Arturia PolyBrute 12 – reward for long waits

While we’re admirers of the mono / paraphonic MatrixBrute since its first day, we were a little more cautious with the original version of the Polybrute. That polyphonic synthesizer, released in 2020, offered heaps of interesting features, but the low polyphony and the mercilessly flat panel made us doubt the instrument. Now, however, things have changed: PolyBrute 12 is here!

Arturia PolyBrute 12

First, a few facts:

Arturia PolyBrute 12

Arturia PolyBrute 12

The new synthesizer not only offers the longed-for higher polyphony, but also a beefier look with an – admittedly only “slightly” – angled control panel. The cream-colored chassis also has several black ventilation grilles at the back, which are strongly reminiscent of the Yamaha CS-80. First impression: appealing!

With its dimensions of 972 x 435 x 156 mm, the PolyBrute 12 is almost 6 centimetres deeper and almost 5 centimetres higher than its predecessor. The weight (23 kg) has also increased by another 3 kilograms compared to the first PolyBrute of 2020 – which is not surprising considering the larger chassis.

Arturia PolyBrute 12

Arturia PolyBrute 12

These are, of course, only minor details. The new aftertouch, however, should by no means be seen as a detail. There are actually 3 aftertouch variants available: monophonic AT, polyphonic AT and the ALT aftertouch mode. The latter is also polyphonic and allows, for example, the special control of individual notes through physical finger control of the VCF and VCA envelope.

Strictly speaking: press the keys differently and see what’s happening … the envelopes act according to the draught position of each individual key! In Arturia’s words: The key vertical position represents your envelope value. Attack times are slowed down or accelerated, as are decay times. Sustain reacts “above” or “below” 50% of the (individual) key height as an amplifier or as an attenuator.

Arturia PolyBrute 12

When playing, each key draught is slightly different in any way, and the fingers never remain still, which means that each key’s vertical position and its corresponding envelope behaviour changes continuously. We haven’t tried it yet, but musically this definitely seems to be the “polyphonic aftertouch PLUS“. If the sonic result is achieved without any technical noise (zipper noises), then it’s perfect!

The previously described sensitivity can be used to trigger the envelopes immediately – which is, in fact, another mode of ALT Aftertouch. When a keyboard key is pressed for the first time, triggering occurs at very first moment, the key’s top edge, whereas the entire remaining path to the bottom of the keyboard (the subsequent pressing of individual notes) provides corresponding values for the polyphonic aftertouch.

Arturia PolyBrute 12

This remaining path to the bottom of the keyboard can even be divided into two areas that transmit both Poly-AT and Mono-AT information. All the generated values – individually per key and / or globally for the keyboard – are available in the modulation matrix for further linking and sound design. Note: Velocity is also available … it’s so self-evident that it doesn’t need much mentioning.

The countless other PolyBrute 12 controllers – Wheels, Ribbon, Morphée and much more – have largely been known since the first PolyBrute version in 2020. While some areas now might contain some extra functions, every PolyBrute owner should find their way around the PolyBrute 12 immediately – the interface and basic functions have essentially remained the same … with the exception of the new aftertouch compartment.

Arturia PolyBrute 12

Arturia PolyBrute 12

A small drawback. There are only two audio outputs (left / right = stereo out(, which seems a bit meagre for an luxurious analog instrument with 12 voices and split / layer. However, this could well be an option for a third PolyBrute version … maybe … somewhen in the future.

Conclusion: The evolution from the original PolyBrute to the PolyBrute 12 is a remarkable leap. With its – it’s fair to say – uniquely sensitive keyboard, the PolyBrute 12 is breaking new ground and will definitely be a highlight at SuperBooth 24. Its price? Approx. 3,900 Euros …


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Further info: www.arturia.com

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“Es genügt, einen Ton schön zu spielen” sagte der Komponist Arvo Pärt im Jahre 2005. Diese Aussage ist ebenso einfach wie ich auch exzellent: Es braucht kein Meer an Tönen, denn entscheidend ist der Klang. Dass so mancher Vintage-Synthesizer der 70er und 80er Jahre teils unerreicht hochwertige Klänge liefert, steht außer Frage. Doch tatsächlich leben wir “heute” in einer nahezu perfekten Zeit. Einerseits hat man – mehr oder weniger – noch Zugriff auf die Vintage Analogen, andererseits wird auch bei Neugeräten die wichtige Komponente des hochwertigen Klanges wieder zunehmend berücksichtigt. Doepfer, Cwejman, Synthesizers.com, MacBeth, Moog, GRP, Studio Electronics, COTK, John Bowen und andere Hersteller bauen hervorragende Synthesizer, die den “Klassikern” in nichts nachstehen. All diesen (alten wie neuen) “großartigen” Instrumenten ist Great Synthesizers gewidmet. _________________________________________________________ In 2005 composer Arvo Pärt said: “Playing one tone really well is enough”. In other words, it is sufficient to play one tone 'beautifully'. I agree with that. All musical efforts are focused on the sound itself. Although I studied classical music (piano and drums), it’s the electronic sound that inspires me. Synthesizers are the epitome of new sounds and exciting tonal spheres. Today, many companies produce high-quality - excellent! - synthesizers: Doepfer, Cwejman, MacBeth, Moog, GRP, Synthesizers.com, COTK, Studio Electronics, John Bowen and others. It's their products I'm really interested in ... apart from Vintage Synthesizers, which I have been collecting for 20 years. Subsequent to our former websites Bluesynths and Blogasys, Peter Mahr and I have now created GreatSynthesizers. We hope you like it.

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