The Microbrute is, technically, the little brother of the Minibrute. But it is capable of some big sounds and is different enough from the Minibrute that it is not a bad idea to own both of them. And since they can be had these days for around $200 new, it’s almost a no brainer to pick one up.
Probably the first thing you’ll notice is that the build quality is fairly solid. There is more plastic than on the Minibrute but it still feels like it will stand the test of time. It has mini keys, which some people will hate, but I never found them to be an issue. And since it has a midi input, you can always play it from a larger keyboard if you need to.
Inherited from its big brother is the extremely flexible single oscillator, although with a few changes. Gone is the noise source and the level sliders have been replaced by knobs. There is also only one waveshaper for each wave instead of two but now each one of them can be patched to the LFO or envelope, which is very cool. But one of my favorite changes is the with the sub-oscillator. The new “Sub Fifth” parameter allows you to tune the sub osc to get some great PWM-type sounds when you patch it to the LFO. It’s this feature, to me, that justifies owning both of the Brutes. There are some great timbres to be had from mixing and matching the other waves with the sub osc, ones that you just can’t get from the Mini.
But the biggest differences between the Micro and Mini are the patchbay and the fact that the arpeggiator has been replaced by a step sequencer that can store up to 8 patterns. I’ve sold my Microbrute for now (not because I wanted to) but I definitely plan on buying one again in the near future when I take the plunge into the world of modular. This will make the perfect controller for a modular system because of its CV/gate capability and patchable LFO and envelope. And while I did have it, I would often use it to control a Monotribe that was set up as a second oscillator. Lots of fun to be had there and a lot easier than modding the Monotribe with midi.
All in all, I would have to say that this is one of the best deals in the world of synths. If nothing else, having a midi-CV convertor is almost worth it alone. If you look at, say, the Volcas, the Microbrute is only about $50 more if you are diligent about finding the best deal. And just look at how much you can do with it! The only thing missing is midi out capability BUT there is a fairly easy DIY mod to add it. If you were to do that, this would be the perfect addition to a compact live setup. So yeah, if I sound like a bit of a fanboy, I guess maybe I am. I can’t really think of any big negatives for the Microbrute.