Arturia PolyBrute £2,259
Future Music|Autumn 2020
Arturia PolyBrute £2,259
The French brand mark their anniversary with a new flagship polysynth. Si Truss attempts to tame the beast…
Si Truss
News of an Arturia polysynth wasn’t a total surprise. Since the early-’10s, the French brand’s lineup of synths has grown to encompass budget analogue (MicroBrute), semi modular (MiniBrute 2/2S), a behemoth monosynth (MatrixBrute) and eccentric digital synthesis (MicroFreak). Their 20th anniversary seemed an obvious moment to unveil a new flagship instrument.

You may spot the similarities between the PolyBrute and MatrixBrute; most obviously in the inclusion of a similar button matrix, but also in the general architecture. Although it wouldn’t really be accurate to describe this synth simply as a polyphonic MatrixBrute, it’s not entirely baseless. Like the MatrixBrute, the PolyBrute is a digitally-controlled analogue synth combining multiple VCOs and VCFs with a powerful modulation matrix, sequencer and arpeggiator. The MatrixBrute’s distinctive dual filter setup is carried across here too, which pairs Steiner Parker and Ladder Filter designs that can be positioned in series or parallel.

There are key differences to the hardware itself. Unlike the MatrixBrute, the control panel is in a fixed position, so it can’t be angled-up Minimoog style. While the 61-key velocity and after touch equipped keyboard is essentially the same as its monophonic counterpart, the PolyBrute adds additional expressive tools to the mix, with a ribbon controller subtly indented above the keyboard and a new three-dimensional expression pad labeled ‘Morphee’. This latter element is like a simplified version of Expressive E’s Touché controller, with a touch-sensitive wooden panel that allows users to apply modulation by depressing the panel or dragging a finger across the x or y-axis. These modulation sources can be applied to almost any synth parameter using the matrix [see Matrix Reloaded], and while the Morphee and ribbon controller don’t entirely negate the presence of traditional pitch and mod wheel – also included here – they’re excellent additions that are likely to have even seasoned synth players expressing themselves in new ways.

There are a few I/O differences between the Matrix and PolyBrute too. Here we get master stereo outputs plus a headphone output, along with MIDI in, out and through, USB MIDI, analogue pulse sync in and out and three-pedal inputs (sustain and two expressions). Unlike on the MatrixBrute, there’s no CV connectivity here though, and no audio input either, so there’s no way to run external sounds through those dual filters or the effects.

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Autumn 2020