MTMReviews Novation UltraNova
Novation backlit buttons that enable the Oscillator, Mixer, Filter, Voice, Envelope, LFO and Modulation menus.
There are three oscillators, all capable of generating the standard waveforms, saw/pulse combinations, digital waveforms and the 36 wavetables that are available. The noise generator can generate four different types of noise and there are two ring modulators.
Novation always delivers a lot of bang for your buck and this digital synth continues that trend. Mike Willox tucks in.
UltraNova Manufacturer Novation Price £587 Contact Novation 01494 462246 Web www.novationmusic.com
The UltraNova is a feature-rich, mono-timbral 18-note polyphonic synth that integrates a VST, AU and RTAS plug-in editor with a two-in-four-out USB audio interface and a wealth of modulation options. Novation has clearly worked hard to bridge the gap between the studio and live environments with this USB-powered keyboard, which also boasts a gooseneck mic, vocoder, arpeggiator and real-time tweaking options. The hard plastic casing comes in the traditional Novation midnight blue and sports blue LED pitch and mod wheels. The very playable Fatar 37-note, velocity-sensitive keyboard can transmit aftertouch.
There’s a decent complement of connectivity options around the back that should satisfy any user: the two 1/4-inch line inputs are complemented by a dynamic XLR input on the control fascia for connecting the gooseneck mic. Four 1/4-inch jack line outs are available as well as S/PDIF and phones. MIDI is served by both DIN and USB and there are inputs for expression and sustain pedals. You can power the unit
Key Features ● 3 oscillators ● 2 filters ● 3 LFOs ● Audio interface ● Vocoder with bundled gooseneck mic ● Comprehensive plug-in editor from a 12V transformer instead of via the USB socket, but if you’re hooking it up to a computer there seems little point in powering it separately.
Filter fun The design of the control surface has been well thought-out: each aspect of the signal path is easy to see, with the central part of the fascia being dedicated to the patch you’re working
This all gets fed into the mixer (although you can solo each tone generator you can’t mute individual ones) then on to the two filters. These have an abundance of parameters for tweaking. There are 14 variations on the three types of filter available (low-pass, band-pass and high-pass) that can be fed through the six types of distortion in the Filter menu. The Diode mode sounds great: reminiscent of the warm overdrive
Novation has worked hard to bridge the gap between the studio and live environments on. Along the top lie nine rubber rotary encoders; the bigger one to the right defaults to adjusting the cutoff frequency of filter 1 (it can also be locked to whichever of the other encoders has been used most recently), while the other eight can be assigned to the UltraNova’s main parameters. These can be adjusted either in Tweak mode (whereby the encoders adjust the amount of a pre-defined parameter) or in Touch mode, whereby pressing on the encoders activates one of the 20 different mod slots per patch.
The heart of the UltraNova’s engine is ergonomically and practically laid out, with nicely spaced, deep-pink you get with the Moog ladder filters. Next up are the six envelope generators. The first two are for the amp and filter (as is standard on pretty much every synth) while the last four are assignable to any of the 66 (yes, 66) modulation destinations. Again, there is a wealth of options for setting up the envelopes, with numerous ways to define the envelope triggers and tracking.
One of the biggest uses of the UltraNova is going to be in the dance world and the three LFOs are practically mini arpeggiators in themselves. As well as being able to use the more common waveforms for modulation, the UltraNova’s LFOs also include
94 | February 2011 magazine