If you’re into synthesis emulations, then there’s an argument for this even if you never used any of the sounds you created. It’s a history lesson in VSTi form. That it sounds really very good is icing on the cake.
Initially, it’s daunting and confusing – even though I’ve plenty of years experience programming synths, they’ve been of fixed architecture. Here, before you create sonic motion, you have to join up the building blocks to even create a sound. A blank patch will play nothing – you have to connect a VCO through a VCA by way of filters. Of course, the beauty of a modular is that you can throw the rules to the wind!
Its greatest asset is also its biggest weakness; the beautiful GUI. We’re some years in now - so no computer should struggle to render it - but the attention to detail that makes the GUI so enthralling is also the reason it’s so frustrating to program. On a laptop, even on a larger screen, it’s fiddly, where a simple slip if the mouse can unhook a patch cable, or connect wrong, or twist a dial. It suffers the same frustrating portrait aspect as Propellerhead’s Reason. Why not create a landscape alternative to save scrolling up and down?
Some of the virtual TRS/phono jack input sockets become potentiometers once connected. On the GUI, it’s as though you were turning the phono socket itself, as you ‘grab’ the hex-socket edge and rotate. A neat use of space, but finding them to turn using your mouse is a real pain. Once you’ve added in a spaghetti of patch cables, the interface can be cluttered and fiddly. You can remove any or all cables, or ask the cables to move out of the way, but with complex patches then you lose the visual feedback.
Sound is top notch. Initially I didn’t see what the fuss was about, but having used the MMV in some Tangerine Dream-like tunes, I’m a convert. It sits really well in that kind of mix.
Plus, it has a proper, freely configurable analog step sequencer; arpeggiators, no matter how good, can't emulate the feel/imperfection of a free running step sequencer, and so its inclusion puts it into a select band of synths. [Now, I'd like to be able to use the step sequencer to control other VSTi's.... here's hoping..]
Documentation is superb. The manual is extensive, reasonably well written and informative. Every module is dissected and discussed individually. It’s also printed, which deserves top marks.
Included in the box is a USB key – even though I haven’t required using it, the synth is serial-based. Credit and thanks to Arturia for not having the cheek to ask us to buy one separately.n As for support – well, it’s worked well for me, and although updates are infrequent all my Arturia stuff works as described.
So, a history lesson, a useable emulation, and a very decent package. Watch out though – just like the real thing, you can blow your headphones if you inadvertently connect up a ‘sonic explosion’! Perhaps a big panic button would be nice – with your ears bleeding, controlling the mouse on the fiddly interface to remove a patch cable can be a challenge!