Arturia Polybrute ► 200+ custom sounds

Presets compatible with firmware ver 3.0 or higher.


FAQ / read before you buy

Via Instant Buy & Download:
Click your preferred currency: $29.90 (USD) / €28.90 (EUR) / £25.90 (GBP) – This platform works with credit & debit cards and / or PayPal. You will receive a download link to your e-mail after the purchase (check your spam folder too).

What’s in the bundle?:
You will receive all the sounds that you hear in all my demos plus extra. This is 213 patches / presets in total. Every preset has two sounds / layers in it (morphable A & B). You will also get all the sequences that I play (they are stored as patch data). I did not use the Motion Recorder so you can use it for your own purposes.

What format / import method?:
My soundpack comes as a project (filename*.pbproject) that can be imported into your Polybrute via the official “Polybrute Connect” software. The presets are named “number + WCOG” (for example “185-WCOG”).

What genre / style?:
There is no one style, because YOU decide what style these patches will be played in:) It’s a wide variety of sounds that are meant to inspire, make you look at the synth in a different light and give you a great choice of directions. Some patches are bread & butter, some offbeat; they’re the result of me trying to find the limits of the instrument. The sounds are ready-to-use in music or can serve as starting points; just pick the textures or dynamics that you like and easily fine-tune them to suit your exact taste or purpose.

Any external stuff?:
I did not use any external FX in the demo; all the delays, reverbs, noises and other effects are part of the Polybrute engine / mod matrix.


Notes on grades lower than 3/3:

[modern]: “retro” fx & oscs, no fancy filters, limited polyphony, etc.
[engine]: no wavetables, stripped down mod matrix, limited fx control
[flex]: very flexible but within limits of its filters & oscs (Minifreak more versatile)
[ui]: some menu diving, stiff buttons
[build q]: everything is great apart from the peculiar keybed
[soft / mgmt]: backup only via PBConnect, registration hassle, slow soft



INTRO

Ever since I uploaded my Matrixbrute video I’ve been regularly seeing your comments like “do the polybrute now!” / “polybrute awaits you” / “I am patiently waiting for a polybrute demo”. If you want to know my honest feelings at that time, the Polybrute wasn’t a priority for me. In my view it was just a polyphopnic Matrixbrute – and a half-baked one at that (v 1.0). Of course I was curious, as with every new synth – maybe just not curious enough to spend $2500 to satisfy that curiosity. But what options did I have? None;) The comments were popping up so often and with such persistence that I knew one day I needed to finally lay my hands on this synth. Now that firmware v 3.0 has been released I think the time is ripe.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS / KEYBED

My first impression after unpacking the PB and putting it on a stand (apart from its insane weight) was how bizarre and cheap the keyboard looked. There was just something odd about it. My intuition told me to grab a caliper and measure a standard, full-size keybed on a different synth. Then I did the same with my PB keys.

Holy cow! The width of a standard key is 23 mm for white keys and 9 mm for black keys. But in PB it’s 22/8! The PB keys have been “truncated”, probably to reduce the physical dimensions of the unit. Was it a good idea to equip a premium-tier synth designed for expressive playing with a cheap-feel, narrow-key keyboard?… We can debate that.


THE SOUND
(when you know it)

I’ve praised the sound of the Matrixbrute so much that it would be silly & boring to go through it again, but I can’t help it. The Polybrute sounds as good – or even better if you judge the polyphony aspect as added value. The starting tone of the oscillators is alive, soft, warm, drifty & sizzly to the point that other synths like Cobalt-8 or Hydra will never ever achieve, even with all their “Vintage Parameters” / “Warm Modes” at full throttle or all their mod matrix slots creatively assigned to mimick that behavior. If you’re after that sort of vibe, Polybrute is a must-check option.

Then, after some modulations and mangling, the color palette becomes morbidly “decayed” – this is an aspect of sound I’ve always dreamed about when I imagined new synthesizer models. Polybrute plays like a thing from the previous century; I can sense a kind of “mould” in the timbre. In this respect it’s one of the best choices out there (“best” as in “hard to replace with a substitute”). It is the only synth known to me that can mimick the sound of knocking on wood. And this is fantastic.


THE SOUND
(if you don’t know it)

However, for a lot of folks the honeymoon may not be that idyllic. I think it goes like this: a considerable amount of people judge a synth by the looks of it. The Polybrute is a big boy and it comes with a lot of knobs & buttons, so the natural assumption is that it’s an instant-gratification synth that will allow you to quickly come up with the sound you have in your head. The reality might be very different for new users.

