NINA 12-Voice Analog Polysynth With Motorized Controls Now Available To Pre-Order

Melbourne Instruments has announced that the NINA, a 12-voice polysynth combining the tactile and sonic qualities of classic analog, with motorized patch recall and automation, is now available to pre-order.

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.

Pricing and Availability

NINA is available now to pre-order, starting at $3,000. They note:

“We have a special first-edition run of 500 units only. These units will be individually badged and numbered. The first 100 units ordered will receive an Early Bird Discount of $500.00, with additional units ordered before October 30, 2022 eligible for an Early Adopter Discount of $250.00. From Nov. 1, 2022, any remaining units will be available at the full price of $3500.00.”

55 thoughts on “NINA 12-Voice Analog Polysynth With Motorized Controls Now Available To Pre-Order

  1. I’m not sure how well this is going to compete at those prices, considering it is a desktop synth. Two VCOs + Sub + Digital Wave oscillator with, apparently, a single 24dB/Oct Moog-style filter doesn’t sound like too much on offer. The only thing it brings to the table is motorized, what, pots? Just sounds like something more likely to go wrong than not. If those prices are real, this makes the 3rd Wave seem like a steal!

    1. since its very ambitious and new technology maybe its better to wait a year and see,
      but it is something i always wanted and still amazed somebody actually done it.

      1. Yamaha in 1997 did try their hands at this kind of concept. It was a guitar preamp called DG1000. Subsequent products in the DG line omitted the motorization feature and there has never been a proper follow-up to this line of motorized products by Yamaha ever since. I guess the folks at Yamaha had their good reasons!

        1. this is haptic feedback encoder with highly developed drone motors technology. why guessing when we can simply wait and see?
          i’m shore many tried to build some sort of aircrafts and failed before the first successful airplane.

    2. People are way too obsessed with technical specs. Over the years, I’ve owned about 30 or 40 dirrefent synthesizers and my opinion is that what matters in the end is how I feel when interacting with the instrument, not the technical specifications. I know this is bold, but even sound is less important – if you enjoy programming and playing it, it will sound good. Some favourites over the years have been the Roland SH-09 and the yamaha TG-33. Very different in terms of sound, interface and ergonimics, one of them super straight forward, the other the opposite. Both are fantastic!

      I can Imagine that interacting with the NINA is a very pleasant experience and it looks gorgeous! If it brings nothing new to the table in terms of sound, a well-built, solid poly synth with a very ergonomic interface is still very welcome.

        1. It sure is expensive – that can’t be ignored. Expensive synths can often be underwhelming. Price raises expectations. But I feel that sometimes feature-laden synths work the same way. The list of features raises expectations too high and results in an underwhelming experience.

  2. Love it! but disappointed that it’s totally out of my price range.
    Let’s hope it is a succes and we see this interface more in the future for less money.

  3. the [COMPUTER] legend always gets me – it should have said [ELECTRONIC BRAIN] instead.

    still don’t see the point of this product for the price for a industry overrun with DAW-boys.

  4. A 1000 years in the future.
    Melbourne Instruments: The motors have cease to function however you can still turn the encoders manually.
    Mr. Jetson: I only know buttons so how do I do that?

  5. This, or the Groove Synthesis 3rd Wave (sort of similar price range, depending on where you’re from). While I like the motorized knobs, I don’t think it’s a feature that will hold up in the long run. I am not talking about technological failure, but about its novelty factor. I mean, for that amount of money, nothing really stands out besides that. Or perhaps they got something else up their sleeve that warrants it. We’ll have to see, I suppose…

  6. It would make more sense minus the motorized knobs. What am I, a housecat who needs to be entertained when the patches change? The features list is impressive, especially the temptation of sampling capability, but I’d want something more sensible for the price. Its like a new category of synths: Super-Duper-Boutique.

    1. i think like most you missed the point of haptic feedback encoders technology. it seems melbourne instruments are not so good in explaining/advertising how amazing it is. it’s far from being just for preset change.

