Metallic waves on your ears!
Oscillators: 1 VCO, 1 Sub-Oscillator (square, sine, -1 or -2 Ocatve), White Noise, External Audio In, Pulse Width Modulation
Waveforms: Sub, Sawtooth, Square, Triangle and White Noise
Filter: Steiner-Parker 2-pole Multimode (12db/octave Low Pass, 6 db/octave Band Pass, High Pass and Notch) with Keyboard Tracking
Envelopes: 2 ADSR Envelope Generators
Effects: Brute Factor, Metalizer, Ultrasaw
Appeggiator: 4 modes, 4 octave range control, 6 step divisions, 6 Swing modes, Hold
Keyboard: 25 semi-weighted, with after touch (assignable to Vibrato or Cutoff amount)
External Control: CV In/Out (Pitch, Filter and Amp), Midi In/Out, USB MIDI In/Out
Weight: 4kg (8.8 lbs)
Production Year: 2012 - Present
I bought the Minibrute new. This was kind of a strange thing because concerning synthesizers, I buy vintage and it's been a while since I saw something worth buying new besides Moog, DSI or other strange modular gear. But something was different with the Minibrute. It was an important step. It was a statement by a company finally acknowledging the issue that people want to buy analog and they want it cheap. DSI and Moog do a great job of sticking to their guns and always producing great analogs but they are expensive. That is not a bad thing because even though we are in an age of Wal Mart expectations that kills off quality products and American jobs, yes factory jobs are important too, Moog and DSI do most of the work here in the US of A. Not all but most. But even without the fact of producing something here, the fact that is there is that there is a market for bedroom producers with little money. I believe it is important to make products across the range of wallets but I still kind of find a lack of sympathy for the bedroom producer. In the old days (yes I just said that) those great artists saved up for their gear. You can watch quite a number of documentaries and on of the great stories they always tell is the story of how they worked hard to buy their first piece of gear to make music. Seems as though that memory is trial by fire and you can only come out sharp and strong after that trial. Now software and cheap gear is good but you kind of lose something, when something is given so easily. The journey is no longer a long journey but one of already arriving at the front door. And I guess that can be good too though because in the end it's all about making music and art but we often know the artist struggle and life around the art shapes the art. So if I had it easy and stepped into a studio where everything is given, do I really have heartfelt songs to pour my heart into when it is all to easy? These are just my thoughts so we are all free to say what we believe and I respect your opinion too.
It has been a huge love hate relationship between me and the Minibrute. When I first plugged it in and played it and something about it bothered me. I know that Arturia worked hard to make it affordable but that's when reality kicks in. That's when I realized that there is a bad taste in my mouth about these "compromises that had to be made to make it cheap. Little did I know that it would invite a whole series of synthesizers from other companies who would follow the "compromises" money making model. Make it cheap, hack out some things!
So what are these compromises I am talking about? Well the number of keys is one thing. Funny enough though many bedroom producers seems to favor less keys for the simple fact that the keyboard takes up less space. But I guess I might be looking at this the wrong way. Apparently lots of people see it as a module and not so much as a playable instrument. I know people would argue even against what I just said but apparently hooking it up to CV / Midi gear seems more important than having the ability to play the keyboard with a decent amount of keys. I still find that funny but it is the clear direction modern synths that are aimed at "bedroom producers" is going.
So what was the first thing that bugged me though. I would say the sound. Something doesn't sit right many times. Yes it's the Brute but it is harsh and there is some frequencies in-between that are not rich. But then again I guess I'm just used to hearing a Roland filter and oscillators. I think that was the biggest thing that bugged me about the Minibrute. But then after a long amount of time I realized not to look at this synth as something from the old days making its way through the present, but something new from a new set of engineers from our current time. I demoed some sounds for a friend and the first thing he said was...wow that's a metallic sound. I think he hit the nail on the head with that one. Metallic. Now use it for what it is.
The sawtooth can indeed sound quite nice on this though and even a bit classic. Pulse Width is a nice addition on this and I am glad to have it. Sub Osc is indeed worth having there too.
I should note that my introduction to the Minibrute was made worse by the fact that there was an issue with my filter envelope. At first it was hard to determine because I couldn't figure out if it was an accepted design, design flaw or if there was actually something wrong with the Minibrute, especially since it has the "Fast" and "Slow" switch. I hate that thing. I know it's supposed to extend the range of the synthesizer but it just feels awkward. I'd rather have all that range in one envelope without the switch. I guess I will give it another chance though in buying another Minibture to further make this review more accurate with a proper working one. To be continued on the envelope section of my writing.
There are some features that are buried in software and the only way to access them is with a computer. I hate that kind of stuff too. What if one day the software of the OS stopped being compatible with the Minibrute. Too much hardware now in modern times depends on connectivity to a computer. Can you imagine if something like a Model D had to be hooked up to an ancient computer to get features on it to work. What a pain! So I hope this trend stops, although I don't think it will.
Now you are probably thinking I have nothing positive to say about the Minibrute, well not so. In fact I think it's important to see flaws and positives instead of just positives, otherwise you might as well be lacking in thought and full of only acceptance like a battered housewife defending her husband and seeing nothing that needs to be changed about him no matter how much he sucks! Well I do like the number of waveforms Arturia supplied with this to give an artist a wide range of sounds. I think the metalizer while lending to the metallic thin ear-piercing aspect is actually a good thing. Aruturia obviously went above and beyond in the designing of options. They could have just produced a simple saw, square, sub but instead they added the great pulse width modulation, metalizer, pitch mod with envelope and more.