Is the saw tooth waveform analog

Arturia MicroBrute - monophonic analog synthesizer

by Jörg Sunderkötter,

The MiniBrute already brought Arturia great success, which many might not have believed the software manufacturer could do. Far from it, because the collaboration with analog guru Yves Usson resulted in a compact synth with great sound properties and lots of character. With the small version of the MiniBrute, the surprise is now perfect. The Arturia MicroBrute should not be underestimated and viewed as a simplified economy version - the little synth even has a few things on it that the big brother cannot.

Handy, compact and robustly made, but above all tiny - with these first impressions you unpack the MicroBrute from the box. With great expectations: An analog synthesizer at a plug-in price - you naturally ask yourself which things you do without, and anyway: will it sound as good as the MiniBrute? So quickly connect the power supply and plug the headphones into the mini jack socket.

The first difference is the keyboard. The 25 mini keys of the MicroBrute play quite well, the big brother doesn't know touch dynamics either, but the MicroBrute doesn't have its aftertouch function, which can be used for filter modulation. Nevertheless, the modulation wheel can also be used for this - this is a fine thing for some performance purposes. Otherwise, you use the classic cutoff potentiometer.

What you see is what you get

The MicroBrute is an AnalogSynth through and through not only in terms of sound generation, but also in handling: no memory, a controller or switch for each function. And there is a small patch panel that allows additional modulation links. The MicroBrute does not achieve modular status immediately, and it cannot really compete with the patch options of the MS-20 mini either. The flexibility the patch field brings with it is particularly evident in the versatile oscillator concept of the MicroBrute.

 

Sound generation

The MicroBrute can also claim the specialty of getting the maximum number of waveforms out of a single oscillator. In other words: it is largely identical to the MiniBrute in this respect. There are three waveforms: sawtooth, square (with variable pulse width) and triangle, which can be mixed proportionally. For reasons of space there are rotary potentiometers for this - but the slide controls of the MiniBrute are actually more convenient for this OSC concept. In terms of sound, you don't miss anything, on the contrary: With “Overtone” there is even a new part! This is a sub-oscillator with extras.

The sub-oscillator sounds an octave lower at first and has a nice square sound, if you turn the "Sub> Fifth" control to the right, the sound becomes thinner and more nasal, until finally the fifth predominates in the overtones when it is turned to the right. The triangular waveform, which can be varied using the so-called metallizer, is also very flexible. Waveshaping is used to create more and more overtones, which creates metallic-sounding sounds - it sounds a bit like a mixture of FM and oscillator sync. With this you can create cutting lead sounds or wobble basses with powerful overtone gradients in no time, without even touching the cutoff potentiometer.

MiniBrute connoisseurs will immediately notice that some modulation options are not offered in the oscillator section, such as pulse width modulation via envelope or LFO, as well as the Metallizer and Ultrasaw. The latter multiplies the sawtooth waveform into a fat vibrating sound, as if several oscillators were involved. For oscillating Ultrasaw or PWM sounds, of course, cyclic modulation by an LFO is required, which can be achieved thanks to the patch field. However, the LFO oscillation can only be patched to one of the modulation targets, which means that the Mini Brute makes a big difference in this regard, because all waveform modulations are allowed there at the same time - at least this applies to the supplied patch cables. If you want the maximum wall of sound as with the MiniBrute, you need a breakout cable that helps to distribute the modulation source to several destinations. So the MicroBrute has almost everything from its big brother, above all you don't have to do without its basic sound quality.

Small powerhouse. The MicroBute has a lot more to offer than you might think at first glance. Arturia has housed the structure of its big brother MiniBrute in a very small space. A few details have been omitted, but not the good workmanship and the first-class sound.

Sound processing

The latter also applies to the filter. It is a resonance-capable 12 dB multimode filter with switchable low, band and high pass characteristics. The resonance has a wide control range up to self-oscillation. The oscillator level has a significant influence on the sonic effects of the filter. If the level at the filter input is high, the resonances sound much more aggressive.

But it can get even worse, because there is still the "Brute" control - a controllable feedback loop of the filter circuit, which initially makes the filter sound a little drier, but at some point lets it tip into chaos. The sound generation then becomes almost uncontrollable between tonal confusion and pure noise. It is definitely worth experimenting with, because with a little sensitivity you can tickle incredibly fat bass drums and deafening sub-basses from the MicroBrute. Amazing!

modulation

In this section the Vibrato LFO (Modulation Wheel) has been left out and the LFO lacks a random waveform, which is kind of a shame. The MicroBrute also has only one envelope, but the VCA can be controlled either by envelope or gate, while the envelope is always hard-wired to the filter. In addition, the envelope can be patched to the cutoff again, which can be used to create powerful sequencer sounds with extremely short attacks.

Speaking of sequences: Instead of an arpeggiator, the MicroBrute has a small step sequencer with eight memory locations. There is no running light programming, but you can enter notes and rests in record mode and quickly create sequences that can be controlled and transposed via the keyboard.

CC / Gate / MIDI

You can really enjoy yourself when you use the patch options, of which the MicroBrute even has more than the Mini. For this there are the CV gate outputs on the back and the patch field in the top right of the control panel. The control voltages harmonize with those of the widespread Eurorack modular system from Doepfer, so that the MicroBrute can offer optimal flexibility here. The filter or oscillator can be modulated with external oscillators to create FM sounds; You could also use other modulation sources such as step sequencers, LFOs or envelopes to control the internal sound generation of the MicroBrute. It is also conceivable to play external oscillators from the MicroBrute using control voltage, in order to then integrate them into the signal path of the MicroBrute via the audio-in. A wide field of experimentation.

Of course, the MicroBrute can also be controlled by a sequencer via MIDI-In. The configuration is carried out by the supplied editor software, which can also be used to make other basic settings.

Conclusion

Congratulations! Arturia has made a big hit with the small MicroBrute. The synthesizer offers a huge variety of sounds and flexibility for very little money. One should really not underestimate the synth in its small format - no trace of a trash factor, as one might find it. B. found in the Korg Volcas or Monotrons. With the MicroBrute you get solid hardware and a synthesizer with high quality sound, plus patch options and an integrated step sequencer - all for just under 300 euros? Unbeatably good.

Manufacturer and product information

Manufacturer / Distribution: Arturia / Tomeso

UvP / street price: 329 euros / approx. 300 euros

Internet: www.tomeso.de

Pros and cons

+ great sound

+ good workmanship

+ versatile possibilities

+ integrated patch field

+ great price / performance ratio

 

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