Red Dog Music | Oct 9, 2018 | 0
Start something with the Novation Circuit Groovebox
It’s been a while since I’ve been this impressed with a product, but I am with the new Novation Circuit.
Now, obviously, there are a lot of products that have impressed me: the SSL Matrix 2 impresses me a lot for example. But what impresses me most with the Novation Circuit is the way the features and the price work together. For just £249, you get 2 synth engines, 4 drum parts, a control surface, the sequencers to get them programmed, a whole load of tactile-tweakability and really everything you need in one box to ‘start something’ as Novation’s campaign tagline tells us.
Oh, and you can take it pretty much anywhere.
Starting something with the Novation Circuit
Take a control surface, add more than a little dash of synthesis power and some PCM samples, and garnish with an audio interface, and you have the Novation Circuit. I’m also pleased to report, having had the opportunity to get my hands on one and spend a bit of time with it, that the Circuit groovebox is a cracking little thing.
Now, I mentioned my degree of impressedness with the Novation Circuit, and here’s why. The Circuit does not do everything. There are a few feature omissions that a few users might like to see included, but it’s how these features have been balanced against the price-point that makes this a top-of-the-shopping-list piece of gear.
The Novation Circuit is not a product that takes you completely from beginning to the end of the song creation process. There is not a ‘song mode’ as such. While patterns can be chained together to create longer ones, there’s no pattern-sequencer that would just let you program your song from start to finish, hit play and record your completely finished song onto your recording medium of choice.
Being honest though, speaking from my own groovebox history, I’ve never used that sort of product for arranging a complete song from start to finish; I always find that part much easier to do using the large screen that came as standard with my computer. For me at least, a groovebox is about coming up with patterns, melodies, beats and loops jamming them out, getting away from the computer – maybe even from the studio – and just having fun playing with ideas.
And that’s what the Novation Circuit seems to be ideal for. As they said with their own tagline – Start something. And it’s been a while since I’ve come across a product that lets you start something quite so easily.
Novation Circuit – Not just for the studio
With it’s standalone functionality, the fact that it can act as clock master and it’s portability, the Novation Circuit is a great addition to your live rig. There’s always that extra peace of mind when you know that you have a piece of gear that you can use to keep the gig going just in case your computer decides to – to borrow a Buffy term – ‘have a wiggins’.
With plenty of project storage space, plenty of pads to fire off your loops, and plenty of onboard scales to improvise no matter what the song, the Circuit is a handy thing to have in front of you when you’re performing.
Summing up the Novation Circuit
Now, I’ll admit here that I’ve only spent a couple of hours in the company of the Circuit, so obviously we’ll wait until we’ve had the appropriate amount of quality time with it before we do the big review, but from the specs, the first impressions and the price, it looks like Novation are really on to a winner with this.
As the lines between groovebox and DAW controller have blurred over the last few years, it’s good to see a bit of a standalone product action once again. No, it’s probably not a complete song-production tool, but then that’s what you’re DAW is for. For starting something though, for jamming out live, and for using as a controller, the Novation Circuit is a veritable bargain.
I think we’re going to get on well…
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