The 10 Most Interesting Synth Introductions Of 2015


2015 has been an amazing year for synth introductions – with major new synth lines from Roland, Yamaha and Korg; new modular synths, both big and small, from Moog and others; a new Prophet from Dave Smith Instruments; innovative new synths from smaller companies and hundreds of new synth modules.

Here are the 10 most interesting synth introductions of 2015, ranked according to what new synths the most Synthtopia readers chose to read about this year.

Check out the list – and then let us know what you think of the synths introduced in 2015!

#10 on the list is the Crudlabs Crudman – a monophonic Mellotron-like instrument, designed around a single cassette Walkman.

The Crudman, above, is based around a Walkman which has been elaborately hacked so that a tape of a looped or droning sound (or any other sound) can be precisely sped up or slowed down, via MIDI or 1v/octave CV, to accurately hit notes over a range of 3 octaves.

The Crudman can be used monophonically, or multiple Crudmans can be used polyphonically.

31 thoughts on “The 10 Most Interesting Synth Introductions Of 2015

  1. I prefered the Volca approach with REAL hardware for half the price, that sounds good and just like it should not an emulation. if it’s pointless to emulate for both cost and size reasons, why not just use authentic???

    1. But the Volcas were introduced last year and are glorified toys, rather than real synths.

      Real synths have quality construction, full-size knobs, 1/4″ jacks and MIDI IN/Out.

        1. To be fair, both of those have all the features mentioned; The only thing you could really pick them up on is construction, which is usually an acrylic box, although, on the shruthi, at least, it’s kind of as well built as you make it. I agree with the point you’re making, though; Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, sort of thing.

    2. The Volcas are great lofi boxes, but beyond that they don’t offer very much. They’re totally worth their price, and also totally overrated as instruments.

      1. My volca keys sounds warmer deeper and better than my friend’s jp boutique, all I’m saying. It has a midi in, takes CC for everything except resonance, and is thus EXTREMELY performance friendly. I prefer to jam with the volca and a good controller than with all other low cost synths I’ve tried and heard. The delay is nice and kinda messed up. The poly ringmod is unique and sounds amazing especially combined with portamento. The wobble of the whole thing is real, it’s just not a boomstar in sound – mind you, I’ll never think of a boomstar as a real performance synth for me because it has no CC control and can thus only be used in super-basic minimoog style (just bend and vibrato and maybe one other paran can be applied at once, and it is harder than it should be to do with one hand), or by a two-hands-tweaking setup necessitating use of sequences and other stuff to simulate a riffs and leads performance I could be playing in real time, if the company had the wisdom to let me use my xy page and sliders to control the synth how I want to, how they really deserve to be played, worbling and resonating like vco beasts.

        Volca is a few vcos and a single bucket brigade cup rigged up in an extremely efficient digital control system. MORE LIKE THIS. Even at under 200 dollars, it has little real competition on the market in terms of my needs and wants until you go up to a prophet 6 or something. The boutiques by Roland failed in every single way by my account, all I’m saying! (Surely an interesting topic tho lol, not having at the list makers just reviewing a product by comparison )

      2. I love my Volca Keys. It may feel like a toy, and the output isn’t as hot as other synths, and sure MIDI Out would be great – but it sounds fantastic. At least mine does.

        I also love my jp-08. Sure it has a few minor flaws, but if you know what you are doing, it also can sound feat – better than the Volca.

  2. I was interested in the Kilpatrick Audio Phenol and the Futursonus Parva. Something different that didn’t offer those god-awful toy keys.
    Happy new year 🙂

  3. Just to repeat it from the article because, comments.

    The list is:
    > “…ranked according to what new synths the most Synthtopia readers chose to read about this year”

    It’s not an opinion piece.

    @synthhead, is that based entirely on total page views? Does it combine page views for multiple articles about the same instrument? If so, would be good to include how many articles there were about each. 10x views on a synth with 3x posts isn’t the same as 5x views on a synth with one post.

    Would also be interesting to know which ten got the highest number of comments.

