Novation Circuit Update, Coming Feb 9th, ‘Worth The Hype’

Novation shared this teaser video, promising an update for the Circuit groovebox on Feb 9th, 2021.

Novation is updating its Circuit line to offer more capabilities, an enhanced workflow and more.

It’s no secret that the company will be introducing an update to its popular 6 year old Circuit groovebox. The Circuit is out of stock at most retailers and there have been unofficial leaks about the company introducing not one, but two new Circuit groovebox workstations.

No official details have been announced yet, but the company says that they are “Worth the hype.”

The Novation Circuit has received a series of significant firmware updates over the last 6 years, adding features that have made the groovebox a popular tool not just for beatmaking, but for building complete tracks.

But the evolution of the Circuit workflow is constrained by both the capabilities of the mk1’s physical hardware and by the risk of making the Circuit’s workflow less intuitive, as more alternative functions are added to the existing hardware controls.

The new Novation Circuit models are expected to move beyond these constraints by: adding additional control buttons to provide a more immediate workflow; adding additional I/O; and enhancing existing features to make the Circuit more capable as a standalone workstation.

Check out the preview video, embedded above, and share your thoughts in the comments on what features you’d like to see in a new Circuit!

34 thoughts on “Novation Circuit Update, Coming Feb 9th, ‘Worth The Hype’

    1. If it adds on-board sampling and more of a Live session view performance style, it will be worth the hype. And it looks like they’re going to do that and a bunch more.

      This will be an insta-upgrade for a lot of people.

      Dream feature: Conditional trigs.

  1. If they make real improvements on the synthesizer engine, that would be awesome.

    I am curious how these will measure up to the model series, at $300 a piece, they seem like a tough act to go up against. I guess the model cycles might not be that comparable to the tracks. But the circuit rhythm seems like it would be pretty similar to the model samples.

    1. The synth engine is already very powerful – but you need the editor to access any of its depth.

      I don’t see these changing that, but I’d like to see support for a ipad editor. That would address the needs of detailed synth patching and give the people that want a screen a fantastic screen.

      There’s already a third-party app like this, but it’s not bidirectional because it’s unofficial.

      1. That’s cool, I only ever borrowed a circuit from a friend. It had a different patch pack loaded on it. I have wondered how deep the editor is. I feel like a lot of digital synths have these blind spots in their range where certain types of sounds are thin, or muted, or muffled, and you have to play to the strengths of any synth. I have always liked the features of the circuit, but I never felt like the songs people make with it on youtube are really the style I want to make. I like quirkier edgier type stuff. I’m not trying to downplay the circuit, but since it has a pretty unique feature set, I’m excited to hear what these new ones can do.

  2. The title of the article had me thinking it would be another firmware update for the mk1. Hope this new one can sample and has load of cool effects!

  3. > two new Circuit groovebox
    > workstations

    w/o displays? workstations?? meh. what kind of “work” can you do without a display?

    1. I know you’re a fan of big screens, based on comments you’ve left in the past, but the Circuit was a hit precisely because it’s designed for people who want to get away from them when they play.

      Their video says that there are 32,000+ Circuit owners, which I’d bet makes it more popular than any of the MPC or keyboard style workstations that do have screens.

      A more apples to apples comparison, though, would probably be something like the Model Samples, which is deeper, but doesn’t have the dual synth engines.

      1. A product can offer a screen and a good screen less workflow as-well.
        Its not done because its more expensive to develop and produce not because there are people that dislike to work on a computers. Keep in mind this product is also aimed to sell at low price point.

      2. >more popular than MPC or keyboard workstation

        I would severely doubt that. Given that each of the big manufacturers (Roland, Yamaha, Korg) produce new iterations of their several flagship keyboard workstations every year or so, would suggest that it is very big business for all of them. Business they’ve been counting on for decades

        Keyboard workstations have been around since the late 70s in countless iterations from several large companies

        Akai MPC has been around since 1998 and has had about 20 iterations in that time

        Circuit has only been around since 2015 and this will only be it’s third iteration

        1. I think you can qualify as a workstation without a screen. It ultimately has more to do with the # of synthesis/sampling options and the depth of the sequencer.

