The Best Wurlitzer Plugins in 2021

Wurlitzer piano Simulations

2/5/2021

I'm a big fan of Wurlitzer plugins, specifically plugins modeled after the Wurlitzer 200 and 200A! When you think of classic Wurlitzer sounds heard on recordings by artists such as Supertramp, Steely Dan, and Three Dog Night, you are most likely hearing this classic electronic piano. The Wurlitzer company used to produce jukeboxes, pianos, organs, and all kinds of other musical instruments and equipment, but in the 1980s they were acquired by Baldwin, and like so many purchased brands, the Wurlitzer name has since faded into obscurity, and is now probably most associated with a certain type of electronic piano. The Wurlitzer Electronic Piano is a piano instrument that uses metal reeds struck by hammers to produce vibration, converted to an electrical signal via the piano's pickup, which is then amplified by the preamp/amplifier, similar to how an electric guitar works (the difference being that the pickup in a Wurlitzer carries a voltage, and the piano has active electronics). The characteristic "bark" of a Wurlitzer can be partially attributed to the shape and behavior of a vibrating reed (vs the shape of, say, a tine in a Rhodes Piano or a vibrating string), further amplified in many songs by sending the aux output of a Wurlitzer to an external amplifier, such as a Fender Twin or Jazz Chorus, in order to impart non-linear harmonic distortion, add spring reverb, or pass the signal through an amp's EQ circuit(s). I will rate each plugin on four main categories: FEATURES, EFFECTS, VALUE, and PRESETS/SOUND DESIGN.

Adam Monroe's Wurlitzer

Let's start with my Wurlitzer plugin. Am I biased? Sure! Is my Wurlitzer still a decent plugin? I believe so, and here's why! I sampled my Wurlitzer from a 1970's Wurlitzer 200A, so all of the notes and releases are genuine Wurlitzer sounds. I then engineered analog warmth back into it using SPICE vacuum tube simulations. Again, external amplification can be a huge part of the Wurlitzer tone. I've also added stereo panning, tremolo, phaser, chorus, delay, convolution reverbs, and cabinet impulse responses, as well as the Leslie simulation from my B3 Organ plugin.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 64 Notes
2.) VST:
3.) AAX:
4.) AU:

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 95
2.) 16 Amps, 43 Reverbs, 30 Cabinets, Phaser, Delay, Tremolo, Chorus, Panner, AutoWah, Leslie Simulation

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $25
2.) Number of Samples: 5,392
3.) Memory Use: 390 MB

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ? (Speaker Curves)



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as balanced/slightly agressive. It is most similar in tone to the Keyscape Wurlitzer and Acousticsamples VReeds. There are a ton of presets (95), many based on classic Wurlitzer sounds. The Amplifier, Cabinet, Tremolo, Reverb, and Delay controls are excellent with many parameters. The plugin also contains a massive amount of reverbs and cabinets. A good all-around plugin, and the price makes it one of the best value plugins. What I believe sets this plugin arpart from the other plugins is the vacuum tube simulations. This lets the plugin cut through a mix a little easier, and the distortion sounds a bit more natural than some of the other plugins that use simpler atan-based distortion algorithms. However, I will also say that this makes the plugin quite a bit louder and more punchy than some of the other plugins. I think this suits how a Wurlitzer is typically used, and I've made a lot of adjustments to come up with some mellower presets, but it's not going to be quite as mellow as something like Neo Soul Keys or the Acousticsamples Wurlie
AAS Lounge Lizard

When I think of Lounge Lizard, I tend to think modeled Rhodes, but this plugin also includes a decent sounding Wurlitzer. It's not sampled, but physically modeled, meaning that the plugin relies on equations to produce its sound. It doesn't attempt to model a specifc Wurlitzer Model, but the general sound of a reed-based electronic piano.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A span class="paragraphtextbiggreen">✓ (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Modeled


Features
1.) Range: 88 Notes
2.) VST:
3.) AAX:
4.) AU:

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 69
2.) Character Knob, Hammer, Fork, Pickup Controls, 4 Reverbs

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $199
2.) Number of Samples: N/A
3.) Memory Use: 135 MB

