(Often abbreviated "VA") A digital synthesizer that has been programmed with software to (more or less) emulate the functionality and sounds of an analog synthesizer. Virtual analogs first appeared in the late 1990s, as performers sought to re-create the sounds of the classic analog synths, but without the hassles of tuning and maintenance. Virtual analogs have the virtues that they are considerably less expensive, less bulky, and less maintenance-intensive than the analog synths they emulate, and their digital underpinnings allow them to offer functions that the old analogs didn’t have, such as patch memory and extensive polyphony. However, considerable debate rages among analog purists as to how well the VA synths actually accomplish the primary objective of sounding like analog synths.
The Access Virus series are the most successful and most well known series of VAs. Today, a considerable number of VAs are implemented as soft synths; the recent trend is for soft-synth VAs to emulate specific vintage analog models, down to using an image of the vintage unit's front panel as its control window.