But while it's tempting to assume that the Laboratory version is much the same, with just a bit more of this and a smidgen more of that, it would be a mistake, because, in three important ways, the Laboratory is much more powerful than its siblings. Four sliders adjust envelope parameters. The browser lets you limit the presets shown to particular instruments, instrument types, and characteristics. There are individual outputs for each drum sound, as well as a mix out. The software seems very similar to that supplied with the Factory and the Player, and it's worth reading my earlier review if you haven't already done so, because almost everything that I wrote about the smaller systems remains relevant. Getting it up and running on my MacBook Pro proved to be straightforward, although you need Internet access to register it, and a bit of prior experience with the eLicenser system used by Arturia goes a long way toward making the process as painless as possible. With all these tools, one can essentially perform a complete drum track, with no overdubbing or editing necessary.
Marty Cutler's favorite vintage instrument is David Grisman's Gibson Granada Mastertone banjo; he's still waiting for the software version. Arturia Analog Factory Experience is a unique combination of a software synthesizer with 3500 sounds and a high quality dedicated hardware controller. Pressing down on the knob lets you select any criteria that fit your needs. You can then store the configuration in the keyboard itself, in effect turning it into a dedicated controller for another synth or software package. And now the bad news: We all know that hard drives and computers can die when you least expect it, which will take your authorization down with it.
But if you have any of Arturia's V-series synths installed on the same computer as the Laboratory, something magical happens. They made the changes, Bob was satisfied, and he endorsed it. However, there are also four general-purpose knobs called Key Parameters. It's also helpful that Analog Factory shows the preset knob position onscreen, so you get visual feedback as you make the tweaks. Many computer musicians, however, prefer straightforward access to vintage synthesizer sounds with a less complicated approach to customizing presets.
Analog Factory Experience offers the immediacy of a hardware synthesizer combined with the flexibility of a software based solution. From here on, when you move the knob the parameter value will follow along. The drum sequencer also has a few tricks up its sleeve. Arturia has chosen four parameters per patch that these affect, which can be different per patch. All of which means that users can perform entire drum tracking without any overdubbing or editing. A pair of jacks accept sustain and expression pedals. But it doesn't end there, as the keyboard has several knobs, switches, and two wheels pitch and modulation , all of which let you tweak the Analog Factory sounds.
For me, this was particularly problematic in Apple Logic 7. Above the keys on the instrument's left, notched pitch-bend and modulation wheels are easy to reach and feel solid, with a strong spring-action return for the pitch-bend wheel. For example, the Level knob normally controls the instrument's gain, but when Shift is engaged, you can navigate through Analog Factory's browser and define criteria for patch selection by pressing down on the knob see Fig. From the starship funky leads of the 70s to the contemporary, hip-hop basses, from the 80s pop leads to more modern soundtrack special effects, if you heard a synthesizer sound somewhere, there is a strong likelihood you will find it inside the Analog Factory Experience. It has seventeen different drum sounds, all made from purely analog circuits. Before going any further, if you want the specs, for information on compatibility, system requirements, and the like. Although Analogue Experience sounds are based on Arturia's V-series soft synths you have until now only had access to a limited subset of their editing and performing parameters.
To complicate matters, the range varies from one preset to the next — sometimes a whole step, sometimes a minor third, and sometimes a couple of octaves. As to the sounds, Arturia knows good sounds, period. . All you can do there is dial in the amount of chorus and delay you'd like for a patch. Along with that are some unique performance effects, and a modern step sequencer. And there are 3,500 of them. You may never play all 3,500 sounds, but they'll be available when you need them.
But instead, Bob sent them a list of things they had to do to make the emulation meet his standards. Unlike most drum machines, which have synchronized loop patterns, the DrumBrute can have individual pattern loops per drum sound. As it turned out, it had some bass sounds that were very cool, and I would certainly use in other projects. Regarding control, I will say the knobs are more for tweaking parameters than going nuts in live performance. Its weighty, solid form factor assures stability when sitting on your desktop see Fig.
In the previous picture, also note the eight Snapshot buttons. But that's not the point. The software side of the Laboratory; the bottom panel mimics the settings made on the controller keyboard. You can assign sounds to the Upper and Lower parts; select and edit them from the keyboard; transpose, mix and pan them; and assign a 'Melody' actually, one of 180 preset arpeggios to one of them. It's ideal for those who just want a bunch of useful presets, without having to get into programming or deal with complexities. It blends wavetable and digital oscillators with analog filters. Likewise, the eight buttons that select snapshots let you save snapshots when shifted.
Pressing Shift turns the Octave plus and minus buttons into patch-selection buttons for any of the sounds you had previously delimited. And they sent it to Bob Moog for his blessing. It's also fun just to browse to see what's available. Click on the edit button of an appropriate sound and you can open the original soft synth within the Laboratory to edit it, and even create completely new sounds. Like much else in the Laboratory, these offer more than is immediately obvious. Download the demo software from Arturia's Web site and see for yourself.
The Factory is somewhat more flexible, adding access to the effects mixes and four assignable parameters, but it is still unable to edit a sound fully. Additionally, the unit features a clock input and output that enable it to run as a master or slaved clock. On top of that, randomness can be introduced to make even more complex drum patterns. At first, I thought this was kind of an oddball product: After all, you can buy Analog Factory by itself, and there are plenty of keyboards available. So I now have the answer to the question that I posed at the start of this review.