Access Virus TI Out Of Production, After Years Of Limbo

There’s no official announcement from Access, but German synth site reports that the Access Virus TI synthesizer is officially out of production.

The Access Virus TI, introduced 20 years ago at the 2004 NAMM Show, is a DSP-based virtual analog synthesizer, with 80-voice polypyhony, 16-part multi-timbrality, three oscillators per voice,  dual multi-mode filters, expansive modulation options and a deep effects section. But the TI also goes beyond virtual analog, with supersaw, wavetable, granular & formant oscillators.

In recent years, though, Access founder Christoph Kemper turned his attention to creating the Kemper line of modeling guitar amps. The line has been hugely successful, and the Access Virus line has been in limbo, as a result.

The TI’s key feature, “Total Integration”, hasn’t been fully supported for years. Total Integration is designed to connect the Virus to a Mac or PC, letting your hardware synth appear as a multi-channel VST/AU soft-synth in your DAW. The last mention on the Virus Facebook page, in 2019, said to avoid updating your Mac software.

Even with these issues, the Virus TI remains one of the nicest synths ever made.

Synthesist and producer Joey Blush, aka Blush Response, reviewed the TI in 2022, and called it “one of the greatest synths of all time”.

And San Francisco visual artist and musician Scott Hansen called the Access Virus TI synths “incredibly beautiful and well-crafted machines”, and an alternative to “the festering pit of mediocrity that is the music technology industry”.

While synth buyers have more options than ever in 2024, there are still few synthesizers that can match the Access Virus TI from 2004.

Share your thoughts on the end of the Access Virus TI in the comments!

18 thoughts on “Access Virus TI Out Of Production, After Years Of Limbo

  1. Still my go-to synth, regarding hardware. Pairs perfectly with an OB6.

    At first, I had a Virus B desktop. Then I sold that to get a Virus TI desktop. I sold that one (to Geary Yelton, I might add), to fund buying the TI2 keyboard (which I still have), and then picked up a kB keyboard for a steal (back in 2016). I have them both; use them for a decade now in both studio applications but more importantly always used one on stage. It is a chameleon synth, that can mimic nearly any other type of synth (DX, Juno, OBxa) quite convincingly (stress on the fact that I’m talking about on stage over a PA system here).

    Sidebar: I bought the Waldorf Kyra, hoping that it would be the Virus TI3, in essence. It seemed that way if you’ve ever watched the Valkyrie demo videos (which became the Kyra). Boy am I ever so dissapointed in where that went. ANd yet, I keep the Kyra.

    Anyways: Yes. The Virus synth line. One for the ages. It will be hard to beat.

  2. I still have one, somewhere in the cellar, don’t know where.

    I have never forgiven Mr.kKemper for neglecting the Virus and will never buy any more products developed by him. As a customer, you only make mistakes once.

  3. i’ve had 2 of them… still love the sound but there is always trouble with the software and DSP Chips failing… so i got the VIPER vst software… all the soundbanks are supported and sounds very very similar. in fact i miss the hardware for controlling the parameters…

  4. I got a very well-priced TI2 a few years ago, hoping to make it my primary synth. I spent about 9 months working with it, and just never gelled. It’s a beautifully constructed instrument, but the sound never got there for me, and for a synth with so many knobs, the UI felt clunky.

  5. Integral parts of the hardware of the Virus have gone out of production. Would have to be rebuilt from scratch with new internals. Given that the company has segued its focus out of synths, not much likelihood for a replacement.

    But hey, maybe someone will make a ‘knockoff’.

  6. It’s still my ‘retro trance’ go to. Anytime I want to remember the late 90’s, I fire it up. Solid keybed made it a great midi controller. Well built and could travel well. Not all synths can. It never surprises me to see one on stage with Depeche Mode, from older tour videos. Solid performer and well styled.

  7. Rather than being an end, it could be a fresh chapter. They were never as abundant as Moogs and Rolands, so a proper software version would probably please a lot of players with minimal carping by the original hardware owners.

    There’s also the fact that it set a high standard, so its no longer unique. Hardware always has its own little sweet spot that software doesn’t quite reach, but less so all the time. If someone models it, I’ll be one of those who leans in and gives it a serious listen. I like non-workstations where all of the system’s powers are dedicated to the engine and not downstream features like step sequencers.

  8. I still have two TI2s, Desktop and Darkstar. Build quality is great – you can travel and gig with Virus for decades without hardware issues. Sound is, well, “Virus”. You either like it or not. To me it fills a space which my other synths cannot. 80-voice polyphony with 16-part multitimbrality is a fantasy to be taken literally but for sure it has GREAT power! Multipreset with different synth with own FXs in all 16 midi channels, all with different range etc. etc. settings is something that very few synths can provide. For live playing and gigging Virus gives you amazing power and flexibility and great keyboard.

