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April 2016

Novation Circuit - 21st Century Groovebox

Novation circuit

As a guitar player, it's fairly rare that I delve into the world of synthesizers, drum pads and other assorted electronic gear. But the Novation Circuit, might just be the kind of instrument that gets even the casual musician to bust out some new moves. My buddy Michael is a bass player and synth addict and he loves it.

Novation is probably most famous for its BassStation and MiniNova line of synths as well as its LaunchPad of MIDI controller grids. The Circuit combines the best of both these traditions to create an all-in-one music making machine. It's got drums, bass, synths, a simple step sequencer, runs on batteries, and has a built-in speaker. It's ready to use right out of the box. No need to fire up your laptop. No cables or MIDI to mess with. Just dive in and start making music. 

While many users will use the Circuit to crank out EDM dance beats, it's got the chops to be used for rock, metal. I'm not sure it's going have the right style for Jazz and Blues, but who knows? Here are a couple of tunes Michael published on SoundCloud.

For around $300, the circuit is not exactly an impulse buy. But it's capabilities, rugged construction and technicolor good looks put it well beyond the novelty category. No wonder it's winning awards and rave reviews.

You can export your creations, but the process for bringing separate tracks into Logic Pro or other DAWs looks to be a bit cumbersome. Novation has already released a firmware upgrade and a synth patch editor. Hopefully exports will be made easier with some further update. This looks like it could be a lot of fun both for recording and for live performance.

Here's a video Novation put together demonstrating some of its capabilities.