Home Tech Arturia’s AstroLab Puts Over 30 World-Class Virtual Synths in a Luxurious Keyboard

Arturia’s AstroLab Puts Over 30 World-Class Virtual Synths in a Luxurious Keyboard

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Arturia's AstroLab Puts Over 30 World-Class Virtual Synths in a Luxurious Keyboard

But perhaps AstroLab’s best trick for finding what you need are playlists and songs. These are grouped presets that you can jump between with the push of a button. So if you need a quiet pad from an Ensoniq SQ-80 for the verse and a razor-sharp lead from an MS-20 for the chorus, you can group these into a song, turning the instrument type buttons into direct shortcuts to specific songs. presets. Songs are then further organized into playlists. You simply press the arrow buttons below the on-screen encoder to jump to the next song in your set and load a new set of presets.

If you can’t find what you need among the factory sounds or one of Arturia’s numerous sound packs, you can always design a brand new patch in one of the instruments as part of the V Collection. Then you can save it as a preset and load it onto the keyboard. True, this requires shelling V collectionbut it’s often on sale, and if you already have Analog Lab Pro, which comes with AstroLab, you’ll get an even bigger discount.

World-class soft synths

I’m halfway through this review and haven’t talked about the sound at all. This is partly because it is Analog Lab. It’s an important part of the industry and sounds fantastic. However, if you’re not familiar with it, you can rest assured that you’ll get some of the best emulations of vintage instruments available. When you compare the price to even one of the iconic keyboards it recreates, the value is undeniable.

The Rhodes, Wurlitzer and Hammond B3 compare favorably to what you would find on a Nord stage keyboard, but for almost half the price. It convincingly delivers that dizzying percussive effect you’d get from an organ running through a Leslie, and the mellow sound of a Fender Rhodes.

Plus you get fairly faithful versions of effectively unobtainable synth gems like a Moog Modular, a Yamaha CS-80 or a Fairlight CMI II. Not to mention mass market classics like the Yamaha DX7 and Casio CZ-101. Plus Arturia’s Pigments and Augmented lineup, which combines orchestral, piano and vocal samples with a robust synth engine. You’ll have access to everything from crunchy lo-fi piano and EDM bass wubs to floating string pads, perfect for scoring a sci-fi thriller.

The only real weak spot are the acoustic pianos. They’re not terrible and have certainly improved over the years, but they still feel a bit flimsy and flat compared to the real thing. However, the chance that anyone would complain about it at your next performance is slim to none.

It’s worth noting that this is currently the only way to get Arturias Pigments in hardware form. That is something that personally makes me very enthusiastic. I think it’s the best soft synth on the market, and it can easily compete with other giants in the space like Massive and Serum.

Some will say things are a VST, but mockingly built into a MIDI controller. But that feels limiting here. For starters, this isn’t just a bare-bones digital synth. And the hardware it’s crammed into is luxurious. The semi-weighted keys feel incredible, and they have aftertouch (though unfortunately not polyphonic). The pitch and mod wheels are solid pieces of aluminum and the screen, while small, is bright and colorful. There are even some handsome wooden cheeks on the side. This looks and feels like a high quality piece of gear.

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