      1. Are you saying you can feel the LFOs or the envelopes through the knobs a little bit, or that there’s some resistance as you approach the minimum/maximum of a parameter? That could be interesting.

        1. it can show the modulation depth goes to each value but it can also do much more,
          the encoders can have “end point” like regular potentiometer, very the physical resistant, small stepping for choosing a destination name from a menu (or precis values) or large stepping for choosing modes, spring like return to 0 (like pitch wheel)
          and it’s all open source…

          1. You mean, kind of like the way modern cars with “Lane Sense” try to keep you from where you want to steer the car?

              1. No, I am very interested in the topic of haptic perception. In my real-world non-music job, I’m a neuroscientist. In the mid-80s I was working at the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory in Groton, CT, where I worked on a system that used a matrix of small vibrator elements in the back of a vest (so the vibrators were spaced along the back) to produce a haptic representation of a SONAR waterfall display. The idea was to give the sonarmen a new modality to use in combination with visual and auditory modalities for embellishing the perceptual experiences involved in waterfall display target detection. I didn’t stay in that position long enough to complete the research, and most of the people I was working with thought I was nuts, but I really had high hopes for that kind of system. So, yes, the comment about car steering was a bit of an attempt at humor. I only wrote it because of the way you were describing haptic feedback from the knobs. So, even though I am quite aware of haptic perception, I guess I still have no idea of how having motorized pots might be useful for interacting with them (hence the steering analogy). If you have ever driven a car equipped with ‘lane sense’ and deliberately tried to cross out of the lane you were in (without putting on your directional signal), the feedback you receive from the steering wheel is, indeed, 100% haptic. Also, int that case, the haptic feedback is inhibiting you from accomplishing your actual intention of changing lanes. Now, with that idea in mind, please explain how haptic feedback from interacting with the pots is something that you might actual want. I’m not trying to be argumentative, but you are insisting that something beneficial occurs but have never explained what it is.

                  1. Google what, exactly? The point is that you haven’t explained it here. I think that is why people just keep saying things like, “Who really needs motorized pots”. I understand haptic perception and I don’t really understand what you are getting at. I (laughing to myself as I type this) understand not wanting to present verbose explanations, but if you are going to answer somebody by saying “Google it”, maybe you should have the courtesy to tell them what they need to Google!

                  2. OK. So I Googled “haptic rotary encoder technology” and got a hit on a company named Xeeltech and their technology they are calling HAPTICORE. Lots of amazing hyperbole, their, but I’m still not translating this to application in a rotary control (for anything, actually) on a synthesizer. So the media inside the pot can instantaneously change (through what appears to amount to viscosity) the resistance of the pot. How would that kind of feedback help in the interaction with the pot? Even if you caused subtle vibrations by modulating the instantaneous pot resistance, you might have some feedback as to how quickly you were moving the pot, but it seems to me that you brain would already be calculating that, otherwise you wouldn’t be moving the pot in the first place. Maybe I’m missing something critical here, but I really don’t get it.

                  3. Hoping to see if Melbourne Instruments can explain the “haptic feedback” provided by their motorized pots, I looked for information from the company that addresses that. Not only couldn’t I find one occurrence of the word “haptic” in any of this information, I also couldn’t find any reference to any feedback provided by their pots except “they offer the feel and precision of analogue pots”. This doesn’t even suggest there is something to any feedback provided by the motorization of the pots, and clearly, they are not using any form of HAPTICORE technology (which isn’t cheap, and I’m pretty sure they would mention it if they were using it). Methinks you are reading something into the design of this synth that simply isn’t there. Of course, I may be Goolging the wrong thing and am again missing the point, entirely. But when challenged with “Google it”, I did the best I could.

