July 11, 2022 0 By GerenM

It’s always interesting to have some time with the MicroFreak, and this little jam is no exception.

This jam started as a response to a discussion on a discord server about stacking reverbs, in this case, the FLAMMA FS02 into the Alesis MIDIVERB II and over driving the input stage of the Alesis just slightly. I dashed off some quick examples, and then proceeded to play around for the next couple of hours. Since I didn’t record any of the jam last night, this morning I did a “short” version, which I did record.

The Arturia MicroFreak is an amazing little instrument that lends itself really well to making music like this. It’s the first synth I bought when I embarked on this new journey into electronic music creation back in October of 2020, and it’s capable of producing an astonishing array of timbres that can morph or switch almost endlessly. It still remains my favorite synth to just sit down and play around with. Its downfall for many people is that it has no internal effects. Some people also complain that the output isn’t loud enough. While I’ve never found that to be a problem, I have found that it matches up perfectly with effects pedals generally intended for guitars.

Most of the gear used for this little jam — MicroFreak, Flamma FS05, FS03, and FS02. Not shown is the Alesis MIDIVERB II, or any of the computer bits.

So, not having fixed effects necessitates connecting the output of the MicroFreak to something to get anything other than the dry output. That something could be the input of a mixer or DAW, where effects can be applied (running the MicroFreak through Ableton’s Convolution Reverb Pro and Echo plug-ins in Live can sound amazing). In the LIVEmJAM … jam … I chose to continue with the external hardware approach. The signal chain takes the mono output from the MicroFreak into a Flamma FS05 Modulation pedal for some additional movement and stereo width. From there, the signal path is stereo to a Flamma FS03 Delay, then to an FS02 Reverb, and finally to the ancient Alesis MIDIVERB II.

On the MicroFreak, I created a new preset, got a little random arpeggiation going, and started to fool around with all the knobs and buttons. Once I found a starting point I liked, I started recording the “show.” And, while I chose to record this directly into my computer, I could just as easily have used any recording device, such as my Zoom H1 recorder.

As much as I enjoyed the sounds I achieved with this particular setup, there’s no control of the “final” reverb, since the MIDIVERB II is a preset-only device — just input, mix, and output levels, and program selection. I do really like the sound of the Alesis, though. The MIDIVERB III (from 1990) had editing ability, but only through a series of buttons and a small display. A single knob came with the MIDIVERB 4. But, apparently the newer models didn’t sound as good.

Here’s the first “example” clip with just the FS02 and MIDIVERB 2. It’s in four parts:

  1. Microfreak clean
  2. Microfreak through FS02
  3. Microfreak through MIDIVERB II
  4. Microfreak through FS02 + MIDIVERB II with input to MIDIVERB II slightly overdriven.

For some more examples of other MIDIVERB II presets when used with a synth, you can check out this clip (my own will follow at a later date):