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TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 #3028892 02/13/20 08:16 PM
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Dave Bryce Offline OP
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We'd like to try a new concept out here at MPN, if we may...

We've asked several of the Keyboard Corner's Advisory Board members to try exploring unique and original software instruments - in this case, Arturia's Pigments 2 - as a group. We'd also be delighted if anyone who already has a copy of Pigments 2 (or wants to download the demo) would like to join us for any portion. Of course, anyone is welcome to comment and/or ask questions during the process whether or not they have a copy. thu

If appropriate, we may even try to get someone from the manufacturer to participate in the process. We have every intention of being very honest in our exploration of the product, and it could be interesting and useful to be able to get the perspective of the folks who helped bring it to market.

So, let's see where it goes. popcorn

dB


Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3028894 02/13/20 08:29 PM
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Dave Bryce Offline OP
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About Pigments 2:

Arturia has made a very strong name for themselves over the years developing software versions of many of the most iconic and well-loved hardware electronic musical instruments of all time. With Pigments, they decided to take all the experience they've acccumulated over the years and come up with their own design which incorporates several different technologies and a really distinctive and powerful GUI.
[Linked Image from medias.arturia.net]

Pigments 2 added all sorts of improvements over the first revision, including (but not limited to) the ability to load user samples, granular synthesis, an onboard sequencer, and more.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the Pigments 2 synthesizer, the elevator pitch (from Arturia's product page) is:

Quote
Pigments features a twin audio engine, letting you mix virtual analog and wavetable oscillators with a sample engine to create the perfect starting point for your patch. You can even morph wavetables, granularize samples, and import your own sounds to warp and contort.

What you do next is up to you. Experiment with 3 envelopes, 3 LFOs, and 3 function generators. Assign modulators to animate your sound, and breathe life into it. Add controlled, or totally wild random changes to any parameter with a Turing probability generator. Run it through 2 filters, with any combination of iconic analog filters or modern formant and surgeon filters you want. Process your patch with exciting contemporary effects like wavefolder and multifilter, or vintage studio reverbs, tape delays, and EQs.

Definitely not your Daddy's synth. boing

Stay tuned for our first impressions!

dB

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3028926 02/13/20 11:40 PM
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I own Pigments 2 and have used it in my most recent song.

Even so I've only spent a few hours with it, so I really only feel I can comment on it from a usability perspective. Specifically, I nearly didn't buy it because I'd read a few reports that it was hard to navigate / use. I didn't find this to be the case - after watching a couple of YouTube vids on using it I found it fairly straightforward. So my mini-review is: sound-wise I really like it, and as far as usability, take 30 mins to get to know it and you'll be fine thu

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029159 02/15/20 03:13 PM
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Roll call:

I'm using an old 2011 MPB (2.4 GHz) running 10.11.8. Install went fine. Typically (like most folks, I guess) I run through a bunch of the presets before I do anything else, mainly to see if I'm more drawn towards wanting to start making music right away, or whether I find myself wanting to know more about what's under the hood. With this one, I'm definitely drawn towards the latter - especially with the intriguing GUI providing all this intgeresting visualk feedback.

I'm going to run through their tutorial on the instrument today to see what they think I should know and in what order.

dB

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029168 02/15/20 05:16 PM
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I'm on a 2009 4,1 mac pro. The install was flawless. No hick ups or surprises. I opened up my host program, digital performer and there it was just as it should be. I love the look of it and more importantly the sound of it. It's going to be a great addition to my toolbox and even though it has to sit next to some heavy hitters it has it's own unique sound and value. I've only had it for a day or two and just going through presets and doing tweaks as I demo them. I'll do a library piece in a couple days and use a few instances to get familiar with it and explore...but so far it's inspiring to play and to put your hands on.

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: linwood] #3029201 02/15/20 10:02 PM
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I installed it last night on a Dell Windows laptop. Intel i3 processor with 12 GB RAM running Windows 10. Everything went smoothly. Verified audio and MIDI connections worked. Will give it my first test run Sunday night into Monday.


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029211 02/15/20 11:13 PM
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I had a friend buy me Pigments 2 on Christmas Eve, which was a great holiday module. Here's a presumptuous pile of quick takes.

*I'm slowly exploring the corners, such as the wavetable section of 100+ sounds. They're not full-range layouts, but more like the Prophet X's high-grade 8Dio library of what I call Oscillator Food. You can get a decent neo-acoustic piano, although it'll be a bit static, even with careful envelope crafting & subtle modulation. That's the line for Real. For synth work, the hybrid e-sounds are very nice and hit a lot of classic 'wavetable' marks, such as very present mallet & bell sounds.

