Arturia Pigments 3 – new features

arturia pigments 3

We truly love Arturia Pigments 3. We actually love all Arturia software here at idesignsound.com. Today we bring you an update on the new features of this full fledged “polychrome” VST synth. And for a full fledged review, our friends at musicradar.com have a very nice review.

Introduction

Arturia Pigments is a very nice and very modern VST instrument. It initially started out as a wavetable synth with a lot of features. What is striking about the Arturia Pigments is the visualisation of the modulation sources. Thus, it is very very intuitive and also very easy to learn.

Other than this, it has some very nice effects onboard, a great sequencer and the option to load your own wavetables. For a detailed review, you can also check our article here at idesignsound.com.

Version three, which is free for existing users, brings incremental updates like more sound engines, more wavetables, more effects and so on, but there are two features that are brand new and strike out, we will analyse them below:

Arturia Pigments 3 – Additive mode

Dubbed the “Harmonic Engine”, Arturia Pigments 3 introduces one of the earliest forms of sound synthesis, additive synthesis. The very early experimental synths had this, where each oscillator would create the fundamental and each of its partials to create a complex sound. So if you would imagine a spectrum analyser, the highest spike (usually the lowest in frequency) is the fundamental frequency of the sound, and then the next ones (usually to the right, higher frequency) are the partials. Together, they form the timbre or the style of the sound. Regular synths, or “subtractive” create this frequency pattern with a single, complex oscillator, then use a filter to reduce the partials. But this has some issues, namely you can mostly reduce partials to the left or right, it is very hard to fully remove partials in the centre of the frequency spectrum (you can with an EQ, but not fully and you more than often reduce other partials than the ones you want to).

But if you really want to design timbre, it is much better to not include what you don’t want than to filter it out. The problem with additive synthesis in hardware form is that you need a lot, and we mean A LOT of oscillators to add up. This is why subtractive is preferred from a practical standpoint, even if filtering the oscillator it is not really adequate for full control of the oscillator timbre. Of course, we are talking about hardware synths, so for VSTs it was a real shame that no real, serious additive synths were made.

In Arturia Pigments 3’s additive engine you can add up to 512 partials and you can also modulate them. This should bring a brand new sound palette for your productions.

Arturia Pigments 3 – Utility Engine

This is more of a fine tuning addition to your ability to design complex sounds with the VST. This new feature is not that “in your face as additive” synthesis but it is, in my humble opinion, at least equal in importance. Usually, it is the subtle things that make us like something.

The Arturia Pigments 3 Utility Engine contains two individual distinct noise sources and a virtual analog sub oscillator. This will make your sounds fat in no time. While you would be able to have this in the past, it would also meant you would sacrifice valuable space in the for of one of the two slots the VST has. Now, the Utility Engine is separate, so you get to keep the two original sound sources.

Other new additions come in form of new effects and filters (legendary analog emulations from Roland), plus pitch delay and multi-band compression.

You can buy Arturia Pigments from pluginboutique.com, with a special introductory price of 99 eur (original price 199 eur).

Easter 2021 – TOP 3 Hot DEALS for music producers

Hey guys, it’s that time of the year when everybody that’s selling something to you is having an easter sale. Yes, it’s time to put your hard earned money to work and get all the stuff that you need for your next EP, Album or Single.

Top 3 Easter 2021 music production deals

  1. Loopasters is having a huge blow-out sale here. Almost all of their sample packs are discounted, some even to 50%. The offers end on the 12th of April. Discounted titles include Hypnotic House and Techno samples from Simon Garcia, Amanda Wilson’s House and Disco Vocal samples and Serum presets for Drum and Bass. You should totally check the sale out at this link.
  2. Pluginboutique is having an awesome deal for Cloudbounce online mastering service. You can get up to 93% off if you commit to a long term plan. It totally makes sense if you record a lot of track material for demos and need it mastered fast, or if you have a small record label that requires constant mastering services. Get the limited time deal here.
  3. Waves is running a huge offer for some of their legendary plugins right here. Time is of the essence here, as the offer ends on the 4th of April. 29 of their VSTs for $29.99 each. Plus, if you spend $50 on their website, you are entitled to get one free plugin, and if you spend $90 you get two from their selection of eligible products. Plugins on offer for $29.99 include H-Delay, Abbey Road Saturator, the classic API 2500 and dbx 160 compressor emulations. You can consult the full offer by clicking here.

There are more deals going on right now, but we figured you are only interested in the best! Happy shopping and stay safe!

