The Next Big Thing Is A Small Thing: Arturia Microbrute

Arturia, Microbrute, Analog Synth
Microbrute is Arturia’s even smaller followup to the massive sounding Minibrute.
Squeezing the same 100% analog electronics into a more compact body, Microbrute gets rid of a few knobs and faders in favor of a patchable modulation matrix and a new step-sequencer. Read the press release for all the details, then check out sexy pictures and videos:
Arturia’s award-winning MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer rapidly reset the price/performance ratio benchmark when soaring through the subtractive synthesis sound barrier last year to much critical acclaim and subsequent success. Today it is joined by its equally as big- sounding little brother, the MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer. Putting all the basic building blocks of an analogue synth classic into an even more compact and bijou package that’s pure hand-ons fun at an affordable price, the MicroBrute is guaranteed to bring big smiles to go with those big sounds!
But the MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer is actually anything but basic. For starters, just like its big brother, the OSCILLATOR that beats at its musical heart features SAW, TRIANGLE, and SQUARE waveforms that are all mixable to help shape the resulting sound without the limitations imposed by comparable contemporary and vintage synths alike. Additionally, the new Overtone oscillator generates additional harmonic content, ranging from one octave down to a fifth above the base OSCILLATOR pitch, while the Sub > Fifth control can continuously sweep spectrum. Moreover, Metalizer adds complex harmonics to the TRIANGLE waveform for creating harsh, harmonically-rich sounds, while Ultrasaw adds a lively and bright ensemble effect to the SAWTOOTH waveform — perfect for crafting sounds suited to dance anthems. And let’s not forget the all-important Pulse Width control for creating nasal-thin tones or rich square sounds. Simply speaking, never before has such a small, single-oscillator synth sounded so big!
Of course, filtering helps shape any analogue synth’s sound — be it big or small, and here the MicroBrute does not disappoint. Indeed, its distinctive-sounding Steiner-Parker FILTER plays a big part in helping give the MicroBrute a unique sound — again, just like its big brother. This filter design dates back to the Steiner-Parker Synthacon, an analogue monosynth built by the namesake Salt Lake City-based synth manufacturer between 1975 and 1979. Its HP (high-pass), BP (bandpass), and LP (lowpass) modes make for far more filtering flexibility than that found in synths many times the price! And that’s before factoring Arturia’s acclaimed Brute FactorTM into the equation, adding anything from subtle overdrive to full-blown intermodulation havoc — choose your settings, and let the fun begin!
Speaking of modulation, the easily accessible, front-panel mounted MOD MATRIX is a Volt per Octave-standard patchable system of modulation routing with ENV (envelope) out, LFO (low frequency oscillator) out, Ultrasaw modulator in, PWM (pulse width modulation) in, Metal (Metalizer) in, Overtone/Sub modulator in, Filter cutoff in, and Pitch in — meaning more in-depth, inbuilt sound-sculpting possibilities, as well as allowing Arturia’s own MicroBrute to be easily brought into the interfacing mix, or mixing and matching with third-party modular synth systems for far-out sonic explorations! Dig as deep as you need or dare to go with the MicroBrute!
Similarly, the new eight-Pattern step SEQUENCER is an almost endless source of inspiration and rhythmic creativity — step input notes and rests to create storable sequences that can be played back and switched between on the fly at a variable Rate or synchronised to external MIDI clock. Meanwhile, MIDI, USB, and CV GATE connectivity, of course, combine to ensure that the MicroBrute is ready and willing to talk to the outside electronic musical instrument world wherever it may find itself. It’s even blessed with an external audio Input with Input Level control, so why not use it to process whatever you feel like sticking into its 1/4-inch socket — within reason, of course!
With a space-saving 25-note mini-keyboard and weighing in at only 1.75kg, the MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer is truly compact and bijou, but punches well above its weight with a rip-roaring analogue sound spanning woofer-flapping bass, screaming leads, ear-opening effects, wave-folded growls, punchy drum sounds galore, and much in-between and beyond. Pick one up from an authorised Arturia dealer today!
Arturia, Microbrute, Analog SynthArturia, Microbrute, Analog Synth Arturia, Microbrute, Analog Synth

Arturia Minibrute [REVIEW]

Arturia, Minibrute, analog synth

If deep throbbing analog synth bass is what you crave, look no further than Arturia’s Minibrute.

