Here is a little review I did for the Nova System, after having been gigging with it for
quite a while now!
So here is a little bit of background. I already own the TC
Electronic G-Major and I have done for about 8 years now, so I knew what I was expecting
effect's wise, pure effects awesomeness from TC Electronic. For pure simplicity, the Nova
system is just fantastic! I am using it in simplified set up for gigging, where I am not
using my rack system. It works really well and most importantly means I can do away with a
massive pedalboard, and could just simply have the Nova System and a wah and I am away!
Having said that...I am using a few additional pedals in the pedalboard. One is the
Electro-Harmonix Micro Q-Tron as the Nova System doesn't have an envelope filter sadly and
the other is the Suhr Riot which is just pure distortion heaven and I don't want to not
have it as I love it so much!! It is the perfect partner for the Nova System as the
distortions on the NS are really great but range from TubeScreamer like overdrive to
classic rock distortions, the Riot pedal really is the 'turn it up to 11' pedal.
How easy is it to use?
On the whole the unit it very simple to use. There are two
main ways of using it, one being in preset mode, where the bottom three pedals on the left
(Drive, Comp, Rev) enable you to switch between presets. In this mode you still have
access to be able to turn on and off the Pitch, Delay, Mod and Boost functions (and tap
tempo). By holding your foot on either the Pitch or Mod control you can scroll up and down
banks of presets. You can also connect the G-Minor footswitch to enable you to switch
between presets, and you can then use the Nova System in pedal board mode.
Pedal mode provides you with access to all the pedals as it would on a standard pedal
board (i.e. you get 7 different effects). By holding the pedal down for a couple of
seconds you can switch presets (this happens on the release of the pedal!). I know that
this annoys a lot of users, but it makes total sense to me, you have multi functioning
switches and the easiest way to be able to not only switch an effect on an off and use it
to switch preset is the way TC have implemented. If you want instant preset switching (but
loosing access to turn the Drive, Comp and Rev on and off) just switch the unit to preset
mode. I think it is a really clever idea and it makes sense to me.
In a sense
you could see it that you could potentially have a different pedal board setup for each
song for example and then switch between them between songs. If you content the G-Minor or
use a midi controller, such as the FCB 1010 or the Tech 21 Midi-Moose, then you have
instantaneous access to the different presets. So it is actually quite powerful.
There has been a lot said about the patch changing method that is implemented in the
unit, I understand that they switches are multi-functional and the patch change works on
the release and there is a lag time in the loading. It is fine for the way I use the
system, but I can understand that it isn't for everyone. Potentially adding a G-Minor
pedal or Midi Footswitch is the way forward, it is something I am considering!
I currently only have 3 different patches (read that as pedal boards) set up. Primarily
to switch between the overdrive and distortion pedals. One preset has the overdrive and
tremlo effect and the other to have the distortion effect and flanger. The rest stay the
So most importantly what does it SOUND like?
The effects are
pristine in quality, and I know that is not for everyone, but it certainly works for me. I
think the analogue drives are really good, whilst not out and out metal distortion, you
can get some great rock and blues tones from the OD, and classic rock, metal from the
distortion. But if you use it to drive a tube amp I think it would work well! The user
interface is dead simple, I like the patch system where you can use different patches like
different pedal boards, that is fantastic!
I personally really like the
compressor, octave and boost functions. The boost is really really useful and can add a
considerable boost say when you are switching to a lead tone. It is also fantastic into a
tube amp as you can get the amp to break up nicely and cleanly with the boost. I think all
the effects are pretty awesome, but I am not too impressed with some of the modulation
options, but I should add I am not a modulation fan. As usual too their is a perceived
drop in volume when using modulation effects, I make up by this by running with the
compressor or the boost to increase the perceived level.
You can also create a
whammy effect by adding and additional expression pedal (sadly this uses the same input as
the G-minor footswitch, so it is one or the other!).
Programming the sounds is
dead simple, plus for each effect you can store up to 4 favourites (i.e. configurations
you like), whilst you can't access these without having to bend down and press the button
(and in a sense in a gig why would you?) it is a really nice feature. The unit also has a
speaker emulated output (although you loose the use of the EQ block...which by the way
isn't footswitchable, which is a shame!). As the Nova System is not an amp modeller taking
this approach might not be the best course of action, but in a totally emergency it is
there, plus you could get something like the Tech 21 character pedals to provide you with
an 'amp' and then run that either after or before the Nova System.
any nice touches?
The unit is really solid, the brushed metal looks fantastic, the
orange lights illuminating the pedals are also really great under stage lighting, as well
as the display LCD. It runs from an IEC plug which is also fantastic, so no wall wart
power supplies, I mean ideally it would run from my *** distribution box, but I it makes
like really easy. The size is just right too, it can be thrown in a backpack, or on a
small pedal board. I have actually managed to downsize to using an Electro-Harmonix Pedal
Board Bag which may not be suited for touring, but if you are carefully it is a great
little (and light) bag which you can stick pretty much anywhere!
Will it fall
It is a pretty robust unit, perhaps not as tank proof as something like
a Boss pedal, but not bad at all. It is susceptible to scratches though!
1)The sounds are great (for me!)
2)The flexibility and the ability
to have a number of different pedal board configurations at the press of a switch
3)The size and weight and construction
The negatives (for me)
The Tuner - The tuner has a limited range..... I can't tune my 7 string, not good in my
opinion...perhaps this could be addressed in a firmware update.
totally understand the reason that you can't to 4CM (4 Channel Method) with the Nova
System (i.e. stump up and buy a G-System), it is a real sadness that the drive pedal (and
also technically the compressor too) are lost if you decided to run it in the effects
3)No filter effect and no foot switchable EQ
recommend at least trying it out!
The main contenders are the
Line 6 M-Series floorboards (that is effects units only, rather than modellers)
I am sure I will continue to update this review as I spend more time with the unit. But
it has been in my pedalboard for about 7 months now and it isn't going anywhere!!
If you have any questions, just post them below!
Neil S. Bruce - www.spencerbruce.com