We all love a classic Analogue Synthesizer. The warmth, the rich tones, even the circuit noise all add a certain loveliness that a software synth cannot match. The question of soft synth vs hard synth has a clear winner – one that weighs several kilos and comes in a box!
Reissued synths are a way of getting these amazing authentic sounds and the joy of owning a hardware classic, for a fraction of the price of the original. They are usually modernised with new features and connectivity, and sometimes notable negative points of the original have been improved. For example some early synths were notoriously difficult to tune (and stay in tune!) so by correcting these aspects, it can only be considered an improvement in real terms.
For the heretics (and value-hunters) among us I have also included a few cheaper unofficial Behringer clones of synth classics which are great in their own right, and deliver the goods for even less money. To be fair, Behringer have put a lot of love in to these reissues, boasting all-analogue signal chain, and circuit components that are as close to the originals as possible. I wouldn’t use Behringer products in my mastering chain, but their synths are fantastic, and in the cost of living crisis, it makes total sense to explore going “off-brand” in all facets of life.
If you are wondering “which synth should I buy?” here’s a quick guide to 15.5 (you’ll see why it’s 15 & a half later) of the best classic synth reissues, and a few controller keyboard recommendations at the end. Enjoy!
This article will be updated every so often when I see something else that’s groovy, so please bookmark & check back.
1) Roland JX-8p >>> JX-08
Modern Reissue of the Legendary Roland JX-8P from 1985 with New Effects, Polyphonic Sequencer, and More. I had a hardware JX3-p, its predecessor for around 20 years and it was incredible. The JX8-p is considered an upgrade, and this reissue is a beauty!
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44Pl5Sg
2) Roland TB-303 >>> TB-03 / TD-3-BK
The Roland TB-303 (1981) is one of the most legendary in the world of electronic music. The reissue (TB-03) is a compact, affordable, and modernized version that retains the original’s unique sound. Aciiiid!
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/468zkCw
Behringer also make a clone of the 303 for an insanely low price, the TD-3-BK at Just over £100. Bear in mind an original 303 will set you back several thousand (IF you can find one), and just the manual alone sells for several hundred, this Behringer clone is an incredible deal.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3LwpuTn
There are a load of software 303 versions, often with extra features. 2 of the best ones are:
3) Roland TR-606 >>> TR-06 / RD-6-SR
The TR-606 (1981) was designed to be paired with the 303, so a lone singer could have their own bassline and drums without having to organise a band. Then a swarm of electronic artists had different ideas, and music has never been the same again… The TR-06 reissue captures the chunky vibe of the original and adds a wealth Modern Upgrades
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/468I7o6
Yes, Behringer have their own all-analogue clone of this too. Yes, it’s an incredible deal.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/48pIH30
The Nithonat by D16 is a fantastic 606 VST
4) Roland TR-808 >>> TR-08 / RD-8
The Roland TR-808 (1980) is the most famous drum machine ever made. The backbone of House music and Hip-Hop, with heavy use across most other electronic genres too, it remains an essential (and incredibly expensive) bit of kit. The reissued TR-08 is a compact, affordable, and modernized version that retains the original’s unique sound.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3sNn4cj
The RD-8 Behringer clone also has an all analogue signal path, and is almost half-price again. They are shameless, yes, but also offer a great opportunity to producers who want the real analogue feel without spending too much dosh. 11 individual analogue outputs allows you to record or process your drums in multitrack.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3t81nUr
The Nepheton by D16 is a high-end 808 VST with extra features.
5) Roland TR-909 >>> RD-9
Similar to the 808, but with harder sounds, the 909 grew to become the backbone for Techno and Industrial music, but features in almost all electronic genres too. This all-analogue clone is fat and chunky, with 10 individual outputs and reasonably priced.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/48kkISF
The Drumazon 2 by D16 909 simulator completes the holy trinity of classic drum machine VST instruments.
6) Roland SH-101 >>> SH-01A
The Roland SH-101 (1982) is a classic 80s monosynth which is capable of some truly savage tones. There’s just something about it which screams! The reissue (SH-01A) is compact, affordable, and has some new features.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44Xdr8e
7) Moog Minimoog >>> Model D
The Moog Minimoog (1970) is one of the most famous synths ever made, and for good reason. A true icon, the originals are incredibly expensive and rare, and mere mortals like us are unlikely to ever even touch one. The cloned Behringer Model D is pretty darn-tootin’ at a fraction of the price of an original.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44Ul1R6
The Moog Minimoog VST by Universal Audio is the leading software version.
