Baby Audio BA-1 review

Baby Audio has set the effects world on fire with a string of top releases. Can it do the same for synths with its first instrument plugin?

  • £79
  • €99
  • $99
Baby Audio BA-1
(Image: © Baby Audio)

MusicRadar Verdict

Baby Audio’s first synth might follow in the footsteps of the CS-01 as an under-the-radar classic. It’s gritty, dark, twisted and charming, just how we like our synths.


  • +

    Simple and invites tweaking.

  • +

    Beautifully nasty sound.

  • +

    Love the Battery Life dial!

  • +

    Great effects bring it all up to date.


  • -

    Dirt won’t be for all.

  • -

    Limited features (by design).

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Baby Audio BA-1: What is it?

At a glance

Baby Audio BA-1

(Image credit: Baby Audio)

Platforms supported: Mac OS 10.7 and up (including Native M1 Compatibility). PC Windows 7 and up.
Plugin formats: VST, VST3, AU, AAX.
Buy at Plugin Boutique

It’s fair to say that Baby Audio has come from pretty much nowhere to be a dominant force in the world of plugin effects. 

Its Super VHS tape sim, TAIP saturator, Parallel Aggressor processor, Comeback Kid delay, Crystalline reverb, Spaced Out reverb/delay and Smooth Operator balancer have all scored at least a 9/10 from us. 

So when it announced its first synth, it was big news. The suitably-titled BA-1 is its name and, unusually for Baby Audio, it’s not a new design, but based on the Yamaha CS-01.

We say ‘unusually’ because Baby Audio has become well known for its unique creations that put ease of use and sounds above complex workflow. Sure, some harken back to classic gear – Spaced Out is a re-imagined Space Echo – but it’s mostly treading new ground. So there was a slight tinge of bemusement when we heard about BA-1, as we can’t wait to see the all-new BA take on synthesis. Instead, its first offering is an emulation of a decent, if not mind-blowing old mono synth. 

Actually, we’re probably being a little harsh on both BA and the original Yamaha. The CS-01 has enjoyed something of a comeback in recent years, and is being employed for its gritty character across a variety of modern genres; indeed Vintage Synth Explorer say it’s great for “cool little analog bass blips, bass lines and bass bubbles that are just perfect for today’s electronic musicians”. 

Meanwhile Baby Audio has added some extras to the original, including an additional analogue-modelled oscillator, FM and polyphony, all the while attempting to keep the character of the original intact, going as far as to reproduce an emulation of the original on-board speaker for even more lo-fi. There’s even an option to drain the battery and bend the circuits for even more grunge. 

Baby Audio BA-1

(Image credit: Baby Audio)

Baby Audio BA-1: Performance and verdict

There’s no getting away from the fact that the signal flow is quite basic on BA-1 – it’s supposed to be (see below for more on this) – but that also makes it very hands-on and tweakable for creating new sounds in no time. 

Baby Audio has also included one more secret weapon with BA-1: its very own effects engine. And we know BA is a master when it comes to effects, so you get some brilliant delay, reverb and chorus settings which really help liven up the sounds. Just audition a preset and move from left to right through the various effects and you can transform a preset instantly, and with these effects alone. 

As far as the included sounds go, there are many preset packs to sink your teeth into, and these deliver a surprisingly diverse set of results. Yes, there are plenty of gnarly basses and scratchy leads but also a lot more atmospheric pads and arpeggiations on offer, thanks to that bolstered polyphony (and like we said, the effects do add a very ‘2023’ sheen). 

BA-1 could easily be the filthy yin to a more rounded, cleaner workhorse synth’s yang

There’s no denying the ’80s vibe and roots though, and we were constantly reminded of the days when we wore way too much black (sidenote: BA’s T-shirt range is also pretty great) and listened to way too much industrial music. That being said, there’s a lot here that could sit well in newer electronic music, especially that with a glitchy leaning. There’s drift, detuning, noise, and whatever filth you want (and a lot of that comes just when you ‘drain’ the battery). BA-1 could easily be the yin to a more rounded, cleaner workhorse synth’s yang. 

Baby Audio BA-1

(Image credit: Baby Audio)

Simple is best

With two oscillators rather than the original CS-01’s one, BA-1 already packs more of a sonic punch, but the signal flow and architecture is still straightforward. Both oscillators feature saw, triangle, square, pulse and PWM source ingredients while an FM dial adjusts the frequency modulation between the two.

Also consider...

Brainworx bx_Oberhausen
A cleaner (and more expensive) classic analogue with a similar sonic architecture.

This has a familiar ’80s aesthetic, bass-heavy sonics and vibe, and is a similar price. 

A simple low-pass filter is very much modelled on the original and an envelope can be applied to it and amplitude. A basic LFO is described as ‘easy to master and hard to mess up’ and with liberal sync-ing all round this is very true; no matter what you do, everything seems to work. This is especially true with the sidechain option that adds a four-four ducking effect which increases in drama the more you dial it up. 

We've already covered the effects but the Drive is a highlight, and can add some real grit to your sound, while the reverb tries to bring it back into dreamland. And the Battery Life dial is genius; we want it on all of our synths.  


Ultimately, BA-1 presents instant electronic fun, so very much bang on the money with the Baby Audio philosophy. It’s another triumph then, after all, although we’re still very much looking forward to an all-new BA synth.

MusicRadar verdict: Baby Audio’s first synth might follow in the footsteps of the CS-01 as an under-the-radar classic. It’s gritty, dark, twisted and charming, just how we like our synths.

Baby Audio BA-1: The web says

"With a characterful sound and affordable price tag, Baby Audio’s BA‑1 is a worthy tribute to the plucky Yamaha CS‑01."
Sound On Sound

Baby Audio BA-1: Hands-on demos


Baby Audio

White Noise Studio


Baby Audio BA-1: Specifications

  • Platforms supported: Mac OS 10.7 and up (including Native M1 Compatibility). PC Windows 7 and up.
  • Plugin formats: VST, VST3, AU, AAX.
  • Buy at Plugin Boutique
  • CONTACT: Baby Audio 
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