Novation Circuit 1.6 Adds Panning, Drum Micro Steps & More

Novation today updated the Circuit to version 1.6, adding support for panning, drum micro steps, dimming the LEDs and more.

The video, above, offers a quick overview of the new features. Below, check out details on each of the new features.

Panning has been Circuit users’ top feature request. With the update, you can pan across the stereo field or hard pan left and right to output two mono channels for external processing.

Here’s a look at the new Drum Micro Steps feature in Novation Circuit 1.6. This lets you retrigger a sample up to six times within a step.

The last video demonstrates the new Light Dim option, FX Mute and other new options in Circuit 1.6.

Pricing and Availabilty

The Novation Circuit has a street price of about US $330. Circuit v1.6 is available to download from Novation’s Components site.

34 thoughts on “Novation Circuit 1.6 Adds Panning, Drum Micro Steps & More

  1. Well… I think I need one now.

    How is the workflow? Seems like it might be a bit daunting considering there is no screen.

    Now if they could update the editor for Mininova.

    1. The only tricky part is modifying synth parameters. The 8 macro knobs are completely different for each preset, so the only way to tell what they’ll do is to experiment (which is fun, in its own way). You can get vastly more control if you download the Isotonik editor for Mac/Windows, although I wouldn’t use the editor in a performance context.

      1. you need the editor – once you develop a workflow with the editor you know that you always assign a specific knob to cutoff decay/release, etc

  2. The micro-steps seems like a step in the right direction (bad pun not intended).

    But does it let you set a step rate generally? i.e., can you make it do 3 steps per beat? If not, then using the micro-steps would be a brutal way to have to work to get that very basic triplet rhythm.

  3. without a display: completely unuseable imo. why, for god´s sake, haven´t they built in a decent screen, just like korg did with their electribes? sorry, novation, change the cumbersome workflow first by implementing a display into a third circuit edition. then–and ONLY then–i might be interested. oh, and btw, i´m not alone. here´s the verdict of music radar:
    “Cons: Without a screen, editing can get a touch confusing.”
    novation has to change this immediately imo.

    1. If you own an iPad, the Midisynth editor/performance app addresses the lack of screen issue. There’s an Android version in the works too I hear….

    2. To be fair that’s a review for the Circuit Mono Station, not the Circuit in the above article. According to the review the lack of a screen makes it difficult to manage modulation when designing patches, which is not something done on the Circuit. The next paragraph states “On the whole, the workflow is Mono Station’s trump card” so maybe the workflow isn’t all that bad. The last paragraph is nothing but praise. I get the feeling the reviewer really liked it and the lack of a screen was not a big factor.

      The only real confusion with the Circuit here is the 8 macro knobs at the top. But even that isn’t too bad. It’s fun to listen to what they do to the sound and go from there. You can use editors on your iPad if you want to edit patches or samples and assign the macros any way you want.

      I get that some people just can’t get over the lack of a display. They’re missing out on great portable groovebox, but everyone has their own priorities. You really have to experience the workflow to see that a screen wouldn’t make a big difference. It’s not an MPC or an MC-909 but then again, that’s not what it was supposed to be. The Circuits seem to be selling well the way they are and there are lots of other options out there already, every one of them with a display.

      (Thanks for the update Novation!)

    3. if you cannot achieve an amazing screenless workflow on the circuit, you must be missing your hands. the novation circuit is one of the most intuitive, fun, and fast instruments i have ever used. it is also can act as a midi controller; i use mine to control my ms-20 with synth1, vsts with synth2, drums on 3 &4 AND i mix in the internal sounds. the circuit does not need a screen or menu-diving…..However, it could be useful if novation ever makes a bigger circuit with more tracks/fx

    4. I suspect we’ll see Circuit 2 sometime next year. The only problem is that a display and more powerful processor will increase the cost.

    5. The lack of screen doesn’t make it unusable. In fact, it’s kinda the whole point of the circuit. I feel way more connected to the instrument without a screen and after conquering the learning curve in a week, I wouldn’t have it any other way. The Circuit’s just not for you man.