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as balanced, slightly cold. It is most similar in tone to Velvet 2 and Scarbee A200. There are advantages and disadvantages to using a modeled plugin over a sampled plugin The main advantage is that the sound is being generated on the fly, based on things like note velocity, so a well-modeled plugin can be extremely expressive to play. The main disadvantage is that it is a mathematical appoximation, as opposed to a recording (sampling) of an actual physical instrument. To be fair, we could consider digital recordings or samples to be mathematical approximations, and the field of DSP is little more than the application of mathematical equations to these mathematical number sets. I associate the sound of a Wurlitzer as being slightly warm (at least the DI signal), and the presets in this plugin can sound slightly cold at times, but can be easily tweaked via the built-in eq.
Acousticsamples Wurlie

Acousticsamples Wurlie is very similar to the company's other plugins in the sense that it has a very nice warm/vintage tone. I would say it's closet in tone to the Neo Soul Keys Studio 2 Wurlitzer. Acousticsamples are one of my favorite plugin companies because their stuff tends to sound a little more natural and they usually feature great built-in effects and sound design. Their Wurlie plugin is based off of a 206A Wurlitzer.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 64 Notes
2.) VST: (UVI)
3.) AAX: (UVI)
4.) AU: (UVI)

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: N/A
2.) Spring Reverb, Cabinet/Amp simulations, Chorus, Distortion, Vibrato/Tremolo, Flanger

Value
1.) 2021 Price: €89
2.) Number of Samples: 3123
3.) Memory Use: 272 MB

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as warm/mellow/vintage. It is most similar in tone to Neo Soul Keys Studio 2. The main draw to this plugin is the warm tone and the cabinet simulations. Cabinet impulse responses aren't unique to this plugin (Adam Monroe's Wurlitzer and Acousticsamples VReeds has them too), but they can go a long way towards instantly shaping the tone of a plugin, if well implemented, as they are here. However, I would like to see a dry/wet mix knob for the cabinets.
Acousticsamples VReeds

Acousticsamples VReeds takes the typical warm/vintage sound of Acousticsample's plugins and kicks it up a notch! This plugin offers both 200 and 200A models - the 200 model having a bit more bite, and it is a sample/synthesis hybrid, which allows a slightly lower memory footprint for the plugin than typically found in sampled instruments.

Models
1.) 200 (Video Clip)
2.) 200A
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 64 Notes
2.) VST: (UVI)
3.) AAX: (UVI)
4.) AU: (UVI)

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 90
2.) Spring/Plate/Room Reverb, Cabinet simulations, Chorus, Distortion (Tube Saturation), Delay, Phaser, Flanger, Wah, Vibrato/Tremolo

Value
1.) 2021 Price: €100
2.) Number of Samples: ?
3.) Memory Use: 294 MB

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as balanced/slightly bright. It is most similar in tone to Adam Monroe's Wurlitzer and the Keyscape Wurlitzer. Surprisingly for Acousticsamples, this plugin has a slightly brighter tone than is typically found in their libraries. The difference is subtle, but can be heard in their "real vs simulated" video on the Acousticsamples website. Anyway, it sounds great! The only criticism I have is that this plugin can sometimes get a bit splatty sounding, especially in the lower range (this can be heard in this video clip). To an extent, SPLAT IS THEWURLITZER SOUND, and it's great for Queen or Supertramp songs, but a lighter touch may be necessary on softer songs. The 200A model is a bit gentler sounding, and it's great to have the option to switch between the two models. Overall, this is a great sounding option, and feels like one of those plugins that will slowly creep up on you over time to become your favorite.
Spectrasonics Keyscape

The Wurlitzer plugins that come with Spectrasonic Keyscape are part of a larger library that includes wurlitzers, clavinets, and acoustic pianos. Therefore, one must consider this library in the context of purchasing the larger library because it is expensive. If you are looking for a standalone library there are probably better options. That being said, the Wurlitzer libraries themselves are quite good, and you get two models; the 140B and the 200A.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B (Video Clip)
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 88 Notes
2.) VST:
3.) AAX:
4.) AU:

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 21
2.) 3 Cabinet Sims, Amplifier, 3 Reverb, 3 Chorus, 2 Phaser, De-Noise, Color-Shift Knob, Tape Saturation