Izotope and Native Instruments join hands in developing tomorrow’s music production technology

Yes, they will remain separate entities as well, developing the products that we all know and love. But when these guys come together on the drawing board, we expect big things to happen.

In a blog post from yesterday, Native Instruments have officially announced the joint venture. The music production tool companies are backed in this by investment firms Francisco Partners and EMH Partners. Native Instruments has been in the hands of Francisco Partners and EMH Partners since January, but the addition of iZotope to the investors’ roster gives it new-found strength.

The details on what products these two giants will be developing are not that clear, and also the branding that they will use is not specified right now. This collaboration will also be about having a streamlined development workflow, because each of the two creative teams have their own way of doing things to get to great products.

“As more and more people get into music making and audio production, they’re looking for better and easier ways to realize their ideas or to get started on their journey. To take an idea out of their head and put it into the world, or to put the finishing touches on their project. Together, iZotope and Native Instruments will be able to break down barriers and make it easier for producers, engineers, and musicians to realise their creative vision.” – quote from the blog post, signed by both companies’ CEOs.

Arturia Chorus Dimension D (Roland Chorus Clone) Review and Deal

Wow, we live in such interesting times. VSTs are getting better and better, and now they can almost, and we really mean almost emulate the hardware sound. No wonder Arturia delayed emulating the Roland Chorus Dimension-D (aka Roland SSD-320). I am guessing they wanted to do it just right, because wow! – this thing is a killer tool to have in your arsenal. They done it, we think they did a good job, and you can get a nice discount right now here.

And if you are looking for a VST Synth to get along with this massive VST effect, we have compiled and reviewed the best VST synths in the market right now here.

The original Roland Dimension D – what is it?

Ok so this one is pretty simple, it is a chorus effect. Chorus makes a single, simple sound sound much more complex. If it is mono, it expands it in stereo. If it is stereo already, it widens the stereo image and makes it much more complex.

Think of chorus as in a church context, or when multiple human voices sing to the same tune. Basically, they all sing the same musical note, but each voice has its own timbre, which actually makes the same note sound much more complex than if just a single voice would sing it.

Sure, sometimes you want just a single voice, but sometimes you want to add depth, which is precisely why you need a chorus – to add depth.

Chorus gets your sound source, multiplies it creating clones, detunes the clones and shifts them in the stereo field. It can sound drastic, it can sound fulfilling. It can also sound heavy and imprecise, so always be sure to set just how much chorus you want by ear.

How I use the Roland Dimension D

So basically I am not a fan of stereo chorus. I don’t think that a chorus is meant to just widen the stereo field, if you want that, you can find simpler tools to do it, because chorus can have an impact on the overall sound as well as the stereo image, in some cases for stereo material, making it muddy.

Here is my processing rack, with the Dimension D on top position

That does not mean you are not allowed to do it, just make sure that your stereo sound retains it’s original precision and presence after you treat it with chorus.

I think that the Dimension D chorus (both Roland and Arturia) works best for mono signals, and is excellent for bass sounds.

Sometimes you have to work in mono. Your favourite synths do not work in stereo, and if they do, it’s mostly because they have onboard stereo effects like delay and reverb. Sometimes you are recording your guitar and there is no point in doing it in stereo. Most bass sounds are recommended to be used in mono, and you mostly have a mono source.

The Dimension D expands this in stereo, but in a very subtle way. There are four settings on the VST (and multiple settings on the hardware because you can have more than one button pressed), each representing the degree of chorus being applied and also the level of stereo expansion. But believe me when I say this, the stereo expansion is subtle, even on the red (four) setting.

So what I usually do is take my bass sound which is always coming from a mono synth, and run it in parallel from the mixer to the Roland Dimension D adjusting how much I send (main channel is going in the box via the Empirical Labs FATSO compressor and tape emulator – excellent piece of gear, review coming soon). The chorus gives my bass much more presence because of the stereo field and a degree of extra complexity. It makes it stand in the mix, and I would be lost without this treatment to be honest.

  • Using the Dimension D on the bass is the first and best use case in my oppinion and is a good reason for you to buy the Arturia Dimension D chorus right now.
  • Using the Dimension D on synths in general on the lowest setting, just to get a bit of saturation as an alternative to compression.
  • Other use cases are of course for polyphonic sounds like pads and piano which has been recorded in mono, just make sure you do it with moderation as the chorus will load your sound with a “swirly” effect and can make you feel a bit dizzy.
  • Last use case for me would be on stereo material, mostly because I feel that the Roland hardware lacks a dry/wet knob and can be too much, even on the lowest setting. Arturia has included a dry/wet knob so you can use it on stereo sounds just make sure you use your ears and don’t overdo it.

