Novation’s Nova family of synthesizers has just gained a new member, the Ultranova. A compact design, the Nova is a mono-timbral synth with 18-note polyphony, its voices generated either by one if its 36 wavetables, 20 digital waveforms, or the classic analogue types (including square, sine, triangle, saw, pulse, and nine saw/pulse combinations). Three oscillators can be invoked, as can two ring modulators, two filters, six envelopes, three LFOs and a noise generator. A range of effects is also available, including distortion, chorus/phaser, delay, reverb, compression and EQ, and there are five effects slots into which these can be loaded. Effects settings are saved on a per-patch basis, and the Ultranova ships with 300 factory patches, with room for a further 200 user patches.
As far as real-time control is concerned, the Ultranova boasts eight assignable, touch-sensitive rotary encoders, in addition to a non-touch-sensitive rotary control. A feature that Novation call Touch allows you to trigger envelopes, LFOs, filters and effects by simply touching one of the aforementioned touch-sensitive encoders, while the non-touch-sensitive control allows for fine-tuning of parameters. Notes are input via a Fatar 37-note keybed with full-sized keys, while the usual pitch-bend and mod wheels (illuminated here in fetching blue) complete the assortment of tactile elements.
Sited atop the Ultranova is a mic input, for use with the supplied gooseneck dynamic microphone. This allows you to use the Ultranova as a 12-band vocoder, where your voice is the vocoder’s modulator — or, alternatively, any line-level signal can be used instead, via the synth’s stereo line inputs on the rear.
The Ultranova’s small format and inclusion of a mic and vocoder put it quite firmly in the same camp as Korg’s popular Microkorg and the Akai Miniak, but this newcomer from Novation trumps its stablemates in that it can also act as a USB audio interface. When hooked up via USB, it provides computers with two low-latency line inputs and four line outputs. Line outputs 1 and 2 are duplicated on the Novation’s stereo S/PDIF output, and its headphone out.
The USB port also allows you to control the Ultranova from a computer, via the included Ultranova Editor software, which runs as a plug-in in your DAW. You can also use your computer to store an unlimited number of patches, using the Patch Librarian software, and patches can be named and tagged according to genre and category, making it easy to find the sound you’re looking for.
The Novation Ultranova is due to be available around the end of the year, and will sell for an estimated £499.