Ask Novation: What Do You Want To Know About The Novation Circuit?

What do you want to know about the Novation Circuit?

At the 2017 NAMM Show, we had the opportunity to talk with our contacts at Novation, and they agreed to help answer Synthtopia reader questions about their Circuit groovebox and how it works. 

Is there a feature on the Circuit that has you stumped, or something that you can’t figure out how to do? Let us know, below, before the end of the day Friday, March 3, and we’ll work with Novation to answer as many questions as we can.



72 thoughts on “Ask Novation: What Do You Want To Know About The Novation Circuit?

  1. Is there any chance of a future update to Circuit that will allow changing the MIDI notes sent from the drum machine section? I was hoping to control a few parts of my Korg Volca Beats with the Circuit sequencer, but the notes on the Volca Beats don’t correspond to the ones on the Circuit, so an update to include this functionality would be cool. All the best.

  2. Are there plans to improve the isotonik editor and possibly a standalone sample manager (I don’t often hook my studio computer up to the internet)?
    What hardware limitations are keeping the sequencer from having lengths longer than 16 steps (or higher note resolution) per pattern?
    I’ve noticed when adsr controls are set to a macro they reset to default after the poly limit has been reached, are there plans on fixing this bug?
    And finally I would love to see a launchpad pro, is this a possibility in the future (it could really be a game changer if you added a screen and some deeper functionality, but still battery powered)

    1. Totally agree on the standalone management apps. 5 or 10 years down the line the current scenario that’s web dependent will no longer be supported and that functionality will be lost forever. A standalone application can be run much longer and even emulated in the future. Maybe consider releasing the protocol and let some awesome 3rd party apps have fun too. With standalone applications the Circuit has the potential for a very long life as a desirable product. Check into wrapping the HTML5 app into a desktop one. That might be a good solution with minimal efforts.

      I’m also not a fan of requiring a social media login. Not everyone participates in that stuff and not everyone wants their Facebook account associated to random companies (no matter how much we trust them). If nothing else it’s an external dependency on a third party service that you can’t control, and that’s almost as good as a ticking time bomb for the app. When it breaks 3 years from now (or a service dies or a new service appears) are you really going to want to put a dev on it for a week? Or are you going to want to keep moving forward on a new project?

      Beyond that – THANKS NOVATION! Your support for the Circuit has been outstanding. Amazing product that I’m glad I own and a ton of fun to boot. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future.

      1. Think the basic premise of this is actually backwards. You can still load the very first web page created by TBL with every web browser you have installed on every machine you own. Can’t say the same for desktop apps, including many apps considerably younger than that. Of course, pages aren’t apps but the premise remains the same: open standards that generally continue to work. If some future web standard breaks an old web app, it will be a lot easier to download an old version of a browser than it would be to run a virtual machine.

        Plus, even if the web editors aren’t officially Open Source, web apps have, by nature, open source code. So when Novation eventually moves on, someone will be able to easily fork and continue. Much easier to do this with a web app than with some compiled desktop app.

        I’m not a fan of the required social login or any login at all really. I doubt there’s any real/technical reason the editor can’t be run locally within a web browser with local storage, etc.

    2. I’ve noticed when adsr controls are set to a macro they reset to default after the poly limit has been reached, are there plans on fixing this bug?


  3. Can i use the Web midi based Synth editor or components sample manager on an iOS tablet? Do i need a windows 10 tablet instead?
    Will we ever get an update to allow us to sequence / send midi out over 16 channels?

  4. This is more a suggestion rather than a question: Sample Flip is (completely) Awesome – but a bit to wrap ones head around. While there are some good YouTube videos on this it’d be really Really helpful if Novation featured a slow, clear step-by-step video explaining the Sample Flip process.

    The existing tutorial on NovationTV feels slippery on the actual process / too quickly demonstrated. Sample Flip is what MAKES the Circuit (in my mind) so putting a clear instruction out there would be fantastic.
    PS- Love the Circuit / Thanks!

