Arturia Microbrute vs Novation Bass Station II

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Arturia Microbrute vs Novation Bass Station II

Arturia and Novation are both heavyweights in the the synth world and if you’re trying to choose between their compact, analog offerings then look no further. We’ve got the answers that you’re looking for. We know it’s not an easy choice because both of these mini-synths include features beyond their respective price tags and they both offer great value for money as well.

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While both synths give you that 100% analog signal path and monophonic power, you’ll find one or two small differences that might end up being enough to sway you one way or the other. Depending on your music style and where you intend to take your music in the future are two key factors that will determine which synth ends up in your possession. So, let’s get down to it and find out which one is going to be best for you.

Side by Side Comparison

Arturia MicroBrute Novation Bass Station II
Arturia Microbrute
Sound Engine Type(s): Analog Analog
Number of Keys: 25 25
Type of Keys: Mini-key, velocity-sensitive Synth Action, Aftertouch
Polyphony: Monophonic Monophonic/Duophonic
Number of Presets: 200 factory, 300 user 64 factory, 64 user
Oscillators 1 x Analog VCO (sawtooth, triangle, square), 1 x Analog Sub VCO, 2 x LFO 2 x Analog VCO (sine, square, triangle, sawtooth), 1 x LFO
Filters 1 x 12dB per octave Steiner Parker filter 1 x 12/24 db per octave filter with Classic/Acid filter types
Effects Analog Distortion (Brute Factor) Distortion, Oscillator FM
Sequencer: 64-step monophonic, 8 sequences 32-step monophonic
Audio Inputs: 1 x 1/4″ TRS (audio in) 1 x 1/4″ TRS (audio in)
Audio Outputs: 1 x 1/4″ TRS (line out) 2 x 1/4″ TRS (audio out)
Headphones: 1 x 1/8″ 1 x 1/4″
USB: 1 x Type B 1 x Type B
MIDI I/O: In/USB In/Out
Other CV Gate I/O, Mod Matrix, Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Arpegiator Pitchbend, Mod Wheel, Arpegiator
Power Supply: 12V DC power supply AC/USB
Height: 2.4″ 2.5″
Width: 12.8″ 18″
Depth: 8.7″ 10.628″
Check Price: Amazon Amazon

The MicroBrute is renowned for making huge sounds from its single oscillator and Steiner-Parker filter setup. The quality doesn’t stop there though with extra modes available for super-aggressive sounds and overdriven leads that will blow many other synths away.

Novation’s Bass Station II, on the other hand, is also capable of those big dirty bass sounds and with its dual oscillator setup, you’re actually got a lot more flexibility when it comes to sound shaping. Add to that the two filter designs and you can see Novation has the upper hand.

However, if you are looking for a compact synth then the MicroBrute wins hands down. It’s around 6” shorter and gives you a much smaller interface. This is mainly due to the mod wheels located above the keyboard rather than to the side which could be a big factor in your decision.

So playing style and mod wheel location needs to be considered and the Bass Station II does give you more room to play. But what about the ability to connect with external equipment? The Mod Matrix on the Microbrute opens up many options that can’t be found on the Bass Station II.

Arturia MicroBrute Review

Arturia has somehow managed to offer a semi-modular, analog synth all within an extremely compact unit. Add to this all of the onboard features and the excellent price tag and this synth instantly becomes very enticing, for the beginner or experienced user, and offers a lot of value.

Dial in anything from heavy bass-like tones to ear-piercing, overdriven leads and the MicroBrute will duly oblige. The dark and dirty sounds are what the MicroBrute lives for and this is something that it shares with the Bass Station II. Both have a wide range of tones available.

The Mod Matrix is something that gives the MicroBrute an edge over its competitor, but only if you have the setup to connect other equipment. The patch points will connect to other external synthesizers and keyboards to open up the potential for more modulation options.

Don’t be fooled by the single oscillator as this is very flexible and offers some big analog sounds when coupled up with the Steiner Parker filter. The extra “Brute” overdrive knob is the icing on the cake for this micro-synth and shows that it is capable of much more than its size suggests!

Pros of the MicroBrute

  • 100% pure analog sound
  • Flexible and powerful single oscillator
  • Highly regarded Steiner-Parker filter
  • Intuitive onboard sequencer

Novation Bass Station II Review

The Bass Station II from Novation is a monophonic analog synth that encompasses a multitude of features and modulation options that defies its small size. The synth gives you the ability to create mesmerizing leads and distort and manipulate your sounds with just a few adjustments.

The dual oscillator setup with two filter options give you plenty of room for experimenting and the additional sub-oscillator adds plenty of low end for those deep, heavy basslines. A selection of 64 presets are also available to give you a headstart or if you need some quick inspiration.

The interface gives you a host of dedicated knobs and faders for all of the primary modulation features. The 25-key keyboard comes with aftertouch for added musical expression in your performances. The LFO Slew function gives you even more options for control and modulation.

The list goes on with the onboard arpeggiator/sequencer allowing you to create structured patterns as you go. It’s clear to see that the Bass Station II is equipped with more than enough features to keep you entertained and your sounds evolving for a long time.

Pros

  • A fully analog signal path ready to create some serious noise
  • Superb dual filter setup with distinctive sounds
  • Plenty of modulation and effects on offer to experiment
  • USB powered

Conclusion

It’s a tough call between these two small yet powerful analog synths. We sympathize with those of you trying to decide which one is going to give you more of what you need. Like always though, there is a way to split your choices and there are certain factors that will make your decision an easier one.

The MicroBrute’s one key factor that gives it an edge over the Bass Station II is the Mod Matrix. If you already have synth modules and other keyboards, that have the capability to connect up to each other, then the MicroBrute will be able to sit in alongside these without too much trouble. This will open up more possibilities and give you access to features from your wider setup of modules and synths.

Novation’s Bass Station II does come in at a slightly higher price tag but we can see that this does bring quite a lot of extra features with it. The sound engine is based around the dual oscillator setup, plus you have a choice of two filters, a useful sub-oscillator, and we would say a better overall build. You can start to see the strong position of the Bass Station II, especially for those who might be questioning the extra cost.

In summary, both of these synths are suitable for beginners taking their first steps into the world of analog synthesis. If your budget is tight and you can’t see any way of stretching to Novation’s asking price then you’ll be just fine with the MicroBrute from Arturia. If you’re a beginner then it’s likely that you won’t need the Mod Matrix but it’s good to know its there. You’ll be glad of the extra connectivity with any future purchases that you might make. With that said, if your budget stretches to it then the Bass Station II is going to serve you better. Although the Arturia sound is unique and offers, we would say, better overall sound character than Novation. It’s the Novation design team that offers better build quality and you’ll notice this heavily in the knobs and keyboard. Usable knobs and a playable keyboard are two important factors when it comes to hands-on analog synthesis. However, the obvious and underlying reason for our final choice is that the Bass Station II simply gives you more to work with. It’s a versatile synth with a greater number of features that offers great value for money in the analog synth market.