Soft Synth Shootout: Which Jupiter 8 Emulation Is Closest To The Original?
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Soft Synth Shootout: Because some hardware devices are today harder to get, to expensive second hand or no longer available, musicians prefer to buy a solid reproduction. In our modern world today, you can find not only reproductions in software form but also in hardware like in the Roland Boutique series. If you want to use multiple instances of the Jupiter 8 at the same time, than you must jump on a software emulation. Starsky Carr, a youtuber released a new excellent video where he compares all three emulations to each other with the help of sound demos and gives you at the end a conclusion what he prefer.
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It’s strange, but in a bizarre parallel to the s and early s, the world has been rather resistant to the notion that high-quality synths extend much beyond the revered American models. I know I would. But if there’s one synth that should have been modelled long before now, it’s the one I have in front of me today. It’s Arturia’s recreation of the mighty and beautiful JP8 ‘Jupiter 8’: Jupiter 8V. When it was released, in , the JP8 represented a step away from the ‘American sound’ established by the likes of Sequential Circuits and Oberheim, and its distinctive character has led to it becoming a classic and desirable Instrument.
Installing 8V is not quite as simple as Arturia’s first products, because it requires the company’s Syncrosoft dongle and on-line authorisation. I have heard people complain about this, but I think it’s an excellent system, because you can carry the dongle around and legitimately use copies of the software on different machines.
It should also mean that Arturia reap the rewards of their labours, rather than suffering from piracy. Once installed, you can invoke 8V as a plug-in or a stand-alone instrument.
Arturia’s programmers are good at graphics and they have really got it right this time. The Jupe was a sexy synth, and 8V ‘s front-end has captured this superbly. Everything falls easily to hand with no nasty surprises, and even the additions which are subtly blended into the original look and feel are integrated sympathetically. The Oscillator Section Comparing my hard Jupiter 8 and the soft Jupiter 8V, I was pleased to find that their oscillator sections are all but identical, with merely cosmetic differences to distinguish them.
Using VCO1 as a test source on both synths, I found the sawtooth waves very close, as are the square waves.
The triangle waves are similar but sound more full on the original, while the rectangular pulse waves are, for a given setting, a little fatter on the soft synth. Even with added PWM, the ‘8’ and 8V can produce sounds that are all but indistinguishable for normal uses.
Much more significant are the differences that you hear when you introduce cross-modulation. Given that it’s almost impossible to find two big, analogue polysynths that offer the same results when cross-mod is introduced, it’s no surprise that my Jupiter 8 and 8V sound different. Remarkably, and without being pressured, Arturia have confessed to me that the cross-mod on 8V is not quite right, and have undertaken to improve it in a future revision.
I am very impressed by that. However, I really dislike how Arturia have implemented their so-called ‘free running oscillators’. Every time you hit a note, their phases are initialised randomly. This is irrelevant when using one oscillator, but results in different tones when you use both oscillators in unison, or when sync is on. Indeed, if sawtooth waves are initialised degrees out of phase, the fundamental is eliminated and the note sounds an octave higher than it should.
If two sine waves are selected, the note can disappear entirely! Furthermore, once the relative phases are calculated, they don’t drift, so you obtain static sounds with different tones as you press successive notes: So, while I understand the engineering issues truly free-running oscillators would increase DSP load , I hope Arturia find a solution soon, because it also leads to a second problem When you mix the Jupiter 8’s oscillators, the loudness increases a little compared with a single-oscillator version of the same sound.
For Jupiter 8 sawtooth waves in unison this increase is around 2. If you’re looking for a reason why the soft synth does not precisely emulate the original’s character, look no further.
I found that the highest cut-off frequency of the 8V filter is around In contrast, my Jupiter 8 has a maximum cutoff frequency of around 7kHz with no CVs applied, but disappears way into the supersonic as you increase the modulation. Surprised by this result, I tested the Jupiter 8 that Arturia had used to model the filter response and found that 8V matched their synth very closely.
Maybe I need to look at the calibration of my Jupe! Likewise, I found that the envelopes on a real Jupe and on 8V are somewhat dissimilar. My Jupiter 8 offers a maximum attack of eight seconds, but a more generous decay of 50 seconds or so, and a release in the region of 45 seconds. Arturia’s Jupiter 8 is similar, with a maximum attack of six seconds, and a maximum decay and release exceeding a minute. The soft synth offers the maximum attack of six seconds, and around 35 seconds for decay and release.
The latter figure was not an oversight by Arturia’s engineers; they found that the controls could be implemented with less stepping in the useful range if they limited the maximum. Very sensible, in my opinion. Real Sounds Having analysed the bits and pieces, I decided to start programming some real sounds. Things started very well. I created a simple sound, that I called ‘Plink’, on my Jupiter 8. This comprised a single sawtooth wave passed through the VCF with maximum envelope follow and a simple AD contour with instant Attack and a short Decay.
I found that I could recreate this sound precisely on 8V if I reduced the amount of envelope follow on the original synth to about 85 percent of its maximum. Having done so, I sequenced the two instruments, alternating notes from one to the other, and it was impossible to tell that two different synths were contributing to the sound. When I began to experiment with more complex patches for example, by introducing resonant filter sweeps things started to look a little less rosy. I returned to ‘Plink’, increased the resonance to maximum, and then slowed the attack so that the JP8 went ‘Woooo-ooow’ very smoothly.
