Arturia V Collection 8 by Sound-Guy
Arturia V Collection 8 – Even More Keyboard Legends!
When Arturia introduced the OB-Xa earlier this year as a single standalone/plug-in recreation of the famous Oberheim OB-Xa, it was likely on many people’s minds, “when will we see this as part of the next V Collection”? It has been over a year and a half since V.Collection 7 was released (see my 2019 review below this V.Collection 8 review), so one might expect a holiday surprise from Arturia. And they have delivered, big time!
What is It?
V Collection 8, as before, is a bundle of synth and keyboard plug-ins, all of which are truly excellent sounding. Version 8 (VC8) adds the new Analog Lab V (changing the Arabic number 5 to a Roman numeral this time!), four new classic instruments (one more than VC7 added), and a major update to two previous instruments, the Roland Jupiter 8 and the Fender Rhodes Stage 73 electric piano. In addition to this, all the instruments in VC8 have had an upgrade to their user interface which adds four 4 new macro controls, a new preset browser, built-in step-by-step integrated tutorials (not online links!), and many additional of sounds. VC8 includes 27 instruments plus the Analog Lab V which, as you may recall, accesses a subset of the controls for all 27 instruments.
Analog Lab V
The new Analog Lab V has been re-visioned and has several main views and various sub-views available. There is a Studio view, a Library view and a Stage view with various options for each. If you buy only the Analog Lab V package, you'll have access to over 2000 presets curated for Analog Lab V which are taken from the V Collection 8. You'll be able to tweak some parameters of each preset in the Stage & Studio views, but will not have access to individual instruments and all their parameters. However, the tweaks you can make provide a wide range of sound variations.
However, if you have the full V Collection 8, your Analog Lab V will provide access to the 2000-plus curated presets described above, and all presets from the V Collection 8 itself, with the ability to access all the controls on individual instruments. I found 11,158 presets! I wasn’t able to listen to every one so far (!), but all I listened to were excellent as I would expect.
. . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . .Some of the new Analog Lab V screen views.
See the link at the end of this V Collection 8 review for more on the latest Analog Lab.
What’s It look like?
New instruments in VC8 are the Vocoder V, Emulator II V, Jun-6 V, and the new-this-year OB-Xa V. Along with the updated Jup-8 V and Stage-73 V, there are all the instruments from VC7, the Buchla Easel V, Mini V, Matrix-12 V, Solina V, SEM V, ARP2600 V, CS-80 V, Prophet V, Modular V, Synthi V, Piano V, Clavinet V, Farfisa V, Wurli V, VOX Continental V, Mellotron V, B-3 V, CMI V, DX7 V, Synclavier V and CZ V. If that’s not enough synths and pianos for you, I’m not sure what you want!
Even the older instruments from VC7 have had a “face-lift” in VC8, not just for cosmetic reasons, but for added and improved features. Of course, the new instruments also have these new features.
The previous versions had a MIDI view switch in the upper right corner that highlighted controls that could be operated and linked to MIDI CC messages, as seen above with the last Jupiter-8 model (JUP-8V3).
The new JUP-8V4 (and all the VC 8 instruments) have an expanded settings panel that opens on the right side using an icon in the upper right of the GUI – this provides general settings, MIDI settings, Macro settings and access to the integrated tutorials.
A new preset window is available in all instruments and includes selecting by Type, Style, Sound Designer and Banks.
The Jupiter 8 has been in the V Collection for years, and updated now three times. Arturia always do an excellent job with their recreations, but they are perfectionists and so are some of their customers, so improved versions show up every few years. As you can figure from the model number, this is the fourth Jupiter 8 design and uses a new sound engine that was totally rebuilt, as Arturia say, “using the latest DSP technology to ensure that this virtual instrument is as authentic as it is powerful, as stable and reliable as it is sincerely imperfect.” I was already impressed with version 3 so now I can be even more impressed!
JUP-8V includes 319 presets including the original 44 factory presets, up to 16 voice polyphony, two extra LFOs and a comprehensive modulation mixer with two sets of sources (10 sources each) and up to three sets of destinations (53 possible destinations for each set). Over the years the Jupiter 8 has impressed many: Tangerine Dream, Underworld, Jean Michel Jarre, Depeche Mode, Prince, Gary Wright, Adrian Lee, Heaven 17, Kitaro, Elvis Costello, Tears for Fears, Huey Lewis and the News, Journey, Yes, Devo, Freddy Fresh, Simple Minds, and Jan Hammer to mention a few.
