Bass Station II turns 2.5: filter tracking, paraphonic mode, microtuning

Novation’s Bass Station has reached the 25 year mark – and their Bass Station II synth gets a significant set of updates as “2.5” to celebrate. Think new sound design possibilities and architectural wonders, plus microtuning. Let’s look:

Let’s face it – as much as the 90s were a great era for techno and dance music and pop, and even as they saw the gradual rise of computers for audio (which, hey, we like around here), the decade did not produce a lot of classic synths. The Bass Station is one gorgeous exception to that. Hands-on, simple, affordable, friendly, it was an outlier at the time but a sign of what would endure in synths. It had a great lineage – Chris Huggett built on his clever Wasp design. And it was an alternative to the ubiquitous Roland TB-303 for bass lines, as the name implies. You can check out that history in a new Novation blog piece:

The Bass Station Story

But you’re not here to relive the year 1993. (Oh, God … please don’t send me back to high school.) No, you’re here to get some new sounds out of the Bass Station II.

Novation has been giving users a lot of what they want in firmware updates, but this time we’re especially fortunate.

Paraphonic mode. By giving you independent control of the pitch of each of the two oscillators, you can now play two notes at once (via the same single-voice architecture with ring and filter modulation).

Filter tracking. The filter now follows the keyboard pitch if you like.

Envelope retriggering. This opens up various possibilities – rhythmic modulation, you name it. The basic idea: as an envelope reaches the end of its decay, it triggers again.

Oscillator error. Adjust random detune on each note on, for subtle analog-style inconsistencies or wilder extremes.

Edit microtuning. Mmm, microtonal!

You also get new preset packs and the ability to customize the display (“Hello, world!”) when the units boot.

Novation has a user group on Facebook for owners:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/synthowners

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Novation Polysynth-Story – 80er-Style Story mit Nick, Chris Huggett und allen Novationisten

Novation Story

Novation bieten schon länger Synthesizer, Grooveboxen und eben auch analoge polyphone Synthesizer an. Wie kam es dazu und wer steckt dahinter?

Novation? Wer sind die eigentlich? Einige haben vielleicht Chris Calcutt kennengelernt, der nette Mensch mit dem Bart auf der Superbooth? Aber es sind schon eine ganze Gruppe von Menschen, der Bekannteste ist vermutlich Chris Huggett. Er entwickelte auch den Wasp und den OSCar und, was viele eher nicht wissen, er war später auch am Akai S1000 beteiligt. Für Novation hat der dem Peak und der BassStation 2 zu ihrem Glanz verholfen und es sind trotzdem doch mehr Leute hinter Novation.

Novation Synthesizer – die Geschichte im Video

Ben Rossborough, Jerome Meunier, Nick Bookman und Danny Nugent und zu meiner Überraschung Nick Batt sind mit im Team der Erzähler. Hier wird doch eher emotional gesagt, wie das früher war, wie es jetzt ist und was und warum sie das tun was sie tun.

Es geht um Depeche Mode, David Voorhaus, Boards of Canada, Jarre, Vangelis und viele mehr. Aber auch Junos, SH-101, Minimoog und die kleinen Korgs, die vielen polyphonen Synths wie Memorymoog, Jupiter-8, Prophet-5, CS-80

Der einzige kleine Fehler ist der, den ihr sowieso finden werdet, dass ein MS20 statt eines MS10 zu sehen ist, Nicks erster Synth. Inzwischen sind das ja alles keine alten Männer, sondern wir alle genau so alt, ne? Es ist aber ganz eindeutig eine Gruppe lachender Menschen, mit denen man sich identifizieren kann.

Und natürlich geht es um VCOs, VCFs und VCOs. Viel mehr muss ich nicht schreiben,  hier sind 37 Minuten Farbfilm zur allgemeinen emotionalen Stabilisation:

Video

Learn synth basics live with Novation – and more synth-y resources

Novation are hosting live video to teach you synthesis using their range of gear today. And they’ve got some other useful resources and artist interviews (Orbital!), so let’s have a look.

First up, Novation are broadcasting their Beats and Bytes series to their YouTube channel on a range of topics using their in-house specialists – the folks who make the gear, telling you how to use it. (Not bad: it used to be manufacturers would go to your retail to do trainings, and then you’d go to the retailer and … well, hopefully get something useful, though in lesser stores, people would just sort of stare at you from across the room.)

That starts afternoon time in the Americas, evening in Europe and Africa, and … weird hours elsewhere.