          I would say that for them to justify changing it’s designation from groovebox to workstation, there needs to be at least 3 things:

          1. Between 20-Infinite undos (at least between power offs)
          2. Up to 32 separate tracks can be recorded/programmed/sequenced
          3. Some level of grouping/bus/fx routing beyond 1 efx send/return channel per track

          It’s possible to implement all 3of these without a screen and make it a swift workflow. Feel free to rip apart my opinion here, or add to the list of things that would be required to really justify the “Workstation” designation.

    2. After reading years your comments it would be awesome if you could send us your musician socials like insta and spotify. I really wann see the guy behind all these displays…

    3. well as far as new ones go – if they have a sampler/sampling drum machine a display would be nice, nothing fancy but something that could show directory/wave, starting point, loop, etc the existing machine works fine without one but if you are expanding the line there is nothing wrong with adding one when necessary

    4. I agree, someone offered me a TR 808 one time for free, and I said, “No screen? No thanks!”

      JK. I mean everyone’s brain works differently, but I will say I find it a lot easier to use the a/c and stereo in a car when it doesn’t have a screen. I feel like screens generally make a lot of stuff less intuitive.

      1. UI is really a whole field of study in itself, but managers will just tell the programmers they already have on hand to “just make it work,” without any care for ease of use.

        I’ve used many standalone devices from the 80s, 90s, 2000s and up, where the screen UIs were super-bad. They are finally getting better, but it has been at a glacially slow speed.

        1. Yeah my feeling is first off, lcd screens and touchscreens are so ubiquitous now that they can be thrown into anything without any thought or care about the ui, second, manytimes a screen means menus, third, there’s an instinctive memory in our fingers for learning and remembering where tactile buttons are, so I think we learn button placement subconsciously to some extent, while learning a screen ui usually is more conscious and deliberate.

  4. I had the original Circuit when it was first released and it was a fun little unit. I eventually sold it off, but was glad to see Novation continue to make significant updates to the platform via firmware. It grew so much during its lifespan, especially compared to the Electribe 2’s development.

    I always thought the sample/rhythm section was the most fun part of the unit, despite being so limited. Something about the sample pitch tuning and the master filter/fx just sounded really good together. A dedicated sampling Circuit should be a super fun travel box if anything. Will be even better if it has some sort of drum synthesis on board that you can then resample.

    1. it’s not about the number of output, it’s about the ability to multi-track. look at Digitakt: 2 audio outputs yet 8 tracks through USB.

  5. The limitation for me was the 8 x 8 grid. Novation makes a 16 x 16 grid and this should be on the Circuit. The second limitation was the 2 synths, not enough for a song. With 16 x 16 it can have 4 synth and 8 drum tracks. Other than that, it was fine.

    1. The amount of pads has nothing to do with how many synth tracks a device can have. But yes a bigger grid of pads would be nice. Got the LPP MK3 with custom templates to solve that problem. 🙂

      1. This. You just implement pagination a la the Launchpad. Have more that 8 clip lanes? Page down to the next set of 8. Have more than 8 tracks on your circuit? etc…

  6. Go Novation, deliver a good one. Still wondering how to we browse SD card contents without a screen. I am thinking if we will have extended versions later, like Circuit Monostation, etc.

  7. They’re a great company. I know a few folks that swear by their Circuits. I have a Bass Station II and I love it. They truly go above and beyond with their product updates, which make me feel like any Novation product is a safe purchase decision.

  8. I’m interested but for now I’ll rather go with the 1010Music Blackbox + Launchpad Pro MK3 because the Circuit doesn’t have a display.

  9. I am guessing they are adding MIDI OUT tracks with assignable CC’s for the macro knobs and some motion sequence recording for them.

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