Arturia MicroBrute with Dan Ingala (Plushgun)

Arturia Microbrute

We gave Dan Ingala (of the band Plushgun) the brand-new MicroBrute analog synth from Arturia. He made a demo track – check the video above to see him perform it. All the sounds except for the drums were created on the MicroBrute.

Download the session file (for Ableton Live):

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New Gear: Novation Bass Station II


The guys at Novation were kind enough to send their new Bass Station II. The Bass Station II is a revival of their classic from 1993 but with modern technology; “better, faster, stronger”. Its a digitally controlled pure analog signal path with 2 main oscillators, a sub oscillator, noise generator, arpeggiator, 2 LFOs, 2 Filter types, flexible routing, and 128 slots for savable patches. First impression, taking it home, was the bass was huge! I have a 2.1 speaker system and this thing could move some air. The oscillators can create a strong dominating low end but is not sloppy. You can get down to very low tones without breaking up; it stays defined and focused.


Exploring the features, the Bass Station II offers more than what you would expect from a monophonic synth at its price point. So, I offered a challenge to myself and set off to make an entire track with just the Bass Station II’s synthesis. Though it is more voiced to create bass sounds, I discovered within it drums, leads, cymbals, swells, SFX, pads, bells, and of course solid bass. Not once did I have to use the included power supply. The USB connection worked doubly-duty on bus-power and MIDI I/O. For the main stabbing sound i wanted to stack several different patches in order to make a super tight and collect a solitary element. I opened a MIDI channel to record the line, quantize, and send it back into the Bass Station II. This freed my hands to audition sounds and perform a Low-Pass filter swell to lead into the main rhythm.


Using the Bass Station II’s MIDI I/O to stack different patches

The internal clock built in is extremely stable and accurate. The arpeggiator and synced LFOs stayed in time with no drift. Novation has successfully contributed to affordable analog synthesis with the smart additions of USB-power and MIDI, advanced arpeggiator, powerful routing, the ability to make and store and trade presets, and most importantly a sound that can compete. Included in this article we have provided a link to download the Ableton Live 9 session that was used for this demo.

DSI Mopho X4

Dave Smith’s synths are so consistently great, we here at ProAudioStar have taken to calling him Uncle Dave. Well, fellow synth-heads, this time Uncle Dave did more than buy us a ginger ale and drive us to Tee-ball. The X4 captures a coveted corner of the synth market – the affordable polyphonic analog corner. After playing with this puppy, we were wowed by it’s warmth and style.

This completely analog four-voice synth basically takes four Mophos (DSI’s acclaimed monophonic synth) and stacks them together with even more features to help you customize patches.


In our tests the X4 often sounded akin to the Prophet ’08. It has that fat analog bass sound, but it’s filters allow for plenty of high-frequency response too. . The X4 also features the famous Curtis four pole low pass filter. Overall the X4’s is more tonally capable of noticeable textures that sometimes lean gritty or sharp, than more nuanced supportive-type pads. So if you’re looking for smoother patches, you’ll usually have to do some patch editing.

Thankfully, editing patches is a breeze due to the X4’s sensible layout and the downloadable patch editor, which can load custom patches to the unit via USB.

The X4 has two digitally controlled oscillators and four low frequency oscillators per voice, plus a feedback circuit for extra oomph, as well as three envelope generators. This signal path is 100% analog, but is controlled digitally, giving you the best of both worlds (a feature we think will become more and more common in the realm of analog synths). The addition of two sub-oscillators provided superbly exciting depth to many of the lead and bass patches we tested.

I had a blast messing with the sequencer for sequenced chords, and the arpeggiator, both sync-able via the tap tempo “Push It!” button or MIDI clock in. The Push It! Button can be programmed to trigger custom functions, leading to some very cool possibilities.

While the X4 is not multitimbral, it is designed to work with a DSI Tetra synth-module, which expands the total number of voices to eight in total. There’s a satisfyingly perfect spot on the right-hand side of the X4’s surface for the Tetra to sit, should you use them together. Coincidentally, most of the Eventide pedals also fit perfectly there. We got some amazing sounds running the X4 through the Eventide Space pedal – a highly recommended combo that helped us to expand and further texturize some of the X4’s tones.


The X4’s build is great. It has a velocity-sensitive keybed with responsive aftertouch that allow for nuanced playing. It features hard-platsic knobs and wheels, a matte black aluminum body and wood side-panels. The 44-key keyboard is an ideal size- big enough for a wide tonal range but still small enough to take to gigs.

The X4 features stereo and headphones out, CV and sustain in, MIDI In and Out/Thru plus MIDI poly chain for DSI synths, as well as USB.

The Nicest Mopho Around

Overall, the X4 offers the classic DSI sound, made famous by the Prophet series, at a more affordable price and portable size. At 44 keys, banks on banks on banks of strong analog sounds, and the ability to easily customize patches, it’s no wonder that at $1,299 the Mopho X4 has been a very popular synth at ProAudioStar. We dig it, and we think you will too.

The DSI Mopho X4 is available now for only $1,299.00 from your favorite synth dealers, ProAudioStar.

– Clay