I recently bought a second hand Arturia Microbrute synthesizer as a toy. It's a beautiful miniature yet complete entry-level mono synth. Limited as it may first seem, it actually lives up to Arturia's claim of sounding "massive" and "brutal" quite well.
Well, what the first thing to do when I get an analog semi-modular synth? Tear it down, lads! I really want to see what kind of beast is roaring inside. Notice that this passage is not a review - people on youtube have done that thoroughly years before.
Despite being a budget synth, the build quality is still top-notch.
But, why, Arturia! Why did you choose to use the horrible skin-alike material to coat your beautiful heptagonal knobs? This kind of material is notorious for deteriorating after a few years of exposure to air and become gooey sticky.
Mine was built in 2017, and all of those coated parts have become sticky. It took me hours to clean them using alcohol.
The keyboard is attached to the mainboard using a flex cable. Microbrute, despite being a simple non-velocity sensitive mono synth, actually can transmit velocity + polyphonic data via USB to your computer.
All connectors are hot-glued into place and all cables folded carefully. Nice attention to detail.
The analog section. Here are all the guts of this machine. I'd say it has much less component and space usage than I expected. I can imagine how much time they've spent optimizing this circuit.
Another interesting detail is the transistor array on that daughterboard. Underneath there are multiple footprints - a design choice when you cannot have a steady supply of some key components.
Imagine in the near future, when Microbrute becomes "sound vintage". Will the collectors in the future hype up for particular batches of this device because they contain a particular transistor array and "sound better", just like what they are doing today to the MS-20?
Another board that supports all the knobs and buttons. Only buffering, no signal processing happens here. (200121:Not really, after posting this I saw a 7555 chip, which, presumably, is a part of the LFO circuit. )