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!


2 thoughts on “Tutorial: Using the Arturia MiniBrute 2S as a Monstrous Techno Drum Machine”

  1. Peter says:

    OH MIKE THANK YOU!! I’ve been wrestling with my MB-2S along with a Keystep and DB-Impact and MicroFreak for weeks now with limited success. I understand a lot about synthisizers having watched hundreds of hours of online videos. I’ve got the Impact more less sorted and of course the MicroFreak is a hoot. I’ve got them all synced by midi but I’m not making progress with the MB-2S past the cookbook recipes. Any thoughts on adding to the MB-2S as in maybe a RackBrute and a few Euro rack modules or maybe another synth like a Mother 32 or Roland SE-02 or something else? Would LOVE your thoughts. I’m 71 and a bad jazz guitar student and making my own music fascinates me. Also a great way to spend my days right now LOL. I will be duplicating your MB-2S patch and thanks again and hope to hear from you.

    1. Mike C says:

      Hey Peter! That’s awesome mate, you’ve got some fun toys there! The MiniBrute 2S is an absolutely ideal starting point for a Eurorack modular system. In fact that’s exactly what I did. It’s difficult to advise specifics when it comes to modules — the beauty of modular gear is there’s modules out there that’ll do just about anything — it depends on what you want to do!

      A few quick ideas though, since you’ve got drum machines and play guitar, a external input module like the Doepfer A119 would be a great addition to make your other gear interact with the modular system. Mutable Instruments Branches would be a great addition too, adding the ability to skip gates being triggered based on a probability set by you, making your simple sequences less repetitive and more dynamic. A filter module would also be handy, in my tutorial above I show you how to get a second voice from the MiniBrute, it would be nice to be able to filter it! I actually wrote an article that might be helpful when I first got into Modular synths, check it out – https://noisegate.com.au/starting-a-eurorack-modular-synthesiser-system-7-things-i-learnt-the-hard-way/

      Hope that helps!

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