I bought the Arturia MicroFreak Hybrid Synrhesizer back in 2019 – yay!. I really like the design and it’s an amazing value for only $299.
[I updated this post and cheat sheets on March 31st, 2021 to reflect 3.x firmware updates including the addition of the vocoder. Here is a new performance video I made after the latest update. All sounds are MicroFreak except drums.]
In this post I’ll share some resources I’ve been using to learn it so you too can wrap your head around this featured packed and mobile synth.
I’ll include some cheat sheets I’ve made for a an upcoming presentation and performance at the Rocky Mountain Synthesizer Meetup on Tuesday, October 8 as well as recommend some videos.
Heads up, I’ve also created a new category on my blog dedicated to theMicroFreak https://markmoshermusic.com/category/synth-micro-freak/.
My First Encounter with the MicroFreak
A weeks back I was doing a session with my friend and mentor Dino J.A. Deane. Dino is seriously into performing with mobile rigs. He had a micro freak at the session and I got to try it out. A recording our session is on SoundCloud BTW. I was pretty blown away by the sonic range, UX (especially the mod matrix implementation), how lightweight it is, and I found the capacitance touch keyboard quite intriguing and useful right away.
Cheat Sheet & Mind Map
- Digital Oscillator controls
- Capacitance keyboard
- Arp / Seq control
- Mod Matrix
- Master Volume
- OLED Display and preset select and utility controls
Via Arturia here is a screen shot with umber indicators showing the basic anatomy of the front panel.
The MicroFreak’s oscillator panel has 4 knobs. The first knob sets type and the other 3 knobs have different functions depending on which oscillator type you select.
” MicroFreak currently contains 12 oscillator types, but we’ve left room for more to be added in the future “https://www.arturia.com/products/hardware-synths/microfreak/details
Note that 7 of the oscillators are by Arturia and 4 are integrated using “the open-source Plaits oscillator developed by Eurorack legends Mutable Instruments”
While all this is is covered in great detail in the manual but I felt it would be helpful to have this info in a quick reference table that at a glance would show you the oscillator type, a brief description of what the oscillator does, and then a brief summary of what each of the three knobs does for the a particular oscillator type. So I distilled it all down into a PDF you can download here.
Oscillator Mind Map
Once I got more familiar with the oscillator options I then felt it would be handy to have a Mind Map summary version of this info on a single page so I could just glance it at during improv and studio sessions. I created this in Mindmeister. Click here to see interactive map.
To save you time hunting through the vast landscape of YouTube I placed the videos in this post :^)
Official Arturia Videos
LoopOp Review and Tutorial
[ Update Oct 4, 2019 – Recommended addition by CK Barlow]
Automatic Gainsay (Marc Doty) Video Series
Ready to REALLY dig in? Automatic Gainsay (aka Marc Doty) has created an AMAZING set of in-depth tutorials. He’s up to 16 so far. Start watching below. Yup – there goes your weekend!
[These videos were] funded by the Patreon supporters of Automatic Gainsay. Support the creation of this video and all of the Automatic Gainsay videos that have helped you by becoming an Automatic Gainsay supporter on Patreon! http://www.patreon.com/automaticgainsay The theme music was composed and recorded using only the Arturia MIcroFreak. The drums were programmed using a Korg Triton LE.
And before you start, as you are watching just think about much time it took Marc to make these 16 videos and counting and how inspiring it is to have someone with this much experience discuss the ins-and-outs of the MicroFreak.
You are half way through. You can do it!!! Oh, and BTW I am not affiliated with Automatic Gainsay, but I do bump into him from time-to-time :^).
[Update Oct 4, 2019 – Recommended addition by Dion J.A. Deane]
Here are a few more videos from Undulations YouTube Channel.
Whoa! You Made It
That was a hell of a ride and just goes to show you how deep this beast is for a $299 synth!
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Thanks again for reading.
Experimental Musician and Multimedia Artist