Rhodes V8: What is it?
Some instruments are iconic; the Minimoog, Stradivarius violin, Steinway pianos, and we’d like to suggest one other instrument which fits a similar cult status, which can be referred to by a single word: Rhodes.
So what is a Rhodes? In essence, it is an electric piano, but it resides in the electro-mechanical design camp. An original hardware Rhodes provides a piano-style keyboard, which triggers hammers that strike an element known as a tine.
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208 factory Presets &120 factory Profiles
Up to 127 velocity layers
Diode-based Drive control
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You can think of these as being the equivalent of strings on a piano, the added quotient being that the tine moves across a pickup, much like those found on an electric guitar, inducing an amplified signal (there is a little more to it than that, but that’s the bare bones).
Company histories relating to the Rhodes could be regarded as somewhat chequered, but thanks to the sweat and tears of Morcheeba musician, entrepreneur and MusicRadar alumnus, Dan Goldman, a new hardware Rhodes, known as the Mk8, made its debut last year to much critical acclaim.
Being a full-on piece of premium hardware, it sits at a price point which reflects its quality, much like an acoustic piano, but for those without the cash or space, Rhodes has now produced the V8 plugin, based exclusively around the new hardware Mk8.
Rhodes V8: Performance and verdict
The Rhodes V8 is available in Standard and Pro edition formats; predictably, both plugins are identical sonically, at least upon first hearing, but the Pro version provides a greater degree of control and effects, right down to the individual note level.
Once you begin to play the V8, you immediately get lost in the Rhodes sound. Apart from the dexterity and control available from the keyboard, the standard V8 is equipped with several effects which have become attached by association. This includes overdrive at the preamp stage, EQ-based tone control, and the Vari-pan effect, which provides the classic Ping-pong effect associated with the vintage Rhodes Suitcase models.
Upgrading to the Pro version provides more FX-based content, such as compression, chorus and phasing. The ubiquitous Vari-pan also benefits from a choice of three further waveforms, finishing with a backend delay providing tape-like tendencies. These elements are all immediately available from the front panel, depending which version of the V8 you’ve purchased.
In all cases, the effects are suitably stylised to fit the Rhodes stereotype; the Drive is crunchy, adding plenty of low-end girth, while the chorus and phaser transport you straight back to their historic placements. It’s almost as though you have your MXR Phase 90 or Small Stone Phaser pedal on hand! (These were two of the Rhodes classic must-haves)
We were testing the V8 with a fully weighted 88-note keyboard, and it’s worth noting that the V8 does not extend outside of its 73-note tradition. Nothing wrong with that, it’s an exacting detail! We did, on the other hand, find that the velocity was a little bit on the livelier side.
We were all too easily hitting the highest realms of velocity zones, but by diving into the Detail menu, the velocity setting allows for taming of curve and depth. This will doubtless be pretty useful while playing a more standard MIDI controller, which could be relatively lively, by design.
One probable question that you’re likely to address fairly quickly, is whether to go for the Standard or Pro editions of the V8. The Standard V8 is equipped with the basics, much like a traditional Mk1/2 Rhodes.
You’ll get the classic sound, which includes overdrive and the classic ping-pong effect, but it will lack some of the niceties that will make life easier, at least at the instrument level.
With no standalone version available at present, you’ll likely be working within a DAW or performance software, and with this comes assured access to many of the effects that might be disabled on the standard edition, such as phaser, chorus and delay.
Arguably, you might find 3rd party effects to be more flexible, in production terms, but the undeniable speed and access that the Pro version offers, does make it a tempting prospect.
Furthermore, the Pro version offers access to the Setup menu, where you can control timbre, tuning, damper release and level, per note. We found this to be incredibly useful in getting the V8 to sit in certain musical and production environments. It’s very useful and cool indeed!
Herbie, Chick & Ray!
The Rhodes is a very identifiable sound; as any Rhodes aficionado will tell you, there’s nothing quite like that sound, and the V8 does a superb job in reproduction.
It’s packed full of presets, and invites user-based saving too, with the capacity to go beyond the basic Rhodes sound, in the direction of Rhodes-esque mutations or classic variations, such as the Dyno-my-Rhodes. It’s a classy reproduction in a stylish package.
MusicRadar verdict: For Rhodes users, the V8 brings things right up to date, with plenty of desirable extras alongside the classic instrument.
Rhodes V8: The web says
"Aside from the gorgeous sound and superb playability and responsiveness that it offers, users of the Pro version will love the ability to tweak the timbre and responsiveness of individual notes to create truly custom setups that go way beyond the – still impressive – effects and other sound-shaping tools on offer."
Rhodes V8: Hands-on demos
Rhodes V8: Specifications
- Mac OS Catalina- Ventura (13.2), Intel and M1 supported, Rosetta and native.
- Windows 10 – 11.
- RAM: 8GB minimum. Free Disk Space: 25GB minimum.
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