Arturia Wurlitzer V Review
By now, you probably know I’m a keyboard player and which is more important, I’m a big analog fan, so, imagine my happiness when the V Collection 4 by Arturia came to my hands! We are talking here about some of the finest emulations and modelling of the finest vintage analog synths, but, not just that. This collection features an extremely awesome modelling of one of the greatest and most sought after vintage electric pianos: the venerable Wurlitzer 200a, AKA The Wurly! From Beatles to Radiohead, the Wurly can be heard in countless records (The Dark Side of The Moon, anyone?), and Arturia has made a great work in this emulation full of extras and goodies, and of course, it sounds awesome! Lets check it out
A little history.
The Wurly is an electro-mechanical piano that instead of strings uses reeds for every note; the sound produced by those reeds is picked by internal microphones (just like guitar mics) and then amplified. It was introduced in the late 50s and produced until early 80s. It sounds great through guitar pedals and amp. Also, it featured a vibrato (tremolo, actually) circuit pretty much like those found on guitar amps.
Well, Arturia has managed to model all of this and added some awesome functions under the hood.
You get the Wurly itself with its volume and vibrato controls plus a sustain pedal, but you also get a pedal-board with five slots available (more on this later) and three output possibilities: D.I. Box with a reverb unit (lexicon style), Guitar amp with four cabinet options, and four classical miking options (more on this later, too), and a leslie amp with rotary speed control and again a reverb unit.
Under the hood you get lots of options, from Eq, to velocity curve, pickup mics positions, axis and impedance, vibrato rate, dynamics, octave stretch, hammer hardness, hammer, note off and pedal noise levels, and a very clever harmonic variation menu.
As I’ve mentioned before, there are five available slots in the pedal board, slot one can have a volume pedal, wah-wah pedal, or auto-wah. Slots 2 to 5, can be used for flanger, phaser, chorus, delay, overdrive, compression, vocal filter and pitch-shift chorus.
To my ears, the wah-wah is modeled after the cry-baby, the modulation effects are pretty much based on the Electro-harmonix pedals (again, to my ears), the delay is up to 1 second and to me is based on the MXR carbon copy, compressor is vaguely based on the boss cs series, but with the option to set the compression ratio, overdrive sounds pretty much inspired in the Ibanez Ts series.
I’m a big fan of guitar pedals on keys, so, this is like heaven to me. Wah-wah and overdrive sound specially good and funky, ideal for a rock band with one guitar and one keyboard.
Guitar amp features volume and drive, reverb and three band eq. Seems to be modeled after some fender tube amp, and cabinet options are 1×12, 2×12, 4×10 y 4×12. Also, there are some classical miking options like Sm57 on axis, Sm57 off axis, 421 on front and U87 on front. Here, you should try every combination and see which suits you best. Personally, I like a lot the sound you get with a pretty much clean 2×12 cabinet with the 421 on front. The leslie Amp, is another beast! I don’t think I’ve heard many recordings with wurlys amped through a leslie, but it’s indeed a great combination. You get the usual switch for the three positions: Stop, Slow and Fast, both high and low speakers can be tweaked a bit in here: you can change the width and the shape for both rotations, the depth of high speaker rotation, and there are master rate and level controls.
As with the D.I. box option, there’s a reverb unit available which sounds very warm and again is quite tweakable.
Under the hood you’ll find a lot of control, there’s a vibrato rate which goes from 0.01Hz up to 20Hz (audio rate), a dynamic control which you can set to 0% if you are not such a good keyboard player for ignoring velocities. Some very clever thought pickup mics options like distance, axis and impedance, any changes will drastically change the wurly’s sound and phase, some combinations might result in a low end boost or in making high notes very thin. You can also change the hardness of the hammers for a mellow sound or a very punchy sound most suited for rock. Here, you can also tweak the velocity curve and there’s finally a graphical eq.
MIDI and presets.
You can select MIDI channel, which by default is omni, also, with the press of a button, every control for the wurly, the pedal board, the amp and even the under the hood controls can be set to midi learn and you can save that configuration for later use!
Presets, are very well thought and include lots of variations and possibilities, but, as usual, unless you are in a hurry, I encourage you to tweak knobs, try different pedal, amps, cabinets and mic combinations, and you will arrive to a sound that suits your needs!
I love wurlys, and this sound as good as any Wurly can sound. This might be heaven for rock keyboardists, and with so much options, you can use this machine to make amazing sounds that probably have never been heard before!
Where you can get your wurly?! Arturia Wurlitzer V is available at PluginBoutique.com for €102.30 or you can get the entire V Collection 4 with all 16 virtual vintage synths included: Mini V, Modular V, CS-80 V, ARP2600V, Jupiter 8-V, Prophet V & VS, Oberheim SEM V, Matrix-12 V, Solina V, VOX Continental V and the Spark 2.Rafael Hofstadter is a recording and mixing engineer and sound designer with 10+ years experience in playing and programming synths, recording, mixing and producing pop/rock/folk albums. He also runs piggysounds.com.[/author]