Well, f*** minimalism, apparently.

We’ve seen monophonic/duophonic synths. We’ve seen new analog keyboards. What we haven’t seen is analog keyboards that seemed to be designed when an inventory of pads and knobs exploded – in your face.

And that’s what the new Arturia MatrixBrute is. It looks like a fake Photoshop mockup you’d see on a forum, perhaps. But it’s real. All real. Close your eyes for a second and let your retinas recover, and let’s sort out what is actually even happening here.

matrixbrute_front

Arturia claims in their press release that the MatrixBrute will be “arguably the most powerful analog synthesizer ever created.” It certainly will win the award for some mosts – most knobs, most buttons (in a giant matrix), most ports. (And it should make Matrixsynth happy. No green, though.)

The specs make some sense.

  • Three “Brute” oscillators (saw, pulse, tri) plus sub-oscillator.
  • Steiner-Parker and ladder filters. (12 dB/24 dB per octave slopes.)
  • Three envelope generators (Arturia says they’re “ultra fast.”)
  • 49 keys, with aftertouch, full-sized.
  • Hinged control panel.
  • And the modulation matrix.

The modulation matrix is where things get a bit … hectic. Arturia says the idea is to give you modular “without the painful patching practice.” Instead, all the routings are accessible by a light-up, touch matrix.

In MOD mode, any of 16 modulation sources can go to any of 18 modulation destinations – no patch cords needed. An E-Ink display shows you what’s going on.

As a sequencer, the same matrix lets you create patterns, with STEP, ACCENT, SLIDE, and MODULATION options – sort of monome/Push/Launchpad-style.

In PRESET mode, the matrix simply lets you hit one of 8×8 presets. (Basically, instead of turning a knob.) Okay, of the three, that’s sort of a waste of that giant set of buttons, but it’s there if you want it.

As for the synth itself, it really is apparently 100% analog signal path, with chorus, delay, and flanger analog effects, all route-able from the matrix.

matrixbrute_back

I/O is… also… a lot:

  • 12 CV inputs and outputs (a lot of them).
  • Audio in (line/instrument levels, for processing or adding an external oscillator)
  • Gate in and out
  • Sync in and out
  • MIDI in, out, and thru
  • USB I/O
  • Pedals: two expression, one sustain
  • Stereo jack outputs

There’s also free editor/librarian software.

matrixbrute

Price: projected at US$1899.

And we don’t know exactly how it sounds, either. (What, you want a synth to make sounds?)

But it’s coming this spring. I’m meeting with Arturia shortly; let us know if you’ve got questions. (Other than the price question.) More:

http://www.arturia.com/products/matrixbrute

  • Karl Sander

    This looks like some vaporware Waldorf dreamed up in the 90s. Incredible.

    I hope they do some cool monome style creative sequencing on that matrix.

  • brianmoore

    What – no vocoder????

    • Spencer

      definitely made me laugh

  • Well son of a bitch! That IS pretty insane 🙂

  • This price point is very attractive.

  • squirrel squirrel squirrel

    Actually cheaper than I expected after seeing the first photos this morning! I take it this is monophonic?

  • DPrty

    Arturia really keeps hitting a sweet spot lately .. deffinately buying the keystep and starting to consider this monster.

  • Geniutsushi

    Peter, can you find out if the sequencer is linked to the patch (so patch 1 of 256 has both a sound and a pattern associated). Also, will the matrix operate as a midi controller – think ‘built in launchpad’?

  • Freeks

    Here is a question: Do they think they can ship even one in working condition?
    Arturia hardware is notoriously bad quality. They just don’t seem to know how to do it.

    This looks great and it also looks like $1900 worth of problems. There is just too many things that can go wrong. After i returned my second physically broken KeyLab 61 to the shop i asked is this common. Shopkeeper: “It’s Arturia. Half of their products get’s returned broken. Want a third one? You might get lucky this time”.

    Good luck for the brave people who will pre-order this! You can then share war stories with Arturia Origin pre-buyers 😀

    • Worked in a music store for years – their hardware is horribly made, always breaks/gets returned, and their customer support is horrendous. This synth might look interesting on paper but there’s just no way it’s not going to be a $1900 door stop.

