The Novation Peak polyphonic analogue-hybrid synthesiser looks like it’s going to be the latest, greatest thing to come from the stable that’s given us synths such as the revered – and still going for plenty £££ on eBay – Bass Station and Nova series.
The key things that stand out when we describe the new Novation Peak 8-voice synth are: analogue, but, hey, we’ve got plenty of analogue synths to choose from these days; hybrid, which is always intriguing; and polyphonic.
Three really nice words on their own, but when you put them together…
The Novation Peak polyphonic analogue hybrid synth module
A quick overview of the back story and the features tells us what we need to know about the Novation Peak desktop synth module. The design consultant for the Novation Peak was the legendary Chris Huggett. This is the man who gave us not only the original Bass Station and the Supernova, but was also instrumental in the design of such classic pieces of music technology as the EDP Wasp, OSCar, the Akai S1000, the K-Station (I’ve still got one of those…) and the Bass Station II.
That already gives the Novation Peak quite a heritage, but lets look at what it actually offers in terms of features. To get started, this is an eight voice polyphonic synth. Of course, that doesn’t mean you always have to play eight notes at once, but what it does mean is that you have a bit more freedom to have multiple notes with longer release times decay naturally, without having them prematurely truncated as you run out of notes to play with.
Moving on to the hybrid architecture of the synth, the use of digital oscillators (NCOs) paired with analogue filters really does give you the best of both worlds: flexible oscillator types, with the character of an analogue filter. And with three of those oscillators per voice, there’s the flexibility for thick, slightly detuned bass sounds, to sweet three-notes-with-one-key-press chords and everything in between.
The Peak has you covered when it comes to the dirt as well, letting you dial in some distortion at three places in the signal path, so you get total control over how crunchy things can get, and where in the chain that happens.
With two LFOs per voice, plus an ADSR envelope generator for the amp and two for modulation, there’s a lot of scope for creativity just with the EGs, and that’s before you even get to the 16-slot modulation matrix and the onboard chorus, reverb and delay effects.
The benefits of the Novation Peak’s hybrid architecture
Analogue oscillators are great, but they do have their limitations. From tuning stability and temperature sensitivity… but the real character of a synth comes from its filter, and that’s where the Novation Peak keeps it analogue.
Digital oscillators are great; you only have to look at the popularity of modules such as Mutable Instruments’ Braids to appreciate note only the sound, but also the flexibility that they offer. The digital oscillators offer a choice of sine, triangle, sawtooth and pulse waves, but that ‘more’ option looks intriguing…
I imagine that this is where you get to the 17 wavetables that have been included for those times when you need to go beyond the sounds you can make with the ‘traditional’ oscillator wave shapes. The resonant multimode analogue filter is going to be where the Novation Peak gets its character and, if it’s anything like the filter on the Bass Station II, I’m not expecting to be disappointed!
Novation Peak: review of the features and specs
Eight-voice desktop polyphonic synthesiser with three New Oxford Oscillators for each voice
Numerically-controlled oscillators (NCOs) embrace the flexibility of the digital domain with 17 digital wavetables
Oscillators can be used as a linear FM source and for cross-modulation using either the NCOs or digital wavetables
Analogue signal chain features three distortion points: pre-filter and post-filter distortion per voice, plus global distortion
Responds to polyphonic aftertouch
16-slot modulation matrix with 16 direct assignments
Three ADSR envelopes and two LFOs for each voice
Two animate buttons give live performers instant one-touch transformation of patches
Reverb, delay and chorus effects
CV modulation input
MIDI input and output
Via USB, Peak can be plugged into Mac or PC, where unlimited patches can be kept using the Components software
Summing up the Novation Peak
The Novation Peak might not be the cheapest synth that we stock, but when you look at the feature set, it offers quite incredible value. Not only that, the Peak offers all that functionality in the convenience of a desktop module, ready to connect to the rest of your studio quickly and easily, without taking up too much valuable desk space.
We’re really looking forward to the Novation Peak arriving at Red Dog Music, we’ve got our first batch of orders in, so it should be with us ASAP after they land in the country. We’ll bring you more more news when we have it, but you can of course get in touch or call into one of our stores if you want any more details or to place your order from the first UK shipment.
Happy polyphonic synthesising!