Yes, you saw it right - I am now the proud owner of a Minibrute. After umming and aahing around for quite long enough, when I found one at the Music Production Show last month, I had to get one when I found that a retailer at the show had them for £399. A steal considering what it is and especially as I was given a masterclass in its operation by one of the nice chaps at Source distribution.
So let's get some of the limitations out of the way first. Yes. it's a short keyboard but the keys are nicely sized and come with configurable aftertouch as a lovely bonus (so you can affect vibrato or filter cutoff directly during play). All the knobs bar one (the envelope amount on the square wave is really loose on mine but nothing to get in a hissy fit over) turn nicely and build quality is above par, especially for the price. It's a heavy mother as well and is hardly going to move anywhere once you get it seated on a table or worktop. It's great to have one knob per feature control on a synth as you can
really see what you are doing and tweak on the fly. The lack of patch
memory really isn't a problem as you begin to get a good idea of the
features of your synthesiser and what it is capable of. After a while, I
found myself quickly dialing in some favourite types of sounds and
remembering what goes where helps in this regard.
So how does it sound? In a word, amazing. Despite the 'brute being a single oscillator, because it's a mixer you can sculpt some really great sounds out of it and not just bass sounds either. An added advantage of having a well designed synth whose pitch isn't limited in software (Minitaur, I am looking at you, sir), it means that you can do all the nice leads and trumpet sounds as well as the thundering, window-rattling basslines that this synth is known for. The arpeggiator is good fun and even things like the swing knob can add some shuffle to a phrase.
I think Arturia have done themselves proud and this is an excellent entry into hardware analogue synthesisers. Yves Usson and the team have made a synth that sounds great but is above all fun to use and I hope I can do it justice by using it in my productions as well.
Note: No, I won't sell it so please don't contact me asking about it.