6 vintage polysynth emulations we recommend for authentic analogue tones: "The UI looks so real that you can almost smell the wood varnish"

GForce Software OB-X Plugin
(Image credit: GForce Software)

Synth heads are known for their nostalgic ways, favouring the dusty instruments of yesteryear over their modern counterparts. But vintage synths are expensive and difficult to maintain; installing a plugin emulation is ten times easier, and the sound of software is getting better every year

With that in mind, we've rounded up six of our favourite software emulations of classic and vintage synthesizers. 

1. Softube Model 80

Softube Model 80 Plugin

(Image credit: Softube)

Price: €159 | Buy

The Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 was the first ever polysynth (kind of), so forgive us for including two emulations. Each has its own plusses, but Softube’s perhaps sticks to the original – and its limitations – the most. The UI looks so real that you can almost smell the wood varnish, and the presets are so authentic that you can almost hear the deep vibration that wood made when a note was played.

2. Cherry Audio GX-80

Cherry Audio GX-80 Plugin

(Image credit: Cherry Audio)

Price: $79 | Buy

It might well take elements from the Yamaha GX-1, but, really, GX-80 is all about the behemoth of a polysynth (both in price and size), often topping synth fans ‘best ofs’, the CS-80. This Vangelis favourite was used to score many of his films; and yes, the presets are all here. As well as having an impressively easy-to-use UI, the price is about £60k less than what you’d fork out for the original.

3. Roland Cloud Jupiter-8

Roland Cloud Jupiter-8 Plugin

(Image credit: Roland)

Price: $2.99 to $19.99 per month | Buy

The original Jupiter is one of those vintage polysynths – see also the Yamaha CS-80 above – which now fetches silly money secondhand (easily five figures). We’ll leave it to the experts to recreate it, then, so we’ve included Roland’s own Cloud version. It’s expensive, so you might even be tempted by a subscription – which gets you many more classic Roland polys.


Tal Software TAL-U-NO-LX Plugin

(Image credit: TAL Software)

Price: $60 + VAT | Buy

Alongside the Jupiter range, the Juno is the other iconic ’80s Roland poly. TAL software’s recreation is among the best (albeit of not that many), with the same logical layout as the original, and its rich sound. TAL loves its Roland synths and the passion shows in pretty much every plugin it sells. It’s one of the cheaper emulations here too, and well worth the price.

5. GForce OB-X

GForce Software OB-X Plugin

(Image credit: GForce Software)

Price: £100 + VAT | Buy

It’s apt that we have an emulation of the Oberheim OB-X sandwiched between a couple of Prophet-5s, because that was the synth it was designed to compete with back in 1979. As with everything GForce, everything is meticulously recreated here; we could have included loads of GF plugins here had they not been mostly based on monosynths. But there are extras too: polyphony, modulation and much more. Another classic GForce plugin.

6. Arturia Prophet-5 V

Arturia Prophet-5 V Plugin

(Image credit: Arturia)

Price: $149| Buy

Finally, that other Prophet-5 we promised, and this Arturia recreation – as with a lot of the French company’s plugins – not only emulates the original sound and aesthetic, but adds modern touches, with more presets, effects, and features to play with. It is expensive, but like the Jupiter, there are other ways to buy, and if you can afford it, go for the V-Collection.

Andy Jones

Andy has been writing about music production and technology for 30 years having started out on Music Technology magazine back in 1992. He has edited the magazines Future Music, Keyboard Review, MusicTech and Computer Music, which he helped launch back in 1998. He owns way too many synthesizers.

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