“This is the best synth in the world”: “Synth god” Mike Dean’s setup is nuts

The Beyoncé producer shows us a synth that was nearly used for Michael Jackson’s Thriller and gives a sneak peek into how he builds a track.

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Mike Dean in his studio

Credit: Reverb

Widely respected record producer, audio engineer, and “synth god” Mike Dean has revealed his studio setup in a new interview.

The interview, conducted by Reverb, sees the Beyoncé, The Weeknd, Kanye West, Madonna and Jay-Z producer show off a wealth of drool-worthy analogue gear. He also offers viewers a brief glimpse into how he builds a track by layering synths with guitar.

One of the most exciting sections of the interview is when Dean plays his Oberheim Four Voice, producing rich, gritty sonics. This 1979-launched synth, he says proudly, is “the best synth in the world”. “It’s all prog rock there, y’know?” Dean smiles as he jams away on its keys, which sits above a Rhodes Chroma, and below an Oberheim OB-X.

In this outtake below, you can see him smacking the OB-X to make it work:

In the video, he also talks us through how he uses two semi-modular analogue Moog synths, the 49-key Matriarch and the 32-key Grandmother. This combination is the bedrock for his live setup, he says, with him having repurposed two of the knobs on the Matriarch for “delay throws”.

The Moog action doesn’t stop there. Dean turns to his iconic re-issued Moog Minimoog Model D, saying “If you don’t want to spend fourteen, fifteen grand on an old one, this is great.” We also get to see his Moog Subsequent 37, Moog Voyager and the Memorymoog, which he regards as one of his “top five – the synth I always wanted when I was a kid”.

He goes on to show us his Yamaha CS-80, “probably one of the top two most sought-after polysynths in the world”, he reminds us. This is mainly used for arpeggios, we’re informed. His other CS-80, he tells Reverb, was “supposed to to be the one they played on Thriller”.

Watch the full video below:

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