Arturia Assistant

What is it?

Analog Lab 4

I've been using Arturia's synthesizer software quite a lot recently, including Analog Lab, Mini and Pigments. All great works in their own right with incredibly impressive audio production. However, trying to navigate the literally thousands of presets that come with these instruments is just completely overwhelming. So I wrote something to try to make all that just a little bit easier in terms of improvements to the categorisation of the presets, and sorting the wheat from the chaff.

So now let's dig into the meat of what this is all about. Arturia already offers some impressive categorisation of sounds. While it's not your categorisation, it is worth getting to know how Arturia categorises sound styles as it will be of benefit to you if you understand their perspective. So listing presets for each style in turn, and auditioning a good number of presets in each, will certainly help you in that understanding and give you a good head start. That said, you'll also likely notice how patchy and inaccurate Arturia's categorisation of styles is, at least at the time of writing.

You might also observe how you understand and interpret sound might not align with how Arturia does, and consequently searching through sounds can be very time consuming. In the long term, you really want to organise these sounds into your own framework of how you yourself understand sound. For example, one way I think of sound is in terms of material; so wood, metal, glass etc. then use those sounds in ways that complement each other. Or maybe you might have a better hook if sounds were connected with the artist or period that you most strongly associate with that sound, like Numan or Daft Punk, and 70s or 90s for example. These things are not something that Arturia does at present, but things you could do if you categorised sound styles for yourself.

Unfortunately, there's a problem here in that Arturia prevents you from modifying stock presets shipped with the software without you having to duplicate them first. This means you can't make any changes to them, even categorising them, without making copies. For many people this is an unnecessary hindrance and bloats an already Herculean list of presets when often all you really want to do is find a sound quickly and without ending up with masses of duplicate presets. This is what this Arturia Assistant is all about, hiding that duplication so the preset lists don't become bloated.

So you go about the categorisation of stock presets like this. For any stock presets you want to categorise in your own way, simply Save As that preset, select the bank, styles etc. that you want to apply and then save it without changing its name. Its important that the name remains the same. After a while you will end up with a bunch of new presets that are duplicates of presets shipped with the software that you've nicely categorised in your own way.

Save As

At your convenience, and as often as you like, you can use the Arturia Assistant to then hide the stock presets from which you have created duplicates. You do this simply by using the /1 command line parameter when loading the assistant. What this means is synchronise the duplicates and only show single copies of them - your copies. And fear not, you can undo these changes at any time by using the /2 command line parameter.

Now, for a while Arturia updated their presets during software updates in a way that was sympathetic to what we've been doing here. Everything was good. And then at the beginning of 2021, things changed and they dropped updates that completely conflicted with it, updating hundreds of presets with new audio settings and categorisation, presets that I had previously duplicated, and would now need to delete, reduplicate and recategorise again. I honestly couldn't be bothered and simply deleted them instead, and now I just work with their stock presets as a result. So yes, if that sounds like the meat of the work I did in this assistant is pretty much redundant, then you're hearing me right.

All is not quite lost however. You want to get that preset list cut down to as small as possible as you'll find yourself auditioning sounds within it again, and again, and again. So another possible workflow to get that list size down goes like this. You trawl through the presets as a one-time deal, perhaps soon after you installed your Arturia software. Mark all those that you might possibly use as a favourite, this just means that you have a potential interest in them and is our indicator that anything you don't favour is of no interest to you. You need to do this with every Arturia software instrument that you own as the Arturia Assistant works on the preset database as a whole.

Now, you can sort the list of instruments within the Arturia software with the favourites appearing first. For many people this is just fine, but what if you want to hide the presets that are not favourites altogether? Here, you can use the Arturia Assistant again with the /3 command line parameter this time to hide any presets that you've not marked as a favourite. If you want to show them at some point in the future, then use the /4 parameter.

Note that the hiding and showing of presets is done simply by modifying the SQLite database to indicate their visibility in the Arturia UI and not by deleting any files, so the impact on the file system here is absolutely minimal. Also note that you cannot use the Arturia Assistant while any other Arturia software is open. Checks are performed to ensure this is the case and the assistant will let you know if so. To recap then:

Arturia Assistant

To hide any duplicated stock presets:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /1

To show any previously hidden duplicates:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /2

To hide any unfavoured presets:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /3

To show any previously hidden unfavoured presets:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /4

arturia software updates

So far, so simple. But what about when you want to update your Arturia software and it makes changes to the presets? No problem, we've got this in hand. Just before you add or update any Arturia software run the Arturia Assistant with the /5 command line parameter. This effectively examines all the stock presets as they stand at that moment and archives their details away so that we can compare them with the stock presets after you've updated your Arturia software. So, you'll need to do this before every software update if you're interested in finding out what the preset differences are afterwards.

Then, to list any new presets that were added during the software update:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /6

To list any presets that were updated during the software update:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /7

To list any unfavoured presets that were updated during the software update, so that you can audition them again to see if you might like them this time around:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /8

To list any previously hidden duplicates that were updated during the software update, so you can determine if these updated presets need to be reduplicated or not:

"Arturia Assistant.exe" /9

A bit more explanation about hidden duplicates here. Maybe during the software update some of these stock, hidden duplicates get overwritten with newer versions? What to do here? There's no straight answer so the assistant does nothing itself, we leave that up to you. You might not care if a stock preset has changed and just keep your own duplicate, which is fine. Or you might well care, in which case you might delete you own copy and then reduplicate and recategorise the new version of the stock preset. It's up to you. At least with the /9 option you can determine where these potential conflicts lie.

Also, note that whenever you upgrade your Arturia software all of your presets become unhidden by default so you will need to hide your duplicates and your unfavoured presets again, but only as a final step after you've carefully picked up the new or changed presets and attended to them accordingly.

If you run the assistant without any command line options then it'll present you with a help page - you just need to hit key 1 to 9 depending on which operation you want to perform. Easy. This is probably how most of you guys will end up using it.

Wrapping up

Lastly, some assurances. The software doesn't touch anything that is already hidden within the SQLite database - those pre-hidden presets will remain hidden whatever.

If you're unsure about the changes the assistant might make before you run it, just backup C:\ProgramData\Arturia\Presets\db.db3 to a safe place, run the assistant, and if you're not happy with the changes then just restore the database file. Normally though, just undoing the previous action with /2 or /4 is the better way of doing things, restoring the database file ought to be your second and not your first option.

A word of warning, leave the C:\ProgramData\Arturia\Arturia Assistant folder alone - you need this for the software to function correctly. This is where the assistant stores check-summed proxies of hidden presets so that it knows what it has hidden and what it hasn't, and also knows which stock presets have changed following a software upgrade.

You can find the Arturia Assistant software [here]. It's for Windows Vista and above, 32-bit.

At the time of writing, it worked perfectly well with Analog Lab 4.1.2, Mini 3.5.1 and Pigments 2.0.1

I'll keep the software up-to-date as and when I upgrade my personal Arturia software and it requires any subsequent compatibility changes.

The software was last updated in May 2020.

[Posted 05/16/2020]

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