Analog Lab 2 by Arturia – Overview Review
The full Arturia V collection 5 is an impressive virtual museum of classic keyboards and synths, it’s NKS compliant, and a fantastic edition to any soft synth stable.
If on the other hand your budget is restricted or you aren’t too bothered about the accurate programming and controls reproduction associated with the original machines, then Analog Lab 2 could be for you.
What is Analog Lab
To be completely honest, I’m not sure I know what Arturia’s original intentions were when they released Analog Lab as a separate plug in. You can find ‘Analog Lab’ on sale at online vendors, and often the name ‘Arturia’ doesn’t preceed it, so you could be forgiven for not even realising that it is an Arturia product.
Analog Lab is included as part of the complete V Collection, but on it’s own from Arturia’s perspective is not NKS compatible. As part of the V Collection it serves as a front end hub for sighted users to get to the individual GUI’s of the 17 machines that make up the V Collection.
As a standalone product Analog Lab can perhaps be viewed as a way of tempting potential buyers of the full package, by presenting them with the ‘cream of the crop’ without the detailed editing possibilities on available within the full package.
The wonderful thing from a KK Access point of view, is that one of the unknown Komplete Kontrol user enthusiasts that took the time and effort to give us such delights as the Air Music Expansion set and Novation Bass Station 2 amongst others, also converted Analog Lab 2 to the NKSF format, and made a pretty decent job of the mapping to boot.
I purchased Analog Lab from Plugin Boutique, installed and authorised it, being on the customer database I’ve since received offers to upgrade to the full V collection some of which were very tempting indeed pricewise. I did however question with them what additional presets from the 5000+ that came with Analog Lab I would get. Unless I grossly misunderstood the reply I was told that I’d get the same presets aside from some new patches that had been recently released. When I looked into this I found that they didn’t appear to amount to a whole lot, certainly not in the thousands if even in the hundreds.
This reaffirmed me to stick with Analog Lab for now, so here is a list of what you will get in terms of NKS presets.
Analog Lab (Hybrids) x 20
Arp 2600 x 486
B-3v x 83
CS80 x 470
Farfisa V x 141
Jupiter 8 x 493
Matrix 12 x 409
Mini V3 x 436
Modular V3 416
Piano V x 29
Prophet V3 x 518
Sen V2 x 482
Solina V2 x140
Stage 73 V x 70
Synclavier V x 468
Vox Continental V2 x 185
Wurli V2 x 183
So that’s 17 instruments totalling 5029 presets by my dodgy mathematics, each instrument does have it’s own initial patch as well which assists when creating sounds from scratch. Incidentally the first entry in the list called ‘Analog Lab’ is a hybrid instrument that draws upon elements taken from other keyboards n the collection, a little like Legacy Cell in the Korg Legacy Collection.
So how does Analog Lab sound?, well pretty damn good actually, these are all created using physical modelling so no huge samples to eat up your hard drive space, the sounds load very quickly and have a good clarity to my ears, certainly in my opinion clearer than the Korg Legacy collection which I’m not knocking but sounds a trifle muddy to me.
Because the NKS mapping is unofficial with Analog Lab you would perhaps be willing to allow for less than perfect library browsing and controller mapping, however this is definitely not the case here. Whoever did this conversion did it remarkably well, better in fact than some offerings from commercial developers.
The library browser is assigned to banks which are the individual instruments, Sub banks which are factory, original and template, Type divides the presets into bass, brass keys etc, and finally modes describe the genre such as ambient, acid etc before we finally have the presets.
When it comes to the editing section there’s almost too much to take in, I’m not complaining but it takes a little time to workout just what’s what here. Every instrument has 16 pages of controls, I’m not going to list them all particularly because with 17 instruments all having variations within them would take me forever and make for extremely dull reading.
Suffice to say the essentials are here, cut-off, resonance, volumes, ADSR, FX controls however (and here’s one of my big bugbears) no apparent waveform selector.
On a commercial NKS product this is vital when it comes down to creating your own patches, however as this has been done by a kind soul I can forgive this omission, especially given the large number of presets we have as a starting point for editing, you are sure to find something near to what you have in mind. Given the attention to detail bestowed upon the rest of the mapping, it may well be that there was a restriction in the GUI that prevented the simple mapping to a knob, so I will moan no more!
I actually can’t find fault with this plugin, given the low cost, the free NKS mapping and vast number of presets, you would be very hard to please indeed if you complain too much.
What you get here are over 5000 presets of high quality retro sounds that will enhance your sonic armoury, naturally we have to accept that what we get will never change even if more presets are released as we have no way of accessibly loading and saving them out as NKSF files (when I OCR’d the standalone version of Analog Lab I hardly got a word spoken Back), so thanks have to go to that unknown soldier who did the conversion and left us with this legacy of sounds!
Analog Lab 2 can be purchased as a download from Plugin Boutique, current price as of 2nd Onct 2017 is £78.00
Plugin Boutique offer trial downloads of this product, it should be possible (although not verified) to install the demo, and also the Analog Lab 2 NKS preset pack from the Komplete Kontrol dropbox (also on the web) to ensure compatability and test product sounds.
The author accepts no responsibility for subsequent purchase decisions made as a result of this article,or Any inaccuracies found within this review. All opinions or product functions stated are based soly on information perceived whilst using the product or gathered from official factual sources on the web.
About the Author
Chris Ankin has worked previously as a freelance review writer with articles published in Sound On Sound, Home & Studio Recording and ST Format Magazines.