For those of us seduced by the sounds of electronic synthesis there is another aspect of our cherished instruments that is often unspoken, yet still a large part of our collective yearning... the design ethic that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing. This is especially true for those of us who grew up before the digital revolution and its sad offspring, virtual synthesis aka soft synths. Just the idea of a soft body extension is enough to drive a baby boomer into a doctor's office seeking solace and medication. Yet beyond the concern of this virtual ether is the very real pleasure that comes with patching, knob-twiddling, navigating a forest of colored cables, and creating (as well as tweaking and sometimes destroying) a "new" sound. That unique sound is the product of experience and chance, an exhilarating tightrope walk that makes sound synthesis fun and its hardware extensions so useful. The most well-regarded synths of the past and present generally eschew LEDs and presets, some are fully analog, while others are analog-digital hybrids (thanks Don B). All feature knobs of varied size, color, design, and material, sometimes on the same instrument. Give the accompanying photo gallery and look, and see which ones you recognize.