Technology Evangelist Enrique Martinez will be hosting the live stream. Novation tell CDM this will be “very basic sound design techniques” – so beginners (up to intermediate users), feel welcome!

It’s for Novation hardware, but they also say you’ll be able to apply this to other instruments, like your soft synth plug-in you’re trying to learn.

4PM Pacific (9PM NYC / 3AM Berlin) you can tune into the broadcast live, or catch the replay whenever you like. On the menu – this looks like a very useful episode:

(00:00 – 10:00) Making Drum Sounds w/ Circuit Mono Station

(10:00 – 20:00) Making Bass Sounds w/ Bass Station II

(20:00 – 30:00) Making Pad Sounds w/ Peak

(30:00 – 35:00) Putting it all Together

(35:00 – 40:00) Q & A

Wait… drums and bass and pads — I don’t know. It could be too much. Make sure you’re sitting down.

But Novation have been busy with a lot of resources. The timing is good – instruments like Peak have made an impression across the whole synth world. Two written artist interviews worth checking:

Orbital On Peak

The Horrors’ Tom Furse talks Bass Station II

And here’s more in the way of videos.

Circuit users, they’ve crammed another update in the form of version 1.7 – pattern chain being one especially handy feature if Circuit is at the center of your performance:

On Circuit Mono Station, here’s a useful guide to extending parameter changes across multiple steps:

Peak, the flagship, gets really deep. The Mod Matrix is one extensive place to start:

And here’s a complete technical overview of Peak:

Or, in an especially beautiful artist pairing, Hauschka taking Peak into dreamy soundscapes:

That’s a lot of technical information. So where do you start? Let’s look to artist Érica Alves, in the “Start Something” series Novation did a couple years back, with a Novation synth alongside the first Roland AIRA TR-8.

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Novation Circuit Mono Station: paraphonic, feature packed, $499

Take the grid-based workflow of Circuit – and build a sequencer workstation with a paraphonic analog synth.

That’s the formula of the Circuit Mono Station, one of two new synth products Novation are showing off this week in Berlin at Superbooth. We got a first look via leaked photos; now here are the full details.

Physically, the Circuit Mono Station has the 32 RGB velocity-sensitive pads from the Circuit, plus hands-on controls. But in place of the drum machine / Nova digital polysynth combo (and limited macro encoder controls), what you get is:

circuit_monostation_lifestyle2

A three-track sequencer. Yeah, so makers are finally working out that part of what we want to do is drive external synths (via CV or MIDI or both). Here, you get three track’s worth.

Now, interestingly, you get two “oscillator” sequencers and one “modulation” sequencer. On each, you have gate length, sync rate, and then you can either switch or mutate patterns.

An analog synth. Based on the classic Bass Station II (well, obviously), you get paraphonic and monophonic operation, three different kinds of distortion, sub oscillator, ring mod, overdrive, and multi-mode filter.

Bonus: lots of modulation: four waveshapes, envelope, sequencer, or velocity, which you can route to pitch, pulse-width, amp, filter, distortion, or CV.

And you still get some digital-era benefits: 64 patches to load and save.

It’s also really an audio processor/sequenced modulator. Audio input means all those sequencing features coupled with the filters and distortion let you modulate external signal, too. That more or less doubles the use of this box, and it’s very clever.

Generally, integration is the message. Circuit already had Web-based integration with Components. That will evidently get repeated here, with a USB connection to your computer.

But you now also get features that focus on integration with your studio. In addition to the audio input, you get MIDI in, out, and thru, plus analog ins and outs – and that integrates with the sequencer.

And I think it’s relevant that this Circuit inherits all the features that gradually evolved over the previous models’s consistent firmware updates, adding features like Scales mode.

circuit-ms_overhead_dual-mode

Accordingly, this is all a little pricier than the original Circuit, but occupies a nice niche just above the drum machine’s price point. (And the two are an obvious pairing, as then you’ve got drums and poly, plus external sequencer and bass. Or route the previous Circuit into the new one and add sequenced filtering and distortion. I can’t wait to play with this.)

