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

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

JACK Audio Connection Kit: FREE iOS Inter-App Audio MIDI & Sync

JACK Audio Connection Kit, Crudebyte, inter-app audio

Hot on the heels of Audiobus comes rival iOS inter-app audio solution JACK Audio Connection Kit, for iPhone & iPad.

JACK, created by Crudebyte, is a modular environment where you draw connections that can carry audio and MIDI between compatible apps. This is one benefit over Audiobus, which only delivers audio within a set framework. Another bonus is record/playback synchronization between DAWs and sequencer apps. Audio and MIDI data can also be routed from apps to compatible external devices.

JACK Audio Connection Kit, Crudebyte, inter-app audio

JACK is open source (like Audiobus is now), so developers can easily implement the SDK into their app. This is great news, since JACK lacks the 100+ community of apps Audiobus boasts. At this point, only 2 apps support JACK (CMP Grand Piano & MIDI Wrench, both also free and made by Crudebyte). Hopefully that will change soon. With any luck, the competition will drive iOS music to new heights at an even faster rate.

JACK is also available for Windows PC, Linux and Mac. Find out more on jackaudio.org.

The Synth You Want: KORG MS-20 Mini [Video]

With all the hooplah going on right now around NAMM, the synth on everyone’s lips seems to be the Korg MS-20 Mini. Who can resist its teeny tiny charms? Not me, that’s for sure.

Since vanishing from shelves, the MS-20 has gone through several new iterations: a plug-in, hardware controlled version, and most recently the iMS-20 iPad app (on a side note, if you can get your hands on the hardware controller, I’ve heard it CAN also be used with iMS-20 via an Apple USB camera-connection kit.)

Korg has now taken the much beloved MS20’s guts and stuffed them into a package that is only 86% of the original size. And with space at such a premium these days, this is a serious boon to the reboot of an already much sought after classic.

Korg, MS20, MS20 mini, Namm,

Even the patch cables have been miniaturized to 1/8″ mini plugs. The only thing Korg neglected to make smaller is the gooey analog sound, which remains true to the original’s sonic girth.

One modern twist is the addition of MIDI IN and USB jacks. You can use these to send MIDI or sequence the MS-20 mini from a computer or external device (such as an iPad running one of the countless alternative touch/sequencing apps out there perhaps?).

And possibly the most important reduction – the price! At $599 the MS-20 Mini won’t shrink your wallet as much as other analog synths out there. Release date is still to be confirmed, but the word on the street is April…

Check out official Korg MS-20 mini promo video and press release below:

Korg MS-20 mini official information

The classic MS-20 –resurrected in mini size!

An analog synthesizer that reproduces the original circuitry from 1978

Korg’s MS-20 monophonic synthesizer, first introduced in 1978, is still a coveted instrument to this day, thanks to its thick, robust sound, its powerful, iconic analog filter, and its versatile patching options. Over 300,000 people have enjoyed the distinct MS-20 sounds from the original, from Korg’s MS-20 plug-in synth, and the iMS-20 iPad app.

Today, the sounds of the MS-20 have been reborn as the MS-20 Mini. The same engineers who developed the original MS-20 have perfectly reproduced its circuitry and fitted it into a body that’s been shrunk to 86% of the original size, yet retains the distinctive look of the original that remains unfaded despite the passage of time.

The MS-20 mini will amaze you with its absolutely authentic analog synth sound.

Highlights:

  • Overseen by the engineers of the original MS-20; a complete replication of the original analog circuitry:
  • 2VCO / 2VCA / 2VCF / 2EG / 1LFO structure
  • Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion
  • External signal processor (ESP)
  • Extremely flexible patching system
  • Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size
  • MIDI IN and USB connector
  • Replicates every detail of the original, down to the package binding and the included manual

A complete replication of the original analog circuitry

The MS-20 mini painstakingly replicates the original MS-20. A development team led by the original engineers themselves worked to recreate the original circuitry, and when it was necessary to substitute a part, these engineers made the decisions based on careful listening, in order to reproduce the original sound faithfully.

In fact, the sound of the MS-20 mini has a somewhat bright and extreme quality to it because its sound is that of an original MS-20 in mint condition at the time it went on sale, before any of the components aged.

2VCO / 2VCF / 2VCA / 2EG / 1LFO structure

The MS-20 mini reproduces the distinctive synthesis of the MS-20; two oscillators with ring modulation, and envelope generators with hold and delay. The VCA maintains the basic design of the original, but it’s been modified to produce less noise than the original.

