Access Virus TI

Access Virus TI Image

Virus TI Desktop

Arguably the pinnacle of DSP-based digital synthesis at the moment. It could easily be written off as a Virus C with added supersaw, but the many improvements suggest revolution, not evolution!

The TI includes several oscillator sources from simple sine/tri/saw through to wavetables (63 to choose from, nicely varied; the 64th wavetable is actually the pure sine wave) and also granular and formant sources based on the wavetables. The supersaw mode is present and allows big, spreadable saws with a huge unison effect - you can dial in over 100 oscillators per note if your mix (and your monitors) can take it.

If you want it on a digital synth oscillator section, then this has it: 3 oscillators, multiple modes, FM (with several FM applications), oscillator sync, an additional subosc and a noise source. There'll be a bit of menu diving though - the TI may have more physical controls than any Virus before it, but options here outweigh controllers. Fortunately, the menus are logically laid out and fairly simple. The common parameters are on the front panel, and the most in-depth tweaking lies no more than four menu-pages under the hood.

There are dual filters with multiple modes from Lowpass, Hipass, Bandpass, Bandreject to more DSP-intensive emulations of analog 1- , 2- and 4-pole modes (the so-called Minimoog emulation). These filters are what really make the synth and impart a definite character to the Virus. Most would agree that the Virus sounds dark and ominous rather than the bright, crisp sounds of the Clavias and Korgs. They whine and screech when you crank up the resonance into the self-oscillating regions as well! Regardless of whether the filter emulations perfectly copy the originals, or any preconceptions regarding what is analog or digital, these filters are a modern classic and can be argued to have already made it onto even more vinyl acreage than the venerable Minimoog. The Virus really IS several genres of dance music; as much a signature sound as the saxophone to modern be-bop. To dismiss it as a dance floor-only synth would be criminal, however.

The Mod Matrix and LFO sections are comprehensive - 18 mod matrix slots, 3 LFO's (which can do double duty as simple third envelopes - although a 3rd envelope feature isn't expressly provided) which can do all the usual LFO tricks. The matrix can even modulate itself; perfect for sonic experiments, but it can be a test of memory (yours, not the synth's) remembering just what it is you're trying to modulate. Too many options may not be a valid complaint, but what this synth could really do with is a screen-based editor...

...And it's the computer integration which the TI does better than any other computer-age synth to date. There's a USB1 (not USB2, but fast enough for most tasks) interface which doubles as both a DSP audio interface for you computer and enables an onscreen librarian VST3/AU/RTAS plugin interface to appear in your software of choice. If you can do it on the synth, you can do it onscreen, except that some parameters (like arpeggiator settings) can only really be edited on the computer. On the subject of the arp, there's no step sequencer option, which is a shame because this synth really can nail those Berlin school drones and sequences.

Access Virus TI Image

Virus TI software interface

The hardware is a metal-skinned, wooden-ended tank, with solid knobs that turn easily yet feel as though they're set in concrete. The desktop version lets you remove the wood, replace with rack ears, and tilt the I/O panel through 90 degrees so you don't lose a rack space above the unit - very clever. The keyed versions have the very best keybed available on a synthesizer today (synth-weight or semi-weight by Fatar); note that aftertouch is only monophonic. Tap-tempo and simple Oct+/- buttons which transpose semitones with a simple click of the 'shift' key; this keyboard makes for a great master controller for both computer-based and hardware-based sequencers. Multi-mode is available for the older-school studios with 16-channel MIDI multitimbrality. This is a synth for the computer age, but multi-mode is genuinely useable due to the synth's awesome dual-DSP polyphony. You'll run out of hardware sequencer notes before the synth does.

Access Virus TI Image

Virus TI 5-octave keyboard model

Rounding the synth is a studio-spec effects section, with delays (including tape delays - clocked and free running with modulation and bandwidth options), a great sounding reverb (which is used in perhaps a little too many of the 4,000 - yes 4,000 - factory presets) and EQ options with Q control. There's a distortion mode which can spit your sound out for breakfast, and phaser/chorus/unison effects for thick washes of sounds. You can play a 4-minute pad that never sounds the same twice on this synth; a great drone machine. Analog EQ emulations were added recently, and subtly tweak your sound in all the good ways.

