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Help me choose my first synthesizer... Grandmother or Minibrute 2S?
Old 8th February 2020
  #1
Help me choose my first synthesizer... Grandmother or Minibrute 2S?

Hi guys, I'm planning to buy my first physical synthesizer, I have seen plenty of videos, read some opinions, etc... But I still can't decide, that's why I need your help. I'm a sample based Hip Hop producer (type''Tino Fiumara - Ayestaran'' on YouTube to get an idea of what I do) but I'm not close-minded when it comes to music styles and I'm getting a little bit tired of the monotony of sampling, so I'm leaning toward using more VSTi in the future and experimenting with synthesis too.

I'm not a complete novice in synthesis, I studied the basis at sound technology school and I have used the Arturia V Collection a few times. I know how to make some chords but I'm not a virtuoso with the keys either, that's why I prefer my first synth to be monophonic to learn more about synthesis and then in the future buy a polyphonic one (but that's another post).

I'm not willing to expend more than 1000 euros on my first synth either, so these are some of the options that I checked: Korg MS-20 mini, Arturia Minibrute 2S, Moog Grandmother, Mother 32, Novation Bass Station 2 and Roland SE-02.

Now, the Grandmother and the Minibrute 2S are the ones that I liked the most, but I'm conflicted and I want to spend my money right. On one hand, the GM has a better sound, better build quality, is semi-modular and even though it's relatively new, looking into the future seems to have more of a ''classic status'' value, but it's more expensive.

On the other hand, the MB2S is cheaper, and as far as I have read, is more flexible when it comes to sound design...? Like it has more options...? I don't know, it has more knobs, more patch ports and more capabilities when it comes to eurorack. The sound is not bad and the build quality doesn't seem bad either, but you can't compare it with GM in those aspects.

Is the gap of flexibility too big between the GM and the MB2S?

Which one is the most balanced/complete?

Thanks.

PD: I forgot to mention that I'm not a live performer, I'm gonna work at my studio/bedroom mainly. Probably will connect it to my DAW.
Old 8th February 2020
  #2
I have a 2s. It has a warm, classic, versatile synth that I'd describe as good. The sequencer is very deep, powerful and intuitive and I'd call it excellent.

I have DFAM and have seen and heard lots of Mother 32 tutorials. From what I know, it has that deep Moog sound that's very sexy and the sequencer is fine but not on the 2S level.

So I think it depends what matters more to you, the Moog sound vs the exceptional Arturia sequencer.

Both are fine choices I think.

Last edited by ambiguous signal; 9th February 2020 at 03:34 AM.. Reason: Typos
Old 8th February 2020
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
So I think it depends what matters more to you, the Moog sound vs the exceptional Arturia sequencer.
First of all, thanks for your opinion.

The 2S sequencer is a plus, no doubt about it, but I'm not concern too much about the sequencer.

I'm going to connect the synth to my computer and work with my DAWs (Ableton Live and Reaper).

I want to learn more about synths, sound design, etc... and I believe the Arturia one is more complex in that department, however, the GM got the Moog sound, build quality and you can sound design and expand to euroracks too.

That's why I wanted to ask people who experience them which one was the most balanced or complete among its characteristics.

YouTube videos are great, but a lot of times the companies pay youtubers to talk good about their products and it's hard to trust them sometimes.
Old 9th February 2020
  #4
One thing that amazed me about the DFAM (that might also apply to the Grandmother) is how DEEP it goes. It has what seems to be subharmonics that seem to go all the way down to DC. It also has nicely saturated harmonics generated by the fundamental and the subharmonics which create a real impression of depth and richness that is hard to describe.

It was a shock to me experiencing just how rich and deep that can be through things that can reproduce it (direct to decent headphones is easy since the DFAM supports direct headphone out). This made me instantly understand for the Moog bassline thing. It really is a thing.

However, a counterpoint to that: it's not easy to capture the essence of that sound! Trying to record it or process it always seems to lose some of the magic. I suspect I have a lot of stuff that is not DC coupled and that's probably part of the problem, but it's generally hard to put together any chain of signals not lose much of the Moog magic. I'd also describe the DFAM as having attitude.

The 2S synth is very versatile. It's tight, warm, punchy and it would take a lot of time to find all that it has to offer. I've gotten good percussion out of it (including modulating the voice with the sequencer to get DFAM like synth-cussion lines), nice punchy basses, warm organic lead lines and all sorts of textures. There's not much bad to say about it.

