What's a Close Hardware Equivalent to Arturia Pigments 3? Waldorf Iridium?

I really like working with Pigments… the UI, the engines, the mod functionality, the effects, it’s ARP/Seq… I genuinely think it’s now one of my favourite synths.

What I don’t like is being tied to the computer with it and having to either use the mouse or map it out to a controller.
I’d love a hardware standalone version of Pigments, but as that doesn’t yet exist, I’m looking for something similar.

The Waldorf Iridium looks like it’s in the same ballpark, but I was wondering if anyone has any other suggestions?

1 Like

The Iridium has a reasonable amount of overlap with Pigments in terms of synth engines (granular, wavetable, VA) but a big part of Pigments is its ux, visualizations, and excellent step sequencer. You don’t get any of those with Iridium, which I found clunky to use (I ultimately sold it for that reason).

To replicate the Pigments experience in hardware I would instead look for a synth that is mostly knob-per-function with a good sequencer. I haven’t tried it but I’ve heard good things about the Korg Modwave (I have the Opsix and the Wavestate and they’re both great). The fx in the Korg synths are excellent and far better than the Iridium.

1 Like

Interesting. Did you compare them 1:1?

I’ve thought about this some myself, and decided the best thing is Pigments itself. Start with one of those small but powerful Windows computers using it entirely dedicated to running Pigments in standalone mode. It would boot into Pigments. Then combine that with some carefully crafted controls to minimize the mouse sort of interface.

One option that i’ve considered is the MP Midi Controller.

This isn’t perfect, and it isn’t cheap either, but it goes some ways towards the Pigments Synth.

What i have done instead is wait for Arturia to do the real thing.


Yep. There are many more fx in the Korg synths and they sound better to me than the ones in the Iridium. The Korg fx are so good that they added an fx oscillator in the Opsix (which rules!).

Pigments was part of the reason I moved entirely out of the box for synths. It’s a fantastic instrument but I realized I wasn’t enjoying it – and I figured that if I’m not liking Pigments then I probably won’t like working in the box at all. I’ve got a hardware setup now that I have way more fun with. Of course, everyone is different, so what works for me won’t work for everyone – but I’ve tried working with midi controllers and softsynths and it just didn’t gel for me.

1 Like

A digital hardware synth is at its core just a controller tightly wrapped around a computer.

The Modwave itself is built from a Raspberry Pi Compute Module.

I’m not aware of the Korg Modwave, it does look interesting (cue YouTube video marathon…).
As I have a few controller keyboards, I am more interested in a desktop module really.
I think I’ve looked at the Iridium as a potential ‘consolidate all my synths into one unit’, which I think is always the dream for me.

You are right, knob per function, or at least for the most important parameters, is the aim.

Same with a lot of people. The keyboard with the Modwave is pretty mediocre.

There is a possibility that Korg may eventually offer the MW as a module like they did with the Minilogue XD. We can hope.

1 Like

Yes, I hear ya… I’ve had this thought for some time… putting together a dedicated rig for Pigments.
It’s that good, I don’t think there’s a hardware unit that can match what it does right now.

The best hardware I have at the moment to control Pigments is actually my Roland JD-XA in midi mode. That allows me to map a lot of Pigments function-to-function to the JD-XA control layout that I’m already familiar with. It doesn’t give me access to everything (obviously!), but it’s definitely the best hands on control I’ve had of it yet.
I think I’m going to add on my Faderfox EC4 too.

But, I think you might be the same as me @Jukka, if Arturia released a dedicated Pigments controller I’d be on it in a heartbeat.


Yeah, that controller looks neato, but that’s too much cash for what I would consider an experiment

1 Like

They’d get my money :crossed_fingers:t2:
I could see a lot of folks collecting the opsix and Wavestate in module format, if offered, as well.


There’s certainly a lot of money to be had for the designer that can come up with a hardware VST controller that brings the same kind of hardware instrument feel to existing software instruments that we’ve all come to appreciate from well designed hardware instruments.

As Jukka said,

And some do this much better than others. Where as my Nord Lead 4 feels very much like an instrument that happens to be based on digital code, my Hydrasynth KB feels like digital code that happens to have some tactile control.

Of course making something adaptable to various softsynths has the caveat of taking away some muscle memory, (every page on a Push 2 brings up different parameters) I am eager to see designers tackle these problems with creative solutions, as this could be the next frontier in the industry.

My SFC-5MK2 has a great build quality and works great with Repro-5. But it’s most ideal to use it beneath a screen of the VST GUI, which really just turns it into a multitouch tactile mouse, more than an actual replacement.


Well that was the intent of the Elk Audio OS, but it hasn’t seemed to have caught on. ( Though they are still trying. )

Elk certainly provided a great set of tools for VST software makers to port to hardware. They would have to do the hardware controller portion and port the software, but that seemed ready made for various plugin makers.

Unfortunately a regular software user can’t take their favorite plugin and run it through Elk. You need access to the code.

Maybe someday there will be a practical way to wrap software plugins tightly and with great detail bind that to your hardware interface.


If you really want something that can do everything Pigments can while offering knob-per-function control of all (or most) parameters, you’re probably looking at a rather pricey modular rig.


I was getting around to that thought myself. It might be fun to break Pigments into its major functions and then find the modular pieces that might match up the best.

So add difficult to it being expensive. But definitely an option.

ADDED : That also leaves an enormous hole for the user interface.

This, and an Arturia Buchla Easel V dedicated controller would be incredible.

I’m also a huge Pigments fan but haven’t bothered with Pigments at all since getting the ModWave. Holy smokes!! It’s completely insane. It far outpaces Pigments in most ways that matter to me. My game is the new school wavetable-ish vsts: Vital, Nave, Pigments, etc. ModWave is the hardware answer to those.

1 Like

This guy should be your closest friend. Love his work and i wish i had the funds and time to jump in his footsteps:

I just don’t see any satisfying and complete equivalent.

There is plenty of great hardware, but they are all going to be good alternatives rather than replacements.

The other option of making the Pigments software synth behave like a hardware synth has promise, but will likely be compromised by the technical challenges of making that total reallignment.

And the likelihood that Arturia will release the Pigments Synth someday seems to me very low.

So i don’t see any alternative, other than to keep on making the best of things as they are.

1 Like

This reminds me of the time the guys from propellerhead ported instruments into hardware just to show how their format could be ported to a web browser, a hardware unit, a vst.

Around minute 32 he starts showing a korg rack extension running in a hardware device.

1 Like