Reverb published a nice feature about producer Mike Dean, about his studio and his way of working to a complete track. Lots of Moog and Oberheim synths ! Please note that the (c) are with Reverb and its authors.

Even if you don’t know his name, you know Mike Dean’s sound.

The super-producer and “Synth God” solo artist is a pillar of modern music production. The Weeknd, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Travis Scott, Madonna, Jay-Z, Christine and the Queens—these artists and more have made classics with Dean, and that’s just his recent work.

Before that, he helped craft a whole era of Southern hip-hop with the likes of Scarface, Geto Boys, UGK, and Devin the Dude, after getting his start as Selena’s keyboardist and musical director.

Photo captions (c) Reverb, read from left to right:

  • The signature guitar tone is a closely guarded secret.
  • The middle rack includes a MemoryMoog, MiniMoog, Prodigy, Subsequent 37 CV, and Rhodes 73.
  • A Native Instruments controller often used to sequence (all hardware synths are connected via MIDI).
  • The new favorites—an Oberheim OB-X and Four-Voice—above a Rhodes Chroma.
  • The “Trifecta” of a Voyager, Juno (HS-60), and Triton that’s been on dozens of hits.
  • The main computer, equipped with nearly every DAW and plugin.
  • The first part of Mike Dean’s working collection of studio synths, including a Jupiter-8 and a CS-80.

The Sound for Less

Affordable ways to approach the sound

Despite owning a fair few of the world’s most desirable synth models, Mike Dean’s setup has a surprising amount of affordable options. The trio of synths that he calls the “Trifecta” and used on scores of hits contains the Roland HS-60 (an overlooked and less expensive Juno variant) and a Korg Triton, which these days is just a few hundred dollars (and available as an official Korg VST). 

Moog Model Ds and Voyager XLs are pricy, of course, but Mike also makes use of modern Moogs like the Matriarch and Grandmother that are easier to come by. 

The cream of the crop CS-80s and Jupiter-8s of the world will take some more doing, but if you are interested in approximating those sounds with other instruments, check out our “Jupiter-8 for Less” and “CS-80 for Less” articles.