The Minibrute was my first foray into this modern golden age of analog monosynths and, I have to say, I am blown away by the strange, abrasive sounds that flow effortlessly from this machine. It can do more than that (experiment with wave levels and the “Long” envelope setting), but its range veers off into places that I, personally, haven’t been able to get to with my other gear.
The interface is truly knob per function and it just begs you to jump in and start tweaking away. It’s a one oscillator synth but it has to be the most flexible oscillator ever. You can mix in all of the basic waves at once and there are also two waveshapers for each of them, plus a sub-oscillator. I don’t really know what else to say about it; you really have to play one to truly appreciate it for what it is. There are so many parameters to tweak and minor adjustments can have a huge effect on the sound. It isn’t one of those synths where you run out of room to roam. The unique filter and even the “Brute Factor” push this beast even further away from normal.
Now, some people have complained because there are no presets. But really, if you’re after presets, you simply don’t buy a Minibrute. That’s just not what this synth is about or was ever about. Worst case scenario, you take a quick picture of the settings for a patch that you really like. What is more important about the no-presets angle is that it can change your whole workflow and even your general outlook on how you interact with your gear. It did for me, anyway. I find that I am much more in-the-moment now. If I make something I like, I capture it and move on. The opposite of this, for me, would be my JP-8000. It is insanely tweakable and hands on. But for some reason, I get on it and I find myself covering a lot of the same ground over and over. Don’t get me wrong, I love my JP for a lot of other reasons, but the Minibrute is more inspiring to me.
The build is very solid and it has some weight, unlike a lot of synths in this price range. I’ve read a whole lot of negative feedback online about it but my experience with it has been great, overall. There is one glitch that used to happen on occasion when I would turn it on: The envelope lights would stay lit and it wouldn’t make a sound. All I had to do was turn it off and then on again. It really didn’t bother me. Instead of flipping the power switch once, I flipped it twice. And now, since I updated to the most recent firmware, it hasn’t even happened anymore.
In my opinion, the Minibrute is really a must have for any synth enthusiast. No matter what else you have, I am confident in stating that none of it covers the same ground as the Minibrute. Bang for the buck, in spades.