Arturia synths

In this corner, Arturia puts together the second release of their “best of” virtual analog recreations, now with more samples and a free bundled keyboard. How will the Analog Factory Experience stack up against IK?

IK Moog sample library

In this corner, IK Multimedia rallies samples from the Moog collection, turning to even obscure models like the Moog Source and Concertmate MG-1 and sampling a Moog Theremin and the new models from Moog Music — just in case your road crew goes on strike.

As we discovered when the elevator broke at the 6th-Floor Handmade Music party last month (ahem), actual analog gear is heavy, to say nothing of expense. There’s nothing quite like the real thing, in terms of sound, behavior, and tactile feedback. But the “next best thing” has some definite advantages. And competition for virtual alternatives is heating up. IK Multimedia and Arturia pack an unprecedented number of analog models into a single package for a pretty low price; Arturia now even throws in a keyboard to seal the deal.

Arturia’s Virtual Experience vs. IK’s Moogs: Fight!

The approach of each product is different. IK uses their sample engine, Arturia uses their “TAE” engine from their other virtual vintage products. IK has some additional multi-effects and sound-warping power; Arturia has arguably more hands-on control. IK is entirely focused on Moog and even endorsed by Moog Music; Arturia has a cross-section of classics. And, oh yeah, Arturia is also throwing in an actual hardware keyboard (pictured a little later on).

Arturia keyboard hardware for Analog Factory Experience

Arturia’s twist: throw in an actual physical keyboard.

Hmm… if only we could read the spec sheets for these tools simultaneously. Wait — we can! Go, go, gadget HTML table!

IK SampleMoog Arturia Analog Factory Experience

Powered by SampleTank sample engine Powered by TAE engine

Mac VST, AU, RTAS (Pro Tools) Mac VST, AU, RTAS (Pro Tools)

Windows (+Vista) VST, RTAS (Pro Tools) Windows (+Vista) VST, RTAS (Pro Tools)

Functions as plug-in and standalone Functions as plug-in and standalone

1700 sounds from 16 Moog instruments 3500 sounds from 7 Arturia instrument models

32 built-in multi-effects, BPM sync, Mono/Poly/Legato modes with selectable Legato, 2 LFOs, 2 Envelopes, syncable filter section Filter and LFO sections, 4 Key Parameters differing for each preset, Chorus & Delay mix

  • Modular Moog 3C
  • Modular Moog 15
  • Modular Moog 55
  • Minimoog Model D
  • Polymoog
  • Moog Taurus™ I
  • Moog Prodigy
  • Moog Multimoog
  • Moog Vocoder
  • Moog/Realistic Concertmate MG-1
  • Moog Source
  • Moog Rogue
  • Memorymoog
  • Etherwave Theremin
  • Moog Voyager
  • Moog Little Phatty
  • minimoog V

  • Moog Modular V
  • CS-80V
  • ARP 2600 V
  • Prophet V
  • Prophet VS
  • Jupiter-8V
US$299; US$249 crossgrade US$349, with a 32-key keyboard

Shipping now Available “soon”

IK Multimedia Moog screen shot

IK Multimedia’s SampleMoog, as the name implies, focuses on sampled Moog instruments, of yore and … of today.

That’s just an overview, naturally. See also:

IK Multimedia SampleMoog Product Page
Arturia Factory Experience Product Page

What About Arturia’s New Keyboard?

Glad you asked. Arturia has sent us some shots of their new hardware. The keyboard is built by CME, the Chinese keyboard maker that impresses Thomas Dolby and inspires bizarre advertising music video involving paint. (Classic quotes: “I do not mind other’s eyesight / I am self-determined so be crazy with be / Do not say that I am aggressive / I am self-determined and that’s what I am!” Top that, Roland.)

Anyway, the CME keyboard naturally works out-of-the-box with the software parameters in the Analog Factory software, with 1 clickable encoder, 10 encoders, 4 sliders, 11 switches, 1 modulation wheel, and 1 pitch bend wheel. Now, I hear what you’re saying — couldn’t you do that with any keyboard? Yes. Yes, you could. Then again, hard to argue with it when it seems to be a free pack-in, and CME’s stuff is usually quite good. Could make a great gift to a synth lover for the holidays, I suspect.