It’s easy to get the impression the Polybrute is not a very agreeable or flexible-sounding instrument. You may have a feeling that it will always sound like a cheesy organ running through a tube amp and / or sponge. And then you may become tempted to go on Youtube or a forum and complain that “the Polybrute looks great on paper but does not work for me in practice”, or vent your frustration that you hate this “Arturia sound” after watching a couple of demos. At least that’s my suspicion about what a lot of people are doing.

But I have a piece of advice for you: stop browsing forums or Youtube and just sit down in front of this synth for a couple of sessions, each lasting minimum 4 or 5 hours. Patience & creativity, plus some inner strength to push yourself one step further into the unknown (or the un-obvious) will make you realize the uncanny power & usability of this device. I assure you that your energy won’t go down the drain – it will be a quick-return investment.

The first place that I go to with a new synth to learn its potential and have some creative fun is the mod matrix. This is the segment that oftentimes defines any given synth for me, like in the recently acquired Sequential TAKE-5. With a mod matrix, I can put any two chosen parameters out on a boxing ring, so to speak, and make them clash to see how they behave in extreme situations. But Polybrute’s mod matrix is not that deep – much less deep than in Take-5 as a matter of fact. You can pick an envelope, an LFO, keytracking, velocity (+ aftertouch / mod wheel / morphee) as a source, and that’s pretty much the end of it.

That’s why the segment which I would call most powerful & most defining for the Polybrute (and most essential to learn) is the filtering department. There’s a lot of possibilites to be explored & utilized with all the routings / slopes, noisy filter FM, distortion & brute factors, mixing and continuity of the parameters. Continuity means that instead of just switching between parameters, you can make a seamless (fluid) transition between them. You can also seamlessly modulate that from the mod matrix.

To tell you the truth, the Polybrute’s flexible filtering has set a new standard for me and has spoilt me just like the Hydrasynth spoilt me with its carefree routability of its modules / parameters. If any new synth that I come across lacks these features, it feels incomplete. I’ve really grown to appreciate the Polybrute’s ability to route the signal through a highpass filter first, then through a lowpass, and then define the balance with a “series / para” knob. I do subscribe in some part to the proposition that “limitations breed creativity”, but I am also starting to miss that feature on any other new synth that does not have it.


THE ESSENCE

But what is the Polybrute about? Why was it released at all? Is it really a polyphonic Matrixbrute? Yes and no.

I say yes, because if you keep your wild fantasies at bay, stay on the conventional side of things, or restrain your needs to the more traditional sound structures, then the Polybrute can really be looked at as a polyphonic Matrixbrute. This means that if you have a nice lead sound or a pluck sound on your MB and you think “wow, I love this patch and I could really benefit if I was able to play a chord with it”, then the Polybrute comes to your rescue. Both synths are in the “Brute” family after all.

But my personal opinion is NO – the Polybrute should not be regarded as a polyphopnic Matrixbrute. This assumption doesn’t make much sense. There is one important idea behind this synth which has huge implications for the way the synth sounds, looks and behaves. It’s the morphing.

Any way you look at it, the morphing feature is a thing to appreciate. A feat of engineering for the engineers among you, a fountain of creativity for the artists among you, or a source of expressiveness for the performance-oriented folks. But the goodness comes at a price.

The idea of morphing (and the technical execution of this feature) takes away some goodies from the Matrixbrute engine and interface. This applies, for example, to the audio mod section (less routes), the oscillator section (no ultrasaw), and the mod matrix (no independent amp env on the source list). This is by no means a deal-breaker – we can live without these features. But the fact you should not ignore is that while the Matrixbrute was a “no compromises” synth with a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), ultra-instant-gratificaton interface, the Polybrute is less than that. The synth is less focused on the uninterrupted sound-design side of things in order to become a little bit more focused on the performance / expressivity side of things.


UI / WORKFLOW

Some parameters that were accessible straight away from the MB’s front panel are now hidden in a menu, most notably (and most uncomfortably) the tuning for the oscillators – there’s no fine-tune knob. Some amount of the new features (non-existent on the MB) is only accessible from a menu. This applies to [Unison Detune], [EQ] or [Vibrato], among others.

The biggest disappointment for me personally is with the mod effect. We can choose between a chorus, an ensemble, some flangers & phasers – plus more. But there is only one knob that controls any & every aspect of the effect of your choice. The [Tone / Rate], [Width / Depth] and [Dry / Wet] settings do not exist. Again – we can live with that, especially if we decide to use the [Chorus], but having a [Ring Modulator] without independent control of its speed & intensity is pretty useless IMO. I find this new reality quite odd.

