The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
 Search Reviews   Search Gear Database  Search Gear for sale  Search Gearslutz Go Advanced
Arturia MicroBrute

Arturia MicroBrute

4.75 4.75 out of 5, based on 3 Reviews

Every studio has room for one of these cool little synths!


23rd July 2015

Arturia MicroBrute by keystation

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 5 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 5
Arturia MicroBrute

The Microbrute is roughly the size of a small Mackie mixer, which means it should be able to find a home inside the even most cluttered studio. It is also the ideal size to add some spice to a DJ or EDM stage rig.

This little guy is solidly built, with a combination of a metal control panel and a thick plastic bezel. This does have the dreaded mini keys, but they are well made and have good "synth-style" action. If you need full size keys, there is a DIN MIDI input to plug in your full-size controller. MIDI output is a high-speed USB port, which will also allow for control of softsynths on computers and iPads (as long as you have sprung for Apple's wildly-expensive, "Camera Connection Kit" for your iPad).

Buyer beware: If you buy an Arturia Microbrute, be sure when you first start using it that you don't have any plans, because this thing will absolutely absorb and amuse you for hours. Like a Florida sinkhole, it may look small, but once you dive in, you will find this little analog synth to be very deep.

The Microbrute reminds me very much of my old ARP Axxe, a classic little mono synth that was the keyboard version of the ill-fated Avatar guitar synth (sadly, the Avatar killed off ARP back over 30 years ago). While guitar players struggled to figure out how to use the Avatar, synth nerds (like me) loved the spunky little Axxe, which provided most of the capability of the Odyssey (I had one of those then, too), but at a fraction of the price. The Microbrute stays in the spirit of the Axxe by being affordable, small, highly-programmable and sounds great.

The Microbrute has a nice, clean workflow. Octave buttons (2 up octaves/down 2 octaves) are at the upper left corner. To the right is the single oscillator section, featuring 3 mixable waveforms & a cool "metalizer" knob. Next right is the fabled Steiner-Parker filter section that includes another mysterious knob known as the "brute factor". In the upper right corner is the mod matrix (Arturia includes two mini jumper wires) that allows customizing patches beyond just what is possible with the knobs and switches alone. Going down the right side there is the volume knob. Right above the 25-key keyboard is the step sequencer, which includes 8 preset patterns, or the ability to record your own pattern, along with a rate knob and tap/rest button. Going left are the 4 sliders for the ADSR envelope controller. Left of this is a highly-programmable LFO section. A glide knob and mod wheel selector switch (a choice between filter cutoff or LFO) is next. Then wrapping this all up are two, very nicely-weighted & callibrated wheels for the modulation and pitch bend.

In the back are the I/O and tuning features. This includes the aforementioned MIDI, instrument input (mono), instrument level knob, headphone output, line output (mono), CV gate in/out/pitch and a collapsable tuning knob. The whole thing runs on an included wall wart. For even more control, there is an iOS app called MIDIBrute available (this works with its bigger brother, the MiniBrute, too).

If you are looking to learn synthesis, or are a veteran synth nerd looking to go back to the good old days when monosynths had knobs and required a user's control to conjure up those sweet analog sounds, then the Microbrute, at just $299, is for you.

29th January 2016

Arturia MicroBrute by math_blaster

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 3 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.5
Arturia MicroBrute

Here are things I like about the synth:

This is a great synth for simple big monosynth sounds. From italo-style bass to laser noises to creamy pwm leads, it can do basically everything reasonably well.

The sound quality is totally adequate-- it is very controlled and in-tune (like no drift in the oscillators). The oscillator sounds clean and has the sub-osc and overtone controls. The sub is nice and the overtones are also nice. It is a pretty versatile oscillator.

The filter is multi-mode and can be modulated by the envelope, LFO, or external CV. It sounds really vanilla -- neither too dirty nor too clean. If you push it in certain ways and compress a bit you can get pretty fat arp-y sounds out of it and you can also get it to squeek when you turn the resonance up. You can also send stuff through the filter. Good filter for the price. Great filter for someone who's never gotten to play with a real analog filter.

