January 11, 2013

Arturia MiniBrute Overview

If you read much about the Arturia MiniBrute in synth forums, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone outside of the most absurdly elitist of synth snobs saying anything bad about it. While it is their first foray into proper analog hardware, Arturia have brought into the world a tough little synth with features not often aligned with the price point of the MiniBrute. They have been hard to get ahold of, but I finally picked up one during the brief second we had them in stock.

One of the nicer features that I don’t really touch on during this brief overview video is the aftertouch. While I mention it in passing, I don’t go on and on about just how rad aftertouch on an affordable analog synth is. So let me do it here: OMG YOU GUYS!!!! AFTERTOUCH!!!!

That said, it really is quite a nice option to have in the modulation arsenal. While it only toggles between filter cutoff and vibrato, these are the parameters I most likely would have assigned it to anyway. Between the filter envelope, the LFO options assignable to the mod wheel, and the aftertouch options, this quickly reveals itself not only to be great fun to mess around with in the studio, but quite a respectable little performance synth as well.

One thing that I don’t make abundantly clear in the video is that the wave shapes present on the MiniBrute are not separate oscillators. This is why there are no options to detune the various wave shapes, because they are all part of the single oscillator design. If you spot something else I left out, or are confused on any other aspects of the MiniBrute, please ask questions in the comments below.


Today we’re here to talk to you about the Arturia MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer. The MiniBrute is an analog synthesizer. It’s monophonic and it also only produces a mono signal. In addition to the standard outputs, you can see that the MiniBrute has a pitch out, gate out, gate in, and then amp filter and pitch CV controls.

So first, let’s go through the oscillator section. You can see that the MiniBrute has a sawtooth oscillator, a square oscillator, a triangle wave oscillator, and then over here on the left you can see that it has the sub oscillator. When you use the sub oscillator, it allows you to go from having a signal that would be here, to having another deeper note alongside it. Be that this, or this. If you see below the oscillator section, there is an oscillator mixer section. This section gives you controls not just for the sub oscillator, sawtooth wave, square wave, and triangle wave, but also a noise wave, and if you have audio inputs coming in from the back you can mix that signal alongside everything else. What that amounts to is a pretty rich harmonic mixing pallet where you can have not just the sawtooth wave going at once, but also the square and the triangle waves, some noise, and a sub oscillator. You can see that there are some controls under the saw, square, and triangle waves. Each one has a different function that is unique to the wave form. In the case of the square wave, more obviously, you would have pulse width controls and in the triangle wave you have what is called the metalizer. The metalizer, quite simply, allows you to introduce a slightly raspier sort of sound, a more metallic sound for your triangle wave. With the square wave you have the pulse width as we mentioned before which is pretty much standard pulse width modulation. The sawtooth wave has it’s own little control that allows for a more unison oriented tone and the sawtooth wave is kind of where this device excels. What you have is the ultrasaw. Now the ultra-saw amount as you bring it in functions like a chorus or unison effect that can also be used to get wildly detuned sounds. 

You’ll see that there are envelope amount controls below the square wave and triangle wave controls. Both of these allow you to influence the amount that the filter envelope is affecting each device and works in relation to either the pulse width or metalizer controls. In addition this envelope directly affects the envelope amount for the filter cutoff. Which allows you to introduce more dramatic, either fast or slow changes that happen to the filtering on a given sound.

What the brute factor does is it introduces a series of richer harmonics that while around the middle tend to make the sound a little bit wider eventually start to oppress the sound and turn it into just a much dirtier kind of sound. You’ll notice below the brute factor there is a fine tune knob. That is because the MiniBrute is not a self tuning synthesizer. In fact, whatever your center pitch is, you’ll want to tune that so if you want to run in a C, you’ll want to actually tune the MiniBrute to C but be aware that as you get farther away from the C the tune will start to drift slightly. There is also a glide control down in the bottom left panel alongside the bend range after touch and mod wheel controls that allows you to set the amount of glide between notes. Glide is an effect that allows you to do awesome things like. Moving forward from there you can see that you’ve got a vibrato control which can be assigned to the mod wheel and can be set to one of three wave shapes. 

The LFO section offers controls for the pulse width modulation and metalizer effects for the square and triangle oscillators. Underneath those controls you can find that the LFO section offers different wave shapes for the LFO as well as a rate control for the LFO to control how fast or slow it is moving. You can either set this to be free and run it off of the midi clock or you can tie it to the arpeggiator which you can then sync to your midi clock that you’re working with on whatever your DAW is that’s connected via the usb midi out. 

The arpeggiator has a number of controls and while simple in nature, offers a pretty comprehensive selection of what you would expect from an on board arpeggiator on a synthesizer. We will go ahead and engage the hold control so that you can see what it’s doing. You have tempo controls that are independent when the machine is not attached to a sequencer and you can also swing the arpeggiator. Timing controls allow for everything from a quarter note to a 16th triplet. And in the event that you’re working with a band, you have a tempo control that allows you to tap in the beat that you want. Or you can just pick it all up all together. You have four modes on the arpeggiator including an up, a down, an up and down, and a random. You can set the arpeggiator to span anywhere from one octave to four octaves.

That’s the MiniBrute analog synthesizer. For more information about the minibrute please check our blog that’s linked below and to hear the minibrute in action check out the song we have linked below. For the best price on the MiniBrute come to You’re watching