*The Analog engine is a bit on the clean side, but also passes the Moog test for getting quite close to Bob's base ladder filter tone. In that case, there's a notable Roland lush-tropical-fruit-filter feel to it, but its still quite engaging to hear. Having three oscillators is a great boost when you need Big or Lush. Its easy to get some Juno/Jupiter action going.

*The filter section is scary-broad, with variations on the usual suspects, plus a handful of Matrix-12 options I'm still trying to grasp. Since there are dual filters to be had, you can see how running two exotic models could be pleasingly rich or even alien.

*I'm getting a welcome lesson in modulation, thanks to the real-time displays in the center of the GUI. They're just big enough for you to glance up and know where you are pretty easily. In reverse-engineering the more brash presets, I quickly learned where to go to tweak the wobbling and make them more subtle.

*There is a panel offering very rudimentary 2-op FM, Phase Modulation, Phase DISTORTION (the Casio approach) and Wavefolding in one place. You can do the usual tricks for bass/brass/bell sounds with the first three. Wavefolding is a sort of 'West Coast' modular feature that's new to me, but thanks to the graphic display on top, you can watch the effect each section has on the fly. It often adds a certain movement in a linear-sounding way rather than being in-your-face unless you push it. There's a lot of interesting subtlety & grit to be had.

*The Granular section is also new to me, but I'm figuring it out as a superior pad source, for starters. GIGO and all, but once you get the grain size & scan rate established, it can be rather easy to get a nice pad or a scary vocal-like rumble going.

*The Bezier curves for envelopes and modulation are appreciated. IMO, they're all but ideal for the job. I heart grab-&-go graphic tools.

*The GUI can be resized very neatly, TY. OTOH, the preset browser is all too squinty. No deal breaker, certainly, but Pigments, Korg Legacys and all AAS instruments could really use a browser list upgrade, visually. To be fair, it is a lot of data to shuffle, but still...

*The preset library sounds very FRENCH, somehow. Its amusing to hear a Sequential sound, a German sound, a Roland sound and the like in the market. In this case, there is X amount of disposable EDM or screeching material, but the rest is a decent, sometimes surprising cross-section. There are many sweet-deal candidates for layering, very stout Unison patches and more than a few sounds that are good played mono or poly. I love those!

*So far, I've found only a few patches I'd play solo in an exposed situation, but I have a large library of sounds from elsewhere that are dying to cozy up to many of these. The demos convinced me that it was a decent synth, but as sharp a sound as it can emit, its amusing to also see it as a serious "ambient" instrument. It has pad options for days, with a great mod matrix that's potent without being daunting. The dual engines have a lot to do with that.

*I haven't even touched the sequencer/arp yet. I need to have a better grip on the instrument's voice first. Its too seductive to just let some Berlinesque patch loop before you figure out the where and why. Now watch me lie my @$$ off by building a new piece based on one.

*I felt a restless need to add to my voice options, but I've been at this too long to cry over not having a Schmidt or CS15 for each hand. When I got down to it, it was the WAV import (yet to be tried), wavefolding, granular engine & the 100+ wavetables that sold me. Its also a bit of a landmark. Its the first instrument I've bought for mature, balanced reasons instead of slavering over it first like a werewolf on crack. The more I explore it, the more I feel like I made the right move.


First SETI response hailed as aliens beam out Voyager response!:
"SEND MORE CHUCK BERRY!"
Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029241 02/16/20 03:41 AM
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I tell ya, when I get time to sit and play with an instrument like this for a few hours, I forget why it is I have a television. Seriously... puff rolleyes

My first impressions are very positive. Way deep engine, fairly easy to navigate (especially if you've used Arturia synths before), and - as David mentioned above - really easy to see what's bringing the sounds to life by just looking at the GUI, especially the mod matrix.

I'm finding a very nice variety in the programming styles of the sound design team. There are certainly sounds that wouldn't be the first thing I'd reach for, but those are outnumbered by many others that have some really intriguing sonic twists to them. I grew up with a Mini, so I also love having three oscillators per voice...times two if want, with the second engine; plus, I've been a big fan of making complex tones by mixing analog and digital waveforms for a really long time, so I can't help but like having that option on steroids. Can't wait to dig into some of the deeper functions.

I'm controlling the synth with an Arturia Keylab II, so it's already well mapped to the controllers. Like their Matrix Brute, Pigments features four Macro knobs that can control multiple assignable stacked functions, and having dedicated access to those (the last four knobs on the Keylab) enhances the fun with a lot of these programs.

