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Arturia is renowned for their plugins, and their most recent collection of virtual keyboard instruments may be the most comprehensive in the industry. The Arturia V Collection 7 is a software bundle that includes 24 virtual instruments plus access to Arturia’s Analog Lab 4 program.
Each instrument represents a circuit-accurate reproduction of an original (and often famous) unit, or in the case of the acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments, a high-quality sample that faithfully reproduces the sound of the original.
This collection includes a multitude of hardware and software synthesizers, electric and acoustic pianos, organs, clavinets, and more. Put simply, this plugin will elevate the workflow of almost any project.
How We Reviewed V Collection 7
To get an idea of how the collection’s instruments might function in a live performance context, we put them through their paces as standalone applications using a MIDI controller keyboard.
We also applied them as plugins using Reaper to see how they might fare for producers who are simply looking for quality sounds to map onto their tracks.
Best for: Any project with a focus on keys, including live performances, composition, and recording sessions.
The V Collection 7 isn’t just one plug-in—it’s 25. So many instruments on tap makes it an ideal application for virtually any producer or musician in need of a quality set of keys, whether those keys are attached to a digital synthesizer or a grand piano.
Synth lovers rejoice: not only can you reproduce realistic facsimiles of classic units like the Buchla Music Easel or Roland’s Jupiter 8, you can also use Arturia’s Synthopedia to explore wholly new sounds too.
Piano and electric piano die-hards will find plenty to love too, including some excruciating tone-sculpting options for the acoustic piano samples and a beautiful recreation of two Fender Rhodes models.
Each instrument can be used as a standalone application or in conjunction with a DAW for recording projects.
The standalone feature is important: it’s what allows the instruments to be used with MIDI controllers for live performance with minimal latency. By using just one application without the need for a separate host, users can save valuable processing power and cut down on latency (a huge concern in a live environment). Once you’ve made the necessary connections to a MIDI controller and a speaker, it’s as simple as double-clicking the application’s shortcut—then you’re ready to perform.
In the context of a DAW, each plug-in behaves just like any other virtual instrument: you can play it like a real keyboard using an outboard MIDI controller, or slap it on a MIDI track to apply it’s color and timbre to something you’ve already written. This can be especially useful for composers who spend most of their time meticulously plotting a beautiful piece and need an elegant solution to hear it played back.
The V Collection 7’s 24 instruments could be expounded upon ad infinitum, but for the sake of brevity and usefulness we’ll break them down by category:
Arturia’s analog synthesizer offering includes 10 recreations of popular units spanning decades of production. Each instrument is presented with a photorealistic GUI and all of its original controls intact, so any users fortunate enough to have played the real thing will be familiar with its operation. The JUP-8V (pictured above) is a replica of the Roland Jupiter-8, and after dialing it in for just a bit, can absolutely nail the sounds of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
The Mini V3 is actually a collaboration with the iconic Bob Moog, and a faithful adaptation that preserves the spirit of the original. If your MIDI controller has pitch bend or modulation wheels, you’ll find that the software responds well and allows for nuanced playing.
Even with just these two units, you could reproduce countless tones found on records from the last 50 years, from ABBA to Zappa and all stops in between.
Included analog synths:
4 Digital Synths
In addition to ripping sounds, the V Collection 7 also acts as a sort of archival tool, preserving for a new generation the history of its instruments. One such offering is the CMI V, a reproduction of the Fairlight CMI (Computer Musical Instrument), which was the first commercially available digital sampling system in the world. Sure, it’s a piece of history, but it’s also great for recreating sounds from the early 1980s, no floppy-disk required.
Love it or hate it, the Yamaha DX-7 is just about the most immediately identifiable sound of the 80’s. The V Collection 7 features Arturia’s take on the iconic synth and models its appearance and functionality down to the last detail, including its routing display. Even producers who think they hate the sound of the DX-7 can find something useful here, as we found out while toying with it—there’s a reason it was such a popular unit for so long.
