Arturia’s new Minibrute analog monosynth, from the virtual analog software company, seen here blazing away in the apocalyptic moments just before Hell freezes over.

We’re calling it: on Thursday, January 19, the soft synth age, and synth polyphony, officially came to an end. Also, Arturia, the people who make virtual analog soft synths, are now making analog hardware. And I just saw Roger Linn, and he was sporting a new goatee and had an agonizer in his sash, and he’s working for Akai again but calls them the Terran Empire. So it’s possible something very odd is going on.

Yes, Arturia has a “100% analog,” two oscillator synth with CV, MIDI, and USB, plus an arpeggiator. Price: US$549 / €499, April 2012.

I wanted to bring something special to our coverage, so we’ll see how the Arturia Minibrute compares to the brand new 1981 Moog Rogue.

First, the features from Arturia:

Monophonic synthesizer
100% Analog Audio Signal Path
Steiner-Parker Multimode Filter (LP, BP, HP and Notch)
Voltage Controlled Oscillator with Sub-Osc
Oscillator Mixer (Sub, Sawtooth, Square, Triangle, White Noise, Audio In)
LFO1 with 6 waveforms and bi-polar modulation destinations
LFO2 with 3 vibrato modes
Brute Factor™ delivering saturation and rich harmonics
Ultrasaw generating shimmering sawtooth waveforms
Metalizer bringing extreme triangle harmonics
Two ADSR Envelope Generators
25 note Keyboard with Aftertouch
Rugged Aluminium Enclosure
External Analog Audio Input
External Analog Audio Input
CV In/Out controls: Pitch, Gate, Filter, Amp
MIDI In/Out with 5-Pin DIN connectors
USB MIDI In/Out
1/4” Audio Output and 1/4” Headphone Output
Gate Source Selection: Audio Input, Hold, Keyboard
Arpeggiator:
4 Modes of Arpeggiation
4 Octave Range Control
6 Time Divisions
Swing Control

The Moog Rogue has a similar form factor, and some might argue a cleaner control layout. (It’s certainly simpler and more approachable.) And like the Minibrute, the Rogue is a 2-oscillator analog synth. But there are some significant advantages of the Minibrute over the Rogue.

The Rogue is limited to saw and either rectangle or square waves, and lacks the sub, triangle, and white noise sources. Both the Rogue and Minibrute work with external audio, though.

The filter on the Moog is 24dB/oct lowpass, whereas the Minibrute has a multimode filter; I’m eager to hear that Steiner-Parker filter in action, but the Rogue’s filter works pretty nicely.

Both do CV and gate.

You get 32 keys on the Moog, which I prefer to the 25 on the Arturia, but the Moog keyboard isn’t velocity sensitive. The Arturia keys are, and add channel aftertouch.

And then the Arturia starts piling on the extras: you get an arpeggiator, easy selection of how the gate is routed, some unusual effects that manipulate harmonics on the waveforms, and USB, which I’m told stands for Universal Serial Bus. I’m hoping I can connect that to my TRS-80′s RS-232 port, perhaps via an adapter.

So, there you have it. I need to get some hands on time, but I think I’d probably choose the Arturia Minibrute over the Moog Rogue.

What? You wanted to compare to the new Moog Minitaur, or synths by Dave Smith Instruments?

Well, I don’t know that Sequential Circuits has anything at this show that comp– okay, I’ll stop. And yeah, we’ll do that more serious comparison later, but Arturia, I think you should get compared to eBay offerings, too. Sounds like a challenge.

Since it’s really a single oscillator synth with blendable waveforms, I’d compare it to an SH101.
Updated: Jesse Mejia makes a great argument in comments for why my somewhat glib Rogue comparison is actually reasonably apt here. (And I was really somewhat serious, amidst a pre-coffee ramble.) But among various arguments against the Rogue in favor of Roland’s SH-101, Francis Preve offers this line of thinking: “Since it’s really a single oscillator synth with blendable waveforms, I’d compare it to an SH-101.” Good point.

In all seriousness, a serious comparison of vintage synths to recent monosynths sounds like a great idea.

http://www.arturia.com/evolution/en/products/minibrute/intro.html

Videos

Augh, Arturia, what the heck are you doing in my bedroom? And when did my hair get that curly?

Tour:

Via Synthtopia, here’s Passion Pit with ProAudioStar.com on the new synth.

  • http://xfader.com regend

    WALDORF PULSE 2 – that is all

    • Chris

      How does the Pulse 2 get 8-notes chords from 3 analog oscillators? That's a neat trick

    • http://soundcloud.com/puls-n puls-n

      It´s not clear. I would guess they maybe meant polychain mode with other pulses, like the Pulse 1 had, or…its simply a frequency divider involved, which means…only chord sounds with one filter, one vca.

