Newbie Seeking Advice on Access Virus Synthesizers

  • Hey folks, I'm totally new to the world of synthesizers and I've been eyeing the Access Virus series. Can anyone break down what makes these synths special? Are they beginner-friendly, or should I start with something else? Any tips on getting started with them or things to watch out for? Thanks a bunch!

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  • i follow this guy on YouTube - his enthusiasm is very 'infectious' :)


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  • To start out with synthesizers from scratch, I would rather suggest something like a Behringer Model-D, which is a classical monophonic synthesizer design, sounds phantastic, is very affordable and easy to understand as it has just one function per knob. However, although highly educational, its limitations might also be rather frustrating (monophonic, no effects, no presets).


    The Virus TI is the newest model with the most features. The Virus B and C models are great synths but have much less synthesizing capabilities in the oscillators (no Hypersaw, no Wavetables) and effects sections (only Delay or Reverb, limited Filter modes, limited Distortion modes, no EQ).


    My approach was to go for the newest model with most capabilities and processing power, which is the Virus TI2. The TI 1 models have identical features but slightly less processing power, and have often been offered at great prices.


    Pros and Cons of Access Virus for beginners (as well as for advanced users):


    Positive

    • Fully professional musical instrument which covers your synthesizing needs for years or even decades.
    • Still sounds phantastic.
    • TI models offer a set of features which cannot be found in any other hardware synthesizer (just try to find one which is 16 part multi timbral)
    • Lots of knobs which allows to have direct access to many parameters at the same time (any Virus model except for Rack and Snow).
    • TI models have literally thousands of professional presets in the ROM banks. Many more phantastic sounds are available as free downloads from the Virus website.
    • Some professional sound designers are still regularly developing and offering new sound sets for the Virus TI line.


    Negative

    • Many different models which all look alike are confusing to the beginner.
    • Knobs are neither endless controllers nor motorized which means you don’t see the actual settings for the currently selected preset. This is true for most synths that allow saving presets and can be very confusing for beginners.
    • Because of their vast synthesizing capabilities, the TI models require menu diving for all functions.
    • All Virus models are out of production. Access Music does neither sell them nor support the TI software anymore.

    Bass Player and Synthesist.
    Virus TI2 Darkstar | Virus TI2 Desktop | Sub 37 | Voyager RME | Machinedrum | Analog Four | Digitone | MPC Live | NI Maschine+
    Mac OS 13.6.6 (Ventura) | Cubase Pro 13.0 | Ableton Live 9.6 | Logic 10.8 | MainStage 3.6 | NI Komplete Ultimate 14 | RME Fireface UFX+

    Edited 2 times, last by ozon ().

  • Hey folks, I'm totally new to the world of synthesizers and I've been eyeing the Access Virus series. Can anyone break down what makes these synths special? Are they beginner-friendly, or should I start with something else? Any tips on getting started with them or things to watch out for? Thanks a bunch!

    Not suitable for beginners. You need to have a basic understanding. Just having a virus doesn't mean you can design powerful sounds, especially when you're new to synthesizers. It's recommended to start practicing with the Sylenth1 from the Plugins series

  • ExcelGerman  ozon has outlined so much of what you need to know. I’ll add two points (which Ozin actually made):

    1. A Virus probably isn’t a great starter synth. There are so many simpler monophonic and polyphonic analog subtractive synthesizers that you could more easily learn on
    2. What makes the Virus (especially the later TI and TI2 models) so special is how much sonic territory they cover, how this “virtual analog” synth models subtractive synthesis in a way that resembles classic analog synths, the quality of construction and level of over-engineering (such as 6 assignable outputs) and the degree of polyphony and multitimbral capability

    I am also a synthesizer (though not a keyboard) novice. I bought my last synthesizers in the 80’s, and when I decided to start trying a synth again a few years ago, I bought a Blofeld. The Blofeld is also “virtual analog” like the Virus, and some really like its sound. Unlike the Virus, it features more menu-diving. That said, if you want a synth that covers a broad sonic pallet, you could do worse than the Blofeld.


    I replaced my Blofeld with a Virus TI2 after I found the multitimbral mode unreliable, and I haven’t looked back.


    No one can tell you which synth is right for you. You’ll have to research carefully and listen to as many synths as possible, in order to find the one that appeals to you.

  • The Virus is way too complex for a beginner. I recommend something with one knob per function as much as possible like a Minimoog or Prophet 5 analog synth.

