Novation’s ambitious new synthesizer brings together the best of analogue and digital.
We’ve been subtractively filtering the same handful of waveforms for so long it’s often worth stepping back to remember the instruments that took a different approach. Whether this brings to mind the PPG Wave 2, Sequential Prophet VS, Waldorf Microwave or even the humble Korg DW-8000, the effect of an analogue filter on digital waveforms almost invariably lead to unexpected delights. Hence I was rather excited to get an early look at a new synth from Novation. The Peak is a polyphonic synthesizer whose eight voices each have three digital high-resolution oscillators processed by an analogue multi-mode filter. With three envelopes, two LFOs, effects and a modulation matrix this is an ambitious hybrid bidding for its place in history, as well as on your desk or workspace.
The review was conducted using pre-release firmware in which most of the intended functionality was in place. And even though there were only a few example patches, the synth’s accessibility meant I was more than happy to begin filling it with my own highlights.
Picking it up for the first time should leave no doubt the Peak is a hefty chunk of hi-tech real estate. Its metal body is framed in wood and there’s an optional aluminium stand if you prefer angled use (but no rack ears). If you’re partial to stroking your gear fondly to while away the hours there is much to relish here, from the generous collection of sturdy knobs to buttons, encoders and a couple of sets of envelope sliders. It’s an interface optimised for quick results, but when you need the extra detail, there’s a well-stocked menu system supported by buttons for direct page access and page navigation.
Like beneficent fairy godmothers, the Novation team have blessed their offspring with amber LEDs, clear text and an even clearer black and white display (complete with screen-saver) making it universally easy on the eye. Other than the external 12V power adaptor, there’s no visible evidence of cost-cutting; so as you peruse the tasty rear panel, you’ll note the trio of MIDI ports, MIDI via USB, two pedal inputs, a CV input (on mini-jack), a headphone socket and stereo outputs.
The synth is monotimbral and has no voice...
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