Here are some shots of the hardware — just mock-ups; the real ‘board was at AES but I didn’t get a chance to snap any shots, so just enjoy this lovely virtual world.

Arturia keyboard hardware for Analog Factory Experience

A move we’ll see start to see from more developers? Hardware exactly mirrors what’s on the screen.

Arturia keyboard hardware for Analog Factory Experience

Back panel: jacks for MIDI (5-pin), expression and sustain pedals, USB, and power.
  • Tim Clark

    Looks like your table headings are backwards…

    Good overview of these products though.

  • http://www.otownmedia.com Richard Lainhart

    Yeah, thanks for helping me lug that stuff down the stairs at the end of the night, Peter.

    I have to say, though, that I love the Arturia stuff. I have Moog Modular V and CS-80V, and I think MMV in particular is a truly great piece of software. (That's what I was running on the MacBook Pro at Handmade Music night, by the way.) I don't think that the raging discussions about how close it actually sounds to a vintage, crusty old Model 55 are really relevant; I just think it sounds beautiful in and of itself, especially if you know how to program it.

    And I think it's a terrific learning tool, especially for the price. I recommend it to everyone who asks me about how to learn analog synthesis.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    @Tim: thanks; I had screwed up the first couple of rows. Fixed now. Much like Inspector Gadget, I … uh … sometimes get a little clumsy.

    Richard, I absolutely agree. The programming technique is different, you have sonic capabilities only possible in software — best to look at this as being able to build upon some of the vintage tech in a new way. My only real criticism of these two bundles is, from an editing standpoint, it's not quite as nice as the standalone Arturia stuff or some of the other virtual analog tools, if you really want to create your own sounds. (I.e., I'd rather have Arturia's Jupiter, except that unfortunately requires a dongle … one without a keyboard attached.)

  • joao z

    (Classic quotes: “I do not mind other’s eyesight / I am self-determined so be crazy with be / Do not say that I am aggressive / I am self-determined and that’s what I am!” Top that, Roland.)

    HA!hahaha—

    i've enjoyed "smapling" ever since i learned to do it in the Roland S-550 manual!

  • http://metro-sonus.com metrosonus

    Wheres Gmedia in all this? I want to see some undergroud bad bad boy versions of SH, CS, system 100-100m synths.

    they are dropping the ball man..

  • Adrian Anders

    I'm not crazy about the vintage/analog rompler instruments. I mean why go for something like that when for not much more you can buy an analog modeling instrument that can do a whole lot more in terms of custom sounds. There's also older analog sampler libraries that can be manipulated much more than a static rompler instruments or if you look enough on ebay you're sure to stumble upon an analog bargain or two.

    These two are just simple, limited, and rather silly IMHO.

    ATA

  • dead_red_eyes

    For $349 with a little keyboard, that's looking pretty hot. On the other hand the IK SampleMoog looks pretty buff as well. I'd love to get one or the other as I won't take the Moog on the road or to a show … the damn thing is just too old and takes a bit to warm up. Hmmm …

  • http://www.otownmedia.com Richard Lainhart

    "My only real criticism of these two bundles is, from an editing standpoint, it’s not quite as nice as the standalone Arturia stuff or some of the other virtual analog tools, if you really want to create your own sounds."

    And I'd agree with that – I don't find these packages as interesting as the standalones, because of the lack of programmability. Actually, the Arturia product I'm really looking forward to is Origin, which is fully programmable and lets you combine modules from different emulators for the ultimate programmable softsynth (in theory, at least.)

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Well, obviously, there are some people who just want to pull up some presets, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

    But the interesting thing, as far as how much you can edit, is to compare Native Instruments' Kore 2. They have the front end where it's easy to browse and find presets, and now those engines are built in so you don't have to own the standalone products. But if you do, say, buy FM8, you can then go in and edit the patch from the ground up. That's not to compare these products, which are vastly cheaper and focus on vintage sounds. But it does demonstrate that some compromises are possible. And honestly, if you get to the point where you've done a whole lot of sound creation of your own, you might also like easy patch browsing.

    One other note: if you look through, there is still a fairly significant amount of programming possible. ROMpler-style, perhaps, in that the emphasis is on presets. But you could do some pretty drastic presets with filters, effects, etc., in each, and in SampleTank, the sampling engine itself has some flexibility. I think that's likely why the preset count is so high relative to the number of actual samples/models. I also prefer the standalones, but just saying, it's not like you can't still do some programming with these, and we're talking $250 or $350 bucks.