That little thing? Well I tell you, the cliche is true – it’s not the size, but how you use it. Minibrute proves that underneath its small exterior lies a sonic girth that can do some seriously brutal aural damage.

The thickness comes from an all analog signal path, pushing gooey warm waves into your earhole. This 25 note keyboard is monophonic, but the sound isn’t simple. Minibrute uses a single voltage controlled oscillator to drive 4 different waveforms: sawtooth, square, triangle, and white noise. The first three can be effected with their respective ‘bi-polar’ modulators; Ultrasaw adds a little je ne sais quoi to le sawtooth, Pulse-Width puts the squeeze on the squarewave, and Metallizer changes the harmonics of the triangle. These can be mixed to taste, along with Audio-Input, and a sub-oscillator, which renders some serious fat in the melange.

Arturia Minibrute 2

Next, your sound must be filtered, and Minibrute’s filter is super juicy. Low-pass, high-pass, band pass, and notch options are available. The real treat here is cranking up the resonance to the point of self-oscillation, then tweaking that with the cut-off. Mmm… Delicious… To take your sound totally over the top, turn the Brute knob for extreme destruction.

ADSR amplitude and filter envelopes give everything some more gravy (you can assign positive or negative envelope responses to all parameters.) You can set the range of the pitch bend wheel, mod wheel control, aftertouch, vibrato, and the amount of glide between notes. Add shuddering LFO action to the Pulsewidth/Metallizer, pitch, filter, and amplitude, with a choice of sine, triangle, saw, square, rough or smooth random waveforms. Finally, there is an arpeggiator with a 4 octave range, 4 modes (up, down, up/down, random), 6 time divisions (1/4, 1/8, 1/16, 1/4T, 1/8T, 1/16T), 6 swing settings, tap tempo, and hold. And if that isn’t enough, Minibrute connects with the rest of your studio gear via MIDI, CV, and the aforementioned Audio-Input.

Arturia Minibrute 3

Arturia has truly managed to stuff a beast of a synth into a small package. Minibrute delivers a robust sound with fiercely unique attributes, and a bass response that will kick you in the pants. Take a listen to this demo, and make sure you are using headphones or speakers with some sub to hear what I’m talking about.

Rob Papen Limited Edition EDM & Urban Synth Bundles

Rob Papen, EDM Synth, Urban Synth, synth bundles, Predator, Punch, Blade, SubBoomBass

World-renowned Dutch soft-synth designer Rob Papen has two LIMITED EDITION software bundles available UNTIL 3/31/13 ONLY, so get on this deal QUICK!!!

Rob Papen, EDM Synth Bundle, Blade

The EDM Synth Bundle contains 3 virtual instruments to shake that dance-floor. Blade is an additive synthesis engine loaded with sound sculpting effects and a programmable XY control pad. The schwanky graphical interface is clean, futuristic, and has a bad-ass blade up top! What more do you need to make cutting edge sounds? (ugh sorry couldn’t resist pun). Anyway, you actually need a lot more, and thankfully, it’s all here. Papen has packed Blade full of so many options, it’s a veritable sonic swiss army knife. At the core is what Papen has dubbed the Harmolator – an oscillator system that allows precise, varied control of harmonic content and timbre. Next there is a mangling section that offers 21 distortion and 14 filter options. Then there is a sequencable arpeggiator, where each pulsing note’s pitch and velocity can be finely tailored. The centerpiece of Blade is the aforementioned XY control, which makes it possible to inject that oh so important human element. You can record modulation, then loop it backwards and forward, adjust and sync speed.

Rob Papen, EDM Synth Bundle, Urban Synth Bundle, Predator

Common to both bundles are Predator and Punch. Predator is a classic triple oscillator synth with filters, LFO modulation, arpeggiator, and a whole slew of effects. Also included is the PredatorFX plug-in, which allows you to use all these functions as a sound processor in your DAW. Punch is a drum synth/sampler/groove-machine. You can mix and match preset sounds or add your own to create a custom kit. Tweak, filter, add envelopes, LFO’s, and modulation to each individual sound. Trigger built-in key-mapped sequences, all programmable on a grid similar to the arpeggiator found in Papen’s other instruments.

