MicroFreak – Arturia’s hybrid beast

While everybody was focusing on releasing new digital synths or analog synths, Arturia went another totally different direction by combining both to get the best out of those 2 worlds. The same theory was implemented when people started to build hybrid cars. Instead of focusing on digital versus analog and listing of advantages and

#disadvantages, you have rather a strange symbiosis that can stand as its own. It’s for us to decide if we like to see this sum as a rather useful addition to our collection or if we see it as another trashy piece of gear that gets on top of the pile of already older hybrid models that everybody disliked.

Here you have the original page.

What we have and what we don’t have:

The MicroFreak comes with a wavetable function and summable oscillators and analog filters, poly-aftertouch and a flat keyboard. Sadly it lacks a pressurable keyboard. I suppose they followed the hype of the TSNM. In one of the videos from the official Arturia page they mention that they built the keys that way to make it affordable for a fair price of 299,99,-$ USD.

Otherwise it would’ve been probably one hundred bucks more. You can fix that either by plugging in another MIDI keyboard which you have to purchase or already have. Sadly you have no “audio in”, which bears a big minus if you want to build an audiochain with various guitars or synths, microphones and effect pedals.

Optically the strange drawing right above the keypad looks rather strange and I think it’s not to necessary. Like some psychedelic childrens-cartoon in minimalstic thick lines drawn and all that. Rather good for you, if you buy or download synthesizers because you’re interested in their functions. I think there is only a small percentage of people out there who buy synthesizers only for their optical appearances.

These might be the same guys that buy albums, vinyls, Blu-Rays and books, just to look cool while they’ve never consumed any of the media they have in their shelves. As a reader of mine though, I suppose you’re rather more interested into building soundscapes that fit into your daily use. On Thomann you can hear beautiful examples of what this little demigod can do.

 

Consider that I am a beginner and you are too:

While I write and you read and we both might know one or two things about synthesizers…

We both know a thing or two about synthesis of sound. Emulating real instruments or creating

rather new ones, but there is always a big learning curve with every instrument that you can get your hands on.

Even basic household instruments could end up for a recording session of yours, to build the next breakbeat of your newest song. Therefore we have everevolving companies that sell us cheaper and cheaper synths by the day. Be it hardware or software. I already saw some firmware updates

and a heavy POSITIVE backlash of responses regarding the newest addition of the Arturia trademark. I might even fear to say that this synth will push me into a vulnerable state where I might think almost every newer synth is a positive addition to your old setup.

In comparison with 2 other “hyped” synths at the moment:

The Korg Minilogue or the Korg Monotribe for example. Both were head-players for a short amount of time.

While the Minilogue got famous by people like Aphex Twin or fans of Stranger Things and the intro of the series.

The Korg Monotribe earned it’s status as an affordable and cheap synth, which is highly regarded in the modder

community. Sadly they stopped producing the series after version 2. So these things are “the 303” of our generation

as one user describes it in a music equipment forum. If I have learned anything about hardware, then it is that you are  on some level forced to try out every piece of hardware and software that is on the market as fast as you can get it.

While the MicroFreak persuades with digital oscillators and an analog filter, the other 2 convince by beeing 100% analog from oscillator to filter. So you get a unique combination of analog and digital that you won’t find in any other synth in this world. Except you would try to hack and rebuild the system to acquire more knowledge. 

 

Consider also the usual suspects:

Like the lack of space for yet… another piece of gear, except when you sold old hardware to purchase new hardware that fits the same size. Then there is the thing with the workflow. I somehow got raised as a VST child, so for me it only feels natural to open up my DAW and load up any plug-in that I desire in seconds. With hardware you are limited to either wait until the analog gear is warmed up, or for digital gear to connect it properly. Either you have enough input slots to plug in all your 10

synthesizers (I am just exaggerating to underline the main disadvantages here) or your a poor guy like me who has to move around his keyboard, like me, everytime he wants to play and you have to re-assign to certain working space everytime. When I come home from work, I always have this down-phase, where I am unable to do any hard chores. I just want to eat something, watch an episode of a series or the next segment of a movie. After some time, I get a feeling for when I am ready for my personal work.

There are days where I totally want to ignore the training aspect and only produce music, then there is this time where I feel sorry for myself, for acting so stupid, so I learn until I am too confused to learn anything new. I go to bed angry and I am sad that I didn’t make a nice balanced split of learning, measuring physical room properties and producing. If possible I do this in a 1 to 3 ratio and if even better, I don’t have to do any anoying chores and paperwork that distract me unnecessarily from doing what I like:

Music. Sadly we know that this is merely impossible to manage. So I say focus on your hardware / software. Get to learn every little bit of it. Decided wether it is time to change and sell it and buy new stuff or wether you need to acquire more “free time” to work with the device that you got at the moment. Sadly I am easily convinced and I only

find hardware bad that doesn’t work, but don’t you follow my advice. If you have a very sharp and exact idea of the stuff you want to do, don’t fear and fret to force you and your surroundings to that decising. You only live once, so you should focus on stuff that matters to you. If you have read this far than I suppose we both share the same

interest. Therefore I hope you purchase the hardware OR you don’t purchase it. Either way. Please contact me in any way. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Bandcamp, E-Mail, the comments on here or privately on WordPress. Let me know if I got anything wrong and what I could improve or if you even agree a littel bit with me here and there.

Conclusion

If I ever have the chance to get a factory hall all for myself this synth will definitly be added. As for now I am on a budget and even though it convinces with some nice features like certain speech synthesis

immigrations or 12 oscillators, it is yet another mono synth, but POLYPHONIC playable  with aftertouch, but a cheap-ish keys layout because of its lower prize range.

As always: If you guys want to share your thoughts and feelings with me on this one, please let me know in the comments or via e-mail. Maybe you have some suggestions on points that I got wrong and stuff that NEEDS to be mentioned.