When Arturia launched the MicroFreak in early 2019 I said “there's nothing stopping Arturia from adding more oscillators down the road through firmware updates.” They have born that out time and time again. In January of last year it added a noise source and just this past August a Vocoder mode. The frequent updates are one of the reasons it’s among the best bang-for-your-buck synths out there. Now though it’s getting perhaps its biggest addition yet — three new oscillators from Eurorack experimentalists Noise Engineering.
There’s Bass, which uses west-coast style wave folding on a quadrature oscillator to get gritty low end, Harm, which combines wavefolding and additive synthesis, and SawX, which is a supersaw sound but with chorus and phase modulation.
While all three have their specialties, they’re also quite versatile. You can get thudding bass from the Harm voice and twinkling leads from the Bass. The SawX is adept at both leads and pads. The new presets highlighting the added oscillator types cover everything from percussion, to crazy risers, to broken sounding keys. The new sounds definitely lean into the MicroFreak’s digital nature, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. If you’re into industrial or techno or hyper-pop there’s a ton to like here.
With all the new sounds and soundpacks being released over the last two years (including the must-download Nostalgia and Reminiscence from Oscillator Sink) the MicroFreak is starting to feel a little claustrophobic, so Arturia bumped the number of preset slots from 256 to 384, giving you more room to save your favorites along with your own creations. The latest firmware will also restore whatever the most recently used preset was when you turn it on, which might seem like a minor tweak, but a welcome one if you’ve been obsessed with something save in slot 240.
Lastly, firmware v3 includes a four-voice unison mode with a spread of up to 12 semitones that can be also be a modulation destination.
I spent about 15 minutes playing around with the new firmware which is available now as a free download. Hear a short demo below — all sounds courtesy of the three new MicroFreak oscillators, except for the drums which come from Elektron’s Model:Cycles.