Battle of the Synths: Xfer Serum vs. Arturia Pigments

In the arena of synth-based music, the clash of titans is about to begin! We're pitting two heavyweight champions of software synthesizers against each other: Xfer Records' Serum and Arturia's Pigments. Armed with their powerful sonic capabilities and high flexibility, they're here to demonstrate why they've become integral tools that should be a part of every digital software synth owners arsenal.

A comparative look at the two synths:

  Xfer Serum  Arturia Pigments
Type Wavetable Synthesizer Wavetable, Virtual Analog, Sample-Based, Granular Synthesizer
Synthesis Types Wavetable, FM, AM, RM, Sample-based (Noise-osc) Wavetable, 'Analog', Sample-based, Harmonic Synthesis, Granular, FM
Oscillators Dual wavetable oscillators, Sub-oscillator, Noise oscillator Dual engine oscillators - Wavetable, 'Analog' or Sample, Sub-oscillator, Noise oscillator
Filters A wide range of filter types, Multi-mode filter module,  (non-flexible filter routing) Dual filter design with numerous filter types (with very flexible filter routing options)
Modulation 8 LFOs, 4 envelopes, versatile easy modulation routing Complex modulation system, unlimited modulators
Effects 10 high-quality effects, order can be rearranged 13 effects, modular style routing capabilities
Presets OK sounding factory library (that's why LP24 is here to elevate it) Extensive preset library, some users find them less inspiring (again, why LP24 elevates it)
Unison Mode Up to 16 voices per oscillator Up to 8 voices per oscillator
Visual Feedback Visual representation of the wavetable, modulation Real-time visual representation of nearly all parameters
Custom Wavetables Custom wavetable creation & import, advanced formulaic wavetables Limited to import only
Sequencing No, unless you look at LP24 - Modular Rhythms Sequencer and Arpeggiator
Interface Highly intuitive, clean and modern GUI. Compact look. Rich, colorful, visually immersive GUI
Price $189 USD $199 USD
Sound Quality Known for its clean, precise sound Known for its colorful, analog-emulating sound
Ease of use User-friendly, clean layout, easy to understand Slightly more complex, but offers great visual feedback
CPU Usage High CPU usage, especially with complex patches or many unisons High CPU usage, slightly better optimization

If you'd like to compare more, have a look at the official Xfer Serum Website or the Arturia Pigments Official Site


Let the games begin! 

Through each round of this battle, we will award points to the synth that excels in a specific feature or aspect, keeping a running tally to add to the excitement. Remember, this isn't a battle to the death—it's about understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each synthesizer. At the end, they might just tie, for these synths are different beasts designed for different types of results.

Round 1: Synthesis Types (Serum: 0, Pigments: 1)

For its versatility in offering Wavetable, Virtual Analog, Sample-Based, Harmonic (sort of an additive synthesis method) and Granular Synthesis types, Pigments takes the first point. Serum, while offering FM, AM, RM styles between it's two main oscillators, along with excellent Wavetable synthesis, doesn't quite match the stunningly wide range of synthesis types that Pigments offers.

Round 2: Oscillators (Serum: 1, Pigments: 1)

When it comes to the oscillator section, Serum bags its first point. Its dual wavetable oscillators are world renowned, flexible, precise, and extremely clean sounding. Add options for wavetable importing and a plethora of editing capabilities, plus additive-style editing or advanced formulaic options make Serum's wavetable oscillator section special and one of a kind.

Round 3: Filters (Serum: 2, Pigments: 1)

Serum takes another point with its multi-mode filter module (plus another in the FX section) offering a very wide range of filter types and combined filters, giving it a very slight edge over Pigments' dual filter design. The 'reverb filter' is quite fun and useful for unusual sonic sorcery. Pigments has some clean sounding filtering available too, however we had to pick one and believe Serum offers fantastically flexible filtering options.

Round 4: Modulation (Serum: 2, Pigments: 2)

For its complex modulation system with unlimited modulators, Pigments ties the score, offering greater flexibility over Serum's 8 LFOs and 3 envelopes. Both are easy to assign and visualize modulation sources and real-time parameter changes. Pigments does a deep dive into available almost endless modulation options, making it stand out.