    1. Sample flip is pretty intuitive and straightforward. Hit play, hit shift+whichever drum lane you want to write to, hit record and tap on the samples you want to write to the pattern. They’re recorded exactly as you play them, quantized to the nearest step of course. If you have specific questions about it I’d be happy to take a shot at answering

      1. Very kind of you. I did get Flipping down but my first stop was the mentioned NovationTV video and despite my best efforts and rewinds could not grasp the concept from that. 3rd party videos came to the rescue but it seems like Novation should house a for-the-n00b babysteps video on the process as Sample Flip is such an important feature for the mighty Circuit.

  5. Is there any easy way to edit the synth patches with mobile devices?

    My main reason for getting the Circuit was to spend less time on the computer – so having to go back to the computer to do any synth editing is a pain. Would there be any way to use an iPad to do this?

    1. Lemur has 2 different editors for iPad and someone just added an iPhone editor too. Either USB midi or I rig

  6. Why don’t your mobile apps talk to Circuit? They cover similar territory, so it seems like a lost opportunity to nob be able to edit samples and sequences on an iPad and then be able to sync them to the Circuit.

  7. What’s the best way to use Circuit with CV gear?

    I’d like to use it to sequence synth voices on a Eurorack synth and combine that with samples played back on the Circuit engine.

  8. are there any plans for a next gen to contain a midi host, both to take advantage of things like the launchcontrol xl (for parameter control) and external controllers for midi notes

  9. I really want to edit upload and download patches using iPad not computer. Can we use the side chain for other effects like scatter, bit crush etc…. more effects please!

    Can another synth engine be loaded onto the circuit? That would be amazing.

    1. Density stacks additional copies of the oscillator, like the unison function of a traditional hardware synth. Density detune does exactly what it’s name implies — it detunes the stacked oscillator copies for a chorus type effect. Great question on wave interpolation. I hear no audible differences when adjusting that parameter

      1. Wave interpolation went set to 127 smooths out the transitions when changing the PulseW Index. If you set Wave Interpolation to 0 and start tweaking around with PulseW Index you’ll hear stepping as it goes through the different wavetables. It’s more noticeable on some of the Waveforms than others.

    2. I can help. I don’t remember what video explained this, but here’s what I remember:

      Wave Interpolate is for the wave types that morph between different wave types. At its lowest setting, you’ll get a “stepping” between the different waveforms because it isn’t interpolating.

      Density is a “unison” setting. Turn it up to add more voices.

      Density Detune detunes the unison voices.

  10. I really miss, as I know, the ability to change the macros CC´s for external uses.
    And I really would like to see the value´s when changing an macro, just like they did it with the Tempo.
    Changing the MIDI notes of the Drum Parts would be great, f.e. for Volca Beats.

    Love the Circuit, it´s the heart of my setup, when not playing over my DAW.

  11. are there any plans to get a touch screen and become more of a stand alone machine like the akai live ,or will you just be a box with coloured lights???

  12. How is the sysex dump of the session data structured, and how can I extract the note/velocity/macro cc sequences for use in a DAW?

    How do I tell Components to ignore the drum samples when I am uploading a set? That could save time when I’m only writing new patterns for a set that’s already backed up.

    The sequencer seems to allow notes on the same step to have different velocities/gate times if you record over multiple takes. Is there a way to edit the velocity/gate of individual notes that are on the same step?

    It seems like Synth 1 (and by symmetry, Synth 2) has access to all 12 notes of polyphony while the sequencer is not running. Can you confirm?

  13. 2 things:

    1. Given that the LEDs are all RGB (or aren’t they?) would it be possible to user customize the colors of the different synth/drum instruments? Rainbow everything isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

    2. Are there any plans to allow for an infinitely sustaining note, or is this impossible? Long pads/drones are not really possible on the Circuit as is. Some users suggest making the pattern length smaller than the note length but this just causes the note to repeat rapidly, resetting the envelopes. Not really a workaround.