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $399
2.) Number of Samples: ?
3.) Memory Use: 1-2 GB depending on model

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
The tone of this plugin varies by model. The tone of the Wurlitzer 200A is balanced/slightly agressive, and is most similar to Adam Monroe's Wurlitzer and Acousticsamples VReeds. The tone of the 140B is similar, but slightly more mellow. like the Waves Electric 200, this plugin includes a bit of mechanical noise, which I don't personally feel adds much to the Wurlitzer sound, but it can be turned off. The plugin has an overall pleasant tone and would be a fine choice for music production, but I do have two main criticisms: The first is obvious; as part of a larger expensive collection, at $400, this is only really a viable choice if you think you will use the included Rhodes, Clavs, Pianets, harpsichords, and electric pianos. Don't misunderstand me, it's a fine collection of keyboard sounds, but if you already own many of these sounds separately, the value is somewhat diminished. Even then, considering that Neo Soul Keys Studio 2 is a solid, if not quite as extensive collection, of piano sounds for $150 less, one should do their research and make sure they are committed to this collection. My other big criticism is that the velocity transition towards the top of the dynamic range is a little steep. It feels like you can go from f to fff well entirely skipping ff, if you know what I mean. There are a lot of velocity curves (sorted by keyboard model) included with the plugin, but even then, I believe the problem still persists. Oh, and at over 2GB, the memory use can sometimes be enormous. This isn't an issue for me as I've recently ugraded to 64GB of Ram, but on a system with only 8 or 16GB, and with all of your other plugins loaded in a project, it might become an issue for you. Still, there is something to be said for the idea of just buying a collection like this and concentrating on making music, without having to spend too much time building up a plugin collection, as the sounds are quite usable, if not above average. This plugin also has an 88-key note range, which is odd for a 64-key sampled Wurlitzer (I'm guessing they pitch-shifted samples up and down from the normal Wurlitzer range.
Air Music Technology Velvet 2

This is an interesting plugin as it attempts to emulate Rhodes, Wurlis, and even a Hohner Pianet T, but is much less expensive than Neo Soul Keys, Keyscape, and Lounge Lizard. It does a relatively good job of emulating a Wurlitzer and has an insane amount of tweakable parameters.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Modeled


Features
1.) Range: 88 Notes
2.) VST: (UVI)
3.) AAX: (UVI)
4.) AU: (UVI)

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 70
2.) 3 Cabinet/Amplifiers, Distortion, 3 Reverb, Delay, 2 Phaser, Chorus, Flanger, Age Knob, Velocity Control

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $99
2.) Number of Samples: N/A
3.) Memory Use: 255 MB

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as neutral/balanced and I would say that it's closest in tone to Lounge Lizard. I believe this plugin appeals to a certain demographic, that being those who like tweaking parameters in order to create their own unique sounds - sound designers, synthesizer-users, and electronic musicians. Personally, I don't like many of the presets, but with some careful tweaking, this plugin can sound quite good, and even fairly close to a recorded Wurlitzer, but you will have to put in a bit of work to get the best results. If you are looking for a plugin you can use as the basis for creating your own unique electronic piano sounds, this could be the one for you. This plugin can also be found on sites like ADSR at a steep discount, usually 75% off or more. At the $25 pricepoint, the plugin's value proposition swells quite a bit.
Waves Electric 200

The Waves Electric 200 is a fairly solid Wurlitzer plugin at a decent price. It has your standard array of phaser, chorus, tremolo, panner and Reverb, and a decent amount of presets. Best of all, it is one of the more affordable plugins of the bunch.

