Arturia is will forever be known as the company which completely changed the analog synth game. It was always an exclusive category of gear that only those who knew exactly what they wanted, could afford.
Even the cheapest analog synth had a price tag that would make the enthusiasts shudder and walk away. Then Arturia decided to change things, and completely destroy this balance with their MiniBrute.
It was the first affordable analog synth on the market that offered the core features everyone wanted at an incredible price. It spearheaded this segment of the market in a way, giving other manufacturers a green light to launch products of their own.
Arturia MicroBrute is the next evolution of that same policy, and is currently one of the best analog synths in the affordable range. It brings most of the features found on the MiniBrute, but with some differences.
Our task today is to take a closer look at the MiniBrute, and see if it really does what Arturia claims.
Is this a legitimate successor of the MiniBrute?
In terms of features, MicroBrute has a lot in common with MiniBrute. All your inputs and outputs are pretty much the same on the back side of this synth. When you look at the layout of the synth, it’s definitely a lot smaller than the MiniBrute. There aren’t as many fader controls in the envelope section, but the ones that are there are more than sufficient.
Starting from left to right, we see standard pitch and mod wheels, which are of decent quality and don’t feel cheap. The feedback is great, and you can be very precise on the fly. Even though it’s a small detail, but we have to talk about these wheels a bit more.
Usually when you’re buying affordable analog synths, if there’s one place where the manufacturer is going to cheap out, it’s these wheels. For us it completely kills the overall experience with the synth, but we’re glad that Arturia opted to install some quality components into this analog synth.
Back to the layout. Above the pitch and mod wheels, you got your octave selector which allows you to choose two octaves up and three octaves down. Right next to it is your oscillator section that comes with the overtone control.
This is some kind of sub oscillator but it allows you to do fifths too. Next come the saw with the ultrasaw above, square with the pulse square and the triangle with the metallizer. Oscillator section is not too complex, but in this case simplicity is great.
Next section are the filters. Here you’ll find your standard filter options along with keyboard tracking and a switch that allows you to use several different types of filters. Mod matrix is the next section, and it’s pretty standards stuff. Bellow the mod matrix there’s a master volume knob.
Looking at the second row of controls, you have your glide knob and a switch that allows you to set what your mod wheel controls. LFOs are next with the rate and amount controls, while you can also choose to sync the LFOs to the sequencer if you want to.
Envelope section is pretty basic, as we mentioned before. Last set of controls are for the sequencer that acts like a step sequencer in most cases, while it also allows you to record your own step sequences and play them back. Finally, there’s a short keyboard with 25 keys at your disposal.
Arturia MicroBrute is built like a tank. Seriously, this thing has quality written all over it. Every button and knob feels good and doesn’t have any creep or awkward feedback. We like the simplicity of the layout. The keyboard is great, and responds well to all kinds of attacks. It’s sensitive, but not fragile.
If you feel that MiniBrute is too chunky for you, MicroBrute features a very convenient form factor. It’s easy to move around, and is generally lighter than the Mini.
Don’t be fooled by the simple appearance of MicroBrute. This thing packs a heavy punch. The amount things you can do only using the overtone control is impressive.
But when you start playing with the filter section, that’s where things get real. You can go anywhere from a subtle warm tone to a completely devastating overdrive-like sound that can be compared with something you get from a much more expensive analog synths.
The step sequencer is pretty versatile, with up to 8 patterns that you can store and control in all kinds of ways. Once you start combining different sections with the mod matrix, you’ll be able to see just how agile this modular analog synth is.
For this amount of money, Arturia MicroBrute is definitely a steal.
What we like
Where to even start. MicroBrute brings most of the features that made the MiniBrute so popular, only for less money and in a more compact package. Its versatility is impressive, and the amount of things you can do with this synth makes it one of the best buys on the market, period.
It’s the kind of analog synth that allows those who can’t or won’t commit to a full fledged unit, but still want to dip their toes into analog synthesis.
On the other hand, it’s also capable enough to be a valuable tool in any professional’s toolbox. Seriously, the quality you get with MicroBrute is outstanding.
What we don’t like
There’s not much that we can criticize about this synth. It’s not the top of the line unit, but considering its price, it does everything better than expected. That is just about as much as we can ask for.
In all honesty, Arturia MicroBrute is every bit as good as its more popular cousin, the MiniBrute. This versatile little sync just keeps on impressing with its capabilities and overall potential.
We like the fact that it’s reasonably priced, maybe even under priced, so that more enthusiasts have access to this great piece of gear. If you were on the fence about this analog synth, you should definitely go for it.