Novation Peak Technology Overview With Engineer Nick Bookman

At Superbooth 17, we talked with long-time Novation Hardware Engineer Nick Bookman about the technology behind the new Novation Peak synthesizer.

We asked him what makes the oscillators of the Peak unique, how they differ from earlier types of digital oscillators and what the benefits of this new technology are for synthesists.

Our discussion with Bookman focused on the new technology featured in the Peak and on details of the Peak’s architecture. For an in-depth look at the synthesis capabilities of the Peak – along with a wide range of audio demos – see the playlist below:

More technical details are available at the Novation site.

Pricing and Availability

The Novation Peak is priced at: US $1299.99 ex. tax; Germany = €1429.99 inc. 19% VAT; & UK = £1249.99 inc. 20% VAT. It will be available worldwide in May 2017.

A Peak Stand is will also be available in late 2017, priced at:  US = $99.99 ex. tax; Germany = €114.99 inc. 19% VAT: & UK = £99.99 inc. 20% VAT.


30 thoughts on “Novation Peak Technology Overview With Engineer Nick Bookman

  1. wish i could afford one. still don’t understand the current exchange rate, especially with novation being uk based. future’s so bright, gotta wear shades o_O

  2. Pricewise i would rather pay 230,- more euro’s for a REV-2 8 voice. It should be 200,- cheaper or be a full size synth. If they have the guts…

      1. The REV2 with 8 voice polyphony is priced $1499 in America. The 16 voice is priced $1999.

        DSI has announced that there will be an 8-voice add-on module available to bring your 8 voice REV2 up to 16 voices (no soldering). They have not announced the price of the add-on module yet.

    1. Why, so you can have the keyboard? Because the Peak definitely offers significantly greater depth of sound design possibilities than the Rev-2. For those of us who already have keyboards, the Peak is much more interesting. And the price point is spot on — seriously, it’s a powerhouse at what is realistically a cheap price.

    2. no no no.. make sure you go play with both before you go and blow the euros. You’ll be surprisingly disappointed with the lack of thought put in to the rev 2

    3. Wait some time! They will lower the price, I’m quite confident. This is the entry-price and they have competition out there like Behringer.

  3. Fine with all the higher quality stuff, but wasn’t low bitrates and lower sampling frequencies a part of what made the first digital instruments sound interesting? Like the 12-bit converters on the e-mu samplers (SP-12) and the 8- and 12-bits on the ppg wave, and the Synclavier, Fairlight, the all the AKAI and Casio samples. All of those aliased (but interesting) sounds was lost when all the higher quality VA synths started appearing in the late 90’s. The low quality of these sounds made them stand out in a track. Anyway, I think Peak sounds kinda nice, though..

    1. I would say Parva but it’s still in beta. If you’re ok with a synth that consistently morphs its characteristics every firmware update than Parva is for you. Peak has a lot of competition to be coming in at $1300 US

  4. Glad to hear the scan rate on controls is high (or at least that’s how I interpreted what Bookman said).

    One area of concern was that it looked like the parameters we saw adjusted had a range of 128 values. (0-127 or -63 to +64). That won’t be enough resolution to set pitch, cut-off, or amp with enough precision. I didn’t hear any zippering, so it must be interpolating internally.

    I wonder if it allows 14-bit NRPNs for parameter control. Or if there is some kind of finer level of parameter control. It would be nice to see something like .x or .xx if you held a shift key down.

    1. From Novation’s site:

      “Most digital synths use standard 7-bit MIDI CCs for all their controls, sometimes resulting in audible ‘stepping’ of parameters, most notable in high-resonance filter movements and LFO speed shifts, for example. Peak employs 8-bit controls for oscillator tuning, filter cutoff, LFO speed and mixer levels, delivering ‘analogue-smooth’ filter sweeps, LFO tweaks, and pitch and level changes. High-resolution data interpolation, which runs on the FPGA makes sure the sweet spot comes back accurately every time a patch is recalled. Interpolation ensures smooth transition of all parameters, many of which use Logarithmic control law to ensure they feel naturally musical.”

      1. Thanks for looking that up. At 8-bit the range goes to 256, which still seems a little low. IIRC, the Korg Minilogue had a higher value range on most parameters (was it 10-bit? 1-1024?). I don’t know what the DM12 did.

        I also really like when a synth can use actual units in the UI, like Hz, dB, ST/Cents, etc. (Kurzweil synths were always good about that stuff).

    1. Compared to what? Prophet 12 module is $1800, Prophet 6 or OB-6 modules around $2200, Prophet 08 (rev 1) module recently reduced to $1000, Modor NF-1 $1200, Virus TI2 desktop $2200, Parva $1000, DeepMind desktop $900. Comparing voice architecture, features, interface, and sound I’d say it’s a good price.

  5. People keep confusing “can’t afford it” with “too expensive”. With its features it’s priced perfectly reasonable between the DM12 and the Rev2. I don’t see why the Peak should be cheaper than the Behringer as it is obviously more complex and versatile. And it’s even cheaper than the ten years old TI Desktop.

  6. This is a knockout punch.

    Anyone who complains about price simply does see the value in its breadth and capabilities, or simply can’t afford it. Either way, it’s obviously not for you.

    Slam dunk over the dm12 and smashes the rev2.

    No shame in having all three, info had to pick one it would be this though

  7. At this price point I’d rather get a Waldorf Microwave 1 with a Stereoping controller. The sound of the MW is incredible. The Peak sounds inferior as far as demos show. The reverb is cool though.

    1. “The Peak sounds inferior as far as the demos show.”

      Demos are so limited in terms of how much they can inform you about a product’s range. And everyone’s tastes are different. When you say “inferior” without qualifying why, we don’t really know whether you are referring to something specific like: “There’s not enough aliasing for my tastes.” Or something vague like, “The sound doesn’t bite.”

      There are other factors that make this appealing: A 16 slot matrix with lots of sources and destinations; Poly-phonic Aftertouch, Versatile, Low-aliasing Oscillators; some thickening waveform modes that don’t require additional voices; good effects, smallish form-factor, 2 CC pedal ins, 1 CV in, MIDI DIN.

      I’m not 100% convinced it is the be-all-and-end-all, but comparing what is on offer from the DM12 and DSI, this is a valid offering at an impressive price.

  8. Very cool concept and good interface. I’d consider buying a peak, but feel the mod matrix is too limited at the moment. I’d like to see some control over stereo spread and unison detuning and within voice detuning, as well as interaction with the effects. Effect modulation requires poly patches to reduce their mod control to monophonic towards effects of course. Oh and perhaps lfo depth control, to be able to fade on lfo’s with an envelope.

    I wish there was a spread mode for 4 voice full stereo playing, with one key triggering a voice left and a voice right at the same time.

    And I really miss a step sequencer.

    If Novation would address these things with a future software update I going to buy this for sure.


  9. Oh and what about a wavewtable waveform that can do phasing as result of shape control. I would happily trade something more musical for the old and rusty wavetable contents like organ and piano imitations. The octave harmonics table is a keeper though! More of that please, or user access to table content ?


  10. We can put men on the moon but Novation cant insert a few lines of code to make it multitimbral. Hopefully they update it the way they have updated their Circuit machine.

    Still a great sounding synth but monotimbral is a dealnbreaker for me.

    Think of this metaphor on mono-timbrality:

    How many Oxford oscillators does it take to screw in 8 light bulbs ?

    8, however they can only screw in one at a time.

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