I have not hesitated to declare Arturia pigments as my favorite software synthesizer over there right now. It was awesome when it was first announced in 2018. And Pigments 2’s massive free upgrade in December 2019 secured it a spot on my must-see list. Now Arturia is releasing another huge update – Pigments 3 – which adds a new synth engine, a new waveform for its virtual analog engine, 64 new wavetables, a new “utility” engine, four new effects and a bunch of other improvements. And, just like Pigments 2, it’s free for current owners.
For the uninitiated, Pigments is essentially Arturia’s answer to super synths like Native Instruments Massive or Xfer’s Serum. It includes a virtual analog engine, a wavetable engine, sample playback with granular synthesis features, and now a harmonic engine for additive synthesis. It allows you to combine two of them and then manipulate the result with an almost endless number of modulation options.
This harmonic engine is probably the main feature of Pigments 3. Additive Harmonic Synthesis is not a common method of sound generation, but it can be quite fun and unique. The TL version; DR uses a combination of sine waves at different frequencies to generate harmonic harmonics. The results are often in the shape of a reed or organ. I’m particularly fond of bass grunts and hums. A little disagreement and reverberation can go a long way here. It also has two morphing formant filters that can sand down some of the hard edges, allowing you to get vowels like sounds.
Personally, I think the most interesting addition is the utility engine. This new third layer to a sound is specifically for adding noise and sub-bass. It’s not the features that inspire headlines, but they can add a lot of depth and nuance to your sounds. Especially when we’re talking about the kind of crisp digital sounds of a wavetable synth or even the harmonic engine.
What is interesting is that both sources of noise are based on samples. There’s your standard white noise, but you can also add electronic zaps, the attack of a piano hammer, the hum of cicadas, or even the hiss of a worn cassette. There is a lot of depth and texture here. My only complaint is that you can’t import your own noise samples. You can import your own samples and wavetables into the main synthesis engine, so it looks like that would be pretty easy to implement here.
Existing synth engines are also undergoing upgrades. Virtual analog adds a ramp oscillator to complete its sawtooth option. In practice, the two sound very similar, but it can make a pretty significant difference in timbre when used as a modulation source, especially in FM.
The other headlining feature here is the addition of four new effects, including the June 6 choir it was introduced as a standalone effect in December. There is also the BL-20 Flanger, a multiband compressor and a treble delay effect. The latter is essential for achieving those shimmering effects that everyone loves (or hates).
There is also a new company-based low-pass filter. Jupiter 8 emulation, some tweaks to the effects routing, and 300 new presets to browse. It’s a lot of new material.
Of course, the things that haven’t changed – MEPs Easy-to-navigate color-coded stand and user interface – are just as important as the elements.
As mentioned, if you are already a Pigments owner, the update is free. If you haven’t gotten it yet, now is probably the time to do so. To celebrate the launch of Pigments 3 the company is dropping the price from $ 199 to $ 99 until May 13.
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