Arturia has taken another interesting step when it comes to making music production gear. Well known for their software emulations of classic synthesizers, like the Minimoog, ARP 2600 and Yamaha CS-80, they some years ago started building hardware synthesizers like the Minibrute and Microbrute. Now they are at it again, but in a completely different direction, with their first software synthesizer that is not a clone, and dubbed Pigments. Further down in this article you will also get an in-depth review of the Buchla which was one of the main highlights in last years release of the V Collection. So make sure to explore both our coverage of Pigments and of the Buchla. To us it is easy to see how the knowledge Arturia has been assembling over the past 20 years in synth emulations now has made them take the step with Pigments.
Pigments has a twin audio engine that allows you to mix virtual analog and wavetable oscillators. It has three envelopes, three LFOs, three function generators, two filters and assignable modulators for shaping the sound.
It is not a small promise Arturia makes when stating that while Pigments can sound like other synths, no other synth can sound like Pigments. It is claimed to be a 21st century instrument that will become the go-to choice for all producers, sound designers, and synth-fans alike thanks to its extraordinary features and tempting price. It will truly interesting to see whether the music production community comes to the same conclusion when the reviews starts to pop up.
You can modulate anything with anything, Arturia says – which sounds about right. And for modulation, you have tons of choices in envelopes, modulation shapes, and even function generators and randomization sources. But all of this is also graphical and neatly organized. Best of all, there are “heads-up” graphical displays that show you what’s happening under the hood of even the most complex patch. Something we also like is the polyphonic sequencer/arpeggiator, which is full of trigger options and settings that mean it’s totally possible to fire up Pigments in standalone mode and make a whole piece, just as you would with a full synth workstation or modular rig.
We have found one first go through featured below:
Pigments offers exceptional sound thanks to its hugely powerful architecture and lightning-fast workflow that makes complex modulations easy, fast, and most importantly, fun. But what makes Pigments different? From the modeling Arturia has been doing and their V Collection, you get the full range of filters, classic and modern (surgeon and comb). There’s also a bunch of effects, like wavefolder, overdrive, parametric EQ, and delay.
• AScale quantized pitch modulations to build complex melodic sequences
• Continuous unison controls that can be modulated, with classic and chord modes
• Extensive waveshaping options for the wavetable oscillator, with great aliasing control
• The usual modulation sources and some more unconventional ones like the Turing and Binary random generators
• Powerful gate/retrig handling for modulators. Perfect to inspire unusual rhythmic sequences or self-generating patches
• Polyrhythmic sequencer with a strong emphasis on randomness, with scale control to remain musical
Other key features include:
Two engines in parallel: the best of both worlds
• Virtual Analog triple oscillator engine
• Complex Wavetable engine with morphing and import
Twin filters: dozens to choose from
• Classic filters from V Collection instruments
• Modern filters like surgeon and comb
• Continuous series/parallel routing
Powerful effects section: an all-in-one solution
• 13 stunning effects, including wavefolder, overdrive, parametric EQ, and delay
• Insert or Send routing options with drag and drop for easy switching
• All the essential parameters can be modulated
Advanced modulation system: modulate anything with anything
• Graphical editing, source-based or destination-based
• Envelopes, LFOs, Function generators, Random sources
• 4 assignable Macros to control multiple parameters at once
Visual interface: understand your sound
• Graphical representation of the most important modules
• Living, moving waveform to see your sound come alive
Polyrhythmic Sequencer and Arpeggiator: get creative
• Create complex, custom and evolving sequences or arps
Extensive factory preset library: learn from the masters
• Hundreds of presets from awesome artists and experienced sound designers, including Jeremy Savage, Starcadian, Cubic Spline, Mord Fustang, and Jörg Hüttner
• Highlighted “notes” to show which parameters are recommended to tweak
Pigments will retail for $199 USD / 199 EUR. Until January 10th 2019, anyone can enjoy Pigments for free.
Pigments will be available to experience for free for a full month after its release. Users wishing to buy Pigments during this promotional month will be able to purchase it for only $149 USD / 149 EUR.
Exclusive deals will be available for existing Arturia customers and V Collection owners.
More information: Arturia
ARTURIA V COLLECTION AND THE BUCHLA
French based Arturia has a long and proven track-record of producing software synthesizers. Our first encounter with Arturia’s venture into synth re-creations was with the release of the iconic Minimoog V, back in 2005. This little beauty is still in use by many and became a mile-stone in software clones going forward. Apart from re-creating the iconic sound and GUI, they also made some enhancements like adding a sequencer, which is either a treat or blasphemous depending on how you view clones to be 100% true to the original or not. For us this is not a real problem since it in many cases adds to an improved music production experience, and it is also something that Arturia has continued doing in their ever growing V Collection suite. Now up on its 6th iteration. It is worth noting that Arturia’s ventures into the world of synthesizers do not stop there, over the last couple of years Arturia has also released a couple of truly well-sounding hardware synths like the MiniBrute and most recently the powerful MatrixBrute.
V Collection 6 now contains 21 classic machines. Everything from organs, pianos and string machines, to modulars and FM synthesizers. In the latest iteration they included a number of really sought after vintage synthesizers; recreations of the Buchla Easel, the Yamaha DX7, the Fairlight CMI, and the Clavinet.