Overall, my thinking is that the Moogs sound better in real life than recorded whereas the 2S / Minibrute sound very close to the better quality recordings you'll hear.

Another thing I'll mention: the 2S takes up a lot of desk space. It's quite a chunky object. This makes it a pleasure to jam on but I do struggle to find enough flat clear space to use it sometimes.

And, the Arturia software is handy. Not super-fancy, but being able to set up a plethora of functions and backup, arrange and store patterns or sets is very nice. It's been straightforward and reliable for me. I'm unfamiliar with whether Moog provides for any of that since the DFAM has no memory of any kind, no USB etc.

Last edited by ambiguous signal; 9th February 2020 at 04:05 AM.. Reason: Referred to wrong Moog
Old 9th February 2020
  #5
I'll also mention that there is one semi-modular analog synth that I have which remains connected to my DAW via USB Midi and one input on my audio interface full time - and it's not one you listed. It's a Behringer Neutron.

I use it any time I want an authentic analog source, a performable-tweakable synth track or a patchable device. It is not to be underestimated just because it's a Behringer - their original designs are killer.

It has a tendency toward hot, saturated, mildly unstable, slightly unruly sounds which is a perfect counterpoint for digital plugins - explaining why it's hooked to my DAW 24/7. But it's more versatile than that. Plenty of patch points, but no memories.

For me it's very straightforward to get sounds from - I can go from "sample a Kick" to "make noisy texture" to "distorted pulsing bass" and then "acid lead" swiftly which suits its role in life.
Old 10th February 2020
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
One thing that amazed me about the DFAM (that might also apply to the Grandmother) is how DEEP it goes. It has what seems to be subharmonics that seem to go all the way down to DC. It also has nicely saturated harmonics generated by the fundamental and the subharmonics which create a real impression of depth and richness that is hard to describe.

It was a shock to me experiencing just how rich and deep that can be through things that can reproduce it (direct to decent headphones is easy since the DFAM supports direct headphone out). This made me instantly understand for the Moog bassline thing. It really is a thing.
That's why I'm leaning more toward the GM, based on the demos that I have listened, the sound is incredible, especially if you're interested on doing funky stuff like me, plus, is semi-modular, in case you want to expand to eurorack or in general. But on the other hand, the MB2S is a beautiful machine too, and almost half the price of the GM, that's why I'm conflicted, because for the price of the GM I can buy a 2S and something else.

Thank you for the information and help.
Old 10th February 2020
  #7
Gear Guru
 
Derp's Avatar
I'd go MiniBrute myself. If you ever want the Moog sound later on, there's cheaper ways to get it (Behringer Model D for instance). The MiniBrute on the other hand can do so much and has so much flexibility to it. If I had to pick one to be my one and only, it'd be the MiniBrute.
Old 13th February 2020
  #8
Gear Nut
Get the grandmother and don't look back.

I have one, played around with the arturia.. and while I didn't have a ton of fun with it, I can see it having value once you tinker with it and learn its sweet spots.

The Moog is pretty much all sweet spot. There is simply nothing else in that price range that can come close to competing against that rich sound, those lovely harmonics.

As a first synth you can't go wrong.. plus if you're not great at the keys the built in arpeggiator and sequencer are really quite flexible and easy to transpose and modify on the fly. GM will help you understand the ins and outs of synths pretty quickly..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7rDnY-zcY

props for the DFAM shout outs in this thread.. that thing is like crack...
Old 13th February 2020
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Derp View Post
I'd go MiniBrute myself. If you ever want the Moog sound later on, there's cheaper ways to get it (Behringer Model D for instance). The MiniBrute on the other hand can do so much and has so much flexibility to it. If I had to pick one to be my one and only, it'd be the MiniBrute.
Thanks for your opinion. The MB2S seems like a good option, but I also like the GM, that's why I'm conflicted. I have plans to buy other equipment in the future but for now I only can afford one. I don't trust Behringer products because of the build quality, I have seen demos on YouTube and their synths sounds good, but in the long run I don't know how long they are going to last. I don't know too much about Arturia's products build quality, but I have heard that Moog's quality is great, that those are synths for ''the rest of your life''. That's why I'm hesitant to go the Behringer route.
Old 13th February 2020
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Pictus's Avatar
 

To my ears the GM sounds much better, "tastes" like 70's synth...
Old 13th February 2020
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by M_cubed View Post
Get the grandmother and don't look back.

I have one, played around with the arturia.. and while I didn't have a ton of fun with it, I can see it having value once you tinker with it and learn its sweet spots.

