Rhodes MK8 electric piano vs Rhodes V8 plugin: can producer Steve Levine tell which is which in a blind listening test?

He’s produced everyone from Culture Club to, um, 911, but could Steve Levine’s golden ears tell the difference between the sound of the Rhodes MK8 electric piano and its software counterpart in a blind listening test?

Spoiler alert: yes and no. While he did manage to pick out the real Rhodes in a couple of the audio examples he was played, in the case of the other two, Levine was fooled into thinking that he was listening to a $300 plugin rather than a $10k electric piano.

All of which suggests that the team at Rhodes has done an excellent job with its V8 software, which features 30,000 samples spread across 100 velocity layers. This also emulates the MK8’s preamp section and, if you pay for the Pro version, gives you more tweakable parameters and its effects section, too.

Of course, you could argue that the risk with a test like this is that potential customers will come to the conclusion that there’s no need to fork out thousands on a real Rhodes when they can have its sound in their DAW for a fraction of the price. We suspect that the MK8 and V8 will appeal to very different audiences, though, so doubt that there’s any risk of the plugin cannibalising sales of the hardware.

You can download a demo of the V8 (PC/Mac, VST/AU/AAX) - and find out how you can enter the Missing Keys competition, which requires you to create an electric piano-powered soundtrack for a short film - on the Rhodes website.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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