Having already included models of classics like the Minimoog, ARP2600, Yamaha CS80, Jupiter-8 and Prophet-5, it’s hard to argue that any classic synth collection comes close in the software realm. The software hub Analog Lab, which combines features from the whole collection, has also been updated with over 6,000 presets from a single instance.
BUCHLA EASEL V
The original Buchla Music Easel was first conceived in 1973, and when it came, it in large parts was a paradigm shift. Buchla’s approach to synthesizers was in many ways different from previous methodologies. For Arturia to bring this synth into their legacy collection ought to have posed some new challenges to which they to a large extent has done with utmost precision. It is a strikingly good UI and UX they have pulled off. At several points during the review we really missed having a touch screen on our computer, so that you could do more sliding movements on the virtual Buchla keys. What is especially nice when it comes to the UI is how easy it scales in size, making it easy to fit your current workspace or screen real-estate.
Firing up the Buchla Easel V it may not be as intuitive as with standard synths. If you do not head straight away to the presets you basically will start from scratch. So, instead of filtering a complex tone like in east coast style synthesis, here we start with a simple tone like a sine wave and with wave folding we create more harmonically rich tones. If you are new to the world of Buchla this will need some training, but the important thing from a review perspective is that it really mimics the workflow of the original Buchla in a nice way. We mentioned presets and there are 200+ of those, covering bass, pads, FX, sequenced, percussion, and more, enough to get you started and truly understand what you can do with this little beast. But as mentioned if you’re not a seasoned Buchla guy, it will take time to learn how to make some of the more complex ones. Below is a Buchla Easel demo focusing more on the pads and bass sounds of the synth. For the demo we have removed Arturia’s effect session. This mainly to get a clean sound and an easier comparison with the original machine.
The original Buchla was monophonic, although not necessarily limiting in itself we really enjoy experimenting with the software version as it adds up to four voice polyphony. Nice examples of this can be loaded from the presets section and then easily manipulated further either in the added Arturia sections or directly on the actual synth. In the Buchla Easel V you get a Complex Oscillator as the main sound source and a Modulation Oscillator, for amplitude modulation or frequency modulation or even just as an audio source. There is a 5 step variable sequencer, a repetitive trigger output called the Pulser & an Envelope Generator. The envelopes are laid out upside down. Lower values are on the top end of the slider and vice versa (Buchla style). The keyboard section has a nice arpeggiator, a pulse output and 4 preset keyboard voltage offset sources. There are a lot of modulation possibilities with the patch points.
The added sections to the original Buchla are well worth exploring. What you will find is a ‘Left Hand’ and a ‘Right Hand’ section. The Left hand section provides you with more modulation possibilities with a very flexible envelope. Whatever modulation is not possible with patching can be set up here. The ‘Right Hand’ provides a polyphonic step sequencer with looping and some random gating options.
Taking Buchla’s experimental vision one step further, Arturia has incorporated Gravity, a physics-based synth engine into their software recreation. One thing to bear in mind though is that the Buchla is a little CPU hungry. Running one, two or even three instances at the same time in your DAW is not a problem, more than that it may start to slow down your computer somewhat. The other recommendation we have when you start to play around with this instrument is to turn off the effects section. It will provide you with a cleaner sound and at least to us more true to the original. You may turn it back on when you’re finished composing and are moving into the mixing and mastering parts, however if you are running Buchlan as a VST you may want to use your own plug-ins for that final touch. In the demo below we run pure sounds from the Buchla Easel V, straight into the mastering section of the DAW:
Verdict: For us the Buchla has been a long awaited and much welcome addition to the V Collection. It is a great synth with endless opportunities depending on how much time for deep dives you have. To us the Buchla itself makes the V Collection step up a no brainer. One could always ask for more presets to be included, especially due to the complexity of programming the Buchla from scratch, but all in all this really capable synth.
ANALOG LAB 3: incorporating the classic sounds of all V Collection instruments in one handy interface, this is the ultimate launchpad for your creativity. Featuring a new browser, new modes, and ultimate controller keyboard integration, finding the perfect sound from over 6,000 presets has never been more easy or fun.
PIANO V 2: the industry’s foremost physically modelled piano software suite just had an exciting overhaul. The 2nd version of Piano V features three extra piano models including a Japanese Grand, a Plucked Grand, and a Tack Upright, enhanced mic positioning, an improved EQ, a new luscious stereo delay, and an in-built compressor help your piano parts sit in your mix.
Completing the line-up, and featuring more subtle tweaks, improvements, and enhancements, are the old favorites; the stars of the show that made V Collection the first choice in vintage keyboard emulations. V Collection 6 also includes Synclavier V, B-3 V, Stage-73 V, Farfisa V, Mini V, Matrix-12 V, Solina V, SEM V, Wurli V, Jup-8 V, ARP 2600 V, CS-80 V, Prophet V, VOX Continental V, and Modular V. Analog synths galore, revolutionary digital synths, luscious organs, modular marvels, perfect pianos and keyboards, and even a string machine. V Collection 6 has it all.