TAL-J-8, Zenology Jupiter-8 and Arturia Jup-8 V

My second “exercise” on panel-design was replicating the layout of another favorite from TAL: their Jupiter-8.

This synth is a little bit more sophisticated compared to the Juno 60 and fitting everything essential on one panel required some creative choices. To make the arpeggiator smaller and more accessible with widgets, the oh-so-iconic colorful radio-buttons had to go, being replaced with 4 knobs. Yet I tried to be faithful to TAL’s design since I’m very used to creating patches with their layout.
Also this time I did everything on my 13" Macbook, since that’s the screen I use while gigging. You can increase the font sizes if you wish to work on a much bigger screen.
Since Jupiter-8 is a multitimbral synth, I decided to add another panel below the first one just to control the lower part of the synth if needed.

Variations act as patch memory and I included some of the classic factory patches of Jupiter to get you started.

But wait! There is more!

Since I’ve recently started gigging with Roland’s Fantom-07 and using their Jupiter-8 model expansion a lot, I also decided to tweak my original panel a little bit in order to control that same model expansion on their Zenology plug-in synth. This allows me to design sounds with just my laptop using the familiar TAL-layout and then export the sounds from Zenology to the hardware Fantom. Very handy.

There are a couple of minor differences as can be seen on the screenshot: the calibration section is more limited in Zenology and the built-in effects like delay or chorus cannot be controlled via widgets (as far as I know). Zenology also omitted the arpeggiator, thus having it on the panel wasn’t necessary. But then again: the original Jupiter didn’t come with any built-in effects, so leaving the junoesque chorus buttons out kind of makes it more “authentic”.

And yet another extra:
Designing the above panels allowed me to do some quick and easy comparisons between the two emulations of the same synth. So why not expand the idea further and bring in Arturia’s Jup-8 V, propably the oldest Jupiter-clone of the bunch! And their fully functional demo was free to download!

Again a couple of minor tweaks were required to match the functionality of Arturia’s product, but this time the end result was much closer to TAL’s panel.

Some of you might be now asking what is the end result of my comparison? Which of the three synths is best? My very subjective quick opinion: they all sound very, very good and judging on just the sound, I could happily use any of these three.

But since there are other factors to consider, my personal favorite stays the same: if you’re out looking for the best Jupiter-8 plugin on the market, I highly recommend you to choose TAL-j-8. I’ll give you three reasons:

  • CPU load: on my early-2015 MBP, the CPU meter of Gig Performer reads 2% when not playing anything on the J-8. Zenology climbs up to 8-10% and Arturia moves between 7-9%. And this is without playing a single note.

  • The GUI is amazingly clear for all kinds of screens. I like how it’s easily scalable with just dragging and TAL’s choice of dividing the main panel (VCO’s, Envelopes and Filter) on two rows simply works on small screens much better than Arturia’s “true to the original” approach. Arturia HAS improved their scalability and overall layout with the V4 of this synth (the first versions were a total nightmare and for me pretty much unusable on a laptop), but I think TAL still wins easily. Roland on the other hand wish to keep the basic style of all their Zenology-powered synths similar in. I do like seeing graphical representations of the envelopes but otherwise, the layout of Zenology doesn’t feel as approachable for me as TAL’s synths.

  • It is the cheapest of the bunch! Yeah, you can get Arturia’s products with discount prices lower than TAL’s every once in a while, but TAL’s stuff usually stays consistently affordable. The main reason for choosing Jup-8 V would propably be owning it as a part of Arturia V-Collection. If you’re in to that, definitely wait for their next discount campaign.

Jupiter-8 Rackspace.gig (8.0 MB)


These look great Mikko! I’m also using a Fantom-07 for live work and, similarly, I sometimes use Zenology to program sounds.

Are you also using the Fantom as your soundcard when playing live? That is what I am planning to do. So far it is turning out to be a really stable and low-latency audio interface.

Thanks Dave!
Yeah, one thing I forgot to mention on my quick review/comparison of the plugins: if you own recent Roland hardware like Fantom, Jupiter-X, Juno-X or RD-88, definitely choose Roland’s plugin. Having the same modelling on both software and hardware platforms makes it worth the lifetime license price. Even though I remember reading and listening to some review comparisons where TAL and Arturia were crowned as the “most authentic sounding”, Roland’s own modelling of their own classic hardware is still very well done. When the bigger Fantom’s came out three years ago I was in a showcase-event where the Finnish synth-legend Kebu played his prototype-Fantom side by side with real JX-8P and Juno-106 and in a live context through a PA the difference was barely noticeable or significant at all.
The only drawback is having to use Roland Cloud…

Yes, I have been using my Fantom as usb-interface and I barely touch my Audient iD14 anymore when working at home. The new Fantom integrates with external gear and software better than any workstation I’ve tried so far. The only drawback I have found are the limited capabilities of the input channels: you are required to choose between line and mic -level input on a global settings -level, and so far I haven’t found a way to pass signal of external hardware synth through software FX without ending up outputting both the dry signal and the software-tweaked signal from the Fantom mains.

But still, it’s a very good board and has helped me get over my workstation-synth allergy (I started hating hardware workstations after owning a Yamaha Motif XF6 for five years and borrowing my friend’s Korg Kronos for a couple of gigs).

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I came completely down the workstation route having previously had Fantom X7, G7 and then Fantom 7 which I’ve now replaced with an 07 for the lighter weight and on the lower tier of my rig I previously had a Korg M3 and then a Mk1 Kronos which I’m still using, but will replace entirely with GP4 and a Studiologic SL88.

I’m currently grappling with using the 8 faders and rotary knobs as controllers (mainly for levelling the sounds across keysplits). I have GP4 sending bank and patch changes to the 07 to select scenes for each rackspace, one of which is just a silent patch that uses the 07 purely as a controller and others that are either all Fantom or a mixture of Fantom and GP4 across keysplits.

Unfortunately, yes, even with a lifetime key you need to connect at least once per month to the Roland Cloud :confused:

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Nice, now it is part of this “gallery” :slight_smile:
Link: [Gig] TAL-J-8, Zenology Jupiter-8 and Arturia Jup-8 V


Yeah, I remember all the hype there was when Kronos came out and I have many colleagues who still use it as their main gigging instrument. No doubt it was the most advanced workstation of the decade and in the right hands could do any contemporary gig. But if you’re like me and wish to dig deeper than combining presets, trying to design even some simple bread and butter analog-type sounds from scratch works like with any workstation: it is so painstakingly slow that you’ll propably just give up and end up scrolling through the presets. Yamaha is no better at this, although their MODX-series does suprisingly make FM-synthesis more approachable.

But then again: most people will be able to do majority of their gigs and projects with presets and Kronos definitely delivers on that front. But for a beginning professional looking for their first setup for all-around cover gigs, I’d recommend a good midi keyboard and GP4 any day before Kronos. Now I’ve also added the Fantom-0 series to my recommendation list because they’re affordable, approachable and sound good. And they’ve managed to make combining software layers with the internal tones actually intuitive! As I’ve always been into expanding good hardware with a hint of software, it’s currently the best choice for me.
I’m sure Korg and Yamaha’ll follow with matching products soon (or already have, haven’t tried the Nautilus-series yet).