Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synthesizer
Overview by GAK
The MicroFreak from Arturia is a portable, fully-featured hybrid synthesiser that combines a wide variety of digital oscillator types with a versatile analogue filter. The digital oscillators cover everything from juicy Virtual Analog to crystalline Wavetables plus some unusual additions that you don’t tend to find, such as KarplusStrong (a physical modelling osc that can emulate plucked instruments) and the wacky Speech mode (akin to the Texas Instruments Speak & Spell).When the MicroFreak was first released, you already had access to a plethora of sound sources with which to experiment with. Since then, Arturia have gone above and beyond by further expanding the sonic potential of the MicroFreak with free updates - first with the Noise oscillator (capable of producing all manner of percussive and effect sounds) and then a 16 Band Vocoder mode (which enables you to transform the MF’s headphone output into an input so you can vocode your voice, check out their dedicated gooseneck mic). Given Arturia’s track record, the potential for future updates is a huge bonus of this synth.
Providing the warmth is a proper 12db analogue filter that was inspired by the legendary Oberheim SEM filter. This means you can switch between Low Pass, High Pass and Band Pass modes so you have even more options for realising the sound in your head. Plus, unlike the bona fide SEM filter, the Arturia MicroFreak’s filter can self-oscillate!
Virtually every parameter on the MicroFreak’s front panel can be modulated and it’s incredibly easy to assign destinations using the mod matrix, which gives you visual LED feedback as to what’s being modulated by what. You’re given nigh-on modular levels of control here, without having to spend thousands on modules and patch cables!
The PCB keyboard is deceptively playable, as it doesn’t require as much pressure to trigger a note as a regular keyboard which makes it great for quick soloing, and highly expressive thanks to its polyphonic aftertouch capabilities. For example, if you stick the MicroFreak in Paraphonic Mode (where four notes can be played simultaneously) and assign the pressure to pitch, you can bend individually bend notes in a chord for pedal-steel style effects.
Thanks to the MicroFreak’s CV, MIDI and USB outs - you can use the PCB keyboard to control your Poly AT compatible hardware and software!
All of your unique creations can be stored with custom preset names for instant recall (256 slots) and with Arturia’s MIDI Control Center you can back up and organise them using your computer.
Opposed to a run-of-the-mill virtual analog synth, the MicroFreak’s array of oscillators types combined with its intuitive mod matrix and expressive keyboard design make it a very exciting prospect. It’s by far one of the best choices for someone looking to buy their first synth due to its low price, great presets and knobby interface, seasoned synthesists that want a toolbox synth that can fill the sonic gaps in their current hardware setup and like to get deep into sound design, and on-the-go musicians that want an inspiring piece of gear that can run off of USB power and can fit in a backpack.
This iteration of the MicroFreak is the original and comes in an alluring dark finish whilst the limited-run Vocoder Edition boasts a striking white finish with a fresh swan-based design on the front panel as well as the optimised MicroFreak goose-neck microphone. If you’re a current MicroFreak owner or prefer the darker look of the original, you can pick up the gooseneck microphone separately.
Check out our GAK Blog on the Arturia MicroFreak for a deeper look at its features and capabilities.
Overview by Arturia
Experimental Hybrid Synth
A digital synth like no other, MicroFreak is a peculiar, exceptional instrument that rewards the curious musician. It blends wavetable and digital oscillators with analog filters. It features a unique poly-aftertouch flat keyboard. It adds controlled randomness to sequences. This isn’t a revolution, it’s a mutiny.
A touch of madness
This out-there little music machine features a versatile digital oscillator so you can create rare and interesting sounds with ease. Modes like KarplusStrong, Harmonic OSC, and Superwave give adventurous musicians the chance to explore totally new, unheard possibilities. Like having dozens of synths in just one instrument, both wild-eyed newcomers and seasoned professionals will fall in love with MicroFreak’s flexible, powerful synth engine.
While it can be fun to play with yourself, things can get more exciting when there’s two.
We love to collaborate, so we’re excited to bring you the first collaboration between Arturia and acclaimed modular synth pioneers Mutable Instruments. Among the multiple modes of MicroFreak’s synth engine, you’ll be able to select the much-loved Plaits oscillator and with added paraphony.
Now you can enjoy the same otherworldly sounds, the same modes, and with the same parameter controls as the iconic Eurorack module, but from a self-contained, performable hardware synth.
Inspired by the trailblazing 12-dB Oberheim SEM filter, you can make MicroFreak’s filter scream or whisper to taste. The filter is state-variable, and can even auto-oscillate! You can use this is any way you like, from taking the edge of the razor-sharp wavetable sounds or automating the cutoff by modulating it with keyboard pressure or the in-built sequencer.
Record up to four automations, edit notes per step or use the innovative Spice and Dice sequencer functions to find happy accidents. Add randomisation to create evolving, original patterns, and virtually rewire and reconfigure its signal chain and controls with the 5x7 modulation matrix.
That’s a funny looking keyboard!
That’s right, it is. It isn’t really even a keyboard. It’s a PCB. Super-flat, with no moving parts. Will it track lightning-fast synth solos? You bet. Better than a traditional keyboard, actually. Will it let you be expressive? Of course, it’s not only pressure-sensitive but also offers poly-aftertouch. This means each key can control parameters in a different way depending on how much you touch. You can also use its USB, MIDI, and CV outputs to control instruments in your DAW and modular synths. This also means that you can also use MicroFreak as a controller to experience polyphonic aftertouch with cutting edge software instruments.
- Wavetable and digital oscillators
- Analog filters
- Huge variety of sound possibilities
- Poly-aftertouch flat keyboard
- Arpeggiator and sequencer
- 128 factory presets and space for 64 user sounds;
- Crystal-clear OLED screen
- 5x7 modulation matrix
- Paraphonic mode
- Collaboration with Mutable Instruments
- USB, MIDI, and CV outputs
- Use MicroFreak as a controller to experience polyphonic aftertouch
No upgrades available
What a knockout - no limits to its usefulness, well organised systems.
For the price superb bit of kit. Had much fun so far. Recommended for something a little different.
Great, fun synth
Wicked sounds from a very well designed instrument. Looks cool, sounds great, amazing value for money. If you want a synthesiser buy this. You won't regret it.