Arturia SQ80 V hands-on | Engadget

Arturia’s V Collection consists of a staggering 28 digital devices at this level, overlaying the whole lot from analog classics, to acoustic pianos to forgotten digital keyboards. At some level, you’d assume the corporate would run out of fascinating synths to emulate, however not simply but. The latest addition to the Arturia household is the SQ80 V, a recreation of the Ensoniq SQ-80.

The SQ-80 was a little bit of an odd beast. It was launched in 1987 and mixed 8-bit digital wavetables with analog filters. It’s quirky, crunchy and critically enjoyable. It combines crunch lo-fi digital samples with analog heat for one thing fairly distinctive. Also, at a time when many synth makers have been stripping down their interfaces whereas stuffing in each characteristic they might think about ( you DX7), the SQ-80 was surprisingly simple to program. It was additionally one of many earliest keyboards with polyphonic aftertouch, which is captured right here due to MPE help.

Arturia usually takes nice pains to recreate the bodily look and controls of a synth they’re emulating, however the firm simplified issues a bit for the SQ80 V. You can change the oscillator waves and tweak the filter, however most of the controls, just like the three LFOs and 4 envelopes are all on a separate synthesis tab that’s a little bit extra mouse pleasant.

Arturia additionally went all out with the sound sources. It consists of the unique 75 waveforms, in addition to the “hidden” waves from the SQ-80 and it’s predecessor the ESQ-1, plus a number of transient waveforms. The firm enormously expanded on the sound design potentialities of the SQ80 V with out actually straying from the guts and character of the unique.

This is fairly par for the course, although. Arturia has been at this lengthy sufficient, meticulously emulating basic synths whereas including some fashionable conveniences, that it’ be extra stunning if it missed the mark at this level.

The one factor this implies although, is that the corporate is filling more and more small niches in its arsenal of devices. The SQ80 V is a digital synthesizer, with a lo-fi character constructed round sampled waveforms and an analog filter. If that sounds acquainted, it’s as a result of the identical broad description additionally applies to the E-MU Emulator II which Arturia recreated for V Collection 8 in December.

Arturia SQ80 V

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

While each are undoubtedly crunchy and digital they’ve identities all their very own. The Emulator II is extra of a simple sampler, and the SQ-80 is nearer to a conventional synthesizer. While I fairly loved the lo-fi bit-crushed keys of the Emulator, I dig the SQ80 V extra. It’s extra approachable to somebody coming from the world of synthesizers. Plus, it’s a little bit hotter and extra timeless sounding. Not that you may’t get tacky 80s sounds out of the SQ80 V, it’s simply simpler to coax fashionable sound out of than the Emulator which is usually a contact too chilly and brittle for my tastes.

While there are some analog model sounds within the SQ80 V, its bread and butter is crushed digital sounds. Harsh industrial hits, dusty keys and ambient pads. There are two sound packs being launched alongside it that lean into these strengths: Dust Factory and Raw Machinery.

But even should you skip the sound packs, it is best to have the ability to simply discover sounds that you simply like both within the included presets or by designing your personal. And constructing your personal patches is fairly easy. The three digital oscillators have dropdown menus for choosing waveforms, the envelopes and LFOs all have their very own tabs, and the filter will be formed with the mouse. The entire interface is clear, charmingly retro and simple to navigate. It’s particularly spectacular contemplating how a lot energy there’s to control issues. Most parameters will be modulated by quite a lot of totally different sources — and lots of will be modulated by two sources on the identical time.

Arturia SQ80 V

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

My one minor criticism UI-wise is that the tiny dials subsequent to the varied modulation locations could possibly be a little bit clearer. It won’t be instantly apparent to everybody that, if you’d like LFO two to alter the filter cutoff you need to hover over the darkened circle beneath it then click on on the even tinier plus signal that pops as much as choose a modulation supply. Then you click on and drag on the circle to set the modulation quantity.

Minor quibble with that apart, Arturia does deserve credit score for placing a whole lot of effort into creating thorough and clear tutorials for all its devices during the last couple of years and SQ80 V isn’t any totally different.

Arturia’s V Collection is full of nice devices and nice sounds, however the SQ80 V is shortly turning into one in all my favorites (although, it’s technically not a part of the V Collection — but). It’s out there now as a standalone instrument for an introductory value of $99 till October 5 at which level it’s going to go as much as $199. It will also be bundled with V Collection 8 at a reduction, although the ultimate value will rely in your standing as an Arturia buyer.

All merchandise beneficial by Engadget are chosen by our editorial workforce, unbiased of our guardian firm. Some of our tales embrace affiliate hyperlinks. If you purchase one thing via one in all these hyperlinks, we might earn an affiliate fee.