You are here

Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Moderator: Moderators

Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby forumuser653351 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:20 am

I recently got Novation Circuit Tracks and for the most part it’s really good and a lot of fun to use. I got it for those times when I don’t want to turn on the computer and sit at my desk to make music. So the whole idea was a self contained groove box that I could sit on the sofa on a Sunday afternoon and noodle around and have fun away from the computer. The workflow on the Tracks is great - really easy and immediate - perfect for what I wanted it for.
So far so very good….however… there are a couple of things that I’m not so sure about:
1) the synth is OK, just OK, in fact it feels a little underwhelming for me. I’m a huge Novation fan, so feel a bit disappointed with the synth here. If this was the only question I would probably be OK, the form factor and workflow of the Tracks is so good and I can always get another little synth to go with it later. But..
2) To expand the amount of sounds, samples and projects you need an microSD card. But there is a known occasional issue with using a microSD card and Components (Novation software centre) on an Apple Mac which causes Circuit Track’s ‘Packs’ not to load on the microSD card. I have this problem so all I can have is just one ‘Pack’ on the Tracks, which severely limits the sound capabilities. For me multiple sound packs was a huge plus and I probably wouldn’t of got the Tracks if it was so limited to just the number of sounds and samples in the one pack - which is essentially what I’ve got.
The Novation tech support have been brilliant as always in trying to solve this issue, however 3 weeks in and numerous attempts, the issue still persists.
So my dilemma is shall I keep the Circuit Tracks or not?
At the end of the day it’s for me to make up my own mind depending on if I feel the limitations are still worth it for me and its intended use. But it would be nice to hear others views which may help to see things in a different way.
Many thanks all.
Ian
forumuser653351
Regular
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:39 am

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby Dave B » Fri Apr 16, 2021 8:17 am

From my perspective, this is the first all in one synth, drum machine and sequencer that I've had since ... ooh .. the old Roland MV30 I had years ago. The Tracks is a whole heap of fun for me and I can see it doing just what I want for certain things I want to try around live synth jamming.

But I do look at it in a certain way. I've not got to the issue with the mSD card yet - I've only just started going through the Components software and find it a little clunky, so I'll have to get used to using it. For me, the synth is functional - it will do a variety of jobs, but I am teaming mine with a DSI Tetra for the external synth voices. I love that I can bring the audio back into the unit. And the Tetra has all that yummy Prophet-y sounding goodness (and a solid low end). TBH, I could see myself using the onboard synth for writing and replacing those two tracks with something else as it all goes out over midi.

For me, it's good enough (so far) to be a keeper. For the money, what you get is ridiculously good vfm. Any limitations that it has are easy to forgive at the price.
User avatar
Dave B
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5833
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Maidenhead
Veni, Vidi, Aesculi (I came, I saw, I conkered)

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby The Elf » Fri Apr 16, 2021 12:17 pm

All of these little devices have their foibles. In many ways they are a celebration of compromise and restrictions.

I admit I don't use this specific device, but I do use something similar and I find I have to embrace it for what it is, or it would drive me crazy! It's not a replacement for a DAW, but (MHO) an extra-curricular extension of it.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16597
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby forumuser653351 » Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:17 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, very much appreciated, it's always good to get a fresh perspective. I don't know what it is but problems always seem bigger than positives.
I will keep the Circuit Tracks, it's fun to use and that means a lot.
I'll probably end up getting a small desktop synth to pair with it and that will negate my feelings on the internal Circuit synth. And there is a manual workaround to the microSD card problem but it only works for samples and not the internal synth patches but that's fine if I'm not using the synth side.
All in all the positives far outlay my 2 misgivings.
Expect a new post along the lines of, 'what small, sub £500, desktop synth to go with the Circuit Tracks?' coming soon to this forum!
forumuser653351
Regular
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:39 am

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Apr 16, 2021 5:37 pm

forumuser653351 wrote:Expect a new post along the lines of, 'what small, sub £500, desktop synth to go with the Circuit Tracks?' coming soon to this forum!

I suspect two answers to that one would be:

1. Make Noise O-Coast

2. Moog Mother-32

..both at around the £499 mark, and I found myself looking at both of them only yesterday evening :shifty:


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 17490
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby The Elf » Fri Apr 16, 2021 6:45 pm

forumuser653351 wrote:Expect a new post along the lines of, 'what small, sub £500, desktop synth to go with the Circuit Tracks?' coming soon to this forum!
I wouldn't. I'd treat it for what it is - something to work on well away from mixers, speakers and other paraphenalia. A pair of headphones is all you need.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 16597
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby forumuser653351 » Sun Apr 18, 2021 7:27 am

The Elf wrote:
forumuser653351 wrote:Expect a new post along the lines of, 'what small, sub £500, desktop synth to go with the Circuit Tracks?' coming soon to this forum!
I wouldn't. I'd treat it for what it is - something to work on well away from mixers, speakers and other paraphenalia. A pair of headphones is all you need.

Yes, I know what you mean, that is the spirit of the idea. For me the self contained simplicity is essential to making it fun and differentiates it from computer mode.

The Tracks does have audio inputs and a built in mixer so external gear can be used within it's form factor without external mixer, speakers etc. I always intended to play my fretless bass guitar into it and I tried it last night and worked quite well (with headphones). So having the possibility of occasionally using a little synth along side is for me acceptable. Having said that I'm getting used to the internal synth and I'm coming round to it a little bit more!

Thank you for your thoughts, you're spot on with your observations :)
forumuser653351
Regular
Posts: 104
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:39 am

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Apr 18, 2021 4:22 pm

Martin Walker wrote:
forumuser653351 wrote:Expect a new post along the lines of, 'what small, sub £500, desktop synth to go with the Circuit Tracks?' coming soon to this forum!

I suspect two answers to that one would be:

1. Make Noise O-Coast

2. Moog Mother-32

..both at around the £499 mark, and I found myself looking at both of them only yesterday evening :shifty:


Martin
Arturia MiniBrute
Twisted Electrons MEGA FM
Volca FM
Roland Boutique

So many choices! The danger of the M32/0-Coast is that it’s easy to fall into eurorack...
Ben Asaro
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1307
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 1:00 am
Location: NYC

Re: Circuit Tracks Dilemma - to keep or not to keep

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Apr 18, 2021 4:47 pm

Ben Asaro wrote:Arturia MiniBrute
Twisted Electrons MEGA FM
Volca FM
Roland Boutique

So many choices! The danger of the M32/0-Coast is that it’s easy to fall into eurorack...

I suspect that's one of my tendencies anyway Ben, but having just investigated your four suggestions for the OP, one stood out miles in front of the rest (for me anyway), and that's the Twisted Electrons MEGA FM.

I do worry about the short length of all those sliders, but the sounds are glorious (and I used to create soundtracks and FX for the Sega Megadrive FM games machine, so I already knew most sounds that these chips could create).

VR Troopers was one of my commissions ;) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFIxTg7r8XQ

I'm tempted!


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 17490
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK