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edited almost 4 years ago
A bit of an analogue monsoter
While build quality can sometimes be hit and miss, my early issue MiniBrute has been going on strong and is great for complex basslines and leads. Occassionally I think about selling it, but after playing with the aftertouch, the enhanced ultrasaw and additional noise generator, I am reminded why I kept it. Only downside is the size - it's a bit large!
What a nice synthesizer!
The owner of the Arturia Mini Brute is one of my bandmembers, but from time to time I'm allowed to use it in my set-up. I sai "allowed" on purpose, because we both enjoy it soo much to play with the Minibrute. In very short time you have created a very specific sound and you don't need to know much about oscillators and synthesizers in order to do so. Very great instrument!
This is one of the "affordable two-octave analog monosynths" that have been having a renaissance over the past seven or eight years. It was among the first of that crop, and while it has some interesting features like the ability to combine all waveshapes using just the one oscillator; and the option to modulate every shape with the LFO, I find there to be an inherent metallic nature to the sound of this machine which is inescapable. Even a warm PWM bass sound has a sort of nasal bite to it that I find extremely off-putting. I can't fall in love with it because of that.
The new SH-101
It is a monosynth, which has built-in tricks to make it sound like a fat multi-oscillator modular. The name "brute" comes from an option which returns the audio signal back to the synth, making it sound very rough and metallic, however if you do not set the waveforms higher than 50%, it can sound soft and beautiful. The variety of sounds is great. Minibrute is affordable yet not easy to use after all. It is very understimated, because many artists do not really understand the mechanics and push the knobs and sliders to the max most of the time. Moreover it can be officialy "hacked" and with one short line of hex you can switch from arpeggiator to sequencer, making the Minibrute a very powerfull tool.
edited almost 3 years ago
Pretty gnarly at its price point
Analog for the masses? For a miserly sum, this bad boy offers users a hands-on approach to analog synthesis. There's a throwback factor in the fact that there are no presets. Forget about hidden menus and little screens. What you see on is what you get, functionally speaking.
Tonally, this synth definitely feels analog. It also feels like its got a unique voice all its own. It's not a Moog, it's not an old Korg, and its not some Oberheim. It is its own thing. Luckily, within the scope of its parameters, you've got enough leeway to craft lots of different sounds. At any point you can bring up a sub, a square wave, a saw, a triangle, white noise, and an external input. No sine wave, but you can get one by being subtle with the sub. Moreover, each one of those parameters can be mixed in with a dedicated fader and most can be tweaked with individual knobs. Some provide cool phaser and chorus effects as you play with the rates. Again, tactile faders also come into play when sculpting the envelope of your wave. I prefer immediate attack, mid level decay and sustain, a just a tiny bit of release. Your ideal sound may vary, and thankfully you've got the possibility of also crafting lengthy pads or tiny bleeping bursts of color.
Personally, most of my tweaking happens on the filter banks. This beastie is a monster when it comes to doing frequency sweeps. At times you can enter the realm of unusable high pitched squeals if you overdo it on the resonance, but generally the filters are all good fun. You can also go wild with the much-vaunted Brute Factor knob. That one can introduce a degree of distortion that can really give the sound an extra boost.
There's way more, too. You can shape each wave with a subset of faders, and you can play with a whole mess of LFO parameters (all of which can be blended in via a dedicated wheel). Also, you can arpeggiate at your heart's delight. There are enough variations on board to keep it interesting. In addition, you can simply use it as a MIDI controller thanks to its very sensitive keys. Finally, since it has Audio In, you could potentially just use this thing as a wacky effects unit. It's done pretty interesting tremolo and sweep filtering to my guitar, and I bet it could do far more if you do real time knob twisting as you insert prerecorded music.
So far there's been praise, but what about the cons? Well, the keyboard is a bit annoying. The keys are the right size, but its only about two octaves. If you want to shift, you'll have to press buttons for that. Moreover, when I got mine, one key was already finicky and it only works if I press at the center rather than the edge. Also, many of the LFOs aren't that useful, so that's a drag. I also dislike how the arpeggio doesn't respond to the order you play the keys that constitute a chord. Want to use it as a sequencer? You'll have to do some hacking. Lastly, there will be a steep learning curve at first; expect to end up getting very useless sounds very quickly. It will take a while to truly grasp what each knob does. Since you can't save any presets, you'll eventually have to intuitively grasp what works best for your sound design.
Regardless of these gripes, I'm pleased with this monophonic synth. I've used it for pads, leads, and bass lines. It's got character by itself, and it has interacted very well with my effects units. It has also been study enough to survive international travel intact. It's not grossly oversized, after all. Any fledgling synthesist ought to consider starting off with this unit. It might not be a Minimoog, but it's still a powerful device that can inspire with its simple old school approach.