Ar­turia V Col­lec­tion 6

The lat­est up­date to Ar­turia’s V Col­lec­tion has some in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tions. Bruce Aisher steps back in time to take a look

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

It’s over 16 years since Ar­turia un­leashed their first prod­uct on a bur­geon­ing com­mer­cial soft­ware syn­the­sis scene. Storm was a self-con­tained mu­sic cre­ation en­vi­ron­ment that laid the ground­work for their prod­ucts to come. How­ever, a lot has changed in that time, and Ar­turia now find them­selves pro­duc­ing soft­ware- em­u­la­tions of clas­sic key­boards as well as their own, ever-ex­pand­ing, range of hard­ware.

Whilst the V Col­lec­tion was once a con­ve­nient and cheaper way to get hold of Ar­turia’s var­i­ous elec­tronic and elec­tri­cal key­board em­u­la­tions, it’s now the pri­mary ve­hi­cle for them to un­leash new mod­els. One omis­sion last time around was the drop­ping of Spark (a soft­ware drum mod­ule with op­tional hard­ware con­troller), and V Col­lec­tion 6 main­tains this fo­cus on key­board-based kit.

The to­tal in­stru­ment count now comes to 21 – not in­clud­ing Pi­ano V’s 12 dif­fer­ent mod­els ac­ces­si­ble from within. The four new ad­di­tions are an in­ter­est­ing mix of in­stru­ments that take in the full gamut of ana­logue, dig­i­tal and elec­tro-acous­tic meth­ods of sound gen­er­a­tion.

The Buchla Easel V is a soft­ware ver­sion of Don Buchla’s Mu­sic Easel, a suit­case ana­logue synth from 1973 (though back in pro­duc­tion since 2012, at nearly £5k cer­tainly not a ca­sual pur­chase). Al­though the in­cluded pre­sets are fun and en­gag­ing, the power of this synth lies in its abil­ity to con­jure-up all man­ner of un­ex­pected sonic weird­ness. This does how­ever re­quire some pa­tience, as Buchla synths don’t fol­low the more com­mer­cially-ori­en­tated ar­chi­tec­ture es­tab­lished by Moog and oth­ers. Once you do hit a sweet spot though, the re­sults are quite un­like other synths in this col­lec­tion. The Buchla Easel V is great for cre­at­ing beau­ti­ful evolv­ing am­bi­ent back­drops, men­ac­ing tex­tures and wild re­peat­ing melodic pat­terns. The em­u­la­tion of the built-in spring re­verb is very good and adds a dis­tinc­tive vin­tage vibe to any­thing you run through it.

One of the ad­van­tages of soft­ware is that it is rel­a­tively easy to add fea­tures to an ex­ist­ing prod­uct, and Ar­turia have taken this op­por­tu­nity to in­clude two new mod­u­la­tion sources. ‘Left Hand’ utilises five mod­u­la­tion sources that can each be routed to any of the Easel’s 76 mod­u­la­tion tar­gets, whilst ‘Grav­ity’ uses the in­ter­ac­tion of ob­jects placed in a 2D space to cre­ate ir­reg­u­lar mod­u­la­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties. If this isn’t all enough to get your head around, there’s a built-in se­quencer and ef­fect sec­tion. Deep and pow­er­ful.

Also in­cluded is DX7 V, an em­u­la­tion of Yamaha’s leg­endary and ground­break­ing, synth from 1983. Al­though there are many soft synths that em­ploy FM (Fre­quency Mod­u­la­tion) as their core sound gen­er­a­tion method, this is the first to ap­pear with the DX name. As an owner of an orig­i­nal DX7 (Mk1), I was keen to see if Ar­turia had cap­tured the sound of the synth en­gine and out­put stage. The sim­ple an­swer is yes. I com­pared the orig­i­nal ROM patches against those run­ning on my com­puter and they sounded al­most

in­dis­tin­guish­able. All the noise and ex­pected arte­facts were there (though there is an op­tion to switch to a higher DAC res­o­lu­tion if this all sounds like low-grade ob­ses­sive non­sense). Be­yond em­u­lat­ing the DX7, there are a host of up­grades that help en­hance the sonic pos­si­bil­i­ties of the orig­i­nal and make pro­gram­ming eas­ier. The an­i­mated en­velopes, in par­tic­u­lar, are a real aid to sound cre­ation. If only they’d been avail­able in 1983!

