by Martin Lüders

PG8X has been around since 2009, originally released as a VST plugin that only worked in 32-bit plugin hosts on Windows. The instrument itself sounded great, but the fact that it was made in SynthEdit meant that the plugin couldn’t be used on 64-bit Windows systems, nor Mac OS based machines. Quite some time after the initial release, the synth’s developer Martin Lüders decided to re-code the plugin in C++ and make it fully cross-platform. Ever since that announcement, we’ve been impatiently waiting for the new and improved version of PG8X to arrive. And arrive it did, in April this year, sounding and looking better than ever!

The first impression of the new PG8X is amplified by the gorgeous looking GUI that was made by KVR Audio forum member ENV1. The interface looks beautifully retro and provides quick access to all of the available control parameters in a single panel, which is always a big plus for virtual synthesizers. But all of that visual beauty pales in comparison to PG8X’s sound – the organic, warm and rich sound that one still can’t obtain from most virtual synthesizers nowadays, free or commercial. The secret of PG8X’s sound is in the filter section, in our opinion. The synth’s brilliantly coded VCF saturates and warms up the sound produced by the oscillators, resulting in that authentic 80s sound that will remind you of the soundtracks of old VHS cartoons and movies.

PG8X is still in beta testing phase, but it is stable and completely usable. The latest beta version of the instrument doesn’t include any factory presets, however the download page also hosts a number of user-made patches, a lot of which sound very nice. As mentioned in our in-depth review linked below, PG8X is, in our opinion, among the Top 3 freeware virtual analog synthesizers on today’s plugin market, along with Tyrell N6 by U-He and the excellent Charlatan 2.0 by Blaukraut Engineering which is actually the next entry in our list.

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