                    1. i already explained the features of the haptic feedback encoders one by one and i wrote examples of how they are beneficial with this synth. i also already said melbourne instruments are not so good in explaining/advertising it, it may be because this features are not fully implemented yet but it was already talked about in length at namm 2022.

                      you seem to prefer to talk and talk, tell stories about your history and makes negative assumptions instead of being practical about learning. if you invested 1/10 of your time writing here learning about it i think you may find answers for your questions.

                      if you are really interested but not so good with google searching drop them an email, and if you think telling you to google search or send an email is with “no courtesy” because i need to provide you facts please take a hint, i don’t have any motives to help you understand further because from everything you wrote its clear you are more interested in one-sided conversation than to learn about the actual product.

                    2. I guess we’ve reached the end of “replies to” indentation. So, this message refers to the message from gadi that probably appears below. I’m not saying that it wasn’t Melbourne Instruments intention for their encoders to provide haptic feedback. What I said was that after “Googling it” for a considerable amount of time, I could find no reference to it. In the Sonic State interview with them from NAMM, there is no mention of it, or even any suggestion of it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at NAMM, but since gadi must have been there, I guess I am, again, behaving like an idiot. So, I’m sorry, gadi, if I insulted you with unfounded speculation based on the little research I was able to accomplish. But since you were at NAMM and got the words right “from the horse’s mouth”, I’ll shut up now and wait for the product and Melbourne’s announcement of the great advances they made bringing haptic feedback technology to the synthesizer.

                1. Hey John thats some amazing pedigree! the haptics are used to do ‘indents’ (i.e. to show modulation or tune is at 0), detents (for switches) and endstops. When you select a modulation source, we show the modulation amount with the knob. lets you program heaps of modulation quickly and clearly.

                  1. “haptics are used to do ‘indents’ (i.e. to show modulation or tune is at 0), detents (for switches) and endstops.”… Does it actually do this or, as pretty clearly stated by the Melbourne guy in the Sonic State NAMM video, is it something that can be added by programming the computer? As for “When you select a modulation source, we show the modulation amount with the knob. lets you program heaps of modulation quickly and clearly” I understand that this is a function of the motorized encoders moving to the appropriate position (not exactly haptic, as defined by a single sensory modality), but how would this be any different than would be achieved using a standard pot or encoder with a lighted ring (as many people here have suggested) that shows the modulation amounts by lighting the ring to the value to be represented? Personally, I’m totally blown away by the capabilities of this synth, but I can’t justify purchasing one because, in my opinion, so much of the investment is for the motorized encoders that I really don’t think justifies the current price. If this thing was built without the motors, I think it would be an instant success if it sold for about the same price as what would be its competition (Prophet Rev 2, etc). Hell, for about $2k I’d probably order one today as soon as they shipped.

                    1. I just received an answer to the “Haptic indent” question from Melbourne…

                      Hi John,

                      Thanks for getting in touch.

                      The haptics are definitely included at time of release. There are still some refinements being made to which knobs and what options are available – but in general, the haptics contol/assign is part of the Nina feature set.

                      Regards,
                      Rex

                      So, I guess that answers the question (i.e., yes and no). I’m impressed with the speed of turnaround from Melbourne, however that only provides an answer to the “haptics” question. It does nothing to change my attitude as expressed in the post above.

                    2. It defaults out of the box to whatever haptics make sense for the given control. so when its being used for modulation, its got an indent. What the guy means in the video is that its actually user definable. Can setup any arbitary haptic mode for any control mapping.

                      Yeah you could achieve a similar thing with a ring. but the feel of encoders on rings isn’t so good. i’ve personally not used any encoders that get the resolution high enough. theres always some kind of stepping.

                    3. Stepping from encoders (or any other source in a digital control circuit) occurs because of the quantization interval chosen for the encoder. I think a lot of manufacturers use static encoders (i.e., where the encoder outputs, usually 8-bit values, based on shaft rotation differences). There’s nothing to stop a manufacturer (except cost) from using a real analog potentiometer and digitize the output with whatever quantization interval is desired. Just digitizing to 12 bits would give 4096 discrete steps, and I doubt that anybody would perceive any kind of stepping phenomena, no matter what parameter the encoder was controlling. If you really wanted to go crazy, it wouldn’t be much more expensive to use multiple-turn pots and quantize to 16-bits. Even then, it would be easy enough to add indents and detents for all of the haptic feedback you might want. Still, you end up with a production cost that is not heavily exaggerated by the inclusion of the unnecessary motors. While the overall design of the synth is gorgeous, they blew it with the motors, I’m afraid.

