Melbourne Instruments Intros NINA, A 12-Voice Polysynth With Motorized Patch Recall

At the 2022 NAMM Show, Melbourne Instruments today officially introduced the NINA, a 12 voice polysynth with robotic patch recall.

The developers say that NINA combines the tactile and sonic qualities of classic analog synths, with modern functionality, patch recall and automation.

Features:

  • 12 Voice Polyphony.
  • Motorized recallable and automatable control panel using long lasting zero wear encoders with the feel and precision of analog pots.
  • Variable shape triangle oscillators. Continuously morph wave-shape between triangle and sawtooth to find new timbres. Different to a traditional blend.
  • 4 pole transistor ladder VCF with modulatable resonance.
  • Massive voice-level filter overdrive.
  • Digital Wavetable Oscillators.
  • Sampling capability.
  • Deep Modulation Matrix. Quick edit, all sources to all destination.
  • Patch morphing for complex expressive effects.
  • Stereo Infinite Panning effects with 4 Quadrant DCAs.
  • Onboard digital effects.
  • Multitimbral, layered, split, or overlapping.
  • Hackable open-source software control powered by Raspberry Pi 4.

Connectivity:

The company plans to launch NINA ‘soon’ via a Kickstarter project. See their site for more info.

35 thoughts on “Melbourne Instruments Intros NINA, A 12-Voice Polysynth With Motorized Patch Recall

  1. I wonder how fast those faders can turn. I gets crazy with the mod routing and rates. I go hertz! Seriously though, Software like Pigments and Phase Plant are get with the visual representation of routing and modulation so it would be awesome to have that in a hardware version but I think having a light bar around the knob might be better than seeing your knob moving constantly. Like the Implexus.

      1. Above: Motorized recallable and automatable control panel using long lasting zero wear encoders with the feel and precision of analog pots.

        I also saw another post that mentioned the knobs showing lfo routings and automations. Maybe im mixing up modulate and automate, one having a second source signal and the other is a manual source recorded?

        1. Yes automation but not the actual modulation rates. They meant it can show the modulations intensities, the buttons are the “sources” and the knobs move to the amount value of each destination, pretty amazing. Check the sonic state video

  2. its cool to see, but wouldn’t it be cheaper with endless rotary controls instead? on the screen, a tiny digit showing the info of each would be more than enough, like the model samples [or maybe other elektron ones, but only have the samples so dont know]

    1. Whilst I love the notion of ‘parameter awareness’, and the inclusion of Cherry keys, this synth seems to be providing a solution to a problem that did not exist and and not providing a more reasonable and reliable solution to an issue that does.

      Endless encoders with the light ring or small LCD screens would have been far more useful and immediate in provide accurate information without the need for mechanical issues that will probably arise over time. I still like that they are trying something new.

      1. The Behringer BCR2000 usb/midi controller had endless encoders, which were encircled by a ring of LEDs to show the value of that particular knob.

      2. @Modern3 Exactly my thoughts. It’s a fun idea, but it doesn’t really serve a practical purpose that wouldn’t be better addressed by using endless encoders with light rings or LCD displays. Any moving part on a mechanical or electronic device is going to be its achilles-heel in terms of durability, and they will require unique components to replace when they inevitably fail. Would you rather have to replace a commonplace LED-light, or a unique for this product, probably very expensive, motorized potentiometer? I know my answer.

        This whole year at Superbooth and NAMM seems to be a bit of a hangover from the corona-pandemic. Apart from the OB-X8, which is a lovely new synth, I don’t really see a lot of exciting new instruments. I see a lot of “high concept” products (SOMA Labs Treestump, Motorsynth, this thing, the TE mixer so tiny its not practical to operate as a mixer, and priced for the look-at-my-new-iPhone group of customers, TE’s new colour scheme for its existing product, priced to tempt the Tate Modern into thinking it’s a work of art, etc.) which all seem a bit gimmicky, a bit deliberately esoteric, a bit overdesigned, and not a lot of actually new features or innovations.

        The 2nd analogue golden age seems to have grinded to a halt, the eurorack scene is becoming ever more GASsy, with less focus on actual music, and focus on more and more things to make your process more and more elaborate, without a lot of actual impact on the sorts of sounds and sequences you can make with them. New digital synths offer more of the same wavetable + fm stuff wrapped in slightly more unnecessarily flashy user interfaces. This thing is just the analogue version of that.

        I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m jaded. But overall compare this year to a Superbooth and NAMM 5 years ago, and it just feels like there is less innovation, and fewer exciting new instruments and tools, than say a year which saw the coming of the volcas or the dreadbox erebus or the minilogue, XD, the hydrasynth, etc. I haven’t seen any products like that this year that make me want to run to the shop immediately to get one. I’ve seen a couple of mildly interesting, but very expensive ideas. And I saw one brilliant sounding Oberheim which is also very expensive. Hopefully now the pandemic is over, and the chip shortage might also be coming to an end a new hybrid/digital golden age is on the horizon. I’ll keep my money in the bank until then.

