In the world of softsynths Arturia’s V Collection and Analog Lab are two of the best bangs for your musical buck. (The fact that they frequently go on sale for half price doesn’t hurt, either.) And today both are getting major upgrades. Though, there is some bad news, the price of V Collection is going from $499 to $599.
That being said, even at the new higher sticker price V Collection is a hell of a bargain. Version seven which launched in mid 2019 included 23 instruments, many of them basically unobtainable in vintage physical form. For example, even if you could find a Yamaha CS-80 for sale, it would probably cost about the same as a small sedan. It also included recreations of the Synthi AKS, Casio CZ-1, Mellotron M400, Fairlight CMI, Yamaha DX7, Buchla Easel, ARP 2600, Roland Jupiter 8, Minimoog, Moog Modular, Oberheim Matrix 12 and SEM, Sequential Prophet 5, Solina String, Synclavier, Hohner Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Wurlitzer 200A, Hammond B3, Farfisa Compact, Vox Continental and an acoustic piano. In short, it’s a pretty comprehensive collection.
Arturia V Collection 8 is somehow even more comprehensive. It adds emulations of the Juno-60 and E-MU Emulator II as well as a 16-channel vocoder. The Jupiter 8 and Rhodes instruments are also getting upgrades. The improvements to the Jupiter are relatively subtle, but the Rhodes sounds distinctly better that the version in V Collection 7. If Arturia’s flagship instrument bundle has a weakness, it’s the acoustic piano, electric piano and organ emulations, but the updated Rhodes is truly excellent.
In general all of instruments in V Collection are pretty solid. Insanely nitpicky people might claim to hear the difference between the real deal and a VST, but I’m not sure I always believe them. I’d say these emulations get you at least 90-percent of the way when it comes to the analog synths, and even closer when it comes to recreating digital instruments. Plus Arturia’s software versions include a lot of features and additional flexibility that just isn’t available on the originals.
The Jun-6 V (Juno) is pretty spot on, and frankly it’s surprising that Arturia only just got around to emulating a Juno. You can even flip a switch to try and capture the magic of an aging and poorly serviced keyboard with oscillators that refuse to stay in tune. Honestly, I’d switch the oscillators to “poor” calibration mode and never look back if I were you.
The Emulator II V is also rich and satisfying and crams in a surprising amount of ‘80s-style sampling power. Unsurprisingly, my favorite sounds here are the lo-fi, warbly and bit crushed keys. I’ve only had a few hours to mess with it, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite in the bundle. Like most instruments in the V collection, the main view is a pretty authentic visual recreation of the original. But you can also click over to an advanced mode that exposes a whole host of new controls, some of which simply weren’t possible with the physical versions of instruments.
Analog Lab, which is a sort of hybrid “lite” version of V Collection, performance tool and preset browser is also getting a major facelift and upgrade to Analog Lab V. And to round things out, there are over 700 new presets being added to the library. Analog Lab’s price is staying at $199, which means it’s still probably the best bang for your buck in the virtual synth world. It comes with thousands of presets from the over two dozen instruments in V Collection, you just get less fine grained control. So, if you’re more of the tweak a preset type, than an avid sound designer, you might be perfectly served by Analog Lab.
But, if you start itching to dig a little deeper into what’s possible with these synths, it might be worth springing for an upgrade to V Collection 8. Both are available now from Arturia’s site.