I spend most journeys to and from work scrolling through Facebook and getting the latest news on synths. However, there’s nothing like watching a product demo, custom patches or a synthesizer performance on YouTube!
In this post I list some of my favourite synthesizer YouTube channels, the reason that makes special, and share some of my favourite videos. I’ll be sharing this list on Facebook, and hope to discover some of your favourites channels and videos via your comments!
The Synth God: Jexus
OK so it sounds like Jesus, but Jexus from Poland provides some of the best sound demonstrations of synthesizers available. There’s no talking, just playing of awesome patches including references to things like movie soundtracks. He also includes quirky cutaways and fx which you’ll either love or hate (I’m the former!). He makes every synth sound good, although I have a suspicion that the sounds are processed with some mild distortion. Either way this is an awesome channel with 70 videos including synths such as Ensoniq ESQ-1, Clavia Nord Leads, Yamaha DX7, Akai AX80, Kawai SX-240 and more. Not necessarily your high end synths, but it gives you any idea of what any synth is capable of if put in the right hands. However, he hasn’t been active for several years. Let us hope that Jexus resurrects this channel!
Modify my pulse width: Sonicstate
This is one of the most comprehensive channels. Nick Batt is arguably the most respected synth reviewer out there, and an avid fan of PWM (as memed by facebook group Synth Memes). He’s articulate, informed, and has a great understanding of synthesis.
Yet the channel is more than their Sonic Lab tech reviews. There’s my favourite Meet the Makers series with Eurorack makers such as Yannis from Dreadbox and Tony Rolando from Make Noise; there’s the Sonic Talk podcast, performances, NAMM specials etc. The only problem with this channel is I don’t have the time to watch all of it!
The Samurai Master: musictrackjp
It’s always nice to see a synthesizer reviewer who has some keyboard playing chops, and Katsunori Ujiie is like a Japanese version of Nick Batt but with fancier playing skills (sorry Nick!). Most demos start with a keyboard solo, after which he goes into detail about the features, and then he’ll finish up with another demonstration. Luckily for us English speakers, subtitles are provided. It’s not only Japanese synths he reviews, but synths like the Oberheim Two-Voice Pro, Arturia Maxtrixbrute, and even controllers like the ROLI Seaboard. It’s always a pleasure to watch his demos… Arigatou!
It ain’t like it used to be: Retrosound, AnalogAudio1
Who doesn’t love a vintage synth? Well, Retrosound has lots of them, and he’s willing to share in over 400 videos! He provides sound demos and comparisons of classic synths like the Oberheim OB-XA (vs a DSI OB6), PPG Wave 2.1, ARP Quadra, Roland Juno-106, Moog Source, Polivoks, Sequential Circuits Prophet VS and many more. Needless to say this channel is a must for any synthesizer fan wanting to delve into the past. He’s also active on social media if you ever have any questions.
If your like me you’ll crave more vintage synth demos, and wonder how something obscure like a Korg Sigma sounds like. AnalogAudio1 helps fill that gap! Just pure playing so you can appreciate the sounds of great and rare synths such as the ARP AXXE, Wersi CS1, Soltan Programmer 24, Moog Micromoog etc, and you never know what’s coming next!
The mad scientist: Macbeth Synthesizers
As a person into synth DIY, I love getting insight into the people behind the synths. Ken Macbeth of Macbeth Studio Systems is a maker of high-end synthesizers, and is a great character too! He showcases some of his prototype synthesizers such as the making of his Elements synth, talking about design choices, experimenting and showing off some features, filmed at what I presume is his home in a casual nature. This is what I’d love to be doing when I’m his age! Quite an inspiring character.
Be sure to check out the ULTRA BEND feature in the video above from 3:38!
Noodling around; the modular kids: DivKidVideo, Mylar Melodies, Voltage Control Lab
Eurorack modular, the final and never ending frontier of synthesis! It can be difficult to get into, but channels like DivKidVideo help make it easier will heaps of videos and discussions about pretty much everything. There’s insights into modules, patches and jams, and some features for Future Music Modular Monthly. A great part of the channel is the modular podcasts, which cover interesting topics such as interface design, performing with modular and show specials. This is also one of the busiest channels and great resource for anyone into modular synths.
Mylar Melodies: https://www.youtube.com/user/hello6am/
Also providing some great insights into Eurorack is Mylar Melodies, and I admire the way these videos are put together and the paradoxical reserved yet enthusiastic vibe. I won’t say too much except that the Make Noise 0-Coast demo is probably my favourite all-time product demonstration (and yes I did buy one after watching this video).
Voltage Control Lab: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9y4nruLDg5DYgzEn8bJxxA/
I couldn’t finish this section without mentioning Voltage Control Lab. They provide in-depth videos on lots of modular functions and patches, and are very specific. Want to know how to prepare samples for your Radio Music Sampler? Or how to use Make Noise 0-Coast slope as an oscillator? A great resource for the modular enthusiast.
More cool stuff:
- AutomaticGainsay: Mark Doty provides excellent multi-part tutorials and demonstrations on synthesizers including new stuff like the Dave Smith OB6 and Korg Volca FM, and old favourites such as the Moog Memorymoog and the Roland Juno 6.
- Future Music: More than just synths and the Modular Monthly, you can learn about music production and get some insights into studios.
- gstormelectro: A great selection of demos and walk throughs from modular to new and vintage synthesizers including the Oberheim Matrix 12. It even has some videos on synth repair.
- MrFirechild: When gear lust gets the best of you this is another channel to watch (or stay away from!). There’s demos of cool stuff such as the Oberheim OB-X, Schmidt synth, MOS-LAB System 2P (not as well known but make some very nice sounding synths!), Alesis Andromeda etc.
- Perfect Circuit Audio: Compared to the quality of some of the other channels on this list, the demos here can vary in quality. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of good videos from this store (like their Oberheim Two-Voice Pro demos) and given how many I’ve watched over the years I’d be remiss not to mention them.
- Synth Anatomy: This channel covers some different territory if you’re interested in your iOS / iPad apps, plugins, or DIY synths such as the Soulsby miniAtmegatron.
- synthartist69: There can never be enough demos of retro synths, and if you ever wanted to hear what Jump would sound like if Van Halen and chosen a Roland Jupiter 8 instead of an Oberheim OB-X (story is the OB-Xa was only used in the video), then this is your channel. There’s also a sprinkle of new synths and Arturia plugin synth demos.
The children are the future
I thought I’d post one of my favourite fun synth jams of all time to finish with. It’s not fancy, there’s not a wall of modular synths, it’s just three mates, in a room, playing 80s synth classics (with quite a nice selection of synths) and doing a great job too! Enjoy…