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Founded in the United Kingdom in 1992, Novation is a name that's been synonymous with electronic music on both sides of the Atlantic ever since. The company started out with a MIDI keyboard called the MM10, and in 1993 released their first synthesizer, the Novation Bass Station. Two years later, the Drum Station came out, and with it the technology that would later become the foundation for Novation's analog sound modeling, which uses samples from analog oscillators to generate its sounds.
Since those early days, Novation has released a steady stream of digital music products, with two of their highlights being the SuperNova synth in 1998 and the Launchpad MIDI Controller in 2009. Today's Novation synthesizers come from a convergence of these two platforms, using an updated version of the SuperNova's analog modeling synth engine together with additional touch and pad controls inspired by the Launchpad.
The UltraNova is the flagship of Novation's current offerings, combining their legendary synth platform with an effects processor as well as enhanced filters and a software editor. It supports as many as 18 voices, 14 filter varieties, 36 wavetables and 5 effects slots. Novation has also released a smaller, more portable cousin called the MiniNova. Both of these synthesizers have 37 keys, standard-sized on the UltraNova and smaller-scale on the MiniNova. They also have an onboard vocoder in common, and both synths are good choices for live performance due to their real-time sounds modification support.
If you're looking for something a little closer to Novation's roots, check out the Bass Station II. This rehash of the company's first synth comes with two filters, three oscillators and an effects section that's completely analog. The two-octave keyboard on the Bass Station II has velocity-sensing keys for realistic, emotive playing, backed up by the step-mode sequencer and arpeggiator.
All of Novation's synthesizers support MIDI and USB connections, so you can use them together with all the hardware and software you've already got in your professional or home studio. The UltraNova and MiniNova are also available in bundles that include a sustain pedal and headphones, so you can get everything you need to get started right away. Whether you go all-out with the UltraNova, portable with the MiniNova or classic with the Bass Station II, there's no wrong choice when it comes to Novation synthesizers.