Arturia Analog Factory Experience keyboard - first review

What is it? It's a hardware controller for Arturia's Analog Factory plugin, which emulates 7 classic vintage synths (Arp 2600, Mini Moog, Moog Modular, Prophet 5, Prophet VS, Jupiter 8, CS 80). £229 / $349. LINK
What's good? I love the idea - a piece of software made real.It's a great looking, great feeling little keyboard made in China by CME. The design ticks all the Music Thing boxes - it's (off) white, it has real wood end cheeks, a nice semi-weighted keyboard, really solid, heavy, all-metal chassis, 11 continuous knobs, 4 ADSR sliders (NICE TOUCH!) and a snapshot system pinched from the Nord G2. I like the idea of a tweakable preset machine, like a modern day Matrix 1000, but with 3,500 patches. On each preset, you can change the volume envelope (slightly frustrating if the filter envelope is fixed), the filter cutoff & resonance, LFO rate & amount, and four other pre-selected parameters. Arturia's emulations sound fantastic, though I'm not qualified enough to judge how accurate they are. The Arp sounds raw and clunky with a boingy spring reverb. The Prophet VS sounds gritty and digital. The Moog Modular sounds huge, etc. If you want to know about the software, Create Digital Music and Sound on Sound can help.
What's bad? Aaaaagh! It's software. Installing it had me typing a 32 digit number four or five times until it took. I installed it on my laptop, and it's now impossible to move to another PC, without (at least) contacting customer support and buying a Syncrosoft key for €14. Yes, if I'd paid £229 for it, rather than borrowing one to review, I'd have thought harder about where I installed it. But why should I have to? It's lame. For £250 you can buy a new XioSynth, MicroKorg, or Alesis Micron or a used Juno 6 or JP8000.
If you're a professional musician, or you're trying to get great sounds in a hurry, or you enjoy tidiness and efficiency, then Analog Factory is perfect. It's quick to use, far better sounding than those cheap hardware synths, and all your settings are saved automatically. If, like me, you're a no-talent tinkerer, who enjoys fiddling with gear and recording bits of music, then the Analog Factory Experience might be a disappointment. But that's just me. If you enjoy software synths, then there are a few relatively minor niggles. The keyboard will output midi, but the controller numbers are all fixed, so you'll have to teach other synths to understand it, rather than vice versa. And there's very audible stepping when you're tweaking some knobs, i.e when tweaking the cutoff frequency on a resonant filter.
So... If you get on with software synths, and you want a fantastically sexy little controller for a huge collection of great synth sounds, buy this now. If you want a sexy little synth, don't.

Wow, audible stepping? That's ridiculous, I get smooth sweeps from tiny Gui knobs with my touch pad on freeware soft synths. I thought much more highly of Arturia about 5 minutes ago. Their emulation's are awesome regardless. I want 'em to make an OSCar V!
It would be fantastic if you could change the filter envelopes too. But you can't.
So I dont like it
It seems that it's more like an advanced sample library than an actual synthesiser. It does look cool, but it seem pretty limited.
Luke - I'm pretty sure this doesn't use samples, but the actual synth engines themselves. It's very easy to radically change the sounds, and the speed of filter sequences etc. It doesn't feel like you're just overlaying a simple filter on a waveform sample.
Hade/Poop - Isn't G-Media's ImpOscar enough?
Hi - Analog Factory uses the soft synth engines from Arturia's other products, definately not samples..

I'll check with Arturia/CME about the audible stepping - i'm hoping that this is because the unit is pre-production.
Do you have to buy the plugins in addition to the controller or is it a all in one solution for 299?

It's all in one!

You will be able to buy the software without controller if you like though. RRP £149.99.
o0oo0o impOSCar!!! Thanks for making my day!!
I refuse to buy any software that has this sort of intrusive copy protection. Whenever you re-install it you have to get "permission". In ten years time when you go back to get an old project it's most likely not going to work, unlike my hardware synths.
I have to admit that it sounds fantastic and is lovely to use. However the copy protection is IDIOTIC on the verge of making creating music impossible.

For example, the software copy protection likes to check itself on the hardware key (yeah hardware key!) every so often which pauses Logic 8 for a few minutes. Fine, you might think, but this seems to be linked to the number of saves you make - and if you have any sense in music you save early and often. Adding up the saves, and the annoying copy protection pauses means that your system is locking up and getting in the way of the music.

There is no need for this. Check once - preferably on install (at worst once on start-up) and leave us alone. I hope Arturia are listening.
"If, like me, you're a no-talent tinkerer"

Hey! Me too!!!!!!

I thought there was a specific reason I enjoyed your writing...
I love the hardware - I'm a sucker for wooden end cheeks - but the copy protection sounds like rubbish. I'd be inclined to return it as a defective product, if I had to put up with that.

As a software author who writes synth plugins, I know just how hard it is to make nice-sounding soft synths, and I can understand companies wanting to protect their investment. But, if they annoy the customers that much, people will just stay away or look for alternatives.

My plugins are released under the GPL. There are no Windows versions but there's nothing stopping some clever person porting them.
stave off your judgement till its released. you'll see...
this board is great if your gonna pair it with reason or similiar programs. i just bought it today and i already created a song. a very basic one. but atleast it sounds good. im not a hardware guy. just because software is more open , and less expensive. but i love this board for that . the aluminum is great. especially when you have a tendancy for things to fall. but so far so good.
I just bought the new Arturia analog experiance, and I have my own list to add to your.
1. On the plus side, easy to find and save the sounds you love, great 2. analog synths that are rare and hard to find.
on the minus side
1. As a stand alone software synth, " and no one has mentioned this one in all the reviews". The BMP's for the sequences and not editable, so if you want to use them as is you must figure out the BMP and then adjust you playing to that. So for the most part the sequences could have been left out, they're just teasers. Use a sequence program in VST instead.
2. The default volumes from synth to synth is really terrible. some sounds are really load some in the middle and some are so quiet you can't hear them or can barely hear them. This is the goldielocks syndrome, and it sucks. So for live playing you have to have a seperate mixer or you will sound like you just started playing yesterday.
The problem posted by David Berry is a compatibility issue with Logic 8, which was sorted out by the release of the update called Analog Factory 2.2.1
Be sure to download the latest Analog Factory software version through the following link:
I'm debating buying one.. between that and there bundle of synths.. but kind of thinking this is a kind of nice price for what is on order here.. a controller plus instrument library set up in a way that reminds one of NI Kore..

It seems like a strange issue.. if you look at the bundle of synths that the factory sounds are based on.. what's great about them, I would think, is the experience of programming you're own sounds.. and the weakness, as a pose to there hardware counter parts.. is not having a hardware controller via which to program them.. and here we get our selves the hardware controller, though not really designed well enough to fit the job.. and last I heard it didn't work out of the box well with the larger library.. and wouldn't you kind of prefer to have a properly designed controller with there bundle, versus with the analog factory?

So I'm sorta like.. should I wait for a version 2? How interested am I, really, in old analog sounds anyway? I mean beyond what might currently be in my library.. Perhaps I should just consider getting the kind of MIDI controllers that would allow better programing?

I wonder if the audio stepping means that it's basically just doing midi and it's an effect of MIDI's lower resolution? And if so.. isn't that pretty easily solved by controlling how the synths respond to the controller? I don't mean easily easily controlled by us end users, but by Aurturia?
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