The MicroBrute is another fantastic piece of engineering from Arturia, riding on the back of the success of the MiniBrute with its affordable analog keyboard. The Arturia Microbrute analog synthesizer offers a smaller and compact setup with an even cheaper price-tag.
The downgrade in size and price doesn’t take anything away from the sound potential. This synthesizer can get down and dirty, and emits power just as you would expect from a synthesizer carrying the Brute name.
Loaded with features and keeping with a voice path that is 100% pure analog, big and aggressive sounds are fairly simple with this synth.
Brute by name, brutal by nature!
The MicroBrute – Built On Award Winning Foundations
The Arturia MicroBrute is as easy and simple as it comes, you’ve got no menus, no presets, so that means there is little to come between you and making music. It’s an old-fashioned, hands-on synth and that’s what makes the MicroBrute, and the MiniBrute, so popular with analog synth fans.
Following on from the MiniBrute’s sound design, we can see that the MicroBrute Arturia has been given just a few minor changes but still keeps with the pure analog sound path. You’ve got one huge oscillator with sawtooth, triangle and pulse waveforms with unique modifying capabilities. The single oscillator, forgoes independent, multiple detuned oscillators for the ability to mix similarly pitched sawtooth, square and triangle waveforms simultaneously.
One negative omission on the single oscillator front is that of ‘Noise’, though an external audio input is still provided via the back panel, as is a sub-oscillator.
Blending these waves together is a big feature that makes for more complex music. The Pulse Width knob adjusts the width of the square wave form, which is an option that you’ve probably seen before. The Metalizer knobgives you complex harmonics via the triangle wave.
The Ultra Saw knobadds two additional sawtooth waves to the original, a useful choice for when you want to go big!
The waveform volume knobs are able to add slight overdrive to give you that extra grit, a nice little bonus when dialing in more aggressive sounds. Also, if you ever find yourself looking for some deep, rumbling power bass then the MicroBrute’s Sub Oscillator will give you exactly that.
Microbrute’s Subtle Features Are the Keys to Its Success
In fact, the Sub-Oscillator is quite unique in the sense that it comes with an overtone parameter that gives you the chance to reshape the waveform of the sub. This overtone knob phases the standard square wave (one octave lower) of the sub until it gives you just the third harmonic.
This third harmonic is essentially a fifth above the pitch of the standard oscillator, a popular sound style of the DJ Deadmau5, showing that the MicroBrute has some very clever tricks up its sleeve, even without a second oscillator on board.
The Steiner-Parker filter is the same as the MiniBrute, you’ve got the low-pass, high-pass, and bandpass modes. It’s fully resonant and self-oscillating, making the MicroBrute Arturia synth capable of aggressive and unorthodox sounds that are not too dissimilar to those of the Korg MS-20.
In keeping with the uniqueness of this synth, there is also a parameter called the Brute Factor, a useful feature that lets you direct the synths output back into the filter. Adjusting the levels will let you create a diverse range of tones from soft and warm to absolute chaos! This Brute Factor feature is surely to attract the mainstream and experimental producers alike.
Hard to Ignore the Power of Modulation
The MicroBrute is fully capable of connecting other modulation sources and external components. With the 3-Modulation Matrix, you can modulate the sound of the MicroBrute by connecting modulation sources and destinations. With the MicroBrute’s stackable patch cables, the modulation options are plentiful.
You’ve got all sorts of potential combinations with the stackable patch cables, making this a useful instrument for the more experienced synth users, as well as beginners.
Furthermore, the on-board patch bay on this synthesizer meets the Eurorack standards, which really does open the door to many different opportunities with other instruments in your collection. To think you get all of this, at such a low price point, is a truly amazing feature of the MicroBrute.
The on-board step sequencer gives you eight memory slots with each of these slots giving you 64 steps. Creating sequences couldn’t be easier to program, press record and then each keystroke takes up one step. This step sequencer is a great feature for live musicians who like to add sequencing into their act.
In regards to envelope features, you have a standard ADSR that has been built-in to the synth’s fast mode, allowing for sharper attacks or extended release times. However, due to there only being one envelope, its use is limited and needs to be shared between modulation uses.
Wired up to the VCA, the envelope will take care of the usual amp processes, but you also have the option to bypass the VCA using the gate mode, allowing you to apply the envelope to other areas of the synth without impacting the volume dynamics of your sound.
The MicroBrute Still Hits Hard
The overall look and feel of the MicroBrute is similar to the Mini but obviously a lot smaller, about half the size in fact, and it comes with a two-octave keyboard with mini-keys. In regards to the front panel, the OSC controls live in the upper-left corner, in the center is a multi-mode filter section and the modulation matrix on the right, with the master volume control directly below. The second row features the portamento knob and the modulation wheel assignment switch, the LFO section, a single ADSR envelope, and the built-in sequencer with eight pattern memory slots.
Parameter controls are still full size which makes for easy access around the various interface settings.
The MicroBrute has just one LFO compared to the double setup on the MiniBrute, however. You still have three waveforms in the shape of downward saw, triangle, and square. The LFO is also able to run in sync alongside the sequencer which gives it extra flexibility.
As this micro synth is purely analog, you might find that the oscillators find their way out of tune from time to time, but you have nothing to worry about because Arturia has included a built-in fine-tuning feature to get everything quickly and accurately back in line.
Character in the Over-Looked Detail
You’ve got USB and MIDI In ports, with the USB giving you a two-way MIDI channel to connect to the provided MicroBrute Connection software (Mac or Windows). The Arturia MicroBrute also comes with an audio output and headphone output.
The CV/Gate in/out also lets you connect to your favorite instruments and devices, such as drum machines and other synths, giving you the potential to create complex synth systems that will open up many different sound and modulation possibilities.
The Microbrute’s character can be considered more aggressive than most other analog synthesizers, the potential to link up with other devices adds to the overall character of the little beast from Arturia. It offers up a wide range of sounds and certainly packs a punch for its size.
The MicroBrute from Arturia is that it is a powerful analog synthesizer, pure and simple.
Sure, the design is small upon review and the keyboard limited but that pure analog synth sound quality is ever-present.
The intuitive design and simple interface layout of this little synth offers instant satisfaction as soon as you turn it on, it’s packed full of flexible features that take your sounds from big to huge and then chaotic!
The impressive connectivity of this synth will definitely attract the attention of the professionals and experienced players, however, the MicroBrute is also a perfect starting point for beginners, pure analog, easy to play, fun, great control, it truly has it all!
Packed with mixable waveforms, a new sub-oscillator design, the famous Steiner-Parker multimode filter, a super-fast envelope, a syncable LFO, our new step sequencer and a patchable mod matrix, the MicroBrute is a landmark new synth at an incredible price.
After further review, you’ll be a very happy synth owner with the Arturia Microbrute.