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The classic Novation Bass Station, reworked for the 21st Century.
Bass Station II is an analog mono-synth with a talent for bass, but a sound-engine that is versatile enough to kick out sharp leads and crisp arpeggios. It brings the best elements of the original Bass Station into a brand new design with re-worked modulation, effects, filters and more; like the Bass Station, but much much bigger.
The signal path is pure analog - including the effects section. The hardware has been laid out in modules with dedicated pots, switches, sliders and buttons for all major parameters. Critically, you can store and recall patches on Bass Station II. It comes with 64 killer factory presets, space for 64 of your own sounds on the hardware, and you can store more on your computer.
The key-mechanism consists of 25 full sized keys that are velocity sensitive with assignable aftertouch. It has been developed as a ‘synth-action’ keyboard, where each key is individually sprung so it is light to the touch and highly responsive to the synth engine. Bass Station II is a fully class compliant MIDI device with MIDI I/O on 5 pin din ports – for connecting to other MIDI outboard – and can interface with your computer over USB.
The Synth Engine: A Brief Overview
Oscillators: Bass Station II is built on three analog oscillators and a noise generator. There are two fully independent oscillators plus a sub oscillator (which is the critical component in creating rich, analog bass sounds). Oscillators One and Two are switchable between sine, sawtooth, square and variable pulse width, and Oscillator Three - the sub osc - can be set to one or two octaves below Oscillator One. It can be square, sine or narrow pulse width, delivering the characteristically ‘fat’ bass tone.
Filters: You can select between two discrete filters - ‘Acid’ or ‘Classic’ - each with a built in overdrive for pushing filter tones from dry, to warm, to nasty! The ‘Classic’ Bass Station filter can be switched between low pass, high pass and band pass at 12 or 24dB slopes. The ‘Acid’ filter is based on a diode ladder filter design that delivers a characteristically 303-esque sound that is designed to squelch!
Effects: Bass Station II has two effects (not including the filter overdrive). Analog distortion drives circuit components to add new frequencies to the sound. Bass Station II’s Distortion function can add gentle warmth, filthy granularity and anything in between. The second effect is ‘Osc Filter Mod’ which creates a distinctive FM-type sound by using Oscillator Two to modulate the filter frequency. This is very good at crunchy, sound-mulching effects that substantially fatten up bass and lead patches.
Modulation: There are two envelope generators and two low frequency oscillators (LFOs). The first envelope is an ADSR amp envelope and the second is a mod envelope that can be used to modulate filter frequency, oscillator pitch and osc pulse width. LFO One is dedicated to pitch modulation whereas LFO Two is used to modulate osc pulse width and filter frequency. Although it looks like there are four LFO waveforms, the ‘LFO Slew’ function can be used freely to sculpt LFOs into smoother wave-shapes.
Arpeggiator and step sequencer: Bass Station II’s Arpeggiator and Step Sequencer are killer performance and production tools. The Arp can be directed to run through 32 different rhythmic patterns in different directions with a switchable octave range. The fun really starts when you engage the Step Sequencer. Up to four sequences can be played in – with legato and rests – and assigned to any one of the 32 rhythmic patterns. As well as getting ideas down quickly and programming performance sequences, this is a brilliant way to preview patches while you are editing them.
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Reviewed by 2 customers
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Comments about Novation Bass Station II:
This is a great synth and really can compete with the best of the analog Mono's. What I love about it is the range in the types of sounds I can create. Very large sound pallette. Don't let the price make you think it is not quality.
Comments about Novation Bass Station II:
My BSII arrived last night, and I must say - my mind is as blown! The first thing we always want to know is if it sounds good. This is always such a preference thing and I can't decide that for anyone but myself, so I won't go into that. All I can say is that I have Moog LP, DSI Evolver, Elektron Analog4 and Arturia Minibrute and this thing surely has something to say! Defintiely the "squelchiest" filter of the entire lot. The Osc Filter Mod is sick.
It is pretty feature packed for the size and price point it comes in at. 2osc + sub, 2LFO, 2 Filters, Aftertouch, patch memory, nice arp/sequencer, full size keys, can be usb powered, controls send midi ccs, etc. I'd say that beats out the Minibrute and ms20mini as far as bang for buck.
So yes, I absolutely love the BSII!! But no synth is perfect, so....the plastic casing. This thing is so light, I bet the Minibrute triples it in weight. The knobs and envelope faders feel sturdy and the keys have a nice action with responsive aftertouch so the build quality is adequate where it counts, but the plastic casing is just so cheap and weightless. I guess Novation had to cut corners somewhere to keep the cost down.
Gripe #2: Just one more knob, please! I like how they saved space with the ON-Key settings. for example, Hold the funtion button and push middle C for "LFO2 Slew." The setting for this parameter is now shown on the screen. However, you have to use the buttons to button press to the setting you like. Yes, you can hold these buttons down for faster scrolling, but just ONE softknob by the screen would have made editing these ON-Key functions so much more tactile.
overall, I would recommend the BSII to anyone! Each recommendation would not fail to mention the cheap plastic casing though. for that I have to give 4 stars instead of the 5 I would have given it based on just sound, features and bang per buck.