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SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

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SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:24 pm

I have had simmering GAS for the Peak since it was released and I am just in love with everything I've heard from it. To my ears it has a classic poly-Roland type of sound to the sound that I just connect with and find inspiring. I think sufficient time has passed where it is no longer an impulse buy.

I am several months out from pulling the trigger on it so in the interim I am going to entertain options and try to play as many alternatives as I can.

The most often name-checked is the Blofeld ... I've tried three different models and for whatever reason, I just don't gel with the sound of their synths.

I could possibly stretch my budget to something like an OB-6 or Prophet 6.

I am not interested in a soft synth like Omnisphere; I'm sure it's great, but I try to stay as from from the computer as possible when writing music.

The only caveat aside from price (trying to keep it sub $1500) is that is must be a desktop model; I don't have space in my little NYC apartment for multiple keyboards and I will need this to be schlep-able via subway.
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby nathanscribe » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:40 pm

If you like the Peak, why not just go for it? I'm also thinking about one of these, and I agree with your Roland comment. That struck me too. The Peak would be replacing a Juno for me (got more than one, having a trim) and when I demoed one in a shop the other day, I had to drag myself away from it. Which is a good sign. I also found it very easy to dabble with, very immediate, and at least all the regular synth stuff was obvious and accessible.

I guess an obvious alternative is the Rev2 module. Only a smidgen more pricey, and seems to have more modulation, but the filter's different and you get just 2 oscillators. Having 3 was one of the nice things about the Peak, I thought, as well as the multimode filter.

I've had a Blofeld, and I didn't get on with it. I found the sound clinical and the interface lacking. Didn't enjoy it, though it was a capable device. Just not my cuppa.
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby The Elf » Thu Oct 11, 2018 3:58 pm

The more I use the Peak, the more I like it. The bottom end is epic and the highs are silky-smooth - I often use it for string synth emulations. Whatever those oscillators are doing to work their magic they are doing a fabulous job. The filter is lovely, the modulation options are generous

If the Peak has one significant annoyance (other than the external PSU and inability to rack-mount), then it is the fiddly button system. You have to constantly make sure the knob is set to act on the correct data row, and there's plenty of potential for getting this wrong. The number of times I've accidentally lost an edited patch... aaargh! The mod matrix is also too faffy, having to skip between pages for source/destination (and the wrong way around to my way of thinking). For the price and the sound of this synth I can live with all of these shortcomings, but they can be annoying.

Alternatives? Here are a couple...

OB6. Very nice synth IMO, but for the price I thought (and still think) I can do better.

P6/Rev2. Don't do it for me. Neither did the P5, so I'm a lost cause.

Deepmind 6/12. Pretty good, but a synth that needs a fan would give me anxiety.

Roland System-8. Far from perfect, but sounds superb. Very cheaply built, unfortunately, but it's given me no trouble so far. The 4-octave keyboard without aftertouch is a shame, as is the external PSU. I still hope Roland give us a pro version of this synth. It really does sound like a JP8 - at least close enough for my tastes.

Elektron Analog Keys/Four. Fewer voices, but a very capable poly/mono synth. With a very measly screen it's also the king of 'wallpapering the hall through the letterbox' (I first introduced that phrase to SOS you know!). If you can get over the editing system you'll find an incredibly flexible, powerful and great-sounding synth underneath.

Prophet X. I haven't spent enough time with this synth to know how I feel about it. Obviously the price is a hurdle. This or three Peaks? Hmmm...

Let's leave the Moog One, unless you want to take out a second mortgage and have a fetish for external power bricks...

I'd take another Peak in a heartbeat...
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:31 am

Thanks so much for your insights! Elf, I didn't know you have a Peak. That's very interesting...
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby Dave B » Fri Oct 12, 2018 7:18 am

A couple of thoughts :

Blofeld - I didn't rate this until I heard one with another chaps sounds loaded in. If you are prepared to ditch the presets and build your own (or find other people's), then it can sound really quite good

OB6 - fantastic. Seriously. It's not super impressive, but it just has that sound - it's lovely and even, the bass is big and rounded without being huge and unwieldy, the filter is groovy, the oscillators have that punch. Basically, yeah .. it's just great. The price is a sticking point - I get that - but for me, I was mesmerised when I heard about it and in love when I heard it.

