New synths from Arturia and Waldorf, plus some big releases away from NAMM. We take a look at the synths and drum machines to expect this month.
Arturia MiniBrute 2… and more
After eight years on the market, Arturia have upgraded their popular MiniBrute analogue synth. The French company have transitioned heavily into hardware over the last few years, having previously been best known for their software synths. With the MicroBrute, MiniBrute, DrumBrute and MatrixBrute, the line-up is already impressive, but the new MiniBrute looks like a big step up from the original, with a wealth of semi-modular patching options, Keystep-inspired sequencer, new keyboard with aftertouch and a mysterious Arturia Link feature. You can see it in action above.
Update: Arturia have also announced the MiniBrute 2S, shown in the video below. This loses the keyboard altogether in favour of a much more comprehensive sequencer. As we said in our long-term DrumBrute review, we were hoping for a second drum machine from Arturia, but the 2S is also quite an interesting proposition. It’s priced the same as the regular MiniBrute 2, at £599.
Other trends: more analogue polysynths, more modular
Speaking of which, we won’t be at all surprised if this year sees the announcement of more analogue polysynths of all shapes, sizes and price points. There’s been speculation for years that Arturia could create a polyphonic addition to the Brute line-up, but there are various other brands who could potentially bring something to the table here. Korg struck an early blow with the affordable and excellent Minilogue last year, but there’s certainly room in the market for more budget options and it’s always interesting to see the high-end options boutique brands like Modal Electronics offer.
we won't be at all surprised if this year sees the announcement of more analogue polysynths of all shapes, sizes and price points.
It probably goes without saying that Eurorack modular will continue to expand at an alarming rate. If anything, the pace of the entire sector still seems to be rising at an exponential rate, with more new brands arriving and existing players adding to their ranges. We’ll bring you the highlights from the show when we see them.
New Waldorf string synth
Details of a new Waldorf synth have emerged via a good old-fashioned leak by an American retailer. The STVC is a string synthesiser and vocoder based on the company’s underrated Streichfett string synth, grafted into a 49-key keyboard with built-in gooseneck microphone. It offers 16-voice polyphony with velocity and aftertouch, plus loads of effects. If the Streichfett is anything to go by, it should be a load of retro fun. The unit will be priced at $899.99.
Surprisingly, some of the most eagerly anticipated new product releases this month won’t actually be at NAMM. Behringer alone have teased and leaked more products over the last few weeks than most of their rivals put together, with their Minimoog Model D clone finally hitting retailers, the ‘accidental’ leak of various synth clones in development and now the announcement of an Oberheim OB-Xa clone and official confirmation of the Roland VP-330 clone the company has been teasing for months. However, company founder Uli Behringer announced after last year’s NAMM that the brand would no longer be exhibiting at trade shows.
Likewise, Moog’s stand at last year’s show was unusually sparse, shifting the focus from instruments onto some of the pioneering artists we’ve lost in recent years, but the company have gone a step further this year, deciding not to exhibit at the show despite the release of their new DFAM drum machine.