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Three distinct boxes of compact, analogue sound for the sort of price you’d expect to pay for a top-end plugin. The Volca Beats offers four analogue drum parts, four PCM percussive synth parts and a great delay section. The Volca Bass features a three-oscillator bass synth and 303-style filter. The Volca Keys, meanwhile, is a three-note polyphonic synth with built in delay. All three feature step sequencers and a variety of performance features.
Each Volca has a fairly specific (although very classic) sort of sound, and they aren’t hugely sonically versatile on their own. Chaining all three together (they sync via included patch cables) opens up extra possibilities. Each features MIDI-in, which really enhances their capabilities, particularly in the case of the Volca Keys. All that said, for the price each unit packs an impressive array of features, and there’s plenty to tweak and play around with.
The Volcas are undoubtedly great value for money, bearing in mind that you can pick up all three for around £360/$450, which is less than you’d expect to pay for the vast majority of hardware analogue synths.
The Volcas are a little short on output options, as each unit features just a single mini-jack output and built-in speaker. Power supplies are sold separately, although they run fine off AA batteries.
Anyone looking for classic analogue sounds on a budget. Stylistically, they suit vintage house and techno brilliantly. The Volca Beats is great for old-school, 808-style hip hop and the Bass is an instant source of Acid basslines. They’re very hands-on too, so could work well for live performers. At the price they're hard to fault.