The Moog is pretty much all sweet spot. There is simply nothing else in that price range that can come close to competing against that rich sound, those lovely harmonics.

As a first synth you can't go wrong.. plus if you're not great at the keys the built in arpeggiator and sequencer are really quite flexible and easy to transpose and modify on the fly. GM will help you understand the ins and outs of synths pretty quickly..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB7rDnY-zcY

props for the DFAM shout outs in this thread.. that thing is like crack...
Thanks bro', I'm leaning more toward the GM option. By the way, I love ''once upon a synth'' videos.

I'm not going to buy my first synth inmediately, maybe this summer or by the end of the year, but still I want to do my homework and learn more about them. I didn't mention it but I like the Minilogue XD option too, is not semi-modular, although it is a 4 voices polysynth.
Old 15th February 2020
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by TinoFiumara View Post
I don't trust Behringer products because of the build quality
I've owned a fair amount of Behringer over many years now, initally because I was in bands and needed stuff for not much $, more recently because they make stuff that is both interesting in its own right but also cheap enough to buy for fun.

Anyway, their quality has improved enormously over the years. Initially it was pure luck as to whether your Behringer purchase would survive 3 days, 3 years or forever. Looking inside the gear also tended to range from "not bad" to "oh, not good". But that was a LONG TIME AGO and people talking negatively about Behringer quality sound out of date to me now.

That said, Behringer stuff is made to what I would consider "highly engineered modern consumer electronics standard". Surface mount. Automated production methods. Ribbon cable connectors. Polyester mini-pots. Looks like the innards of any recent TV, cellphone or whatever.

In general I think these modern methods make highly reproducible levels of quality possible at a good price. To achieve similar levels of quality with through-hole production or handmade boards for example would require extreme diligence and careful, slow work only attainable at premium prices.

I will also point out that I have owned some hand-assembled, premium gear and, well, it can have quality problems too ... so I'm not sure it makes it any more reliable actually.

But, the older and more careful artisan-craftsman methods did have one thing going for them: maintainability. Refurbishment was pretty feasible for skilled folk. All electronics need this at some point due to capacitors, internal breakdown of semiconductors etc - it doesn't matter how premium the build. With older electronics approaches refurb could happen at garage level. Now, refurb has to be done with reflow under a microscope, parts are more specialised and so on.

Mind you, since some of the premium, hand-assembled early stuff was so darn expensive ... you were obliged to repair and refurbish. The newer gear can be cheap enough that it's just not worth the labor cost ... so you bin it and go buy a later model (not environmentally good, but potentially better for wallets and stress levels).

But this isn't just a Behringer issue. It's widespread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinoFiumara View Post
I don't know too much about Arturia's products build quality
Similar to Beheringer's better recent stuff in terms of internal electronics. Made very similarly.

The cases are a little beefier perhaps. Their soft pads, soft-press membrane buttons and keyboard contacts seem to be a source of issues for some people (as seen on forums) but mine have all been fine so far.

{I wonder sometimes whether things like living near an ocean is the actual problem since I basically live in a desert environment and seem to have a lot less problems with electronics than forums would lead you to think is common ... or maybe I'm just nice to my gear ... but I digress.}

I mean ... Behringer and Arturia stuff isn't designed to last forever, albeit that I have had some stuff from both of them that is getting pretty old now and is still perfect ... so ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinoFiumara View Post
I have heard that Moog's quality is great, that those are synths for ''the rest of your life''
I just opened my DFAM for a look and sure enough, it's made differently. There is a baseboard with surface mount elements on there, but it's relatively sparse with a significant amount of through hole and some discrete elements scattered about.

A lot of the components are name-brand. There is a fair bit of top quality hand-soldering. Instead of slip-in ribbon cables we get traditional wires between lock-on connectors. Pots and knobs and connectors are a step up and even the front panel is thicker aluminium than I expected.

I was actually expecting this entry-level Moog stuff to be much like the Behringer and Arturia stuff, but it's quite different. So there you go, you do get a more expensive build for your extra bucks.

Hope that helps.

Last edited by ambiguous signal; 15th February 2020 at 03:37 AM.. Reason: Got my quoting wrong
Old 15th February 2020
  #13
Lives for gear
 

It's Gearslutz, add another 100 and you can swing both heh. I'm actually picking up a DFAM and Mother-32 in the near future and I'm psyched. I have the Microbrute SE and Arturia's stuff has a nice sound to it. If more flexibility is the goal, then the 2S seems like a great option. If you are going for "that sound", the GM definitely is nice.
Old 15th February 2020
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
I've owned a fair amount of Behringer over many years now, initally because I was in bands and needed stuff for not much $, more recently because they make stuff that is both interesting in its own right but also cheap enough to buy for fun.

