Creamware Minimax ASB
The "ASB" in the CreamWare Minimax name stands for "Authentic Sound Box" and was an attempt by the company to combine digital emulations of classic analog synths with physical hardware. The hardware that the Minimax is trying to imitate is of course the classic Moog Minimoog D, but instead of attempting a 100% authentic recreation of the original CreamWare has added some additional features as well. The biggest difference is that while the Minimoog is strictly monophonic, the Minimax is capable of 12-note polyphonic.
The Minimax retains a lot of the quirks that made the Minomoog such an interesting instrument and the entire design is quite faithful to the original hardware as well. Although the Minimax does not feature a keyboard like the Minimoog had, it does have MIDI capabilities, which makes it easy to hook up one of your own. The front of the Minimax is split up into sections dedicated to output, modifiers, mixer, controllers and the oscillator bank. Below all of the knobs and dials you will also find a configuration strip that is dedicated to some of the more modern features of the Minimax, such as polyphonic mode, patch memories and so on.
On the back of the Minimax you will find a USB socket as well as MIDI In, Out and Thru, along with audio connections for sound output. The USB or MIDI connections can be used to connect the Minimax to a computer where you can use the remote control software that was included with the synth to do on-screen editing of all its parameters. Obviously, when connected to a computer, the Minimax can also be used within your DAW of choice.
The Minimax was released at a time when virtual synths still sounded very digital compared to their analog counterparts. The minimax managed to bring back some of the warmth that makes many people prefer analog over digital, while also offering physical hardware to interact with for those who do not like working with a DAW. Although the Minimax is not the type of hardware for people who want as many features as possible packed into their synth, it kept things simple and accessible as well as very faithful to the original Minimoog.
While the CreamWare Minimax ASB was definitely a groundbreaking product for its time, there are a couple of reasons why it is no longer such a great investment. Because it is a virtual analog instrument, it means that the sound is outdated compared to more recent developments in this field. Seeing as CreamWare is no more, it also means that there are no more updates for the Minimax and if you encounter any troubles with the hardware you can't expect customer care. However, if you can find the Minimax for a reasonable price, it is still a great instrument to play around with.