      2. Haptic feedback seems a big deal, when you don’t know Greek. In realiity what this offers has nothing to do with the feeling of touch…

        1. After trying to discover what gadi was referring to and rereading your statement, I tend to agree with the “In reality what this offers has nothing to do with the feeling of touch” part of your comment. Unless gadi can convince me otherwise, I don’t believe there was any intention of Melbourne Instruments to provide any haptic feedback through their pots. If there was, I would think it would be mentioned somewhere in their press releases or funding statements. We may never know or understand what gadi was actually referring to, and it may be a brilliant concept. However, I don’t believe it is present in the NINA, at least not by any intention of Melbourne Instruments.

    2. Funny you should mention the “housecat”. I had a Behringer DDX3216 digital mixer with flying faders (had it for over 16 years, actually, and it always performed flawlessly). I also had a dog at the time. When I would be playing back automated mixes, the dog would stare, transfixed on the moving faders, sometimes cocking her head as if to ask, “What is moving those?”

  7. I’d like to reiterate my thoughts from the initial post:
    Nice concept, but from my limited experience with motorized fader-controllers: 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 modulation amounts and assignments). Kinda like Clavia did with the Nord Lead 3.

      1. Why not? In theory, a motorized fader would be as capable of providing haptic feedback as a motorized pot would be.

        1. in theory maybe but i don’t know about any controller/mixer that use flying faders based on drones motors. modern drones motors can do 10k hours of flight time before they start show any signs of wear. take into consideration typical speed of about 5k rpm at high temperatures and exposed to dirt and impacts.

          1. Nothing of which has anything to do with “haptic feedback” which was what my post was about. Also, next time you plan on doing a 10k hour recording session, let me know. I’d love to record it for posterity 🙂 Just for reference, my Behringer DDX3216, that served me well for many years, must have had at least 1000hrs on it when I sold it, and the faders were still flying as well as they did the day I bought it (they were motorized 100mm ALPS faders, I believe).

            1. wow, you just continue to argue for the sake of arguing, continue to miss my points on every single replay here probably because you are just bored and looking to for someone to argue with. i’m starting to get the feel like i’m doing some kind of service talking with you, like you have nothing else to do, so can you please stop to needle picking faults about everything you read just so you have something to comment on? this is not a respectable conversation behavior, it feels needy, old and tiring.
              i agreed with you about the haptic part in theory, my comment “it’s not like flying faders” was regarding the reliability issue “Marc Croxx” talked about that again you seem to agree about.
              now before you replay back, try to see the big picture of what i’m saying. think about what it means to have a nice conversation that is not about two sided oppose each others.

              1. No, I miss your points because I don’t understand what they are. If English isn’t your first language then I’m sorry I’m not trying harder, but maybe you should consult with somebody more fluent in the language before you go off on people. However, in the post alluded to in the one above where you are attempting to insult me, I thought your point was about the potential longevity of the motors due to being of drone heritage. The paragraph to which you made that reply was totally about haptics, not build quality. In order to counter the apparent intent of talking about drone motors (longevity), I pointed out that I had a piece of gear that is over 30 years old now, that was built by the most hated company on this list because of their build quality, and that had flying faders that lasted over 1000hrs. Of course I could of easily insulted the underlying premise of that drone motor statement but I chose to do otherwise.

                1. maybe you looking to show your knowledge by finding faults in what i wrote instead of having constructive conversation. you defiantly arguing even when there is nothing to argue about like with the faders reliability and afterwards you finding excuses why. you simply missing the big picture. i don’t think language is the issue, this seems like what you mostly do here with others too and it is tiring for me. you don’t want to learn and when you do you don’t give others the least courtesy for that by playing nice like with all the haptic thinging. so i think i will just have to ignore your replays in the future and wish you the best john.

