Arturia’s V collection is made up of 28 stunning virtual instruments at this point, covering everything from analog classical to acoustic pianos to forgotten digital keyboards. At some point, you might think that the company lacks interesting synths to emulate, but not yet. A new addition to the Arturia family is the SQ80V. Ensoniq SQ-80..
The SQ-80 was a little strange beast. Released in 1987, it combines an 8-bit digital wavetable with an analog filter. It’s quirky, crunchy and seriously fun. The crunch lo-fi digital sample and analog warmth combine to make it quite unique. Also, an era when many synthesizer makers were cramming all the features they could imagine and removing the interface (look at you). DX7), The SQ-80 was surprisingly easy to program. It was also one of the earliest keyboards with polyphonic aftertouch captured here thanks to MPE support.
Arturia usually takes a lot of effort to reproduce the physical look and control of the emulating synth, but the company has simplified it a bit for the SQ80 V. You can change the oscillator waves to fine-tune the filter, but all three LFOs and four envelopes are on separate, slightly more mouse-friendly synthesizer tabs.
Arturia also ran out of all the sound sources. This includes a selection of temporary waveforms in addition to the original 75 waveforms and “hidden” waveforms from the SQ-80 and its predecessor ESQ-1. The company has greatly expanded the possibilities of SQ80V sound design without actually deviating from the original mind and character.
However, this is not surprising. Arturia has been meticulously emulating classic synths for a long time, adding some modern conveniences. It would be even more surprising if you unmarked it at this point.
However, one of the implications of this is that the company is filling an increasingly small niche in its equipment stockpile. The SQ80 V is a digital synthesizer with lo-fi characters built around sampled waveforms and analog filters. If that sounds familiar, the same rough explanation applies to Arturia’s recreated E-MU Emulator II. V Collection 8 During December.
Both are certainly crisp and digital, but they have their own identities. The Emulator II is a simpler sampler, and the SQ-80 is more like a traditional synthesizer. I really enjoyed the emulator’s lo-fi bit crash key, but digged deeper into the SQ80V. It’s more familiar to anyone from the synthesizer world. Plus, it’s a little warmer, more timeless sound. It’s not that you can’t get the cheesy 80’s sound out of the SQ80 V, but it’s easier to get the modern sound out of the emulator. The emulator can feel cold and brittle to my taste.
The SQ80 V has several analog-style sounds, but its bread and butter are crushed digital sounds. Harsh industrial hits, dusty keys, ambient pads. Two sound packs that devote themselves to those strengths have been released together: Dust Factory and Raw Machinery.
However, even if you skip the sound pack, you should be able to easily find the sound you like with the included presets or by designing your own. Also, creating your own patch is very easy. The three digital oscillators have drop-down menus for selecting waveforms, the envelopes and LFOs all have their own tabs, and filters can be shaped with the mouse. The entire interface is clean, attractive, retro and easy to navigate. It’s especially impressive considering how much power you have to manipulate things. Most parameters can be modulated by several different sources. Also, many parameters can be modulated by two sources at the same time.
My little complaint about the UI is that the little dials next to the various modulation destinations can be a bit clearer. If you want to change the filter cutoff in an LFO 2, it’s easy for everyone to hover over the dark circle below it and then click the smaller plus sign that pops up to select the modulation source. I don’t know. Then click and drag the circle to set the modulation amount.
Aside from that, Arturia deserves praise for its hard work over the last two years in creating thorough and clear tutorials for all instruments. The SQ80V is no exception.
Arturia’s V collection is packed with great instruments and great sounds, but the SQ80 V is quickly becoming one of my favorites (although technically it’s not part of the V collection). It will be available as a stand-alone instrument with an introduction price of $ 99 until October 5th, and will be $ 199 by October 5th. You can also bundle it with V Collection 8 at a discounted price, but the final price depends on your Arturia customer status.
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