There's also the small matter of the after-sales service from Access, which is second to none; email support, even for secondhand purchasers, and free lifetime updates (sometimes even after the synth has been replaced in the lineup by something newer). Unless you've been on Mir or Mars for 10 years, you've heard of the Virus. The TI model is the best Virus to date. Even if you have an irrational hatred of digital synthesis, you have to admit that this is the top-of-the-digital-tree at the moment.

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Virus TI2 Desktop

In 2009 the Virus TI2 Desktop, Keyboard and Polar revisions were released, featuring 25% faster DSP processing, a lighter, redesigned enclosure, new effects including Tape Delay, Frequency Shifter, new Distortions, and Character Control, and an enhanced Virus Control 3.0 plug-in.

Access Virus TI2 Keyboard Image

Virus TI2 Keyboard

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106 Visitor comments
shaft9000
June 10, 2010 @ 2:12 pm
I really wanted to like this synth.
Unfortunately the crippled multimode, excess menu-diving, and more than anything - the pinched-bandwidth sound - made it not a keeper.
Everything the Ti puts out sounds compressed and over-hyped in an oddly underwhelming, unexciting way. As an only synth it is very versatile, but next to a couple genuine VCO analog polys and select digitals it doesn't quite cut it.
For trance-heads, though, it's a no-brainer. Heard on countless tracks that have the unmistakable Virus sound.
Dan
June 1, 2010 @ 5:06 pm
AMAZING! i have enjoyed everything about the virus ti since the day i brought her home 5 years ago! everyone geeking out about "oh the B sounds different then the ti" learn how to program a synth, so what they are a little different, no one other then you knows that really. people listening to your music have no idea how it was made and they dont care. really, this is a great synth! enjoy it!
Costas
April 24, 2010 @ 3:25 pm
I've been in love with synths since I can remember my pockets with money.When I finally got one,I went to Mars and back in a millisecond.After a while a TI keyboard came in front of me and said "Try Me".....That was it!I was so down for the next two weeks!The same time I tried the korg radias and the M3,but the keyboards were not to my taste as that of the virus!!!!Great sound for the ones that know how to make one, tons of presets ,all or most of them usable and a perfect-feeling keyboard, to touch and play your tunes!
For the money,I'd buy the desktop model.But no!I'll be a bit patient and go for the whole thing because the keyboard itself is great too!
Dunster
April 22, 2010 @ 2:55 pm
Bought to replace the Virus B.
Compared it side by side with Virus B.
Kept the B.
Sold the TI.
OK if you want the DAW integration, fine, go for the TI.
But if you are just after sonics....
Enossified
April 18, 2010 @ 9:28 am
Response to Jimmy:

Every time a synth gets "updated" like the Virus does, the sound is bound to change a little. Claims that the B has more "power and depth" than the TI sound right to me as there have been many claims the TI sounds "cleaner". Distortions typically make a sound seem "bigger" after all so a cleaner sound invariably sounds thinner.

I've used a number of VAs as well as many vintage analogs and I have never heard a digital synth with as much heft as the TI. Not that it sounds analog per se, just that it has that thickness that's often lacking in digital synths.
 
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  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - Over 80 voices
  • Multitimbral - 16 parts
  • Oscillators - 3 osc + subosc + noise, FM, Sync
  • Waveforms - Sine / pulse / saw / supersaw / wavetable / granular / formant
  • Filter - dual LP/HP/BP/BR with envelopes and addtional multi-pole analog emulations (includes Minimoog 4-pole emulation)
  • LFO - 3 LFOs, multiple options plus mod matrix 18 slots
  • Envelope - Amp / Filter / 'LFO as envelope' option
  • Sequencer - none onboard
  • Arpeggiator - Up / Down / Random / Chord / Multiple additions, editable in software to any variation
  • Effects - Reverbs, Delays, EQs with Q and freq control, Tape Delays, Distortions (multiple), Phasers, Flangers, Chorus, Analog EQs, Vocoder.
  • Keyboard - 3-oct (37 key) or 5-oct (61 key) models
  • Memory - 128 patches in each of 30 banks plus USB storage / Librarian with additional free patchbanks provided regularly by Access
  • Control - MIDI, USB, 16-part multitimbral in Multi or sequencer modes
  • Date Produced -
    Virus TI series: 2005
    Virus TI2 series: 2009

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