I'm still just at the playing and poking around stage, but I'm enjoying this instrument a lot. Sitting the Keylab on top of the Hammond A100 was an unexpected plus - the two instruments pair quite nicely, but am finding the combination to be...distracting. rocker

dB


Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029448 02/17/20 07:29 PM
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I'm really diggin' this. The tutorials included were really helpful to get me in the ballpark pretty quick. So far I've gone through a lot of presets and programmed a couple mini leads for it that sound really nice. When I'm doing synth tracks and reaching for a VI I tend to use Omnisphere a lot and I also like Thorn, but in just two days I feel that P2 is a must have for me. It's vast and has a great "hands on" feel to it and sounds fantastic. The arp/seq is great…anybody know if I can control the cutoff with cc11 with my right foot? I know…RTM!!! lol

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029568 02/18/20 04:48 AM
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I've had a copy for a few months, and though I haven't spent a whole lot of time with it, I can give my feedback.

- First off, MPE integration is surprisingly flawless. It's as accessible as Roli's own Equator, and less buggy than Serum (which has struggled with some MPE aspects for a while). That said, I never tried to do anything particularly complex with the MPE modulators, just plugged it in to my Seaboard and played around with presets. But it looks like all the tools are there. I don't know whether it can do relative Slide yet, Equator is the only one I know of that does that, and it's not particularly important, sometimes I'm not even sure it works correctly in Equator.

- Sound is juicy and full, no complaints there. Presets are aimed a bit more at EDM and dance pop than live keyboard performance, IMO. But that's really been the case with Serum and most of the modern Wavetable synths I've played with. LOTS of wavetables to play with.

- Modulator section is FANTASTIC, probably the largest assortment of usable mods on the scene. No BS "dual LFOs" or blocks that cut corners. I find FXpansion Cypher and Strobe to be almost unusable due to all its weird integration of modulators, nothing sounds like I want it to. User defined functions and THREE random Modulators, which is really really useful for my sound design work. Zebra2 is the only one with more random mods (FOUR), but I don't own it, so I can't comment. Serum has been a big letdown in this department, as they opted for all hand-drawn modulators, which is probably great for most people, but don't allow for randomization. NI Massive never had any, don't know about Massive2. Equator has two, and they're very good, but Pigments' are more flexible.

- Interface... I think I could learn to love this. I've always held Massive as the gold standard with the way it presented its concentric collars. Pigments follows very much in Massive's footsteps, with its own flavor that offers both advantages and disadvantages. Unlike massive, no parameter is limited to two modulators. This isn't a huge thing for me as I've rarely found the need to add more. That was a product of Massive's adherence to making sure everything was immediately visible on the screen (which I applaud), and there's only so many collars you can fit around a nob. Pigments adds the ability to add an unlimited number of mods to a control, with the concession that only the first one is visible at all times. However, if you click a control it immediately highlights the currently assigned mods, and clicking on them will bring up their collars. Where Pigments surpasses Massive and takes a page from Serum and many other new synths, is that in additional to collars, it has a little spark that shows the exact position of the controller output in real time. It's kind of cute, and helpful for troubleshooting.

- The Two Engine system is ridiculously deep. Each Engine has 3 modes: Analog can provide up to 3 simple layered waveforms (for a total of 6!). The Wavetable mode is just infinitely controllable. There are a plethora of high-quality wavetables, and you can import your own which are in the same format as Serum. Visual representation is solid. The Sample engine is quite bizarre, however, being both over and under engineered, and this is where there's some seriously missed opportunities (that may be expanded in later versions). It attempts to be a multi-sample producer, but it only has 6 sample slots. Furthermore, the sample mapping is locked per octave or to a velocity range depending on what mode you choose. Frankly, I don't see the usefulness of this. I'm no stranger to assigning one-off SFX to notes or pads or keys (where this might be handy), but this doesn't allow you to define specific ranges, only octaves. It has modes for round robin and random cycling too, but again, without a discreet range control, I can't imagine much potential for this. I think they could have scrapped the "mode" idea altogether, and just allowed input boxes for note and velocity ranges per sample, which would have made this far more flexible and simpler. Otherwise, it's a fine mono-sample engine, and you can import your own, unlike some of the tacked-on sample playback engines that VIs include in their synths (*caugh* Equator). The sample engine also is the only mode that doesn't allow for multi-voice unions. Not surprising since that's not typically the realm of Samplers. But there was an opportunity there that could have been cool.

