20 thoughts on “Jean-Benoît Dunckel (AIR) Meets The Arturia MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer

    1. I love the completely visible interface. I love the no presets. I love almost everything about this thing.

      But it’s monophonic, right? I mean, now and then I hit the mono button on my keyboard to get the special articulations for one or another special part. But I love chords. I love even the stretching my fingers to make different chords, and the little different effects you get from making different voicings of the same chord. It’s 2012–can a musicians really use a machine that can’t play chords?

        1. That makes sense, but I’m thinking about the simple frustration issue.

          The keyboard has all those individual keys which are complete notes in and of themselves, not like the mechanisms of a flute or trumpet where combinations of fingers make up individual notes.

          Approaching a keyboard and saying you can only press one key at a time is like making love to a woman and being told, okay, you can kiss, but not touch; or you can touch with the left hand but the right; or you can– Well, my point is just about frustration. Keyboards, especially synths, are modern devices that people are used to playing polyphonically. I’m wondering if a musician who isn’t used to a completely mono synth could get used to it.

            1. If your frustration is that you’ve got both hands and don’t know what to do with them…well, with a monosynth, you’re supposed to be using the other hand to manipulate the controls in real time. The point is to be constantly modulating the sound. That’s my monosynths are compelling. In fact, when I play my poly synth, I sometimes feel constrained in how my hands are so busy playing the keys, that I can’t adjust the sounds in real-time anymore. I’m like “man, that sound is too static and stationary. Blah. I wish I could twist that knob while I’m here sustaining this chord”. Food for thought.

          1. I guess that most synth parts are monophonic (or rather homophonic) by nature. Polyphony is actually about playing different voices (yes, single notes) and not about playing chords if you look at the issue from a musical standpoint. Being able to play a lead line and a bass line at the same time is nice but you’d probably want two different sounds for that anyway so you’d need your keyboard to be multitimbral in addition to being polyphonic.

      1. It’s amazing how many traditionally piano players don’t know how to approach a synthesizer. They use the same double-fisted playing style, reducing interesting sounds to something that sounds like a harpsichord or muddy string synth.

        As for why the Minibrute is monophonic – the signal path is analog. There’s no digital chip between the switches and knobs and the sound generating circuitry. It’s impossible to create a polyphonic synth that operates in the same manner. All of the classic “analog” poly synths are in fact digital/analog hybrids that digitize the control values and use multiple channels of control voltage internally.

        1. >t’s amazing how many traditionally piano players don’t know how to approach a synthesizer. They use the same double-fisted playing style, reducing interesting sounds to …

          “double-fisted”? Isn’t that a strange way to be offensive? I mean, the people you call “traditional piano players” are NOT playing with their fists at all, but with lots of different hand-forms that create a chord context. And if you talk about people like Bill Evans (just for instance) you’re talking about people who have an intricate interplay between their hands that makes music magic, real magic.

          You use the phrase “double-fisted” but in fact YOU are advocating an approach that is built on ONE FINGER playing. Please, if you want to be offensive, at least consider your words.

          And, fwiw, I don’t really regard mono as a deal breaker. I mean, lots of finger-picking guitar styles create a chordal context by playing arpeggios and/or scale/mode patterns as single-note runs. I was just pointing out that although historically some synths for tech reasons (as everyone knows) have been mono, I suspect that’s a thing of the past and building mono synths today is just a way of exploiting a demographic of would-be hipsters who think “analog” is a kind of totem that gives rise to sounds digital can’t equal.

          So I’m sorry my one little trivial comment made people freak out. (Assuming this outrage comes from real people and not miniBrute sales reps.) If people want to play mono, I didn’t mean to pass judgement, just to observe that I bet a lot of young people accustomed to poly keyboards will be frustrated. And I still think that’s true. (But, for people comfortable with a lot of musical styles, playing mono doesn’t in any way stop them from making beautiful music.)

        1. I love the wonderful interface to this, and the simplicity–the lack of presets and the low price. But I am not on the lookout for an “analog” anything. I think that’s just marketing hype. If you look at something digital like the M-Audio Venom it’s hard to imagine any “analog” sound that the complex digital structure of the Venom (which includes things like oscillator drift and such) couldn’t duplicate. However, the Venom is more complex, and requires a computer to really get into the editing of the sounds.