  14. Given that the introduction of Sample Flip has made the Circuit a much more flexible and powerful device, is there any possibility of adding more to the ‘Expanded Note View’ for the Drums? Circuit could really shine as a live finger drumming/MPC style performance tool if you had access to play more sounds from the 4 different voices on one page.

  15. Any chance you could add more features or functionality to the Mixer page?
    Like being able to turn on/off the reverb and delay sends (per track) with the empty buttons underneath the channel mutes? Could these action be automated/recorded? This would be awesome for adding quick dubby FX while also making the mixer page much more functional.

    Maybe per channel filters that could be controlled by from the mixer page?

    Anyway to drop the two synths and just get an 8 channel drum-machine/sample sequencer? This would be especially awesome if there was a way to play/pitch samples melodically.

  16. Fiddling around with one of these in a Guitar Center, one of the things that frustrated me the most was how…non-concrete the feedback of the knob positions was. It’s hard to discern where a knob is based on the brightness of a single LED. While I realize that this isn’t exactly something that can be fixed with firmware, I’d like to know if there’s an “undo” feature in the works? Because if I tweak a knob and don’t like the tweak, it’s difficult after that to put it back to where it was.

    Also, since we can now upload our own samples for the drum tracks, are we going to see a mode for chromatic pitching of samples, like Korg has on the Volca sample?

    1. I think the way the knobs work are just fine.. It forces you to use your ears instead of going for specific values.. To be honest, this is what makes the circuit great for me, I don’t need to put something at 63% just because somebody said it sounds good that way, I just pay attention and decide if it sounds good..

  17. I don’t own a Novation Circuit, but I think it would be cool to have an iPhone app that would allow the user to adjust the levels of the different instruments.

    1. Yes, will you consider making an iPad app with great interface, similar to the Teenage Engineering concept of BYOS (bring your own screen) for the OP-Z?

  18. Just two things: 1) ability to mute note steps without erasing them or changing their velocity 2) ability to see and edit the same pattern while in loop play without jumping to next one. Those would boost live-act performing 100% up, it would be much more convenient.

    1)solution suggestion: Nudge mode is quite unused, bottom rows could be used to mute note steps
    2)solution suggestion: for unganged pattern view/edit could be used [shift] + [pattern] button that would toggle between loop selection/patterns play mode (as usual) or viewedit selection mode (when you press pattern button, it would just selected and showed corresponding instrument to view and edit, but it would not stop pattern chaining and also not skipped to selected pattern playback and also when next playing pattern in loop, not showing them. View would stay on that pattern/instrument which you choose for view/editation) just for indication of modes: loop/play selection mode would lit pattern button, view/edit selection mode would blink up pattern button.

  19. Hi, i love Circuit, great instrument.
    I only miss a few features:

    – Panning sounds (left – right).
    – Song mode (automatize a song with different parts. It would be amazing for people playing other instrument at the same time).
    – Suntain notes beyond one patch.

    I would like to know if you are planning or if it is possible to do that with a firmware update.
    It would be awesome.

    Thanks for your time.

  20. 2 things:

    1. higher priced version with metal case. 15 percent slimmer and stereo. The mono portion of this keeps it toyish to me. I would easily pay 1000 bucks for a stereo metal version. This is by far the best travel hardware composing mini studio ever made.

    2. dim all LEDs. The lights are often turned down on longer flights. When this happens the Circuit becomes a christmas tree to fellow passengers. I’d love to just dim down when the lights are low.

  21. is an update that allows additional fx(modulation, slicer, octave,etc.)possible???…I would prefer this to takeover the sidechain section. I LOVE the circuit and more effects would be amazing. Sidechaining is cool but currently overused. As for a future circuit2; I want 2 more synth sections and audio inputs to record external gear onto the device(to function like a kaos phrase sampler or looper), a completely all in one device. Thank you

    1. Love this suggestion. More effects would be wonderful, and the sidechain function is the only thing I’ve never used.

  22. This may be obvious, but is there any way to ‘turn off’ a pattern that’s playing, rather than having to use an empty pattern or muting the sequence?