7.5) Moog Minimoog (again) >>> Model D
Here’s why the article is call 15 & a half synth reissues… there is also a polyphonic version of the Minimoog Model D which is also made by Behringer: The Poly D. It’s actually technically paraphonic, which can lead to new and interesting tricks by tinkering with the oscillators. Both these Behringer Moog copies caused controversy, with hardcore synth purists getting upset at their unofficial nature. But if you can look past that, they’re awesome in their own right and an affordable way to get a very similar analogue sound to the original.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3RphvLn
8) Prophet-5 >>> Pro-1
A monophonic version of the immensely fat Prophet-5. The Behringer Pro-1 is a great-value clone if you’re looking for a synth like Prophet 5 which recreates the original circuitry and sound.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3LpXBfG
The Prophet 5 V by Arturia is a fantastic VST option
The original (1993) Should really be called the “sound station” due to its flexibility. Earth shattering synth bass, yes! But also lush soundscapes. I had one for many years, and it was a joy to play. The BassStation 2 has been around for a while, and the latest edition has USB and a few new features. Highly recommended.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/48k4SXY
10) Roland Juno-60 >>> JU-06A
The Roland Juno-60 (1982) is a classic polyphonic synth. There was one at my college, and I spent as many lunchtimes as I could cranking it up and stressing the PA (and anyone in the surrounding area) with those immense filters. The reissue (JU-06A) is a compact, affordable, and modernized version that retains the original’s unique sound. WANT!
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/48j35T9
The Model 84 by Softube is a lovely Juno emulation
11) Roland JD-800 >>> JD-08
The Legendary ROLAND JD-800 (1991) is a vintage icon. The stunning reissued JD-08 has New Effects, Polyphonic Sequencer, and More
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Rjy0c1
12) Roland Juno 60 AND Juno 106! >>> Juno-X
Not a straight “reissue” as such, but worthy of inclusion as the best bits of both these rare legends are combined in a monstrous reissued hybrid synth. The ROLAND Juno-X. Incredible.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44YSLga
13) Korg MS-20 >>> MS-20 Mini / K-2
This is a legendary synth (1978), and for good reason. Semi-modular and with a wicked filter. It’s been reissued twice – the Official Korg MS-20 Mini was overseen by the original team and is a faithful recreation – the only difference is it’s 86% of the size. I have one of these built in to my desk I love it so much!
Behringer have angered the synth Gods again with a much cheaper clone which is sick too. Heretics can pick up an extremely close version for about half the price.
Behringer K-2 version Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/44PpmVO
There’s an official software Korg MS-20 VST
Or there’s a bundle of the full Korg collection!
14) Arp Oddysey >>> The Octave CAT >>> CAT
In the spirit of “generational reappropriation” shall we call it, the original Octave CAT was a copy of the ARP Odyssey – a truly groundbreaking synth from the 70’s. Now Behringer have copied the Octave CAT, with their own CAT.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/48kPkDq
Cherry Audio make The Octave CAT in VST form
15) WASP >>> WASP Deluxe
Finishing off on a legend. The WASP. This innovative and quirky synth quickly became ingrained into synth lore. This reissue has a wealth of modern features but keeps to the spirit of the original.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/48nArAd
Need A Controller Keyboard With That?
Some of these synths don’t have the keyboard attached and need a separate controller keyboard to actually play it, without resorting to using the mouse only in your DAW (yawn!).
In case you don’t already have a controller keyboard, or are looking to upgrade to one with lots of assignable knobs and faders for hands-on control of your DAW and soft synths, here are some great options.
C1) Nektar Impact LX49+
This is the exact controller keyboard I use, so can personally attest to its quality. The drum pads, faders and dials all feel great. USB MIDI Keyboard Controller comes with with Nektar DAW Integration. Recommended.
Price on Amazon (49 key version): https://amzn.to/46hFErt
61 key version: https://amzn.to/46gy6VT
88 key version: https://amzn.to/3Lr2K7d
C2) Nektar Impact LX Mini
Sometimes you only need a compact synth for a portable laptop setup. This has everything and at a great price.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3EQdkRe
C3) AKAI Professional MPK261
This lovely 61-Key Semi-Weighted USB MIDI Keyboard Controller Including Assignable MPC Controls with 16 Pads, Q-Links, Buttons and Plug and Play Connectivity is a beast. AKAI are a quality brand, and this is a winner.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/45UVlVO
C4) AKAI Professional MPK Mini
Here’s the AKAI in a mini version to carry with your laptop. A 25 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with 8 Backlit Drum Pads, 8 Knobs and Music Production Software Included
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3t5mTcM
C5) Alesis Qmini
Since these analogue synth reissues have tweakable knobs and faders built-in already, you don’t necessarily need knobs and faders on your controller keyboard (although they are still very handy for connecting to Soft Synths). This portable 32 Key USB MIDI Keyboard Controller with velocity sensitive keys is a good value option.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3PGNzct
C6) Nektar Impact GX61
For a larger keyboard and quality feel, but without paying for assignable knobs and faders, this USB MIDI Controller Keyboard with Nektar DAW Integration is a great option.
Price on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3sUrWwi
You can get several of these reissues for around the same price as one of the original rare beasts. Sure, the reissues might not smell as musty, or have as many stains as an original, but the sound quality is great and all these have been meticulously engineered to be as close to the original as possible. Have fun tweaking your knobs!
Once you’ve made some fresh tunes with your synth, consider sending it to us for professional mixing / mastering https://fatasfunk.com