Novation MiniNova Synthesizer Sneak Preview

Novation has officially announced a new minisynth & vocoder, the Novation MiniNova.

The Novation MiniNova is a compact synth with the same sound engine as its big brother; the UltraNova.

Key Features:

  • Powerful micro synthesizer with UltraNova’s sound engine
  • VocalTune and classic vocoder effects
  • Live synth: tweak and warp your sounds in realtime
  • 256 awesome onboard sounds – instantly searchable
  • Layer up to 5 effects per voice
  • Comes with editing software and a software patch librarian
  • un guitars and other instruments through the vocoder, VocalTune™ and effects
  • 37 key controller keyboard with MIDI I/O

We’ve got photos, videos and specs below. Check it out and let us know what you think of the new Novation MiniNova!

The Novation MiniNova

The Novation MiniNova comes with 256 presets that you can tweak with five knobs, or totally with eight ‘animate’ buttons. It offers up to 18 voices, with as many as five synth effects on each sound.

The MiniNova offers 14 conventional waveforms to choose from (square, sine, sawtooth, pulse, triangle and combinations), 36 wavetables and 20 digital waveforms. Each of the 3 oscillators (per voice) have density/detune for fattening up sounds, virtual sync and ‘hardness’ – which acts as an additional lowpass filter.

There are 14 filter types (and you can run 2 simultaneously), 6 envelope generators, 3 LFOs and 20 modulation slots where you can link modules of the synth engine together to shape sound. MiniNova can also add up to 5 effects to each sound including distortion, reverb, chorus/phase, delay, compressor, EQ and Novation’s unique gator effect.

The Novation MiniNova also has an onboard VocalTune, effect as well as a classic vocoder.

Here are some intro videos for the MiniNova. The first video looks at selecting sounds on the MiniNova:

The second video looks at performance features of the MiniNova:

Finally, the last video looks at the MiniNova’s vocoder and VocalTune effects:

Synth engine

  • Up to 18 note polyphony (dynamic voicing)
  • Mono-Timbral

Per patch

  • 3x oscillators
  • 1x noise generator
  • 2x ring modulators
  • Waveforms include:
  • Square, sine, tri, sawtooth, pulse, 9x saw:pulse combinations.
  • 20x digital waveforms
  • 36x wavetables

Filter types

  • 2x filters per patch
  • low pass no resonance 6dB per octave
  • low pass 12dB
  • low pass 18dB
  • low pass 24dB
  • band pass 6:6
  • band pass 6:12
  • band pass 12:6
  • band pass 6:18
  • band pass 18:6
  • band pass 12:12
  • high pass no resonance 6dB per octave
  • high pass 12dB
  • high pass 18dB
  • high pass 24dB

Modulation sources:

  • 20 modulation slots per patch
  • 6x envelope generators
  • 3x LFOs
  • Aftertouch
  • Velocity
  • Key scaling/track
  • Mod wheel
  • Expression pedal

Total of 66 Destinations including:

  • Oscillator pitch, pulse width, wavetable index, level and sync
  • Filter cutoff, resonance, envelope settings
  • Effects parameters and send levels
  • Recursive modulation (modulating modulation sources themselves)

5 effects slots per patch

  • Distortion – up to 2 instances
  • Compressor – up to 2 instances
  • Chorus/Phase – up to 4 instances
  • Delay – up to 2 instances
  • Reverb – up to 2 instances
  • Gator
  • EQ


  • VocalTune
  • 12 band vocoder
  • Arpeggiator – 33 patterns
  • Realtime Arp rhythm editing function
  • Chord function – lock up to 10 notes
  • Patch storage  – up to 384 on hardware (ships with 256 factory patches)


Utility, display and patch select controls

  • 16 character custom LCD
  • 1x large detented patch select encoder
  • 1x patch sort switch
  • 1x volume dial
  • 1x detented data encoder
  • 5x navigation/utility buttons
  • 2x patch navigation buttons

