For over two decades, Arturia has been at the forefront of virtual instruments. Best known for their software recreations of classic hardware synthesizers, Pigments is Arturia’s first original soft synth. It debuted as recently as 2018, and has seen two major updates in a short period of time. Today we’ll check out Arturia Pigments 3, its latest updates, and whether it’s worth the supposed hype!
Overview: Arturia Pigments 3 Virtual Instrument
Pigments gets its name from its vast sonic palette. Nearly anything is possible, from acoustic sounding plucks to jagged EDM bass lines, and washy choral pads to granular percussive jabs. A massive collection of 1200 presets means you can explore endless possibilities—regardless of how deep your synthesis knowledge goes. Loading up one of these presets also gives a great first impression of Pigments as a whole; the quality is as good as it gets, the sounds are rich and textured, and Arturia excels at unique synthesizers as much as they do with emulations.
The instrument itself breaks down into three main panels: Synth, FX, and Seq. You can shape the overall sound in the Synth panel using two different sound engines, each of which can run in Analogue, Wavetable, Sample, or the brand new Harmonic mode. Pigments 3 also introduces a new utility engine which runs alongside whichever two primary engines you choose. Its purpose is to add a bit of depth and texture through a sub oscillator and a couple layers of noise.
Next up is the FX panel. Here you can combine any three of the included effects. There are 18 in total, covering the full range of possibilities from EQ/filters, to dynamics, time-based effects, modulation, and saturation. Finally, the Seq panel contains a 16-step sequencer/arpeggiator. With that you can introduce movement or randomization to your synth patch, chord progression, or melody.
Arturia Pigments 3 is the second major update in just three years. The biggest inclusion this time around is the new Utility Engine. It’s practically a third engine by itself, capable of really shifting the sound into unique territory. Apart from that, Arturia added four new effects: a pitch-shifted delay, multiband compressor, flanger, and chorus. Overall, Pigments only gets better in version 3.
Arturia Pigments vs Serum
Arturia Pigments 3 is pitted against the usual suspects, including the ever-popular Serum by Xfer. Really, though, every soft synth has its own thing going on, so one is not necessarily better or worse than the other. On paper, at least, Serum is strictly a wavetable synthesizer. The engines in Pigments can run in wavetable, or one of three other synthesis modes for more variation.
Serum is an excellent advanced wavetable synth, with the ability to import your own audio files and manipulate them within the instrument (which you can in Pigments as well). Like Pigments, it also comes with its own arsenal of effects for further sound warping, and a formidable 450 presets to get up and running. Pigments 3 and Serum are really two different beasts, and there’s plenty of room for both in any VST collection. For what it’s worth, Pigments is certainly the more feature-rich and flexible of the two, but as far as sound quality goes, both are on par with the highest quality money can buy.
With more features come more complications, and some users might find Pigments overly complex for their taste. If that’s the case, Serum may be a better choice; but again, with 1200 presets in Pigments 3, there’s really no excuse to not find a usable sound when you don’t even have to know how to use the plugin to get it.
- SEE ALSO: Arturia V Collection 8 Review
Arturia Pigments CPU Usage
In the past, some users have run into serious CPU issues trying to run earlier versions of Pigments. By and large, these problems stem from outdated machines running below the minimum recommended specs. Arturia suggests at least a 2.5 GHz CPU in addition to 4 GB of RAM—by no means monster requirements these days.
Arturia Pigments 3 is a welcome update. The addition of the Utility Engine takes sound-shaping to a whole new level. If anything, Pigments is proof that Arturia isn’t just good at reproducing hardware from eras past—they’re a full-on synth-making juggernaut. If you’re shopping for a great do-it-all soft synth, Pigments 3 is a no-brainer.