Imagine a time when a piece of hardware was big enough to fill half of the room and so expensive that you had to sell your car just to own one piece of that equipment. Times have of course changed since then and so has the hardware. Now, we have almost everything in digital form. Every popular synth ever made has probably been ported to a digital form and old hardware synths are coming back to life at an affordable price.
Arturia, known for their reproduction of classic synths, came up with an idea to offer all of their synths in one big package named V Collection 4 and this is what we are going to review today.
Before we proceed I would like to make something clear. I will not go over each instrument individually (as we might be here forever) and look for pros and cons but will review collection as a whole and what you get for the money invested in it. I also won’t compare the instruments with the original hardware as it is in my opinion a bit pointless. Old school instruments had a special character that cannot be replicated and they were by the accounts of many a bit of a pain to work with, which again gave them charm. Any comparison would therefore result in nostalgic glorification of classic instruments. I will however talk about the sound of the V collection 4. Let us begin.
V collection 4 is a bundle of all Arturia´s software classic instruments and a drum machine. In order to download it you will have to go through the procedure of registering and downloading Arturia´s software center. The ASC worked quite well and download of the software was relatively fast on my end. Installation went smoothly.
There are all together around 13 instruments including Analog Lab which is more of a showoff of all other instruments and Spark, a drum machine and drum programming synthesizer. Content wise, V collection 4 doesn’t disappoint.
V collection also features two new releases from Arturia – SolinaV and Matrix12 V. SolinaV is perhaps one of my favorite synths in the collection. It has a very warm and full sound and is really easy to work with. In addition to the VST replica you also get additional features which aren’t present in the real thing. Same goes for all other products. Let us focus on how synths in V collection sound.
Since synthesizers aren’t sampled – everything is produced in real time – a lot CPU horsepower is needed, more in some than others. One thing that was fairly obvious in the first tests is that some instruments sound very alike. It could be that my ears were playing tricks on me but I could never get past that feeling. There are slight deviations in sound though, which is nice as it gives a special character to each of the synths. Overall the sound in my opinion is great. I particularly enjoyed the sound of Oberheim and Moog still being the favorite as I mentioned in my review of Keylab 61.
The sound of keyboards (Wurlitzer, Vox) is again very nice on its own but when you add the desired effects, it will sound amazing. Arturia also added some noise generators to mimic the actual signal noise if needed. The one I was most excited before the review, was the Spark drum machine. I wouldn’t say my expectations were short lived but I have to admit that the synthesis of the sound is sort of poor compared to the quality of the other products. Don’t get me wrong here, the sound itself was great it just didn’t satisfy my sonic appetite. Again, this is more of a personal preference.
One thing that I would consider a major issue with all of the instruments is resolution or size of the interface. It is set to a fixed width and perhaps there is an option to make it bigger but I haven’t found one. On a large scale monitor, the buttons, knobs and sometimes faders are too small and are pain to work with. It is easy to work with them on let’s say SolinaV since it features close to ten buttons but on an instrument such as CS – 80V the working window is just too small.
On a good side, the visual appearance is very nice and wants to make you feel like you own a real classic instrument. Arp 2600 and ModularV have multiple racks that you switch with a button and working with wires is somewhat easy once you get or know the basics of synthesis. Overall I liked the way the whole V collection felt with the few exceptions albeit some over the top animations (Prophet V) and small interface resolutions.
Ease of use
The learning curve of using V collection instruments depends on your prior knowledge of synthesis. While some (MiniV, Oberheim, Jupiter, ProphetV) instruments are fairly easy to use, others require a bit of learning (Arp 2600, ModularV, CS-80V, Matrix12V). Arturia also provides tutorial videos on youtube (https://www.youtube.com/user/Arturiaweb/playlists) on how to use their instruments. Once you get the basics down then it is up to your creativity to explore the instruments further. If you understand synthesis then you should feel right at home.
The keyboards are fairly easy to use and you shouldn’t have any issues understanding them without any videos. If you don’t know anything about synthesis then you will have ton of patches to play with. Some instruments offer more patches than others but overall it should keep you busy until you learn some basics.
Value for money
V collection will set you back for around 400 EUR which is in my opinion fairly cheap for the content you are getting. The whole collection costs as much as a single orchestral Kontakt library. Also if you consider buying each individual instrument (each for around 99 EUR) over time, you should keep in mind that with V collection you save around 500 or more EUR. The deal is pretty sweet and combined with some of the finest instruments on the market (software wise) I would say that V collection really deserves a mention.
Arturia`s V collection is a great value product compared to the competition on the market. It is not without its flaws – some bigger, some minor and some are just my personal views of the instruments. The sound of the instruments doesn’t disappoint and the price in my opinion is ok. If you don’t feel like spending that much money on V collection then you also have the option to purchase an individual instrument if you so desire. Just bear in mind that you actually save a lot of money purchasing the whole collection. One could say it is a long term investment.
Uhe products (Zebra, Diva)