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Arturia Jupiter 8V Reviews
A beautiful replication of the original Roland Jupiter 8.
Fat stabs, thick pads, weird fx and a seriously low bass end make for a very unique and versatile synth.
The free update on Arturia\'s website increases useablity further, Arturia have optimised the programming even further so we now get more instances of this fantastic plugin in our music production host and better polyphony when used in standalone mode.
When will this become be your \"go to\" synth of choice.
In recent years I’ve found myself wanting a Jupiter 8. The closest I have personally come to playing a Jupiter 8 is the MKS80 – which is really more like a Jupiter 6 than anything else. It’s not really the same thing. I had expectations before I tried the MKS, but there was most definitely a character present in that box that I wanted to hear. It’s the massiveness. Huge, sweet brassy chords. Acid bass. I hadn’t heard it first hand before, except, of course, in big haired 80’s new romantic pop numbers. But that’s what I knew a Jupiter 8 was meant to have…it was meant to be better than an MKS80 or a Jupiter 6, it was meant to be the greatest polyphonic synth ever made, so that’s what I wanted.
As yet, I’m Jupiterless. So what I can’t tell you is whether Jupiter 8V sounds exactly the same as a Jupiter 8. And that is the big and difficult question, given that no two Jupiter 8s with the same settings dialled in sound exactly the same as each other. One of our employees however isn’t Jupiterless, he has an 8, and told me that with care and attention he was able to get patches sounding indistinguishable between hardware and software. That took some careful adjustment because of the fundamental differences in how the real Jupiter is calibrated and the how the software is. It became harder to get them exactly the same with a very complex patch, but I wonder if that’s due to the calibration differences having compounded. I don’t know for sure, and after all the perception of sound is a subjective business, because what I’m sure of is this ceased to be an important question after I tried the software.
Jupiter 8V is immense. It has that majestic bright soaring sound that it should. It has the titanic unison basses and twisted cross modulated soundscapes and bippy electro arpeggios and crystal percussion that it should. It’s simple to operate yet deep, and like most (fundamentally) simple synths – it always produces musically useful tones. That’s what sets it apart for me. All the original functions are on one page, within a single glance. It’s exactly the type of synth you come to rely on.
The oscillators are bright and fizzy, the filter is sweet and aquatic sounding, turn down the resonance and thunderous low end comes through, the envelopes are sharp and percussive if you want them to be or slow and glorious if you’re in the mood. There’s cross modulation and oscillator sync and if you switch the second oscillator to “Low”, then you have two LFOs, the oscillator one varying in speed slightly depending on which note you press, thickening the sound with subtle variations as the two LFOs work independently.
8V, like an 8, is bi-timbral – meaning you can have two sounds dialled into the keyboard at any time, divided into two zones across it. You can noodle a bass line with your left hand and bop an 80’s electro riff with the right. Whack a button and you can swap between editing the Upper and Lower sounds in a second. What’s that? You’ve only got one hand? No bother, switch on one of the best-loved arpeggiators ever created and hold down some notes. Just like a real Jupiter 8 you’ll find an LFO mod switch at the bottom left of the keyboard (with a configurable rise time), so dial in how much you’d like it to affect the pitch and/or the filter and the sound will change for as long as you hold the button. Momentary LFO, if you will, and very useful for creating spaz-out sounds when you’ve got a droney pad going on. The same panel has sliders to let you dial in pitch and filter changes that get applied when you wobble the modulation wheel. Similar to a CS80 in that respect, the sheer playability available in the keyboard is fantastic.
So you have the complete layout of a Jupiter 8 in front of you. Click an icon at the top and it reveals to you where the software goes beyond the hardware. Arturia have included a bunch of extra tools obviously not found on a real Jupiter 8 – effects firstly (delay with a high degree of control, chorus, phaser, flanger, reverb, distortion, parametric EQ), but tucked away there’s a super flexible 32 step sequencer included (sync-able to your host, with swing and 303 style glide and accent), which you can set to control individual oscillator pitch or filter settings. Beyond that is Galaxy, and you have to love Galaxy – you may need to see it to really get it, since the best way I can think of describing it is “two LFOs working in tandem to drive a point on an X/Y pad where the two axes are set to control two independent functions of the synth.” In English, it’s like a Spirograph that allows for more crazy evolving soundscapes than you could ever get from the original machine without a massive MIDI retrofit and Reaktor, or without growing extra hands.
But what’s that? You do have extra hands? You should probably get that looked at, but while you’re waiting for an appointment and if you have a MIDI controller, then CTRL-Click a dial, twiddle your MIDI knob, done! You’ve got real hardware controlling the software in an instant.
With more than 400 presets (categorised and searchable by tonal character, rather than abstract naming) you’ve got a ton of sounds to play with right out of the box, and Arturia have already released more preset banks for free on their website (including the original factory-shipped Jupiter 8 preset banks). Of course, join the communities of users online and there are lots of homemade banks to share.
That’s Jupiter 8V. Yes, it can be CPU intensive, but it couldn’t sound as amazing any other way (and they just released an update with further optimisation). So when a real Jupiter 8 is in the ballpark of £2000, £125.99 sounds like a pretty good deal to me. It’s the best thing Arturia have done yet. Try the demo.