Arturia Analog Experience—The Laboratory
Augment studio or stage sound
with virtual analog synthesis
EACH PRODUCT in Arturia’s Analog Experience
Series includes a metal-encased keyboard with
wood ends; tons of sounds drawn from their ARP
2600, CS-80, Jupiter-8, Minimoog, Moog Modular,
Prophet-5, and Prophet-VS virtual instrument
emulations (sort of “Arturia’s Greatest Hits”);
and editing/library software (Mac/Windows,
standalone, or VST/AU/RTAS plug-in).
Laboratory is the most ambitious and
editable yet of the series, with a USB-powered,
four-octave keyboard including smooth and
controllable aftertouch (not “afterswitch”),
four percussion pads, ten control knobs, nine
envelope sliders, transport with MMC out, pitchbend
and mod wheels, octave buttons, various
navigation controls and switches, and 2-line by
16-character backlit LCD. The controls aren’t
specifi c to Laboratory, but generate standard
MIDI messages suitable for other MIDI devices.
The Sounds There are 3,500 patches—and
fortunately, a searchable browser to help find
the ones you want. For example, you could
browse Minimoog bass presets, or brass . . .
or ARP 2600 and CS-80 strings. You can also
specify characteristics, like bright, dark, long,
simple, soft, etc.
I’ll let the purists debate whether “virtual
analog” is really analog or not; while they’re
debating, I’ll be making some warm, satisfying
sounds. I was raised on analog synths, and
I feel Arturia is faithful to what made them
special—part of which was realtime control.
Have It Your Way Being able to edit presets
is part of the “analog experience.” Two of the
knobs edit chorus and delay mix, two handle
filter resonance and cutoff , two more control
LFO rate and amount, and four “wild card”
controls edit different parameters in different
patches, as chosen by Arturia. You can save
edited versions, while 10 “snapshots” let you
call up selected presets fast (helpful for live
performance). For full editing, if any of the
seven Arturia synths are installed on your
computer, you can open presets in them.
Another nice touch: You can play two presets
simultaneously on the keyboard.
Scenes The 200 “scenes” are genre-specific
collections of splits; some include arpeggiation,
so you can get a nice groove going—which can
be enhanced by triggering drum loops or hits
on the four pads. While no one will mistake
this for a multi-timbral workstation, the
Scenes can be quite inspirational, and kickstart
the songwriting process.
Is It For You? If you already have a good
controller and a bunch of soft synths,
Laboratory is probably redundant. (However,
you can buy the sounds sans keyboard for
$299.) But, it’s a superb package for a DAW
owner who would love to add the sounds
and realtime control associated with analog
synths, as well as a quality keyboard and
general-purpose MIDI controller. Despite
the low price, the synth-action keyboard is
no toy; the feel is solid and playable. Overall,
Laboratory is an easy, cost-effective way to add
“the analog experience” to a recording or live
STRENGTHS: Cost-effective. 3,500
presets with searchable browser.
MIDI controller works for more than
just controlling Laboratory patches.
Refined aftertouch. Basic, but
generally effective, editing options.
LIMITATIONS: Not multi-timbral.
Sometimes parameters you want to
edit aren’t available.