Review: UVI UVX80, Japanese Vintage Synth Emulation

This faithful recreation of a rare Japanese classic synthesizer pushes all of Matt Vanacoro's buttons. What do you make of the UVI UVX80?  

Rare synths are all the rage, and few folks know more about synth and keyboard history than the team at UVI. Their newest instrument, UVX80, resurrects a rare synth from the 80’s with a ton of character and plenty of unique sounds. While UVI may not be specifically mentioning the name of the original Japanese synth from the 80’s, after loading up the plug-in and looking at the aesthetic, we think you’ll get the idea.

Kicking the Tires

Here’s the rundown for the feature freaks - the original synth had 8 voices, 2 digitally controlled oscillators, a sub osc, 2 envelope generators, and two filters per voice. That gave this puppy a fairly wide sonic range.

UVX80 builds on this a bit, giving you 2 layers that are essentially a complete synth each. These layers can be independently stacked, edited, modulated, and arpeggiated. With over 250 new patches using this paradigm, you are able to wring some pretty large and wide sounds out of UVX80.

The Sounds

UVX80 definitely has a ‘sound’. Yes, it’s very versatile, and yes, you can take it further than the original hardware, but you’ll definitely notice a common vibe between all the patches. This is a good thing, and it can focus the kinds of sounds that you expect to get out of UVX80. The bell and pad patches have that 80’s ring to them, and there’s quite a bit of motion in most of the patches. 

The sounds almost make me reminisce about the Korg Wavestation, only I find these patches to be a little more playable. There’s just a little bit more going on here than your typical analog synth, but not so much that each patch feels like a complete sequence and you can’t perform with it. UVX80 rides a pretty fine line in the complexity of its patches and in that sense it really nails it.

The Features

Stacking multiple layers of this synth together definitely has its advantages in terms of sound design and sonic size. One of my favorite things to do with UVX80 quickly revealed itself to be arpeggiating one layer while keeping another static. This allowed for patches that had a motion element to them, but not so much that it felt like I was using a pattern sequencer. Combining this with the delay effect allowed for presets that just seemed to fit in between the ‘boxes’ of atmosphere and playable pad.

Sound examples

While you can arpeggiate each layer/oscillator independently, you can’t send them to the FX bus separately. I do wish there was a way to apply delay to only a single element of the sound, but the workaround, of course, is to simply load up more than one ‘part’ within UVI workstation and do it that way.


UVX80 is wonderfully playable, has a very unique sound that it really ‘sticks to’, and is extremely light on the storage/memory requirements. It’s efficient, unique, easy to use, and very well designed. It’s a worthwhile addition to any producer or synth lover’s library.

Price: 49 Euro intro price / 79 Euro regular price

Pros: Focused sound, well designed, easy to use, very lightweight, elegant visuals.

Cons: Can’t send individual layers to FX separately, but there is a workaround.



Matt Vanacoro is one of New York's premier musicans. Matt has collaborated as a keyboardist in studio and on stage with artists such as Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Mark Wood (Trans-Siberian Orchestra), Mark Rivera (Billy Joel Band), Aaron Carter, Amy Regan, Jay Azzolina, Marcus Ratzenboeck (Tantric), KeKe Palmer, C-Note, Jordan Knig... Read More


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