Arturia MatrixBrute by Chromalord
If you are looking for a unique synthesizer, look no further than the Arturia Matrixbrute.
The Matrixbrute is an analogue, 3 VCO mono/paraphonic synthesizer jam-packed with goodies that certainly sets itself apart from most modern synths.
Its name, I assume, was given due to its large matrix panel that occupies about 30% of the real-estate. Without having to deal with a page-driven parameters, hidden function, or multifunction display, the Matrixbrute reveals most of what it does conveniently from the panel. There are 69 knobs, 64 buttons, 15 sliders, and 156 back-lit matrix buttons!
There is a separate headphone level-knob, and its jack is in the front.
The rear panel is nearly as busy as the front panel: 24 CV i/o mini-plug jacks, MIDI i/o/t, USB, stereo TS, Gate & Sync i/o, various pedals, an insert TRS jack, and a input section with input sensitivity adjustment.
There are 3 odd displays: the patch-number display (does not show the patch name there) and the tempo display.Both of those are bright and can be read from across the room. The 3rd display is nearly impossible to read. Its like one of those tiny displays from 90's Texas Instrument solar-powered calculators. The fonts are tiny, its slow to redraw, the screen has no back-lighting. Its info is the patch name and the parameters assigned to the 4 "macro" knobs.
The unit has an unusual 4-octave keyboard with 2 very sturdy and smooth pitch and mod wheels, and plenty of live-controls around the wheels. The key-bed feels a little anemic to me.
The rest of the unit is VERY sturdy and highly polished, the chassis is exceptionally rigid, with nice wood appointments. This isn't any type of lightweight, as it tips the scale at about 50 pounds.
The main panel is a flip-up like the MiniMoog, but this one IS sturdier.
There is software that needs to be downloaded to access MIDI parameters, so the Matrixbrute is NOT an entirely a stand-alone unit.
You will need good lighting as there is TONS of info stenciled on the VERY busy panel. This isn't to say the unit is ergonomically difficult to navigate, its quite easy and logical.
The Matrixbrute is basically a dual-0scillator synth, but it does offer a 3rd VCO that has a switchable sub-orc waveforms, as well as a discrete noise-generator ( 4 types of noise!) each with their own trim pot in the mixer section. The main full-function VCOs have "Ultra-saw" apart from the standard saw, which has has an emphasized 1st harmonic. The sub can be square or sine, there are standard pulse waves and triangle wave. A new function called "Metalizer" is kind of like a FM/ring modulator- is hardwired to the triangle wave.
There are 2 filters, a Steiner (from Steiner-Parker?) and a ladder filter that can be ran in parallel or series. The VCOs have discreet switching to the filters, and can be set to modulate each other in all permutations as well as synced.
The Matrix panel is where the real fun takes-off.A 16X16 backlit button-matrix immediately displays whats-modulating-what and the permutations are endless. Simply touch the desired routing, turn the value-knob, which is bi-polar and the experimentation really takes flight. Instantly assign a macro-knob by simply holding down one of the 4- macro assign buttons, touch the desired parameter and its immediately stored into that slot.
The same 16X16 matrix switch panel also serves as a patch/bank sector and their massive sequencer which can sequence up to 64 steps, and stores a large library of pre-sequenced data profiles. There are many timing choices and subdivides, as well as pitch, gate lengths, filtering, velocity changes on the fly.There's also an arpeggiator. Clocks can be synced over MIDI and CV.
The Matrixbrute also has built in FX: Reverb, delay (mono and stereo) chorus, flanger. The delays can be synced to the internal clock. You can't run more than one effect at a time. There's not a LOT of control over the FX parameters, yet, all the basic are covered and they sound very nice.
There's MUCH more here, (like the split mode and the paraphonic modes) please see their website or youtube videos.
OK, So how does it sound?:
There are times when this sounds like a MINI, other times it sounds like a Cat or an Odyssey. But the Matrixbrute has its own unique tone too. The sound IS very analog, its quirky, imperfect, yet still musical and playable. There is a little leakage from the filters, especially when the unit is cranked, but I'm being picky, I don't think its something that will get in the way.
A lot of the newer synths have "Drive" to help beef-up the sound, the Matrixbrute adds "Brute" on each of its 2 main VCOs, but I have yet to discover a way I can use it to my benefit. I need to be schooled on exactly what that function IS.
Overall, the unit does not have a pronounced bottom-end that most modern analogs have, but it sounds smooth, non-metallic.
I really don't have much to gripe about, but at this time of the review, here they are: The bipolar bend-range of the pitch-wheel is not independent, i.e. if you set it to 1-octave it bends up/down in the same range. You have to download their software (after you register yourself and your product on their website) to access any MIDI functions. You cannot name your patches; I assume this is something you do over software also. The dark and tiny data screen is a joke.
The Matrixbrute is a wonderfully unique synthesizer! It has one of the highest fun-factor of any synths I have ever owned (and I have owned over 200 of them). Its sound is unique, its approach is unique. You will be creating complex patches in no-time, sequencing them, storing them and creating music, all on a unit thats VERY well built and attractive. Whether you're an EDM guy, a serious hobbyists, or a full-time professional composer the Matrixbrute delivers.