Arturia Jupiter-8V

by Mo Volans In 1981, Roland introduced what many consider to be the greatest polyphonic synth ever made: the Jupiter-8. With its eight-note polyphony, dual filters, arpeggiator, vast array of controls, and eye-catching color scheme, the synth soon found its way onto numerous hit records. Memorable appearances include Duran Duran’s “Rio,” Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F,” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller;” more recent users include Liam Howlett (of Prodigy), Underworld, Howard Jones, and BT.

This mighty machine was discontinued in 1985, and finding one has become increasingly difficult. Only 2,000 units were manufactured, and few owners are willing to part with this classic. When you do see one for sale, it’s often around the same price as a small car!

For those of us who’ve dreamed of owning a Jupiter-8, Arturia now offers the Jupiter-8V, a software emulation of the classic hardware. Not only has the company gone to their usual great lengths to replicate the original’s signature sound and controls (including hard sync and cross-modulation), but they have added extra twists like a great preset system, dedicated effects section, and a new animated modulation matrix called “Galaxy.” Furthermore, they’ve updated their patented TAE (True Analog Emulation) technology, taking us even closer to the real thing.


After a simple installation and authorization process (the Jupiter-8V uses Syncrosoft USB dongle-based copy protection), I was struck by the impeccable graphic representation of the original machine (Figure 1). I once owned one, and it was like being re-introduced to an old friend. A quick flick through some of the fast-loading factory presets made it clear that not only did the software mirror the Jupiter’s looks, but also its trademark sound.

The presets meet a very high standard and do an excellent job of showcasing the instrument’s strengths. But as with all good synths, its true potential is fulfilled only when you stray from the beaten path and start to twiddle all those knobs and sliders.

Upon editing some of the simpler patches, I felt that each control movement did exactly what I expected—and what I heard was the same as what I remembered from the original Jupiter-8. The filters are smooth and fat, while the envelopes have a lightning-fast response time, making them perfect for percussive sounds and effects. I was able to muster up totally solid basses, searing leads, and truly mind-blowing effects. This soft synth could do all the things my original ’80s dream machine could do—and I had yet to explore the extras that had been strapped on.


Taking a closer look at the Jupiter-8V’s extra goodies, it’s apparent that much thought went into integrating these new elements. While Arturia is known for incorporating extra features in their emulations—and do so with respect for the instrument’s original design—they’ve really outdone themselves here.

One click exposes a new graphical panel with three tabs: Presets, Modulations, and Effects. Although there are some pretty complex routing and effects options, the overall feel is very accessible.

The Preset area follows Arturia’s usual philosophy and focuses heavily on sound character, which works very well when in the creative flow. Using this method, you could quite easily find an ambient, abstract pad sound or a hard, edgy bass quickly, without trawling through hundreds of presets. A more traditional way of navigating presets by category is still available if you prefer, and saving your own patches is simple.

Next up is the innovative Galaxy modulation matrix. Unlike most mod matrices, the Galaxy concept is truly graphical, and actually incorporates its own dedicated LFOs. These are represented on an X/Y style grid, and you can achieve some mind-bending results by patching the sources to any destination you choose from the drop down-menus. The whole Galaxy section can then either run free, or sync to the host tempo. This section also includes a fun and easy-to-use analog style sequencer; in conjunction with the mod matrix and onboard arpeggiator, the sky is indeed the limit.

Finally, there’s the full-blown multieffects processor (Figure 2). Arturia has included basic chorus and delay units in a lot of their recent products, but the Jupiter-8V’s effects section offers four effects slots; two of these are voice-based while two are patch-based, allowing for maximum flexibility. Not only do these processors (including ring modulation and distortion) have lots of editable parameters, but they can be modulated by various sources—further increasing the overall flexibility.


Since having access to this synth, I’ve included its sounds in three productions. As all were remixes, I sought a synth that supplies instant gratification and inspiration. I’m glad to say the Jupiter-8V delivered.

I usually layer my basses, using several different instruments to get a really “in your face” sound. In one production, I was able to use three instances of the Jupiter-8V to achieve this, without reaching for any other plug-in. The synth’s sonic character is flexible enough to create most of the sounds I needed. Also, the internal effects engine’s CPU use is modest, allowing you to free up your other native processors.

I also created “out there” effects by using the internal sequencer and Galaxy mod matrix, then inserting them into the mix. I usually reach for sample libraries or dedicated presets for this purpose, but this method achieved a much more creative end result. After using it in these recent mixes I’m seriously considering hooking up a permanent control surface just to control this synth—it’s that useful.


Arturia has done the original Jupiter-8 justice. Not only has the company captured the original instrument’s essence and character, but have upped the ante by adding new and creative touches that expand the reach of its sound.

As far as I’m concerned, this is not only the strongest analog emulation on the market, but is quite possibly the best soft synth I have yet encountered. Once hooked up with a good control surface, this could be the only virtual analog you’ll ever need—and it will definitely be my go-to instrument of choice in the future.

Product type: Cross-platform synthesizer for standalone or VST, AU, and RTAS plug-in formats.
Target market: Analog synth fans who want an extremely faithful software re-creation.
Strengths: Near perfect re-creation of a true classic. Slick interface. Useable new additions. Includes all the features even a veteran sound designer would expect. Reasonable price.
Limitations: Large GUI may be inconvenient for laptop users.
List price: $249