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Arturia Pigments 3 - User review - Gearspace.com
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Arturia Pigments 3
5 5 out of 5, based on 2 Reviews

Wow! Arturia has done it again . . . in spades!


26th April 2021

Arturia Pigments 3 by Sound-Guy

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Arturia Pigments 3

PIGMENTS 3 from Arturia

You’d have to have rather poor eyesight to have missed the announcement of Pigments 3 since it’s been a banner at the top of the several Gearspace pages since its release a few days ago. And if you just ignored the announcement you might want to think again – Pigments 3 is a significant update to Pigments 2 which was significantly expanded from the original Pigments. If you are a drummer or guitarist, you may be excused, but anyone creating music with virtual instruments should take a look and listen.

First, Pigments 3 is free if you already own Pigments or Pigments 2. That’s a no-brainer. Also, if you already have any Pigments version, there is a great deal during the intro period on a set of 500 presets called the Spectrum Sound Pack – for $20. And if you don’t have Pigments, version 3 is currently half price with the Spectrum Sound Pack thrown in as a welcome gift.




What is/are Pigments?
Pigments is a virtual analog/digital synthesizer/sampler with a number of sound engines and FX. The original version was excellent and included two synth engines types (analog and wavetable) that could be mixed in various ways using one of each engine type or two of either type, lots of filter options and a baker’s dozen of excellent FX. It also provided excellent modulation options, an arpeggiator and a very flexible step sequencer. Pigments 2 added a third sound generator type (a sample engine) and hundreds of samples, and you could import samples of your own. The sample engine has six sample slots and six playback modes. They also added a granular mode that enabled samples to become granular synth patches with a host of parameter controls such as density, envelopes, size and randomization. And there was an additional filter and a tape echo delay – the filter being an emulation of the Buchla Easel low-pass filter (from their V Collection series of classic keyboards). Version two also added MPE capability and enhanced modulation capabilities.

So now what have they done? The changes in Pigments 3 quite blew me away! Yes, there are more sounds as one would expect (200 new preset sounds and 64 new wavetables), but there is also an entirely new sound generator, the Harmonic Engine. And more – there is also an additional “Utility Engine” that enables quite a few new tricks, and can be run at the same time as two of the “traditional” sound engines. And there are new FX, a new filter type, and more ways to modulate almost everything.

Does it Sound Good?
As Billie Eilish says, “Duh!” Pigments is a beast, and can make sounds ranging from subtle, gentle pads, tinkley bells and environmental atmospheres to earth shaking bass and explosive crescendos. If you want light, FM-like sounds, you’ve got it. Fat analog basses, OK. Thick complex evolving textures, easy. Check the link below to hear some examples of the various sound modes.

The new Harmonic Engine is an additive synth, but a different kind of additive synth than I have used or seen before. Rather than combining multiple sets of waveforms (sine waves or otherwise) the Harmonics Engine is a single module with several controls that enable you to quickly create a fundamental (sine wave of course) and up to 512 partials (harmonics). And you can very easily, even in real time (manually or using automation or modulation), adjust the number of harmonics, the balance of odd to even harmonics (from all odd to 50%-50% to all even), the relative levels of harmonics, apply two “Spectrum” profiles to the partials and even morph between them for an extreme range of sounds and evolving sounds.



The Harmonic Engine lets you pan different partials across the stereo field for wide movement of sounds, and has three modes for further modulating and altering the balance of partials in a sound, including “Shepard’s tone” the audio illusion in which a complex sound seems to be eternally rising or falling in pitch even though its base frequency is unchanged. And there is a lot more just related to this new sound engine, but too much to describe in this short review. Suffice to say I spent hours playing with it and found an amazing range of sounds.



The new Utility Engine is simple but effective and provides a sub-oscillator with five analog waveforms (sine, triangle, saw, ramp, and square) and a whopping +/-36 semitone tuning range along with two creative “noise sources” that provide sampled sounds including noises, various ambiances, nature and machine sounds, even vinyl record crackles. You can layer any of these three engines together at once and you can separately tune and filter each engine’s output. And as I mentioned, you can run the Utility Engine along with one or two of the other sound generators.

