Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer Review – 100% Analog

Arturia MicroBrute Analog SynthesizerWelcome to my Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer review. The MicrBrute is a 100% analog synthesizer. Being the little brother to the slightly larger MiniBrute, it is small in size but it has lots of great synth features. It has a single oscillator which can create square, saw and triangle waveforms, along with three waveshapers, an overtone generator to extra harmonics, and a great-sounding filter. There is also a built-in step sequencer and a “mod matrix” miniature patch bay for modulation. And all this at a very affordable price.


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Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Solid construction
  • Easy to use
  • Amazing sounds
  • 100% analog synth with modern connectivity
  • “Mod Matrix” miniature patch bay
  • Oscillator has good range
  • “Metalizer” adds metallic sound
  • Sub-oscillator adds extra weight to the sound
  • CV gate for triggering other analog gear
  • MIDI and USB for connecting to digital gear
  • “Brute factor” for noisy synth sounds
  • Great for percussive and “snappy” sounds
  • LFO can reach into audible frequency range
  • Step sequencer: 8 patterns up to 64 steps
  • LFO can be synchronized with step sequencer
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • Monophonic
  • Oscillator has no sine wave or noise generator
  • Velocity-sensitivity of keys works for external MIDI only
  • No aftertouch
  • Small, cheap keys covering only 2 octaves
  • Only one oscillator

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Video Review

So as you can see, for the low price, this is quite an impressive analog synthesizer. It is easy to use, so even if you are not already too familiar with using synthesizers you can get stuck straight in and start making some crazy sounds. It has quite a distinctive sound and seems to be great for creating harsh metallic or percussive sounds. The versatile step sequencer will come in very handy when performing electronic music live.

It has good connectivity, being able to sync up with either analog gear using the GV gate, or with digital equipment using the MIDI or USB ports. In addition to this, the “Mod Matrix” mini patch bay means that you can rewire the signal pathway either internally or to and from external synthesizers. The keys on the MicroBrute are velocity-sensitive, but unfortunately, this does not have any effect on MicroBrute’s own synth sounds, it can only affect other synths via the MIDI. There is no aftertouch either, and it is only monophonic.


Who is the Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer Designed For?

I would say that the MicroBrute is ideal for anyone looking for a decent quality 100% analog synth for a very affordable price. This synth would be very good for live performances. If you can overlook the few limitations it has, such as the small keys, monophonic sound, and single oscillator, then you can have a lot of fun with this. The fact that it can be synchronized with other equipment means that it could easily take its place as part of a larger live setup. For anyone wanting to make really dirty, noisy synth sounds that pack a real punch, the MicroBrute will definitely deliver on that front. Also, for musicians wanting a sequenced sound, the built-in sequencer and ability to synchronize with other sequencers, makes it ideal for that kind of scenario.


FEATURES

Oscillator and Steiner-Parker Filter

The oscillator can produce sawtooth, pulse, and triangle waves, and comes with some truly unique modifiers to make great sounds. For example, the Metalizer can add some complex harmonics to give it a very metallic sound, which is great if you want to play something very harsh-sounding. The sub oscillator can also add extra force at the lower end. You can then put this sound through the Steiner-Parker filter, which has low pass, high pass, and band pass filtering options; and you can push the resonance up so high that it starts to self-oscillate.

Mod Matrix

The Mod Matrix is a miniature patch bay that enables you to connect various parameters up with each other. You can either connect the MicroBrute’s own parameters up with each other, or you can use the Mod Matrix to patch it up with external equipment. It can then become like a module as part of a modular synthesizer setup.

Step Sequencer & Syncable LFO

The internal step sequencer has 8 sequences of up to 64 steps each. You can simply record yourself playing on the keyboard and then play it back, perfectly quantized. The Low-Frequency Oscillator can also be synchronised to the sequencer, which is great for keeping everything in time. But the LFO can also go right up into the audible sound range.

Connectivity

The MicroBrute comes with various connection options. For connecting to other analog equipment, there is the CV gate. For connecting to digital equipment, you have a choice between either the MIDI port or USB port. It also has a line out for connecting to a mixer or amplifier, and a headphone socket.