Self-oscillating high-pass/low-pass filters with distinctive distortion

One of the greatest characteristics of the MS-20 was its powerful filters, which provided resonance on both the high-pass and the low-pass. Maximizing the resonance would cause the filter to self-oscillate like an oscillator, producing a distinctive and dramatic tonal change that was acclaimed as inimitable, and was later used on the monotron and monotribe. The filter circuit was changed mid-way through the production lifecycle of the MS-20; the MS-20 mini uses the earlier filter, which was felt to be superior due to its more radical sound.

External signal processor (ESP) for processing an external signal

The ESP carries on the experimental spirit of MS-20; it allows you to use the pitch or volume of an external audio source to control the synthesizer. For example you can input an electric guitar and use the MS-20 mini as a guitar synthesizer, or input a mic and use it as a vocal synthesizer.

Extremely flexible patching system

The patching system provided to the right of the panel lets you create complex sounds by plugging-in cables to change the connections between the various units. The possibilities are limited only by the user’s imagination; different combinations of the modulation input/output and trigger, sample and hold, and noise generator can produce an incredible variety of sounds. By patching according to the MS-20 flow chart that’s printed on the panel, even the beginner can start taking advantage of these possibilities right away.

Faithful recreation of the MS20 at 86% of the size

MS-20’s design concept started by borrowing from the vertical layout found on larger and more expensive modular synths of its time, and then creating a more portable, inexpensive, and easier to use version.

To make it even more approachable, the MS-20 mini has been shrunk to 86% of the size of the original MS-20. In spite of its smaller size, meticulous care has been taken to accurately reproduce the knob design and the printing. The patch cables have been changed from 1/4″ phone plugs to mini-plugs, and the newly-designed keyboard is also 86% of the original size.

Replicates every detail of the original

Our effort to remain faithful to the original is not limited to the unit itself. Even the package that contains the unit replicates the original as far as possible. Also included are the original MS-20 owner’s manual and settings chart, explaining how to create sounds. Now you can experience the excitement of the MS20, just like it was during its original release in 1978.

MIDI IN connector and USB connector

The MS-20 mini provides a MIDI IN jack for receiving note messages, and a USB-MIDI connector that can transmit and receive note messages. You can even connect the MS20 mini to your computer and play it from a sequencer.

Catch This Little Pink Critter! Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass!

Critter & Guitari, Bolsa Bass, synth, pink, wood keys

For a piece of technology to inspire true lust, it should have a combination of sleek stylish design, ease of use, quality build, and, more and more these days, portability. The Critter & Guitari Bolsa Bass is a prime example of this. I’ve been enamored of their wooden-keyed products for some time, but this little pink critter really takes the cake (I guess I’m a sucker for bright colors). The Bolsa Bass is a bass synthesizer in a small package, with its own a built-in sequencer, MIDI In/Out, and six sound modes:

  • Circle Ramp
  • Sawtooth Ramp
  • Analog Style
  • Filter Envelope
  • FM Pad
  • Bass Delay

The entire keyboard may be tuned over a 1 octave range by turning the knob second from right. Volume is controlled by the right-most knob. The function of the remaining two left knobs depend on what mode is selected.  The synthesizer modes provide elemental monophonic bass sounds, great for all kinds of musical scenarios.  From classic filter sweeps to simple and pure tones, lush FM, and even a stretchy tuned delay which makes great string like drones.

The built in sequencer lets you quickly create bass lines with the touch of a button.  With MIDI in and out you can synchronize your sequences with other devices. The Bolsa Bass also sends and receives note messages so you can use it as a sound module or simple controller.

Details

  • Wooden Buttons
  • Pink Neon Powder Coated Aluminum Enclosure
  • Power From 9v Battery or Adapter (not included)
  • 1/4″ Line Output Jack
  • High quality 32 Bit Floating Point DSP Synthesis
Some sound samples:

Critter & Guitari, Bolsa Bass, synth, wood keys, Critter & Guitari, Bolsa Bass, synth, wood keys,

If you’re gleefully adding the Bolsa Bass to your holiday wish list, why not check out the rest of their stuff?

Start here with this psychedelic animation of Critter & Guitari explaining the Kaleidoloop, a handheld sampler:

While they do have a child-like quality, rest assured, Critter & Guitari sound toys are good for all ages!

 ***UPDATE***

New Bolsa Bass promo vid, of course it’s cute!