French developer Arturia create not only emulations of vintage synths but original hardware products too. In recent years Arturia have released not one but two analog drum machines in the shape of the Drumbrute and the newer Drumbrute Impact.
If you’re looking at purchasing one of the Drumbrute machines it can be a bit confusing to know which one to plump for so in this article I will compare the two and offer some opinions and advice and hopefully this will help you decide which of Arturia’s drum machines best suits your needs.
The Drumbrute Impact is cheaper than its older Drumbrute brother and introduce the ‘Color’ sound shaping tools. It offers 10 voices instead of the the Drumbrute’s 17, has 4 outputs instead of 8 and lacks the Drumbrute’s Steiner Parker output filter.
Drumbrute vs Drumbrute Impact: Features Comparison Chart:
|Dedicated Kick Drums||2||1|
|FM Sound Part||0||1|
|Accent Per Drum||Yes||Yes|
|Individual Outs||12 (unbalanced 3.5mm jack)||4 (Kick, Snare, FM Sound, Hats)|
|Headphone Out||3.5mm and 1/4” jacks||3.5mm|
|Built in Effects||Steiner Parker output filter with bypass||Output Distortion with bypass|
|Built in USB MIDI Interface||Yes||Yes|
|Dimensions||16.46 x 10.87 x 1.58 inches|
(418 x 276 x 40mm)
|13.5 x 9.6 x 2.2 inches (342 x 243 x 57mm)|
|Weight||5.69 lbs. (2.58 Kg)||4 lbs. (1.84 Kg)|
|Arturia Store Official Price (June 2021. Check third party retailers for offers.)||449.00 Euros (Approx $540)||299.00 Euros (Approx $360)|
Drumbrute vs Drumbrute Features: Key Differences Explained.
If you look at the chart above you can see an overview of the key differences between the Drumbrute and Drumbrute Impact. Below I take at a look at the differences in more detail, starting with the heart of both machines – the drum sounds.
The original Drumbrute gives you greater amount of individual drum parts with 17 sounds to play with in total, spread over 12 pads: Kick 1, Kick2, Snare, Clap, Rim (& Claves), Closed Hat, Open Hat, Tom Hi, Tom Low, Cymbal, Maracas (& Tambs) and Zap.
With the Drumbrute Impact you get 10 sound parts spread over 8 pads: Kick, Snare, Snare 2, Tom Hi (& Low) Cymbal (& Cowbell), Closed Hat, Open Hat and FM Drum.
The Drumbrute has the advantage in terms of sheer number of sounds and also the amount of dedicated parameters you can tweak per sound (I count 36 dedicated rotary encoders for sculpting the Drumbrutes sounds and 22 for the Drumbrute Impact).
Note that on both drum machines, when drum parts share the same pads (such as the Hi/Low Toms on the Drumbrute Impact), you can record independent patterns for each sound.
Two kicks for the Price of One!
When it comes to the all important kick (or bass) drum the Drumbrute offers not one but two dedicated drum parts. The first drum part dips a toe into TR-909 kick type territory with options for adjusting ‘Impact’ and ‘Sweep’ in addition to the usual Pitch and Decay controls. To its right, kick drum 2 flirts with a TR-808 type of sound and has options for tweaking Pitch and Decay only.
Be aware that the Drumbrute’s sounds are not meant to be direct emulations of Roland’s sounds but given the analogue nature of the Drumbrute’s architecture it is only natural that you’ll be able to detect certain sonic similarities.
Impact by Name – Impact by Nature!
The Drumbrute Impact’s single kick drum is less versatile and gives you rotary encoder control over Pitch and Decay values only. What the Impact’s kick lacks in versatility, however, it makes up for in terms of punch and agression so if you like your kicks to hit hard in the chest then the Impact is worth investigating.
Need more Cowbell?
If you can’t get enough cowbell then note that the Impact comes with one pad for 808 style Cowbell (shared with Cymbal) whereas the Drumbrute offers Tamborine and Maracas instead.
The Magic of Color!
