Arturia Pigments 4 review: Improving on perfection?

Like a gallic Père Noël, Arturia has spent the last few weeks doling out one goody after another, and perhaps it saved the best until last.

Arturia Pigments 4

Review Overview

Our rating

10

Our verdict

Multiple synthesis engines give staggering sound-design depth
Engine enhancements add even more timbral options
Play view helps you focus on the important parts of a sound
Aggressive, gritty and satisfying MS-20 filter model
Vast library of professionally designed presets

Too many options and choices can become distracting… in a good way!

Arturia’s description of Pigments as a “Polychrome” (lit. “multi-coloured”) synthesizer is in reference to the instrument’s hugely varied and variable sonic palette. This chameleon-like ability starts with Pigments’ pair of flexible sound engines, each of which can load any one of four different models – Analog, Wavetable, Sample and Harmonic – each encompassing a different approach to generating source tones for the synth. (There’s also a third Utility engine that provides a pair of noise generators and a sub-oscillator, regardless of which models are loaded into the other two engine slots). This arrangement has not changed since we looked at Pigments 3, but Arturia has made some important enhancements nonetheless.

Pigments 4 retains the same overall appearance of previous versions, but there’s now a choice of two themes: the original dark theme and a new light theme. There’s also a new Play view that provides an entire overview of the synth, with all engines, filters and effects visible within a single view, albeit with only the most important controls available. This is a nice addition, providing the focus you need when performing with what is a very deep synth.

The synth’s workflow has been streamlined too, with easier modulation assignment and adjustment, new LFO presets, new sync modes, and the ability to quickly bypass the effects and sequencer sections. And if you’re into microtonal composition, Pigments is now fully compatible with Oddsound’s MTS-ESP suite.

The enhancements aren’t purely cosmetic, though. The Wavetable, Sample and Harmonic models have all been given useful additions that provide each with even more scope for creating exciting and original new tones: Ring modulation and pulse width phase transformations within the Wavetable engine; a phase modulation option within the Harmonic engine; and new cross-modulation options and enhanced unison options across all engines.

Arturia Pigments 4
Analog Engine

Pigments’ filter stage remains as flexible as ever, and now includes a model based on the Korg MS-20 filter. This does a lovely job of emulating Korg’s sharp, focussed, gritty and often angry-sounding filter, and is an enticing addition to Pigments’ toolset.

There’s also a pair of new effects processors to add colour and class to your sounds. Shimmer combines pitch shifting and modulation with a big, spacious reverb, and Super Unison provides a different approach to chorus/ensemble-like effects.

Arturia Pigments 4
Presets

Alongside these enhancements there’s a big bunch of new content for the instrument: 63 new wavetables, 67 new samples, and 36 new noise types that include natural- and industrial-type sounds. This content is used in the new collection of “factory” presets (with those from Pigments 2, 3 and 3.5 included as well), and in three additional sound banks: Wavelengths Lo-fi, Wavelengths Neuro Bass and Wavelengths Cinematic. Each of these contains 150 presets designed to push Pigments’ capabilities to their limits (that’s a lot of pushing!), and all told the instrument now comes packed with nearly 2,000 presets!

Arturia Pigments 4
Sample Engine

All of the new features serve to enhance and streamline Pigments’ awesome sound-design capabilities. The only fair criticism that can be levelled is that the staggering depth of features can become distracting, even overwhelming, but Arturia has addressed this with the new Play view. We were blown away by Pigments 3, and we’re still blown away by Pigments 4 – we’re sure you will be too.

Arturia Pigments 4
Wavetable Engine

Key Features

  • Software synthesizer for AAX, AU, VST and standalone
  • Free update for owners of previous versions
  • Multiple sound-generation engines
  • Two filters with multiple filter models to choose from
  • Advanced modulation with easy drag-and-drop routing
  • Professional effects section with advanced routing
  • Detailed visualisation
  • Original “Dark” and new “Light” visual themes
  • New bank of factory presets plus three “Wavelengths” sound banks
  • MPE compatibility
  • NKS controller compatibility
  • Supports Oddsound MTS-ESP suite
  • €199 / free upgrade for existing users
  • Contact Arturia
  • Buy: Gear4music, Bax Shop UK
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