    2. Shore but the all idea is to make better way to deal with digital control of analog synths with potentiometer.

  3. I hope this doesn’t fade to vaporware. If it stays the size that it currently is, and if they don’t overreach on the pricing, I will probably buy one. Personally, I don’t care about “flying pots”, but the concept of making this an open-architecture synth that people will be allowed to mod without invalidating warranties, etc. is something that I would really consider, even if the price is a bit steep. It would have been better if the guy in the Sonic State interview was a synthesizer musician, but what I did hear (especially in the first demoed patch) makes me think this can have a potentially killer sonic palette. After seeing this I’m beginning to regret passing on NAMM.

    1. Is there more info about this “open architecture / hackable” feature? They mention that it runs on a raspberry pi. What kind of audio performance can you get from that ?!?

  4. I get some are like i don’t need this because the other ways that are out there now to indicate parameter value are fine. But I pass on a lot of synths because they do not have a sufficient way to tel current parameter value. That are synths that have many direct controls on the front pannel.
    If this would be an adapted technic that would open a lot more instruments to my interest.
    But i’m not convinced that manufactures that deliver these synths without a good way to tel current parameter value wil use these controls now. I hope they will, it might be less labor intensive than making a good display interface or designing led indicators with endless encoders.

  5. Looks like an interesting synth design even ignoring the motorized knobs.
    I’ve dreamt of a synth (or even midi controller) where the entire front panel is a full colour hi Res screen with physical encoders on top of it/ through it. A bit like the led rings but better. It could animate modulation like some vsts do and use the screen for other feedback e.g. modulation routing. Could make use of screen for annoying crazy disco light stuff or more subtle stuff – a large oscilloscope across the background of the entire front panel or different skins for different patch types- pads, pluck, basses, leads, etc.

  6. if knobs move to their actual position at any given time, mechanical wear will be a problem. especially, since players will constantly interfere manually with motor movements.
    if we wait another 5 years, AR will give us user interfaces with any kind of feedback we want.

    1. We will need to wait and see about this one but I’m shore people was expecting problem with any new technology.
      Like with flying faders the pots are touch sensitive and will stop moving as soon as you touch them, so you are not working “against” the motors.
      Some drone motors can do 10K hours before showing any sign of stress and we talking about test at 20K-30K RPM or more, so it’s possible today that the actual motor will be more reliable than a high quality regular pot or encoder. maybe it was not possible 5 years ago 🙂

  7. Yeah modulation rates on the knobs would surely make them go on fire, hehe
    but a slow LFO represented on a dial , or recorded filter knob movements that are not so fast.

    Interesting area of discussion.
    Modulation and automation and what can be visually represented all at once.

    1. If they price it for the Australian market, exchange rate will help greatly. $1000 AUD is about $720 USD. Shipping will eat away some of that savings, though.

      1. If they planned it will cost say 2.5K USD it will cost 3.5K AUD or 3150 CAD…
        It’s not that they are trying to set a price in AUD that only “sounds” comparable to the numbers in USD 🙂

  8. If these were analog pots but motorized it would make some sense (not a lot but …) .
    Now they are encoders, which is what you need to have total recall, so motorized seems
    completely unnecessary and pointless.
    Led rings though would be awesome and would be able to show modulation (monome arc has this pretty much nailed)

  9. how many analog oscillators are there it seems a mix of analog and digital oscillators to get the 12 voice?

    1. I believe its 12 analog, 12 FPGA, and 12 wavetable. Also, I saw on one of the videos that the knobs have haptic feedback. So a knob can go from click to smooth with different amounts of resistance depending on the mode. If they last long based on the new drone technology that is used, all of these knob features seem to go far past encoder LEDs.

  10. Damn. These knob movements look creepy but cool as well (as hell?;). I wonder if this new type of electric motors will become a common thing or that it will pose a big replacement challenge if it breaks after a couple of years.

      1. New technology usually bring some that fears it, It may be a justified fear but you need to start somewhere, improve it, revised it…. They did emphasis “long lasting zero wear encoders”.

  11. Nice concept. From my limited experience with motorized fader-controllers though, after a while the noise from the servo-motors was hindering at mixing stage and quite nerving to be perfectly honest.

    If I could have made a suggestion to the developer:
    I would have prefered fairly normal encoders with an LED ring around them (that also could show you modulation amounts and assignments). Kinda like Clavia did with the Nord Lead 3.

  12. It’s not servo motors, its a new technology based on haptic physical feedback driven by brushless drone motors. So if it’s anything like high quality drone motors it’s nothing like flying faders reliability, may even surpass high quality encoders life span, but even if not you need to start somewhere and improve on it, i’m shore many preferred a carriage with horses to a ford model-t…
    Check the sonic state video above, at about 8:00 it show a nice trick of how the amounts modulation showed and it’s much more precise than a O-ring could provide.

  13. Nord Lead 3, Behringer BCR2000, Model:Cycles…many devices have tackled this problem before, without resorting to a mechanical solution…

    1. yes, they compromised, but with this new technology maybe they will not need to anymore… and like some said above it brings new abilities that was not possible before

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