Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Hack-a-brute!

One of the more interesting things about newer style synthesisers is that their creators sometimes go out of their way to make their products slightly more tweakable and editable for the masses to enjoy. Korg are an excellent example of this, as they are well known for going the extra mile on their recent analogue gear (Monotrons and Volcas) to label the PCBs with convenient solder points to easily add further functions.

As an owner of both the MiniBrute and MicroBrute, in part due to the involvement of Grenoble's Yves Usson in the design as well as the sounds they can make, I am pleased to see that he has convinced Arturia to release PDFs of the internal schematics and is currently curating a list of hacks, modifications and alterations on his Hack a Brute website.


Usual disclaimer: Any modification to any MiniBrute will immediately void its warranty. Arturia or any of its affiliates will not accept responsibility for any damages, personal loss or injury that may result from any modification to the device.

So what can you do with your MiniBrute that you didn't realise you could? Well, one of the most interesting things for me is the relationship between the standard Minibrute and the SE model. Aside from the funky brushed aluminium case, the main internal change is that it replaces the arpeggiator with the sequencer from the MicroBrute and turns the MiniBrute into a much more powerful machine that can play lines with itself. However, the price involved in buying a whole new MiniBrute just to have a sequencer is a little foolish - you would probably be better off buying a Beatstep or similar CV/MIDI based external sequencer for under £100 to get the same effect.

However, it turns out that the firmware for the MiniBrute supports both the arpeggiator and the sequencer, with a special SYSEX message that can be used to toggle between the two. While I haven't tried it myself, the solution is all completely in software and judging by the tutorial it should be fairly straightforward for peons like me. So you don't have to buy a whole new product to get the same killer sequencer for your 'Brute and open up additional functionality for your synthesiser hardware. It's great that Arturia have built in support for this kind of functionality and while they don't openly support it, at least Yves is helping to highlight common and useful modifications

Bookmark the page as it's definitely a useful resource!

Bonus: a recent Attack Magazine article also highlights some common synthesiser hacks and modifications, including some on the MiniBrute!

Original Site:
http://hackabrute.yusynth.net