Arturia MiniFreak 2.0: What is it?
Easily one of the most significant selling points in favour of hybrid analogue/digital hardware synths is the potential for the instruments to be upgraded throughout their lifespan.
While the purely analogue elements are effectively fixed as-is, anything digital within a synth’s engine is ripe with potential for new features, enhancements or a complete overhaul via firmware updates. It’s something we’ve seen bring exciting new features to the likes of UDO’s Super 6 and Korg’s Minilogue XD in recent years.
Arturia has already proved itself reliable at bringing major enhancements to its existing instruments. Earlier this year, the French brand once again overhauled its hybrid MicroFreak synth with a fifth major firmware update, and now it’s the turn of its bigger and newer sibling, the MiniFreak.
Arturia MiniFreak 2.0: Performance and verdict
MiniFreak’s 2.0 update brings a new oscillator engine along with enhancements to the effects and presets. On the former front, users get a whole new Wavetable engine to play with, which comes stocked with 32 factory wavetables.
As with MiniFreak’s other engines, the Wavetable mode is relatively simplistic. Control is handled by the Type, Timbre, Wave and Shape parameters, as with other engines, which here are used to select the wavetable, scan through the position, alter the pulse width and apply a bi-directional filter, respectively.
It’s a slight shame that the engine can only be used in the Osc 1 slot, and that there’s currently no way to upload user wavetables. That said, the simplicity is kind of the point – what we love about the MiniFreak is how easy it makes it to mix and match digital synthesis approaches and tweak the parameters of each.
Wavetable capabilities are a sensible addition too, given MiniFreak’s powerful modulation tools, and the new engine adds a nice extension to the range of tones the synth can create.
The other major addition is a new Super Unison effect, which adds a thick, chorus-like detune. As you’d hope given the name, it immediately makes any patch sound huge, and modulating the time parameter opens up plenty of potential for additional movement.
Of course, MiniFreak exists in two forms – the original hardware version and its software MiniFreak V counterpart, which also gains these new features. Owners of the hardware automatically have access to both, and in fact will be required to install the latest version of the plugin in order to update the hardware. As it happens, for hardware users the MiniFreak V application can act as an incredibly handy tool for managing presets.
Alongside the new firmware, Arturia has also launched a host of new sound packs for use with both versions of the synth. Three of these are free, and worth adding to your library. MiniFreak V is exceptionally handy for testing and auditioning sounds from these, so that you can then transfer your favourites to the hardware. On that note, the 2.0 firmware also adds a new ‘favourite’ option for presets, allowing 64 to be assigned to the sequencer steps for quick access.
MusicRadar verdict: An impressive free update that adds extra sonic scope and enhanced usability to one of our favourite synths of recent years.
Arturia MiniFreak 2.0: Hands-on demos
Arturia MiniFreak 2.0: Specifications
- KEY FEATURES: Update for the hardware MiniFreak and software MiniFreak V. Free for existing users. Price for new users: MiniFreak €599, MiniFreak V €199. Purchase of the hardware includes software version.
- CONTACT: Arturia