Included digital synths:
6 Pianos and Keyboards
It’s one thing to digitally recreate the circuitry of a synthesizer, and another thing entirely to accurately and believably reproduce the sound of an acoustic instrument. Thankfully Arturia has opted for high-quality sampling tech to accomplish that task, and it’s on full display in their Piano V.
In addition to options for grands and uprights, the Piano V allows for meticulous alterations including the mic placement and adjustment of the velocity curve for attenuating the sensitivity of the keys.
You’ll also notice that the reverb and EQ options are incredibly useful when performing live when those tasks aren’t otherwise easy to accomplish in a live setting.
The V Collection also hosts built-in reverb and EQ features. This helps you avoid adding additional plugins which helps tremendously with CPU usage.
Arturia’s foray into the world of the Fender Rhodes may be, for our money, the most impressive combination of GUI and sound-quality available.
In addition to a quality Rhodes sound and two model variations (stage and suitcase), the plug-in includes elements of the Rhodes sound that are often overlooked or oversimplified in other recreations—the amp and pedalboard. Arturia have outfitted their stage unit with a mock-Fender Twin, a volume pedal to act as a preliminary gain stage, a compressor, a delay, a chorus, and perhaps best of all, a cheekily designed overdrive pedal that looks not-terribly-dissimilar to a certain ubiquitous guitar pedal.
Each knob, from the pedals to the amp, is responsive to the others, so you needn’t relearn how to gain-stage your sound. If you’re a player and have gotten used to using pedals with your stage piano, you can simply apply the same logic here. If you’re more a fan of the suitcase sound, it’s a snap to switch between the two and ditch the Twin.
Keyboards and pianos include:
Arturia considers their reproduction of the famed Hammond B3 Organ to be the definitive recreation, and after playing on the B-3 V, it’s hard to disagree. Tonewheel organs can be difficult to wrap your head around without the authentic hardware in front of you.
The lack of access to the drawbars and pedals make it less intuitive than it would be otherwise, and without sufficient controls (and skill) on a MIDI controller. It can be nearly impossible to approximate the real thing, even if it’s theoretically possible.
The GUI here is beautiful, but it doesn’t help much in terms of playability. Still, the B-3 V offers incredible sound. If you’re an organ player who’s already comfortable controlling organ emulators, Arturia’s B-3 V offers a depth of sound that’s hard to find elsewhere. If you’re a producer who’s just looking to use an organ sound as a pad, then it’s overkill in the best way.
Each of the V Collection 7’s instruments come with an exhaustive number or presets—Arturia lists the count at over 6,000.
The Prophet V3 (seen above) features over 400 presets alone, and that’s just one of the instruments available. By our count, the total number of stock presets is a staggering 7,492 across all instruments.
Every instrument in the collection has a vast number of presets that can be found in a drop-down box on the main interface or by cycling through using the buttons provided. You can view a master list (above), or if you’d prefer, a tag-based system that subdivides each preset into style, type, or bank (below).
This menu also features commentary to help contextualize the preset. It’s the same information you’ll enter yourself when you save your own custom presets for easy recall.
- Over 6,000 presets
- Custom preset creation
- Easy tag-based preset menu for recall
- Presets sync with GUI
Analog Lab 4
The V Collection 7 also includes access to Arturia’s Analog Lab 4 software, which is a sort of abbreviated version of the various instruments available in the collection.
Also a standalone application, Analog Lab 4 offers plenty of manipulatable parameters for the various instruments without the hallmark GUI experience, making it ideal for less feature-intensive applications.
It’s also possible to split sounds between various instruments across the same keyboard, so if you want to play a synth with your left hand and an upright with your right hand, you can.
The preset menu here is always available and lists all 7,492 presets across the various instruments, automatically switching instruments2 as different presets are selected. It’s an elegant solution for live performance and a quick preset solution for an uninterrupted recording workflow.
