The Arturia minibrute is a proper analog synthesiser, not modelled or simulated but proper analog. It’s compact and bijou and is very nicely put together in a solid aluminium case.
It’s a single oscillator machine but has some very clever innovations that make it sound like a lot more. It produces the standard sawtooth, triangle and variable pulse square which can all be mixed however you like with sliders, you can also mix in the other oscillator extras. The ultra-saw makes the oscillator sound really powerful and full of movement, you can alter the amount and the rate of this with separate controls. This is something that really adds to the sound, as is the sub oscillator which can produce square in sine waves at one or two octaves down. Then we have the metalizer, again difficult to describe but you’ll like it when you hear it. When combined, all of these things twist and warp the sound in ways that will have you tweaking and twisting the knobs and generating harmonics you never knew existed. You’ll wonder how you will ever make do with a normal oscillator afterwards.
The filter is also pretty awesome; it’s apparently a Steiner Parker design which is well known and respected but more importantly sounds great. It will self-oscillate and can be switched between highpass, low pass, band pass and notch modes and has the “bruteforce” control which increases the drive of the filter, the best description I’ve heard is that it can produce subtle drive effects to full on intermodulation havoc!
You get a couple of envelope generators so you can have one for modulation entirely separate from the amplifier one, you can also switch them to work over very fast times, excellent for snappy and percussive type sounds.
There are also two low frequency oscillators, one producing vibrato pitch modulation and the other producing six different waveforms to be used on whatever you want. You can also synchronise it to run in time with the arpeggiators. Are you keeping up?
The arpeggiators, if you’ve never played with them before, cycles and pulses between the notes you hold down on the keyboard in various ways, tremendous fun! Also worth noting is that it has a swing control to further add to the fun.
It has a two octave full size keyboard with a nice feel and all though two octaves is a bit limiting there are two transpose buttons just above it with leds to see what’s going on. There are also a couple of modulation wheels to further add to the playability of the Minibrute.
While softsynths are great, you don’t realise what you’re missing until you go back to a synthesiser with knobs and sliders on. It not just the immediacy or the playability it’s something else as well. It actually feels like a real instrument and you feel like you’re playing rather than just altering parameters. It truly brings the fun back to synthesis. The major problem is that it’s totally addictive and you will while away a great many hours playing.