Moog Modular V
Looking for a truly great virtual instrument? Well, here it is - the Moog Modular V, which recreates the classic 70s analogue synthesizer.
The interface offers three views. The 'Page Synth' view presents the synthesis modules, complete with lifelike patch cords that you can hook up, and zillions of knobs to twiddle. There are two 'cabinets' here, filled with a total of 28 modules. This really conjures up the way it was for pioneers such as Wendy Carlos - having to make like scientists to get their sounds together.
The second view, Seq/FX, lets you create simple sequences of notes and add chorus and delay effects. This view also incorporates the keyboard with its associated pitch-bend and modulation wheels, along with various other keyboard performance controls.
The third Keyboard view consists of this keyboard section, and is used once the patch has been created or selected. You can use this to test sounds without having to use an external MIDI keyboard. Sadly, I looked in vain for a way to latch some keys into the 'on' position on the Modular V's onscreen keyboard so that I could try out the different presets without having to stick a paperweight on top of my MIDI keyboard to play the sounds. This 'latch' would have been convenient, and is a feature included on some other virtual instruments.
Arturia asked a group of top sound designers to create the factory presets. There are 400 factory presets, sub-divided into banks and sub-banks. “Bells 135” is an attractive synthesized bell chime sound that repeats the chime a third above and a fifth above, with random timing, and with lots of interesting modulations. And the Taurus bass pedal presets are to die for.
I played the opening bass notes from Weather Report's classic tune Byrdland using Taurus 1 - and it sounded like Joe Zawinul was right there in the room.
K Ujiie's Bass-Clavinet Split is just right for recreating late 70s and early 80s soul and funk tracks - which made heavy use of synthesized sounds like this.
The Moog Modular V has been endorsed by the great Bob Moog himself, along with Isao Tomita - the Japanese musician who used the original Moog Modular to create the sounds for his 1970s synthesized re-workings of Debussy, Holst, and other composers' works. So, if it's good enough for those guys...