Novation Bass Station II Overview & Demo Videos

This series of videos is an official introduction to the Bass Station II.

In the videos, Novation guru Finlay Shakespeare offers an overview, above, and then digs into various features of the Bass Station II.

Bass Station II – Oscillators

Bass Station II – LFO

Bass Station II – Filters

Bass Station II – Envelopes

Bass Station II – Effects

Bass Station II – Arpeggiator and sequencer

Bass Station II – Functions

Key Features:

  • Analogue synth: brand new version of the classic Bass Station: Bass Station II has a pure analogue audio signal path, reviving the spirit of the original Bass Station with an all-new design optimized for bass
  • Two distinct analogue filters: In addition to the original Classic Bass Station filter, there’s a brand new Acid diode ladder filter for squelchy 303-esque bass sounds
  • Load and save patches: 64 factory patches on-board with room for 64 more of your own: save more to your computer via USB
  • Pattern-based Step Sequencer and Arpeggiator: Bass Station II has an arpeggiator with a programmable step sequencer
  • Instant hands-on control: Instant hands-on control of the sound engine via a traditional analogue synth control panel
  • Two Oscillators plus an additional Sub Oscillator: Bass Station II has two sync-able, tune-able oscillators with four selectable waveforms, plus a third sub-oscillator for generating enormous bass sounds
  • Analogue effects section: Bass Station II includes fully analogue distortion and filter-modulation effects and a separate filter overdrive to add aggression and crunch
  • Powerful modulation section featuring two Envelopes and two LFOs: Two ADSR envelopes for amp, filter, pitch and pulse width modulation alongside two LFOs with waveforms including triangle, sawtooth, square and sample & hold

The Bass Station II has a list price of US $625, but is available via Amazon, zZounds and other retailers for $499.  See the Novation site for more info.

29 thoughts on “Novation Bass Station II Overview & Demo Videos

  1. I’d take this over a re-issued KORG odyssey. Much more capable and powerful synth.

    Hell… I’d take the novation ultranova over the bass station 2. Digital is where all the cool stuff is happening.

    1. Spend a few weeks with the Bass Station II, then play with a virtual analog.

      First thing you’ll notice is how the high end is filtered off to reduce aliasing on a VA. That means that the top overtones taper off into a blurry fog. Self-oscillating filter whistles you send up high? They’ll fade out before your hearing range does. You’ll soon get familiar with the “top note” frequency of the keyboard range.

      Just because you’ll never play a root note that high does not mean that there are overtones that extend up there.

      Then go back to the Bass Station II, or a good analog synth – like the upcoming Odyssey clones. You get the full analog range back. It feels liquid and high-quality.

      Vas are great, but they still can’t beat analog circuits in the high end.

      1. Do you come from the future? One of the “Odyssey clones” is vaporware at this point, and the other a few weeks away from release-yet you are positive they’ll sound better than the BS2?

        1. I’m saying analog sounds better than VA in the high frequency details. Bass Station II is a fantastic analog synth. If either of the analog Odyssey clones make it to market, they will also sound less band limited than your average VA synth. Noncontroversial.

    2. There’s plenty of cool stuff happening in the digital world(Pro2(hybrid), Eurorack etc.), but not really in the VA world. The Ultranova is OK but it’s not going achieve the kind of bass the Bass Station II can. And like most VAs It’s more challenging to get it to sit in a mix. The Bass Station II is a tool for specific jobs whereas the Ultranova is more of a bread butter budget synth.

      1. Bass is the one frequency you can count on from virtual analogs, new or old. Novation’s nova series nails the low end.

        It’s the top end high frequency details that are blurred to remove aliasing noise on a virtual analog. Vas filter out the overtones to keep aliasing low. Turn that filter or oscillator way up – you’ll hit the VA ceiling. With analog, it zooms off into space.

        1. I own most of the 90s virtual analogs and it’s true to a point but whether it’s the analog oscillators or filters, there’s a liveliness the Bass Station has that none of my virtual analogs have. None of them are going to pull off 303/101 type sounds the way the Bass Station will, at least not when compared side by side.

  2. The Bass Station II is an amazing synth – especially for the price. I don’t know why people always compare it to the Minibrute. With its digital control and patch memory, two filters, multiple filter modes, two distortion methods, and beautiful audio quality, I think it is more aptly comparable to the Moog Sub Phatty – a synth that costs twice as much.

    1. Price point and the release dates were close enough together – people shopping for an affordable new analog were confronted with the wild and nasty Minibrute (only 1 osc, 12db filter, but CV and a driven sound), or the clever, digitally-controlled Bass Station II. (loads of options, smooth deep filters, patch storage, but digital controls and some double-duty controls.)

  3. I’ve got a decent amount of pricey gear, own or have owned a lot of vintage synths but the Bass Station II is one of those purchases that you feel so good about afterward. So much bang for the buck, constantly surprises me. It’s got a 303/SH101 thing going on but it’s so much more than that. As far as under $1000 analog monos go I think it wins in sound, build quality and convenice.

    1. Built quality? really?
      I’m ok for the sound but built quality is very low especially compared to more expensive synth or even to the minibrute which is the same price

      1. Yup, build quality. The knobs especially feel excellent, way better than my Elektron encoders. And while it’s plastic, it’s very durable plastic. I think the minibrute is also pretty solid.

        1. I agree – the build quality is pretty good on the Bass Station II. The pots all feel solid and don’t wiggle. The case, although plastic, feels very thick and rugged. You almost have to tap on the faceplate to know that it isn’t metal. And the keys feel great – I just wish that there were more of them.

          Jeff mentioned the minibrute – I don’t have one, but I have heard many stories of quality issues with it.

