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’…

Future Music - - FEATURE -


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.

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