Arturia MicroBrute : Designing Patches
The Arturia MicroBrute is a compact and powerful version of the legendary MiniBrute synthesizer from Arturia. Known for that immensely powerful oscillator, steiner parker filter and powerful modulation with a clear ‘knob per function’ layout. This post is about showing you how to go about programming this little beast to get you started on getting the most out of it and in the process of making patches, teach you a little bit about the general signal flow of the synthesizer.
The standard components of a subtractive synthesizer like the MicroBrute are the oscillators (VCO), filters(VCF),envelopes(VCA) and LFO’s.
The oscillators are the section of the synthesizer which produces the basic waveforms for sound creation. All analog synthesizers provide the basic waveforms like sine,triangular, sawtooth, square and pulse. Each waveform provides different timbres. From the simple sine waveform which is a pure tone with only the fundamental frequency to the sawtooth which is bright and contains harmonics above the fundamental frequency.
The rate at which the oscillator oscillate’s these waveforms defines the pitch. An analog music synth allows you to change the pitch of the oscillator using a voltage. The voltages are delivered by the keyboard, LFO, or Envelope which modify the pitch produced by the oscillators.
Along with the oscillators that provide different waveforms to choose from the MicroBrute has a Line input which allows us to feed any signal into the signal path following the oscillators. The MicroBrute allows us to have a combinations of these simple waveforms along with the option to input any other signal allowing us to create more complex unpredictable timbres which is the cornerstone of sound design.
The oscillators are then sending the tone into the filter section on the synth.
After the oscillator section the signal gets fed into the filter section. The filter section is where the sound starts taking shape and can be quite a powerful tool. The three kinds of filter types on the MicroBrute are the LP (Low pass) , HP(High Pass), BP (Band Pass). As the names suggests, they work differently on the incoming signal. In the LP mode the filter cuts frequencies above the cutoff point, in the HP mode the filter cuts signal falling below the cutoff point, and the BP mode allows a narrow band of frequencies at the cutoff point to pass through. Combined with the resonance , which emphasises the cutoff point , sounds can get from clean to nasty. The MicroBrute also has a Brute Factor which drives the analog steiner-parker filter circuit and can give rise to some interesting harmonics and beef up the sound. Experimentation at different values is key here.
The mod envelope and the LFO are tools which can be chained to parameters of the Osc section and the filter section. The MicroBrute has one envelope and one LFO. Both can be mapped either to the Oscillator section (Pitch, Waveform ,Metalizer effect, PWM etc) or the Filter section (Envelope amount, Cutoff etc) these combined with the patch bay offered on the MicroBrute expand the sound shaping possibilities on the synth. The LFO is an oscillator which oscillates below the human threshold of hearing and hence can be used to modulate parameters at a rate over time. The LFO on the MicroBrute has square ,triangle and saw wave to choose from. The Envelope section has a standard Attack, Decay , Sustain, Release (ADSR) section which control both the main AMP envelope and the Filter Envelope.
The Mod Matrix allows you to break free from the default internal mod routings and allows you to assign the two mod sources (LFO & Envelope) to control the Metalizer, PWM , Sub level, Saw Level , Pitch, & Filter.
Some examples below will give you an idea how to implement these section while designing sounds.
The arp sequencer on the MicroBrute is a handy tool to have to get patterns and progressions down which playing. The tempo can be synced to external gear or it can run by itself. Patterns can be recorded and stored on the instrument and is quite easy to switch between them in sync. Its ability to add rests to sequences help in the creation of some groovy patterns.
Here are some basic patches with the settings to give you an idea of what this little monster is capable of.
Kick Drum Patch
Here creating a kick drum patch we use just the filter in LP mode and the resonance cranked up all the way. To the filter we add the envelope generator and bring the cutoff low and push the envelope amount on the filter about 90%. We set the envelope amount on the filter to make the cutoff react. Since the resonance is cranked all the way up, it starts to self oscillate and produces a sine wave which is pitched by the cutoff value.
Using the step sequencer on the MicroBrute , different keys can be assigned to different steps and interesting rhythms and tones can be achieved. here is a small example of such a setting.
Since there isnt a noise oscillator on the MicroBrute this is a tricky one. Using the metalizer on the triangle wave oscillator coupled along with the distortion characteristics o the brute factor it was possible to get something that resembled a hi hat. the envelopes are shaped to match the sounds ADSR.
This is a soft lead with a little vibrato to give it some movement. the LFO is affecting a pitch of the oscillator very minutely to achieve this effect.
Sequenced Bass Patch
A bass patch created using a blend of the waveforms on the oscillator section and the sub oscillator chosen and turned all the way up! a little brute factor is added to give it more character.
Those were just scratching the surface of the sonic possibilities of this Analog Synth.
Heres are a couple of videos that we made showing how to design Bass and Lead sounds using the MicroBrute:
These patches were just a basic insight into the kind of sounds the MicroBrute synth can create and hope it inspires you to start designing some of your own sounds. The synth comes to life when its played and tweaked and the MicroBrute has enough controls to bring patches to life!
NOTE: All sounds you hear in this video are unprocessed, so you can hear the raw sound coming from this synthesiser.
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