerd isn't happy with a new analog delay. Especially one that is kind of semi-awesome. (For the money, anyhow.)

4. The Now We're Getting Somewhere ($100 - $250) If you're looking to spend a bit more, pick up a Korg Volca Bass synthesizer. ($189.) That is, if you want the easy way out (i.e. Amazon.) If you don't mind putting in a touch more effort, and perhaps risking not getting your gift before Christmas, then the thing to buy is the MeeBlip Anode. ($129). I personally think the Anode is the better gift, and I'd go with that, even if it's late. It'll show you care.

5. The Groove Is In The Heart ($250 - $500) I had to think about this for a while. My initial inclination was to go with the Waldorf Rocket, as it sounds very cool. However, I feel that it is overpriced at $329.99. It simply doesn't have the feature set or usefulness of other synths in this price range. Which is too bad. It's a cute little guy, with a unique twist on the tiny synth. No, in this price range, the hands-down winner is the Arturia Microbrute. ($299.) As of right now, this is probably the best value on this list, when you look at capabilities, feature set, and general usefulness. Very difficult to beat, and your Synth Nerd will be ecstatic. And you'll be happy because the keyboard doesn't have enough notes to play the lead line from "The Final Countdown."

6. The Hey, Big Spender ($500+) If you're gonna make it rain on your Synth Nerd, probably best to just give him a Visa gift card, because it's everywhere he wants to be.™ Just throwing that out there. But if you want something with a more personal touch, then I recommend the Korg MS-20 Mini. ($599.) I personally don't care for this synth, and I certainly don't want it for myself. But I'm demonstrably strange, and absolutely in the minority. Your Synth Nerd will definitely be happy with it.

So, there you go. Something for all budgets. Happy holidays!


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Dec.06.2013 @ 12:42 PM
This ranks as the definitive synth-nerd gift buying guide for 2013. I wonder whose mom will actually read it:) (My whole family are musicians, but I'd be the only one synth nerdy enough to appreciate anything on the list.)

I checked out the MeeBlip Anode demos and have to hand it to Peter and his associates for crafting a box that's worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the Volcas. Anybody who caught it at the $110 intro price (no longer valid) got an especially good deal because it looks like they did a good job of hitting the design target of a minimal but useful bass synth. (Still not liking the product name though!)

Dec.06.2013 @ 4:10 PM
My family isn't in the tax bracket that would really spend that kind of money on normal gifts, and the last thing I need is my wife feeding into my gear excess (not that she wouldn't if I asked her to, but 2013 is a gear purging mode for me).

Dec.07.2013 @ 3:31 AM
Not that your (otherwise great) list is up for discussion anyway, really. But why the Volca Bass and not the Keys? Just out of curiosity.

Dec.07.2013 @ 6:03 AM
Chris Randall
The Keys sounds like shit.

My opinion only, of course. If you didn't want my opinion, though, you wouldn't be on this site, would you?


Dec.07.2013 @ 3:26 PM
Why did I not wait for Santa? Would have been cheaper ;-)
link []

Dec.10.2013 @ 9:07 AM
D' MacKinnon
I'm just going to forward this page to my wife now.

Dec.10.2013 @ 4:28 PM
if anyone is shopping for me this year, i am a fan of some critter & guitari love in the $175-$300 range.

Dec.12.2013 @ 7:22 AM
@rollmottle this 6 voice poly is slated for Q1 of 2014:

link []

Kits will likely be in the $300-350 USD range, fully assembled ones will run a bit more (I know of some people who could build it for you, if you're not interested in the DIY part).

Analog filter, and two oscillators (+sub) that are similar in fashion to the Moog family. Three LFOs and 3 envelopes, and a mod matrix. Granted, it doesn't have a full panel of knobs to edit it, but everything is within a button press or two.

Fingers crossed, I should have an early build soon, and will write up my thoughts and post some sounds for everyone.

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