Up on the Stage
The Stage 73 emulation includes seven Rhodes electric piano models, from Stage to Suitcase, ‘73 or ‘74, Classic and Modern. It also has the new expanded settings panel with general settings, MIDI settings, Macro settings and access to its integrated tutorial. And a new preset browser with 65 presets. The previous version always sounded fine to me, but Rhodes aficionados should really love this new version.
New Stage 73 with FX pedals and MIDI control panel.
Tom’s Wondrous Beast
The original Oberheim OB-Xa was released in December of 1980, being an updated version of the OB-X released the previous year. The OB-Xa helped define the sound of the decade to come and was featured on such iconic songs as Harold Faltermeyer’s 1984 instrumental Axel F. It featured 2 VCOs per voice, eight-voice polyphony, a switchable filter with 12dB and 24dB per octave slopes, and a resonant low-pass filter, two LFOs, two envelopes, one VCF and one VCA. The real OB-Xa dropped the cross-modulation control which had been very popular in the OB-X, but Arturia, in their wisdom, has included this modulation mode. Arturia have also provided more modulation capabilities and up to16 voice polyphony, and up to 8 voice unison stacking. And it comes with 421 presets ready to rock with.
And as they do, Arturia have added advanced controls which for the OB-Xa expands the view at the top of the GUI.
The Advanced panel shows access to modulations and effects, with a function control and modulation matrix.
Emulations of an Emulator
The Emulator II V is a recreation of E-Mu Systems’ Emulator II, an early sampling unit that used, are you ready?, 8-bit samples. If you think 8-bit samples are 1/3 the size of 24-bit you’d be wrong by a factor of 21,845. 8-bit samples have only 256 possible levels and are crude by today’s standards (24 bit samples have 16,777,216 possible levels), but they impart a distinct character on sounds. E2V includes an arpeggiator, advanced modulation capabilities, 3 FX slots featuring 11 high-quality effects, easy graphical editing of sample mapping, up to 32 voices of polyphony and the usual MIDI CC control and unlimited patch recall. There are 250 presets ready to go.
E2V has an advanced control panel that shows an enhanced screen view, but has additional features over the original.
The Advanced panel of the E2V is an enlarged “CRT” screen view with more possibilities than the original E-Mu had.
Another from Roland
The Jun-6 V brings back the Roland Juno-6, an affordable single oscillator synth introduced in 1982. Although it had a reduced feature set compared to its much more expensive big brother, the Jupiter 8, it included a great built-in chorus that provided a big, fat stereo sound and became very popular with musicians who couldn’t afford such instruments as the Jupiter 8 or Oberheims of the time. But the Juno 6 also found use by many musicians/bands who could afford anything, from Madonna and Enya, to Duran Duran, The Cure, Vince Clarke, Men At Work, Flock of Seagulls, and the Eurythmics, among others. So the simple to program Juno-6 wasn’t just for hobbyists and small club giggers.
Arturia themselves bring up the question, why did they model such a “humble” keyboard when they already had (and have greatly improved) the Jupiter 8? For one thing, the Arturia Jun-6 V is much cheaper than a used hardware Juno, and people are still buying these 35-plus year old keyboards for premium prices. The JUN-6 V has been modernized and supplemented with some useful features such as expanded polyphony (up to 36 voices), fat unison stacking up to 6 voices, a second envelope and LFO, velocity sensitivity, aftertouch, and MIDI control, something you cannot do with an original. And they felt it could be educational for some people who never had a chance to work with a real 80’s synth due to its immediacy and simplicity, so it’s is a great tool to start learning synthesis. The 185 presets will help get you started.
JUN-6V with the Advanced panel opened at the top.
The Vocoder V is an expanded recreation of Robert Moog’s classic 16 channel Vocoder, originally released in 1978. The vocoder’s popularity started soaring in the 70s, and you’ve no doubt heard it – think Styx – Mr. Roboto – the vocoder effect has been used by artists from Phil Collins to Jean Michel Jarre, Kraftwerk, Daft Punk, even Neil Young, Herbie Hancock, and Michael Jackson.
The Arturia Vocoder V enables using a live input (usually a voice) or a sampled input previously recorded or obtained elsewhere. Vocoder V includes 252 presets to keep you entertained for more than a few hours!
The Advanced Control panel has the sample player controls, modulation and FX.
Here is the Vocoder V with the step-by-step integrated tutorial opened on the right side – note how the function being viewed is highlighted on the instrument GUI, and the instrument is still operational so you can make changes and see and hear what settings do.