Arturia VST versus Roland hardware

So of course, having your tools in software has some advantages and disadvantages. What you get with the VST has been summed in the list below:

  1. Dry/wet knob for parallel use
  2. Presets
  3. Color (saturation) ajustment
  4. Chorus Oscillator Shape (Chorus has an internal LFO that modulates the pitch of the clones)
  5. Stereo widening ajustment
  6. Price (Roland gear can be expensive, we paid 1200 EUR for the hardware unit)
  7. Reliability (VSTs do not break down and do not require maintenance)
  8. Total Recall, each DAW project has it’s own Arturia Chorus Dimension D settings
  9. More than one instance of the chorus effect in the project

Of course what you don’t get with the Arturia Dimension D VST clone is the stellar sound that the Roland hardware is known for.

Yes guys it’s time to discuss sound. Do I like Arturia’s chorus sound? Yes, I do. Is it similar to Roland’s? Not really. They did a good job emulating the sound and the feel of the effect, and the use cases are there, but the sound is just a bit different. Enough for me to notice, and enough for me to keep the hardware with the obvious limitations. But this is just me, you can decide it’s not worth buying the hardware just for the sound alone. It is vintage so you have to maintain and service it. You can spill beer on it. You can have an electrical issue and loose it. Not to mention that you don’t have any control over it, you just select the algorythm.

The best part of the Roland hardware, after sound of course, is the fact that you can have a combination of algorithms by pressing more than one button.

Still, it is 2021 and you have options. Obviously if you want to start collecting hardware, source gear like synths are more important than processing, so we only recommend getting a vintage Roland Dimension D chorus at the end of your gear collection effort, if the space and budget allows. If not, you can get the VST for the obvious ease of use and maintenance boost. Just keep in mind that while the Arturia Chorus sounds great, the hardware sounds much better.

And if you are fast enough, you can get the Arturia VST at a special introductory price here.

5 BEST Mid-winter 2021 VST Plugin DEALS

Wellcome to our periodic round-up of the BEST DEALS available on music production VST Plugins. Here, we help you spend your hard-earn money on new toys and virtual gear. So without further ado, here is our list of five of the BEST DEALS on VST Plugins and their end date:

  1. Izotope Complete Your Suite Sale – up to 80% off. Yes you heard that right, up to 80% off select Izotope VST Plugins in order for you to have more of the same quality and usability. There are also offers for upgrades here. Deal ends February 16th 2021 and can be found here.
  2. Iceberg Audio – The Sub VST Synth – 33% off introductory price. This one is also on the usability side, and it’s a straightforward sub bass synth. For 33 Eur you get one envelope, glide and drive, so not that much BUT the sound quality is out if this world. It is an instant favourite our ours and the deal can be found here. It is only live until Februray 10.
  3. Native Instruments Komplete 13 – huge discount on bundles. If you’ve been waiting for a great deal to get into Komplete, now is the time. They have heavily discounted their bundles, including Ultimate and Collector’s Edition. They did this also for the starter packs, and you can get them for as low as 199 Eur for the Select bundle. The deal can be found here, and there is no end date specified, so go ahead and try your luck.
  4. W.A. Production has a 68% off sale on preset packs for the most popular synths out there like Serum, Spire, Sylenth and much more. If Techno and House are your things, then this is for you. All major VST Synths are supported on this preset pack, and the deal ends on the 28th of February. Shop here!
  5. 55% Off Eden2 by UJAM and Bassroom by Mastering the Mix. Again, if dance music, especially Techno and House are your things, These two tools are indispensable. I am particularly fond of Bassroom, it is very useful on the master channel to round out and smooth your bassline. UJAM is a very nice drum machine too. This deal ends on 14th of Februray.

So there you have it, enough to get you through the end of Winter. Make sure you subscribe to our newsletters for more deals:

Roland Jupiter 8 emulation – TAL-J-8 review and special introductory price

The TAL-J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 emulation is good. I mean, really good and also enjoyable. Who doesn’t know the Jupiter 8? This is a rhetorical question, if you are on this website and you regularly follow the content here, you are no stranger to synths. Now, this one is actually THE synth. Top of the line.

Roland has made a couple of good synths and a couple of bad synths. They have also made some excellent pieces of music production hardware. The Jupiter 8 is one of them, and for me it is the ultimate polyphonic subtractive experience. It sounds T-H-I-C-K. It sounds classy. It NEVER sounds outdated.