    • Cody

      It's probably one filter with 1, 4 or 8 oscillators. It says it's 4/8 paraphonic.

  • Warrior Bob

    Two days ago I said "I love my plugins and Microkorg but I really could use a single good analog monosynth. I daresay I want to buy a Dave Smith Mopho, I should probably go try one out at NAMM" and then I saw this come up on a forum yesteray. Now I have to check out two synths. And perhaps others.

    I guess I'm not alone in suddenly wanting to try something analog? Seems like the new toys market is either heading towards analog synth hardware or super-portable iOS-style products. I am intrigued.

    • http://soundcloud.com/puls-n pulsn

      Softsynth market is overflowed.

    • Rude

      Forget about the Mopho. I bought a DS Tetra used for the price of a mopho….and is sick. Really fat analog synth

  • eman

    I don't get it – if this is marketed towards soft-synth users, wouldn't it have made more sense to make a 400$ keyboardless version?

  • minijack

    Looks absolutely brilliant for the price and I agree that the age of soft synths is over. iOS killed the soft synth star. But true analog synths will never die! i do think though, that this is a one oscillator synth – not a 2 oscillator synth like the Rogue, as you stated above? will be interesting to see how the price of the Waldorf Pulse compares…3 osc is sick, but I also do love all the knobs and faders here…

    • peterkirn

      Whoa, you *agree* the age of the soft synth is over? That was a joke.

      Also, you don't have to grow a goatee. ;)

  • Fedor

    Awesome angry sound, just what I need, oh god, I want it badly. April, you wrote? Damn…

  • http://mrbook.org mrbook

    Man, I'm seriously tempted by this one. The price is right, looks better than the minitaur, tons of knobs and a 2 octave keyboard. And I agree, this keyboard will be a game changer, now the big guys like korg, roland and yamaha are going to have to play catch up with this one.
    Peter, while you're at their booth, can you see if:
    - Are the knobs digitally controlling the analog circuits? Or are the potentiometers directly affecting the analog path?
    - Do the knobs transmit MIDI data?
    - Can you turn off velocity sensitivity? Or is there a way to control the velocity on the keyboard?
    - Is there a glide/portamento function?

    • Francois

      The knobs are part of the analog circuit, there is absolutely no digital control here. For the same reason, the knobs & sliders don't transmit MIDI. However, keyboard velocity, aftertouch and the wheels are transmitted in MIDI/USB (to act as a MIDI controller).
      You can turn off velocity (or set its curve) with a settings program running on a computer when the synth is plugged in. Same for aftertouch and other internal features.
      Yes, there is an analog portamento, in the bottom left section.

  • http://www.shaneking.com redgreenblue

    this look very attractive but I'd love for it to have two osc (I needs me some hard sync) and either more keys or no keyboard. But this may be on the shopping list soon. 

    • http://soundcloud.com/puls-n pulsn

      The Superwave/Metalizer as well as the Mixer for the Waveforms is a great substitute for hard sync and gives even more variety due to the Steiner Parker filter.

  • K4d4w3r

    1 OSC with mixer if i get it right, not two… Its better to compare it with SH101, my 2cents… Looks awesome for the price but the sound and buildquality is something to chek out.

  • elk

    quite impressed… they made a lot of things right… no menu diving, aftertouch, cv (however, am I right that you can't modulate for example the cutoff itself but only gate the envelope? correct me if I'm wrong) 
    And I wonder how the build quality is, wouldn't expect too much for a low price

  • Rider

    True analog sound will never die. And that's officially a fact.

  • Jim Aikin

    The age of the softsynth is over? <chuckle chuckle snort> The fact that there's a viable market for analog hardware that didn't exist ten years ago says nothing whatever about the viability of computer-based instruments. I mean, there are still people playing harpsichords, right? And there are still people making new ones, I'm sure.

    I used to own a hefty rack of hardware synths. (None of them analog, to be sure, but still….) I sold them seven years ago, and I'm much happier now, doing everything in the computer. Okay, I do miss the nice cymbal samples on the E-mu Procussion, I'll admit that. I should have kept it.

    Of course, the Procussion was digital. If you gotta have analog, you might want to download u-he Diva. It requires a fast CPU. If educated listeners can tell the difference in double-blind listening tests between Diva and a hardware analog instrument … well, let's have the test and find out, shall we? Or would the mere possibility make analog purists cringe?

