Arturia has dropped a brand new synth on the market and we are definitely intrigued.
The MicroFreak is a mini-sized synthesizer without a moving keyboard and it’s only going to cost you $300.
For such a small synthesizer, it manages to fit some impressive features on board and the unique keyboard could be a highlight of future synth design.
Let’s dive into it and look at the highlights and main features that the MicroFreak has in store for you.
Micro in Size – Big on Features
One of the main features of the MicroFreak is its size. It makes for a perfect traveling companion and you can easily take it with you everywhere you go in your bag. It also proves to be useful when ideas strike by simply pulling it out and getting that idea down!
The MicroFreak is a monophonic synth with four voices. The sound engine is based on wavetable synthesis and a choice of 11 different digital oscillators including an interesting collaboration with Mutable Instruments. These options make it quick and easy to make music.
The inclusion of a resonant analog filter will modulate your sounds with high, low, and bandpass modes available. You’ll also find that you can draw out many different sounds and styles from this synth with the various oscillator and filter options available.
Randomness is something that some synth players may find too chaotic, but others may see the beauty in sound that is on an unknown course. If you like to play and experiment, then you will love this.
A good digital synth has a wide range of presets with lots of variation. The MicroFreak comes with 128 presets straight from the factory, and 92 slots to allow you to store your own sounds and use them again in the future.
Some synths can be hard to program if you’re not experienced in synthesis. Luckily, the programming of the MicroFreak is easy and its OLED screen gives you access to quick and easy adjustments. This is a budget synth with a surprising number of advanced features.
The synth comes with an ADSR cycling envelope and the LFO offers up a lot of options with Sine, Saw, Triangle, Square, Random, and Slew Random available. This synth keeps on surprising us with how many modulation options it can fit into such a small sized chassis.
Unique Keyboard for A New Style of Playing
The keyboard has caught the eyes of most people and that’s because of the touch-sensitive, flat keybed. You’ve got 25 keys to play with and this is quite considerable when you consider the size of this synth. It’s definitely a unique aspect and it offers a new quick style of playing.
The lack of moving keys might be a bit of a turnoff for some. There is just something magical about hitting keys and feeling them go down. People who are used to a traditional keyboard might be turned off by this style, or at least will have to take time to learn this new style.
The arpeggiator is another worthy mention of the MicroFreak. It seems like quite a powerful feature with Up, Order, Random, and Pattern modes available. Plus, you’ve got Spice and Dice Gate functions to further modulate your sounds.
Include the 64-step sequencer and the features start to add up. We can see that Arturia has tried to include as many features and modulation options as possible into this micro synth. It looks like they have made a good job of this and you could say that they’ve created a micro-monster!
You’ve got a handful of connections on the MicroFreak. You can use USB to plug into your computer and if you want to go down the MIDI route then there are In/Out port options, too. You’ve also got CV out, Gate out, Pressure out, Clock in/out for more external connectivity.
Giant synths have their place in the world, but when you’re a traveler, or just need something small to practice with, this is where the MicroFreak comes in handy. It’s only 12 inches long, making it easy to travel with. It’s very lightweight as well but it also feels sturdy in your hands.
A small synth can be very convenient, but it also comes with its downsides as well. One of those downsides is the fact that there is less room to put all the knobs. They are clustered together, and this makes it hard to get full control when you are in the middle of creating music.
Another downside is that one key in a traditional synth is easy to replace. However, if one part of this keyboard breaks, it will take the rest of the keyboard down with it. This can be a bit of a problem if you think about it. You just need to make sure that you’re not too rough with the keybed!
The MicroFreak does offer a great number of features for its price, we think that advanced synth users might find it slightly lacking. If you’re experienced in synth music, you will probably want to spend a bit more for a synth that’s targeted towards your skill level.
However, it still offers a lot of potential for most musicians, and newcomers to the synth world will find this instrument to be fun and enjoyable, and that’s important when you’re learning how to make synth music. We think that the MicroFreak has a wide audience and it should be a big hit in the budget synth market.
We can think of many reasons to freak over the MicroFreak. Yes, it is small, but it does offer some of the most unique sounds we’ve heard when it comes to budget synths.
If you’re new to the synth world, you really can’t go wrong with this instrument and it’s a great option with which to learn your skills. It’s well-built, comes with plenty of sound options, and the interface is intuitive.
Synths are evolving and growing in power every year. While some of us might love the crispness of an analog synth, as well as their bulky size, we still love the fact that you can have a powerful synth that can fit in a traveling case.
It makes us wonder about what the future holds for Arturia and the budget synth market in general.