It’s hard to forget the fact that all these knobs / features were present on the Matrixbrute – a fact which now makes them so painfully “conspicuous by their absence” (if I may quote a classic;). The Minifreak is a much more versatile synth in this respect with its 3 FX parameters, all fully continuous.

Continuous – this is the key word and this is yet another downside of the Polybrute. As long as the filter parameters are charmingly continuous, all those menu features on the Polybrute are not. It’s only a choice of fixed values. So, for example, instead of being able to adjust the low / middle / high band of the [EQ module] you can only choose a factory preset for it. Instead of the usual control of [Unison Detune], you can only detune it within the bracket of 8 fixed choices. This limiting lack of continuity in some parameters is the most quirky feature of this otherwise powerful, comfortable & flashy synth.

Thank god the ribbon controller is one of the most comfortable ribbons out there, unlike the Hydrasynth. The morphee also behaves nice.


THE DEAL

Do I like the synth? Yes, very much. So much that if I were confronted with the silly yet popular challenge / dillema “you can only keep 3 synths in your studio, which would it be?” – I would have to think really hard about the PB. And it would probalby make it into my top 3 for its organic sound, nice UI and above-average versatility.

Is it “my favorite synth ever” or is “Polybrute – my only desert island synth”? Judging by the record number of videos I’ve made with it (4) you could think so, but I’m not in the business of clickbait;) I’ll say this instead: it seems to be a pricey synth because it’s over the $2000 mark, but in a world of $3500 Trigons and $5000 OB-X-Eights, I think the $2500 Polybrute is pretty cheap for what it can do and how it can do it. The specific nature of its tuning, the odd keybed, the complex filtering, the insane weigth, the unmusical FM plus the woody / “organ” default sound – all of that doesn’t make the Polybrute a recipe for a smash hit in the synth world. The synth crowd seems to go after things that are smaller, easier to grasp, or have something in them that makes them special – like Hydrasynth because of its poly aftertouch, Dave Smith’s Prophets because of their sonic footprint that has colonized almost every record of the last half-century, any Oberheim because of the “Oberheim” in its name, or any clone of a synth that is sufficiently legendary.

The PB is no less special, but I think it can only be fully appreciated past the marketing stage – after you’ve spent some time with the synth and comprehended how challenging it must have been to put all that intrictate systems into one device. The initial excitement about playing your big & new thing gives way to a deeper kind of excitement – one where you’re starting to understand the power of the fusion between your creativity, the Polybrute’s “alive” sound and its flexible features. Once you go past a certain threshold of understanding and commanding it to behave like you want it to, performing & experiencing music on this synth becomes pure delight.

If Arturia ever creates a synth which combines Polybrute’s core sound with Minifreak’s engine flexibility and Sequential’s UI & exterior design (in the vein of Prophet-6 / OB-6 which are easy to gig on), it could become one of the most successful synths ever. As for now, I’m pretty sure Polybrute’s unique timbre, plus the sound design possibilities have turned it into a frequent dweller of recording studios of all kind. I have this image coming back to my head: a band recording an album and coming up with an idea for a vibey, visceral patch, and the studio owner saying “yeah, I know what you mean, I think I’ve got just what you need – and he / she comes up to a stand and removes the dust cover off a Polybrute;) With other synths (like the Trigon-6 or Gaia-2 for example) it’s easy to make simple, easily-recognizable or easily-definable presets ready for music & mixing. In Polybrute, on the other hand, it makes more sense to explore the hidden oddities, to try various little tweaks with filters’ panning (which is different than voice panning), try out the poly cycle-reset-reassign modes, experiment with pre-amping your soundwave in order to come up with patches that may be simple or compex – yet always unique and nuanced. It’s a nerd’s synth, in the most positive meaning of this word / phrase.

 

Support this page when you buy gear:
[full story]

arturia polybrute custom patches presets soundset soundpack soundbank download

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. strempo

    One thing I’m not sure if you missed is using voice number in the mod matrix – there’s your continuous unison detune on the front panel (although admittedly more complicated than a single knob and you’d probably want to remember to switch off the mod if you wanted to go back to playing polyphonically)

  2. BennyBlanco

    Great sounds, a must for PB users. Curious though, how do you see it compared to the extremely more expensive Moog One, 8 voice to be more fair?

  3. Daniel

    Beautiful presets, insightful review.

  4. Randolf lofs

    I can’t believe no company has ever asked you to do a video or factory patches. I send arturia your weblink and asked them to think about contacting you. I really hope you release your demo number one very soon. So excited to see how you got into it.

Leave a Reply