The Peak seems great as well. I've tried it out a few times and been impressed. But, for some reason, a part of my brain rejects it as 'a bit overpriced'. I don't know why - it's not that I can't afford it, but some part of me just doesn't think that it's a 1500$ synth.

If you want something small, but punching slightly above it's weight, then try and find a s/h DSI Tetra. It's basically 4 Mopho's in a box and you can run up to 4 parts. It's got that Dave Smith sound to the voice and is great vfm. I got the editor with mine which helps greatly. It's a nifty box to have...
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby IAA » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:02 am

I’ve looked at the Peak, it’s nice, easy to use and a Rolandy type voice. But I’m using the Roland cloud with a system 1 controller so I’ve argued that I’ve got all those sounds covered off - in the studio at any rate and my gigging days are so infrequent that’s fine.

I like my P6 a lot. If it had 5 octaves it would be perfect but....

I’d look at DSIs other desktops, P12 in particular it’s a very capable synth.

Me, I’m currently in awe of the new Moog poly and I think I’m probably heading that way if I can try it and it delivers what I’ve seen in the Moog deep dives.

That would be me sorted full stop. (I have promised my wife to this effect) :headbang:

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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby MarkyC » Fri Oct 12, 2018 8:23 am

Hi Ben,

First up disclaimer. Tried the Peak at Synthfest and after months of deliberation have just placed an order so awaiting its arrival (DaveB you did not help when we talked it through at the show!)

Positive for me The sound for starters, just had that feeling that I could create my own take on thing without being limited to a restricted pallet. The control surface seemed to lend itself to tweaking. For a larger synth engine, I wanted a small physical footprint.

Alternatives – OB6 yes lovely, sounds and interface really great and was a very serious contender BUT by shopping around I could get the Peak for roughly half the price. So could not justify it.

Prof Rev 2 – Spent about four months going back and forth between this and the Peak so really get your dilemma. Still hoping I made the correct choice but I think the oscillators on the Peak kind of did it for me. More personal preference than anything.

One other thing to consider – and this may cause further GAS down the road – is that the Peak can also be integrated with modular units so there is room for expansion (I know virtually nothing about modular but it did make me think).
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby nathanscribe » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:22 am

Dave B wrote:The Peak seems great as well [...] but some part of me just doesn't think that it's a 1500$ synth.

UK price is now about £995.
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby The Elf » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:07 am

MarkyC wrote:One other thing to consider – and this may cause further GAS down the road – is that the Peak can also be integrated with modular units so there is room for expansion (I know virtually nothing about modular but it did make me think).
Not sure what you're alluding to here. It has a single CV input for modulation duties, but that's pretty much it - no CV, control or gate outputs, for instance.
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby MarkyC » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:22 am

Ah when I said virtually nothing that may have been over stating my knowledge.
At 6.43 in the SOS video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPHruoRNEMU


Feel free to explain!
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:26 am

Elf is right, the Peak has a single CV input. I already have a modular setup and I'm not looking to integrate the Peak into that world; and there are ways around that anyway. :)

Thanks much for the additional comments, I am going to be starting shoot outs soon.
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby The Elf » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:34 am

Yep, that video refers to the CV input I mentioned above. It's a nice feature to have, but it's pretty limited.

The Peak is pretty much a standalone polysynth - a damned good one, though!
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby MarkyC » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:41 am

Sorry if I was misleading - and yep purchased it as standalone!
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby RobinC » Fri Oct 12, 2018 12:57 pm

I've got both a Peak and a Rev 2.

In terms of sound I prefer the Peak. That being said I prefer programming on the Rev 2. I wouldn't describe Peak as a menu diving synth but programming the mod matrix could have been better.

It's a great synth, can cover a lot of bases and I think you would be hard pressed to do better for the money
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Oct 15, 2018 4:38 pm

Thanks, everyone!
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Re: SERIOUSLY considering getting the Novation Peak -- let's talk alternatives first

Postby baward » Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:46 am

I love it, "simmering GAS"! I only have run-of-the-mill GAS :headbang:

Some very helpful comments here...
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