The Arturia DrumBrute was recently announced. It’s an all analog drum machine with 17 analog percussive instruments. The DrumBrute is a mashup of several Arturia products, beatstep pro and the Brute synth lineage. It boasts, ” 17 fully analog drum & percussion instruments, including two kicks, snare, clap, open & closed hats, high & low toms and conga, maracas, rimshot, clave, tambourine, zap, cymbal, and even a reverse cymbal.”
Build Quality is on par with the MiniBrute and MicroBrute. It’s housed in a hard plastic chassis with faux-wood ends. Weighing in at about 6 lbs, its got a good bit of weight to it. It’s size lands somewhere between the MiniBrute and MicroBrute. So it doesn’t feel toy like.
The knobs are the same as the other brutes as well. All in all, everything feels solid and well-built. I wouldn’t be too concerned about it taking well to extensive travel and live gigs. It looks and feels as if it will hold up on the go.
The drums all have various tweak-able parameters. Kick 1 having the most with Sweep, Impact, Decay and Pitch. The Snare has parameters for Drum Tone and 3 additional snap knobs (tone, decay level). All other drums have decay and pitch knobs and in some cases the instrument has decay only. At any rate, the parameters on hand will allow for a good deal of drum shaping flexibility.
The upper portion of the Arturia DrumBrute is where the resemblances to the BeatStepPro are apparent. The sequencer, pattern effects (swing, randomness, step repeat) and transport features are all accounted for on the DrumBrute and that’s where the comparisons pretty much end.
The Arturia DrumBrute has inherited the Brute’s well-loved Steiner Parker filter in the form of a resonate LowPass / HighPass filter section with bypass. By default the filter is in Low Pass mode until the HPF button is engaged at which point it becomes a High Pass filter.
I have to reiterate (as I’ve already said so on the BeatPPL Podcast DrumBrute special) that Kick 2 is my favorite of the two kicks. Perhaps that’s because I am genre predisposed to liking the 808 sound (inside joke). Perhaps! But i love the nice round blunt punch that Kick 2 has when it’s pitched down with very little decay dialed in. It’s lends itself well to boom bap beatmaking.
The snare has flexibility with the snap parameters. I kind of dig my analog snares with a nice decay and some attack that makes it crack a bit. That’s exactly what the DrumBrute snare provides.
The Arturia DrumBrute is I/O loaded with USB (for USB over Midi only – no audio over midi), 5 pin MIDI in and out, 1/8th inch clock in and out, 12 individual outs for the instruments (1/4 inch), Mix Out and headphone jacks (1/4″ and 1/8″) section with its own volume. The individual outs make it nice for integrating easily with modular. It also plays well with tracking into the DAW when the session calls for separated individual tracks.
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Drumbrute can be set up as slave or master to your DAW or other MIDI gear. I had no issue connecting it to the MPC Ren via USB and selecting it in the settings so as to send transport controls and clock. This way it instantly plays in synch when I pressed play or stop from the MPC.
If you are a BeatStepPro or mini/microBrute user, you may be familiar with the use of the MIDI Control Center for configuration settings. The DrumBrute utilizes the same application to change configuration setting and to manage preset patterns.
Sorry kids, this is not a digitally controlled analog drum machine. That means there is no way to have midi CC control over the knobs via your DAW or external controller. Similarly, for me, I wish it allowed the recording of of mutes and solos somehow in the song mode or patterns. But I realize mutes and solos were likely a part of the live performance feature set more than anything.
So with all of that whats not to love? Well, one thing that I’ve noted is the absence of the Brute Factor knob. I was surprised to see that it wasn’t on there given it is a brute. But apparently its absence was a matter of the differences in various circuit and gate configurations between keyboards and drum machines. To that end, I suggest you treat yourself to a nice distortion pedal, MPC / Maschine effects or a cool bevy of modular effects chains. All of which will totally transform this already dope drum machine into something really special.
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One suggestion that I received from social media is to run the Arturia DrumBrute out to the mini/microBrute input and apply the Brute Factor. Great suggestion. I’ll have to give that a try at some point and do a video on it.
The Arturia Drumbrute has totally put my 808/909 sort of classic drum machine lust to bed. It’s fully analog with 17 instruments, individual outs, LP/HP filter, 64 step sequencer with polyrythm, entire pattern based or track based swing and randomness, USB over midi, ratcheting / repeat functionality and tap tempo. Also, did I mention that a simple “shift/record” command will allow you to break free of the grid within 50% variance? Well it does! That means that my hiphop heads and beatmakers can get a bit drunk and sloppy with the programming. If that isn’t enough “shift/step” will allow you to nudge steps in a sequence.
I believe there will be a tendency to think that the DrumBrute is focused only towards EDM and other forms of electronic music. I’d beg to differ. Boom-Bap heads and hiphop beatmakers can find a worthy weapon in the DrumBrute. It’s a matter of finding your sound and knowing how to incorporate this analog goodness. If you want over the top in your face blaps, just use a bit of creative processing and you’ll blow your own mind.
Take a look at the video review for a more in-depth overview of the DrumBrute.
All in all, the Arturia Drumbrute gives me a case of nostalgia but in a good way. It’s not an 808, it’s not a 909 but it is all analog and it somehow has a fun and classic vibe that I dig. It holds its own in that classic space in my lab along side more feature bloated and rather complicated modern drum machines. To its credit the DrumBrute is simple and straight forward enough that its easy to navigate but its flexible enough that even the most brainiac “type A” beatmakers will find it hard to stay away from whether live or in the studio.
At $449, and for all the reasons listed above, the DrumBrute is BBoyTech certified Dope!
For more information on features, specifications and dimensions, visit the DrumBrute page on www.arturia.com/products/drumbrute