I made the same modifications on 8V, and it went ‘Woooo-ding! I tried an ASR ‘trapezoid’ shape and found the same thing; at the transit between the attack and the sustain, there was a bump. Depending upon the patch, this can be a subtle problem or a serious one, although it can be masked if you use copious effects. Nonetheless, sounds such as string ensembles, brass and pads require smooth transitions between the attack and decay stages or attack and sustain stages, so I’m relieved that Arturia have already undertaken to fix the problem.
There are four effects slots provided within 8V: You didn’t get this with the original Jupiter While these are not of the highest quality, the ability to place one before the VCF and another before the VCA allows you to enhance your sounds considerably, and I imagine that most programmers will make extensive use of the opportunity to place the distortion effect before the VCF input.
The modulation capabilities of these effects are considerable. For example, you can modulate the cutoff frequencies, gains and Qs where appropriate of every node in the parametric EQ using the output from the sequencer.
There’s huge scope for experimentation here. Furthermore, Arturia’s programmers have admitted to me that they have been kept simple in signal-processing terms to minimise CPU drain. The delay is useful but, to be honest, the others don’t impress me; the chorus has none of the lushness that I crave, at flange settings I couldn’t obtain the classic ‘jet’ effects, the phaser didn’t ‘whoosh’ as I wanted I think serious users will bypass these and play 8V through their favourite plug-in effects.
Understandably, however, the hardware ‘Tune’ button of the original synth has been discarded, to be replaced by a Detune knob which fattens unison sounds and adds so-called ‘analogue instability’ to non-unison patches plus an LFO MIDI Sync button.
Other than this, all is as it was. Moving on, the performance panel looks and acts like an exact recreation of the original, although the effect ranges are different. For example, pitch-bend on the Jupe had a maximum range of approximately plus or minus 16 semitones; on 8V it’s precisely plus or minus 24 semitones. Likewise, LFO modulation on my Jupe has a maximum depth from the performance panel of plus 10 semitones and minus nine semitones, whereas 8V offers precisely plus or minus 12 semitones Personally, I’m glad that Arturia’s programmers have made these changes; they are welcome corrections of analogue limitations.
In Use The statements posted on a well-known synth web site that, “quite honestly this thing sounds awful Given that I’m sitting here with a Jupiter 8 under my left hand and my Mac running 8V in front of me, I’m very confident of my ground here: For typical ie.
For more extreme patches with cross modulation, high levels of modulation, high resonance and so on, it does not sound the same as the Jupiter 8; it’s in the same sonic territory, but it’s not identical. Inevitably for a version one soft synth, there are bugs. In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, 8V would often decline to launch the first time I tried to invoke it, although it was perfectly happy the second time.
I also encountered a wonderful new bug: How analogue is that? I also found an obvious bug in the effects: Change the sweep waveform and then change it back again, and the problem disappears.
But, ignoring these, all of which will probably be addressed in the next revision or two, what’s the verdict? There’s also a problem with the graphics: Playing 8V in ways that previously slowed it to a crawl resulted in CPU usage of 80 percent, or thereabouts, but no problems. He found that the stand-alone version worked with limited polyphony, but within Sonar v6. Another colleague, whose host is Nuendo v3. Clearly, 8V is sensitive to the host environment. To be fair, the sound quality of soft synths is related to the amount of power you throw at them, so it’s not unreasonable for the good ones to be quite hungry, but 8V seems particularly voracious, so I recommend that you download the trial version and test it before purchasing.
Conclusions The Jupiter 8 was a synth that rewarded subtlety and understanding. Jupiter 8V also suffers or benefits from this. The factory patches are fairly restrained, and you are not going to be crying out ‘oh, wow!
But does the world need another big, blobby, American-sounding soft synth? Given the glut of Prophets, and that all the Minimoog, Odyssey and ARP emulations are fully polyphonic, something with the more transparent and polished character of the Jupiter 8 is to be welcomed. Look at it this way: Given that you can assign the knobs and sliders on your MIDI controllers to its screen representations, it comes even closer to the ideal. So, ignoring other issues for a moment, do the sonic differences between the Jupiter 8 and 8V matter?
This is a difficult question to answer. On the one hand, the accuracy of the GUI almost demands that the imitation is perfect. On the other, the 8V is a really nice soft synth with a great sound, so you may feel that differences are only of consequence to the most retentive of analogue anoraks.
I’ll leave you to decide where you fall in the spectrum. To finish, I have to say that I continue to be impressed by Arturia’s willingness to listen to constructive criticism and undertake extra work to make their products first-class. I raised half a dozen or more points with them while completing this review and on every occasion they checked my findings, and then undertook to fix things.
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It’s strange, but in a bizarre parallel to the s and early s, the world has been rather resistant to the notion that high-quality synths extend much beyond the revered American models. I know I would. But if there’s one synth that should have been modelled long before now, it’s the one I have in front of me today. It’s Arturia’s recreation of the mighty and beautiful JP8 ‘Jupiter 8’: Jupiter 8V. When it was released, in , the JP8 represented a step away from the ‘American sound’ established by the likes of Sequential Circuits and Oberheim, and its distinctive character has led to it becoming a classic and desirable Instrument. Installing 8V is not quite as simple as Arturia’s first products, because it requires the company’s Syncrosoft dongle and on-line authorisation.
VIDEO: Soft Synth Shootout: Which Jupiter 8 Emulation Is Closest To The Original? – SYNTH ANATOMY
I asked this same question on the System-8 forum, but I was wondering the same thing about the Roland Cloud VST. So I’ll just copy and paste. You can now download VST/AU Jupiter-8 and Juno plugins from the Roland Cloud | MusicRadar. Roland would do one, cause their SH plugin is pretty much dead on with my real otherwise, i think arturia makes a Jupiter 8 emu?.