Roland Aira TR-8
When the TR-8 was released back in 2014, it was probably the most hyped about a piece of gear I’ve ever been—accurately modeled sounds of the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 (later joined by the 606, 707 and 727) in a simple and fun format for an exceptionally affordable price. I literally went to Mannys in Melbourne the day they came in and bought one. Fast forward to 2018 and the TR-8 is now the oldest in Roland’s new generation lineup of producer-focused gear. With the release of the TR-8S, I’ve seen them going on the second hand market for $350. If you told 2013 me that I’d be able to have a genuine Roland TR drum machine with all the classic ‘80s sounds for that kind of money (that sounds bloody excellent), I would have put my hand up for five.
Elektron Analog 4 MKI
In late 2012, Swedish manufacturers Elektron joined the analogue synth revival with the Analog 4—a four-voice DCO powered synth attached to an incredibly powerful four-track sequencer in a very sturdy package. It’s got a nice sound, too; clean and creamy with a great sounding reverb. Recently the Analog 4 MKII has been released, as well as a whole range of new and exciting Elektron gear. The MKII boasts a bigger a screen, improved looks, a reworked filter and a street price of around $2200. MKIs on the second hand market are floating around the $1000 mark. That’s a massive bargain for an only slightly inferior product.
Novation Bass Station II
For whatever reason, it feels like Bass Station II never generated the hype it deserves—which is good news for you bargain hunters. Even at its current retail street price of $550-ish, it’s a bargain. The Bass Station is the perfect ‘my first hardware synth’, in my opinion—high quality analogue sound combined with a clear and simple layout with minimal compromises. It has a super fun sequencer, runs on USB power, has digitally stored presets and a really nice keyboard. Pick one up second hand for around the $400 mark.
It’s the beginning of 2013. Musicians and the music media are collectively losing their marbles over all the new analogue synths hitting the market, with Korg being one of the front-runners. When whispers arose of a new Korg polyphonic synth appearing at the NAMM Show, there was an almost audible gasp of, “Oh my God… is it an analogue poly?” followed by a palpable disappointed, “Oh,” when it turned out to be a digital virtual-analogue. Yes, Korg’s timing was a little off with this 61-key all-rounder synth. Despite the many positive reviews that flowed in, the synth never took off. Some did sell though, and if you’re looking for a full-size synth that can achieve extremely convincing tones modeled on all the vintage favourites (including non-synth offerings like Rhodes and Mellotrons), then finding one on the second hand market for an astonishingly low price is very doable, and highly recommended.
Good luck, bargain hunters.
Feature image via Ricardo Abreu.