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If vinyl’s comeback and subsequent staying power is a testament to the allure of analog technology in the home audio world, perhaps the similarly timed resurgence of analog synthesizers is the, well, analog to vinyl’s comeback in the recording world.
In the 1970s, analog synths from manufacturers like Moog, ARP, and Sequential Circuits had a heyday…and then a May Day. By the 90s, digital synths and effect processors widely replaced analog models, and while there were plenty of solid digital synthesizers made during this time (and there are still plenty being made now), they often lacked the hands-on, joy-of-discovery element that made working with analog synths so much fun—and the analog warmth that also made them sound so fantastic.
Thanks in part to the rejuvenation of Moog Music, the manufacturer founded by electronic instrument pioneer Bob Moog, musicians young and old are getting back into analog synths, as well as modular and semi-modular setups, in a way not seen since the 70 and 80s. For those (like me) who yearned for the return of the analog synths instead of having to rely purely on “vintage” synths that cost an arm and a leg (and are often in less-than-stellar condition), it’s an incredibly exciting turn of events.
To complement the new analog wave of synths, companies like Roland and Korg are again making effects processors and instruments based on analog circuitry—and for affordable prices. Major manufacturers may be truly doubling down on new analog gear, but just as exciting is the sudden swell of excellent boutique manufacturers like Landscape FM and Lorre-Mill making bizarre effects, instruments, and synths in small batches. The result is a mind-boggling new array of audio possibilities for the novice and professional alike, from synths to drum machines to effects processors.
We’ll highlight some of our favorite new analog gear here, from the weird and cool to the essential, and we’ll also highlight some of the not-necessarily-analog studio staples we’ve tested at PCMag that would, regardless, complement any home studio setup.
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