The Arturia V Collection is a pretty massive group of instruments to wrap your fingers around. With 28 separate instruments spanning decades upon decades of keyboard history, Arturia really strove to make a collection that has ‘something for everyone’ with its flagship group of sounds. Version 8 brings 4 completely new instruments, 2 massive upgrades to stalwart favorites, and a unified workflow that should make finding the sound you want a snap. I played through V Collection 8 for a few weeks to really put it to the paces.
As I stated above, there are 28 discrete instrument plugins included in V Collection 8 that include the following: Vocoder V, Emulator II V, OB-Xa V, Jun-6 V, Buchla Easel V, Mini V, Matrix-12 V, Solina V, SEM V, Jup-8 V, ARP2600 V, CS-80 V, Prophet V, Modular V, Synthi V, Piano V, Clavinet V< Stage-73 V, Farfisa V, Wurli V, Vox Continental V, Mellotron V, B-3 V, CMI V, DX7 V, Synclavier V, CZ V, and Analog Lab V.
That’s a mouthful! Each plugin is discrete and has its own interface, presets, design, and aesthetic. There are some unifying aspects that I’ll touch on later. I very much enjoyed that each instrument keeps its interface and design unique, it helps to really bring you into the workflow of that particular piece of keyboard history.
The entire collection weighs in at around 14 gigabytes of sample space needed on your hard drive. They can be installed separately, or all at once with the Arturia Software Center. I was very happy to discover this, as downloading all 28 separately would have been a bit overwhelming. I’m a big fan of companies that make it easy for you in terms of downloading and activating. Getting V Collection 8 up and running was straighforward.
V Collection runs on Mac and Windows, so you can count on VST, Audio Unit, and AAX support. The 4 new instruments are Jun-6V, Emulator II V, Vocoder V, and OB-Xa V. Jup-8 V has had a big upgrade to its sound and modulation engine, and Stage-73 (a favorite of mine) has been completely overhauled with the new physical modeling engine.
Easily the largest part of the collection, the analog synths of VC8 (what we’re calling V Collection 8 now) cover 13 different musical machines from over the years. Arturia is touting a new pair of modeling techniques that they have developed called TAE (True Analog Emulation) and PM (Physical Modeling) that really help these machines shine. They’ve definitely refined their technique, that’s for sure - a library of this many machines weighing in under 15 gigs has really no business sounding this good!
The analog synths are really fantastic. Some of them are more commonly found in other libraries like the Minimoog, Prophet, and ARP 2600 - but there are some really rare gems in here that have a unique sound. The Buchla Easel V is incredibly detailed and sounds truly haunting. The Modular V takes an overwhelming instrument and actually makes it accessible for the sound design beginner.
These instruments don’t only sound great, they *react* in a great way as well. The noises, clicks, and idiosyncrasies of the hardware are well represented (and can also thankfully be turned off if desired). The combination of sampling along with physical modeling really allows the synths to not only sound like the original hardware, but behave like it too. Of the analog bunch, the Buchla Easel and the Jun-6 V are my two favorites. They offer a sound that is hard to find in any other collection out there.
Digital synths are back, baby! Now that we’re free and clear of the fashion trends of the late 80’s we can celebrate the quirky sounds of early digital keyboards. I was pleased as punch to see Emulator II join the fray, and Synclavier really sounds unreal. I love the punchy ‘breakup’ of the low end that is so common with early digital keyboard presets, and these two did not disappoint on that end.
DX7 V was another instrument that somewhat surprised me. I’ve seen about a jillion recreations of the FM titan at this point, but the presets that Arturia has designed for this instrument are really spectacular. I found myself opening up the standalone app (each synth has a standalone app as well as a plugin!) and getting lost just bouncing through the presets for more time than I’d care to admit. Honestly, the standalone apps for each synth are very much appreciated and make it super easy to jump right in and play with any of these instruments without having to open up a host. Chalk up another win for Arturia. (Well, for the customer, anyway!)
I’ll be completely transparent here and say that this is the category where I expected the least. I have so many dedicated libraries for acoustic pianos, Wurlitzers, Rhodes, Hammond organs… how could a collection that included so much other stuff stack up to the boutique offerings I already had?
I knew B-3 V was going to be good as I’d tried it out a few years back and some very good friends swear by it. Arturia did NOT disappoint here, B-3 V is really fantastic. There is so much ‘under the hood’ of each of these instruments. Opening up the auxiliary panel on every instrument gives you a plethora of options specific to that instrument. In B-3’s case, you can adjust the organ models, change the percussive click mix, adjust tone wheel leakage, and more. That’s why it’s cool - each auxiliary panel is specific to the instrument being reproduced. While the preset browser and icon aesthetic might be unified, it doesn’t take away from the individuality of the instruments - which I love.
The acoustic piano instrument I almost breezed by, but again - pleasantly surprised! I’m really impressed with what Arturia was able to produce with this resource footprint and price point! The unique offerings like ‘plucked grand’ and ‘glass grand’ were super fun as well.
Analog Lab does a really fantastic job of ‘bringing it all together’ and allowing you to browse/use/surf the entire collection in a unified interface. If you are lucky enough to have a Keylab MIDI controller, so much is easily mapped and assigned right out of the gate for you. While I don’t usually go for individual manufacturer’s “MainStage clones”, I found Analog Lab to be well designed, sleek, and inherently ‘attached’ to the DNA of the individual instruments. It’s a perfect example of Arturia delivering for however you want to work. Want everything browsable in a single unified interface? Analog Lab is here. Want to open up the ARP 2600 instrument with a single click? The standalone apps have you covered.
This collection is absolutely fantastic and not to be missed. It’s a fraction of the price point that you’ll see many competitors charging. It sounds great, takes up a wonderfully reasonable footprint on your SSD, and the instruments are stable and reliable.
Pros: Excellent and meticulous sounding instruments, Unifying app, standalone apps, easy to use, superior built in tutorials for each instrument, unified preset browser, beautiful aesthetic, amazingly reasonable SSD footprint, Scalable user interface
Cons: I wish Analog Lab’s window allowed for independent resizing of each section so that you could avoid scrolling if you’ve got a huge monitor - fingers crossed for a future update!