  • http://www.anestheticaudio.com Jesse Mejia

    As a Rogue owner I feel the need to chime in here. The comparison is slightly closer than your writeup makes it sound. The Rogue certainly does indeed have a (white-ish) noise source.  - it also has a 3 input mixer (osc1, osc2, noise) – which includes an overdrive section, or "brute factor". Though I should say the overdrive is very subtle. Amusing article Peter!

  • http://www.anestheticaudio.com Jesse Mejia

    One more note – it's worth pointing out that this is a nice public example of a synth diy hero (Yves Usson / Yusynth) getting attention from a commercial company. While we struggle searching a definition of OSHW – there are certainly elements of the Minibrute that at least draw on openly published designs. The Steiner Filter design has long been a diy favorite published here.  And I'm assuming the 'super saw' is actually an implementation of Yves' Saw Animator circuit. 

  • jef

    were you serious about roger working with akai?
    or did the star trek reference mean the whole statement was a joke?

  • DBM

    Ummmm …. Now you know you have to get Roger Linn drunk and spill the beans . Your journalistic oath demands right ?  

  • digid

    Isn't the Dopefer Dark Energy still all over this one?

  • DBM

    @ Digid I would actually have to hand the wand to Arturia on this one feature and sound sculpting wise though it is perhaps less modular ( I would need to look again ) the mixable waveforms , Ultra Saw ,Sub OSC ,and PWM put most of what a 2nd OSC would bring and there for a wider timbre and that's before getting in to more esoteric things like the metalizer + lets not forget the filter overdrive . So all over it … no , however your taste in sound might be more in line with the DE . It's more a weird mix of Euro / Moog and the Brute is more Ms-20 / Polyvolks  

    • digid

      Thanks, DBM – great reply! Guess I will have to check it out, as I still regret selling my MS-20 years and years ago (though the plug-in is still pretty great).

    • http://soundcloud.com/puls-n pulsn

      I noticed that as well. However they did a fucking great job. Looking forward to play with it. The DE btw. has super fast LFO´s, going up to 500Hz. The Minibrute ones are slower 100Hz.

  • http://www.thewhyproject.com The Why Project

    Looks cool. The big question is how fast the envelopes are though.

  • Damon

    wowwy

  • http://soundcloud.com/puls-n pulsn

    Peter, this is only 1 Oscillator plus Sub-Oscillator for the Arturia. Means…no sync sounds, no oscillator FM. But who cares…the rest of it is awesome, especially for this price. Oh btw….come on…a Moog Rogue in comparison? Really? Old vintage stuff from the museum, that goes for 1200 on ERob? I´d compare it with that Mopho…

  • jojojo

    analog sound with usb connection ? best of new and old!

    • Buzzbrain

      WOW! elements of the past and elements of the future

      … Coming together to make something not quite as good as either

  • Jorge

    Even though the Rogue superficially seems like something to compare to the minibrute the Mopho/tetra would really be a better comparison. The keyboard version is $250 more than the minibrute and the desktop version is $100 LESS. (And used Tetras are going for $600 on Fleabay.) This is where the real competition is, I think.

  • peterkirn

    As to some of the comments —

    In the words of Charlie Brown, "don't you know sarcasm when you hear it?"

    CDM is not declaring the end of the soft synth, and Roger Linn is not working for Akai, though I did actually smuggle an agonizer into the trade show floor today and I am pledging loyalty to the Terran Empire.

    I think there are some comparisons to be made to the Rogue, which I worded, uh, hastily before coffee very early this morning. But yes, the SH-101 might make more sense. This was also, however, tongue in cheek. A *real* comparison of those synths is actually a good idea – I'd just spend more time and effort on it to actually do it right! ;)

  • SHIGGA

    tasty

  • Dan Distell

    The Little Phatty Stage II soars over Arturia and Moog's more recent hardware attempts (Although the Rogue is well equipped for the price). The Stage II is simple, elegant and powerful also boasting the same number of filers as the Minibrute,  3 FULL OCTAVES of  Velocity sensitive keys, AND has external control capabilities supporting MIDI, CV/Gate and USB.   Save your dollars for an extra month or two, throw down the  $1,300 or so and in the long run it'll be worth it. Instead of splurging on every new synth that hits the stores or one you THINK is better, with the available Moogerfooger outboard devices, the Phatty Stage II is expansive and an evolving, ultimately costs less money, while maintaining the optimized compatibility and function of using all Moog products. I highly recommend the Moog Little Phatty Stage II most.