In closing, Pigments is a ridiculously deep and well constructed. Very strong FX unit that I failed to review. The interface is one of the most tight and solid I've seen in recent years, which is surprising coming from Arturia whose I consider to be typically subpar. I only spent a short time flipping through presets, and they seemed decent enough. The engine system, mod block, and filters are fantastic and well laid out. The sample engine is rudimentary with some odd rumblings of something greater that never happened... but no worse than any other VI. I guess my biggest concern is that this synth is EVERYTHING. Never in a million years are you going to hear a record and say, "oh, that's a Pigments Patch!" And that's sorta the thing with Wavetablers, isn't it? I mean, I guess I can see a tune was made in 2008 and figure it uses Massive, but it's not like Diva which has it's own simple but juicy flavor. But it's great to have an "everything but the kitchen sink" synth around that just gets the job done, no matter how complex. I'll admit to never warming up to Serum the way many do. It's fine, and Steve Duda is a super nice guy. Like Pigments it's a big ol toolbox, very deep and flexible. I guess I just never felt in sync with the workflow, and I came in right when MPE was new and buggy. Pigments is a little more to my liking, it's a bit more varied in presets, has a Sample engine, as well as an eye on the past, while Serum feels absolutely rooted in 2015.

Arturia just needs to get out there and make some waves, some targeted patch packs, and clean up their Sample engine, and they'd have near perfect synth. At this point I give it a solid 9/10.


"All's fair in love, war, and the recording studio."

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Arturia Keylab88, Mojo61, Seaboard Rise49, Vortex Keytar (RIP), Trumpet
Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: EricBarker] #3029581 02/18/20 05:57 AM
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Excellent post Eric. I just spent 2 hours checking out the presets. I had gotten away from VST's recently (focusing on the hardware I own). This one has renewed my interest. Great to have so many choices. cool
Can't wait to dig into it deeper.


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029860 02/19/20 10:03 PM
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When Pigments 1 first came out they made a demo available for 3 days which I took advantage of. I thought I commented in this thread but apparently not. No matter, I'll do my best to go into version 2 with an open mind.

Thought I'd start with deconstructing a preset after trying out a bunch of them. Disclaimer - I'm not a preset guy and Pigment 2 reminds me why; My thing is sound exploration and playing/noodling with sounds that get me off. I'm not putting together arrangements or orchestrating and so as is typical I found nothing in Pigments 2 that met my admittedly limited use (or abuse). I do think I can objectively state that almost every preset I tried was slathered in effects which I hate.

Deconstructing a preset lends itself well to figuring out how software (or hardware) works. Basically I'm trying to strip away any modulations, effects and funky things happening to each oscillator or other sound sources. Then I'll turn all but 1 of those sound sources off and start to build up from there. I have to say that just about everything I came across today made sense. I only struggled with a couple of things and not for long. But rather than detail out specifics I've provide a sample clip I created below. I'll provide my comment and opinions in a day or 2.

This patch was created by deconstructing preset "Rusty Digivoice found under the Pad presets

Rusty Marky

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Markyboard] #3029885 02/20/20 12:53 AM
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I really liked the velocity controlled brass stab. thu


A reason why I collect old keyboards is that I feel partly responsible for doing it, responsible for preserving history and being a custodian for these things
Plus, old gear has a story. I like that.
Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: davedoerfler] #3029922 02/20/20 12:17 PM
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While continuing where I left off I'm still exploring the analog engine and something just doesn't seem right. And it reinforces my very initial impression that the oscillators don't seem to "fit together" or blend right. Of course that's subjective but it may be attributed to a possible bug. There appears to always be a sine wave on for each oscillator independent of which waveform is selected. Now I could definitely be missing something here but check this out:

Here is a single oscillator played where I believe I've eliminated all the sound altering parameters (see details in the sound clip description).

Pigments 2 Marky Sample # 2

One thing not in this sound clip is that with unison detuning and stereo set to 0 and Voices set to 1 changing from Classic to Super changes the sound. idk

Again, won't be surprised to find out I missed something.

(Edit:) I should have done this earlier but I started from a completely different preset and same thing.

Last edited by Markyboard; 02/20/20 01:17 PM.
Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029969 02/20/20 07:10 PM
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One more for today. Mixed in a sample using the granular functionality along with the Analog engine. The real time control possibilities are impressive. I wanted to use AT to bring in the granularized sample but not have it abruptly cut off as soon as the AT stops. Took some doing but found a way. I do wish the Combinate Mod choices had a selectable trigger option.

Pigments 2 Sample 3

Re: TEAM TEST: Arturia Pigments 2 [Re: Dave Bryce] #3029983 02/20/20 08:55 PM
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Excellent deep dive, brother Marky. Lemme see if I can get someone in the know to comment. idea

dB


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