Feedback Synthesis – John L. Rice’s ‘Rear Window 3’

Sunday Synth Jam: This video, Rear Windows 3 by John L Rice, explores the idea of using ‘feedback synthesis’ – using mixer loops to create sound using controlled feedback.

Here’s what Rice has to say about the piece: Continue reading

Novation Releases Free Soundpack, SuperNova Vol. 2, For Ultranova & Mininova Synths

Super_Nova_Soundpack_IIEarlier this year, Novation released a new Soundpack for their Ultranova and Mininova synths, comprised of the sounds of their original Supernova.

As part of the Novation’s 21st anniversary celebrations, sound designer Phil McDonald, who created the original, iconic sounds of the Supernova, has created three 64-sound Soundpacks for Novation’s Ultranova and Mininova.

Readers can check out the SuperNova soundpack demo on SoundCloud. Continue reading

New Vocoder For Novation UltraNova Synth

Novation_Ultranova_Vocoder-UpdateNovation has overhauled the vocoder on its flagship UltraNova hardware synthesizer. The free firmware update comes with 17 vocoder patches which are new to UltraNova, and is available, free of charge, to all UltraNova owners.

The UltraNova vocoder is a 12 band vocoder that can be fed by the included gooseneck microphone or other instruments via stereo line inputs. The overhauled vocoder algorithm improves the sound and performance of UltraNova’s vocoder.

Other updated features include: Continue reading

Free Supernova Sound Banks For MiniNova, UltraNova

Novation-SupernovaNovation has announced the release of two new free sound packs for their MiniNova and UltraNova keyboard synthesizers. The new Supernova sound banks are made up of sounds from the original 1998 rack mount Supernova synthesizer, created by the Supernova’s original sound designer, Phil McDonald.

McDonald created the iconic sounds of the Supernova that powered classics by Orbital, ATB, Jean Michel Jarre and A Guy Called Gerald, among others.

The first of the two soundpacks, with 64 sounds, is available now, as part of Novation’s 21st Anniversary celebration. The second pack will be released later in the year.

Here is a SoundCloud demo of the sound bank: Continue reading

The Novation MiniNova Redefines Portable Synth Power (First Look)

This summer, Novation surprised many by announcing a new mini-synth, the MiniNova. 

The MiniNova packs the power of its big brother, the UltraNova, into a tiny, affordable ($499) package. We’re talking some pretty serious firepower, too: 18 voice polyphony; 3 oscillators/voice; 14 conventional wave shapes; 36 wavetables and 20 digital waveforms; 14 filter types; 6 envelope generators/voice; five effects slots; a flexible arpeggiator; and a vocoder & vocal effects processor.

Key features of the MiniNova include:

  • The sound engine of the full-size UltraNova
  • VocalTune and old-school vocoder effects
  • Extensive options for tweaking and warping sounds in real time
  • 256 presets
  • Up to 5 effects per patch
  • Editing software and a software patch librarian
  • Audio in, so you  can run other instruments through the vocoder, VocalTune and effects
  • 37 key controller keyboard with MIDI I/O

Novation sent us one of the first MiniNova synthesizers out of the factory. And after playing it, patching it and programming it, we’re impressed.

We haven’t been able to test the MiniNova’s Editor or Librarian software, which are still to be released. These should make it easier to create new patches and to load additional patch libraries.

For now, then, here are our initial impressions of the MiniNova. We’ll plan on following up with a more comprehensive review once the MiniNova software is available.


The Novation MiniNova is a mini-synth that seems to take some cues from the Korg microKorg. Like the microKorg, the MiniNova is designed to be enticing to beginners, with a clear layout, a genre patch selector and fun vocoder effects.

While the microKorg is a modern classic, the MiniNova benefits from an additional decade of advances in electronics. This allows Novation to endow the MiniNova with a bigger display, more voices and more power than its mini-synth predecessors.

The MiniNova makes a good first impression. A clean design, cool lighting effects and a clear layout make it a synthesizer that’s easy to get started with.

The first thing that most users will want to do is to explore the MiniNova’s 256 presets. Novation makes it easy to browse patches by including a Type/Genre selector, which filters your patches into categories like Bass, Keyboard/Lead, Dubstep and Classic Synth.

The dubstep option may end up making this synth seem dated in a few years, but the selector itself actually works really well. It lets you filter hundreds of patches down to just the category you’re looking for, making it much easier to quickly jump to the patch you want. You can scroll through patches alphabetically or numerically. In addition, the MiniNova also lets you assign 8 patches to buttons on the front panel for instant access.

Continue reading