Rhodes V8 Plugin + Mini Review + Competition

FYI: this article is now outdated, please visit our definitive Rhodes V8 review.

You don’t have the budget for the wonderful yet pricey Rhodes MK8? Well, now you can get the official software version for a fraction of the price, and you can actually demo it for 45 days. And it doesn’t end here. You can also join a competition to win an actual MK8!

UPDATE: the competition has now expired, and the trial version is now reduced to 14 days, still very much worth it in my opinion!

What Is The Rhodes V8?

The Rhodes V8 is a deeply multi-sampled, hyper-realistic version of the Rhodes MK8, capturing all the nuance and character of the flagship electric piano.

Modeled directly from the acclaimed MK8, the V8 Pre-amp features Drive, Low/High EQ and a classic square wave Pan effect with rate and depth controls. Under the hood, further sonic sculpting is available via the V8’s ‘Mechanics’ and ‘Setup’ applications. Here, users can dive deep into features such as piano tuning, mechanics volume, timbre shift, velocity curve and pedal noise/velocity.

Pro Vs Standard Edition

For those musicians that seek ultimate control, Rhodes has created the V8 Pro Edition, expanding the V8’s vast sonic palette, tweakability and nuance – offering a forensic level of control and customisation. For the V8 Pro Edition, Rhodes has deeply modelled the intimate behaviour of the MK8 FX board – featuring a VCA Compressor and Phaser paired with Bucket-Brigade Chorus and Delay. 

The feature-rich V8 Pro Edition also boasts a vast array of extended ‘Mechanics’ and ‘Setup’ options, including Pan slew/smoothing, Compressor threshold, Chorus channel delay, Chorus phaser/spread, Delay Ping Pong mode and Delay Jitter/Spread. 

For those who love the character that a mic’d amplifier can bring to the Rhodes sound – the V8 Pro Edition features a handpicked selection of faithfully modelled vintage amplifiers from Rhodes CPO Dan Goldman’s personal collection. 

The featured amp/cab options are models that Rhodes feels are best suited to bolster the Rhodes sound in a live/studio situation. Cherry-picked for their tonal compatibility, the V8 features options to route through a ‘Twin’ tube combo, the ‘Jazz’ and ‘L5′ solid-state combos and the classic Rhodes ‘Suitcase’ cabinet.

Exclusively created by Rhodes for musicians passionate about the Rhodes sound, the plugin features presets designed by four-time Grammy Award-winning musician and producer Robert Glasper.

Sampling Meets Modeling

Sample Data Set

According to the company, the V8 is a hyper-realistic re-creation of the Rhodes MK8 electric piano based on an extremely intensive sample data set taken from the very first MK8, built and voiced by Dan Goldman and recorded as follows:

  • Over 30.000 samples total, recorded at 96 kHZ / 24 Bit
  • Up to 100 velocity layers, 14 articulations from sustains to various types of staccatos, portamentos and legatos to note offs, sympathetic resonances, mechanical noises and more.
  • Total size original recordings: ca. 60 GB
  • Total size on disk (after lossless data reduction): ca. 22 GB

Piano Model

The Piano Model based on the sample data set above recreates the MK8s actual behaviour using proprietary HyperReal technology by UJAM. While a sample set defines the sound, HyperReal technology goes far beyond sampling, adding realistic “play and feel” by reproducing the behaviour of the piano – staccatos, barking, legato play, release behaviour, resonances, random inaccuracies – based on the player’s input and settings.

First Hands-On Impressions

The currently available version of the V8 plugin is a beta, so I will probably write a more complete review once the plugin gets to its final release. Yet these are my impressions, after a couple of days (UPDATE: here is the final Rhodes V8 review).

Disclaimer: over the years I have used a vintage Rhodes (Mk1), and several plugins/sample libraries BUT I haven’t been able to put my hands on the modern MK8 edition that served as a reference for the V8 plugin.

So, how does it sound? In my opinion, the developers did a great job in terms of sound and feel. The Rhodes V8 sounds fantastic (lots of detail in all the sections of the keyboard, impressive bass notes too) and feels great under my fingers. It’s extremely dynamic and responds very well to both pianissimo and fortissimo playing styles, and everything in between. As said, I can’t compare the V8 to the modern hardware counterpart, but it’s clearly a top-notch software emulation of the Rhodes sound.