Models
1.) 200 (Video Clip)
2.) 200A
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 64 Notes
2.) VST: (UVI)
3.) AAX: (UVI)
4.) AU: (UVI)

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 89
2.) Phaser, AutoPan, Tremolo, Chorus, Reverb, Formant, Tone-Shaping, Amplifier, EQ, Velocity Curve

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $30
2.) Number of Samples: ?
3.) Memory Use: 546 MB (HD Mode)

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as balanced and I would say that it's closest in tone to Scarbee A200 and the Arturia Wurlitzer V. This is a decent sounding Wurlitzer, and I appreciate Waves Audio's clean GUI, but I'm slightly less sold on their Wurlitzer than I am their Rhodes, which is fantastic. The main issue for me here is that this plugin can sometimes sound a bit plonky. It's hard to describe, but especially in the upper ranges, the piano has a sound that's 95% Wurlitzer, and maybe 5% Toy piano - it's just not as smooth sounding as some of the other plugins. It's as though some of the resonance of the Wurlitzer's shell body came through in recording process. Still, it's an extremely subtle thing, and at $30, it's definitely a worthy option. Like the Keyscape Wurli, there is also a bit of recorded mechanical noise that, again, doesn't really add much to a Wurlitzer's sound for me, but of course it can be bypassed. My other major problem with this plugin is that Waves seems to be phasing out Windows 7 (and possibly Windows 8?) support. You can still manually install the older versions of this plugin to run on Windows 7, but they don't make it easy. Yes, I know that Windows 7 has essentially been depreciated by Microsoft, but it's hard to imagine what specific Windows 10 system libraries or API functions a simple audio plugin would need to access. 99% of a plugin's code is pure C-Style math. Perhaps their GUI relies heavily on Direct X 12? But I digress.
Neo Soul Keys Studio 2

Like Keyscape, the Neo Soul Keys Wurlitzer libraries aren't a standalone Wurlitzer plugin, but part of a larger library that includes Rhodes, Clavichords, and a Yamaha CP-70 That being said, Neo Soul Keys is a bit more focused on Electronic Pianos, and thus a fairly wide-range of Wurlitzer tones are represented.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 88 Notes
2.) VST:
3.) AAX:
4.) AU:

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 16
2.) Delay, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger, 3 Reverbs, EQ, Combo Amp

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $199
2.) Number of Samples: ?
3.) Memory Use: 150 MB

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as natural and I would say that it's closest in tone to Scarbee A200. This plugin is probably closest to the natural DI sound of a Wurlitzer (or at least what my Wurlitzer 200A sounds like when jacked-in). I find the normal tone of a Wurlitzer piano to actually be quite warm compared to how you typically hear it engineered to sound on classic recordings. Fortunately, this plugin has a lot of built-in effects that can be used to dirty-up and EQ the sound. I think this plugin will appeal to people who enjoy working with a more raw or natural sound, and having to do a bit more mixing and tweaking, to get something to sound exactly how they want it - people like mixing engineers. The criticism here is that, much like Keyscape, the Wurlitzer is part of a larger collection of electronic piano sounds, so make sure to research the rest of this collection before pulling the trigger!
Native Instruments Scarbee A-200

The Scarbee A-200 from Native Instruments is another older but classic Wurlitzer library. I believe this library was first released as part of Scarbee Vintage Keyboards by Thomas Hansen Skarbye way back in 2005. Despite its age, it doesn't sound dated and actually holds up quite well to other Wurlitzer libraries.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A
3.) 140B (Video Clip)
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 64 Notes
2.) VST: (Kontakt)
3.) AAX: (Kontakt)
4.) AU: (Kontakt)

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 10
2.) Panner, AuthoWah, Tremolo, Chorus, Compression, Distortion, Phaser, Amp, Reverb, Delay

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $69
2.) Number of Samples: 2,000+
3.) Memory Use: 110 MB (with Kontakt)

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as being balanced and I would say that it's closest in tone to Neo Soul Keys and Velvet. I think it's fairly well known that Thomas Skarbye made some pretty decent sampled plugins in the 2000s. Due to the way they were sampled, these plugins still hold up, and probably always will. This is a very balanced and natural sounding Wurlitzer library, and the dynamic range is excellent. The main drawback to using this library over other newer libraries comes down to the aging Kontakt effects. The distortion algorithm especially is a bit dated sounding at this point. I'm not sure if this is a criticism of this plugin in particular or more of a general gripe against Native Instruments never bothering to update the built-in effects in Kontakt, but I think it's worth noting. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Kontakt in general, but if you are a big Kontakt user, you probably either already own this library or know all about it. I have my typical Kontakt complaints - things like needing to reload the plugin to switch presets - but you can't ding an individual plugin for the general shortcomings of Kontakt too much. It's just that when you are a plugin developer, you quickly learn about the limitations of Kontakt's scripting language vs being able to design a plugin in C++ and accomplish virtually anything. But I digress.
Arturia Wurlitzer V