At first glance it might appear that, thanks to its bigger sound selection and more rotary encoders for sound scuplting, the Drumbrute runs rings around its baby brother (or sister), however the Drumbrute Impact has a trick up its sleave in the form of the addition of the rather tasty ‘Color’ feature.
Turn on the “Color” feature and it is like running your drum sounds through an effects plugin. You get a different variation of Color for each drum type: Drive for the kick drum and Decay for the Toms, for example. (The exception to this is the Cowbell which is not affected by the Color mode while the Cymbal it shares a pad with gets a harmonics boost.
Pads turn orange to show when Color mode is active and each step in your beat can have Color activated or deactived on a per instrument basis. Overall the Color feature is a worthy addition to the Drumbrute, especially if you tend to favour drums with bite and grit. If you like clean, sterile or clinical sounding electronic drums then you might find the Color mode is not to your tastes.
FM Drum vs Zap Drum
The Drumbrute has a ‘Zap’ part while the Drumbrute Impact has a capable FM Drum part. Of the two the ‘Zap’ part is the least interesting and is not ‘Zappy’ enough for my tastes. Don’t expect the Zap effects to send clubbers running for cover – it’s an adequate but pretty tame affair and something of a missed opportunity in my opinion.
The Impact’s FM Drum unit, meanwhile, is a much more versatile percussion and sound effect generator part based on FM (Frequencey Modulation) synthesis. Four dedicated knobs give you control over Mod Pitch, FM Amount, Carrier Pitch and Decay. Turn up the Modulation and the FM Drum is capable of some interesting tones. It obviously isn’t going to be as capable as a dedicated FM synth but it is an easy to use and proves to be a useful sound generator. Color mode can be activated for the FM Drum too.
Filter vs Distortion
When it comes to built in effects you’ll need to decide if you’re a filter or a distortion kind of person! With the Drumbrute you can toggle a high-pass/low-pass Steiner-Parker filter on and off and adjust the filter’s resonance control.
The Drumbrute Impact opts for for a tasty distortion effect which adds even more impact, grit and drive to your beats as well as providing a compressor type ‘glue’ to the final output. Note that you can opt to bypass the distortion effect on the kick, snare, hats and FM Drum parts by using the four individual outs on the back of the unit.
In an ideal world the Drumbrute Impact would have the Steiner-Parker filter too – and a reverb woud be sweet too! – but obviously that would bump up the price.
Which Drumbrute to Buy?
Regardless of which Drumbrute drum machines you opt for, you’re unlikely to be disappointed especially if you favor gritty, electronic sounds. Both machines deliver in terms of meaty, juicy analog sounds and both machines represent excellent value for money.
If I was forced to pick one I’d opt for the Drumbrute impact (in fact I did exactly that in the Summer of 2020). Not only is it a cheaper but its 10 sounds rather the original Drumbrute’s 17 is perfectly adequate for my needs (I typically make beats that require 8 or parts less parts as I find adding more sounds just confuses things – or at least it confuses me!) The icing on the cake for me is the ‘Color’ mode which is genuinely useful and I find myself using it every single time I use my Drumbrute Impact.
Another factor you might like to consider is size. The original Drumbrute is both bigger and heavier than the Drumbrute Impact.
What Type of Genres Are the Drumbrutes Best Suited to?
Leaning at they do towards Roland TR type sounds, while bringing their own distinct flavors to the mix, in my opinion both drum machines are rather excellent for House and Techno drum track production in particular and Electronica in general. If you’re working in any type of electronic or dance music styles, both drum machines offer plenty of bang for your buck!
Who Uses the Drumbrute?
Arturia’s Drumbrute has found a home in many a professinal setup. Composer Tom Salta is a fan and DJ/Producer Carl Craig is a fan, to name just two.
Who Uses the Drumbrute Impact?
Likewise, the Drumbrute Impact has more than its fair share of famous fans. Techno producer Kenny Larkin says: “… the sound of this thing is massive! The redesigned engine is amazing. Add in the disortion and it’s on another level … this badboy is my new go to machine for kick and snare!”