Keyboard/performance controls

  • Pitch wheel (LED lit)
  • Modulation wheel (LED lit)
  • 37 note keyboard with velocity
  • 4x smooth edit/performance pots
  • 1x large smooth filter pot
  • 1x six position parameter selector switch
  • 6x parameter indicator LEDs
  • 8x three-colour, back-lit animate/arpeggiator/favourite patch-select buttons
  • 2x animate/arpeggiate LED indicators
  • 1x back-lit ‘hold’ button
  • 1x animate/arpeggiator/favourite patch toggle switch
  • 1x ‘favourite’ patch select button
  • 1x arpeggiator tempo control pot
  • 1x arpeggiator tempo indicator LED
  • 2x back-lit arpeggiator control encoders
  • 2x back-lit octave select buttons

Inputs, Outputs, rear panel

  • XLR dynamic mic input
  • 1x ¼” jack inputs
  • 2x ¼” jack outputs
  • 1x ¼” jack headphone output
  • Sustain pedal on ¼” jack input
  • MIDI in/out
  • 12 volt power input
  • USB/DC/off power switch
  • USB port (MiniNova can be powered via USB)
  • Kensington Lock port


  • Length: 560mm
  • Height: 75mm
  • Depth: 250mm
  • Length: 22.04″
  • Height: 2.95″
  • Depth: 9.84″


  • 2.52kg
  • 5.55lb

The Mininova will be available in October 2012, and will be priced at £299.99. See the Novation site for details on the MiniNova.

58 thoughts on “Novation MiniNova Synthesizer Sneak Preview

    1. I don’t want to shatter your hopes but from what I have seen on the official homepage, these performance buttons are only the equivalent to the touch-sensitive encoders on the UltraNova. So no sequencing there 🙁

  1. This looks like the MicroKorg XL’s sexy twin from an evil dimension. Colour me very interested indeed if the price is right.

    1. hello i have one for sale just bought from shop nothing wrong with it apart from the manual went missing at my sisters, she has got kids so got lost , but easy to get one im selling for 280.00 pounds if you are interested im moveing soon so i need all the deposit i can get
      king regards dean jackson

    1. Never had this happen to me, but about 6months ago I stopped using the stock mic, and now wire a Shure SM58 to it, so the mic can be on a stand and I can use pre recorded midi to control the notation, that way when I put the hardware on a multi level keyboard stand it doesn’t have to be on top, (that’s where the moog LP lives)

    2. Always, always rubberize! ; )
      This seems like a winner, tho. Under $500 it looks like. Layers
      and splits woulda been nice, but oh well. More new synths drop
      the prices on used stuff… one would hope.

  2. While I’m sure this is going to be a great little synth, I’m glad I have the UltraNova. I LOVE my UN, it is such a versatile synth for its price range

  3. This looks like it has a better build quality than the UltraNova. I had one of those and sold it because I had problems with sound output DSP/clock jitter noise. I bought a Dave Smith PolyEvolver instead. 🙂

  4. Looks definitely like a crossover between the UltraNova and the microKorg.

    I really love my Ultranova, so it would be interesting, if this MiniNova can do anything the UltraNova can’t do. For example, I’m not sure if this voice pitching thing is not just a preset for the regular UN vocoder.

    Also, somehow I feel a bit reminded of the connection between the Alesis Ion and the Alesis micron. You know, one big synth for the studio and one portable synth for on-the-road action, with interchangeable sound patches.

  5. Novation is totally coming at Korg with this one. The design is nearly identical to the microKorg series, and I’m willing to bet the price will be contending
    ..but then again, Korg might have something up their sleeves come the 4th

  6. I was hoping that Novation would make the Ultranova multitimbral and add 88 weighted piano-style keys for the ultimate synthesizer experience, but Novation went the other way, made it smaller with mini-keys … ah, well. At least, can i have a software update that will make my Ultranova multitimbral?

