1. Roland Juno-106 (1984): Finally, a synth that was marketed towards poor people, the Juno-106 put hybrid DCO-based synth technology into many musicians’ hands for the first time. Although limited with a single oscillator and filter, its distinctive chorus effect and 80s pop sounds helped define it as a winning machine.

  1. Roland D-50 (1987): Roland’s new LA synthesis architecture never took off, but it found a comfortable home in the still-popular D-50, which used an early 8-bit form of PCM sampling to achieve unique sounds never heard before. Along with plenty of polyphony, this 1987 hit found its way onto many records in the late 1980s and 90s, and is still used to this day.

  1. Korg M1 (1988): Apparently the most well-sold synth of all time, the M1 became a popular semi-workstation synth, combining an affordable price, sleek looks and excellent realistic sounds (remember the piano sound?). The A1 synthesis method allowed for excellent traditional subtractive synthesizer sounds though too, and combined with 16 voice polyphony and tons of built in effects and even a sequencer, it is no surprise this synth did so well.

  1. Roland JV (1992): Roland’s workstation series of semi-synths started with the JV-80 and JV-90, then developing into the JV-1080 and JV-2080 – producing staggeringly accurate and believable samples of real instruments, saving many musicians thousands on using real instruments. Along with more polyphony and expansion options than you can shake a stick at, the JV series evolved into the XV series, which continues to sell well today.

  1. Access Virus (1995): The first of a new generation of digital-based ‘virtual analogue’ synthesizers, designed to bring high-polyphony analog sounds to all those who wanted the sounds of the 1970s and 80s back but couldn’t afford to buy and maintain the old machines of yesteryear. Tons of patch storage, effects and even a vocoder helped the Virus to pioneer the 21st century virtual analogue brigade.