PROS & CONS IN DEPTH

Solid Construction

If you are going to be using a synth live, the last thing you want is a fragile synth that breaks easily. With the MicroBrute having a good sturdy construction, it means you can confidently take it from gig to gig and be sure that it’s unlikely to break. Also, like the girl in the video above, you could play around with it on the train and come up with great ideas while on the move.

Easy to Use

Not everyone is an expert on sound synthesis, so it definitely helps when a synthesizer is easy to use. This is often the case when it comes to analog synths because all their parameter adjustments are immediately available via knobs that you can turn. So you can just get stuck straight in and start playing around with the sounds. People learn best by doing, and the MicroBrute lets you do that as soon as you turn it on.

Amazing Sounds

For such a reasonably priced synth, the MicroBrute certainly packs some punch in the sound department. It is particularly suited to aggressive sounds, so if you are looking for hard basses or raw, metallic-sounding leads, then you can definitely get those with the MicroBrute. Even though it only has one oscillator, it can do a lot with that oscillator to create some truly awesome sounds.

100% Analog Synth with Modern Connectivity

The great thing that seems to be happening these days is there are some new analog synthesizers that come with modern connection options. It’s a great combination, to be able to have the analog sounds of the past with the ability to connect up to modern equipment via MIDI or USB. But you can still connect to analog gear using the CV gate, so you’ve really got all bases covered.

Great Step Sequencer

I must admit, I was actually pleasantly surprised that the MicroBrute contains its own sequencer. I thought it certainly provided enough for the money just with the great sounds that it can produce. So to have a step sequencer that is capable of sequencing up to 8 sequences for up to 64 notes, that’s really good. You can record yourself playing notes into the keyboard and it can then play them back in perfect timing, so it doesn’t even matter if you’re not perfect at playing in time.

Excellent LFO

LFO stands for Low-Frequency Oscillator and is a function that vibrates the sound according to a particular wave shape, such as square, triangle or saw wave. You can adjust the depth of the oscillation and also the speed at which it oscillates. You can even turn it up so high that it goes into the audible frequency range, so it then becomes a sound oscillator of its own. The LFO can also be synchronized to the sequencer, which is great if you want the pulses to go in time with the rest of your music.

Great Value for Money

As the reviewer said in the video above, you get a lot for your money with the MicroBrute. It’s actually quite amazing that they manage to produce these at such a low cost. It’s a wonder that they don’t go out of business. But if you have limited money to spend and you want a great-sounding analog synth that is easy to use, this will certainly be money well spent.

Monophonic

Most modern synthesizers are polyphonic, which means you can play multiples notes at the same time. The MicroBrute is monophonic, which means you can only play one note at a time. This is absolutely fine if you are performing bass lines or lead lines. However, if you want to play chords, you won’t be able to do it with the MicroBrute. This is not really a fault as such, it just means you can’t use this one synth for everything.

Only One Oscillator, No Sine Wave

Most synthesizers these days have more than one oscillator. Even the good old Minimoog has 3 oscillators. Having multiple oscillators means you can give more complex character to your sounds. However, although the MicroBrute only has one oscillator, it does seem to be able to do quite a lot to modify that sound, such as the Metallizer for example.

Lack of Velocity Sensitivity or Aftertouch

The MicroBrute does actually have velocity-sensitive keys, it’s just that they don’t affect the MicroBrute’s own sounds, and can only transmit the velocity data via MIDI to another synthesizer. This seems a bit strange really. Also, the keys have no aftertouch, which is when you can get an additional effect by pressing harder on the key after you have already pressed it. I suppose you don’t really need these features on the MicroBrute because you can do so much to alter the sound using the knobs.

Small Keys, Only 2 Octaves

One user said that the keys seem small and cheap. Maybe that is to be expected on a synth of this price, considering everything else that it can do. Also, being restricted to only 2 octaves may be a problem if you want to do soaring lead lines that run up and down the notes a lot. However, you do have an octave switch, so the MicroBrute does have good octave range, just not directly accessible on the keyboard.


Conclusion

So there you go, that’s my Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer review. Overall, this is an excellent small monophonic analog synthesizer with a big sound, and you get a hell of a lot for the money. Sure, there are some things missing on it, such as additional oscillators and the ability to play more than one note at a time, but that’s just the type of synth this is. If you are looking for a small, reasonably priced synth that packs a big sound and that will impress people when played live, you really can’t go far wrong with the MicroBrute.

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I hope you found my Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

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