                  1. Yes, that’s it, exactly. I’m a troll, and I lurk here just to impress people with my knowledge. Bravo! Now, go back and read your comments and my responses to/about them. I think you might be amazed at who, between us, is more guilty of what you are accusing me of.

                    1. i reread it many times and i read your others replays on others posts.

                      your first replay to me was belittling (compering it to cars) when i mentioned the haptic features you didn’t know nothing about regarding this synth, i replay to you i’m not interested to entertain you about something you are not interested in but you couldn’t get an hint, than you start writing in length about your experience and your history and asking me to explain something you don’t seem to care to learn yourself, i told you to google it so you continue to talk about how you didn’t find nothing and how you don’t think there is any haptic tech involve with this synth (on multiple replays) you ask me to explain myself again and again while you constantly make troublesome assumptions based on no facts. i ask you to send them an email (another hint to let it go) and you actually received a replay all this haptic tech exist and planned but you didn’t have the courtesy to change your tone, you then continue by judging the necessity of the haptic feedback in this synth again without knowing much about it, then you just continue with nit picking most of what i wrote even when we had kinda same point of views and i ask you kindly to try and have a conversation instead of trying to oppose everything you read.

                      i don’t think that even now you will agree with me because you don’t seem to have the capacity to understand your quite clear behavior and like i told you countless times you like to argue, disagreeing is what you mostly do here.
                      i don’t think you are a troll, not intentionally anyway, but you do nit picking to contradict others, you may be bored or trying to show your knowledge, looking for a “stage”, i guess it’s both and i guess i’m not the first that told you this but it doesn’t have to be this way.

                2. My only question is… What, exactly, is a replay? You keep using the word so frequently, I feel like I’m part of a dispute in some athletic event that needs to be reviewed.

                  1. a “reply”, i wrongly spelled it,
                    you focusing on that is a perfect example of what i’m talking about
                    i was wrong, you are a troll

  8. i like the sound of this synth but i have no need for motorized knobs, which i know is kind of the point here. i have the Chase Bliss CXM 1978 reverb pedal and i love it for the sound, it’s kind of fun that the faders move but it would still be a great pedal if they didn’t.

  9. If you actually go watch some videos, there’s tons that the knobs bring to the table. They adjust per patch change, but also can show LFO mod amounts, they are used in the patch matrix, and they have haptic feedback, meaning you will feel them click through values.

    I can’t argue with the high price point though.

    1. After watching everything I could find, I have to admit that I’m impressed with what the synth can do. However, my takeaway was NOT that the encoders have preprogrammed simulated detents, but that you can add them by changing the programming of the Raspberry Pi that drives the synth. Although that was not specifically stated, in the Sonic State NAMM video it is stated that a simulated center detent, for example, COULD be added. So, I’d agree that if they did have preprogrammed detents, they would provide haptic feedback. However, as I previously stated, I don’t see what information that “feedback” would provide that your brain wouldn’t immediately learn just by turning the encoder while monitoring the results of its action. So, I’m pretty sure that the reason why Melbourne Instruments doesn’t hype the haptic feedback (if the encoders did, indeed, provide it) is that, outside of maybe a center detent that would provide information about the exact location of a ‘zero’ value (which they don’t appear to have), such a feature is only something that would need to be added to further justify the motorization of the encoders (which is what must account for the outrageous price). Both normal analog potentiometers and knob-based digital encoders are readily available with all the detents you might need. The fact that these motorized encoders can be programed to do the same thing doesn’t really argue for the value of the motors, which is my only real quibble with this synth because that, undoubtedly, is what prices this synth well above its weight. Otherwise, I love the design, especially the nearly infinite control matrix and the open-ended architecture based on a platform that is both easy to acquire and work with (ensuring that it is likely that the features of the synth will be greatly enhanced by the public that adopts it). Note: you don’t need motorized encoders to achieve the same thing!

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