Rob Papen, EDM Synth Bundle, Urban Synth Bundle,  Punch

Finally, SubBoomBass replaces Blade in the Urban Synth Bundle. As the name clearly states, this synth brings some serious sub to the equation! SubBoomBass features dual oscillators (each with sub-oscillation), pre-filter distortion, two filter stages, amplitude, envelope, LFO, a mappable modulation matrix, and of course, Papen’s full range of FX (if your bass isn’t quite phat enough). There are several different play-modes: mono, legato, poly, and seq. This brings us to the sequencer that seems to be the running theme of Papen’s suites. The 16-step pattern sequencer offers detailed control of each note, as well as “swing” and “slide”, to make your sub more slanky. This is perfect for building groovy bass-lines or rhythmic parts with some of the included sub-tuned percussion sounds.

Rob Papen, Urban Synth Bundle, SubBoomBass

The bottom line is all four of these instruments are seriously function deep. The sonic possibilities go way beyond my simple descriptions, but the way they are laid out makes everything intuitive. You can easily play around for hours just trying out different combinations, or start with the already great sounding presets and quickly fine tune them to your taste.

Both EDM Synth and Urban Synth bundles cost €199.00 EUR/$239.00 USD/£169.00 GBP (a combined savings of around 45%) and can be purchased online at http://www.robpapen.com

Native Instruments Komplete 9

Native Instruments, Komplete 9,

Turns out Native Instruments Komplete 9 is what was being hinted at with their recent teaser videos.

Those dazzling animations were ever so surreptitiously advertising the new Monark synth and Battery 4.Monark is what NI calls “the king of monophonic analog synths…the holy grail of analog modeling.” The Battery 4 Drum Sampler update has new sound library “tagging” for easy organization, and snazzy drag & drop effects, including updated Solid Mix effects EQ, Bus Compression, tape saturation, LoFi, and convolution reverb.

The basic Komplete 9 includes 33 instruments/effects in a 120GB+ package. But that’s clearly not enough, if you’re at all serious about making music! Komplete 9 Ultimate offers 65 NI products in a whopping 370GB, which comes on a USB hard-drive.

Included are:

  • MONARK
  • BATTERY 4
  • SOLID MIX SERIES a complete studio effects suite for creating polished, release-ready productions.
  • SESSION STRINGS is an easy-to-use contemporary string ensemble for quickly adding modern arrangements to all styles of music.
  • THE GIANT delivers the immense sound of the world’sbiggest upright piano, plus an additional cinematic mode perfect for atmospheric textures and soundscapes.
  • KONTAKT 5
  • GUITAR RIG 5 PRO
  • REAKTOR 5
  • PRISM
  • SPARK
  • MASSIVE
  • FM8
  • ABSYNTH 5
  • TRANSIENT MASTER
  • REFLEKTOR
  • THE FINGER
  • TRAKTOR’S 12
  • KOMPLETE 9 ULTIMATE features all products included in KOMPLETE 9, plus the REVERB CLASSICS and PREMIUM TUBE SERIES studio effects, the essential cinematic strings collection ACTION STRINGS, the playable horn section SESSION HORNS, and the Rickenbacker®- approved SCARBEE RICKENBACKER BASS. Also included are the epic DAMAGE industrial percussion instrument, the 11-piece SESSION STRINGS PRO ensemble, the futuristic RAZOR and SKANNER XT synthesizers, and many more.

Komplete 9 ($599/update from $149) and Komplete 9 Ultimate ($1099/update from $399) will be available March 27th. Pre-order now at http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/komplete/

 

Don Buchla Doc [Kickstarter]

Buchla, Buchla Series 100 Modular Electronic Music System, modular synth

This promo video surfaced a while back, giving a short glimpse into the life of legendary synth pioneer Don Buchla:

Now that the film is finally in the crowdsourcing phase, I think it’s high time to get the word out.

