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Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition Review

June 15, 2024

Today we have a review of the Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition from the well-known French manufacturer. The Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition is a limited edition of the MicroFreak synthesizer with a white body and a complete gooseneck microphone. In all other respects, this product is identical to the classic MicroFreak model.

Since we already have a detailed review of the Arturia MicroFreak synthesizer, we won't go into detail and describe all the features of this device. If you want to know all the specifications and features, you can follow the link above and read our full review of the MicroFreak.

Best Price on Arturia MicroFreak Synthesizer

Since Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition is limited edition and currently very hard to find, we left a link to the classic version.

Classic Package

Overall Build and Features

As an instrument, the MicroFreak is a hybrid semi-modular paraphonic four-voice synthesizer with a touch keyboard. It is based on a versatile digital oscillator and an analog filter with three modes. Both the traditional ADSR shape and the cyclic shape, which works as an additional modulation, are used as envelopes. MicroFreak's basic modulation capabilities are similar to those of Arturia's more advanced MatrixBrute synthesizer. The modulation matrix makes it very easy to assign different synthesizer parameters to any available source. MicroFreak also features an arpeggiator and two sequencers with four modulation tracks, allowing you to create complex shapes.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition pic 1

MicroFreak uses 13 different oscillator types. There are simple traditional wave types to choose from, as well as more complex and interesting waveforms. You can choose between harmonic, chordal, granular, and resonant oscillators. With the latest patch, a vocoder mode is now available, allowing you to use the signal from a microphone or any other external source as an oscillator, with all the available synthesis and modulation options.

An interesting feature of MicroFreak is the variation of the oscillator sound within the selected oscillator type. More specifically, the implementation itself is curious. The oscillator selection section offers three additional controls: Wave, Timbre and Shape, which allow you to smoothly change the sound by transforming the timbre. The parameters of these controls vary depending on the oscillator selected, but all are available for modulation. For simplicity, the display shows the adjustment of these parameters in the form of liquid-filled vessels of various shapes. And although the process is accompanied by inscriptions of the corresponding parameters, it looks very funny.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition pic 2

The filter has 3 modes of operation: Low Pass, Band Pass and High Pass. The available adjustments include the cutoff frequency and resonance setting. As you change the filter parameters, the display clearly shows the graphical view of the filter.

The conventional ADSR envelope controls the filter's cutoff frequency and amplitude. In Normal Mode, the envelope controls only the filter's cutoff frequency, while Amp Mode allows you to control the frequency along with the volume.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition pic 3

The Cyclic Envelope is a kind of advanced LFO that allows you to create more complex waveforms than you can with a standard LFO. In this envelope, you can not only adjust the rise, fall, and hold parameters, but also modulate them so that the envelope shape changes in real-time.

Of course, the synthesizer also has a standard LFO. It provides six wave types: sine, triangle, saw, meander & two types of random combinations. Synchronization is via internal clocks as well as external sources, including those connected via MIDI or USB.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition pic 4

One of the key features of MicroFreak is the use of a modulation matrix. This allows you to quickly and easily assign the desired parameters to the modulation sources. As you can see, there are five modulation sources available: Cyclic Envelope; ADSR Envelope; LFO; external source connected via pressure output; sequencer/arpeggiator. There are only seven parameters in the matrix, but to keep it from becoming dimensionless, three of the slots are assignable. Any of the remaining synthesizer parameters can be assigned to them. Modulation is assigned with the Matrix Encoder. When you move the cursor to the desired intersection point, pressing the encoder opens a menu with value range settings. Editing parameters that have already been assigned follows a similar scheme. Everything is very fast and clear.

Another interesting feature of MicroFreak is the built-in arpeggiator/step sequencer. The arpeggiator offers 4 variants of movement on a given chord: ascending, in pressing order, random, and conditionally random. The sequencer lets you create two parallel sequences of up to 64 beats. You can record the pitch of a note, the force with which it is pressed & its duration, and you can record changes in any 4 parameters of the synthesizer.

Undoubtedly, in our Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition review we should mention amazing touch-sensitive keys, based on the capacitive keyboard of the 1972 Buchla Easel synthesizer. MicroFreak uses 25 keys, which are tiny by keyboard instrument standards. Unlike a conventional keyboard, MicroFreak's touch keys respond not to the speed at which they are pressed, but to the area of contact. The larger the contact area, the higher the velocity or aftertouch value. This opens up additional possibilities for performance techniques, although it requires more careful handling of the coating.

Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition Connections

MicroFreak synthesizer offers great connectivity. Of course, there is a MIDI interface and there is also a CV/Gate port. The USB port is used to connect to a computer and use the synthesizer as a MIDI controller. The Arturia MIDI Control Center application allows you to work with all of the synthesizer's settings and presets. When you switch to Vocoder mode, the microphone is active. Headphones can be connected to the headphone jack on the top of the microphone holder.

Final Verdict on Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition

The Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition in white has all the great features of the classic black version of this synthesizer, plus a dedicated microphone for vocoder use. The capabilities of this modest instrument are enormous. As always, Arturia's French-made products offer musicians great opportunities for creative expression.

Our editorial team hopes you enjoyed our short review of the Arturia MicroFreak Vocoder Edition synthesizer. Unfortunately, our review was quite short and we didn't tell you about all the features and functions of this synthesizer in detail, because we already have a detailed review of the classic version of Arturia MicroFreak available at the link at the beginning of this article. Feel free to leave your comments, questions, and suggestions in the section below. We will be happy to answer all of them.

  • Good Price/Quality Ratio
  • Gooseneck microphone included in kit
  • Exclusive coloring of the synthesizer - white housing
  • In everything else it has all the pros of the classic Arturia MicroFreak version
  • Limited Edition - not easy to find at major online stores at the moment
Our Score

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