Get set for gigging
There are so many synths currently available that it can be a nightmare choosing the right one for live duties.
As a general rule, you want one main board that can cover a lot of sonic and controller territory, and you can then pair that with a couple of synths for specific duties (such as leads, basses, pads or triggering samples).
Keep in mind the size of synths you use and their portability/weight. Also, if using older synths, take into account that they may break down, and consider whether it’s perhaps better to substitute that old synth for a newer equivalent. As much as you may be a stickler for that vintage Minimoog, are you really up for tuning headaches and having to manually set up your next patch after each song?
Keep things simple and eliminate as many potential gear headaches as possible! Click through the gallery to see some of our favourite 'boards for live use.
NEXT: Yamaha MOXF6
This versatile board from Yamaha is extremely portable and gets you the majority of the sounds from the flagship Motif XF but without the weight. You can also import samples to the optional flash memory, which is a great feature for live use.
NEXT: Clavia Nord Stage 2
Clavia Nord Stage 2
Nord’s flagship board is versatile for live use with no menu diving. You can import samples, and it comes in 73-note waterfall keyboard and surprisingly portable 76- and 88-note versions. There are authentic organs, pianos/EPs, an external section, a powerful synth and an effects/EQ/amp section.
NEXT: DSI Pro-2
The Pro-2 uses digital oscillators and dual VCFs and offers sequencing, effects, four-note paraphony and more. It's built to withstand the rigours of touring, while its assignable touch sliders make it ideally suited to being tweaked in the live environment.
NEXT: Korg Kronos X
Korg Kronos X
Korg’s Kronos X is the most versatile workstation range currently available. There are 61, 73 and 88-note models available, all of which have several sound engines onboard. These utilise sample-based sounds plus physical modelling, FM synthesis and sampling. There's also sequencing, powerful effects and a setlist mode.
NEXT: Elektron Analog Keys
Elektron Analog Keys
The Analog Keys is a great bet for live. It’s built like a tank and has a four-note polyphonic analogue sound engine mated to a deep Elektron sequencer with effects. There's a lot of power and versatility onboard for making leads, poly sounds, basses and beats.
NEXT: Roland FA Series
Roland FA Series
The new FA series (06/08) packs in 2,000 sounds from Roland’s flagship Integra-7 module. They’re great boards to run live sequences from - each model has a sampler based on the SP-404SX and there’s playback of WAV, AIFF and MP3 files so that they can be used as backing tracks.