After almost 20-years of classic synthesiser emulations, Arturia just announced their first entirely original soft-synth – a Wavetable soft synth called Pigments. 2018 might well go down as the year of wavetable synths; Ableton gave us their take in Live 10 Suite, NI added a wavetable module to Kontakt (not to mention Massive X coming in 2019), Waldorf released Quantum, Initial Audio gave us Sektor, Percussa brought out a wild Eurorack module called Super Signal Processor – it seems manufacturers are finally warming to wavetable synthesis again. And given Arturia’s exemplary track record with software synths, we were extremely excited to recently receive a pre-release copy.
The Synth is broken down into 3 parts: Synth, FX and Sequencer. You can navigate between each section in the menu bar located at the top. In the Synth section we can see two sound engines, each of which can be toggled between wavetable and analogue type. Analogue is a 3 oscillator affair with your standard analogue-style waveforms plus noise generation, the Wavetable type however, provides a huge number of waveforms sorted into 5 categories covering everything from simple to exotic and otherworldly. It actually includes wavetables derived from Arturia’s own hardware synths, which is a nice touch.
Two filters are available, each of which has 8 types including Oberhiem Matrix 12, Oberhiem SEM and a MiniMoog. These three filters were of course released earlier this year as standalone effects as part of their 3 Filters You’ll Actually Use software bundle. Each oscillator engine has a mix knob for routing to either or both filters.
Moving on we can see an incredible amount of modulation sources in the mod source section located under the sound engines. You can click on any of these sources and quickly set modulation amount by dragging above the destination parameter. As far as we can tell, there is no limit to the number of modulation destinations per source.
Mod sources are colour coded, and mod destinations display their modulation amount so you won’t forget what is assigned where. Each modulation source also has a small window which shows the modulation waveform.
Pigments features 3 LFOs and 3 envelopes, including some more unusual generators: Turing, Sample & Hold and Binary. There’s also a ‘Functions’ tab that lets you craft 3 of your own modulation shapes with what looks like an infinite number of breakpoints.
The FX section features 3 busses, each of which can house 3 individual effects, with 14 types to choose from, and yes any of the modulation sources can be used to modulate any FX parameters.
Finally, we have a very comprehensive sequencer section, with a strong focus on randomization and step probability.
Overall, Pigments is a lot of fun to use and it sounds great. Despite an initially daunting interface, it’s relatively intuitive and easy to use, plus there are plenty of presets to get you started. Highly recommended and an interesting turning point for Arturia’s software development. Will future V Collections feature instruments that aren’t emulations? I Guess we’ll find out.
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