As before, Pigments has extensive and very quick to use modulation capability. Setting up modulation for parameters is very easy – hover the cursor over a destination control and a ‘+’ appears to the upper right, click it and the source bar shows sources. Click on any source and adjust the amount of control, plus or minus. Any destination can have multiple modulators and any modulator can be set to control multiple destinations, each with their own strength setting. This allows setting up multiple modulations very quickly, much faster than with many software synths.

Speaking of modulation, there is also a powerful Combinator mode which can be used to generate a modulation source based on the interactions of one or two other modulation sources. There are three of these mathematical manipulators available for use as a modulation source and they include functions like sum, difference, multiplication, division, crossfade, and filtering. Oh, and if you want to control any parameters with MIDI, I counted over 1,600 possible MIDI CC options – obviously not all of these should be controlled at once!

As before the Analog Engine includes three oscillators per voice with multiple waveforms, variable pulse width for the triangle and square waves, quantizable modulation of pitch, programmable random oscillator drift to emulate vintage oscillator behavior, and frequency modulation.




The Wavetable Engine lets you browse factory presets of wavetables or load your own, morph or jump between wavetable positions, quantize the modulation of pitch, and has four excellent ways to further “mangle” the sounds: FM (frequency modulation – linear or exponential), phase modulation, phase distortion, and wavefolding.

Technical
I played Pigments 3 standalone and as a plug-in using REAPER and Studio One in a PC Audio Labs Rok Box PC (64 Bit Windows, 4-Core Intel i7-4770K, 3.5 GHz, and 16 GB RAM). Latency seems to be a constant 44 samples (tested at 48 kHz, so under 1 msec delay) and total CPU usage varied depending on number of notes played at once and the complexity of modulations and oscillators used, varying from 0.5% to 2% for practical use, and as much as 4% if I smashed hand fulls of notes. RAM use is about 700 MB when loaded and operating.

Conclusion
WOW! An amazing synth/sampler/wavetable instrument has been expanded again in new dimensions, improving capabilities of the previous sound sources, adding a unique take on additive synthesis, and a new auxiliary oscillator and sample player source. And for current owners, it’s FREE! Of course all this technical complexity would be nil if it didn’t sound good, and it sounds superb (check out the link below). And it also wouldn’t be great if it took a degree in engineering to operate, but a six year old child (even a 26 year old drummer!) will find it easy and fun to explore.

Pros
A truly monumental sound machine that is easier to program than most complex software instruments I have used and provides a superb range of excellent sounds.

Up to three of five sound engine types (Analog, Wavetable, Sample/Granular, Harmonic, and Utility) can be used at once.

Ten continuously variable filter types with very flexible routing.

Eighteen FX are available with up to nine effects applied to a sound at once.

Vast modulation capabilities with very easy and flexible control.

Pitch bend and transpose have +/- 36 semitone range.

Powerful step sequencer and arpeggiator.

Excellent browser that can find sounds by type, style, name and bank.

Free to owners of Pigments 1 and 2!

Cons
None – except the front panel still says PIGMENTS, rather than PIGMENTS 3!


See the site for more details and sound examples: https://www.arturia.com/products/ana...cs/pigments#en

Attached Thumbnails
Arturia Pigments 3-pigments-1.jpg   Arturia Pigments 3-pigments-11.jpg   Arturia Pigments 3-pigments-10.jpg   Arturia Pigments 3-pigments-8.jpg  
Last edited by Sound-Guy; 26th April 2021 at 04:50 PM..

  • 1
1 week ago

Arturia Pigments 3 by Sound-Guy

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Arturia Pigments 3

Pigments 3.5 from Arturia

Arturia have done it again – another free upgrade of their fabulous Polychrome Software Synthesizer, as they call Pigments. As you may recall, Pigments 3 was free for Pigments or Pigments 2 owners about nine months ago. This update is a 0.5 “minor” change that adds significant new functions, dozens of new wavetables, as well as 150 new presets. A no-brainer if you already have Pigments, and something you should consider if you don’t.
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What is It?
Pigments was described in great detail (by me) in the April 2021 Gearspace review (see previous review above), so I won’t repeat those 1,400 words. In short Pigments is a virtual analogue/digital synthesizer/sampler with a number of FX designed to be very intuitive to use. Its two flexible sound engines can each provide sounds using one of four synth types: a three-oscillator Analogue engine for subtractive synthesis, a digital Wavetable generator with hundreds of morphable wavetables, a Sample engine with hundreds of audio samples (and a granular mode), and a uniquely designed Harmonic Engine providing additive synthesis. And there is more – there is an additional third “Utility Engine” that enables quite a few tricks, and can be run at the same time as sound engines 1 and 2. Take a look at the last review if you haven’t already