    What I’d like to be able to do is to ‘toggle’ the pattern by pressing it again. Enabling/disabling the voice in the mixer works ok for some things, but is not a great option when you want to create a song structure.

    For example, on a verse of a song, I might want to change the active patterns and also drop out Synth 2 and some of the drum sounds. What I do now is use empty patterns and switch to those for the verse, and then switch to patterns with notes for the chorus. Doing this, though, means that I have to have to use up one out of the eight patterns with an empty pattern.

    1. jorge: You could take advantage of the fact that you can momentarily go to the mixer (by pressing and holding the mixer button, pressing the channel you want to mute, then letting go of the mixer button).

      I hope that helps, but it may not be quick enough for your specific needs.

  23. Will there be an update that enables
    * gate lengths longer than 16 steps and shorter than 1 step?
    * MIDI channel configuration?
    * an offline librarian?
    * step pushing / pulling (playing steps a bit early or a bit late)?

    Will there be iOS / Android librarian and synth editor apps?

  24. An Arp.
    A simple arp function with random and at least one programmable arpeggiation (user) preset would be awesome for random generation of melodic and rhythmic ideas. If you can fit it in the impulse, no doubt you can fit it in Circuit!! ????

  25. Change per pattern swing , speed, reverse pattern notes, reverse automation .Maybe a song mode too for chaining patterns together. (So I would not use 8 scenes for a song)
    Pitch mode for samples (meaning lock the sample and play it chromatically via the pads). Lofi timestretch, loop start end points ,midi assignment for changing the sample.
    Full iOS editor/ librarian . Locally ,no web .
    Adjust/reduce leds brightness.(especially for dark environment)

    PS. I strongly believe that it was supposed to write questions regarding workflow and workarounds….lol

  26. I need one feature: The option to recieve midi for the synths on channels 3/4 instead of 1/2. this so vital for people with complex setups. I don’t want to use and power a clunky midi filter. i don’t even need 16. Just more midi channel versatility than none whatsoever.

  27. I miss the function of tuning samples stepwise, in semitones or in scales. Now it is fiddely to find the original tuning of samples. Would be a great addition.

    Circuit is great.

  28. The best feature of Circuit is its ability to be a standalone groove machine, so improvements like (some kind of) song mode, panning (if it’s possible), playing melodies with samples, muting patterns in pattern mode or iPad editor etc. will help a lot.

    I know there are lot of different workarounds for many things and I understand that Circuit was probably meant to be a live show unit especially for DJs but it becomes much more popular among the music geeks like me and if there’s a chance to have as many improvements as you can put in this little beast we’ll be happy.


  29. Suggestion really:
    While in note/sequencer mode for the drum tracks, it would be awesome if the octave+/- buttons could be used for jumping to next/previous pattern, as they are not assigned to anything else.

    More of a question/bug: Duplicating drum steps from one drumtrack to another only works properly (correct sample) if the source-track is recorded in the drum-sound-selection-view (shift+drum). Recording the steps like this obviously records the sample flip too, and thus the duplication of steps works.
    Also obviously, this workflow makes zero sense.
    Is this a hard/software limitation or perhaps a bug that could be rectified?


  30. maybe the answer is obvious but: Is there a way to program slide notes? do I have to automate a portamento macro for this?

    also I’d like to see a firmware update that starts the circuit with a shift button shortcut in launchpad mode for use as a usb controller in a daw. that would be awesome!

  31. Is there a way to assign different colors to synth 1 and synth 2_
    Can I change the colors of the samples?
    Can I play more than one sample at the same time on sample flip mode?is there a poli version mode with mute groups?
    How do I change on the circuit the samples startpoint?
    How do I undo my last action?
    Is it possible to play patterns on a different than ascending sequencial order?
    How to send only midi tempo out (no notes or any other midi info,just the tempo)

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