The little patch-bay and cv/gate inputs are also really useful, especially if you have other gear with CV. I like to control it with a x0xb0x.

The LFO can also control different things through the patchbay, which is nice. The LFO also can sync with midi at various ratios or run free.

The sequencer is also nice, though a bit limited in that it only sequences notes. This is not really an issue for me, as I generally rely on midi. It seems like you can use it for arpeggiating stuff etc, but I have never played with this.

Things I don't like about he synth:

No velocity sensitivity! Man, it would be so cool if there was velocity sensitivity.... just about perfect. Especially if there was velocity midi/CV i/o. This way, something like filter cutoff could be modulated by velocity. As it stands now, the only to modulate the filter or LFO amount through midi is using the mod-wheel cc.

However, given the price point this is not a huge complaint.

The other thing I don't like is brute factor... this is stupid and unnecessary and it doesn't sound good. Maybe I just don't understand it, but whatever.. just an extra knob; not hurting anyone.


Conclusions:

I think that if you are short on cash and really want an analog synth for your set-up, this is probably the best bang-for-your-buck.

I think these days (see date of review) a lot of people who are looking at a cheap first analog synth tend to go for something like ms-20 mini. While the ms-20 mini has a lot of features, it generally sounds so dirty that it is unusable unless you are doing like really lo-fi or retro-sounding stuff. This is where the microbrute beats the ms20mini. The envelopes are infinitely more useful than the ms20's and the LFO's sync in microbrute whereas they don't in the ms-20 mini. The amount of control you have is better in microbrute (think precision w.r.t. sequencing and modulation, not just weird noises.. you can get way weirder noises out of ms-20, but you will have very little control over these noises).

The other synths to which to compare the microbrute are the DSI mopho and the arturia minibrute. So the mopho only has 4 knobs. If you don't know how a monosynth works already then 4 knobs is not enough to really figure out what's going on... Microbrute is 1-knob-per-function.. really nice for learning.

The minibrute is technically bigger and better than the microbrute. However, after using both, I sold the minibrute because the oscillator section does not sound as good as the one in the microbrute. This is weird because the microbrute is cheaper. I have actually heard this same thing from a few other people who have had both.

TL:DR
Microbrute* is future classic type mono-synth.

*I had initially wrote mini right there, so I edited it and wrote micro

  • 1
11th September 2018

Arturia MicroBrute by syntonica

  • Sound Quality 5 out of 5
  • Ease of use 5 out of 5
  • Features 4 out of 5
  • Bang for buck 5 out of 5
  • Overall: 4.75
Arturia MicroBrute

Love this little guy! He's built like a tiny tank. The knobs are solid and the sliders have just the tiniest bit of wiggle to them.

This guy is the Jekyll and Hyde of synths. Keep all the knobs under the halfway mark and he's a mild-mannered analog capable of some stunning tones. But move the knobs past halfway and the beast comes out! He sounds like nothing else.

Despite the one oscillator, he's capable of a huge range of sounds with the available modulations and the sub. The LFO goes into audio range allowing for some primitive FM. The multimode filter is amazing sounding and self-oscillates providing another wave type.

The controls are incredibly well laid out, and despite no patch saving, its quick to risk in a sound, especially using the marvellous patch templates included. I'm not a modular person at all, but the few patch points are clearly labeled and understandable. The patch bay is fun and I have some stacked cables on the way. The sequencer is dead simple to use and quite fun as well. While it's not an arp, it can sort of handle those duties as well.

The downsides: no velocity sensitivity. Maybe that's why he gets so angry. It looks like there's a mod to add it via CV, but that's down the road for me. The keyboard is slightly better than the old Yamaha Portasound minikeys, but suffices for singlehanded playing. He also makes a nifty little velocity-sensitive polyphonic controller when connected to your computer via USB.

Other than those complaints, this guy is a keeper, especially at that micro price. Just don't turn your back on him!

 
  • Gear Database

  • By Gearbot
Loading mentioned products ... Arturia MicroBrute
Review Tools
Search this Review
Search this Review:

Advanced Search