    6. Ahoy from Berlin Harald,

      I’m nut sure if you own the 2 circuits, it just sounds like your opinion is because “somebody” said “something”. I’m doing with synths and sequenzers for 20 years now.
      And i really have to say, Novation did a brilliant job, no… they did the best job EVER on user-friendly, intuitive, haptic, surface feel, self-explaining, and and and…

      It just dont NEED a diisplay and this is good! How big do you want a screen on this little sweet machines? What u wanna see there? 3 Letters and a number? Would this editiing make better? No!

      Instead for example have a look at the circuit editor from isotonic studios, its free and stays free, the pro version u get for small money.

      I first saw the editor before i bought the machines, then insant buy!! Its so fantastic what you can do withe the matrix rerouting one knob to another…awsome! Thas what i ever dreamed in the past on my Korg electribes and the yamahays.

      Btw. do you know the old Yamaha RMX 1?? This thing have a big display with many infos for that time, but the sequenzer programming and all i want to do with it was nearly immpossible… horror. This machine was is the example fór a not intuitive sequenzer.
      There was no specific editor,sure some pro tools like Midi Quest for 325.- and thats a non specific editor. Today they have a implementation.
      But this is not a tool what you want as a little musican, its a pro editor for studios and and still a kind of sience.

      Belive me, you dont need a screen!! It also 2would deviates you from that super intuitive machine! And there are easy to use editors from circuit and sonicstudios. What you want more? And there is a growing community where you can get tons of patches, templates, etc.
      I wished it had been so easy with that edior from sonic in the earlier days, i wouldnt need that nice screen on the rm1x and my korgs.
      Also look at that little clip, i also instant bought the launchpad xl. What a cool tweaking device now!!

      Lightfinger’s Novation Launch Control XL Circuit Super Template (its free)->

      How to Create an Arpeggio Effect with an LFO with the free editor

      Anyways, have fun…

      P.S.: you DO NOT WANNA HAVE A SCREEN ;-)) (Jedi Master Hypno force) :-)))

  4. The only thing is you don’t know what the macro knobs are controlling. Would be nice if you could see it on your iPhone / iPad. But yeah this is finally a Groovebox I can really get on with. Very immediate.

    1. I have a dream where Novation takes a cue from Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z and makes a “screen” app for Circuit where you can browse all the presets, see all the macros, and edit them from your phone via USB.

  5. Time signatures other than 4/4, gate lengths longer than 1 bar and a sequencer that allows recording of more than 16 notes per bar, without quantising it all are, all at the top of my list. I’d have chosen any of these over this micro step addition.

    1. You’re absolutely right.
      Those are the reasons why I cannot put the Circuit in the groovebox category.
      Still, novation is moving forward.

      1. The fact that novation continues to support and update a sub $400 box is fantastic. All the updates have been relevant and may not give everyone what they want but to call this anything but a groovebox is silly, imo…

      1. I own it and I’m probably going to sell it and if it’s limitations had been made clearer i wouldn’t have bought it. saying that, i applaud novation for updating regularly and free of charge.

        If the music that you want to make is like the music in the above videos then it’s good for that. The novation team, judging by the vids, appear to be focussed on that kind of music, so updates lend themselves to that type of music. Workarounds tend to feel a bit cumbersomeand I found that if you aren’t using them, you forget how to do them.

        Mine’s currently not being used and waiting for a sequencer overhall, which probably won’t come

    2. personally the micro steps for me are amazing – I have been playing with it and it really does add a lot – I thought they added a length a little while ago (last step) I have to look back at the FW updates…. they haven’t done a resolution yet though so you couldn’t do say 3/4. the micro steps are set up in 6ths though (which is kind of cool and kind of not, if you want 4/4 the only sync step is in half which is still better though) so you can do triplets with it.