What is so excellent about version 3.5 (other than being a free upgrade) are some really effective added functions: CrossMod allows you to create versatile frequency modulation behaviour between both main engines, even having engine 1 modulate engine 2 at the same time that engine 2 modulates engine 1! This can lead to some wild sounds. There is also a new Distortion Module that provides 16 modes of distortion with built-in filtering. And an expanded Comb Filter with new damped modes which can filter out certain frequencies in the feedback loop, expanding control over the filter's behaviour. This is very effective for plucked sounds, bowed leads, grinding metallic sounds, and many other effects.


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Access to CrossMod is by clicking the v arrow to the right of MODULATOR, then choosing an engine rather than the normal
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Modulator button.

There is also an enhanced sample engine browser, an improved user interface, and for Mac folks, support of Apple’s next-generation M1 processor. And if you have some audio sample folders on your computer you can directly access their files rather than needing to import samples into Pigments. You can also audition sample sounds with a simple click. So Pigments 3.5 is more powerful than ever before, yet easier to use. And it was already about the most intuitive sound generating instrument I’ve tried.

There is extensive real-time control available using MIDI Learn, as well as DAW automation capability with an astounding 1,778 automation lanes! This is a new record in my book. You pretty well must set your DAW to automatically add automation envelopes when a control is tweaked since trying to find a particular automation lane in a list multiple pages long is close to impossible. Just don’t forget to disable the auto-envelope mode after you choose the parameters you want to automate or new lanes will keep popping up.

Sound Design Tips view is a unique feature that helps identify parameters and parameter ranges that the sound designer employed while developing any selected factory-preset, and it can help define and draw attention to your own favourite parameters and parameter ranges in your original presets.

What Does It look like?
The main view shows tabs for each sound engine, sound engine modulation and filter controls, and modulation sources for control of almost any Pigments parameter.


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Here we see the Engine 1 window open with an analogue generator in the upper left, Engine 2 to its right with a sample generator, and the Utility engine is next on the right. Filter controls are further to the right and the yellow outlined panel shows the new Comb filter modes available. There is also a new Jupiter-8 style filter bringing the total number of filter types to ten.

The bottom half of the window shows the 24 parameter modulation sources with the Function sources and their controls shown in detail below. You can modulate just about any Pigments control with one or more of the modulation sources. In fact, you can modulate the modulation source controls themselves with other modulation sources as well as with MIDI Learn and DAW automation controls.

Note that all the modulation source images are animated in real-time which is both fun and useful since you can see which sources are being used (unused ones are dark), and see the shape and rate of change of any source to help decide where you might want to apply one. And of course all the modulation sources are programmable with a range of controls. The Function sources shown here can have almost any shape you want (up to 64 break-points with independent levels and different curves available between each point) and are capable of cycle times from 20 Hz down to 0.01 Hz – a 100 second cycle time to help create very slowly evolving effects when you wish.


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This screen shows the FX view open with three effects, Distortion, a Stereo Pan, and a Pitch-Shifting Delay. Note the Distortion panel has its Type window open with the 16 distortion types outlined in yellow – actually there are “only” 14 new types since Overdrive and Wavefolder used to be separate FX. There are a total of sixteen FX and two FX buses, A and B, which can each have up to three FX. Actually there is also a Send FX bus that can host another three FX and operate in parallel with the A and B buses, and the A and B buses can also be configured in series or parallel. Very flexible. As with pretty much every control in Pigments, most of the FX controls can be modulated with any of the 24 modulation sources (and/or controlled using MIDI Learn or DAW automation). The bottom section here shows the Envelope sources and their controls in detail.