  • http://www.otownmedia.com Richard Lainhart

    "One other note: if you look through, there is still a fairly significant amount of programming possible."

    True. If I could, I'd amend my post to say "because of the relatively limited programmability."

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    I'm not so sold on the idea of this add-on keyboard. It's the equivalent of using a Windows mousepad. It's disappointing that it wasn't designed to compliment the software functionally. I think Arturia's Origin will be much more interesting.

    @Adrian: doing a whole lot more isn't going to be a deciding factor for most of IK's target market on this. More the opposite, it's for folk who want a package that in fact does very little else but emit the sounds they expect to hear with zero effort required.

  • http://www.sighup.ca Steve

    And by compliment, I of course meant complement. Would that I could edit post-sending.

  • http://www.keithhandy.com Keith Handy

    I don't understand using sampling to mimic analog synths; isn't the whole point of using analog (or analog modeling) to be able to do portamento/glides and manual filter sweeps, or manual changes to an LFO rate? Well, not the whole point, but still. Seems like it would be unpopular for the same reason that electric guitars are still more commonly used than sampled electric guitars; because of the limits that samples, by sheer definition, place on your control over the sound as it's playing.

    Modeling, on the other hand, makes sense to me.

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    We really are going to roll out comment editing. I promise. It's the least we can do, given we have commenters who actually want to edit what they've said — how rare is that? I've just been a bit busy.

    Well, the hardware itself makes sense to me; I think the thing is, there are lots of keyboards with this functionality already set up that would work equally well. I sure would like to see more hardware like Korg's now-discontinued Legacy Collection controller.

  • Oto

    I honestly don't know why I've heard so many people knocking both of these products, especially on Matrixsynth. Maybe they've forgotten that there are still children and musicians who are just getting started in electronic music and would benefit from a quick, easy way to play classic sounds without creating/tweaking patches from scratch, etc. Also, as Peter said, "we're talking $250 to $350."

  • velocipede

    Peter, you say that the Arturia Analog Factory is sample based, but is it, really? My impression was that, under the hood, Arturia Analog is modeled. If not, Arturia is really hiding that info. They say, "These TAE® powered sounds offer unparalleled audio quality." I suppose that could mean samples, but that would be fairly deceptive.

    Assuming that AA is modeled, I think the Experience is an incredible deal. 3500 presets with a fair amount of programability is probably more than I could ever need (for synth sounds, at least). I admire people who whip up amazing patches. And, I enjoy tweaking their creations! To me, though I do it occasionally, the time I spend creating a patch from scratch is usually time better spent practicing or composing.

    The AA Factory Experience keyboard looks nice, but the proof will be in the playing. If I did not have a Novation SL, I would be very tempted.

    I wonder if Arturia can/will make the AF patches upward compatible with the full versions and/or make the keyboard compatible with those programs as well? (They could do something like Logic 8's ES2, which has a simplified UI that collapses from the regular plug-in window.)

    At the same time, I am left flat by sampled synth libraries. I'd rather use a free softsynth that actually generated the sounds from scratch. That's just me, though. The proof is really in the sound, right? I have heard pro's who prefer Scarbee's sampled Rhodes to the real thing, but I would rather use the EVP88 (or the real thing). To each, his own.

    At this point, though, I still have 1000s of patches to go through in Logic 8, Reason 4 and the GMedia synths before I need to add to my palate.

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  • http://www.soundclick.com/benhodgson poorsod

    You'll find that most all analog-emulation synths are sample based at the very heart. In everything from Massive to FM8 to Thor to (I'd guess) Minimoog V the 'oscillators' are actually single-cycle samples of an existing synth (or perhaps additively synthesized; either way it's a sample).

  • http://www.createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    poorsod … that's true, but I'd say the use of the wavetable oscillator, the signal flow after that, all important. And in a digital synth, having a "sample" for a single cycle is, well, necessary.

  • velocipede

    I tried the demo of Analog Factory last night. The few patches I tried were quite nice. Could be the poor man/lazy programmer's Kore.

    Here is a link to Arturia's explanation for their "True Analog Emulation":
    http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/anal

  • dinerdog

    Peter, I was wondering about CPU usage? How does that compare between the two?

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