Not only the instrument sounds great thanks to the extensive sampling work, but it’s also highly customizable, even on a note-by-note basis! I recommend watching the video above here to learn more about this. And if you’re not familiar with previous physical modeling-based Rhodes emulations, I invite you to try out some of the presets to visualize and appreciate these possibilities. It’s pretty crazy how far you can go while customizing your sound (and you don’t risk harming the piano, which is a bonus!)

I appreciate the fact that you can have the V8 behave as a “pure” DI instrument (and process the sound with your amp simulation and effect plugins – or why not, an actual amp!), or as a fully processed one (there’s a capable fx section plus an amp + mic option). Welcome bonus: the mechanical noise knob, which generates (non-tonal) sounds with keys and hammers that strike thin metal tines – for a more organic, textured feel.

Niggles? Well, the Rhodes V8, at least in its current beta version, definitely needs some improvements/fixes. Performance-wise, the engine is not as effective as more established platforms (Kontakt, Soundpaint, etc.). I got some glitches and stuck notes while playing relatively easy parts, so I’d recommend waiting to buy until these issues are ironed out. Also, I might be getting old, but the interface, while resizable, it’s still too small and difficult to work with, especially for the under-the-hood customization features (I would have been lost without my Mac’s Accessibility Zoom!)

I would like to see also a more full-featured amp section (right now you can just scroll through a few models/images, a couple of mics, and that’s it). If you have it in your setup, I would use a separate option such as IK Multimedia’s Amplitube 5 instead.

A standalone version would be much appreciated too, and I assume this shouldn’t be too hard to add, so let’s cross our fingers.

So, is the Rhodes V8 worth buying, and which version (Pro or Standard)? I reserve to give a more definitive answer once it gets to v 1.0, but we can say a few things about it. If you care about branding, well, the V8 is the only official product with the name Rhodes behind it, so there you go.
If you have other “unofficial” Rhodes software emulations, the answer gets very subjective.

Personally, I put the V8 in the same league as some of my favorite libraries/plugins, such as the iconic Scarbee Classic Ep-88s, and above others such as the XLN Mark One from Addictive Keys. Again, the V8 is NOT a reproduction of a vintage Rhodes like previously released plugins, so we should take these comparisons for what they are.

If you already have (or are shopping for) a competitor product, such as the ones from Scarbee, Sonicouture, etc., I would suggest making the most of the 45 days trial to assess if you really need the Rhodes V8 or not.

I also own a Viscount Legend ’70s (see our Viscount Legend ’70s review), an excellent modern physically modeled hardware electric piano (with a twist). Sometimes I enjoy the feeling of playing an actual self-contained instrument, and not having to deal with computers, monitors and latency.

I shouldn’t compare the Legend ’70s with the V8 as the Rhodes plugin is sample-based, but to me they are both great-sounding instruments that I would not hesitate using for making an album or for playing a show (once Rhodes sorts out the glitches in the current version). I think it’s impressive what Viscount achieved JUST using physical modeling technology, although the realism of a carefully sampled 20 Gb instrument with extra physically modeled options is hard to beat.

By the way, I’ve used the Legend ’70s as a MIDI controller keyboard while testing the V8, given the keybed is obviously a great match for an electric piano plugin. I would recommend a quality controller, possibly with 73-88 keys, to fully appreciate the V8 (or any other Rhodes emulation).

As for the Pro vs Standard, is it worth paying $249 for the Pro vs the $149 of the Standard edition? If you like to have full control on the sound of the instrument and you don’t want to use a separate fx/amp section, I think it’s absolutely worth it. Maybe a different pricing point such as $199/$129 would make more sense, but Rhodes is not a software development firm (the V8 has been created through a partnership with Plugin Boutique), and making the plugin and supporting it has its costs.

In any case, we look forward to checking out the final release soon, as this is a quality piece of software that with a few improvements might become a must-have!

Competition Time

Rhodes is asking you to soundtrack a short film with their new ‘V8’ software. One entry will win a Rhodes MK8 piano.

To mark the ‘V8’ release, Rhodes has made a new short film entitled ‘Missing Keys’  featuring James Smith of the Mercury Prize nominated band, Yard Act – and they want you to submit a track to soundtrack it, utilising the new Rhodes V8 plugin. 

The winning track, judged by James Blake and Yard Act’s James Smith, will remain on the film as the final soundtrack.  UPDATE: the competition has now expired.

To get your trial version or buy the plugin, please visit this page.

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