TAL J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 Emulation
TAL are back at it again, with a new exceptionally accurate emulation of classic, hardware gear.
But is it worth all the hype?
Let's find out.
What Is TAL J-8?
The TAL J-8 is a synth VST plugin that, like the Bassline 101 – aims to replicate the original Roland hardware: the Jupiter 8. It's a new addition to the already incredible TAL range &, like the others, has a beautiful UI, which is almost identical to the original unit.
You'll have probably heard of the Roland Jupiter 8 already, due to it's excessive popularity. But, just in case you haven't, here's a quick overview.
The Roland Jupiter 8 is an extremely popular 80's hardware synth, that shaped music for decades & still shapes modern music today. It was Roland's flagship synth, & was predominantly used for warm sounding pads & chords.
It was actually one of the first synths to be able to split the keyboard into 2 different zones, allowing you to play different patches on the same set of keys. The Jupiter 8 also had things like polyphony, up to 8 voices & could store 64 patches on the in-built memory.
The TAL J-8 is TAL's answer to affordable, analog sounding gear that sounds almost identical to the real thing. In fact, TAL have designed everything inside this synth VST alongside their very own Jupiter 8 device for complete accuracy.
They've also added some extra support for things like MPE (Midi Polyphonic Expression) & included a welcome calibration section for extreme resonance & filter distortion.
How Does It Sound?
The TAL J8 is staggeringly similar to the original Jupiter 8, & really sounds like a true analog synth. It uses special PSpice technology to model the original circuits found on the Jupiter 8, to sound as accurate as possible.
This is a technology used by electrical engineers to model circuits at a component level, and it allows for truer sounding emulations of legendary hardware. It also makes zero delay feedback response (on filters) possible.
In short, the TAL J8 sounds great.
But instead of telling you how good it sounds – we want you to decide for yourself.
So, we've included some presets below that you can take a listen to & hear how awesome this thing sounds.
You get over 200 factory presets, including the original bank found on the Roland Jupiter 8.
a u t h e n t i c
TAL-J-8 Features & UI
Like we mentioned above, TAL have specifically designed the J-8 alongside their own Jupiter 8 device. That means, you can expect this to be an almost identical clone in VST format.
It's a clean, beautiful UI that makes sense & gives you full control over your sound design sessions with the J-8.
The bottom of the plugin hosts all your ‘utility' style controls, including unison, calibration, MPE & main tuning + pan controls, while the top area contains the real meat & potatoes.
Let's start with the VCO.
VCO 1 & 2 (Virtual Controlled Oscillator)
With the J-8, you'll get 2 VCO's (voltage controlled oscillator). You can use these to select different waveforms, including a sine, square, pulse & noise oscillator. You're also able to change the octaves of each VCO using the ‘range' knobs.
This section of the VST plugin is virtually identical to the original hardware unit, giving you the original cross mod slider, sync & ‘normal'/'low freq' buttons + a fine tune knob & a source mix, to blend the 2 VCO's.
It may seem simple when compared to your insane digital wavetable synth, but don't be fooled by the simplicity. Hit records have been, & are continuing to be made using classic gear that's simple.
You can get a lot of interesting, warm sounding pads, leads & basses using these beautifully imperfect, analog oscillators.
Combine them with the VCO modulator's pulse width & frequency modulation options, & you're in for a ride, in the DeLorean, all the way back to the 80's.
Like we mentioned above, with the TAL J-8, you get a single VCO modulator – which allows you to modulate things like the pulse width & frequency of your chosen waveforms.
Using just this, alongside just the VCO, can create some very interesting results that aren't often that easy to replicate in modern digital wavetable synths.
On top of that, you also get the original LFO module, which has rate, delay time, sync & a wavetable selector.
You'll notice littlered boxes littered across the synth, these are what your modulation settings will react with to change the sound.
Each have sliders that you can change the amount by which the modulation is acting on a certain parameter, giving you full control over your sound. Unfortunately, you can't select which modulation modules you want where (like in uhe's Diva), which is something we think TAL could have added for extra sound design capabilities.
Filters & Effects
No synth is complete without a filter, & with the J-8 you get 2 filter types to play around with:
- A high pass filter unit
- & Voltage Controlled Filter unit
The high pass filter is a pretty straight forward unit that has 1 slider – it's literally just for high passing your patches & is a nice extra filter to have when designing sounds.
The VCF (voltage controlled filter), is much more expansive & has a lot of options for tweaking the sound. You can choose from a 12db or 24db slope & also have the regular cutoff and resonant slider controls you'd expect.
Where the VCF really comes alive is the modulation section. Key Follow, Envelope Modulation, & other sliders can be used to create anything from warping, evolving pads to percussive plucks. You can modulate the filter through envelope 1 or 2, giving you more control over your sound.
With the J-8, you're also given an FX section, which has 2 beautifully warm choruses, & a delay.
These are nice additions to the VST plugin, & are useful when you want to add a little bit of something extra to your patch.
With the J-8, you get 2 envelopes & a VCA module, with Key Follow & some modulation options.
The envelopes are standard ADSR sliders that you can use to shape your sound. Each envelope can also be used in the VCF section to control your filter & add extra movement to patches.
The VCA gives you the ability to control the gain of your patch, & also has some nice modulation features which can be used to control your sound further.
Rainbow Colored Buttons
You'll have probably noticed the rainbow colored buttons by now.
In this section, you have controls for:
- The arpeggiator
- Key mode select
- Poly mode select
- Panel Select
Keeping in line with the original Jupiter 8, this section hasn't changed from the original unit. That means, that yes, you can split your MIDI keyboard & are able to play different synths on different sections of the keybed.
TAL J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 Emulation
The TAL J-8 is a wickedly good emulation of the Roland Jupiter 8, & it'd be hard to find someone who would be able to tell you the key differences between the original & this re-creation.
This re-creation stays true to the original layout & design, which is great if all you want is an analog experience. It would have been nice if TAL had expanded a little on the classic, but (if we're being honest), the classic doesn't need to be touched.
It's a great value for money, realistic emulation of the Jupiter 8, & that's beautiful.
While we've got you, check out our TAL Bassline 101 review (Roland SH-101 emulation).
With over 8 years of hands-on experience in the music industry, Harry has run successful raves, played alongside industry heavyweights such as Max Chapman, DJ EZ, DJ Zinc and more (pictured below), had music played on national radio, DJ'd on live radio, produced until he hated every song, mixed until his ears bled, created sample packs from scratch using just a Zoom H1n and some sound design skills… and pretty much anything related to music production – he's done it, tested it, tried it.