  6. My main problem with the circuit lies within the details of sequencing. First of all the currently edited pattern allways follows the sequencer. So when you have several bars in the pattern everything switches all over the place and you have to be really quick to make edits. It is a very frustrating behaviour for me.
    The other is, the unit has P-Locks built in which is (colud be) great for a nice workflow to create interesting patterns. BUT you need to stop the Sequencer which actually instantly kills the workflow.
    For the price the circuit is great but i would try it out first.

    1. That means u want step programming while the sequenzer it running?
      hmm.. kind of strane workflow… for what u need that?

      What u mean with Pattern Lock and need stop sequenzing? For what? Cant follow it.
      You can all do with patternchaining while playing…. save session while playing! (I guess you know that u need to unlock saving in system menue)

  7. now that they have the panning – hopefully they can figure out panning automation – after playing with it I haven’t been able to automate panning which is too bad because with the micro steps it would be cool to be able to sweep pan the drums

  8. Nice to see Novation keeps updating a device that’s already half of the original price when you buy one in the stores now.

    Would’ve loved panning automation.

    Also session chaining should be doable right?

    Firmware 1.7 maybe?

  9. Great news on the update! However, for me the top request would be a very simple one to implement (at least I think so): The ability to record (via shift key) a non-linear pattern chain (with the ability to repeat and inter-mix patterns).

    Right now you can play/repeat a pattern or a group of *adjacent* patterns… and thats it. So you can (for example) loop pattern 1 on SYNTH 1 (while SYNTH 2 might play it’s own Patterns 1-8 as a loop).

    What we REALLY need is to do something like ONE the following.

    In Pattern Mode we would press the following sequence for just SYNTH ONE as an example:

    Then for SYNTH TWO (and each drum section) we could enter a totally different sequence.

    The above would give you the ability to program COMPLETE songs by giving us the abilty to make song parts based on any combinations of the eight patterns in any order. Of course there would need to be an upper limit to the total number of pattern changes for an instrument, but it is not a lot of data to store so I think it could be pretty high. At the end of the sequence the whole thing still repeats per instrument so some instruments might have shorter patterns.

    Still require the linear aspect of pattern chaining (ie: pattern 1 always go to pattern 2, etc) but simply add the ability to press (while holding shift) pattern one multiple times (how many times would be indicated by the brightness of pattern one’s LED. Then Pattern two could be pressed multiple times (obviously the max is 8 since that is the number of brightness levels per LED)….and so on for each of the patterns for SYNTH ONE… Then SYNTH TWO’s PATTERN buttons could have a different number of reps for each of it’s eight patterns.
    This is simpler than the first non-linear suggestion above but at least it lets the user loop each pattern a varied number of times before moving onto the next pattern). And again, the whole sequence loops per instrument just as pattern chains loop at the end currently.

    PS(I agree with a previous poster in that I also think session chaining would be nice feature as well, but if my suggestion regarding the above enhanced (and more versatile) pattern chaining were implemented it would mitigate the need to chain sessions somewhat IMHO…of course enhanced pattern chaining PLUS the ability to session chain would be totally awesome!).

  10. These are all nice ideas and maybe nice to have. But think about the concept of it! Keep it simple! That would all make it completly confusing because it would not be comprehensible later imho. And if u really need that, why not use a external hardware sequenzer like Elektron Digitakt if you dont want use DAW.

    Anyways may they find a way on version 2, add a SONG knob, where you cann all that do in a comprehensive way. Like your alternitive way.

    Also we need memory for saving that data. Only novation will konw if there is any space left to save that data and also the song lenght must be restricted.

    But as more i think about that, basically you could do the most of what u want when using several sessionsand and switch between them. or?

    Just my opinions, and im also still learning how to get the best out of it…

    One of the inspiring things i saw was the combo of using the Launchpad XL with the circiut.
    Look at that clip:

    The template is for free!

    Lightfinger’s Novation Launch Control XL Circuit Super Template Demo->

    I love the changing the drum patches while playing… sure you should have the right samples then is position…but ist awsome!

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