  4. I too have an arsenal of synthesizers and drum machines and I find the Bass Statin II to be, ‘pound for pound’, the best synthesizer value in the current mono synth market. Oh, it sounds Bad A** as well!

  5. I bought a Minibrute SE, it had quality control issues right out of the box plus no way to “tame it down” to soft, sweet sounds, always sounded overdriven and slightly out of tune, i returned it, bought a Bass Station 2 and instantly loved it. Easily going from soft and mellow to hard and distorted. So … “love at first sight/touch” factor … Bass Station 2 wins!

    1. curious as in what the quality issues were. i also I find that it’s a common misconception that it can only sound overdriven or hard. it’s usually at the hands of someone who might lack basic knowledge of the minibrutes architecture.

      1. The Minibrute SE that i bought had cosmetic issues, some kind of glue or paint was left uncleaned UNDER the aluminum varnish, there were signs of deteriorating varnish on the left side of the front panel and one of the wooden side pieces had too much “texture variation” on it, clearly they should have chosen another wood piece.
        And … about my minibrute being “at the hands of someone who might lack basic knowledge of the minibrutes architecture.” … i don’t need to prove anything to anyone, just some facts: I am 50, playing and programming synths for more than 30 years, owned almost 100 hardware synths (93 to be exact), i studied physics and electronics engineering, specialized in audio processing, have actually built my own analog synths based on combinations of various designs in the past, repaired more than 20 faulty synths myself, programmed sounds professionaly, worked at music production for many clients, have my own studio full of hardware and software synths and one of the things i take pride in is my synth programming abilities. I can sure lower filter cutoff, filter feedback and overdrive, etc etc to get a soft and mellow sound, but even then the Minibrute SE had some kind of hard and nasal character. You may like it, fine, i did not.

          1. I bought an early Minibrute. It does indeed have a nasal tone that’s not very flexible. Unique, yes, but the Bass Station II just goes places the Brute can’t.

            There were several problems with the Brute. The first of which is the waveform mixer and ADSRs. On my Brute, anything over halfway on those sliders didn’t do anything. People claimed that over 50% would “overdrive” but I never heard it. I never saw it on a scope. And anything over 50% on the envelope sliders didn’t change the ADSR time at all. I don’t know if they fixed it or just doubled down on the overdrive claim.

            The multimode SP filter was certainly unique – but it was a one-trick pony. Resonance (and self-resonance) only lived in a certain upper-mid range, and vanished in the bass. It has a strong, bubbling responce but the 12db slope paired with the odd tone and res behavior mean it was not great for traditional bass sounds.

            My key bed also cracked on several keys, leaving them to flop up. (The little assembly that stops the sprung key-up force would crack in half.) And it shed more than a few key weights.

            The freerunning oscillator and noise source was always slightly audible. The oscillator drifted and was not scaled correctly – always out of tune with A440, and always out of tune with itself a mere 2 octaves above middle C – no matter how long you let it warm up and how precisely you adjust the trimmers.

            Even if you love the Brute, eventually the lack of a tunable second oscillator (and all the things you can do with 2 Bosc, like sync and ring mod) and the weird, sizzling filter (which can’t do big bass, and can’t be tuned accurately for self-orc sine) will get to you. And the BSII can save your patches. And integrate with your DAW. And has 7 filter responses with full range resonance.

            If you have a spare $500 and only room for one analog mono, the BSII is your synth. Most of the cost of the Minibrute seems to have gone into the case.

  6. I am a huge fan of the Novation KS Rack, I do think it will be a synth that people will be tracking down in years to come as it really does hit the spot for me. I have had synths for 30 years now, so not naive regards synths, strengths and weakness’s.
    I have a tetra and a Mopho keyboard and I am really into those two ( I have a reasonable set up, bass bott, xoxbox,Korg Z1,Roland Jp8080,tb 3,Mpc 2500 ,Strymon big sky, ks rack x 2,Yamaha dx 21,Mophokeyboard Tetra )
    The new Novation stuff at the moment doesn’t grab me, but I hope they do a decent sized rack version of this as it would be good as a rack. I was one of the people who bought the very first bass station. Literally as they came of the production line. I spoke to the developers as they where sounding out the idea of their drum station (? ) the rack drum synth. Novation if you are still listening to end users, get that thing racked up and make another mutli timbral small synth like the Nova with lots of outs. Those synths must have sold well enough to keep your company going, look at the the price of Nord, Virus stuff etc very expensive stuff .

  7. The BS II is an awesome synth, but did they just take these videos and then put them away in a drawer until this Xmas ? Dude the BS II has been realeased since when, mid 2013 ? “Shit guys, we’ve forgot the BS’s overview !”

    1. I haven’t used the Mopho myself, but the extra half octave keyboard would be very nice. On the Bass Station II, you can only play across 2 full octaves if you are in the key of C.

      However, I think the multimode filter and two filter types are a big advantage on the Bass Station II. I would only get the Mopho if I really wanted the Curtis filter sound.

  8. I would say hardware VAs are dead. If you wanted to build a hardware synth nowadays, you should either go real analog or embrace a digital format like FM OR granular or something different. There’s no point in trying to make a hardware analog emulation when there are plenty of affordable real ones out there

  9. Honestly, Novation’s ‘Guru’ at times should be taken outside and shot (or sacked), simply because he obviously hasn’t bothered to proof-listen to some of these videos, where there is nothing happening! Finlay! No sound! i.e. 5.35 Arps and sequences. I noticed it elsewhere one of the previous videos too.

    Apart from that though, a great sounding instrument. Very versatile, and I think far better in many ways to the Microbrute. I want one.

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