Arturia Announces Microfreak

shrunken maxibrute?
with enough complexity the digital patchbays could be neat.
looks like this lacks the complexity to do say two drum voices and two diff osc sequences at the same time>? still very cool with the PCB touch keyboard looks very buchla easel.

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runs on usb power
has some of the plaits engines. awesome!
also the sounds like they have more versions in the works? he kept saying this one.

Thinking about buying one. It definitely some interesting sonic possibilities with that mod matrix, polyphonic aftertouch, several engines and so on. They recently added scale quantization and another engine.

I bought one a few months ago. It’s definitely a great unit for the price point. The sequencer is pretty frustrating to use though particularly if your used to sequencing with something like a Pocket operator or the opz. It’s great that it’s there but can be annoying to use, engines are all pretty great and the mod matrix does allow for some crazy sounds. I was looking at getting a minilogue XD, a bigger jump in price but looks like it has a much better sequencer and sound control options. Let me know if you have any questions on the freak.

Bought it. It’s a very cleverly designed device. Like it so far. There is more depth to is than it seems on the first glance and the designers clearly paid attention to how controls work. Reminds me of OP-1 in many ways, but at the same time they have very different “areas of expertise”.

MicroFreak mini-review:

To begin with, yes, the keyboard itself is okay. It has advantages and disadvantages. It is possible to accidentally trigger a sound by brushing against contacts. On the other hand, you can get faux-velocity or even polyphonic aftertouch (!) out of it.

MicroFreak has relatively “straightforward” engines that cover a good amount of sonic variety together, but aren’t particularly flexible individually. On the plus side, it’s really easy to get some clean, classic electronic music sounds.

While OP-1’s secret weapon is its multi-purpose effects, on MicroFreak it’s definitely the mod matrix. Only yesterday I realized that it can mod itself. You can modulate the modulation amounts and even do it in loops (A modulates B while B modulates A).

LFO on MicroFreak only goes up to 100HZ, but there is a looping envelope that goes way higher and can produce audible AM and FM like effects. I have not figured out whether it’s possible to use mod matrix to tune it to keys. @Xander, do you know if it’s possible?

I actually don’t mind the sequencer. It’s pretty straightforward. You can record two sequences per patch, up to 64 steps. 4-key paraphony/polyphony while recording. 4 modulation lanes for knobs. Everything can be recorded in step mode or in real time. Plus, there are some “hidden features” if you dig deeper. You can live-loop, or play along, or do a bunch of other things. While OP-1 sequencers are mostly geared towards constructing interesting melodies in rhythms, this one seems to be geared towards live performance usage.

Some limitations you have to be aware of:

  • There is only one filter for the entire unit.
  • LFOs are applied to all voices at once, not to individual voices.
  • Some parameters are polyphonic, some are monophonic. Engine parameters and main envelope are polyphonic. Engine setting itself is monophonic.
  • It seems you can’t modulate loudness of the voice. You can modulate sustain level, but that will stop working after you release the key. No faux delay via square LFO. :frowning:
  • Uhm, arpeggiator has several modes, but no “down”? Not sure why. Hope they will add it in some update.
  • In case you’re wondering, there are no post-processing effects out side of what engines have built into them. External delay or ereverb are a good idea, although generally it doesn’t sound too dry on its own.

Hey @Gambler, not sure if this is possible. Pretty sure there is a tune keys function in the settings. The Key/arp matrix might be worth playing around with. It’s definately a great unit for the price point, I really wish they had a better way to sequence or atleast put in a metronome function, live recording is difficult because it’s so hard to tell when the loop starts and ends, a trick you can do is to lose a voice to making a metronome and play over the top.

Got a Microfreak for xmas and I’ve really been enjoying it. I only wish it was a smaller tabletop box without the keyboard. I thought the whole west coast style keyboard was a brilliant idea, but unless my hands are very moist I don’t get any sort of pressure sensitivity.

Personally I love the sequencer, and the fact you can record up to 4 lanes of automation for almost any control. It’s one of those synths that’s deeper than you expect, but still really easy to use. While I have plenty of pedals that cover that role, a built in reverb or delay would have taken it to another level. Especially considering you can power it from a portable cell phone charger (those extra battery thingies). Didn’t expect that, and it makes it super convenient to take anywhere to sketch ideas.

Another update:

Sample playback with 3 additional options for granular synthesis.

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I never even thought that with the latest update MicroFreak can be a pretty cool drum machine.

Reminds of the kinds of things we do with OP-1. It also reminds me how cool it is to have key number as a modulation source, which we don’t.

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