Amazing Stranger Things 80’s sounds using Stranger Things VST Synths
- Item to note
- Before we go on, lets set the expectation on the article below. In no way is this a guide as to how to create an inch perfect to copy of the soundtrack. The article is aimed to inform on the instruments used and the Stranger Things VST synths list of plugins which are available to emulate these sounds along with some additional effects. What this is not is a music score allowing you to recreate the soundtrack! Now that's clear, lets go back in time to the 1980's
Using a selection of VST plugins you too can get the Stranger Things 80’s sound. We take a look at the instruments that were used to soundtrack the cult phenomenon and give you help and guidance on how to achieve the similar sound using Stranger Things VST Synths.
Item to note
Before we go on, lets set the expectation on the article below. In no way is this a guide as to how to create an inch perfect to copy of the soundtrack. The article is aimed to inform on the instruments used and the Stranger Things VST synths list of plugins which are available to emulate these sounds along with some additional effects. What this is not is a music score allowing you to recreate the soundtrack! Now that’s clear, lets go back in time to the 1980’s
What instruments were used on Stranger Things?
Electronic duo Michael Stein and Kyle Dixon who make up the electro band Survive are the brains behind the sound of Stranger Things. From research I have done collating information from previous interviews they have been involved in, they discussed that there were 4 key synthesisers used on the audio production of Stranger Things, notably:
- Roland Jupiter 8
- Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
- Roland SH-2
- ARP 2600
I’ve compiled a Stranger Things VST synths list below however a high level overview of each synth discussed is summed up as follows: (credit to VintageSynth.com)
Roland Jupiter 8
The Jupiter-8 was on of the first professional synths produced by Roland and hits gold on the Stranger Things VST synths list. The Jupiter-8 was featuring 16 rich analogue oscillators at 2 per voice, eight voice polyphony and its key selling point was the easy programming available on it. At eight voices you can get some pretty thick analogue sounds.
Easy and intuitive programming via front panel sliders, knobs and buttons for all your tweaking needs. The legacy of the Jupiter synthesizers is due to their unique voice architecture and design, creating sounds that were so unreal and amazing that they have to be heard! No other synths in the world can create analogue sounds as cool and authentic as these. There are plenty of Stranger Things VST synths on our list to meet the needs here.
Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
One of the first fully programmable polyphonic analogue synths, the Prophet 5 is the most classic synthesizer of the eighties! It is also a key member of the Stranger Things VST synths list. It is capable of a delightful analogue sound unique to Sequential’s Prophet series in which the P5 was King! Five voice polyphony – two oscillators per voice and a white noise generator. The analogue filters, envelope and LFO all sound great and are extremely flexible. The P5 had patch memory storage as well, which scanned and memorised every knob setting for storing and recalling your sounds – a desperately needed feature at the time!
The SH-2 is one of Roland’s early synthesizers. It is very simple in design, look and function and plays a key role in the low notes for our Stranger Things VST synths list. It sounds much like the SH-101 synth, including the typical SH-style sub-oscillator. But the SH-2 employed 2 oscillators for a much fatter sound. It has the typical Roland SH sound – it’s a monophonic bass synth that’s flexible enough to provoke punchy analogue basses, leads and squelchy sounds.
The oscillators can be de-tuned as well, another feature the popular SH-101 lacks. But it isn’t very pretty to look at as it shares the same design and layout as the SH09. Still it makes a simple and easily programmable mono-synth that can be used in place of the more common SH-101. However the SH-2 is harder to find and so it usually has a higher price than other SH-type synthesizers from Roland. It has been used by Duran Duran, Groove Corporation, Eat Static, OMD, Men Without Hats, and the Eurythmics. Check out the Stranger Things VST synths list below for options available.
ARP’s 2600 is without a doubt one of the finest analogue synthesizers ever produced. It plays the main role for arpeggio sounds in our Stranger Things VST synths list. For decades, it has been used in all forms of music and in the hands of many famous artists. This unique semi-modular monophonic synthesizer was designed for professionals but was also user-friendly enough to be used as a teaching instrument. The 2600, in fact ARP as a whole, competed directly against the synthesizer systems coming from Moog throughout the 1970’s. The 2600 was ARP’s answer to the modular system, creating a more compact, more stable and more intuitive synthesizer.