    • eXode

      So, you've been working for Moog long? :P

  • http://ideletemyselfbitbyebit.blogspot.com/ ideletemyself

    i always find it hilariously frustrating that MANY people ask for MORE analog gear. Then want said analog gear to be affordable. When a company comes out and seemingly delivers then there's ALWAYS multiple people who deride such an accomplishment or as Mr. Distell did above my comment, claim that one must discard new cheaper options for essentially 'the real deal' … The product isn't even out yet and yet people like him are claiming you should pay twice the price because it'll simply be worth it to do so, then slagging us all assuming we all buy only the newest and biggest fads for the sake of doing so…

    Listen man, some of us out there have VERY slim budgets and simply cannot 'throw down' $1,300+ at one time for anything outside of perhaps a new computer and similarly cannot/don't buy every new synth that hits the stores… Taking into account the Minibrute is in the SUB-$600 range I'm assuming such a product is primarily aimed at folks such as myself who have very little gear due to choice firstly and price/cost secondarily. We'd all love to purchase a luxury/sports car when we go car shopping but many out there have to be realistic and decide to settle on a utilitarian fuel efficient vehicle instead. And really there's nothing WRONG about that. Not every product that comes out needs to be or even should be ultra-boutique and dominant in every way possible to any conceivable competition… You know, the old 'Everything else is piss' statement/argument…

    The more options out there the better in my opinion. What's right for one may not be for another. The more analog options at affordable prices seems like only a good thing to me… I don't even know if the Minibrute will be good or not yet but it does look very interesting and if it delivers like I think it will I know it could very well be MY very 1st analog synth. I'm not saying it absolutely will be that but let's not discard new & interesting options for obviously great Moog products or items from any other company that are basically more than twice the price of the Minibrute, okay? Thanks… lulz…

  • Justin B-H

    Little Phatty Stage II has a *very* limited modulation bus-you can send one source to two destinations (in equal amounts) at most. This one has independent reversible attenuators for LFO mod of filter and osc, plus independent modulation control of the two waveshaping circuits. The Arturia wins here, at less than half the price.

  • Torin

    I think the Minibrute has the potential to be a real winner, and it would actually be a great companion with my 1973 Moog Minimoog!  However if it had a sequencer as useful on stage as the SH-101's it would be stunning!

  • The Dankster

    Just to point out the Moog warrior up there with his little phatty stage II doesn't even know the Rogue is a vintage instrument. By the looks of his comment he is mistaking this with the Minitaur, which would be better with a one knob per function layout than a preset machine like the Phatty series. Little phatty a sports car? yeah a sports car with no brakes or clutch. How about something sweet like a Oberheim son of 4 voice, if you have more money than sense? There are also numerous modular options that would be much better tan Moogerfogers and A P2, but they require more knowledge to acquire, and use, than to be able to run to the GC with a credit card for Uber Fanboy BS. Cheers

    • MEN

      Speaking of Fanboy BS… A sportscar with no brakes or clutch? Ok.

  • Space Captain

    Played with it today at NAMM and was pleasantly surprised. Loads of fun to play with and with a street price of $500 it should do well. Don’t know the filter that well so it was weird when it only seemed to work during the last half turn when dropping the LPF. I was also told by a colleague that the Steiner filter really works better with multiple oscillators but with the audio in you could fix that.
     

  • eXode

    I think the two stars of the show are the Arturia Minibrure and the forthcoming Pulse 2 from Waldorf. Very nice moves by both companies imho. If only Korg could rise to the challenge… ;)

  • Mike B

    One oscillator with all those knobs no patch storage. Hmmm They went after the wrong features.. the minibrute trys to make up for its one osc with all those waveshapers and wave mixers and sub octive. Just add a second osc instead. One osc.. deal breaker. Maybe this would make an OK bass synth. maybe I will save up another $500 and buy the Little Phatty

  • Heba

    One word about Little Phatty: Only LP filter. No help from second oscillator when you nedd HP or BP filter.

    Winner would be synth like Minibrute but with few oscillators and memories, but the price would be few K's.

  • http://facebook.com/atrocityarchives JonCrater

    LOL @ “softsynths are dead” … LOL hard. First of all, iOS synths _are_ softsynths. Secondly, how are virtual instrument plugins “dead”? No offense to Arturia, but as a keyboardist in a live band, I would never waste $600 or even $400 on a monophonic 25-key one-trick pony like this. I mean what do they think this is, 1974? Is there really that much of a market for nostalgia pieces like this? I use the NI Pro-53 every day and I don’t see in what way this sounds better. I’ve tried the Prophet ’08 but if there was a difference, I couldn’t tell. Of course having good D/A is important but who didn’t already know that? I like wearing my Alesis Photon X25 controller, running it over wireless MIDI on batteries. I will never go back to being trapped behind a keyboard stand, sorry guys!

