Arturia's MicroFreak gets a custom wavetable synth mode

The powerhouse budget synth gets another huge free update.

Terrence O'Brien / Engadget

One of my favorite budget synths just keeps getting better. After adding three new amazing oscillators earlier this year, Arturia is bringing custom wavetables to the MicroFreak as a free firmware update.

The MicroFreak already had a wavetable engine built in, so this isn't a huge stretch. But being able to import your own wavetables opens up a the ability to really build your own unique sounds. There are countless sources fo free wavetables out there ranging from classic analog tones, to icy atmospheres, to blasts of noise. But you can basically use any sound file you want. Hum into your phone, or capture audio of the stray cats in your neighborhood fighting, then upload it to the MicroFreak and turn it into a synthesizer.

Adding custom wavetables is easy enough using Arturia's MIDI Control Center desktop app. There's a dedicated tab for them at the top of the interface once you connect your Microfreak. You can only have 16 custom tables at a time, and the format can be a little tricky to nail if you're concerned about perfectly smooth sounding waves — 32 cycles consisting of 256 samples per cycle. But, if you just embrace its quirks, the WaveUser engine is capable of strange, wild and abrasive sounds that speak to the MicroFreak's strengths.

To show off the new WaveUser engine, of course there are 64 new presets. But, let's be honest, factory presets with Arturia provided wavetables kinda defeats the whole purpose here.

The new 4.0 firmware has a few other minor improvements as well. Including a faster scrolling speed option for the oscillator controls and the ability to use Unison and Chord modes can now be applied to every note, wether they're being played live, coming from sequencer or an external source.

MicroFreak 4.0 is available as a free update now on Arturia's website and through MIDI Control Centre.