by Stefan Wyeth | 3,6 / 5,0 | Approximate reading time: 5 Minutes
Access Virus Alternatives for Virtual Analogue Synthesis

Access Virus Alternatives for Virtual Analogue Synthesis  ·  Source: Access Music / Modal Electronics


Ever wondered why the Virus is still around? We look into virtual analogue synths and check out some of the best Access Virus alternatives for music production and live performance.


The popularity of virtual analogue keyboards exploded in the 1990s, with synths like the KORG Prophecy and the MS-2000, the Roland JP-8000, as well as Synths from Nord and Waldorf.

Compared to other digital synths like the famous Yamaha DX7, virtual analogue synths were far easier and more intuitive to program. As they were based on subtractive synthesis concepts, you still felt like you were using an analogue synth for the most part.

Access Virus TI2 Desktop

Access Virus Alternatives

The Virus came along in 1997 with a slightly darker-sounding DSP engine than many of its virtual analogue counterparts, and it could also convincingly recreate sounds from your favourite analogue synths like the Minimoog, TB-303, and Juno series.

As a concept, the Virus caught on as a studio instrument with electronic music producers. However, it also made waves in live music where bands like Gary Numan and Depeche Mode were thrilled to be able to recreate most of their sounds from a single synth on stage.

Today, the Virus TI2 series is a considerable investment, and not every musician requires the same level of multitimbrality, depth of synthesis capabilities, or range of effects. Let’s take a look at some options with a similar feel.

Modal Cobalt8

The Modal Cobalt8 has a powerful 8-voice virtual analogue engine with a range of playing modes including legato and staccato mode, as well as mono, poly, unison, and stack modes.


Sound generation starts with 2 independent oscillator sections with 4 oscillators each, with 34 algorithms including sync, ring modulation, waveform morphing, and more.

The morphable filter and effects section are impressive, and like the Virus, the Cobalt series is available in desktop module, 37-key, and 61-key versions.

Modal Cobalt Series


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Korg Modwave MKII

The KORG Modwave MKII might be a wavetable synth, but it still follows familiar virtual analogue principles when it comes to interface design and layout. What’s more, it includes filter modelling of the famous MS-20 and PolySix analogue synthesizers.

The Modwave MKII continues the legacy of the DW-8000 from 1985, with 2 wavetable oscillators and a sub-oscillator per program and 60 voices of polyphony with incredibly flexible modulation options.

You can also morph your sounds with the onboard motion sequencer and the software editor allows you to create sounds and manage presets in a similar way to the Virus Total Integration system.

KORG modwave


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ASM Hydrasynth

The ASM Hydrasynth is a great-sounding digital wave-morphing synth with impressive creative capabilities. Its three oscillators give you access to 219 single-cycle waveforms, while there are options for blending wavetables and using them as mod sources.

The dual-filter section operates in series or parallel, with multimode Ladder and SEM-style filters to work with. In addition, the modulation section is extensive, with five DAHDSR envelopes and five LFOs to shape sounds.

With features like digital effects, and CV I/O, the Hyrasynth range is an exciting prospect that includes desktop module, 37-key, 49-key, and 73-key versions.

  • More from ASM

ASM Hydrasynth


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ASM Hydrasynth Explorer
ASM Hydrasynth Desktop
ASM Hydrasynth Keyboard
ASM Hydrasynth Deluxe

Waldorf Kyra

The Waldorf Kyra is regarded by many to be the natural successor to the Virus as a modern virtual analogue synth. Although it is now discontinued by the manufacturer, it is still a powerful and versatile instrument for sound design and live performance.

With a 128-voice 8-part multitimbral engine, you have a selection of basic analogue oscillator shapes and 4096 digital waveforms. Sound shaping is extensive, with 2 multimode filters, 3 LFOs, and 3 fast-response envelopes.

The Kyra exceeds the capabilities of the Virus in many areas except perhaps the effects section, but the four stereo outputs make it a formidable contender indeed.

Waldorf Kyra SE


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Clavia Nord Lead A1

Although, like the Virus, one might regard the Nord Lead A1 as a dinosaur compared to many modern synths, it still provides a high-quality 4-part multitimbral 24-voice polyphonic 96 kHz 32-bit floating point synth engine.

The oscillators have a range of 47 analogue and digital waveforms, and the intuitive interface allows you to quickly dive into creating your own patches from scratch rather than scrolling through the preset library.

Both the sound and build quality are still at a much higher standard than the majority of synths you’ll find in this price range, and it remains the one keyboard that Trent Reznor couldn’t break. It may take you a while, but everyone starts to love the Nord sound in the end.

Nord Lead A1


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Image Sources:
  • Modal Cobalt Series: Modal Electronics
  • KORG modwave: KORG
  • asm-hydrasynth: ASM
  • Waldorf Kyra SE: Waldorf
  • nord-lead-a1: Clavia
  • access-virus-ti2-desktop-widget: Thomann
  • modal-cobalt8m-widget: Thomann
  • modal-cobalt8-widget: Thomann
  • modal-cobalt8x-widget: Thomann
  • korg-modwave-mkii-widget: Thomann
  • asm-hydrasynth-explorer-widget: Thomann
  • asm-hydrasynth-desktop-widget: Thomann
  • asm-hydrasynth-keyboard-widget: Thomann
  • asm-hydrasynth-deluxe-widget: Thomann
  • waldorf-kyra-widget: Thomann
  • waldorf-kyra-se-widget: Thomann
  • nord-lead-a1-widget: Thomann
Access Virus Alternatives for Virtual Analogue Synthesis

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10 responses to “Access Virus Alternatives for Virtual Analogue Synthesis”

    Craig says:

    Nothing sounds likes Access Virus except Access Virus because of the
    DSP of the time, (I/O) and the timeless
    programming that makes it almost like Analog custom synths..because it’s so of it’s time!

    Scott says:

    Check out the DSP 56300 project. They emulate the Motorola chip that ran the virus and have a VST plugin that is a 1:1 clone, save for the analog and conversion stages:

    Also nothing sounds like a virus, it’s a very special synth and even synths with similar architectures and features do not sound like it.

    dbms says:

    DSP 56300 VST is the same as hardware. 100% clone. Not Ti, but who cares?

    Broken Gadget says:

    One of the things that the Virus excels at is the comprehensive effects section. Novation’s mininova has similar effects and filter routing options, but lackluster wavetables, poor gain staging and is monotimbral. Having said that it’s a lot cheaper and can create similar sounds

    JB says:

    The cheapest way to get that authentic Virus sound is to pick up a TC Powercore, apply the freely available “unlock all plugins” patch and you also get a multi-timbral Virus and 15 or so effects plugins.

    catt says:

    The majority of those who claim that TI can be replaced are not hardcore gamers or synthesizer enthusiasts. People who are proficient in using synthesizers can discern the distinctiveness of TI from its initial sound alone. When coupled with the influence of HYPER, it is what makes a series of producers appreciate the uniqueness of TI. Those who only know how to use patches, on the other hand, cannot grasp the remarkable capabilities of TI.

    Mike Bradford says:

    Despite its rather flimsy keys with no aftertouch, light feeling knobs, and no sequencer, I love my KingKORG because of its versatility and its wonderful sound. IMO it is the best sounding VA synth around. And it gives the best emulations of classic 70s and 80s synth sounds.

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