    1. Will

      The ranking was based on page views for the initial article covering the introduction of each hardware synth/synth line introduced in 2015.

      So it’s not a subjective ranking, by us or readers, of the ‘best’ synth, but a ranking of the new synths that readers were most interested in reading about in 2015.

      1. It might be helpful to say most viewed blog posts vs most read. Somewhat semantic but there is a difference. With Roland minies at #1, it’s likely because of the all the comments and controversy behind them.

        1. There is no way to know if someone that viewed an article actually read it from web analytics. Views are accepted as a standard gauge of interest.

        2. Hard to say without knowing which analytics data was grabbed but this could be true. If it’s page views instead of sessions or uniques, anything with multi-page comments would get a boost.

          That said, it’s just the Internet. And even if the boutiques got a double bump, it probably still nets out to about right. People really were that interested in them.

  4. Ironic how everybody loves to gripe about cheap mini synths, but they’re the synths that everybody wants to know about and then they sell like hot cakes.

    The biggest synths of the year have all been cheap mini synths ( Roland Boutiques, Refaces & Mother 32)

    1. Is that ironic? People talk about buying cheap affordable hardware, they do so as it is accessible and affordable; it doesn’t therefore follow that they like these synths or find them useful, or ever held any real desire to own one. The only option was to buy a cheap piece of crapola.

      I dislike the JDXi, and adore the Modal 008, in the next 6 months I may own a JDXi, not because I want one but purely based on it being a cheap piece of hodge-podge I can afford. I won’t have the funds for a Modal in the next 6 months.

      It is like saying it is ironic if a person moans about thrift stores yet doesn’t shop in high end exclusive luxury stores they can’t afford – that isn’t irony, that is reality. Believe it or not, cheap useless shite sells.

      But a real irony in all this is that I’ve never brought a “hot cake”, I don’t know anyone who buys, sells or eats “hot cakes”, where do you even go to buy “hot cakes”? Bakers don’t sell “hot cakes”. I will also say, that part of baking and preparing a cake involves letting it cool to apply icing/frosting and fillings – a “hot cake” is a crap cake, most likely microwave re-heated.

  5. The shear fact that Roland Boutique is at #1 is the most absurd thing I’ve read all year. Synthtopia… consider this a lost reader. Whatever you’re basing this list on is pure garbage.

    1. “… ranked according to what new synths the most Synthtopia readers chose to read about this year.”

      Blame the players, not the game.

  6. I like the literal use of “interesting” here – things that gained attention. But in a real modern sense it is one of those words we throw in a sentence to imply insult, “That Donald Trump has interesting things to say, and very interesting hair”. Or, like the word “really” we can use “interesting” when we don’t care or have switched off, “Really, that is interesting”.

    I can honestly say I find those Roland Boutique synths interesting – tiny pieces of tat dreamt up from an unhinged mind, but very interesting all the same.

    Roland and Yamaha need to learn, the problem with the race to the bottom is that someone may actually win, and where do we all end up from that?

  7. I would have put the Prophet 6 at the top of the list. The Modular Moog reissues are cool, but in reality only a handful would ever get one.
    I have no problem with the boutiques being included, and I think they are interesting, but not #1.
    Same with the Moog Mother. Quite interesting.

    Also I did buy one of the synths on the list, the Yamaha CS, and I love it!!! I was weary of the mini keys, but they did a great job with them and they are completely playable. I don’t even think about it now. I also don’t care about the lack of memory because the panel is so streamlined it is pretty easy to dial up most sounds live, or you can use the iOS app. I prefer dialing up my sounds though because I find it far more inspiring than pressing a button and getting exactly the same sound every time.

  8. Time for a new list for 2016, the most disliked Synth introduction. Add a Like/Dislike button for a product introduction article ?

  9. Having been an owner of the second edition of original Odyssey, the one thing I don’t get about this reissue is why they chose to use mod buttons instead of wheels. ARP introduced the wheel version for a reason: musicians hated the buttons. I guess the reason for buttons with this reissue is that the buttons are cheaper, but they are nowhere as useful.

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