One consideration with Vocoder V is that using an external input (the Voice selection in the upper toolbar) rather than the internal samples, you must be able to route audio into the plug-in. Many DAWs can do this (Ableton Live 9/10/11, Bitwig 3, Steinberg Cubase 9/10/11, Apple Logic Pro X, Native Instruments Maschine 2, Avid Pro Tools 2019-2020, Cockos Reaper (any version), Reason, and Cakewalk by BandLab). However, current versions of some DAWs cannot do this (PreSonus Studio One 5 or earlier, and FL Studio, for two of them). However, you can trigger samples for playback with the Sample mode using any DAW which can keep you entertained for hours of weeks!
I tested these emulations using a PC Audio Labs Rok Box with Intel Core i7-4770K CPU @ 3.5 GHz with 16 GB RAM. CPU usage varied from model to model and with the settings and number of notes played at once. Arturia have added a CPU usage display in the lower toolbar that shows “real-time CPU use” where real-time processing is basically the amount of CPU time used by the audio thread servicing the sound device – it measures a single thread and reflects only the CPU time used by one core, giving you an indication of how much leeway you have in processing. The Arturia meter agrees very closely with REAPER’s RT CPU measure which is usually higher than total CPU use (the percent of all cores’ capacity that is being used as reported by the Windows Task Meter). At any rate, the V Collection instruments typically run from about 1% to 4.5% total CPU and from about 8% to 30% RT CPU (which is what the new Arturia meter indicates). These are reasonable levels for the amount of simulation going on and I had no trouble running multiple instances and multiple instruments at once.
V Collection 8 is available from the excellent Arturia Software Center, the best user-focused software delivery system I’ve ever used, in all the usual formats for PC and Mac, 64-bit OS only with both VST 2.4 and VST 3, AAX and Audio Unit.
Although I can’t spell it out for fear of being banned, the term H-F-S! comes to mind. Once again Arturia have improved their unbelievable set of classic synths, samplers, and keyboards with more sounds, improved preset managers and expanded settings controls. If you bought any single one of these instruments in it’s original hardware form back in the day, you’d have paid thousands of dollars. And today some of them fetch well over $10,000 on the used market, and still might require some reconditioning, not to mention ongoing maintenance. Do they all sound exactly like their analog and digital hardware counterparts? Who really cares! I have two identical analog synths from 1984 which cannot be made to sound alike no matter how carefully I match settings. But they both sound wonderful, as do all these Arturia emulations. My hat’s off to the Arturia team for creating such a fine tribute to these “giants” of the past. Very highly recommended.
An even vaster collection of classic analog and digital synths, electric and acoustic pianos, samplers, organs and a vocoder thrown in.
Excellent sounds, extreme range of timbres, and functional accurate graphic representations of the originals. Each instrument can be scaled from 60 to 200 percent of normal size with full resolution to best fit different screens, UHD and Retina compatible.
MIDI control of almost every parameter is possible which, combined with seamless, glitchless operation when parameters are changed, enables an even greater range of sounds beyond the already vast range available the each instrument’s advanced modulation and FX features.
Very informative manuals with history and operating information for each model.
New built-in step-by-step integrated tutorials are really informative. A great feature.
Great presets, over 10,000 of them in the full collection, plenty to help the user get started with useful timbres.
As before, this collection is huge (even “huger” than ever!) and the instruments each have a unique set of parameters that can require many hours, days or weeks to fully understand. However, learning new techniques is a good part of such a collection, and the opportunity to learn to program some of these classics is rare! As I said before, this “con” could be considered a “pro”!
One minor omission, as I write this, is that the user manuals for instruments introduced in VC7 and earlier versions have not been updated to show the new settings, MIDI learn and presets controls, which are available with all the instruments now. User manual updates are in progress and may be completed by the time you read this. The new built-in integrated tutorials provide plenty of information to become familiar with each instrument if you are new to the collection, so I didn't see this as more than a minor inconvenience.
A few links to save you time:
https://www.arturia.com/products/ana...ction/overview – V Collection 8 overview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eMNUal2JyE – JUP-8V4 tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXNVQ9zfXtQ – Stage-73 V 2 tutorial
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OtJEGO53Rg – OB-Xa overview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bA_cs-LJ-I – Emulator II V overview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNjegdrDow0 – Jun-6 V tutorial
https://www.arturia.com/products/ana...der-v/overview – Vocoder V overview
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vipVcO3a0s – Analog Lab overview