Oldies but Goodies – Jupiter-8V by Arturia
The Jupiter-8V has been around for a good while and along the way has had various updates over the years. Our reviewer checks out this Oldie but Goodie to see what it has to offer.
by Rob Mitchell, Jan. 2016
Just to get started, here’s a little background on Arturia. They are a music software/hardware company located in France. Arturia are the designers of a large variety of soft-synth plugins, and other music related hardware. The majority of their products are plugins that emulate famous hardware synthesizers. Just a few of their classic synthesizer emulations include the Minimoog, Prophet 5, and the Oberheim SEM. The synth plugin that I will be reviewing for this edition of the “Oldies but Goodies” column is the Jupiter-8V.
Manufactured during the early ’80s, the original Roland Jupiter 8 was an eight-voice analog synthesizer with two oscillators for each voice. It also included a low pass filter which could be switched between a 2-pole and 4-pole setting, and it had a separate non-resonant high pass filter. The Jupiter 8 had an LFO with four waveforms to choose from and it benefited from being able to split the keyboard. Oscillator sync, polyphonic portamento, and cross-modulation capabilities rounded out the list of strengths contained within this great synth. They usually sell on EBay for anywhere between $3,000 to $8,000 USD.
Now that we have some of its history out of the way, let’s move on to the Arturia emulation of that classic hardware synthesizer. The Jupiter-8V was originally released in 2007, and retails for $99 USD. There is a demo version available on their website you can try:
It is also included with the V Collection which sells for $399, and it has 12 other instruments besides the Jupiter-8V. At the time I was writing this review, the V Collection could be found on sale for $199 USD:
Installation and Requirements
The great thing about the newer updated versions of the Arturia synth plugins is that they no longer require a dongle. It does require you to install the Arturia Software Center, which is pretty much a painless installation, and it’s easy to use. You must also create an account with a login name and password. The Software Center is what allows you to activate the plugins you have purchased. I must say that I much prefer this method of protection over a dongle any day! It also has the extra benefit of letting you easily update the plugin software to the latest version that Arturia has.
Here are some of the requirements for it:
The Jupiter-8V requires Windows 7 (or higher), four gigabytes of RAM, and at least a 2 GHz CPU. For the Mac, you’ll need OS X 10.8 or later, four gigabytes of RAM, and a 2 GHz or higher CPU. It has Audio Units, AAX, VST2, and VST3 formats available, and they’ve included a standalone version as well. Both 32-bit and 64-bit formats are available on Windows; for Mac, only 64-bit is supported.
Once the activation is out of the way, and you have Jupiter-8V running, you may just want to check out the presets. At the top of the display, there are a few drop-down menus for browsing through them. You can use these to narrow attributes down by characteristics, project, play mode, type, and you’re able to switch between factory or user presets. Also included are the 40 presets from the original Jupiter 8, and those cannot be deleted.
Another way you can get to the presets is using what is called the “Sound Map”. The button to launch this is located in the upper-right of the display. It lets you filter by the type of preset, and view them all in a list, instead of using the type of menus I mentioned previously. Another way to navigate among the presets is by using Sound Map itself, which is a graphical representation of the presets. It uses various icons which are for whichever type of preset it happens to be. Clicking on one of them and playing your MIDI keyboard will let you hear the preset. Clicking and dragging in between the different icon/presets on the map will let you morph between the presets, creating new sounds in the process. Speaking of presets, they’ve included over 500 of them to use in your next project.
Oscillators, Filters, and Envelopes
As I mentioned earlier, Jupiter-8V is a two oscillator synth plugin. The oscillators can be synced, and the first one has controls to change the coarse tuning (16′, 8′, 4′ and 2′) and the waveform type. There are sine, sawtooth, rectangle, and square waveforms to choose from. The rectangle can be modulated with the PWM (pulse width modulation) controls. The second oscillator has the same type of control for coarse tuning (16′, 8′, 4′ and 2′), but it also has semitone settings, and a fine-tuning control. The waveforms for this oscillator are sine, sawtooth, rectangle, and noise. You’re also able to use cross modulation from the second oscillator, adjusting its amount with a slider.
To the right of the two oscillators is a mix control, letting you blend their output levels, or you can just set it to one oscillator or the other. Next to the mix control is the high pass filter, with just one slider to adjust the cutoff frequency. Moving along, we find the low pass filter that has a switchable 12/24 dB slope. The “MOD” slider adjusts how much modulation is used when using either of the two ADSR envelopes that are located on the right side of the display. Normally, ENV1 is for the filter, and ENV2 is for the amplitude, but that can be changed using the ENV1/ENV2 switch. Each envelope has a key follow (envelope amounts are shorter as higher notes are played) and a polarity switch (it will invert the settings of the envelope).