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Here is the Sequencer along with the keyboard view switched on – you can use this mode as an arpeggiator or sequencer and it is extremely powerful with its six control tracks: Pitch, Velocity, Octave, Trig(ger) Proba(bility), Gate Length and Slide. You can likely figure what these are – the Trig Proba is a statistical probability that the note plays at a given step. Set to zero the note never plays, at 100% it always plays, 50% it plays half the time overall, but randomly, not every other pass. All these tracks are used by the sequencer, but the arpeggiator does not use the Pitch track since it responds to notes you provide in real-tme from a keyboard or from a DAW track.

At the left of each track are controls for Random(izing), a rate Div(ider) control, and a Reset to a nominal mode. The rate divider is fascinating – it divides the specific track’s step rate by the selected value, ½, 1/3, ¼, etc. creating some unique variations in tone and rhythm. To the left of the Pitch track are controls for Scale and Transposing. There are 14 musical scales available plus a custom mode where you can devise your own. Built-in scales include Chromatic, Major, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor, Melodic Minor, Dorian, and eight more.

There are multiple randomization modes with both per-track controls and pre-configured randomization for all tracks at a certain time within a bar, at the bar boundary, or at multiples of the bar boundary. This enables a wide range of variation in played patterns while keeping the beat and desired musical structures in place.

Pigments includes MIDI Output so that any of the patterns generated by the arpeggiator or sequencer can be sent to other virtual instruments in your DAW (or to an external instrument if you route MIDI out of your interface). Fifteen pages of the user manual describes all the sequencer/arpeggiator features very well.


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The browser has selection of Types (which includes Bass, Keys, Leads, Pads Piano, Organ, Sequences, Sound FX and others), Styles (including Genre and Characteristics as shown above), and Banks which includes the original presets from version 1 and any additional banks you’ve acquired (with version 3.5 including version 2, 3.0, and the new 3.5 banks). As you can see I currently have 1,862 presets (some are my own creations).

Technical
I played Pigments 3.5 standalone and as a plug-in using REAPER and Studio One in a PC Audio Labs Rok Box PC (64 Bit Windows, 4-Core Intel i7-4770K, 3.5 GHz, and 16 GB RAM). Latency appears to be a constant 1 msec – 48 samples at 48 kHz, 96 samples at 96 kHz, etc. Total CPU usage varies depending on number of notes played at once and the complexity of modulations and oscillators used, varying from under 1% to 5% or a bit more if I smashed hand fulls of notes. This is similar to several other complex synth-samplers I have. RAM use was measured at a modest 620 MB.

Conclusion
Pigments (and Arturia!) continue to amaze me with their generous and expansive synth/sampler powerhouse of a sound machine. Of course, pure power isn’t useful if sound quality is less than pristine, and as with the previous versions, Pigments sound quality is superb. I have a dozen large software synth/samplers, some I’ve had for nearly twenty years that still have their place, but Pigments has become my go-to instrument when I want complex, evolving or animated electronic music sounds. If I could have only one of the software synthesizers I own today, it would be Pigments.

Pros:
Excellent sounds, superb sound quality, extreme range of timbres, with modulation capabilities up the kazoo, yet relatively easy to adjust sounds to your liking – or beyond!

MIDI Learn for almost every parameter which, combined with seamless, glitchless operation as parameters are varied, enables an even greater range of sounds beyond the already vast range available using the three engines, the filtering, parameter modulations, FX and sequencer/arpeggiator.

In a DAW you can use automation with an astounding 1,778 possible automation lanes (well, I’d stick to no more than a dozen or so!).

Supports MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression).

Great range of presets to help the user get started with useful timbres and effects.

The Tutorials mode is very informative and can help you learn to better program Pigments.

The comprehensive user manual has over 200 pages of descriptions and examples.

Cons:
Nothing serious comes to mind! Pigments is vastly comprehensive with well over a thousand adjustable parameters, so gaining full mastery of it won’t happen overnight, but it can be approached starting with presets and experimentation to yield excellent results quickly.

https://www.arturia.com/products/ana...igments/update

Attached Thumbnails
Arturia Pigments 3-pig35-intro1.png   Arturia Pigments 3-pig35-xmod.png   Arturia Pigments 3-pig35-distort16.png   Arturia Pigments 3-pig35-sequencer.png   Arturia Pigments 3-pig35-browser.png  

Arturia Pigments 3-pig35-comb-filter.png  
 

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