Software synthesizers are great, and for the amount of functionality they provide they are amazing value for money. The problem is that even though you might be using a MIDI devices to control the synthesizer there can still be a bit of a disconnect between you and the instrument.
The answer to this is to get a hardware synthesizer. A hardware synth lets you make adjustments as you play it, and you can really feel the way it interacts with you.
Hardware synths can be quite pricey, so the first one we are going to recommend is fairly inexpensive, sounds amazing, and is great fun to work with. It’s called the MiniBrute and it’s made by Arturia.
The MiniBrute is a modern instrument, but it behaves an old-school analog synth. You can’t save patches, the knobs and sliders aren’t assignable to control software in your DAW, and it’s really great.
The MiniBrute is easy use, partly because of the way the control panel is laid out.
It has an arpeggiator, which can be converted to a sequencer by a firmware upgrade. We like the arpeggiator, so we have kept it like that and we use hardware sequencers if we’re doing sequencing.
You can connect the MiniBrute to other devices using a MIDI cable or by using CV cables. Being able to use CV cables is really good if you want to develop your understanding of synthesisers and maybe graduate to a modular, or semi-modular, synthesiser.
Being able to connect using MIDI means that you can use the MiniBrute as a controller keyboard for software synthesizers running on your computer. The MiniBrute has a full-sized keyboard, which makes a big difference when you are playing proper keyboard parts.
I mentioned that you can’t save patches, but that’s not strictly true. The MiniBrute comes with some paper mock-ups of the controls on the synth, complete with holes so that you can fit it over the knobs and slider.
To save a patch for later you just need to mark the settings of the knobs on the paper, then when you want to recall the patch you put the paper sheet over the knobs and sliders and move them to where the marks are. Fabulous!