We continue to work our way through our experiences from NAMM 2018 with the Arturia MiniBrute 2.
The original MiniBrute made quite a splash a few years ago with its all-analog signal path, usability, and low price. It also had a sound that was distinct from other low-cost analog synths, in part because of the “Brute Factor” knob. That knob is back in the MiniBrute 2 along with a Steiner-Parker filter that together with the Brute oscillator gives the instrument its sound. But there is now a second oscillator, and, perhaps more significantly, a modulation matrix and patch bay.
The built-in synthesizer topology includes a lot more modulation than the original, and the patch bay allows for reconfiguration and expansion with the RackBrute Eurorack cases that integrate 3U or 6U or modules with the MiniBrute in a single case. This does seem to be a trend we are seeing with built-in patch bays to full analog mono synths (the Moog Mother-32 being the prime example). One can also interpret the MiniBrute 2 as incorporating ideas from the flagship MatrixBrute writ small. The ecosystem also includes an alternate form-factor, the 2S, which has drum pads reminiscent of the BeatStep Pro instead of the keyboard.
We were only able to scratch the surface at NAMM, and also had a bit of difficulty with our video. So we are hoping to provide a more in-depth look at this instrument both here and on CatSynth TV in the not too distant future.
Published on Jun 16, 2016
Ziggy Cat & Bill T Miller of Orgy Of Noise studio recording session at Headroom Studios Boston on December 5, 2015 (couple days before ZBC Radio appearance) – http://billtmiller.com/12.05.15.bill….
BTM RIG with FieldScaper iPad App with Ziggy Cat Purr & Leaf Blower Drone Samples controlled by Arturia Mini Lab Keyboard & custom BTM Spring-O-Phone instrument with Korg Mini-Kaoss Pad for Delay. (Moog Mother-32 Synth is pictured, but not used on this composition.)
Directed & Edited by Bill T Miller
Cameras: Bill T Miller & Sheri Hausey
Co-Producer / Assistant Editor: Ziggy Cat
X-tra THANX to Ziggy & Sheri
and Igor Vasiliev for creating FieldScaper & SoundScaper apps
and to DJ Deftly-D & DJ Josh B at WZBC Radio.
When first saw previous of the MatrixBrute from Arturia, I was sure it was a hoax. The synthesizer in the images was huge and monstrous mix of everything, and I figured it must be a riff on Arturia’s well received compact analog synths, the MiniBrute and MicroBrute. But the MatrixBrute is in fact real, and his here at NAMM.
And it is a beast! It has a fully analog signal path headed by three “Brute” oscillators (the same ones found in Arturia’s smaller analog synths), plus both a Steiner filter and a traditional ladder filter. It has a lot of knobs for controlling…everything, as well as 12 CV inputs and outputs in addition to Trigger CV, and of course MIDI. The place where this machine gets both very powerful and a bit overwhelming is in the modulation matrix. The matrix is literally that, an array of 256 LED buttons that can be used to route from anything to anything.
This is not new, modulation matrices have been part of synthesizer architecture for a long time. But seeing it laid out on a panel like this in more unusual. It makes it both powerful and immediate – one can just press any of the buttons at any time. But it also a bit difficult to get the hang of. It’s challenging to keep track of and predict what a particular matrix configuration will do. In this video, you can see my attempt to play this instrument, including the matrix points.
It’s quite difficult, but presumably someone one can master with patience and practice (and a quieter listening environment). One thing that I would have expected from a synth of this magnitude is polyphony, like the much more modest Korg Minilogue. The MatrixBrute is monophonic/duophonic. Polyphony in an analogue synth is no small feat, but I would have liked to see it. Nonetheless, coming in at just under $2000, it does have quite a lot to offer.