Sunday, 10 November 2013

Microbrute Impressions

So having has a chance to get over all the hype and the slightly cheeky party crashing of the announcement, Arturia's new analogue synth the Microbrute is finally upon us. Now after the dust has settled, it's worth taking a quick look at the new bit of kit.

First of all, the size is really something to behold and Arturia should be commended for cramming quite so much of the Minibrute into a smaller package. Most of the original wave shapes are still there - saw with supersaw, a square with variable PWM, a triangle with the folding metaliser all made it through, complete with sub osc to add low end weight. The patch bay and dinky little mini jack connectors mean that there are more varied modulation options for the LFO, both internally and with external gear. What also saves space and knobs on the board makes for a forced foray into modular connections and looks like a lot of fun.

Some lovely demonstration from Katsunori-san, whose YouTube keyboard demos are absolutely amazing fun to watch and listen to. Arturia have a few different demos from other notable synth gurus as well.

It's interesting that, for the most part, the majority of features on the device and my own speculation were proved correct once the full details were released, though there were a few little surprises as well. For example, the internal sequencer now allows for fairly complicated patterns to be recorded via step editing and then recalled for experimentation. The lack of MIDI out means that this is much more a unit made for either digital setups or for integration with existing modular gear. It also takes a lesson from the variable wave shape of the Waldorf Rocket by adding a sub oscillator that can produce a single note tone or folds to a fifth - a nice little surprise!

While the full keyboard is gone and replaced with a mini keyboard sans aftertouch, I had the impression that this was designed very much as a cut down MiniBrute, something better controlled via DAW or some other external trigger where the inclusion of a keyboard I'd there just for experimentation. This would make sense for something a fraction of the original's size and with an inferior keyboard, yet the inclusion of the sequencer and multiple knobs and sliders demands that you get stuck in for some hands on play and ensures that the appeal of an all analogue synth remains the same.

Despite missing some of its bigger brother's features, it has a skill set all of its own to remain a competitive little brute of its own and a compelling choice even it you have the original. This is aided by the sub £300 price tag and providing they get enough manufactured to avoid problems of the Minibrute, I am certain they will have another winner of their hands

Bravo Arturia and Yves Usson: it seems like you have done it again.