The U-he Diva Synthesizer

Diva1

Diva by U-he is a fantastic analog-emulating synthesizer. It is a vst or soft-synth plugin for DAWs. While incredibly versatile, it is also intimidatingly complex.

Here are what I have learned about this synthesizer. I will be updating it as I learn more, so check back.

Last updated: 18-April-2020

Diva emulates several popular analog synthesizers. Here is a rough guide to the ones that Diva emulates:

Emulations of Popular Analog Synthesizers

  • Moog Minimoog Model D
    • Used by The Chemical Brothers, The Orb, Kraftwerk, Jan Hammer, Nine Inch Nails, Vince Clarke, Gary Numan, Add N To (X), Rick Wakeman, 808 State, Air, Future Sound of London, Bushflange, Chick Corea, Überzone, Depeche Mode, Recoil, Tangerine Dream, Mouse on Mars, Apollo 440, Ultravox, Dave Holmes, Jean-Michel Jarre, George Duke, Blondie, Rush, Toto, Jimmy Edgar, Keith Emerson, Yes, Vangelis, Pink Floyd, Joe Zawinul and Herbie Hancock.
  • Roland Jupiter 6
    • Used by Orbital, Moby, Überzone, Devo, BT, The Prodigy, Vangelis, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method, ZZ Top, Duran Duran, Moog Cookbook, and Blur.
  • Roland Jupiter 8
    • Used by Tangerine Dream, Orbital, Future Sound of London, Moby, Duran Duran, Underworld, Vince Clarke, Überzone, Jean Michel Jarre, Roxy Music, OMD, A Flock Of Seagulls, Depeche Mode, Rush, Meat Beat Manifesto, Banco De Gaia, Josh Wink, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones, The Cars, Prince, Gary Wright, Jan Hammer, BT, Adrian Lee, Heaven 17, Kitaro, Elvis Costello, Tears for Fears, Huey Lewis and the News, Journey, Moog Cookbook, Toto, Yes, Devo, Freddy Fresh, George Duke, Greg Phillanganes, Jonathan Cain of Journey, Greg Johnson & Kevin Kendrick of Cameo, Stevie Wonder and Simple Minds.
  • Roland Alpha Juno 2
    • Used by Mundo Muzique, Vince Clarke, Matt Megaton Haines, Paul Hardcastle, Fatboy Slim, Massive Attack, Bomb the Bass, The Prodigy, Faithless, Youth, Joey Beltram and Human Resource.
  • Roland Juno 60
    • Used by Enya, The Cure, Sean Lennon, Faithless, Astral Projection, Vince Clarke, Rabbit in the Moon, Men at Work, Flock of Seagulls, Olive, Dee-Lite, Howard Jones, Locust, Eurythmics and Add N to (X).
  • Korg MS-20
    • Used by William Ørbit, Aphex Twin, Hardfloor, Air, SkyLab, Stereolab, Vince Clarke, Astral Projection, Biosphere, Apollo 440, Mr. Oizo, Jimi Tenor, The Prodigy, OMD, Freddy Fresh, Luke Vibert, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Add N to (X), Daft Punk, Coldcut, Die Krupps, Skinny Puppy, Electronic Dream Planet, Jimmy Edgar, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, The Legendary Pink Dots, KMFDM, Severed Heads, Royksopp, The Faint, The Shamen, Jean-Michel Jarre, Soulwax, Ladytron and Portishead.
  • Roland JP-8000
    • The Digital Oscillator is based on the JP-8000.
    • Used by the Crystal Method, BT, Orbital, Ken Ishii, Vince Clarke, Goldie, Dave Holmes, Prodigy, Groove Armada, Pet Shop Boys, Depeche Mode, ATB, Überzone, Faithless, Gary Numan, Ferry Corsten, Scooter, Konflict, William Ørbit, Paul Van Dyk and Garbage.
  • Oberheim SEM
    • Used by Jan Hammer, Josef Zawinul, and filmaker/composer John Carpenter.

