Ar­turia Pig­ments

Ar­turia have re­leased their first (mostly) orig­i­nal synth plugin. Let’s find out what it’s got to of­fer

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Be­fore their ana­logue Brute range was ever re­leased into the wild, French brand Ar­turia made their name in the realm of soft­ware syn­the­sis. With their ever grow­ing – and still ex­cel­lent – V Col­lec­tion range, Ar­turia have turned in em­u­la­tions of many of the most fa­mous elec­tronic in­stru­ments of all time, in­clud­ing the Min­i­moog Model D, Ober­heim Ma­trix 12, ARP 2600 and tons more.

Go­ing into 2019, Ar­turia have some­thing new on their hands: Pig­ments, a fully-fea­tured soft­synth that (at least for the most part) isn’t an em­u­la­tion of some­thing that’s come be­fore. With a multi-part synth en­gine, se­quencer and lots of creative tools, there’s a lot go­ing on in this lat­est synth pow­er­house.

We’ve been get­ting hands-on, so let’s take a whis­tle-stop tour of our favourite el­e­ments...

Waveta­bles

Wavetable synths are ev­ery­where these days – from plug­ins like Serum to hard­ware in­stru­ments such as the Polyend-pow­ered Me­dusa, and even in the stock tools of DAWs such as Live and Logic. Guess what? Pig­ments is an­other ad­di­tion to the wavetable party.

In many ways, Pig­ments’ wavetable ca­pa­bil­i­ties are pretty sim­i­lar to its pow­er­synth plugin ri­vals, but there’s plenty of depth here, cou­pled with sleek im­ple­men­ta­tion. Nat­u­rally, users can mod­u­late wavetable po­si­tion and there’s an im­pres­sive set of tools on of­fer to do so (see below). Pig­ments has a neat Morph mode too, which af­fects how smooth or abrupt changes be­tween wavetable po­si­tions are.

There’s an ex­cel­lent stock of waveta­bles on­board as well, with clas­sic synth sam­ples, real-world in­stru­ments and es­o­teric sounds all cov­ered. Users can up­load their own waveta­bles too, to ex­pand the sound set. The wavetable en­gine is equipped for an as­sort­ment of mo­du­la­tion syn­the­sis tech­niques too, with both lin­ear and ex­po­nen­tial FM on of­fer, as well as phase mo­du­la­tion, phase dis­tor­tion and wave­fold­ing.

Ar­turia have paired Pig­ments’ wavetable en­gine with a three­oscil­la­tor vir­tual ana­logue. As you’d ex­pect, given their his­tory of em­u­la­tions, this sounds great, and pair­ing the two el­e­ments to­gether gives Pig­ments its unique char­ac­ter. There are two synth slots and the two en­gine types can be used in any

com­bi­na­tion – be it dual wavetable or dual ana­logue or a com­bi­na­tion of the two. In all, it’s a very pow­er­ful syn­the­sis source.

Em­u­la­tions

While Pig­ments is an orig­i­nal in­stru­ment, there are still a few el­e­ments of vin­tage em­u­la­tion on­board. As men­tioned above, the wavetable se­lec­tion in­cludes os­cil­la­tor sam­ples from sev­eral vin­tage in­stru­ments and the vir­tual ana­logue en­gine does a good job of im­per­son­at­ing clas­sic sub­trac­tive in­stru­ments (it’s not hard to get Model D-like sounds out of it).

The ana­logue-in­flu­ence car­ries over to the fil­ter sec­tion too though, where – along with mul­ti­mode, comb, notch and for­mant op­tions – we also get ac­cess to the three em­u­la­tions from Ar­turia’s ex­cel­lent ‘3 fil­ters you’ll ac­tu­ally use’ pack from last year. These mimic SEM, Ma­trix 12 and Moog Lad­der fil­ter de­signs. Com­bined with the right os­cil­la­tors, these make Pig­ments a sur­pris­ingly adept em­u­la­tion ma­chine. Given that there are two fil­ter slots on of­fer though, there’s lots of fun to be had by com­bin­ing fil­ter types for vin­tage­meets-mod­ern ef­fects.

Mo­du­la­tion

Ar­turia re­ally haven’t skimped on the mo­du­la­tion op­tions here. They prom­ise that users can ‘mod­u­late any­thing by any­thing’ and that’s a pretty ac­cu­rate state­ment. In terms of sources, we get the ex­pected LFOs and en­velopes, but there’s also ex­cel­lent con­trol­lable ran­domi­sa­tion tools, a cus­tomis­able Func­tion gen­er­a­tor and a Com­bi­na­tor tab, which al­lows for in­ter­est­ing and com­plex rout­ings to be put to­gether. The high­light on the mo­du­la­tion front, how­ever, is sim­ply how well the UI keeps track of rout­ings, with a clear, colour-coded dis­play along the cen­tre of the UI mak­ing it easy to see what’s go­ing on, even with par­tic­u­larly com­plex patches.

Ef­fects

There’s plenty of pro­cess­ing power here. Pig­ments has three ef­fects sec­tions each with three slots. Two of these sec­tions are in­serts which can be ar­ranged in se­ries, par­al­lel or in re­verse se­ries, and the third sec­tion is a send/re­turn.

The slots in all of these ef­fects sec­tions can be filled with any one of 13 ef­fect types, which range from com­pres­sion, EQ and an­other mul­ti­mode fil­ter to re­verb and de­lay, dis­tor­tion, bitcrush­ing and wave­fold­ing. All ef­fects can be mod­u­lated too, for a bit of ex­tra depth and move­ment.

Se­quencer

Be­yond its synth and ef­fect sec­tions, Pig­ments also packs a se­quencer and arpeg­gia­tor with a lot of power. Both of­fer all the tools you’d ex­pect plus ex­tra creative tricks. The se­quencer is poly­phonic, with a ve­loc­ity track and scale mode. There’s a flex­i­ble ran­domi­sa­tion sys­tem too though, al­low­ing users to gen­er­ate random pat­terns and set steps that work on a prob­a­bil­ity ba­sis. It has a polyrhyth­mic mode too, which is great for ex­plor­ing creative tim­ing ideas. It uses its func­tions in a way sim­i­lar to some of the best creative tools in Max For Live.

The arp, mean­while, has mul­ti­ple modes and tim­ing op­tions, with a broad swing range that al­lows for some heav­ily grooved synth lines. Both the arp and se­quencer can be mod­u­lated too, which open up some great creative pos­si­bil­i­ties once they’re cou­pled with the Func­tion sec­tion or LFOs.

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