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.

Arturia iMini Review + Demo [Video]

Arturia, iMini, Minimoog, iPad, synth

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…

Arturia, iMini, Minimoog, iPad, synth

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.

Arturia, iMini, Minimoog, iPad, synth

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:

Download iMini

“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.” –