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 i s 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!
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.
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 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.
When Arturia first released iMini, it was already quite impressive. To have a faithful, rich sounding Minimoog emulation running on your iPad for just $9.99 should have been a miracle for most. But of course, it is just our over-priveledged nature to hold an amazing human achievement in our hands and still cry about what it lacks. No Audiobus? Wahhh!!!
Arturia was quick to respond to this oversight, adding the inter-app audio capability in version 1.1, along with a few other bells and whistles. Now, there is truly no reason to complain. You can plug iMini into Audiobus, you can even plug external audio INTO iMini for God’s sake! And that’s not all:
“background audio advances mean that iMini is always live, yet will still respond to MIDI and be able to run its arpeggiator when working as a background app. And on that very note, whenever iMini is making no sound itself its CPU usage drops dramatically — another neat touch that helps keep things running smoothly when running multiple music apps.
Moving onwards and upwards, expanded MIDI support lets those up-to-date iMini users pick and choose from multiple sources; moreover, inter-app MIDI support — which establishes MIDI messages that enable two iOS devices to identify and enumerate each other — makes it much easier for cool controller apps like Audanika’s SoundPrism Pro advanced MIDI controller for iOS to individually control multiple iMini instances while running in the background on the same iPad, for instance. Let’s talk, in other words!” – Arturia
Yeah yeah, that’s all well and good, but what ELSE does iMini do, you say? Let’s take a more in depth look…
iMini has three tabs: Main, Perform, and FX. In the Main tab, you see a wood-panel framed, familiar synth layout. Choose from a large library of sorted presets, tune it up or down 2 octaves, set the Glide (Portamento) amount, adjust the Mod-Mix (between Osc.3 & Noise), and you’re off to the races.
The Oscillator Bank contains three oscillators, each of which can be tuned over several octaves. If you hold your finger on oscillators 2 or 3, further coarse tuning is revealed. You can also choose a separate waveform for each, from triangle, saw-triangle, sawtooth, square, wide rectangle, or narrow rectangle. Set their volumes in the Mixer section, along with Noise and External Input. The Modifiers section offers a tasty 24db per octave filter, with Cut-off, Emphasis (Resonance), and a Contour setting that controls how the filter responds to the Envelope Generator. There is also a Loudness Contour with amplitude envelope controls. In the Output section, you set the main level, volumes for the Chorus & Delay effects, or switch to Polyphonic mode.
The Keyboard is pretty straight forward with pitch bend and modulation wheels. But that’s not all: if you hold down the small settings icon next to the iMini logo, you get some additional controls, including the ability to change the octave, scale, and key.
The Perform tab is really where the action is. Here, you have the Arpeggiator and two XY pads. Get that sound throbbing, then give it the two-finger attack tweak. The default filter and contour controls are pretty fun, but you can set any of the controls from the Main page to the XY axis. Add a little Chorus and or Delay in the FX tab to fatten up your sound.
IF THAT IS STILL NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU, go ahead and fire up Audiobus, add some effects from your favorite app, and record that ish! While the sound of iMini is pretty rich and warm, I like to run my keyboards through guitar pedals, so the free GuitarTone app from Sonoma does the trick for me, (although it is a bit buggy with Audiobus on my iPad 2). Loopy HD, another invaluable offering from Audiobus’ maker A Tasty Pixel, is a cool way to lay down ideas on the fly and let them loop on top of each other ’til you’re dizzy.
Here’s a video of me making some noise with these toys:
“With all this talk of added support, it’s good to know that Arturia will make a donation to The Bob Moog Foundation for every iMini sold in recognition of the groundbreaking instrument to which it owes its very existence. In turn, this supports the dream of building the MoogseumTM (Bob Moog Museum), the convergence of The Bob Moog Foundation’s goals of inspiring and educating people through electronic music.” –
Retronyms Tabletop, a modular music making environment for iPad, has 3 new devices available. Watch this for a quick demo:
If you can’t be bothered watching the clip, the 3 devices are:
Deadbeat: Beat Dropper, Sound Mangler
An expressive surface that uses the accelerometer to stutter and filter the beat. Grab your iPad, and launch Tabletop into the 7th dimension. Buy now in Tabletop — $3.99
Boomroom: Transcendent Reverb
The Boomroom is a high quality reverb with mind-blowing visuals. “Pinch to boom” and create massive, cavernous sounds. Watch and listen as your kicks and snares emanate and clear out your chakras. You’ve never seen or heard a reverb like this. Buy now in Tabletop — $8.99
Cueboard: Beat Juggler
Resample, chop, and juggle your session. Capture any input, and flip the beat to your heart’s content! Buy now in Tabletop — $2.99
If you haven’t tried it out yet, Tabletop is a free virtual studio with 13 included devices. There are over 30 devices available for in-app purchase to expand your sonic palette. Compatible third party apps, such as Akai’s iMPC and Arturia’s iMini, show up in Tabletop when you download them from iTunes.
Fire up those creative juices, get Tabletop, and start cookin’!
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).
I’m a sucker for sparkly things, and the Arturia SparkLE is certainly no exception.
SparkLE is a sleek hardware/software hybrid drum-machine that is bound to light up your life (nyuk nyuk) in a few different ways. Spaceship-LIGHTshow aside, this little beatbox is LIGHT, weighing in at only 1 kg (2.2 lbs.). And of course, it will simply deLIGHT you. (End of horrible pun.)
You can build beats using the step sequencer buttons or pound them out in realtime on the pressure sensitive pads. Throw down a groove with the Looper and then introduce variation with the touch sensitive XY pad, which can control 8 filter modes (including the classic Oberheim SEM filter) and 7 different Slicer modes. Engage the TUNE mode and play a synth melody on SparkLE’s 16 keys, or simply add pitch to a percussion sound.
The SparkLE sound engine boasts a wide range of ever expanding sounds, with layering, Virtual Analog, and Physical Modeling for further tweaking. The software component offers a Mix view, effects, automation & editing capabilities, and can be used as a standalone program or AU/VST/VST3/RTAS plug-in (without the hardware connected). Alternately you can map the hardware to control your DAW via MIDI, or use the included templates for Ableton LIve and Reason.
All this functionality is built into a seriously compact (284mm x 171mm x 17 mm) and portable (comes with a travel case) package. SparkLE is a truly versatile tool for a musician on the go!
Arturia’s SparkLE is an obvious competitor to Native Instruments’ Maschine Mikro. In the race to get smaller and smaller, it wins; the Spark drum controller is thinner, takes up less desk space, and the price tag is lower ($299 vs. $399 for Maschine). Although Maschine might fair better with MPC drum pad enthusiasts, I must say I prefer Spark’s keyboard/’TR’ style layout. I’d love to get the two of them in a room for a real sonic shootout sometime.
Some videos from Source Distribution interviewing Adrian Utley of Portishead fame have been making their way around the web. In the first clip Source gets Utley’s first reactions to the Arturia MiniBrute, and in the second Adrian gives a tour of his personal home studio synth collection. Analog synth porn below!
Buy Portishead: Third