Novation Circuit Sonic Lab Review


In the latest Sonic Lab video, Gaz Williams takes a look at the Novation Circuit – a new grid-based standalone groovebox. 

Circuit combines what the manufacturer is calling “Nova-heritage” synths with “expertly sculpted” drums, a basic bit of kit for creating an entire tune.

The battery-powered groove box lets you combine up to 128 steps of synth and drum patterns, and subsequently add space, depth and energy to the music with built-in effects. Circuit also has built-in sidechain, and finished creations can be saved to one of 32 slots.

Novation Circuit Key Features:

  • 2-part Nova-heritage analog-modelled synthesizer
  • 4-part drum machine
  • 4×8 grid of RGB, velocity-sensitive sequencer pads
  • 6 voice polyphony
  • Loads of oscillator types and wavetables
  • 64 production-ready patches
  • Step sequence or build live
  • Lock your music in time and key
  • Combine ready-made drum patterns
  • “Tweak” using 8 synth macro encoders with RGB LEDs
  • Record and play back your tweaks
  • Combine up to 128 steps of synth and drum patterns
  • Add delay and reverb effects
  • 32 slots for creating, saving and playing tunes without a laptop
  • Compact and battery powered
  • Built-in speaker
  • Works with computer and hardware via  USB and MIDI

The Novation Circuit is priced at US $329.99. See the Novation site for more info.

20 thoughts on “Novation Circuit Sonic Lab Review

        1. The BSP sends CV for modular gear and has 3 sequencers that are laid out in a linear style, the N circuit has simple synthesizers and drum beats to tweak and sequence with a grid. Totally two different types of gear, BUT they can be BOTH be used in a decent set up at the same time. I have used as many as 8 or 9 sequencers (counting built in ones) in a studio.

    1. Double your numbers dude, it’s 16 and 128. Also, Gaz failed to mention that the pattern chain in a session need not be sequential — for example, you could make a 128 step sequence (made of 8 chained patterns) and then play only patterns 1, 3, 7 etc chained together.

  1. I love Gaz’s response to poor user interface consistency with, “It’s cool… it forces you to sort of explore and experiment.” He always seems to have a positive attitude – even when I disagree with him, I do it with a smile on my face.

  2. More useful than a Fart Wolf, less useful than an Electribe or an iPad. I can see some people might prefer it over the latters though.

    1. Being really short on time these days, I tried an electribe 2 as a couch-surfing fun box, and found it to be like learning another DAW, and menu-diving while I was at it. Then I tried circuit and, even with barely enough time to play with it, I end up jamming out every time I pick it up. It’s really more of an augmentive tool than an all-in-one box. Plus the midi output works great with rack synths, etc, and being able to flip patterns on the fly and send all the live midi to a daw’s midi clip/track is something I look forward to… When time permits :-/

  3. the lack of industry standard midi ports (which cost $1) just kills any desire to look at this any further…same with the yamaha reface range, new korg electribes and the arturia beatstep pro’s…ALL of these products have an inbuilt obsolescence as soon as you misplace the unique and non standard cable adapter. none of the above adapters from those manufacturers works on anything other than their own product which is just plain crazy.

    0 out of 10 for ‘effort’

    1. I like the minijacks myself, but a standard is a must, or else in 10 years someone is going to make a killing on cheap adapter-adapters.

  4. looks fun, these kind of devices are great for making fun loops or material to sample from
    you don’t need to make full songs on these kind of things (volcas, old electribes, po-1x, etc.) just enough to pull a loop or to write a song from. it’s like having an infinite library of obscure techno to derive songs from.
    also battery power means you can take it to the park or sit on your porch and just tinker.

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