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Ace Arturia!

Soft synth supremos Arturia have answered our prayers with a stupendous package of some of the most iconic synths ever in handy software form - production heaven. DJmag dives in to reveal some of the treats in store...

Part of becoming older, and part of the old-skool, is becoming jaded and harder to excite. Once upon a time I couldn’t walk past a Moog without an attempt at molestation or at least a little fiddle, but time has passed, Bob Moog has lifted the restraining order and synths have come and gone. 

Then all of a sudden Arturia had a birthday and released their 10 Year Anniversary Suite, containing software versions of six of the fattest and downright sexiest old-skool synths ever made, plus three other high quality soft-synths – that old feeling of excitement just came back… 

Arturia are masters of turning resistors and chips from the ’70s and ’80s into ones and zeros, which are then transformed into a CD using the darkest of magic, thus imbuing a humble computer with the powers of the mystical Prophet 5 or Minimoog. They have gotten so good at this that it’s all but impossible to tell the difference between the real thing and the software’s sound quality. The software’s also kinder to your bank balance. 

Arturia’s name came up in conversation recently with Parisian DJ/producer Joachim Garraud. He revealed how he and Jean Michel Jarre actually compared many of Arturia’s soft-synths with the real thing in a studio test and apparently neither Joachim nor Jean Michel could tell the difference — high praise indeed! 

This issue, we take a closer look at the software synths in Arturia’s 10 Year Anniversary Suite to find out what makes this package so special… 

Prophet V & Prophet VS
The first and last synthesisers made by the legendary Sequential Circuits have been emulated, improved and gene-spliced into a super-dooper analogue synth. Arturia have kept with their ethos of “A truly accurate and faithful sound”, but have added extra features to both synths as well as a hybrid mode that adds another dimension to the package.

Switching between the synths is as easy as clicking a button on-screen, which causes a Transformers-style reconfiguration. The animation looks good, but it does slow things down. The hybrid mode turns the synthesiser into a combination of the Prophet V and the Prophet VS rather than just layering the sounds. 

Moog Modular V
Bob Moog’s Modular V is hailed as the father of Modular-Synthesis; this was the first breakthrough in synthesiser design and would eventually lead to the digital synthesisers we see today. The Moog Modular V is one of the warmest, fattest and downright hugest soft-synths ever released. If fat basses with a huge bottom-end or warm pads are required, this baby is sure to please. 

Created with the help of Bob Moog himself, the sound of the software is immense and the interface is a tweaker’s delight, while the presets are more than enough to satisfy anyone looking to throw down some ideas quickly. 

ARP 2600V
Another all-time classic and one of the first synthesisers around, the ARP 2600 was released in the ’70s and has been appearing on records ever since. ARP 2600 lovers include: Orbital, Underworld, 808 State, Hardfloor, Jean Michel Jarre, BT, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Chemical Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Freddy Fresh and Nine Inch Nails. It was even used at Skywalker Sound to create the vocalizations for Star Wars’ iconic robot, R2D2! 

Arturia’s recreation is stunning both visually and in the way it sounds — vintage and huge. All of the controls can be accessed via a single scrollable window and will keep synth-heads glued to their computers for hours. 

CS80V
The CS80V is the software interpretation of what was considered the ultimate Polyphonic Synthesiser in the ’70s, and possibly of all time — the Yamaha CS80. Those who bought a Yamaha CS80 when they were new had too much money (that wasn’t frittered on coke) and also had back problems — unless they had two or more minions to carry that killer whale of the synthesiser world onstage.

The design of the interface has been taken directly from the original even down to the fans that kept the original electronics from cooking themselves. All of the original features and settings are lovingly re-created, as well as some new ones such as Midi Sync, additional LFOs, an arpeggiator and stereo delays.

Arturia’s CS80v is a brilliant synthesiser. There is an argument that it doesn’t sound exactly like the original under all circumstances, but it’s really a very minor gripe. 

Jupiter-8V
The Jupiter 8 is a child of the ’80s and is the biggest and fattest of all Roland’s J Series synths (Junos & Jupiters). It’s about as close to trance heaven as anyone is going to find on this mortal coil. The Jupiter 8 is all over records like Duran Duran’s ‘Hungry Like The Wolf’, MJ’s ‘Thriller’, ‘Shout’ by Tears For Fears and is likely to be seen lurking in the studios of Moby, Jean Michel Jarre and Howard Jones. 

The Jupiter-8V has the amazing sound quality we’ve come to expect from Arturia. It retains the character of the original Roland and the enhancements such as the Galaxy modulation are great. The on-screen layout is easy on the eyes and a breeze to navigate, but just like the original, this synth demands time and patience to get the best out of it. Don’t expect the knock your socks off presets found on some of the other synths in the 10 Year Suite. Take the time to get to know this machine and the benefits will come. 

Minimoog V
Bob Moog’s original Minimoog is possibly the most popular synth of all time! Let’s face it, if it’s good enough for the likes of Herbie Hancock, The Chemical Brothers, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan, then it’s probably good enough for us! 

The Minimoog is responsible for some of the warmest and best analog synth bass, lead and whistle sounds ever and the software reincarnation, the Minimoog V is no disappointment. 

As we have come to expect from our friends in France, Arturia have delivered the original Minimoog’s character and added some fantastic new features. The soft-clipping function is a fantastic new addition as are the Voice Detune control, Voice Unison and the Polyphony control. 

Analog Factory
The least tweakable of all the synthesisers in the package, Analog Factory is for producers who want a range of classic analog synth noises from a range of synths at their fingertips. It’s quick and very easy to navigate and it sounds great so it’s perfect for laptop use in a live situation. 

Brass Live & Brass Riff
This synthesiser is a recreation of several brass instruments packaged into a two-part machine. Brass Live mode gives access to the basic instruments and as the name suggests lends itself well to live performance. Brass Riff mode gives access to hundreds of brass riffs, phrases and solos, all organised by styles. 

Brass represents a large leap toward the digital recreation of brass instruments, but I’m not sure it’s going to replace the gigantic sample libraries just yet. 

Arturia’s 10 Year Anniversary Suite is one hell of a package. The sounds are amazing, the software is stable and the user interfaces are lovely. Having access to some of the most amazing synthesisers ever made all in one box is a wonderful thing indeed and with the additional features added by Arturia the result is inspiring. 

The synthesisers in the package can be run as a stand-alone program or as a VST, Audio Unit or RTAS, making for great flexibility. Some of the synthesisers are very CPU heavy, but that is the price that must be paid for such lovely-sounding software. This negative can be worked around by freezing instruments when producing and using the stand-alone programs in a live situation. 

Verdict

Price   £413
Contact   arturia.com
Ease of Use   5.0
Features   5.0
Value for Money   5.0
Sound Quality   5.0
Hype   Amazing sounding collection of synths. Can be used as VST, RTAS or standalone. Great on-screen user interfaces. All the great stuff of the originals without the bad points and some excellent new features. Great value for money.
Gripe   Many of the synths can be CPU hogs.
Conclusion   The only reason for not owning the 10 Year Anniversary Suite is already having all of the synths on offer.
Overall Score   5/5