Arturia's Frederic Brun (left) and EM's Mike Levine
Arturia Origin ($2,490)
From the French company best known for its spot-on software emulations of classic analog synthesizers, Origin is a unique hardware synth. Like its virtual forebears, it models the ARP 2600, Yamaha CS-80, Roland Jupiter-8, Moog Music Minimoog and Sequential Prophet VS, but it lets you mix and match their constituent parts with one another, controlling a Moog filter with an ARP envelope shaping VS wavetables for instance. The result is a synthesizer tour de force that sounds like no other instrument made. With a wealth of hands-on controls and a big color display, programming Origin is a joy. It seamlessly meshes the best of vintage analog sound and control with the advantages of computer-based synthesis.