Arturia is a company best known for their analog synth simulations but occasionally they will model vintage instruments. With their Wurlitzer V plugin, they have attempted to model the classic sound of a Wurlitzer 200A.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Modeled


Features
1.) Range: 88 Notes
2.) VST:
3.) AAX:
4.) AU:

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 192
2.) Phaser, Flanger, Chorus, Delay, Compressor, Overdrive, Amp Simulation

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $149
2.) Number of Samples: N/A
3.) Memory Use: 178 MB (with Kontakt)

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as being neutral and I would say that it's closest in tone to Velvet 2, Lounge Lizard, and the Waves Electric 200. Historically, I have been a bit harsh on Arturia's line of modeled electronic pianos, but let's pause to recognize physically modeling instruments is actually fairly difficult. So, the question becomes - is it even worth doing?. I see a lot of potential for physically modeled instruments, especially for things like wind, string, and brass instrument, where a lot of the sound comes from the technique and skill of the player, but for something like an electronic piano, I sometimes wonder. The reason I haven't mentioned this until now is that Lounge Lizard and Velvet are close enough to simulating the sound of a Wurlitzer that it's not worth mentioning. With some tweaking and sound design, the Arturia Wurlitzer V can sound quite good - but does it sound like a Wurli? Personally, to me, the answer is not really. There is this weird thing going on with the bass velocities where the bass overpowers the higher octaves, and just generally speaking, this plugin on a whole sounds more like an electric piano than it does specifically a Wurlitzer. Oh, it's very close to a Wurlitzer, but never really sells the illusion in quite the same way that the other sampled plugins, or even the modeled plugins, do. But does it matter? Well, maybe not. After all, when you are making music, you aren't always exactly going after authentic or authoritative sounds. Music has always been about experimentation, and tweaking already existing sounds, in order to create something new. And from that perspective, there are a lot of really cool sounding presets here.
Soniccouture Broken Wurli

Soniccouture's plugins usually focus on some form of abstract sound design and their Wurlitzer library is no exception. This time you get: a broken speaker! You also get a Nicely sampled Wurlitzer piano library in the Kontakt format.

Models
1.) 200
2.) 200A (Video Clip)
3.) 140B
4.) 206A
5.) Modeled/Sampled: Sampled


Features
1.) Range: 73 Notes
2.) VST: (Kontakt)
3.) AAX: (Kontakt)
4.) AU: (Kontakt)

Effects
1.) Tremolo? (Video Clip)
2.) Stereo Panner?
3.) Phaser ?
4.) Chorus?

Presets and Sound Design
1.) Number of Presets: 25
2.) 8 Cabinets, Phaser, Panner, AutoWah, Chorus, Delay, Compressor, Distortion, HPF/LPF Filters, EQ, Envelope

Value
1.) 2021 Price: $99
2.) Number of Samples: 8,192
3.) Memory Use: 887 MB (with Kontakt)

Effects II
1.) Reverb?
2.) Amplifier?
3.) Cabinet?
3.) EQ?



Thoughts
I would describe the tone of this plugin as being neutral and I would say that it's closest in tone to the Waves Electric 200. I would say this is one of the more unique sounding Wurlitzer plugins, and not just for the broken speaker; something about it just sounds a bit different, and not in a bad way. Two things I immediately do when loading this plugin is take down the noise level using the noise knob and drop the key-off volume. Once you do these two things, it becomes a very smooth sounding plugin. Not smooth AND warm like the Neo Soul Keys Wurli, but just smooth. There are some cool sound design presets as well. Once again, my main gripe here is going to be the fact that it uses Kontakt, and the memory use is a bit high, pushing up towards 1 GB. This isn't as bad as Keyscape, but keep in mind that you'll be forced to do the Kontakt thing of having to reload the plugin to switch presets, so on a slower computer, with an older hard drive, some patience will be required. This plugin is a bit on the expensive side, but then, couture never meant cheap!