What Is That 80’s Synth Sound?

How do I make authentic sounding 80’s new wave/synthpop music?

Excerpts from the Quora article:

Yamaha DX7, Oberheim OBX, Prophet 5, Fairlight and Emulator.

Another thing to look at is reverb: oceans of splashy digital reverb of the type that can now be done for free in software but came from machines that cost thousands back then. Your drums should be the same but gated.

The drum machine of choice would mostly be the Linn LM-1, but also the Oberheim DMX (popular for dance and hiphop before the TR-909 was rediscovered) or later in the decade the Yamaha RM series.

A lot of tracks from the 80?s use a Juno or Oberheim synth, for example. Just using these synths (or cheaper software versions) goes a long, long way.

Two books I?d recommend are: Steal This Sound and Welsh?s Synth Cookbook

Making authentic 80s synth pop would require access to authentic 80s synths. A few notable 80s synths are: Roland Jupiter 8 (Thriller), Yamaha DX7 (A-ha), Fairlight CMI (Paul Simon, Thomas Dolby), and for drums the Linn LM-1 Drum Computer (The Human League). That said, don’t go out and buy those specific instruments. You can find samples and virtual versions of them on the Internet.

Buy actual 80s synths. I like plugins, but, why waste time on the computer, when you can get certain 80s synths for cheap? Like the JX-8P or 3P. Or TX-81z. The only software I would get would be Synth1, which is an emulation of the Nord Lead 2. Serum is WAY overrated, and so is FM8 which sounds more like the 90s SY99.

So software would be Dexed, Synth1, PG-8X, some Moog emu, some Prophet emu and an Oberheim emu. Emu as in emulation.

Hardware would be an 80s synth or a decent virtual analog and a cheap FM synth from the 80s as well as maybe a workstation. Consider this if you are playing live. You do not want to suffer being an EDM DJ. The synth guy in the local 80s band The Legwarmers uses 2 Nord Lead 2Xs, a Korg workstation from the 90s, and a DX7. They also have a keyboardist who uses a keytar which she has connected to a laptop.

Get schooled on the history. Blondie, Nick Lowe (as producer), Gang of 4, Early Ultravox (John Foxx era) and many similar, take a listen, but more importantly read their interviews where they talk about who influenced them. Go and explore those artists. Take your musicians ear and knowledge and apply it to them in a critical way. What worked, what didn?t, what gave it the accent and dialect that makes them new wave.

Free Synth Emulates The Oberheim OB-X


Freestyle/Hi-NRG…that late 80’s sound? How??

I love the sound you speak off( TKA,Louie Vega, Noel, Company B, Information Society.
Ok… Lets see
Roland SH-101/Juno-60-for bass sounds
Korg Poly-61/Poly 800-for pads, leads
Casio CZ-101/Yamaha DX-100 for melodic sprinkles
and for orch.hits Fairlight CMI samples work great

Vintage Vault 2 – $599