The Virus B is a hugely popular synthesizer created by the pioneering German-based company, Access. Christoph Kemper, the founder, first stepped onto the music scene in 1997 with the original Virus A synth. Kemper and his talented team have not looked back since. The backbone of countless musical hits, the Virus B has been the go-to synthesizer for over 20 years. Influencing nearly every music genre you can think of, you’ll hear the unmistakable sound of the Virus in songs by Paul Oakenfold, The Prodigy, Dr. Dre, Radiohead and many more.
The Virus B is a powerful machine loaded with features and effects, making it one of the most complete all-round synths on the market. The following standout features prove why the Virus B is considered to be a modern day classic, still being used in studios all over the world.
The versatility is second to none, you have no boundaries. This synth can go from sweeping, clean tones to dark and aggressive basslines with ease. Many synths cater for a unique style, whereas the Virus B will have no problem producing any sound that you throw at it.
The individual components of the Virus B (filters, effects, osc) have been expertly designed by professional musicians, tested and tweaked to find the sweet spot that makes it sound so pure. The real power of the Virus B shines through when these components are working together.
Some synths can be quite technical for beginners. A Virus synth makes it’s easy for someone to take a basic INIT patch, start tweaking and end up creating big sounds within minutes.
The factory presets allow you to plugin and produce great sounds straight out of the box. However, the Virus B offers so much more to those who take the time to master it.
That unmistakable Virus B signature sound, any synth enthusiast will recognize it when they hear it. The main reason why so many music producers still use the Virus today is that it can be trusted, they know that this synth will produce exactly what they want time and time again.
To be regarded as one of the best synths on the market, the pros are always going to outweigh the cons. Even though the technology is over 20 years old, there is no denying that the fine-tuned sound of the Virus B is as relevant as ever in today’s music scene.
Firstly, you have an extensive selection of effects and filters to work with. Access have been continuously adding firmware updates (for free!) ever since they started. Expanding and refining their sound engine has given a real depth to the Virus sound palette and features on offer.
The ongoing free updates and excellent customer support from Access is certainly something worth pointing out. For expert advice and technical documents the team at Access are always on hand to offer guidance.
The build quality of the Virus B is something to behold. The wooden side panels look great and it looks and feels strong in your hands. The classic red and black colour design gives it a real sense of quality as well. It’s exactly what you would expect from a German company.
The Virus B offers 24-voice polyphony and three oscillators per voice. You also have a set of 64 digital waveforms to work with, as well as the standard sawtooth/square/sine/triangle waveforms. All of these extra features are giving you incredible flexibility and potential.
Expertly tuned envelopes with sharp attacks, smooth releases and steady sustains put you in complete control. The adaptive parameter smoothing function is a simple yet useful addition, letting you either smooth out your sound or turn it off for that traditional grainy, digital style.
The effects are a joy to use and they give you unparalleled control. The reverb, delay, phaser and chorus effects can all be fine-tuned, but what really shines through is the clarity of tone when parameter settings are pushed to their limits, this is the essence of the Virus sound.
As good as this synth is, there are some negatives worth pointing out. There is no denying the quality of tone and the immense potential of the Virus, however, when it comes to actually using the synth there are some areas where improvements could be made.
To get the most out of this synth you need to dive into the menus, a lot, and this can become tedious very quickly. However, when you start to understand how the menus work, you’ll begin to realize the full potential of the Virus B. It will take time so patience is key, but it’s worth it.
You can control most of the main features from the front panel. However, due to the sheer power of this synth more than half of the settings lie within the menus. A lack of real-time tweaking on the advanced features and effects could pose an issue for some.
Due to the age of the Virus B you’ll want to thoroughly test all of the buttons and check the ins/outs before making any purchase. It’s a sturdy bit of kit but time will always take its toll, however, there is a handy autotest during bootup for a quick all-round checkup.
The Virus B is up there with the best of them and the truth is, you can’t really go wrong with it. You can be up and running in minutes, creating that classic Virus sound with hundreds of factory presets. However, the true power lies within and its full potential can be found by those who are willing to spend the time to dive deeper into the menu system.