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5 Best Polysynths for Beginners (Reviews and Prices!)

There’s never been a better time for a beginner to buy a hardware synthesizer, as modern technology has made them more accessible than ever. If you’re looking for a synth that can play more than one note at a time, then you’re going to need a polysynth.

I’ve put together this list of the 5 best polysynths for a beginner in 2021, including their prices and key features, as well as some tips to help you understand what to look for when buying your first polysynth.

The best polysynths for a beginner in 2021 are:

  • Yamaha Reface CS ($299.99)
  • Korg Volca Keys ($169.99)
  • Korg Minilogue xd ($649.99)
  • Arturia MicroFreak ($299)
  • Behringer Deepmind 6 ($547.99)
Yamaha Reface CSKorg Volca KeysKorg Minilogue xdArturia MicroFreakBehringer Deepmind 6
Polyphony TypeTrue PolyphonyParaphonyTrue PolyphonyParaphonyTrue Polyphony
Number of Keys3727372537
Key typeMini KeysMulti-touch KeyboardMini KeysCapacitive KeybedFull sized
Preset Bank?No (Can save/restore online)NoYesYesYes
Built In speakersYesYesNoNoNo
MIDIIn / OutInIn / OutIn / OutIn / Out
Analog or DigitalDigital (Analog Modelling)AnalogAnalogDigitalAnalog
PowerAC Adapter or 6 x AA BatteriesAC Adapter or 6 x AA BatteriesAC AdapterAC AdapterAC Adapter
A table comparing different attributes of the 5 polysynths covered in this article

What is a Polysynth?

The term “polysynth” is short for “polyphonic synthesizer”. This means that the synthesizer can play multiple notes, or “voices”, at the same time, such as when playing a chord. For an example of a polysynth, listen to the first few seconds of “Jump” by Van Halen.

Polysynths are very versatile as they can fulfil different roles within a song. They can be used for basslines, pads, leads, and chords.

The number of notes a polysynth can play at the same time depends on the number of voices it has. For example, a polysynth with 3 voices would only be able to play a chord with 3 notes.

When talking about polyphonic synthesizers, there’s 2 types that you need to be aware of: “true polyphony” and “paraphony”. While you can play multiple notes at the same time with both, they process the sounds in different ways.

True Polyphony vs Paraphony

True polyphony and paraphony are terms that describe how the voices of a polyphonic synthesizer are processed by the instruments envelope generator.

A true polyphonic synthesizer will have each voice individually processed by the envelope generator, whereas in a paraphonic synthesizer, the voices are all processed by the envelope generator in unison.

True polyphonic synthesizers are described as more “piano-like” in nature. This is because each voice is processed individually. With the right envelope generator settings, each note would be able to “ring-out” like it does on a piano.

In contrast, a paraphonic synth wouldn’t be able to have notes “ring-out”. This is because the envelope generator is reset, or “retriggered”, when a new note is played.

It’s a very slight difference that has a large impact on the overall sound. Let’s look at the below video example to hear the difference between true polyphony vs paraphony.

It’s important to note that one isn’t better than the other, they are just different. I use both types of polyphonic synthesizer regularly, and am able to get great sounds and effects from both.

Top tip: If you’re looking to save money when buying a synthesizer, then paraphonic synths are generally cheaper than their true polyphonic counterparts. This is due to the fact that they need less components as they’re not processing multiple voices individually.

The Best Polysynths for a Beginner

Now that you understand a bit more about polysynths, here’s my reviews of the 5 best polysynths for beginners in 2021.

1. Yamaha Reface CS ($299.99)

The Yamaha “Reface” CS is a reimagining of the analog powerhouse that was Yamaha’s CS series, which were analog synths produced in the early 70’s and 80’s.

Although it may look unassuming, this synthesizer packs some serious power at a great price. 

It’s simple design makes it accessible and easy to use for a beginner, whilst being full of features that will satisfy the needs of more advanced players.


This synth costs $299.99 from most retailers, which is a very reasonable price considering the amount of features this synth has.

Type of Polyphony

The Yamaha Reface CS has 8 voice true-polyphony, that means that up to 8 notes can be processed at the same time, such as when playing chords or legato (i.e. overlapping notes). This synth can also be switched to monophony mode at the flick of a button.

Other Features

  • 5 oscillator types: This synth has 5 types of oscillators, which is the type of waveform used to make a sound. Each oscillator has adjustable parameters, which means that you can cover a broad spectrum of sounds with this one synth.
  • Built-in speakers: This synth has 2 x 2W built in speakers. This means that it can be played without any additional external speakers or headphones required, though you can connect them if you have them!
  • High-Quality Mini Key keyboard: The keyboard features 37 high quality mini-keys. These are large enough to be easy to use, but small enough that the device remains smaller and portable.
  • Mains or battery operated: This synth can be powered by either a mains adapter of 6 AA batteries, which makes it great for on-the-go play or practice.
  • Built-in looper: There’s a built in looper that can record up to 2,000 notes or 10 minutes at 120 BPM.
  • Onboard effects: The Yamaha Reface CS has 4 onboard effects: Distortion, Chorus/Flanger, Phaser, and Delay. These can be adjusted and blended, giving you even more control over your sound.
  • Save patches online: Although you cannot save patches (i.e. the settings for a sound you create) onto this device, you can upload and download them to Yamaha’s “Soundmondo” web based app. You can also download community created patches!

