Virtual CZ Expansions Review

We take a look at the affordable but high quality Virtual CZ expansions from Plugin Boutique…


Manufacturer Plugin Boutique
Price £9.95
Contact: via website


We’ve got three different expansion packs for one of our favourite soft synths, Plugin Boutique’s Virtual CZ, the recreation of the ‘classic to those in the know’ Casio CZ range. The soft synth couldn’t have scored more highly when we reviewed it.

It’s a great reworking of a synth range that is not an immediately obvious target for renewal – the CZ synth is not quite your standard analogue. We said: “If you are sick of a sea of analogue emulations, then VirtualCZ is for you. It’s accessible, flexible and a hugely inspirational
synth – a must-buy to increase your sonic palette.”

These expansion packs are Retro Electro, an 80s inspired pack of ‘keys, neon leads, phat basses’, curated by Scott Diaz; Dark Element, futuristic sounds for various dance genres, created by D Product; and Digital Nostalgia, old-school sounds for genres including minimal house and electronica, with a whole range of old and new styles in between.


With each collection, you get a selection of key, pad and bass sounds, plus several other types including the odd bell, strings and plucks. D Product provides the best atmosphere with more soundtrack-y elements among the futuristic presets (think Blade Runner and Alien), but there are lots of pulses, risers and tension builders, too, in a solid dancefloor collection.

Digital Nostalgia is just that, and perfect for a synth which is neither completely analogue nor digital – a phase distorted synth – and one that was doubtless originally used to make many of those classic 80s and 90s sounds.

They all hark back to simpler techno days (with a z) where the sound was always bigger or more acidic than the production. They are still welcome and useful for a whole bunch of other genres that, if they haven’t made a comeback yet, surely will tomorrow.

Finally, we get Retro Essentials. The name says it all – the third instalment of great sounds for an old synth that has been soundtracking dance music for decades and is showing it can still make a fantastic job today

Key Features
● Each contains a selection of basses, leads, keys, pads, plucks, stings, brass and bell sounds
● All fantastic retro sounds often given a new twist
● A great price for up to 64 presets a pack