The Varrange with the lates sound sets sound as good as the TOTL arenagers curently available..
In speaking of a TOTL, that's quite a compliment for vArranger coming from someone who knows gear and I agree with you. I know that you've been saying quite often about a TOTL 88 key arranger. It dawned on me that if there is an 88 key arranger, it will be probably too bulky with all the buttons and knobs. You know how most arranger keyboards are pretty deep.
I find vArranger a lot easier to work with than any hardware arranger. With one or two midi controllers, it can be so flexible. For instance, I use a small $12 Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard to call up a number of functions or sounds - just as many functions or sounds as there are keys on the QWERTY keyboard. I attach the Bluetooth keyboard on the grille of my accordion and call up sounds/functions wireless. Or if I play a digital piano, I use a little bigger QWERTY keyboard.
Recently, a vA user named Bluebeat posted on the vA forum about Synthfont. He asked the owner of Synthfont if he would add features to Synthfont so that it could handle large banks and multiple files (soundfonts). The program has started working on it and there is a beta version. The program is only 15 Euros. So I purchased it and I believe it will really enhance vA for recording and live performance. There are some excellent soundfonts out there.
The strong point of Varranger remains, that you can use VST's, for the widest sound quallity and choice of sounds... this allows you to add some depth where you need it.
Having a good sound set is just the beginning...
What in my eyes makes Varranger still a 2nd choice is thats it missing all those buttons and direct controll, and i think that there for it could never become as comfortable to me as a hardware arranger like the pa4x or Genos where every button is on the right place.. and gives you the direct controll you need.
I am still considering going back to a single 88 key however, being my Kronos(or a nord stage) combined with a Ketron SD90 and my mainstage/VST Macbook.
Having the Nord stage for example, with SD90 in the middle on top of it in an almost vertical position (20 degrees) sounds like the closest thing to an 88 key totl solution..