- Feature-limited versions of all V Collection 7 instruments
- All presets available
- Allows keyboard split feature
- Concert window for quick-loading instruments
Unlike many plug-ins, all of the instruments in the V Collection 7 can be used as standalone applications, increasing their compatibility for users who have limited CPU resources. They can, of course, also be used inside of a DAW.
We used Reaper to review the collection within a DAW, but it’s compatible with any DAW that supports Virtual Studio Technology instruments (VSTi), including FL Studio, Logic, Ableton, Pro Tools, Studio One 4 Professional, and more. You can find a breakdown of some of the best options here.
Arturia’s V Collection 7 is available in VST 2.4, VST 3, AAX, and Audio Unit formats, with limited compatibility for NKS format as well.
Arturia recommends the following platform specifications per operating system:
- Windows 7+ (64bit)
- 4 GB RAM
- 2.5 GHz CPU
- 16GB free hard disk space
- OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU
- OS 10.11+
- 4 GB RAM
- 1 GB free hard disk space
- OpenGL 2.0 compatible GPU
The V Collection 7’s price tag may initially seem steep, but it represents a value that far outweighs the initial investment. The plugins included in the V Collection 7 (24 instruments as well as Analog Lab 4) range from $100- $250+ each when purchased individually.
If you’re primarily interested in live performance, authentic hardware versions of any one of the collection’s instruments easily exceed their software counterparts.
Nothing may match the mojo associated with a vintage ‘73 Fender Rhodes, but it’s increasingly difficult to find one for less than $5,000. Pairing the Arturia Stage-73 V with a good hardware controller makes an excellent substitute that by comparison is light-weight, inexpensive, and customizable.
For those who may still be fretting over the cost, don’t despair: Splice offers the collection as part of their rent-to-own service. The cost is spread out over 24 months at $24.99 per month.
Splice also offers the ability to pause and resume your payments (and your access) as you need to along the way. If you only need access on a project-by-project basis, you can alter your plan to suit your needs. Once you’ve completed your last payment, the software is yours to keep.
Bonus & Extras
Here are a few details that make the V Collection 7 stand out above the rest and aren’t talked about as often as some of the other features:
Analog Lab 4 Concert Window
Open up Analog Lab 4 and you’ll find a discrete tab called “Concerts” on the left side of the interface. This can be used to save presets for individual songs in a setlist, in order, so that you can quickly and easily cycle through the presets you need for a given performance. The last thing anyone wants to do in the middle of a gig is fumbling around with their settings, so this feature is a life-saver when playing live.
The bottom-right most corner of the GUI on all instruments features a tab called history, which much like your web browser’s history tab, will allow you to see a list of the most recent actions you’ve taken in the application. If you’ve ever accidentally clicked the wrong parameter and think you’ve irreparably defiled your settings, this is the solution. You can simply undo or redo your recent actions, or even reload the initial state of your instrument.
If you’ve ever been in a live performance situation and had your delay pedal freak out, or some unwanted, screeching feedback threaten to ruin your concert (or your hearing), then you have known true terror. Unfortunately, those situations often create a mad scramble to find the source of the problem, all while your audience covers their ears.
Enter: the panic button. Clicking this button (or better yet, mapping it to a controller) will stop your virtual instrument from producing sound entirely. It’s aptly named and entirely underappreciated.
The Definitive Keys Collection
Calling any collection “definitive” is a bold move, sure, but the V Collection 7 is as solid a candidate for that title as any in the industry, and it doesn’t look to be displaced any time soon.
Quality sound with usability in live performance and recording projects is the goal of any plug-in, and Arturia has nailed those parameters. As a software bundle, its value is unmatched, and it serves concert musicians, veteran producers, and beginner recording engineers equally well.
If you’ve already got your keys under control and you’re looking for other plug-ins to supplement your workflow, take a look at our plugins page for more recommendations, and keep creating!