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Oct 20 2011

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Techno-Logic: Novation UltraNova Review

Techno-Logic

By 8-Bit Jay
Special to the Parade

Oscillators

The UltraNova has three oscillators, two ring modulators and a noise generator. The oscillators each have 14 analog waveforms, 20 digital waveforms and 36 wavetables with nine waveforms each.

Oscillators can quickly be fattened with the Density control. Density stacks multiple copies of the same oscillator without sacrificing polyphony. Those can be further detuned to add more thickness to the sound. This is ideal for creating the popular supersaw-type waveforms while only using a single oscillator.

Filters

The UltraNova has two filters with 14 filter types. You will find your usual array of lowpass, bandpass, highpass with varying slopes, but it doesn’t go beyond that. There are also routing options: bypass, single, series, parallel 1, parallel 2 and drum. I rarely use bypass, but even playing around with these routing options will change your sounds dramatically, so it’s worth playing with.

Modulation

One of my favorite features of the UltraNova is the modulation routing. It gives users a range of options to play with. There are 20 modulation slots (in practical use, I’ve never had to use more than a few, so it’s plenty for anyone). There are 20 sources and 66 destinations. Those who have played with any decent virtual analog know that half the fun is in seeing what kind of results you can get by playing with modulation settings.

Overall

I won’t lie. It was a bit hard for me to say goodbye to this little blue guy when my demo period was up. I only ever used the vocoder to test it out, but the rest of my time was spent playing with initialized patches and seeing what I could come up with.

Some users may not like the fact that the synth is not multitimbral, so you cannot have it play your bass patch and a lead line or pad at the same time. This may not make much of a difference for project studios. The solution is just to record each part separately. If you’re a lazy bugger like myself, you record several parts as 8-16 bars “live” then just slice those into loops that you arrange into a song anyway. Saves me time.

Most worth noting, I think, is that this makes a nice beginner synth. It’s not intimidating and everything is clearly laid out. I must also say kudos to the folks who wrote the instruction manual. They included a nice little section on the basics of synthesis. I skimmed it, but it’s great reading for someone who is diving into their first virtual analog.

At $700, pound-for-pound, it’s ready to please any beginner or seasoned synth user.

Editor’s Note: Have a suggestion or comment for 8-Bit Jay? Send him a message to 8bitjay@gmail.com or to twitter.com/8bitjay.

Permanent link to this article: http://portisabelsouthpadre.com/2011/10/20/techno-logic-novation-ultranova-review/

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