Why this polysynth is great for beginners

The Yamaha “Reface” CS is my top pick as the best polysynth for beginners due to it’s incredible versatility and value for money.

It’s simple design will have a beginner making great synth sounds in seconds, whilst the synths many sound options allow for a wide range of sounds for any style.

I have a Yamaha Reface CS that I use as my main synth for both bass, pads, and lead. I learned a lot about synthesizers, and synthesis in general, from playing around with the sliders on this synth and learning how they shape and affect the sound.

You can buy a Yamaha Reface CS using the below Amazon link. I’ll receive a commission from the sale, at no extra cost to yourself.

2. Korg Volca Keys ($169.99)

First released in 2013, the Korg Volca Keys continues to be a go-to for beginners for their first hardware synth. It’s a budget friendly analog polysynth that packs a punch despite its very small size.


The Korg Volca Keys is the lowest price synth on this list and retails for $169.99, which is an incredibly low price for an analog polyphonic synthesizer.

Type of Polyphony

The Korg Volca Keys features 3 voice paraphony. This may appear to be a little restrictive on paper, but can be used to great effect for ambient pad sounds, or simple 3 note chords. You can also change the voice to be monophonic.

Other features

  • 6 voice modes: The Korg Volca Keys has 6 voice modes, 2 are paraphonic and 4 are monophonic. This gives the small unit great versatility for either bass, pad, or lead sounds. The voices all have an analog warmth, which expresses a real vintage sound.
  • Built in Sequencer: The synth also comes with a built in 16 step sequencer, which is great for creating loops. There’s 8 memory slots that these loops can be saved to.
  • Small size: This is the smallest synth on the list, measuring 7.61 x 4.54 x 1.81 inches. This makes it great for practicing or playing on-the-go.
  • Mains or battery operated: The Korg Volca Keys can be powered by a mains adapter or by 6 AA batteries. Again, making it a great choice for people looking to play anywhere, anytime.
  • Built in delay: This synth also comes with a built in delay, which can be set anywhere between quick and punchy snap-back delay or a sea of swirling voices. It’s a great addition to give your sound some more depth.
  • Touch sensitive keys: The keyboard for the Korg Volca Keys is made up of small touch sensitive keys. This can be a bit fiddly without proper practice, but you can plug in an external MIDI keyboard to control the synth if required.

Why this polysynth is great for beginners

The Korg Volca Keys is perfect for a beginner on a budget that’s just getting started with hardware synthesizers and wants polysynth functionality at a low cost.

The combination of the powerful Korg circuitry and the simple interface makes it easy for a newcomer to pick up and start producing great sounds for any project.

The Korg Volca Keys was my first hardware synthesizer, and I always find myself picking it up to play and practice with. I also use it for any song that needs a vintage tone that comes from the warmth of the analog circuit.

You can buy a Korg Volca Keys using the below Amazon link. I’ll receive a commission from the sale, at no extra cost to yourself.

3. Korg Minilogue xd ($649.99)

Another entry from Korg, the Korg Minilogue xd is polysynth that is brimming with features and customization options that are perfect for a beginner that’s looking to invest in a lifetime synthesizer.


The Korg Minilogue xd retails for $649.99, which is on the higher end of the prices for this list. The higher cost reflects the large amount of features that Korg have packed into this unit.


The Korg Minilogue xd features 4 voice polyphony, which can be used to produce rich textured chords and lead melodies. You can also select “duo mode” which reduces the polyphony to 2 voices that are thicker in tone for heavy basslines. The Korg Minilogue xd is packed full of small but powerful features like this.

Other Features

  • 4 voice modes: This synth features 4 voice modes, each of which can be adjusted in additional ways, which gives you more versatility to your sound.
  • Onboard effects: This synth has 6 types of built in effects: Chorus, Ensemble, Phaser, Flanger, Delay, and Reverb. Each of these has adjustable parameters to give you more creative potential!
  • Preset bank (200 factory presets, 300 user spaces): The Korg Minilogue xd comes with 200 pre-installed patches that you can choose straight out of the box. Once you’ve played around a bit, you can save any patches you make to 1 of 300 additional slots.
  • 16 step sequencer: A built in 16 step sequencer means that you’ll be able to programme in a sequence ready for testing, playing over, or live looping.
  • Oscilloscope: This synth also comes with a built in oscilloscope that shows you the shape of the wave you’re playing in real-time, which is a great way to learn the effects of how parameters affect synthesis.
  • Advanced customization: Though it might be a bit much for a beginner, it’s worth noting that Korg provides a “Software Development Kit” (SDK) where users can programme different oscillator types and effects.
  • Much more: As I’ve mentioned, this synth is packed full of so many features that I can’t fit all of them here. Check out the official Korg Minilogue xd website for more information.

