When Arturia announced the MicroFreak in January of 2019 I said “there's nothing stopping Arturia from adding more oscillators down the road through firmware updates.” And the company has not disappointed. This past January it added a noise oscillator, plus chord and scale modes for simplified playing. Now owners are getting a vocoder mode.
A firmware update enables TRRS audio input — which has been hidden in the hardware this whole time — through the headphone jack and adds a 16-band vocoder oscillator option with three different waveforms. Obviously you can do the usual vocoder thing of singing into the synth now to sound like a robot. But you can process any external audio through it for strange whispering high hats or guitar chords that sing.
Arturia is celebrating this major update by also releasing a new limited edition white MicroFreak packaged with a gooseneck microphone. I’ve got to say, the new look is pretty spectacular. The orange and gold accents of the circuit board keybed and knobs really pop against the white. And the swan graphic inlay is lovely.
Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, the MicroFreak Vocoder edition does cost slightly more: $349 vs. $299 for the original. And, from what we can tell, Arturia doesn’t have any plans to sell the mic with built-in headphone adapter separately as an accessory.