Bring on the Stranger Things VST Synths
Here is where we can look at the Stranger Things VST synths for you plugin fans to let us recreate the sounds from the show. There are two synth manufacturers that have made headway in the VST arena for recreating these sounds, Arturia and Roland.
Roland Jupiter 8 VST
We start on the Jupiter 8 which has two available versions that can be used. Managing to be simultaneously fat, airy and crystal clear, Jup-8 V from Arturia uses their unrivalled analogue modelling technology to deliver the full head-turning sound that defined countless recordings to this day.
The second version of the Roland Jupiter 8 unsurprisingly is delivered from Roland and available via Roland Cloud. Roland Cloud is a subscription based VST platform and would require the Pro subscription at a minimum to get the Virtual Instrument available to you.
Other offerings which are available are the TAL J-8 and also U-He Diva.
|Accurate down to the circuit level
|9.99 / month
|No native preset, but achievable
|Arturia V Collection
|Uses Arturia's unrivalled analogue modelling
|Authentic emulation of the 80's hardware synthesizer.
Sequential Circuits Prophet 5
The Prophet 5 was a staple of the 80’s synth game and is an absolute classic. For our Stranger Things VST synth options, there are choices available again from Arturia and U-He but also there is also a free version available.
|U-He Repro 5
|Contains Repro 1 & Repro 5
I really struggled to find any other options for a VST emulation for the Roland SH-2 apart from the offering from Roland themselves within Roland Cloud. The SH-2 was a punchy and squelchy analogue bassline synth so we may need to look at other options rather than a direct SH-2 emulation. Tools such as Novation Bass Station are free now, and will give you the sound you are looking for.
In addition to some dirt or distortion then a similar effect can be achieved of that of the SH-2. Other options include TAL Bassline. Still punchy, the TAL-Bassline is a virtual analogue bass synthesizer especially made for bass, acid sounds and effects. It’s based on a robust core and has the usual controls of analogue hardware synthesizers.
The original and best, the ARP 2600 is the staple sound of Stranger Things. Our range again is limited as to VST versions, however we do have 2 paid options and one free version. An emulation to suit all budgets.
|Sounds very close to the original ARP 2600
|Cherry Audio CA2600
More Tips to get the 80’s sound
In addition to the synths, getting the big 80’s sound can also be achieved with some more techniques. Try some of these tips in your productions to get the big sound.
Putting a big delay on everything was the key part of getting the Stranger Things and the 80’s sound. Built-in effects are often a big part of the sound of vintage instruments, so experiment with them before splashing out on additional VST delay plugins. You may well find that the Stranger Things VST synths you use have some excellent build in delays and reverb which can be integrated and automated in to your mixes.
Dial these in using automation to make the effects appear in the mix gradually and help build tension.
Retro Plugins – Eventide H910
The Eventide H910 was a device being used and experimented with throughout the course of the 1980’s. The reverb and voice effects on offer were used by many artists of that era. The plugin also helps you get the monster voices from the characters from the “other side”. This is achieved by splitting the signal into 3 voices, separating to octaves out and adding some distortion and reverb and/or delay on to the lower voices.
Tape effect plugins are a plenty in the market and all offer various emulation of products and can be used alongside the Stranger Things VST synths. Taking this into account, it is worthwhile looking at some effects from the era such as VHS and analogue tape machine emulations.
One I can recommend to help achieve an 80’s sound is Super VHS from Baby Audio. Super VHS combines six colourful effects to bring an authentic 1980’s retro vibe to your tracks and makes your instruments and beats sound like they were sampled off an old VHS tape. Be sure to check out the Part Time Producer review of the Super VHS plugin from earlier in the year.
Baby Audio also have a great emulation called TAIP which you can use to bring saturation and the analogue sound to your productions. We even ran a giveaway of this product on Part Time Producer so make sure to keep up to date with our newsletter for details on new offers.
The key is to experiment with different settings in your DAW and also use some of the Stranger Things VST synths plugins mentioned, many offer a trial run before purchasing so you don’t need to commit straight away.
We hope this guide has given you some inspiration and methods to use. The Stranger Things VST synths that can be used are plentiful in options and styles, with emulations of some amazing hardware from the past. Now is the greatest time to be producing music due to the options, availability – and not to forget quality – of the VST emulations in the market. No matter what sound you want to achieve, the possibilities are there and can be achieved.