Connecting two semi-modular synths
We take the MiniBrute 2S and mix in the Behringer Neutron to create our own weird and wonderful hybrid, the ‘Bruton’…
After firing up the MiniBrute 2S and plugging its output into our audio interface’s first input, we program a 16-step, one-bar-long riff on its pitch sequencer. Once the analogue synth has been tuned, let’s go further and get a second semi-modular synth involved…
Although the MiniBrute riff is triggering Neutron, its notes are fully open. To solve that, we take the ’Brute’s MIDI > Gate output and patch that into the Neutron’s E: Gate 1 input. The Gate signal from the MiniBrute sequence now triggers the Neutron’s amplitude envelope upon each new note, and we can tweak these settings to shape note volume over time.
We set up the Behringer Neutron in front of the ’Brute, making sure it’s within patching distance. The MiniBrute 2S features an external input… so how about we take the Neutron’s output and run that through our first synth? To do this, we patch the Neutron’s Out > Output into the ’Brute’s Ext In > Ext input.
Now to dial in our tone. We fade up the MiniBrute’s sawtooth waveform to accompany the Neutron’s two saw waves, then tweak the latter’s Tune to pitch them in line with the ’Brute. After that, we’ll mix in a high-pitched sine tone using the MiniBrute’s second oscillator, then raise Neutron’s Noise slightly for bite.
We can’t hear any sound from the Neutron yet, as it’s not being triggered via note input. To trigger it from the MiniBrute sequence, we take a connection from the ’Brute’s MIDI > KBD output, then plumb that over into the Neutron’s OSC 1+2 input. Result: after raising the ’Brute’s Ext slider, we can now hear the Neutron!
As our Neutron signal is piped through the MiniBrute’s external input, let’s filter the tone with the latter’s filter. We set it to LP mode, crank Reso to halfway, then apply max FM (filter modulation) and tweak ADSR settings to create a plucky effect. A touch of software delay via u-he’s Colour Copy finishes off the sound.
Starting with the dual MiniBrute 2S and Neutron setup from the previous six steps of the tutorial, let’s go deeper and carry on patching. For some flowing movement over time, we’ll plug the MiniBrute 2S’s LFO Out 1 into the AD’s Decay input. This LFO now continually sweeps amp decay up and down.
Let’s now do something even more unusual. We’ll take the Neutron’s LFO Uni output and patch it back into the LFO Rate input (red cable). This LFO is now modulating itself, and gets faster and slower over time – giving the MiniBrute’s second sine oscillator a gurgling, self-generating effect.
This full-on decay modulation can be tempered with an attenuator. We unpatch the cables from the previous step. This time, we pipe LFO Out 1 into Attenuators > In 1 input, then grab another cable and patch Attenuators > Out 1 into AD Decay. We use the Att-1 knob as a ‘mix’ amount for this modulation.
On the MiniBrute 2S’s sequencer, we hit the Press button and program different pressure values for each step of our sequence. After that, we patch the ’Brute’s MIDI > Press/Mod 2 output into the Neutron’s Shape 2 input. This causes Neutron’s second oscillator to jump between wave shapes, creating ‘dancing’ timbral change for each new note.
In true modular fashion, let’s go a bit weirder and patch the Neutron’s LFO output over into the MiniBrute’s VCO 2 > Pitch 2 input. Neutron’s LFO is now modulating the frequency of the high-pitched sine tone – at slow LFO rates, this creates zapping pitch sweeps, while at faster settings we get FM gnarliness.
Our strange ‘Bruton’ hybrid synth sequence is now running along rather randomly, evolving and changing over time – hands-free! We finish by ramming all signals through the MiniBrute 2S’ Brute Factor overdrive. We can now mix different oscillator waveforms and record a long passage of the riff to audio in our DAW, ready for chopping up later.