Yves Usson Interview


Meet the man behind the Brute and the creator of the HackaBrute website: hackabrute.yusynth.net/
Yves Usson is a sound design fanatic since the 70's!! Five years ago he started as a consultant in Electronic Music when he got in touch with Arturia for the MiniBrute project.
Today he shares his passion and his knowledge on a dedicated website, with MiniBrute and MicroBrutes users, giving them tips and tricks to extend the power of their little beasts.
In parallel Yves works at the UGA (University Grenoble Alps, France) and he is appointed as a fulltime researcher in the field of biomedical engineering, by the main scientific research agency in France (C.N.R.S.).

Visite Me at http://hackabrute.yusynth.net/

Arturia: How your passion to analogue and modular synthesizers has started?

Yves Usson: It started long ago back in the 1970s when the first modular synthesizers showed up in the musical productions. Right on, I got captivated by those brand new electronic sounds. I was impressed by the huge modular synthesizers used by bands like ELP, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and others. I wanted to have one and dreamed to experiment sound design with these. But in those days, they were far out of reach for the modest student in Biology I was. Mind you, the price of a Mg Modular was that of a small house… As a hobby I was building short-wave receivers and trained myself to electronics by reading books. Therefore it was natural that I started to build myself a modest modular synthesizer. This was not an easy task because it was really hard to find documentation and technical information (there was Internet in those days). Eventually I finished to build it in 1979.
After a long break, I returned to this passion in 2000. While surfing on the Internet, I came across a site dedicated to SDIY (synthesizer do it yourself). And I realized that with Internet a lot of resources (schematics, service manuals) had become available and the basic electronic components (transistors, OPamps) for these were still available. That was it! My old passion was back, I had to build myself an analogue modular synthesizer. That was the beginning of my yusynth (http://yusynth.net) project.

Arturia: What was your participation to the MiniBrute synthesizer project?

Yves Usson: I have been hired by Arturia to design the analogue circuitry of the MiniBrute, that is all the sound production path. My contribution was first to choose the features to implement in the MiniBrute with Arturia’s staff and I spent a couple of sessions with them trying various combination of yusynth modules in order to choose the right modules and define what would be the sonic character of the MiniBrute. For this purpose I built a 12U cabinet that I stuffed with various modules: VCOs, VCFs, LFO, EGs… I must say this has been a very interesting and stimulating phase. Once this choice had been validated my responsibility was to provide the electronic schematics for the analogue circuitry (I actually built a complete prototype with classic through hole components). Then I backed up the industrialization process and helped to solve technical problems and eventually I contributed to the writing the user manual. In particular, I wrote the analogue synthesis tutorial as well as the description and use of the MiniBrute’s features.

Arturia: Can you explain what your website is about?

Yves Usson: The HackABrute.yusynth.net is a site dedicated to DIY modifications and hacking of the MiniBrute and MicroBrute synthesizers. During the early stage of the development of the MiniBrute we thought that it would be great if such a powerful small monophonic synthesizers could be easily extended by their owners. Hence we decided to make available as much as possible solder pads for supplementary inputs and outputs on the PCBs. Thus, the original design of the PCB is offering all that required to expand the MiniBrute. Well, that is for those who are not afraid of using a soldering iron.
Therefore, the aim of the Hackabrute site is to offer technical information (with the courtesy of Arturia) on the Brute series and also to gather and validate the possible hacks. I must say that all modifications or hacks that are published on my site have been tested by myself, either if I designed them or somebody designed one and proposed it for publication on the site.
However, applying the mods and hacks requires to be experienced with electronics and it must be clear, that by opening its MiniBrute the owner looses all warranties and it is the owner responsibility that is engaged if he applies any change or modification described in this site.