The LFO Mod slider controls the amount of modulation to the filter from the LFO, and Key Follow sets the filter amount according to the notes played on the keyboard. For this section of the synth, the last module we’ll look at is the VCA. It is a simple setup, with a slider for the volume of the synth, and another slider to adjust how much the LFO will affect the amplifier.
LFO and Modulation Settings
Since we’re discussing the LFO, it’s about time I went over its settings. It is actually a simple setup, and it is located towards the left of the synth display. It has a slider for the rate and delay time, which sets the amount of delay before the LFO starts to modulate anything. The waveforms included are sine, sawtooth, square, and random.
Next we have the VCO Modulation section, with sliders to control the LFO and ENV1’s influence over the tuning of the oscillators. With a flick of a switch, you can select the first, second, or both of the oscillators as targets for the modulation. The pulse width can modulated from here by using a slider to set the amount, and you can select between the LFO, Manual (using the slider), or ENV1 as sources for the modulation.
The arpeggiator offers standard modes seen other synths, such as up, down, up/down, and random. Its speed can be adjusted with slider at the upper-left, and it can be synced to a host. It has a range of up to four octaves, and you can use it in Split or Dual mode, so it will work with just the bottom section of the keys, or on both parts of the keyboard if needed.
Within the “Assign Mode” selections of the Jupiter-8V, the choices include Solo, Unison (up to four voices), Poly1 and Poly2. The Unison detune can be adjusted with the Detune knob over on the left side, and the amount of unison voices can be changed at the top of the display. The difference between Poly1/Poly2 is that Poly1’s envelopes are not restarted for every note played. The “Hold Low” and “Hold Up” buttons both enable a function similar to a sustain pedal for either the lower, upper, or both parts of the keyboard when in Split mode.
The Hidden Panel
There are some hidden controls that you can bring up, giving you even more control over the presets, more modulation options, and access to the effects. After you click the “Open” button at the top-right, a new panel appears at the top of the synth display, and starts you out on the “Presets” tab. You can setup a patch consisting of up to two different presets, either presets that are included with Jupiter-8V, or you can use your own creations.
At the top of this panel are some other tabs. The second tab is for modulation, and it has three different ways to alter the sounds to your liking. The first section for modulation is called “Galaxy”, which uses up to three LFOs to control the rate of modulation, and, as a side note, has an interesting visual pattern to it which is displayed on an X/Y grid. You have three targets to choose from for both the X output and the Y output. You can easily get some crazy modulations going with this, setting each LFO to a different waveform and at their own individual speed. The targets available include oscillator pitch, pulse width, filter cutoff and resonance, and the VCA.
The 32-step Sequencer has many useful controls, such as smoothing, swing, rate, four different play modes, and three different targets for modulation from which to choose. Each step’s value can easily be input by click/dragging the mouse up or down, and every step has optional link, glide, and accent settings that can be applied. The “Accent” setting also can be used with a separately adjustable Attack and Decay settings that work especially well with the VCF cutoff.
Last but not least is the Keyboard control section, which lets you adjust parameters that have to do with the aftertouch and velocity amounts. Up to three different targets can be configured for both aftertouch and the velocity, and each of these has a graph with an easily adjustable curve you can fine-tune to your liking.
Now we’ll take a look at the effects tab, where you’re able to add a voice or patch effect. Voice effects can be modulated, and are within the preset itself. For example, one effect can be between the VCO and the filter, and the other between the filter and VCA. There are also two patch effects. These can’t be modulated, and are at the very end of the signal chain. The effects include chorus/flanger, distortion, parametric EQ, phaser, and ring modulation. I did like the different effects and modulations available, but it would be cool if they had presets within the effects.
I have never owned an actual Jupiter 8, so I can’t say how close this synth plugin is to the real thing. For me, it isn’t a total necessity for it to sound just like the “real thing”. If it can get close enough to that famous sound I’ve heard on so many recordings, I am fine with that. Arturia has done a great job putting this plugin together, and it has lots of options to keep most synth programmers happy, yet it isn’t so complex that it will scare off any newbies to the craft. The presets that are included are well designed, and I also like the Sound Map with its morphing feature. Also, there are many options for the modulation and effects to keep me happy for a long time.
Rumor has it (haven’t confirmed this with Arturia) that they may be working on improving the interfaces for some of their older synth plugins. I have to admit, it was a little tough to read the display while I was trying out this instrument, but for the most part it worked OK on my 1600 by 900 screen. If I end up getting a higher resolution monitor, it could be very difficult to read some parts of the interface. Hopefully that rumor is true, as that is my only gripe with the Jupiter-8V. To me, it is definitely worth the asking price. With its great sound, generous number of presets, and flexible modulation choices, it’s worth your while to check out the demo and try it for yourself.