Best Synths for Ambient Music – Dreamy Synthesizers (2020)

Updated on by Ross McLeod

Synths provide musicians and producers with seemingly endless possibilities of building sounds. Ambient music is built on a foundation of synths for creating chilled vibes and provoke emotions from the listener.

In this comprehensive list of the best synths for producing ambient music, we will take a look at the features and components that make these instruments well suited to created dreamy productions.

4 Best Synthesizers for Making Ambient Music

The Moog One is the most complete synthesizer that Moog offer, an analog dream-synth which is polyphonic, tri-timbral and highly imaginative. This synth really can do it all.

The first polyphonic Moog synthesizer in more than three decades, this revolutionary instrument was handmade in the Moog factory in North Carolina. 

With a tactile interface that is loaded with intuitive features, you have the freedom to experiment and build unique ambient sounds using a range of sonic layers. It’s a modern synth, but it still retains the glorious feel and sound that have made Moog the leading manufactures in this field for decades.

Every sound on the Moog One beams with clarity and rich tones, thanks to the constant improvement they make to the circuitry. It took Moog years of research to finally manufacture this synth, and the result of their expertise is perfect for composing in an ambient style.

The Moog One sound engine is polyphonic by nature, with every voice featuring three analog voltage controlled oscillators. There are also two independent analog filters per channel which can be run parallel with each other, perfect for implementing gentle effects into your chosen sounds.

The analog mixer is fitted with an external audio input, four LFOs, and three envelopes. To finish off, there is a high quality Fatar keyboard installed with 61 velocity sensitive keys.

  • Exceptional sound quality
  • Highly playable, touch sensitive keyboard
  • Array of built in effects controls
  • Legendary Moog tones
  • Expensive

The Blofeld synth by Waldorf is an improvement on the highly respected Blofeld synth series, now fitted with a top of the range keyboard. With 49 weighted keys, all with aftertouch, this synth is extremely comfortable to play.

With the Blofeld synth you get 25-voices which are all polyphonic by nature. There is a pitch bend control for creating trippy, ambient lead melodies and a variety of modulation wheels perfect for building suspense in your tracks.

Storing your personal synth patches is also easy, thanks to the 60MB of built in sample memory. One of the best things about the Waldorf Blofield synth is that you get access to over 1,000 high quality sounds, with the option of adding more via USB connection.

Some of these sounds are perfect for ambient music, and even the more pop based samples can be manipulated using the effects controls in order to make them more suitable for your style of production.

  • Over 1,000 built in sounds
  • 60MB sample memory
  • Multiple modulations wheels
  • Weighted keyboard
  • Sheer number of available sounds could be overwhelming

Dave Smith is a legend in the synthesizer world, and has been responsible for some incredible instruments over the years. What makes the OB-6 even more special is that he designed it in collaboration with another highly respected synth designer, Tom Oberheim.

The result is a combination of sonic variety and highly polished sounds thanks to the classic SEM circuits that Oberheim popularized in the 1970’s. The OB-6 is full of all the required patches you need to make ambient music.

With two oscillators which are controlled by voltage and an added sub oscillator on each individual voice, you can customize the original patches to be lighter in tone or more bass heavy, depending on the needs of your track.

Every voice also has its own state-variable filter, allowing you to further affect its sonic makeup. You also get a 64 step polyphonic step sequencer for programming rhythmic synth parts, and two digital effects engines to further sculpt your ambient sounds.

The X-Mod feature is definitely worth noting too. This is a modulation unit designed by Smith which will lead to hours of fun experimentation.

With a filter envelope and oscillator at the source, you get full control over the makeup of your chosen patch and can automate them to move as your song progresses.

Loaded with controls and variables, the OB-6 is a detailed synthesizer capable of producing infinite ambient sounds to add into your music.

  • 2 oscillator and a sub oscillator per voice
  • 2 built in digital effects engines
  • Semi weighted keyboard
  • Less keys on the keyboard than other options

Finally, let’s take a look at the minilogue from iconic synth manufacturers, Korg. On the surface, this small-sized, compact synthesizer may look like it doesn’t have as many controls options as some of the bulkier synths we’ve covered previously.

Looks can be deceiving though, and as you’d expect from Korg, the minilogue is crammed with a multitude of ambient synth possibilities.

In order to produce the minlogue, Kord had to redesign their analog synthesis technology. They built a unique platform which includes 2 VCO’s a VCF, 2 EGs, 1 VCA, and an LFO. It’s remarkable that all of these sound manipulation facilities fit into such a concise unite.

With the minlogue you also get acces to cross modulation to create pulsating, dream synth lines and oscillator synchronization allows you to model the rythms in any way you wish.

The list of effects includes multiple delays, a ring modutor, a highpass filter for dramatic sweeps and an oscilloscope which visually displays your results in from of you.

Korg have created the perfect blend of size, science and music for ambient productions with the minlogue. If you produce in a number of locations, or intend to take your synthesizer on tour, it doesn’t get much better than this magical little synth.

The sound quality, mobility, and unique structure of controls make it a brilliant addition to your studio setup.

  • All analog synthesis signal path
  • Multiple effects controls
  • Small, compact unit
  • Visual oscilloscope
  • Limited space and low number of keys

The Most Effective Synth Effects for Ambient Music

When choosing the right synthesizer for your ambient music production, there are a number of effects which are vital to create that dreamy sound.

Some synths have these effects in abundance, whereas others may only include a few. The main ones to look out for are listed below:

  • Reverb
  • Delay
  • LFO
  • Oscillators
  • Filter Envelope
  • Phasers
  • Flangers
  • Chorus

Final Thoughts

I hope that this detailed guide has pointed you in the direction of the perfect synth for your ambient music production. Now it’s time to go and enjoy hours of experimentation!

Ross McLeod
    Ross McLeod
     

    Ross McLeod is a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket, and he is the frontman and bassist of the garage rock band The Blue Dawns with whom he has released 4 EPs and toured extensively.

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