    And now the downside:

    It has not been developing or updating for years so to us Virus users it has been a dead product in that sense for a long time. Also to TI (Total Integration) is another fantasy at least to me. I never made it to be liable and stable. So to me it’s just another hardware synth. Also there are some annoying bugs in firmware. It can get occational hanging notes (mostly depending on patch and how you play it) or some other weird things (sometimes a patch or whole unit being silent until you boot it again).

  9. The TI2 is good…but a bit overrated. I have a module and briefly had the keyboard version.

    The synth engine is, of course, amazing. I don’t get criticisms of the Virus “sound.” It can do whatever other digital and VA synths do and easily sound fuller or bigger in the process. Make a generic kick drum. Make some super-complex monster patch. Make it “warm” or “cold.” Do whatever you want with it, really. I do find myself drawn to my “lesser” synths and find them more fun to work with (System 8), but that’s entirely subjective.

    The 16-part multitimbrality is a major selling point, but how far you get with that is EXTREMELY dependent on how you’re using each voice. Even using factory patches, you run into stuttering and dropped voices with as few as 3-4. On some occasions, the unit will freeze and need to be unplugged with more than that. If you’re hoping for a full-fledged, massive 16-part noisefest/synth-orchestra, you may be disappointed. HOWEVER, it certainly handles those 3-4 effects-laden polyphonic voices well, and on that point remains powerful. Just know the multitimbrality has some pretty hard limits, so you’ll need to be creative in order to take advantage of it.

    When it comes to the keyboard version though, I don’t think the keybed and build quality live up to the hype. The top panel has more give than I’d expect. There’s no felt strip between the panel and keys, so there’s an open space for dust and debris to get in. Key action/feel is better than most synths but does have some thump and spring sound to it. Despite messing with the settings, velocity is hit and miss for softer sounds or if you use it as a controller for piano VSTs, and aftertouch (mono-only) wasn’t equal in effort between the white and black keys. Even on a new unit, there were some faded labels. Between these issues, and its size and weight, I felt the module was the better choice and dumped the keys. (All that said, if it had polyphonic aftertouch I probably would’ve kept it anyway.) And when it comes to used Viruses, I had some bad luck with modules and Polars on Reverb – these things absolutely CAN be just as abused as any other synth.

    But where the Virus really hits a wall is the price. At used prices, some of its limitations are justifiable. At nearly $3,000 for a new Polar or keys…just…no. Those keys are absolutely NOT worth the extra grand over the module, which itself is steep enough. And if you’re into distorted industrial stuff (one of the Virus’ go-to genres), people are doing some really cool work with the subtantially cheaper Syntakt, which has a few analog tracks and a sequencer to boot (and it’s hard to ignore the MPC range for functionality, though its synth options are notably less expansive). And if you use VSTs, alternatives abound (I’ve been surprised by Pigments lately).

    I’d love a modernized Virus that irons out its quirks, but that’s pretty unlikely. That nobody ever bothered with a true competitor is kind of stunning, especially with the low cost of processing power and memory these days.

    For the record – the total integration still works on Windows and in DAWs. Haven’t had any issues there, though I suppose a bigger or customizable interface would be nice.

  10. Fell in love with the Indigo at the 2001 Musikmesse. Took me about a year to save up for one. It’s still the main workhouse supporting my drum pad triggered arpeggio lines or melodic tunings. Added an Indigo 2 to the rig about 4 years ago. Both have been solid instruments. I can’t imagine not having one in my setup.

    Tried a Virus Snow and TI desktop a few years ago as well. Big leap in features over the Virus B and C but just too unstable to rely on. It’s a shame to see the end of a really great synth line

  11. I love my virus. Lots of synths have been through the collection over the years but every time I come to sell my virus I just can’t bear to let it go. Beautifully sounding, amazingly built and with the best synth key-bed ever IMO. Too bad they aren’t making them any more. My advice, if you can find one (61, Indigo or rack) pick one up immediately.

  12. I got Virus Ti2 last year – love it so much, and probably will keep it for my life time.
    (I had Virus Ti1 15 years ago, but I sold it because it had polyphony issue)

    To be honest, effects are bit outdated and there are aliasing noise for high notes, but the sound character is very special even though it is a digital synth – I respect what Christoph Kemper brought to synth history over 20 years ago.

  13. I wanted one for years and when I finally bought one it was very disappointing. Like many VAs of the era the Virus sounded too compressed, too metallic, like the sound was coming from inside of a metal box (I guess it was). At the time I suppose it was thrilling to have so many knobs on a software synth. By today’s standards it’s old news.

    The lack of new product releases in subsequent years, and the repackaging of the existing hardware in new colors or forms without major upgrades, made it obvious that the Virus had become abandonware. Perhaps it could have a new life as a software plugin with improved sound quality.

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