4 New Synths for Summer! Moog Minitaur, MeeBlip SE, Arturia MiniBrute, DSI Mopho x4

2012 has been the year of hardware, with many notable instrument makers rolling out new gear to tempt our lust for electronics. The summer has seen the launch of a few notable pieces of gear and we gather four affordable synth picks for your temptation.

MeeBlip SE

The MeeBlip SE is a fantastic product for those just getting into synthesis as well as those wanting to go deeper into understanding how sounds are created electronically. The MeeBlip SE is an open-source, build-it-yourself synthesizer that offers two oscillators, loads of knobs and switches, and complete hackability. The price of the kit ranges from $30 – $170 (depending on how much of it you want to construct yourself), making it one of the most affordable synthesizers on the market today. We love the idea of learning the inner workings of the synth to make a physical connection to the sounds it creates. Once constructed, the MeeBlip SE offers some meaty synth sounds and a plethora of knobs and switches on the front panel to affect your signal. The project was launched by Reflex Audio’s James Grahame and Create Digital Music’s Peter Kirn as an open-source kit that is meant to be hacked or built to your own personal specifications: “MeeBlip is a hackable, affordable digital synthesizer, made for accessible sound and hands-on control. It can be someone’s first synth. It can be a unique-sounding addition to your music setup, playable with MIDI hardware and software. It can be a synth you open up and modify, learning about sound creation, code, and electronics. Or it can be the basis of new projects and ideas.”

Moog Minitaur

The Moog Minitaur is one synth that has been on everyone’s wish list since its debut at NAMM earlier this year. It’s a monophonic synth that takes the sounds of Moog’s classic (and much more expensive) Taurus bass pedals and puts them in a small box with USB connectivity and loads of knobs for approximately $599. The price is what has caught many people’s attention — it’s the most affordable synth that Moog has ever produced. What really matters, though, is the sound. Having heard it first hand, we can confirm that it delivers classic Moog sound with plenty of hands-on control for tweaking. While it has no presets, this is actually part of the appeal of the device as you can sculpt sounds from scratch and simultaneously learn your way around subtractive synthesis.

Arturia MiniBrute

The MiniBrute also caught our eye at NAMM earlier this year, where it was gaining much praise as Arturia’s first venture into producing a hardware synthesizer. It looks a bit like an SH-101, comes with an affordable price tag ($549) and sounds rather mean. Arturia explains, “MiniBrute’s 100% analog audio signal path features a VCO wave mixer, the classic Steiner-Parker multimode filter, as well as numerous analog innovations such as the Metalizer, Ultrasaw, and the Brute Factor. Boasting complete MIDI, CV and USB connectivity, MiniBrute is right at home with your computer or your vintage synths, making it the ideal companion to deliver a pure analog blast anywhere you go.” The unit has no presets and only has one oscillator, but it’s capable of a wide palette of sounds with loads of hands-on control as well as USB connectivity to allow the MiniBrute to act as a MIDI controller or be controlled via USB MIDI. This synth really has a lot of power happening for the price and is therefore sold out in many shops currently.

Dave Smith Mopho x4

Boutique synth creators Dave Smith Instruments have recently announced a synth that was unexpected in the summer lineup: the Dave Smith Mopho x4. The original Mopho has been incredibly popular for its sound and features at a relatively low price. The x4 is more expensive than previous versions but it also packs in “four voices composed of two analog oscillators, two sub-octave generators, a selectable 2- or 4-pole famed Curtis low-pass filter, three 5-stage envelope generators, four LFOs, a re-latchable arpeggiator, and a 16 x 4 step sequencer.” The Mopho x4 has an announced price of $1299. No word on when it will actually hit the streets but it’s on our wish list for the holidays.