Don is the inventor of the Buchla Modular Electronic Music System, the first modular synth of its kind. Buchla’s creation signaled a move away from the traditional keyboard instrument, and opened up a brave new world of bleeps and bloops. It’s amazing that there has never been a documentary on the man before. With the recent resurgence of modular synths, it seems like the perfect moment.

From director Connie Fields (http://www.clarityfilms.org):

Don was definitely part of the avant-garde.  He has been called a mad scientist, a genius, an innovator, a recluse, an iconoclast, and has gathered a horde of fiercely loyal admirers by following his own visionary path, and dancing to his own muse.  His name and instruments are known from Indonesia to France.

We have begun to film because there have been performances and interviews to capture that we simply couldn’t pass up, such as Morton Subotnick and Ramon Sender from the San Francisco Tape Music Center, who commissioned Don to build the first Buchla; French composers Jean-Baptiste Barrière and Marc Battier; and performances by Subotnick and Marimba Lumina player Joel Davel, who has assisted in Buchla’s workshop for over a decade.

But now we need to raise production funding to complete the rest of our filming.  Among the other people we will be including in the film are early Buchla composer/performer Suzanne Ciani, analog synth performer/music journalist Gino Robair, Lightning virtuoso Forrest Tobey, synth maestro Alessandro Cortini (of Nine Inch Nails and Sonoio), Marimba Lumina co-designer Mark Goldstein, and, of course, Don himself.  Ideally, we’re hoping you can support us beyond what we’re asking for here so we can also edit and do post-production for the film.

With your help, we will be able to do the legacy of Don Buchla justice.

Let’s get ‘er done folks – kickstart the hell out of this: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/589078128/buchla-documentary

Arturia iMini: Migrating the MiniMoog to iPad

arturia, imini, minimoog

With iMini, Arturia joins the mobile revolution. It was the only thing to do, having all its other bases covered.

iMini is a faithful reproduction of the iconic Minimoog synthesizer, for iPad. It is based on Arturia’s TAE® technology which first brought the Minimoog to desktops with its Mini V software. iMini can share presets with its predecessor Mini V, and includes over 500 sounds created by “the top sound designers in the world.” Not sure if he was involved, but iMini already has the support of well respected sound artist Richard Devine.

On top of being compatible with Mini V, iMini supports CORE MIDI, allowing MIDI controller mapping, and WIST sync with compatible apps running on other iDevices. It is also part of Retronym’s Tabletop app environment. Through Tabletop, you can share sounds via Soundcloud, render to .wav, or Audiocopy/paste into another iApp. At this time, iMini doesn’t support Audiobus yet.

Not only does iMini pay homage to the great Bob Moog, but Arturia literally pays back to the Foundation:

To support Bob Moog’s legacy, we are donating a portion of each sale to the Bob Moog Foundation to support their work in science and music education via Dr. Bob’s SoundSchool, their work to preserve, protect and share Bob Moog’s archives, and their vision to build a Moogseum in the coming years (Moogfoundation.org)

Check out the awesome promo vid and tutorial:

Arturia iMini requires at least iPad 2 and iOS 6.0 or later, and costs just $9.99


 

If that’s not enough info to get you moist and/or downloading the app already, head over to Arturia.com  for the full nitty gritty (they always have tons of in depth product info).

Native Instruments Revolution Teaser [Video]

Native Instruments, Revolution, Synth

Hot on the heels of wowing us with the Traktor DJ app for iPad, Native Instruments shows it isn’t satisfied to rest on its laurels.

Rather, they’re promising a revolution: “One synth to rule them all. Years of meticulous research and the latest in cutting-edge DSP technology combine to deliver a synth with teeth.”

Check out the mysterious, sexy 3D lightshow they’ve cooked up to tease:

Audio samples courtesy of their soundcloud page:

Acoustic Synthesis: Moog Guitar Technology Enters The Acoustic Realm

String Spectrum, Paul Vo, Moog Guitar, Acoustic Synthesis

From the inventor of the Moog Guitar comes an entirely new sound technology: Acoustic Synthesis.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Moog Guitar? If you haven’t, you may have already heard it without knowing if you’ve listened to Brian Eno’s latest album LUX.

