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Author Topic: Gimmick or Game Changer?  (Read 429 times)


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Gimmick or Game Changer?
« on: October 18, 2019, 03:07:09 pm »
I’ve watched every single video that you can possibly find on the Microfreak (videos in Japanese, Spanish, etc.) and I still am not completely sold on the synth. Do y’all think that its just poor demos and content provided from both third parties and Arturia or simply that the Microfreak isn’t anything special?

I really want the Microfreak to be a game changer but I’m fearful that it will only be a gimmick synth based on the content that has been released.

« Last Edit: November 06, 2019, 10:38:00 am by ben arturia »


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Re: Gimmick or Game Changer?
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2019, 06:09:44 pm »
It sounds very good, but five months after the last firmware update is still extremely buggy. Especially if you have a Mac - mine seems to behave itself with my MBP but some people have had issues and Arturia suggests the work-around is to use a PC. Assuming you have one of course.

My advice is to look at the technical issues part of the forum before purchase.


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Re: Gimmick or Game Changer?
« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2019, 03:06:22 pm »
The Freak sounds amazing. The wide range of sounds you can dial in, from classic leads to lush pads to nasty digital noise, make this thing really stand out. I know exactly what you're talking about with the videos: before it was released, I read all the specs on it and thought "this is my dream synth! I can finally easily do all the crazy wavetable switching I usually program in trackers!" And then I saw the videos and no one was trying anything interesting with it. It wasn't until probably the 20th video when someone actually modulated the waveshape. Yes, the current state of the firmware is undoubtedly buggy but Arturia has always been slow to release updates but when they do, they do not disappoint!


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Re: Gimmick or Game Changer?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2019, 10:28:12 am »
I read the two replies above and made a decision to go get one.  Took it straight to a mate's house and plugged it in to his mixer and hooked a drum machine up to it via for something for him to play.  (For some reason he comes with me when I purchase new gear, I think so he can sit-in on the first session and live vicariously through my synth habit).
We fired up the µfreak and started to scroll through the presets.  First impressions were great.  There is a good range of sound demonstrated within the first 64 factory patches which had Ric reaching for his SH-01 and JX-03 in an attempt to try to pull sounds out that matched them.
Running around the front panel in with the usual "I can work this out without RTFM" worked well too.  Tweaking the presets to taste was easy and the display helped workout how to set some of the less obvious functions.  Guessing what to do with the mod matrix was dead simple due to that.  It was only until we decided to write our own sequences on it that we turned to the tutorials on YT.  I had a good idea on how to program it and the video confirmed my ideas of how it worked, but for Ric's benefit I ran through the exercises (he's never seen any Arturia gear before let alone used any so I humoured him by playing dumb ;) ).
Late in the night, after faking many a classic synth and pretending to be many a classic artist, we went onto programming a sound from scratch, which we thought would be simple, but actually showed-off the programming skills of the factory patch designers very well!
I finally left and returned home to get some dinner, after which I sat-down alone to integrate the freak into my (mid-relocation minimal) set-up.  I plugged in the power, fed it to the mixer pulled up patch 129 and started to program.  After crafting some sounds I have been trying to create on my Blofeld for some weeks now but have been pushed more towards playing with the presets due to the menu-based programming.  The Freak's close-to knob-per-function interface combined with its onboard sequencer makes it very immediate.

Now back to the original ruse question; is the MicroFreak a gimmick or game game changer?  Looking around the hardware landscape lately there has been a move towards the hybrids, but few companies are doing them at the price-point the µFreak is at.  Korg's minilogue XD is another stab at the versatile digital oscillator into analogue filters but it's also almost twice the price.  Admittedly it's a polysynth, but as far as easy access to synths that encourage exploration and experimentation, there is nothing else on the market so easy to get into without parting with a week's pay check!
In that way the Freak* is apart of a clear change in the synth world.  The move back to hardware was spearheaded with the analogue renaissance, which as nice as it was to get remakes and a few new creation, could only last for so long before the same thing that happened in the early 80's occurred again.  The time has come for the digital renaissance, but this time the tech has come a long way compared to analogue.  Discrete circuitry may be way cheaper now but MPU's are way beyond where they were when the DX-7 flipped the market on its head in 1983.  It's wonderful that companies are combining the two and hopefully the MicroFreak it the tip of the iceberg and there is a full 5-voice poly hybrid in the works (well 10-voice is really what we need so to avoid voice stealing when playing big long release pads, hint hint!)

*The Freak was a character in a 1980's Australian soap opera based in a women's prison.  She was a corrupt prison warder known for her brutal treatment of the inmates.  I can't help but think of Maggie Kirkpatrick when I shorten the synth's name to "the Freak" :o
« Last Edit: November 09, 2019, 05:54:40 am by megamarkd »
Currently running synths from Waldorf and Arturia, Drumsynths from Korg, MAM and IK Multimedia, sequencing it all with Arturia's looping steppers, mixing and recording it all with a Zoom (no DAW involved, for better or worse ;) )


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Re: Gimmick or Game Changer?
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2019, 11:19:09 am »
IMHO a possible improved MiniFreak could be a game-changer, the concept of a mini synth with multiple algos is good, the mod matrix is cool, yet the actual Microfreak has a couple of show stopper: keyboard (velocity is totally unusable, after touch is unreliable, no mod wheel), no onboard effects.

I like the sounds yet I can't use it: keyboard and lack of transpose prevents me to use it in my songs, using an external keyboard give me no velocity (have to activate it for each preset every time) or modulation control (i have no aftertouch on any of my 4 midi keyboards). Also grounding issues prevent me to use it close to my "big" computer DAW.


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