Tutorial: Using the Arturia MiniBrute 2S as a Monstrous Techno Drum Machine

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While we’re self-imposed Coronavirus lockdown, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to really get to know some of my gear better, starting with the Arturia MiniBrute 2S. Already a fantastic analogue synthesiser and sequencer (see my review here), I had a suspicion that the patch bay, Brute Factor distortion and bonus features of the sequencer would actually make it a very capable drum synthesiser and sequencer.  I can honestly say I wasn’t prepared for the incredible results — this synth can really wail on drum work!  I got some of the beefiest and downright nastiest sounding kicks and rhythms I’ve ever heard from a machine like this, making it absolutely ideal for some heaving Berghain-ready techno rhythms.

Check out my video deep dive below, with some further details and a patch-bay photo at the bottom of the page. This video focuses on how we can creatively utilize the extensive onboard patch bay and the bonus features of the sequencer to make an absolutely monstrous sounding techno drum machine.

Here’s a list of everything I tackle in the video, and if there’s any further questions, feel free to leave a comment below or at the YouTube link.

  • Using the analogue resonant low-pass filter to create a kick-drum
  • Re-purposing the AD envelope (attack/decay) to modulate the filter cut off (which has become the kick drum tuning)
  • Using a sync’d sawtooth LFO to create rhythmic variation by modulation the filter resonance
  • Setting the Velo/Mod 1 sequencer track to 1 volt, and using it to modulate the Decay time on the AD envelope, making it a powerful accent sequencer track and demonstrating how to make a longer more complex sequence with an odd-numbered sequencer step count (AKA poly-rhythms or polymetric rhythms).
  • Utilizing the Press./Mod 2 sequencer track on Envelope mode, and the extra VCA (voltage controlled amplifier) in the patch bay to create a second drum voice. This involves patching the white noise output into the VCA, patching the sequencer track’s output to the VCA’s CV input, then patching the VCA output to the Attenuator 1 input, which is hard-wired to modulate the filter, while also taking the attenuator’s output to the Master External Input.
  •  Exploring using the oscillators rather than the white noise as a sound source for our second track. Because the oscillator output is patched out from the patch bay to the VCA input, it bypasses the filter (which is keeping busy generating the kick drum), so we can melodically sequence the 2 oscillators using our pitch track as per normal, and the kick drum will not be affected.
  • Adding an FX pedal to our second voice, to add some atmosphere and depth to our rhythm.

And here’s my patch routing redone with a few red patch cables to make it easier to follow – this shows both the white noise and triangle wave being sent to the VCA.

Have fun!


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