Finnegan shares his latest composition on a pair of Ensoniq Samplers. Submitted by Greg Cole via our Facebook page.
samplers rather than synths but this is Finnegan who spends most days in the studio with me…’helping’.
We at CatSynth are quite familiar with Ensoniq’s venerable line of sampling workstations. I got an EPS in 1989, and then upgraded to an ASR-10 a few years later. The latter is still in storage here at CatSynth HQ.
Obie sits in the center of Charles Whiley’s impressive studio. Obie is short of Oberheim, and we of course love black cats. But he is rarely photographed with the synths compared to Mr. Maximillion. We are happy to be able to feature him today 😺
Murder (we’re sure there must be an interesting story behind her name) gets ready to perform on a Korg EMX2 Groovebox. From Jackies Fridge via our Facebook page. Part of a series of posts on our page this week celebrating black cats.
One of the most talked-about releases at NAMM (at least within our circles) was the new MicroFreak from Arturia. So, of course, we at CatSynth had to check it out.
It is a unique-looking instrument. The panel is etched with a variety of iconography; and then there is the flat PCB in place of the traditional keyboard. No moving parts here. But it is quite expressive, including polyphonic aftertouch.
Beyond its looks and keyboard, the main feature of the MicroFreak is its digital oscillator. There are several different “types” for the oscillator, including wavetable, sampling, physical modeling, virtual analog, and something called “texturizer”. Within each there are selections for parameters labeled wave, timbre, and shape, that do different things in different types. These can be selected in real time via the knobs, and wave and timbre can also be destinations for modulation.
The digital oscillator followed in the signal chain by an analog filter, specifically an Oberheim SEM-style filter, which sounds quite good when the oscillator is set to a rich source. There also the usual array of modulators, including envelope (one-shot and cycled), LFO, and arpeggiator. The sequencer includes a bunch of compositional functions with cute names like “Spice” and “Dice” to help build and modify patterns, which then can be routed via the modulation matrix.
It is quite a powerful instrument, but attempting to play it was a bit intimidating at first. Unlike the MiniBrute (analog) or even the Sequential Prophet 12 (hybrid), the knobs weren’t quite as intuitive for someone used to a lot of subtractive or semi-modular synthesizers, especially the oscillator with its various modes and the composition functions. I suspect it was an easier first-experience for those who use beat and sample boxes like those from Elektron. Indeed, I was able to get more out of it by turning on the arpeggiator and then turning knobs. You can see a bit of my initial attempts in our recent video.
In order to really understand what this little beast has to offer, a deep dive in the studio would be required. We at CatSynth hope to be able to arrange that in the not-to-distant future, and will report back here and on CatSynth TV.