A lot of replicas have tried to recreate it’s unique, full and organic sounds. We have of course the Arturia replica, which is our opinion captures it pretty well. Then we have of course the Roland Cloud offering the sound. Then we have a lot, and I mean a lot of presets in other VSTs that are trying to give you a piece. If you want more information about emulating the Roland Jupiter 8 in VST form then we recommend this brilliant article here.

Or better yet, for the ones that can affort it, we actually recommend buying the hardware itself. If you can find a serviced, fully working model that is. I mean, just look at it:

For today though, we will come back to earth from Jupiter and discuss the newest addition to the synth’s ever expanding arsenal of VST Plugin emulations. I am talking about the TAL-J-8 product.

Tal has been in the space for quite some time now, emulating (successfully in our oppinion) Roland gear.

They have done the Juno pretty well. They have recreated the SH-101. They actually offer the Juno chorus as a separate VST. We love Tal, and we think that their output truly helps out music producers.

But let’s dive straight in to their newest offering, the TAL-J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 soft synth. And for our lineup of BEST general-purpose VST Synths, head on down to our article here.

This VST captures the brassy, powerful but also mellow sound of the Roland Jupiter 8 very well.

Yes you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t, the most accessible example for me right now is Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Just listen to those gorgeous pads and the harmony that this 8 voice VCO powered monster can create.

The synth is truly cosmic, one of a kind. It can be powerful, it can be smooth, it can be in the background and it surely can be in your face. It can sound classy and it can also be new age. As you can see, I love the Jupiter 8. I could not fit it into my studio in the keyboard, standard version, so I did the next best thing and bout the 2U Rack version, the MPG-80 (Rev.4 of course). It is cheaper and it is much more compact, but it lacks the front panel (sold separately). No problem, i’ll just use the VST editor.

The TAL-J-8 VST also has MPE support, we can’t recall right now any other Roland Jupiter 8 emulation that has this.

This one is very interesting, and at this time this is the only Jupiter 8 emulation that can suport MPE. If MPE will not be huge in 2021, it will be extremely sought after in 2022. It is very interesting what you can actually do with just a keyboard, if it has the right sensors. For now you can use MPE to individually adjust the filter and volume on a per-note basis, with pitch pretty soon to follow I guess.

You can see the MPE controls in the screenshot below, showing the synth control interface.

We used it for two weeks, doing all kinds of sounds on it. it shines on classic analog synth stuff like bass and chords/harmony. The filter is very nice, and if you increase the resonance a little bit, you will get that trumpet like sound for which the Roland Jupiter 8 is famous. It is hard to integrate in contemporary electronic music, but still is nice, especially if you are into sound design for movies and games.

While the unison function is nice, we do not recommend you use it on a VST Synth as it will pale in comparison to real unison on a real hardware synth.

Oh and one more thing, the 8 number in the TAL-J-8 is only to reflect the Jupiter 8. It’s not a voice count though, because the TAL-J-8’s polyphony count goes all the way up to 12.

Also noted is the upper/lower system implemented in most high end synths of that era, like the Yamaha CS80, Roland Jx10 and the Prophet 10. You basically get to layer two separate synths, and can play them simultaneously or split the keyboard.

Delay is also a very nice addition to the virtual synth

The delay sounds very nice, reminding me on classic analog BBD style circuits. There is also a Chorus on board, with option I and II in very classy Roland fashion. It sounds tremendous, but even without chorus, this VST has a very surprisingly wide stereo image. Pop the Chorus on and it takes it to the next level.

TAL-J-8 presets and preset browser

As requested here on iDesignSound, we will provide you with our thoughts on the preset browser, as there are more and more musicians traveling and doing live sets (well, not right now due to COVID-19) so browsing through presets on your VST synths is very important. It is not very good for browsing in a live environment. You use your mouse to browse a drop-down style menu, with folders and sub folders. But the presets are really nice.

You get the original factory presets on the hardware, some original TAL sounds plus 6 other folders, with more than 500+ presets onboard immediately after you buy it.

You can get the TAL-J-8 Roland Jupiter 8 VST at a good price.

Yes it is time limited but still it’s a very good deal. TAL is a very nice VST company and I really enjoy their products.

Get the TAL-J-8 here with a 20% intro discount (until 28.02.2021).

If you prefer to pay a monthly fee and have access to a lot more VST Plugins, then we have a very nice comparison and review of the best rent-to-own VST services here.

Enhance your Drums for FREE – Diablo lite VST

If you always compared your own drum works to the professional sound and felt a little off, Diablo lite is for you. This VST is pretty nice, as our test shown, and really works especially on electronic drums.