    • Honestly I thought the same thing, I loved my Minibrute but the wobbliness worried me, I was kinda always waiting for it to break. This in a cheap synth maybe not so much an issue (maybe) but in an instrument at this kind of, albeit estimated, price point that’s not going to be overlooked. The complexity of this thing is very interesting but also rather worrying. I hope to be proven wrong, though.

      • foljs

        “”” I loved my Minibrute but the wobbliness worried me, I was kinda always waiting for it to break.”””

        Sorry, so it was not broken, and it didn’t broke, but you were just worried? How is this relevant of anything regarding Arturia’s build skills?

        • Yes, it was not broken and yes, it didn’t “broke” although it did end up with a very noisy Cutoff pot which was surprising on a reasonably new synth. Yes I was concerned enough about the build quality suggested by those wobbly potentiometers – surface mounted rather than panel mounted – to be concerned about the potential long-term reliability. Surface mount pots will not normally guarantee great long term prospects due to stresses on the solder joints eventually causing connectivity issues. I have not commented on Arturia’s “build skills”, merely on design and construction decisions which I assume were made to build the synth to a very low price point and at that price point I wouldn’t think those decisions are likely to cause many people great concern. On a close to 2k synth though I personally would expect different decisions to have been made, sure it’s still significantly cheaper than a Minimoog Voyager but a high enough price that (IMO) peoples’ expectations will be different than from a $400 synth.

        • super4mod

          Upvote x1000

    • David Chan

      My Keylab 49 is rock solid and has been for over 2 years. So, is my Beatstep. My experience has been great with their hardware.

      • Freeks

        Good luck for you! You are one of the lucky ones. Sure not ALL their HW is faulty, but many are.

        Arturia is Behringer of keyboards™

        • foljs

          “””You are one of the lucky ones. “””

          Or maybe, the others are some of the “unlucky ones”? Ever stopped to think of this? Every production of everything has some issues, from the iPhone to Nexus, and from Korg’s MS20 to Moogs.

          • super4mod

            Exactly my thought. WTF? I also owned about 20 Behringer products and NONE ever had any kind of issue. “Unlucky ones” are always the ones we hear the most.

        • Simon Benefer

          That’s unfair. I have loads of Behringer kit, many over ten years old, and nothing bad to report. I do however have an Arturia minilab and it’s ‘OK’, but the pads are anything from smack it with a hammer to trigger, to sneeze and it double triggers. Like Paul McCartney once sang “there’s good and bad, in everyone”

      • Stereo Reverb

        My beatstep pro is also built like a tank

    • If you watch Sonic State’s video of it at NAMM, you can see it’s in an unfinished state – some things missing, some things they’re still tweaking, which is concerning. I hope they don’t try to push this out the door before it’s ready.

      • super4mod

        Have a look at Tatsuyo’s Volca FM demo. Some things missing, some things they’re still tweaking… Has anybody thought it’s concerning? Not at all. Nobody talks about how great a product is working online. Only people who has issues does.

      • Stereo Reverb

        I agree with super4mod- Teenage Engineering also has their unfinished OP out for display also. Every year is like that as manufactures rush to get a demo of their product out to NAMM, whether it’s finished or not in order to make it into the event.

    • foljs

      “””Arturia hardware is notoriously bad quality. They just don’t seem to know how to do it.”””

      They’ve sold tons of Minubrutes and Microbrutes, and only few people had issues with their uses — which happens with ANY and ALL production runs of anything, there will always be some duds. You can find complains for literally each and every music product out there, even simple to make stuff like guitars.

    • Dopamine Addict

      The MiniBrute feels stout and well made to me. I haven’t had any problems with it.

    • Jacob Hawk

      I see people post about how bad Arturia quality is online, but people I jam with that own Arturia gear have had nothing but praise for them. My brute and my beatstep have always worked flawlessly, and both seem to be built so nicely! Mindless repetition of “bad Arturia quality” is getting almost as old as people complaining about slim keys on Korg gear…

  • Hey! A question: It’s been advertised as mono/duophonic, but has 3 oscillators? Can I play each oscillator separately, i.e. paraphonic, i.e. three tones? Thanks!