  • thinlazy

    Where is the maxibrute?

  • sdsda

    The moog has 32 keys, not 37.

  • ner

    it only has one osc not two

    • kp

       has one osc and a sub-osc

  • Goober

    Is there any way to save and recall patches?

    • Fidelitarean

      You write them on bits of paper, same as we did in the old days.

    • Epikur3er

      i guess you could also save via saving CC’s in your DAW

    • Peter K.

       You could also take a picture of the panel with your smartphone. 

    • Huskaleil

       it has a small preset bank (empty, you have to create from scratch), i think 4 or 5 slots in addition you have also a usb utiliy to save and manage more presets on your daw.

    • Huskaleil

       I reply to myself ! Preset bank is not present! (I’ve seen this in an oudated interview sorry …) … instead they are putting preset sheets in the box, so you can write down your presets ^^ a saving money feature I presume :)

      The usb utility is still on the road map, but actually it could be different, and will be released after the synth. Hope they don’t change their mind on this… 

  • Jamiewoody777

    this is nice. i love my DSI mofo, but if i had known about this, it is very possible i might have looked for one of these instead! i may be getting one next tax season! lol

  • Tatthehat

    I have a Rogue & was wondering of the minibrute will allow me to use the c/v & gate to control the Moog via midi, or will it be a problem due to the rogue having s/trig input?

  • X-man

    There is no way to save patches an will never be. The reason for this is that all the knobs and sliders are analogue pots, not encoders an there is no CPU or digital control of the parameters of the Minibrute. Because of that, there is no MIDI control of any parameters on the synth and pots an sliders can’t send MIDI CC’s. Also, as far as I can understand it, the internal synth engine does not respond to velocity.
    The keyboard will send polyphonic MIDI notes with velocity values and afterthought but the sound of the synth won’t interpret velocity (it will react to afterthought). 
    The only things that can be sequenced through MIDI are notes, afterthought, pitchbend and modwheel. So for DAW/sequencer based setups DSI Mopho will be probably better choice.

    • Blaxmiff

      Hahahhahaha….afterthought! Aftertouch dude.

  • http://twitter.com/tubes Sean Tubridy

    Why are there swirly grey lines over the comments that I’m trying to read?

  • http://twitter.com/bookofsand Max Clarke

    This. It would be accurate to say that hardware synths are the New (Again) Hotness. But that doesn't make other technology obsolete or bad.

    It's nice to have these new options, but I sort of feel like the main consequence of the hardware trend is that bands increasingly feel obligated to have a modular unit (with visible patchcords, if possible!) onstage with them to show they are hip. Possibly they will even use it to produce a few decorative squiggles of noise now and then. A very few people will actually use the things to their full potential.

    The great thing about electronic music is that there are countless different ways to make it. My preference is to always put the music ahead of the technology, and to go with the setup that works for me. Of course, if you are mainly a gear collector — and I truly mean no disrespect to anyone — by all means, put the technology ahead of the music if that's what floats your boat.

  • Modulus

    I had thought Peter's tongue was planted provocatively in his cheek, with that remark. Per'aps I was wrong?

  • http://twitter.com/bookofsand Max Clarke

    You mean he didn't really encounter Mirror Universe Roger Linn? :)

  • peterkirn

    Jesse, you nailed it, all around. ;)  

    And I think OSHW advocates build on an expectation among engineers that a certain amount of copying is natural and healthy. Anyway, it's part of how I've convinced people of the merits who aren't otherwise major open source advocates.

    I think there's a good comparison to be made to both the SH-101 and the Rogue. It's an awesome design – and it is amusing, and awesome, that we're partying like it's 1979.

    Anyway, more follow-up shortly now that I talked to these guys…

  • renderful

    This is directly in line with OTO Biscuit's synth firmware which was designed by the creator of the Shruti-1 and Shruthi-1 OSHW synths.

  • eXode

    That and the fact that Arturia does some neat things that Moog doesn't do.

    The ultrasaw is obviously an saw animator and the metalizer is obviously a wavefolder. Just those two features are very nice on their own and then the choice to go with a Steiner-Parker filter is applaudable. There are a lot of us that are well tired of different renditions of the ladder filter so this is definitely a nice move by Arturia.

    Not to mention the appeal to modular heads. A small affordable synth that happens to have CV/GATE connectivity and a small 25 key keyboard AND one knob/slider per function. Brilliant!