Round 5: Effects (Serum: 2, Pigments: 3)

Pigments takes the lead with its plethora of useful and world-class effects and modular routing, offering more variety than Serum's 10 very own high-quality effects. After using both for years, they are both quite capable, but Arturia knows how to design a clean and useful in-synth effects section.

Round 6: Presets (Serum: 3, Pigments: 3)

Serum evens the score again with its massive factory and community library, providing a wider variety of starting points than Pigments. However LP24 has taken this section very seriously, which is why our main specialities are Xfer Serum and Arturia Pigments presets.

Round 7: Visual Feedback (Serum: 3, Pigments: 4)

Pigments pulls ahead once more, winning the point for its real-time visual representation of nearly all parameters, which some users might find more informative than Serum's slightly less limited visual feedback.

Round 8: Custom Wavetables (Serum: 4, Pigments: 4)

Serum scores for its ability to create and import custom wavetables (you can also import an image into a wavetable!), providing more fun flexibility compared to Pigments, which only allows basic WT importing.

Round 9: Interface (Serum: 5, Pigments: 4)

Serum takes the lead this time for its intuitive and streamlined interface, which some users might find easier to navigate than Pigments' visually rich but slightly more complex interface. Most music creators like how quickly they can get a sound started and finalized in Serum, which may take some more experience in Pigments to achieve.

Round 10: CPU Usage (Serum: 5, Pigments: 5)

In the final round, Pigments ties the score again, taking the point for its slightly better optimization and less CPU usage compared to Serum, particularly with complex patches.

So, it's a draw! Both Serum and Pigments have their own unique strengths, making them versatile and powerful tools in the realm of music production. As always, the choice between the two will ultimately depend on your specific needs and personal preferences. Despite the tie in this battle, there's no doubt that you'll be the true winner when using either of these fantastic synths!

Xfer Serum: Benefits and Downsides


Serum's unrivaled sound quality sets it apart. It's transparent, precise, and provides absolute control over the wavetable manipulation. It offers an intuitive interface where every parameter and control is visible in one window, making it easy to master. Serum also boasts a versatile modulation system, robust filter module, and a wide array of high-quality built-in effects.


The perfection of Serum's sound may sometimes limit its ability to reproduce warm, vintage synth tones, which some musicians desire. Furthermore, it requires a significant amount of CPU power, which can be a downside for users with less powerful computers.

Arturia Pigments: Benefits and Downsides


Pigments is a powerhouse with its triple-engine design, allowing you to use Wavetable, Virtual Analog, Harmonic, Granular and Sample-based synthesis simultaneously. The synth shines with its strong modulation capabilities and its colorful, immersive GUI, providing a fantastic visual feedback. It can mimic the warm, vintage sounds while still providing crystal clear digital tones.


Its interface, while beautiful, can be a bit intimidating and complex for beginners. The synth does also demand substantial CPU power. Some users have reported the factory presets to be somewhat generic and less inspiring.

Fun Facts

Xfer Serum

Serum was developed by Steve Duda, a professional engineer, and DJ, who also happens to be friends with the famous EDM artist Deadmau5. Steve has stated that the development of Serum was driven by his dissatisfaction with the limitations of other synths (probably Native Instruments Massive and Sylenth, which were big in 2014), leading him to create a synth where you can create "anything you can think of".

Arturia Pigments

Arturia is a French company known for their hardware synths and their excellent software emulations of classic analog synthesizers. The introduction of Pigments marked their first foray into a completely original (non-analog emulating) software synth. They named the synth Pigments because of the "colorful" nature of the sound it creates.


Choosing between Xfer Serum and Arturia Pigments ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your music project. Both synths are powerful, versatile, and provide unique features that make them stand out in their own ways. It might be a good idea to take advantage of their demo versions and see which one resonates with you more before making a purchase.

Regardless of which you choose, both Serum and Pigments are excellent tools for music production that will surely inspire you to create new and exciting sounds.