Next in the new­bie list is CMI V, which is loosely based on Fairlight’s mas­sively ex­pen­sive ‘Com­puter Mu­si­cal In­stru­ment’ sys­tems. Com­bin­ing soft­ware pro­cess­ing, cus­tom dig­i­tal play­back hard­ware and ana­logue fil­ters, th­ese cut­ting-edge units found com­mer­cial fame when used for sam­pling – though they have many lim­i­ta­tions com­pared to to­day’s tech­nol­ogy. How­ever, they were also ca­pa­ble of ad­di­tive syn­the­sis and resyn­the­sis as well as com­po­si­tion/se­quenc­ing.

The fi­nal ad­di­tion to the pack­age is the Clavinet V, which aims to con­vey some of the magic of this string-based key­board known for its ex­treme funk­i­ness (par­tic­u­larly when com­bined with the right amount of sat­u­ra­tion and wah pedal wig­gling).

There are 20 dis­tinct in­stru­ments within this col­lec­tion, with the 21st slot be­ing taken by Ana­log Lab 3. This is the lat­est ver­sion of Ar­turia’s catch-all in­stru­ment player, that takes thou­sands of presents from the full range of in­stru­ments and makes them avail­able in one place. The browser makes it very easy to search for sounds, and ba­sic edit­ing is pro­vided should a lit­tle fi­ness­ing be re­quired. For those who just want a large li­brary of sounds, this prod­uct could be an al­ter­na­tive to buy­ing the full V Col­lec­tion. It also of­fers di­rect ac­cess to the Ar­turia Sound Store for pur­chas­ing ad­di­tional pre­set banks. How­ever, I would urge any­one to try and stump-up the ad­di­tional cash for the full pack­age, as Ana­log Lab al­lows you ac­cess full edit­ing con­trols for those prod­ucts you own.

In re­cent years Ar­turia have made sig­nif­i­cant strides in uni­fy­ing and im­prov­ing the vis­ual as­pect of their plug­ins. The re­siz­able GUIs do make a dif­fer­ence to us­abil­ity – even if us­ing smaller zoom lev­els is prob­lem­atic at times. The in­stru­ments them­selves also feel more sta­ble than in the past. Over­all, this is a solid up­date to a great pack­age.

CON­TACT KEY FEA­TURES

WHO: Ar­turia (Source Dis­tri­bu­tion) WEB: www.sourcedis­tri­bu­tion.co.uk www.ar­turia.com IN­STRU­MENTS: Ana­log Lab (up­dated), Clavinet V (new), CMI V (new), DX7 V (new), Buchla Easel V (new), Syn­clavier V, B-3 V, Mini V, Pi­ano V, Stage-73 V, Ma­trix-12 V, Farfisa V, Solina V, SEM V, Wurli V, Jup-8 V, ARP 2600 V, CS-80 V, Prophet V, VOX Con­ti­nen­tal V and Mod­u­lar V). In­cludes 6000 sound pre­sets.

Ana­log Lab 3 Quick ac­cess to thou­sands of pre­sets across Ar­turia’s range of synths. Whilst avail­able as a sep­a­rate prod­uct, it adds full edit­ing func­tion­al­ity when part of the full V Col­lec­tion.

DX7 V De­spite Yamaha’s re­cent Re­face DX and Korg’s diminu­tive Volca FM, it’s taken un­til now for some­one to come up with spe­cific recre­ation of this ground­break­ing dig­i­tal synth.

Buchla Easel V This isn’t the synth that you’ll head to for bom­bas­tic EDM mon­strous­ness, but it’s an ex­per­i­men­tal tweaker’s dream – and enhanced with Ar­turia’s ad­di­tional mod­u­la­tion.

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