    If cost is an issue, look at clones of these classic mono synths. You need to learn how basic subtractive synthesis works. For a total beginner, something also like the ARP 2600m will teach you a lot about synthesis in general and also about how modular synths work should you want explore patching as well. I also recommend the Korg MS 20 such a great basic synth that is used in schools to teach students how synths work. I do love my Virus TI2 but I only bought mine after years of exploring basic synths like Moog Sub37 and so forth. The Virus is a swiss army knife among synths with many types of synthesis available such as wave table, formant, granular and FM as well as many filter types like LP, BP, HP, etc and many effects (reverb/delay/chorus,etc) as well as the best multi-timbral poly VA synth on the planet ever made. Plus it is out of production so used is your only bet. Personally if I was on the market for a new VA synth, I would lean toward something like the Waldorf Quantum or Waldorf Iridium for the nicer OLED user interface.

  • Also, think about what kinds of synthesis methods appeal to you based on what kind of synths sounds you enjoy hearing on recordings (may take some research). Then look for synths to buy with that kind of engine, taking into consideration how much complexity you want available to you as you learn, price, looks ^^, new or used availability, reviews, and of course, sound!


    Some popular synth methods to consider are:

    Analog - a great start, but usually offering a limited choice of basic waveforms.

    Virtual Analog - A digital emulation of analog, arguably not as rich sounding but usually with much more flexibility.

    Phase Modulation - (commonly known as FM) Crystaline digital sounds, but based on algorithms that are an absolute bugger for most folks to program!

    Sampler/ Rompler - not really a synthesizer per se, more of a playback machine for pre-recorded sounds, but any sound you want!

    Linear Arithmetic - A hybrid of virtual analog and sampled attacks and sustains. Also known as Samples and Synthesis of which there are also FM and Samples hybrids.

    Spectral Wave - Digital synths offering usually a large variety of single cycle waves. Some synth models of this type also include wave crossfading (Vector synthesis) or wave auto-rotation (Wave Sequencing).

    Wavetable - like Spectral Wave but with dynamic wave strings. My fave!

    Physical Modeling - virtual sampling (if I understand that correctly).


    So, the Access TI2 is a combination Virtual Analog, Spectral Wave, Wavetable synth, with limited PM capability. If you really like the TI2 you could start off with just the Virtual Analog mode and get accustomed to how a basic linear signal path works, then as you increase your understanding begin to tackle the more complex world it offers of wavetables and all the TI2's vast amenities and modulation routings.


    Then there is also the question of do you want a hardware (desktop with a keyboard controller, or with keyboard model), or a software synth?


    My only other advice is that a synth with a monophonic-only keyboard is just too limiting even for a novice, but that's just me. :P


    Hope that helps! :)

    Cheers!




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    Houston, Texas

    "glorifying God through electronic music"

  • That said if one starts with just a Virus synth, you probably will never need another synth in lifetime. I mean what other piece of hardware can knock out drum beats, bass, effects, leads and pads in one piece of gear? Not many really. While it lacks a dedicated sequencer like the wonderful XOX type sequencer I love on Elektron boxes, the arpeggiator is superb. My first hardware synth was a Moog Sub 37 which I still own and love and it was great intro to using hardware synths.

  • I bought my last synthesizers in the 80’s, and when I decided to start trying a synth again a few years ago, I bought a Blofeld.

    Same here. I bought a Roland Alpha Juno as my first synth when they came out in the mid 80's to use for strings, bass, etc sounds doing some solo CCM recording. A great analog first synth! Still have it and still love it!

    Then like you, a few years ago I decided to delve more seriously into the synth world because of my love of early 80's Tangerine Dream, and let my guitars take a rest in the closet for a while. I discovered they used the PPG Wave quite heavily but knew that wasn't ever going to happen and the closest current thing to that for my budget was the Blofeld. Not exactly a PPG but at least it uses the same wavetables, is also virtual analog, and I do like it a lot. It does require some menu diving for sure, but it's laid out quite intuitively and does cover a broad sonic pallet as you say. I don't think it would make a bad first synth if you are willing to put in a little work. But when I saw the TI2 having 100 wavetables and all those knobs and buttons to play with, I had to splurge!

    Then as I saw that the late 80's TD began using the Roland D-50 for a while, I loved the cinematographic sounding patches and wanted to add that to complete my arsenal. Looked at some very used examples as that was all that was available of course, but Roland suddenly released the D-05 boutique and snatched up one of those, new. Now I'm all set. I considered the new (and expensive) Groove Synthesis Third Wave PPG emulation, but really, I'm good ;). Benringer's PPG Wave clone has yet to hit the market.

    Just wanted to ramble a bit (:sleeping:) and share for the OP (or anyone else) how my synth purchases began and evolved, if that helps any. Thank you for listening! :)




    Presented by

    Rapturenaut Digital Christian Studio

    Houston, Texas

    "glorifying God through electronic music"