      1. Exactly my point. I am waiting for something like the keyboard version of the Supernova, but with the added new features of Ultranova’s synth engine (wavetables, etc). I have the Supernova rack, Nova laptop, Xstation, i love them all and use them, but Ultranova’s sound kicks them to outer space! If only it was multitimbral …

  7. Heh, looks like a cutesy little Oberheim OB-12! Nice! Can’t say I’m terribly fond of that demo, but it IS a demo I suppose.

  8. This looks amazing. Looks like such a step-up from my casio SK-1 and korg microkey, my two mini keyboards, I’m super stoked. I was taking my microkey with me for playing softsynths live, and this synth packs ten times as much function per inch — such a find for a musician like me who likes to travel lightweight and only takes laptop, soundcard, monotribe and keyboard controller to jam with.

    Hell, I even began to build my modular — I have eurorack version of buchla 258 and will DIY 266 source of uncertainty. Both being analog, I never thought I’d give a damn about some VA, but this is such a great news! I can see it as a nice part of a DJ setup — obviously Novation are marketing it as a tool for electronic dance music (and while it is known that most synthesizers are good for any type of music, there is nothing wrong with that), and I’d really like it if more people got involved in synths thanks to this, if they’d think “it looks nice and modern and is portable, what if I buy it instead of a DJ controller?”

    Or not instead, but in addition to their traktor controller for example — I like attending parties, I like music, and I think it would be benificial for everyone if deejaying of tomorrow would be not just about triggering samples, working with more tracks and shorter loops, & applying kaosspad FX, — where it is heading now, — but playing bass/lead or accompanying parts live on top of the remixed track. (Or at least preparing patches/sequences and just tweaking knobs, if person is not much of a keyboardist.)

    This is something I was thinking for a while myself — a DJ set with live synths. I remember seeing a video of a dubspot instructor (DJ) touring with monotribe. Things such as monotribe or mininova can certainly spice up a set, and I really wish more people used them, and not just trigger handclaps with pads. Well, anyway — at least I’m happy with more affordable tools coming to the market, which, being portable, allow for writing a lot of great music and can be used in many creative ways. In that regard, nicely done novation!!

    …and now back to waiting for October 🙂

  9. I really like the idea of sequencing your arpeggios. that would be incredibly useful!!!

    I’m so glad korg’s success has got other developers trying to get into the lower end market. instruments SHOULD be like toys. we want to have fun after all!

  10. This should have been released along time ago. I’m all about portability, this will alow me to produce tracks comfortably. The ultranova isn’t built to be moved around constantly, it’s just too big!

  11. (please note; I have never yet owned a hardware synth, so this comparison is based on what I’ve read elsewhere on the net)
    If i was choosing between this and a microkorg xl (which I’m rekoning is it’s main rival), I’d probably choose this. They seem pretty similar, but this looks to have more control on hand, a better display (I know you don’t buy a synth for the screen, but it is a point), and, most importantly, better build quality. It’s also cheaper. However, £299 is way out of my price range. I’d personally be looking more at the 2nd hand, £0-50 range, so I’m really just licking steam here.

    1. Korg has a ‘classic’ with the MicroKorg – it’s been on the market 10 years and still sells well, which has to be a record.

      But the microKorg also has 10 year old technology, and it looks like Novation is seizing on that. This is a LOT like the microKorg, but with better polyphony, more synth options & better effects.

  12. just say NO to tiny little keys! why does this gimmick continue to exist! its only useful if you’re a tiny little chick or spend more time programming than playing.

    getting really tired of manufacturers putting out toys instead of tools….

    1. Although I haven’t much expirience with minikeys (or hardware synths at all, for that), I can’t see it being a problem. If you’re carting it around with you, the minikeys allow the whole thing to be more compact, and you get a greater keyboard range. If you don’t like them when performing, you can always plug a full-size midi keyboard into it, and use that. It’s a comprimise, but so is everything, and at least minikeys make it usable as a self-contained unit.