Available in July. Pricing by region:

US = $499.99 ex. tax
Germany = €549.99 inc. 19% VAT
UK = £479.99 inc. 20% VAT

For more background on just how much control you get in the sequencer, the developers point out to me that PWM is something you can modulate:

We mentioned Pulse Width, and Pulse Width can be Modulated in the Modulation Matrix by selecting the Envelope, Mod Sequence, LFO or Velocity as the source and selecting PWM as the destination then turning up the Depth

And Chris Mayes-Wright has an extensive behind-the-scenes essay on how this product was developed, which makes for interesting reading:

Circuit Mono Station: Behind The Scenes

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Novation Mono Station synth sequencer just leaked via retail

Novation’s Circuit drum machine/synth/sequencer combo already found a lot of fans. Now it looks like they’ve got another all-in-one grid instrument – this time, a mono/paraphonic synth with sequencer. And whereas the Nova polysynth in the Circuit is hidden behind controls, here you get loads of hands-on control.

The Novation Mono Station has leaked via retailers like Dutch prodjstore and are already making rounds on social media. Most interesting I’d say, apart from combining the grid sequencer with a hands-on synth, is that modulation matrix. (It’s not bad having distortion plus a multi-mode filter with overdrive, either.)

In a nod to analog fans, you also get a full complement of CV controls round the back, in addition to MIDI and USB.

Novation are in town here in Berlin for Superbooth, so we’ll be sure to talk to them – and see what they’ve got to tell us about this or anything else new.

But to see this from the makers of the beloved Bass Station I’d say is good news indeed for desktop synthesis fans. And it continues the trend of putting sequencers on these instruments instead of keys. (See also: volca series, Roland AIRA, Pioneer AS-1, Circuit of course, and so on.)

novation-circuit-mono-station

novation-circuit-mono-station2

Specs leaked, too:

Two oscillators with individual control of sync and tuning parameters
High-pass, low-pass and band-pass filters with slopes of 12dB and 24dB
Three distortion modes
Choose monophonic or paraphonic modes with individual glide control
Four-by-eight modulation matrix that enables complex alteration and routing
Load and save up to 64 patches on the device
Three sequencer tracks (two oscillator sequencers, one modulation sequencer)
32 velocity-sensitive RGB pads
16 scale types
Changeable sync rates
CV/Gate, CV mod plus MIDI In, Out and Thru for connecting and controlling separate hardware
Backup patches and sessions with Components

— and there are selectable waveforms, sawtooth, triangle, square, and sample + hold. (No PWM, unfortunately…)

Looks like another hit.

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Novation Is Giving Away A Classic OSCar Synthesizer

Novation is launching a summer-long celebration of its 35+ year heritage with a giveaway of one of the most rare and beloved classic synthesizers, the OSCar. The celebration also honors Novation’s longtime synthesizer designer, Chris Huggett, who, along with the … Continue reading

オシロスコープ・グラフィック : Novation Bass Station 2 フィルター自己発振テスト

You Tubeビデオ@John Keston

Novation のアナログモノフォニックシンセサイザーBass Station 2 のフィルター自己発振テスト。オシロスコープに映る鮮明な波形にビックリさせられます。

 

 

 

 

 

Novation Announces Launchpad Mini

Today Novation has announced its new Launchpad Mini, calling it “the Launchpad for the iPad Generation.” Launchpad Mini is a compact version of the Novation Launchpad, featuring 64 tricolor launch pads and 16 performance buttons that enable the user to … Continue reading

Now Shipping: Bass Station II, Novation’s $500 Synth; New Sound Demo

bassstationII_2

When we last saw the Bass Station II, Novation’s affordable analog monosynth celebrating the company’s 21st birthday, Novation still had a prototype. Some stuff on that instrument simply didn’t work – or didn’t sound the way we might expect. But there was still reason to anticipate learning more. Novation had something at the $500 street price in America, (529 € is the official price now for Europe), sporting dual filters, two oscillators with a sub oscillator (the “bass” bit), analog effects, patch save, and sequencing and arpeggiation. Even in an increasingly-crowded monosynth landscape, that’s something to note – and here, with the distinctive Bass Station personality, which, love it or hate it, doesn’t sound like anything else.

Now, Novation is shipping. The price is holding steady. And we look forward to finding out in person what the synth is like.

In the meantime, it seems Novation quietly posted sounds for us earlier this summer – missed that. Unlike our hands-on at Musikmesse, this is pre-production rather than prototype, meaning you can better trust your ears. Have a listen, and see what you think:

At top: our hands-on from Messe.

Previously:
BassStation II, Hands-on: First Direct Sound Samples from Novation’s Analog Synth [Musikmesse]

Novation Bass Station II: All-Analog Sequel to a Classic Instrument, $499 Street [Video, Pics]

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