Arturia have released V Collection 9 with an incredible Korg MS-20 emulation, revamps of old faves, and new ideas around "augmented" instruments.

That talented music technology company from France have dropped another edition of what's become a seasonal product roadmap for Arturia. We're now up to V Collection 9, with some new additions, a few drip fed already, and a curious twist to the the range. For most of us it feels like only yesterday that we purchased the upgrade to V Collection 8 (let alone V Collection 7), so let's look at what's new and work out what's worth the upgrade.

What's new in V Collection 9?

This release cycle feels a little lighter than previous years, as the pace and novelty of new vintage classics has slowed down. The emulation of the Ensoniq SQ-80 had been previously released as a solo synth, as is the trend to drip-feed some solo synths before their inclusion into the bundle. The revamped Prophet being split into unique Prophet-5 and Prophet-VS versions is novel, if not as exciting as something brand new. Likewise the CS-80 and Piano have had major overhauls (like the Juno and Jupiter in the past), which will be interesting to those who love to use them. It's useful to point out that Arturia is typically great at handling the grandfathering of prior synth versions, so any projects use an older version of an overhauled release will stay retain access to that version.

So that's what's updated or was already announced. Which leaves only the Korg MS-20 as perhaps the only real newness for the vintage fans considering if this is worth the upgrade cost. That might seem like I've left out the new Augmented editions, being the STRINGS and VOICES collection. We'll get to those later. For now, here's everything that's new in the V Collection 9:

  • Augmented STRINGS
  • Augmented VOICES
  • Prophet-5 V
  • Prophet-VS V
  • KORG MS-20 V
  • SQ80 V

On top of the new releases, and the revamped existing ones, is an improved Analog Lab V and a pile of new soundbanks. In terms of the latter, this is Arturia scaling out some additional product lines to increase the potential revenue per user of existing products. By and large they are excellent and come into their own underneath the unified interface of the Analog Lab, which is a surprisingly seamless experience in essentially federating the entire V Collection range (and all the sounds) into one UI.

What about the Augmented instruments?

As for the Augmented range? I suspect I'll write about it in a future column, as there's some interesting strategy around building out a potential product line for Arturia's software outside of the V Collection's virtual offerings. Personally I don't use the Augmented products and find them somewhat disappointing compared to the official and third-party Native Instruments Kontakt libraries that they are (in my view) taking their cue from.

As for whether the upgrade price is worth it? This release cycle is less compelling than prior, but the Korg MS-20 alone is worthwhile for owners of the prior releases who feel some affinity towards the Arturia brand. As a long-time owner of a Korg MS-20 in the real world I love having the emulation at hand, and I reach for Arturia's version with full confidence of getting the timbres and tones out of it as I would my hardware version. Perfect emulation is a worthy goal, but for me it comes down to "can I get the thing out of this that I intend from the hardware", and in the case of the MS-20 it's nearly always about the behaviour of the dual filters and modulation, which I might add, is a joy to have tempo-sync control over (versus the manual efforts or quirky workarounds on the hardware).

Is the Arturia V Collection 9 worth the upgrade cost?

Having said all that, this is another incredible update from Arturia who continue to make many little "business as usual" updates in and around the V Collection suite. As well as one of the easiest and most reliable remote license and update methods in the industry. While the Augmented range is a miss for me, the MS-20 is a hit, and the revamps of existing synths shows the committment that the team has to quality, where many of the (especially private equity owned) companies would just ship and forget. So if this isn't the most memorable of Arturia's releases, it's still a solid example of their relentless updates, and the care that the little French software company turned synth giant takes. If you love the collection this is a worthwhile upgrade of what's become a backbone suite of reference instruments and a love letter to synthesizer history.