So what is Diablo lite?

Diablo lite is a FREE VST offering by Cymatics. You know them mostly for their (paid) sample packs but they actually have a lot of free products too. And not just sample packs but plugins and also presets for popular plugins.

And if FREE VSTs are your thing, we actually are maintaining a very extensive list of more than 400 freebies here, where we actually added Diablo lite.

Now, about Diablo lite, this VST is part compressor and part transient shaper. The compressor is actually a clipper, so the compression ratio is very high, close to the well-known “brick wall” style of compression. Because of this dual nature of this sound treatment device, it is excellent for drums.

How do you use it?

So basically every producer uses some form or compression on the drums, either on the whole drum bus or individually. This is because most source material, be it sample-based, synth or live recorded is kind of in the middle in terms of dynamics. It can cut through your whole song but in it’s dry form doesn’t. It has the neutral drum sound, is not in your face but is also not absent. What you want to do is actually fit the drums in your sound.

Let’s take the 808 for example, it is ubiquitous and used in a lot, i mean A LOT of music genres. Some genres use it in a more aggressive flavour, some prefer it more mellow. So you basically do this with either a compressor, a transient shaper or both. Transient shapers basically dictate the initial snap and also the remaining tail of the sound.

This is the Punch control knob and dictates the presence. For dynamics, you have the Clip setting, which actually enganges the limiter and makes the sound more compact as you crank it. If you used too much Punch and the drum just jumps out of the mix and commands too much of the user’s attention, try to not use Clip and just turn it down in the mix instead.

But if the Punch knob does not actually do the trick for you because it makes the drum loose it’s initial character, then Clip can save you and achieve the strength that you are looking for in that particular sound.

Actually the website has a lot of samples for this product, and you can actually hear it in action. But why not download it yourself from this download link?

Very interesting free VST – Lyra 8 recreation

For those that know and for those that don’t, Lyra-8 is a very interesting synth with a very interesting sound engine and layout.

I know, because I own it (the orange sunset colorway of course) and I can say that it is nothing short of incredible.

Lyra 8 is all about cross modulation and finding atmospheric chords

Yes, that’s right, there is no keyboard you don’t really get to play standard notes (western division into notes and semitones). There is also no MIDI so the VST version is interesting because you can get to play standard chords very easily. I got it mostly for that.

On the hardware unit you close the circuit and play the note with the two buttons on the bottom, by putting your finger or any conductive material on both for each oscillator. You only have knob tuning to select the note/pitch that each oscillator plays.

There is a also external processing on the hardware.

So having both the hardware unit and the VST makes sense if you plan to use the hardware for the BBD style delay and distortion on external sounds only.

Be sure to check also our list of 400+ free VSTs (regularly updated, we just added the Lyra 8 VST here as well).

Here is a video demonstrating the hardware, it is advised you check it first to see what to expect from the VST:

To be honest, it does not really matter what you plan to do because the VST is free. I fully recommend you test it out as I am sure you will find a place for it in your sound design pallettte.

The free VST can be downloaded here.

Soundtoys MEGA SALE – live now

Hey guys, just your friendly reviewer logging in this wonderful time, somewhere between Christmas and New Year with a huge deal. I was pretty sure you were interested so here it is: Soundtoys has huge discounts in place up until mid January.

https://www.soundtoys.com/product/

So here they are, and also don’t forget to first demo them before purchase, the offer is said to be live until 15th of January. Our personal favourites are

  1. MicroShift – a classic, although one that is hard to describe. Technically it is somewhat like a chorus device, but a bit more subtle. Definitely have to try it and you will want to use it to widen stereo fields and to blend in pronounced instruments.
  2. EchoBoy – again this is kind of timeless. It is all the tape delay heaven that you can possibly dream of in this little plugin.
  3. Crystallizer – for the experimental types. Delay again, but instead of BBD/tape style found in EchoBoy, this one is all about grain and recycling. You can also change the pitch of the feedback to get really weird.

Freebie Alert – Juno Chorus Clone From Arturia FREE

Ho! Ho! Ho! Arturia has done a very good clone of vintage vibe and it’s free of charge until 29th of December 2020

Let’s end this year in style and in class!

This plugin is good. Sure, it will never be like the real thing, right? This is not really that important, what is more important is that you as a producer will have one more tool to fit your sound design ideas in. You all know what this is, namely a clone of the legendary chorus found on the Juno synth. Arturia’s take is exactly the one that can be heard on their Juno software emulation. They even put a web preview for you, so you can instantly hear it.

https://www.arturia.com/freegift-chorus-jun6