Arturia Jupiter-8V Review
Probably one of the fattest analog polysynths ever made, the Roland Jupiter 8 was an 8 voice, 2 part multitimbral analog polysynth. At its time, you would pay 5K USD and nowadays, you can get your hands on a used one on eBay for about 10K USD! Unfortunately, most of them were made just before the standardization of MIDI, so, on top of that 10 K, you’d probably wanna spend some more on a MIDI kit… I don’t have that kind of money, and I bet most of you, don’t have it either, but, good news: the good guys of Arturia had made an awesome recreation of this 80s classic for a fraction of the price, the Jupiter-8 V2, so, let’s check it out!
As I’ve said, this is a very complex and flexible synth for its time! Bi-timbral, two VCOs with Cross modulation, PWM, Sync, huge range (16’ to 2’), mixer, non-resonant HPF, resonant LPF switchable between 2-pole and 4-pole, VCA, 2 EGs, with Keyboard follow, multi-wave LFO, and an excellent arpeggiator. This guy can also play in unison, so, if mono synths are your thing, you can stack 16 fat VCOs for hyper-mega-fat leads or basses. Of course, as expected, Arturia has introduced many extra features too!
There are two VCOs, VCO 1’s range goes from 16’ to 2’ and can output triangle, sawtooth, square, or pulse waves, while VCO 2 can output sine wave, Sawtooth, pulse, and noise, this can be fine-tuned, and the coarse is not fixed to octaves, so, you can tune both to fixed intervals like fifths. Also, it has the ability to switch VCO 2 to a low range for it to be used as LFO for the cross-mod; here, VCO 2 modulates VCO-1, so you can use this for pitch modulation (VCO2 in LOW mode) or FM (VCO 2 in NORM. mode).
Also, VCO2 can be sync’d to VCO1 for those screaming leads!
Pitch can be modulated by LFO and envelope 1, and you can modulate just VCO-1, VCO-2, or both at the same time. PW can be set manually or modulated by LFO or Envelope 1.
This is a non-resonant HPF, pretty straightforward, but is great just to cut some unwanted low end, especially for lush pads or some leads.
On the other hand, the Low Pass VCF has lots of options! this is resonant, and no, it won’t self oscillate, but, it’s so creamy and musical that no one cares! It can be switched between 2-pole and 4-pole modes and can be modulated by any of the envelopes, the LFO, and the keyboard, or all of the three at the same time!
VCA is modulated by Envelope-2, but, has the amazing option of LFO modulation for amazing analog tremolos! I can’t put into words how much I love synths that have the option of modulating VCA with an LFO!
On the original Jupiter-8, these were pure analog EGs, and you can really tell the difference between the attack of a Jupiter-8, and let’s say a Juno 106, which uses software-controlled EGs. Attack in EGs found in Jupiter-8 is about 1 ms fast. Yeah, that’s fast! Of course, in this great version from Arturia, envelopes are fast and snappy. Attack at its fastest setting is labeled as 0 ms.
These is ADSR envelopes, both can follow keyboard voltages and envelope-1 can be set to have a reverse polarity which is awesome for making huge changes on the fly!
There are in fact two LFOs, the one labeled LFO which can output sine, saw, square, or noise, and goes from 0.04 Hz to 32..89 Hz, which is audio rate, and which I love! Also, this LFO has a delay time, which goes from 0 ms to almost 8 seconds. Great tool for evolving pads! This LFO can modulate pitch, PW, VCF, or VCA and can be synced for musical values.
The second LFO is on top of the pitch bender, and its a white button labeled LFO MOD. It has a fixed rate and wave shape, but it can be set to modulate pitch (vibrato) or VCF (Wah) or both! you can set the amount of modulation for each, and there’s also a knob for delay time. The momentary button works as an LFO trigger (this is a classic feature in Roland’s 80s Jupiter and Juno series).
Usually I don’t talk much about pitch benders cause they are pretty straightforward, but the one found in Jupiter is pretty special. It can bend the pitch of VCO-1, VCO-2, or both together, and you can change the amount up to two octaves, also -and here gets pretty interesting- it can bend VCF in semitones amount, and of course, VCOs and VCF can be set to different bending amounts.
The arpeggiator found in the Jupiter-8 V2 can be synced to the internal or external clock with a switch and can have a range of up to four octaves. It also features four different modes: up, down, up/down, and random, and there are individual hold buttons for lower and upper parts.
As I’ve mentioned before, this is a two-part multitimbral, and this can be set as layers or as split, and you can change the split point really easily. Also, you can balance the volumes of each part with a single knob. Finally, there’s a knob for portamento time!
When you hit the OPEN button, some new modulation possibilities appear Galaxy, which is two LFOs plus an XY pad with up to three output slots for X and Y-axis. Galaxy modulation generator allows you to use a third LFO to rotate the modulation axes so you can modify the effects generated in many ways.
- Sequencer: up to 32 steps with glide, accent, and swing; also, there are 3 destination slots for this.
- Keyboard: you can change curves for velocity and after-touch, and again, up to three destination slots for each parameter.
Finally, we have got four effect slots: one before VCF, one before VCA, and two post VCA: Chorus, Flanger, Distortion, EQ, Phaser, Ring MOD, Delay, and Reverb are the available effects.
This is a classic 80s analog polysynth which is probably the fastest ever made, with a lot of synthesis options and many modulation possibilities. For a fraction of the price, you can have this really faithful recreation, which grants you years of endless analog fun!