    2. Dude?about your critic on the size of the keys!! It is not a Toy! This isn t made to compose pian melodie or playing keyboard in a band! This is a ultra Portable Powerfull synth you put next to a portable sequencer sampler and jam on the fly anywhere! It is just not the Synth you need! But it is the one I have been waiting for Ages,,,This should have been released along time ago. I’m all about portability,also 37 keys still the perfect choice(25 too less, and 37 full size too large! this will alow to produce tracks comfortably. The ultranova isn’t built to be moved around constantly, it’s just too big!
      Bravo Novation can t wait October…

      1. compltely agree ,i must also ad that the touch sensitive on the ultranova are very fRAGILE AND MORE RANDOM THAN ANYTHING. I sold my ultranova and alredy order my mininova

  13. Mono-Timbral? That’s a shame. I was getting excited then with the thought that you could use this to create a full track without recording it to your DAW.

  14. So after thinking and looking at the mininova for a few hours, I’ve come to this conclusion: awesome little synth, but I really really hate the encoder caps, and I hope they can be changed out for something a little less “rc car wheel-ish”….

  15. Well i am liking what i am seeing, and i would like to see a software editor coming with it on a disk.

    I was actually trying to sell my micron to raise money for the ultranova, but the mininova’s price sparks my interest. my only concern is that it will be as big a pain to program as the micron was….. because of my horrible experience with the micron editing i feel like im going to need to try this one out at guitar center before i think about just ordering it.

    1. You can find software editors for the Micron too. That’s a very powerful synth that just doesn’t have good on-board editing.

  16. I would go for the real thing: Novation Ultranova
    I don’t like minikeys. The Ultranova sounds great and has perfect DAW integration without any extra cost.

    1. While I like the basic idea of transportability, I have to agree with you. The price difference between the UltraNova and the MiniNova is not that huge, and with the UltraNova you also get an USB audio interface and a DAW controller in one package, which is really cool if you are underway (especially if you use a MacBook with only 2 USB connections).

    2. Dude?about your critic on the size of the keys!! It is not a Toy! This isn t made to compose pian melodie or playing keyboard in a band! This is a ultra Portable Powerfull synth you put next to a portable sequencer sampler and jam on the fly anywhere! It is just not the Synth you need! But it is the one I have been waiting for Ages,,,This should have been released along time ago. I’m all about portability,also 37 keys still the perfect choice(25 too less, and 37 full size too large! this will alow to produce tracks comfortably. The ultranova isn’t built to be moved around constantly, it’s just too big!
      Bravo Novation can t wait October…

    3. I’m all about portability, this will alow me to produce tracks comfortably. The ultranova isn’t built to be moved around constantly, it’s just too big! the touch sensitive of the ultranova are real frgile and more a big random toy …those animate pads can be programmed and open new way to play…

  17. That DnB track @2:20 on the second video was raw! This little thing sounds pretty beastly, I might have to pick one up. This puppy with Maschine MKII and Ableton would be a pretty slick and portable live setup.

  18. This article convinced me, I just ordered a Mininova. I spent some time with the Ultra and while the sound had a powerful gloss, the build quality seemed lacking.

    It’s been almost 10 years since the Alesis Ion served up high-res, stepless analog modeling filters that could go toe to toe with analog gear. I thought in the meantime there’d be lots of affordable hardware VA synths that would surpass the quality of the Ion, but there never were. The Microkorg was just an MS-2000, with 4 voices and stepped, weak digital resonance. The Microkorg XL was much much better but still was lacking in some departments.

    Novation seem to have produced the ultimate hardware VA (in this class) and stuck it into a cool little mini synth form factor. I don’t get bent out of shape by the genre knob or small keys. If the Dub genre feels like pandering, it is only a label. The power in this thing is immense, it provides so much synthesis for so little money. Its so close to what I would design if I had the chance.

    Analog still has a few distinctions, but in the wider realm of subtractive synthesis, the Mininova is a genuine contender for anyone who loves deep options combined with a fun and simple user interface. Also, the giant cutoff knob is awesome.

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