The different parts of Diva tell which synths they are modeled after. Here is a cross-reference to the different parts of Diva and which synths they emulate:

Oscillators:

  • Triple VCO = Moog Minimoog Model D
  • Dual VCO = Roland Jupiter 6 (In analog 2 mode (brighter sound)), Roland Jupiter 8 (In analog 1 mode)
  • DCO = Roland Alpha Juno 2
  • Dual VCO Eco = Korg MS-20 (great for bass)
  • Digital = Roland JP-8000 (famous for its Supersaw)

Filters:

  • Ladder = Moog Minimoog Model D (creamy and warm)
  • Cascade = Roland Juno 60 (In rough mode), Roland Jupiter 8 (In clean mode)
  • Multimode = Roland Jupiter 6 (4plp filter is darker than original – good for bass)
  • Bite = Korg MS-20 (Both revisions)
  • Uhbie = Oberheim SEM (great for pads)

High Pass Filters:

  • HPF Bite = HP on MS-20
  • Feedback = Minimoog trick of feeding back out to in

Envelopes:

  • ADS = Moog Minimoog Model D
  • Analog = Roland Jupiter 8
  • Digital = Roland Alpha Juno 2 (Q enabled), Jupiter 6 (C enabled)

One of the best things about Diva is that you can mix up the different parts from various synths all within this one synth. That allows you to get sounds out of this that, while still sounding truly analog, you cannot get elsewhere in the real world.

To more easily see how to model a single analog synth, here is a listing of them with the parts in Diva that should be put together to achieve them:

  • Moog Minimoog Model D
    • Oscillator: Triple VCO
    • Filter: Ladder
    • Envelope: ADS
  • Roland Jupiter 6
    • Oscillator: Dual VCO in Analog 2 mode
    • Filter: Multimode
    • Envelope: Digital
  • Roland Jupiter 8
    • Oscillator: Dual VCO in Analog 1 mode
    • Filter: Cascade in Clean mode
    • Envelope: Analog
  • Roland Alpha Juno 2
    • Oscillator: DCO
    • Filter: Multimode (somewhat close to the type in the 2)
    • Envelope: Analog
  • Roland Juno 60
    • Oscillator: DCO
    • Filter: Cascade in Rough Mode
    • Envelope: Analog
  • Korg MS-20
    • Oscillator: Dual VCO Eco
    • Filter: Bite (both revisions)
    • Envelope: ADS is closest to the MS-20 in my opinion
  • Roland JP-8000
    • Oscillator: Digital
    • Filter: Cascade in clean mode is closest in my opinion
    • Envelope: Digital with the c button depressed is closest in my opinion.
  • Oberheim SEM
    • Oscillator: Dual VCO is closest in my opinion
    • Filter: Uhbie
    • Envelope: Analog is closest in my opinion to the ADR
Diva2

Memory

Diva produces a truly analog-sounding tone but can use tremendous amounts of processing power. To reduce the chance of running out of memory, always use the multi-processor switch on top just right of the display area. This helps as well as keeping it off of “Divine” mode. But, the real joy is hearing that “divine” sound so try to minimize the number of effects in use whilst using Diva so you can play it in “divine” mode instead of “great’ or “fast.”

My advice is to try it before buying it. If you cannot run it in divine mode, then it is not worth having.

Making Presets

Pads

The initializing patches of Init Jupe 8 or Jupe 6 are best to start with.

Change the digital envelope shape first. Bring up the attack and release. This is good for pads.

Usage

Diva was used by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallich in the making of the Blade Runner 2049 soundtrack.

“The CS-80 was part of a coterie of synths. They also used the u-he “wireless” modular plugin Zebra, as well as the company’s Diva softsynth, which was designed by Urs Heckmann based on Zimmer’s favorite Minimoog; Wallfisch was able to bring out a DSI Prophet-12 he hadn’t yet had the opportunity to use; a SoundToys Crystallizer granular synth altered compositions and then pieces were put through tape delays and covered in reverb before being processed again with the Crystallizer. “

FACT Magazine