The Moog Guitar was the newest innovation in acoustic technology to appear in recent years. It uses what Moog calls a Harmonic Control System to actuate the strings (or mute them), offering infinite sustain, at all points on every string, at any volume. This results in synth-like string tones that sound completely unique.

Now, Paul Vo has taken this idea one step further. Acoustic Synthesis occurs in the physical realm, creating an otherworldly sound which emanates from the strings themselves. His system is add-on hardware that can potentially be fitted to any string instrument. The possibilities are truly mind-bending.

Vo-96, Paul Vo, Moog Guitar, Acoustic Synthesis

Photos courtesy voinventions.com

Check out this demo of the Vo-96 on an acoustic guitar:

Will Rayan and Vincent Crow of The Electric Jazz Project demonstrate the Vo-96 Acoustic Synth

And while we’re at it, why not take a look at the Moog Guitar and an early FRETLESS prototype, courtesy of experimentalsynth‘s Chris Stack (via createdigitalmusic). Gahhhhhhhh:

What stringed instrument would you hook the Vo-96 up to?

***UPDATE***

Kaki King, an old friend of mine and a true guitar virtuoso, has been beta testing the Vo-96 at live shows:

Kaki trying out the Moog guitar for the first time at the Moog Factory:

 

I Dream Of Wires: Hardcore Edition Trailer

I Dream Of Wires, modular synth documentary

I Dream Of Wires, a forthcoming documentary about modular synthesizers, featuring interviews with luminaries such as Chris Carter and Trent Reznor, has released an official trailer for its extended cut, ‘Hardcore Edition.’

This juicy 12-minute hardcore synth porn clip is but a sliver of the full 4-hour version of the film, which is available for pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD at idreamofwires.org.

Also for sale on their site is the exclusive IDOW edition batteryACID, a voltage controlled analog distortion module by hexinverter.net.

batteryACID, hexinverter.net, I Dream Of Wires

batteryACID is “loosely based” on the classic MXR Distortion Plus guitar pedal circuit. What makes this unit special for modular enthusiasts is that it comes in eurorack format, so it can be integrated right into a modular rig, and distortion can be modulated using a control voltage from another module. It also has a built-in compressor to keep those clipped peaks in check, which can be disabled if desired, or used on its own with distortion bypassed.

And now without further ado, here comes the trailer. Keep your pants on y’all.

“I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition)” – 2013 official trailer.

“I Dream of Wires” (IDOW) is an upcoming, independent documentary film about the phenomenal resurgence of the modular synthesizer – exploring the passions, obsessions and dreams of people who have dedicated part of their lives to this esoteric electronic music machine. Written and directed by Robert Fantinatto, with Jason Amm (Ghostly International recording artist Solvent) serving as producer and co-writer, IDOW is set to receive it’s festival premiere, May 2013.

Preceding IDOW’s official theatrical release, we will be releasing this special, extended cut: “I Dream Of Wires (Hardcore Edition)” (IDOW-HE) will be released independently on BluRay / 2xDVD, and shipped to all IndieGoGo and pre-order customers, June 2013. IDOW-HE is for the hardcore modular synthesizer and electronic music fanatics, and will run approximately 4 hours long (!).

IDOW-HE is a strictly limited-edition item, available to order exclusively through idreamofwires.org from 2/11 – 5/31, 2013. It’s bound to sell out in pre-orders, so don’t sleep…
IDOW-HE BluRay / 2xDVD is available to pre-order now:
idreamofwires.org/order

“Themogene (I Dream Of Wires theme)”, from the forthcoming IDOW original soundtrack album by Solvent, is available to listen/download in its entirety via Ghostly International on Soundcloud:
soundcloud.com/ghostly/solvent-themogene

Additional music/sounds featured in this trailer: Container, Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto), Richard Devine, John Elliott (Spectrum Spools/ex-Emeralds), Gert Jalass (Moon Modular), Richard Lainhart, Solvent, Jon Sonnenberg (Travelogue), Keith Fullerton Whitman.