Why this polysynth is great for beginners

Though its many features might be a bit much for the synth hobbyist, this polysynth is perfect for a beginner that is looking to invest in a synth that is simple enough on the surface to learn from, whilst also having the depth to be able to be used professionally.

The analog circuitry, high build quality, and enormous amount of features and customization options make this the perfect start-to-finish synth for a beginner committed to learning the synth craft.

You can buy a Korg Minilogue xd using the below Amazon link. I’ll receive a commission from the sale, at no extra cost to yourself.

4. Arturia MicroFreak ($299)

The MicroFreak by Arturia is the weirdest polysynth on the list, in the best way possible. As the name suggests, it’s a complete oddity that is full of weird and wonderful features that will completely capture the imagination of any newcomer to the world of synths.


The MicroFreak retails for $299, which is in the mid-range for this list of beginner polysynths. The price is very reasonable considering the volume of features packed into the unit.


This synth features 4 voice paraphony. Whilst it’s not true polyphony, like the similarly priced Yamaha Reface CS, it’s strength lies in the ability to shape these voices to an incredible degree to create unique sounds unlike any other synth on this list.

Other Features

  • 16 oscillator modes: The Arturia MicroFreak has 16 oscillator modes you can use to shape your sound. As well as the standard saw, square, sine, and triangle waves, Arturia collaborated with Mutable Instruments and Noise Engineering to bring more experimental oscillators such as formant, speech, and FM synthesis to name a few.
  • Vocoder: This synth also comes with the ability to be used as a vocoder, which is another quirky feature that’s both fun to use and can give your songs some classic electronic edge.
  • Preset bank: The Arturia MicroFreak has a bank of 384 presets spaces. Arturia are constantly adding new presets to their models, so it’s hard to give a definitive number on how many of these are factory presets, but all 384 spaces can be used to save your presets, too.
  • Capacitive keybed: The keyboard for this synth is unlike any other on the list. Though it’s touch sensitive, like the Korg Volca Keys, the keys themselves are much larger and less fiddly than the Volca’s.
  • 64 step sequencer: The Arturia MicoFreak also features a 64 step sequencer, which is 4 times as large as the sequencers featured on the Korg Volca Keys or Korg Minilogue xd. This gives you plenty of space to create an intricate and evolving loop if required.

Why this polysynth is great for beginners

Learning an instrument should be fun, and there’s no synth on this list more fun than the Arturia MicroFreak. This synth is perfect for the beginner who’s looking to experiment with sound design and explore some of the more avante-garde sounds out there!

The MicroFreak is on my list of synths to buy. It looks like so much fun to play with, and there is so much room to experiment with the different sounds.

You can buy the Arturia MicroFreak using the below Amazon link. I’ll receive a commission from the sale, at no extra cost to yourself.

5. Behringer Deepmind 6 ($547.99)

When it comes to synthesizers, Behringer is known for offering great sounding synths, often emulating the sound of famous models, without a high end price tag. The Behringer Deepmind 6 is no exception to this. 

This is a feature loaded analog polysynth that will both meet and exceed expectations. If you’re a beginner that’s looking for a polysynth with a true vintage tone, this may be the one for you.


The Behringer Deepmind 6 retails for $547.99, which is the most expensive on this list. It does come with a host of features that justify the cost, if required.

Type of Polyphony

This synth features 6 voice true polyphony. Not only that, but each voice can use 2 analog oscillators per voice to give a rich and deep analog sound.

Other Features

  • Fully customizable sound: The voice options on the Behringer Deepmind 6 are incredibly in-depth and customisable. With so many ways to change and alter your sound, you’ll no doubt be able to craft patches that can cover all of your needs.
  • Built in effects: The Behringer Deepmind 6 comes with 4 powerful effects engines with a total of 33 effect algorithms. This gives you extreme flexibility to craft bespoke reverb, chorus, flanger, phaser, delay and multi-band distortion effects to your liking.
  • 32 step sequencer: The Deepmind 6 also features a 32 step sequencer for creating loops and testing out sounds.
  • 1024 preset spaces: This synth has an enormous 1024 spaces for presets, which will more than satisfy your needs for saving and recalling patches.

Why this polysynth is great for beginners

Vintage synthesizers are notorious for costing a lot of money, which often makes them inaccessible to beginners. This synth is for a beginner looking for the sound of a vintage synth without the enormous price tag.

Whilst it is the most expensive on this list, the many features and functions justify the cost and will appeal to the beginner looking for a vintage synth sound with modern functionality.

You can buy the Behringer Deepmind 6 using the below Amazon link. I’ll receive a commission from the sale, at no extra cost to yourself.


There are a lot of options out there for a new starter, but you should now have a better idea on which polyphonic synthesizer is best for a beginner.

To summarise:

  • It’s important to know the difference between Polyphony and Paraphony
  • I recommend the Yamaha Reface CS as the best polysynth for a beginner
  • Be sure to check out the manufacturers websites to understand the full features that come with the synths

Are you thinking of buying one from this list, or maybe you have some additional questions? Get in touch here and I’ll be happy to answer.