It’s that wonderful time of year where we are starting to see NAMM releases arrive in stores and there are plenty of announcements hitting the press with Musikmesse news coming through on additional products. For those of you who have a keyboard problem and are always looking for the next great synthesiser to add to your collection, there is plenty going on this year that will have your ears pricked up. It’s not just with the small or start-up builders creating exciting modular synths, but many of the fringe companies and even the bigger names are releasing great new toys this year in a battle of the keys that will surely result in us, the consumers, being the winners with so many options on offer.
THE NOVATION PEAK
This is something that I’ve been looking forward to for sometime, having never made my love of Novation synthesisers any great secret. It’s almost like the follow up to the Nova that I have been waiting on for well over a decade and now the Peak is here to get us all lining up to hear what it can do. This unit just sang out to me, especially as it was in a module form and that was where I found my love for Novation synthesisers in the late 90’s. It has that classic black and blue fascia, but this time it also has a little bit of a retro feel with the chrome top knobs and the wooden end cheeks. It’s in the sound engine that Novation are going to get a lot of excitement from the public, as this also harks back to their earlier designs with a part analogue, part digital setup, allowing for amazing control and incredible sound to be brought together. The team at Novation have gone all out with the Peak to ensure the joining of analogue and digital circuitry blend perfectly for the best sound possible with some very interesting technology in the three oscillators to ensure aliasing doesn’t occur in the signal generation. They operate at ridiculously high sample rates, with one-bit DAC processing. For those of you who loved the original Bass Station, as I certainly did, you will be glad to know that Peak shares the same filter, but it also goes further in that it is an eight voice polyphonic synth.
THE NORD STAGE 3
There are essentially three styles of keyboard in the Nord range; piano, lead and electro. The piano does as the name suggests and works very well as a digital piano with plenty of options; the lead is the synthesiser-based keyboard; the electro is for the classic funk, soul and blues sound found in organs and electric pianos of the past. They all bring plenty to the plate within their areas of expertise, but now Nord are offering an all-in-one solution in the Stage models. These give you the best parts of all three Nord engines in one, with effects and a serious amount of memory. The recently announced Nord Stage 3 has been announced, and it’s due to be released in three variations, with 73, 76 and 88 note models. The big addition to the Stage 3 is the inclusion of the Nord Lead A1 synthesis engine. The Lead A1 is Nord’s analogue modelling synth that takes the power and grunt of the Nord Lead and brings a more organic feel to the sound.