          So I feel that “marketing types” are making life hard for musicians these days, by deciding that some feature sets go together and putting together products based on feature sets and what looks sharp to an advertising guy rather than on some creative approach to technology and music. And promoting the endless analog versus digital squabbling because then they can market to both squabbling factions.

          I’ll stick with digital, because I’ve grown accustomed to having a keyboard that is all things: polyphonic and can be split and layered (“multi-timbral” as RC pointed out). But I’d like, too, a simpler interface to everything, without having to go down into menu layers and menu tabs.

          Anyway, I love a lot of the elements of the miniBrute, and I hope SOME of the simplicity and design elements work their way over into, say, a future generation of the Venom.

          1. I’ll stick with my analoge has-beens and mechanical pianos that don’t split or layer. For some reason they tend to already work like an instrument that isn’t a polysynth.

            Forgive me if I’m a hipster for having played a specific instrument before it was cool, but that’s not the reason I have not then one monosynth. I also don’t play the keys one at a time, portamento provides some cool ideas when you switch it up.

            Have you ever tried a Hammond organ? It can play more notes at a time then most polysynths, but it’s still a whole different instrument. And quite frankly, I’ve never been impressed by polysynths, but I don’t gripe of their existence. They are a different instrument.

            When people ask me which is my best instrument, I usually tell them none are, because each one does something different that makes it unique. We live in a time where we have so many different instruments that do an amazing number of things, at incredibly affordable prices. The best we can do is embrace this.

            1. I think you mis-read my comment. Have you read this thread, do you know what we’re talking about? This issue isn’t acoustic instruments versus electric, not “analog” in the mechanical sense. This thread is about two different approaches to synths, analog versus digital, continuous circuits driven by voltage differences compared to digital “approximations”/simulations of continuous circuits. (Geez, look at all the things musicians can argue about these days: acoustic versus electric; analog versus digital; samples versus waveforms; soft synths versus boards; iPads versus everything; the good old days versus the internet; [about the only thing I HAVEN’T heard people argue about is whether groupies are sexier now than they were in the 60s…])

              1. Well I know you misread mine, because the issue I was addressing was that they are different instruments. There’s no way we can really create one super fantastic do it all instrument, and those that try are still limited to the digital domain. What I’m trying to say is both can exist, we can use a digital polysynth /with/ an analog monosynth. But whatever, you can give me another thumbs down and try to convince me I only need one keyboard ever again. I have plenty of reasons to say otherwise

  1. pre-ordered mine around Christmas time after the first demo video and finding out the price, unfortunately still waiting for the actual synth to arrive but it’s fun watching all these other people playing with it, thanks Arturia 🙂

  2. I’m basically a piano-minded player, so I prefer polyphony too, but I must easily have 200 sounds that do NOT work unless played monophonically. If you play and program long enough, you begin to have a feel for it. Besides, I have the option of numerous modes of all kinds. There’s no issue except choosing and shaping the right sound for the purpose at hand. The MiniBrute isn’t lacking, its FOCUSED. It’d sound like mud if it did chords, but stacked just above someone’s workstation or as the centerpiece for some crazed DJ using Traktor and an SEM, it’ll sit up and bark.

  3. I’m cool with the monos….and very interested in the Mini-Brute…I’m very hands on…and I like analog. With the right timing of delay and the arpeggiator….you suddenly have a poly….a good monosynth is the head of a chain of sound effectors in my book….with that setup you don’t need a glob of voices and bells and whistles cluttering up everything…

  4. the human voice is monophonic, right? Just as musically useful as it’s ever been. If you want chords, a choir would be the order or the day. One is a component part of the other, and both can exist quite harmoniously without the need to relegate either to the scrap heap.
    How people seem to still be at a loss when the sounds and instruments available to us today are both more wide ranging and affordable than ever before is a mystery to me.
    I understand the want to have synthesis propel itself into the future, and the next big thing hit, and be a revelation, ( of course, commentary of all opinions is a part of that) but surely there can be a place for everything in a world where at some point all of the World’s information, every blueprint , every track, every photograph, perhaps even the contents of every individual’s mind and memory could be stored on a microchip the size of a pea? (probably a LOT smaller)
    Now I know you can’t fit a hardware synth in a space that small but there are a lot more useless things taking up a lot more space in the world than analog monosynths..
    Oh yeah, and that new Arturia synthysizer sounds good don’t it?

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