“Who said that?” (in order of appearance): Brad Garton, Dean Batute, Maggie Payne, Bernie Krause, William Maginnis, Terry Pender, Jack Dangers (Meat Beat Manifesto), Benge (John Foxx and the Maths), Vince Clarke (Erasure), Daniel Miller (Mute Records), David Kronemeyer, Jon Sonnenberg (Travelogue), Carl Craig, James Holden, Richard Devine, Luke Abbott, Tony Rolando (Make Noise), Flood, Trent Reznor (NiN/How To Destroy Angels), Dieter Doepfer, Dominic Butler (Factory Floor), Paul Schreiber (Synthesis Technology/MOTM), David Kronemeyer, Eric Barbour (Metasonix), George Mattson, William Mathewson (WMD), Tony Rolando, Eric Barbour, Daniel Miller, Drew Neumann, John Elliott (Spectrum Spools/ex-Emeralds), Andreas Schneider (SchneidersBuero), Eric Barbour, Scott Jaeger (The Harvestman), Andreas Schneider, Dieter Doepfer, Chris Carter (X-TG/Chris & Cosey), Charlie Clouser, Danjel Van Tijn (Intellijel), John Tejada, Drumcell, Legowelt, Alessandro Cortini (SONOIO/ex-NiN), John Foxx, Deadmau5, James Husted (Synthwerks), Paul Barker (Malekko/ex-Ministry), Container, Cevin Key (Skinny Puppy), Robert A.A. Lowe, Trent Reznor, Gur Milstein (TipTop Audio), Gary Numan.

idreamofwires.org
vimeo.com/idreamofwires
facebook.com/idreamofwiresdocumentary

NAMM NAMM NAMM

NAMM, NAMM Show Anaheim, music trade show,

This past weekend the music world met at the NAMM show to ooh and ahh over lots of shiny new toys. And sadly I was not among them. But! My buddy and talented producer Drew Skinner (aka Duskrider) was on the scene to capture some gear pics for the rest of us to fawn over.  Behold:

Moog Voyager, Moog 10th Anniversary Voyager, Moog gold voyager, gold, synth, NAMM, Drew Skinner

Moog 10th Anniversary Gold Minimoog Voyager

Moog Booth, NAMM, Bob Moog, Moog couch, Drew Skinner

I need this couch for my studio

Korg MS-20 mini, NAMM

Korg MS-20 Mini

Modular synths, NAMM

I really wanna get weird with Wiard Modulars

Koma, Modular, NAMM

Going into a Koma

Radial 500 series 

Analog Alien, Alien Twister Fuzz,

Alien Twister Fuzz from Analog Alien. Even the photo is fuzzy! Another boutique builder I have never heard of. I wonder if this is what aliens sound like?

And! Here are a few of my favorite NAMM blurbs from around the web:

Fender, Diamond Legend Cabronita, telecaster, diamond studded guitar, Yuriy Shishkov, NAMM

Via themusiczoo: The Fender Diamond Legend Cabronita, built by Yuriy Shishkov, could be yours for only $120,000.

Wheelharp, Antiquity Music, baroque synth, steampunk synth, NAMM

Via catsynth“There are analog synthesizers, and then there are instruments that are even more analog than analog. The Wheelharp from Antiquity Music falls in this category. The Wheelharp is an electromechanical instrument in which a performer accesses 61 bowed strings via the keyboard. There is a cylindrical version, as illustrated in the photograph below, as well as a standard linear-keyboard version. The instrument evokes the Baroque era in its appearance, both the reversed coloring of the keys and the details of the construction and wood finish. The sound of the bowed strings in response to pressing the keys is quite eerie. This video shows part of the mechanical system that drives the Wheelharp as it is being played.”

Also via catsynth: Synthesist extraordinaire, Richard Devine, performing bleeps and bloops on Make Noise modules at the Analog Haven booth.

Visionary Instruments, video guitar, NAMM

You should probably head over to catsynth.com sometime, they’ve got lots of quirky stuff from NAMM that is right up my alley, like this Visionary Instruments video guitar.

Via synthtopia: The Buchla Music Easel comes in its own suitcase for easy traveling. This little Electric Music Box holds a special place in my heart, as I once got to use one of the original Buchlas while at NYU studying electronic music synthesis.

The good news is this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the crazy new music tech out there, so we can keep talking about this stuff indefinitely. Care to share any of your fondest NAMM moments?