Arturia V-Collection 9 Review

Arturia V-Collection 9: What is it?

A complete suite of classic synth and keyboard instruments for Mac and PC.

Arturia V-Collection 9: What’s great?

Fine software emulations of most of the best keyboards ever made, and for a fraction of what they would cost you in hardware.

Arturia V-Collection 9: What’s not?

The collection has become quite bulky so the tyranny of choice will become a real issue.

Arturia V-Collection 9: The bottom line:

This is about as good a collection of plugins you’ll find and there’s no better way to bolster your access to classic synth and keyboard sounds (not to mention a couple of newer instruments) without spending tens of thousands of pounds on the real deal.

Arturia V-Collection 9: Review

Arturia started producing software synth emulations in the early 2000s with the Modular V and Mini V, both based on classic Moogs. Towards the end of that decade it bundled these plus emulations of the ARP 2600 and Yamaha CS-80 together into what has become the Arturia V-Collection. Now at v9, the collection dwarfs that initial set, with 33 instrument emulations and over 9,000 presets. The collection comprises analogue and digital synths, vocoders, pianos, organs and even samplers, and at €599, it’s a lot less than any single one of these instruments will probably cost you secondhand in hardware.

Arturia V-Collection 9: What’s new in v9?

After eight previous versions you’d think that pickings for new keyboard emulations would be thin on the ground. However, Arturia has managed to add a couple of significant classic synths and also made quite a few enhancements to existing instruments. The company has also added 14 sound banks and there are two final ‘Augmented’ additions that see V-Collection 9 go a little off road, which I’ll come to later.

First of the new classic synths is SQ80 V, a recreation of Ensoniq’s crosswave digital synth. This was a keyboard with a pretty unique sound that covered everything from coarse to lush sounds thanks to its mix of digital oscillators and emulated analogue filter. It’s the kind of unusual synth that you might not risk buying in hardware but will be only too pleased to discover in software, especially with an expanded UI that makes it somewhat easier to wrestle with.

A synth you might well have bought in hardware – thanks to the many reissues made by Korg in recent years – is the MS20. Arturia’s MS-20 V is a faithful looking emulation and sound wise it’s pretty good too. It’s perhaps not quite as gutsy as the original, but there are two filter options (the Mk1 and 2) and enough controls to wrestle sounds that are easily close enough to the original’s often head splitting tones.

Arturia V-Collection 9: Overall sound

The MS-20V typifies what V-Collection has mostly been about over the years – the sound of the vintage synth. And of the other new v9 highlights this sound doesn’t get any more famous than that made by the CS-80 V which has been ‘rebuilt’ for this update. It is now on v4 and models Yamaha’s original synth brilliantly, although is now a little easier to control and less fiddly (and of course won’t set you back five figures). Sound wise, expect those lush pads and strings and a combined electronic oomph you will rarely hear anywhere else.

Other classics to get a refresh include two Sequentials (the legendary Prophet-5 and Prophet VS), and the Piano V instrument, which now has 12 modelled pianos to cover all of your acoustic needs.

Which brings us to those unusual inclusions in v9 that I hinted at earlier, and two distinctly non-emulated and entirely new instruments! Augmented Strings and Voices are sample-based with real-time synth and morphing controls. While they initially feel a little out of place, their rich sound and ‘augmented’ nature means that they can be pushed into unusual sound design and score-based territories. So while they are a surprising inclusion, they do work well, offering a more contemporary alternative over the other sounds in V-Collection which can perhaps be overly nostalgic. And perhaps this is a new direction for a collection that is surely going to run out of keyboards to emulate, and I can see more Augmented titles of this ilk bulking out version 10 in a year or so.

Arturia V-Collection 9: Bottom Line

V-Collection 9 gives a needed refresh to a number of Arturia emulations and the two new classic additions are welcome. The Augmented titles point to a possible future and the sound banks are a great way to get the full ‘V’ experience. I’m not convinced existing users – especially v8 – will /need/ to make the leap just yet, but to newcomers, this is a powerful and attractive suite of instruments. With a single instrument inclusion costing up to €249 alone, getting all 33 and those extras for €599 seems like a steal. The only issue then, of course, is that of plugin bloat – having way too many options – and there’s a ‘tyranny of choice feature on that subject alone. Otherwise this is an essential sonic museum tour with a very decent entry price.

Arturia V-Collection 9 is available now for €599. Upgrade prices vary (starting at €99) depending on your existing version.

Click to buy the fill Arturia V Collection 9.