    • From the Arturia website ”
      6. Voice Modes:

      Multiple keyboard modes for mono, paraphonic and duo-split modes. Split oscialltors for paraphonic mode or use the duo split mode to play a sequence while playing notes over the top of it. “

  • Will

    Thing is, we kinda do know how it sounds.

  • Robin Parmar

    That touch matrix is an ingenious idea. And the profusion of I/O is great to see. For something that’s supposed to be an all-in-one monster, some other performance features would have been good (touchstrip anyone?). And Arturia seriously need a better visual designer. 🙂

  • Polite Society

    Looks way more impressive in pictures than it does on paper. Shame.

    • Polite Society

      Having said that, I’d love to know more about using the matrix as a sequencer. Is it just 16 steps with the notes assignable by height, or is it 256 steps?

      • Freeks

        It’s 32 steps in two 16 step rows. It only has one row/channel for modulation and that is weird. Even Minilog has four. One row is Slide and one is Accent. I would like to have option to replace those two with either duo phonic control for second osc or with more modulation.

        • Polite Society

          The minilogue sure seems to beat it in pretty much every category. Though it apparently has analog effects? Be interested in hearing how that delay sounds when pushed to extremes. Also of course the crazy amount of CV outs, hoping the matrix grid helps with that, too.

        • Adam Milburn

          64-step in 4 rows of 16 actually.

          https://www.arturia.com/matrixbrute/overview

  • Velocipede

    Went to a panel discussion today at NAMM with the President of Arturia. If I did not misunderstand he pointed out Axel Hartmann who was in the audience as the designer of this synth.

  • spankoyo

    I really hope that the side panels are made out of real wood and not this horrible fake panels like the minibrute SE and some other products they have. (In my opinion) if you don`t use wood don`t do as if you did

    • AdamP

      Maybe it’s a bit sad, but it would actually factor into my decision to buy one if there’s fake wood panels. I guess I want instruments to be inspiring in the both the way they feel and the way they sound.

      • spankoyo

        i once went to a store when the minibrute SE came out cause i liked it a lot when i saw it in pictures. went to buy it. but after i saw it in real life and thought the wood looks weird and realized it`s not wood, i didn`t buy it. so i know what you mean. this in my opinion shows something about the philosophy of someone who builds and sells something like this

      • Stereo Reverb

        You want real wood, you’re going to pay for it with a higher cost. Moog and Dave Smith uses real wood- but their products are MUCH more expensive than a minibrute or other synth. Besides, It’s the knobs and sounds of a synth that inspires me, NOT what kind of wood or plastic or metal a device has. That’s just silly.

  • misksound

    yo dawg, we heard you like monome…

  • Markus Näslund

    “with chorus, delay, and flanger analog effects”

    Is that really true? Would be awesome if it really has BBD based effects of course.

  • Axel Rigaud

    Do we really need such complexity to make music?

    • super4mod

      Not at all. But options are always welcomed.

  • Richard Garside

    well I think this looks brilliant to be honest. The inclusion of a multifunctional matrix based sequencer/ mod system with plenty of filter, lfo, env and effects spells fun to me. No reverb though? Come on. If your going to go through the trouble of making such an insanely complex and powerful instrument u may as well have banged a reverb on it. The one on the matrix 12 vst is awesome.

  • Dopamine Addict

    Peter, did you have a chance to do some critical listening to the unit at NAMM? I’m very interested in how you think it sounds. I have a Minibrute and while its ok, its not in the same league as other modern analog mono synths like the Odyssey, MS20, Minilogue..I’d say even the BassStation II sounds more authentically analog.

  • Danny

    Modulation matrix in the Oberheim Xpander and Matrix 12 was WAY more comprehensive.

  • Jan

    A bit late maybe, but I have a question as well. Does anyone know if the Matrix Brute’s sequencer can do ratchets (like for instance the Moog Sub 37)? Would love to have that available with 1 press of a matrix button.