Anyway, their quality has improved enormously over the years. Initially it was pure luck as to whether your Behringer purchase would survive 3 days, 3 years or forever. Looking inside the gear also tended to range from "not bad" to "oh, not good". But that was a LONG TIME AGO and people talking negatively about Behringer quality sound out of date to me now.

That said, Behringer stuff is made to what I would consider "highly engineered modern consumer electronics standard". Surface mount. Automated production methods. Ribbon cable connectors. Polyester mini-pots. Looks like the innards of any recent TV, cellphone or whatever.

In general I think these modern methods make highly reproducible levels of quality possible at a good price. To achieve similar levels of quality with through-hole production or handmade boards for example would require extreme diligence and careful, slow work only attainable at premium prices.

I will also point out that I have owned some hand-assembled, premium gear and, well, it can have quality problems too ... so I'm not sure it makes it any more reliable actually.

But, the older and more careful artisan-craftsman methods did have one thing going for them: maintainability. Refurbishment was pretty feasible for skilled folk. All electronics need this at some point due to capacitors, internal breakdown of semiconductors etc - it doesn't matter how premium the build. With older electronics approaches refurb could happen at garage level. Now, refurb has to be done with reflow under a microscope, parts are more specialised and so on.

Mind you, since some of the premium, hand-assembled early stuff was so darn expensive ... you were obliged to repair and refurbish. The newer gear can be cheap enough that it's just not worth the labor cost ... so you bin it and go buy a later model (not environmentally good, but potentially better for wallets and stress levels).

But this isn't just a Behringer issue. It's widespread.



Similar to Beheringer's better recent stuff in terms of internal electronics. Made very similarly.

The cases are a little beefier perhaps. Their soft pads, soft-press membrane buttons and keyboard contacts seem to be a source of issues for some people (as seen on forums) but mine have all been fine so far.

{I wonder sometimes whether things like living near an ocean is the actual problem since I basically live in a desert environment and seem to have a lot less problems with electronics than forums would lead you to think is common ... or maybe I'm just nice to my gear ... but I digress.}

I mean ... Behringer and Arturia stuff isn't designed to last forever, albeit that I have had some stuff from both of them that is getting pretty old now and is still perfect ... so ...



I just opened my DFAM for a look and sure enough, it's made differently. There is a baseboard with surface mount elements on there, but it's relatively sparse with a significant amount of through hole and some discrete elements scattered about.

A lot of the components are name-brand. There is a fair bit of top quality hand-soldering. Instead of slip-in ribbon cables we get traditional wires between lock-on connectors. Pots and knobs and connectors are a step up and even the front panel is thicker aluminium than I expected.

I was actually expecting this entry-level Moog stuff to be much like the Behringer and Arturia stuff, but it's quite different. So there you go, you do get a more expensive build for your extra bucks.

Hope that helps.
All that answers my question about the build quality. Thank you very much for taking your time.
Old 15th February 2020
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSquirrel View Post
It's Gearslutz, add another 100 and you can swing both heh. I'm actually picking up a DFAM and Mother-32 in the near future and I'm psyched. I have the Microbrute SE and Arturia's stuff has a nice sound to it. If more flexibility is the goal, then the 2S seems like a great option. If you are going for "that sound", the GM definitely is nice.
I think I'm going to take the sound quality route over the flexibility. At the end of the day with the GM I get both, sound quality and flexibility. Maybe I'll pick one first and as I get deep into synths and modulation I'd pick the other one. Maybe next year Arturia launches the MB3... Who knows?
Old 17th February 2020
  #16
Lives for gear
 
Bignatius's Avatar
I have a Grandmother and a DFAM and love them.

I own no Brutes, but they're fine enough synths.

Not better or worse, merely different.
Old 17th February 2020
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bignatius View Post
I have a Grandmother and a DFAM and love them.

I own no Brutes, but they're fine enough synths.

Not better or worse, merely different.
Thanks for your opinion.

By reading comments on blogs and Youtube videos I can realize that the Grandmother is one of the most hated/loved synths on the market.

I really don't want any emulation of a Moog from another company, that's why Behringer is out of the question.

If I buy a synth wether is the GM, MB2S, The Minilogue, etc... has to have something unique to offer, a sound, a function or something.

My idea is pickying a good mono as a base synth that I can expand and then in the future a good poly one.
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