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An amazing history of synths, controllers and keyboards
Starting life mainly as a synth manufacturer Novation have gone on to help change the way we make music and control software with the Launchpad range and MIDI keyboards. Never content to follow the herd, they've helped pioneer natural integration with plugins through their Automap protocol and offer native support for Ableton and FL Studio with Launch controllers, giving you hardware control over arrangements, mixers, effects and instruments like never before.
The 1980’s was the decade in which MIDI became a gold standard for producing catchy electronic music. We’ve all heard the classic tunes such as Aha’s ‘Take On Me’ or Depeche Mode’s ‘Shake the Disease’; these were created using the MIDI synthesizers & keyboards of the time which had enough sounds and effects to replace an entire band. Following a decade of timeless MIDI classics, the 1990’s saw Iain Janaway and Chris Hugget both sharing a vision for innovation and musical creativity within the industry, and subsequently Novation was founded upon this vision.
With the idea firmly planted in their heads to create new and exciting music from simple synthesizers, keyboards, pads and sound controllers, Novation was created by musicians for musicians. The result of their vision is a legacy of evolution in the industry that all electronic enthusiasts should know about; drum stations, sound controllers, bass stations, launchpads, synthesizers and synth pads can all be found under Novation’s branch. 2004 saw Novation joining with the huge electronic family Focusrite, this gave Novation the power to push even more analogue and digital equipment out onto the market – Making Novation the leading brand name for synths, keyboards, pads, sound controllers and tonnes more.
There’s something for everyone in Novation’s huge catalogue of electronic products, whether you’re new to the hobby or a professional song artist you can find something tailored to suit your needs. Novation’s main product line comprises of the groundbreaking launchpads series; however, they have a large line of products including USB MIDI controllers, mini 25 key synthesizers all the way up to large 61 keys, simple and easy to use pads such as the Novation Circuit series filled with touchpad and knobs, and finally professional controllers with expressive, ultra-responsive keyboards and a huge array of touch sensitive controls.
The first thing you notice about Novation’s Launchpad series is how the bright coloured pads draw your attention in, they almost beg to be played! There isn’t much you can’t do with the Launchpads, they come with a plethora of preloaded sounds and effects for you to play with. Recording your sounds with launch clips, playing drum clips, accessing hundreds of synth sounds at your fingertips, all whilst creating light shows from the iconic grid pads we’ve come to know and love – The Novation Launchpad can do it all.
The Launchpads come in a couple of highly affordable forms. Firstly, we have the standard Novation Launchpad Controller MKII, which comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a Novation product. If portability is your thing, Novation does the Novation Launchpad Mini MK2 which keeps the same functionality as the full-size MK2 but allows you to create music when out and about with its small size. Finally, we have the Novation Launchpad Pro Controller which offers far more utility than the standard MK2. Including powerful modes such as session mode, note mode, device mode and user mode, these all offer a greater deal of customization when it comes to hands-on control of your own creations.
The Novation Circuit series combines the Launchpad with more customization gizmos for budding electronic enthusiasts. They are extremely similar to the Launchpad layouts but with mixing knobs adorned at the top. Combining Launchpad sounds and effects with mixer knobs, the Novation Circuit gives you a highly-controlled environment within which you can hit some pads, tweak some knobs and your track will start to build. Play around with the sequencer, effects, patterns, and soon your creation will be packed to the brim with fat grooves and beats.
Synths are still a big part of their business too with the Bass Station II, Mininova and Ultranova being used live by the likes of Alt-J and Bonobo. Reinventing analogue synths with new features and making them more affordable, while expanding the possibilities of digital synthesis, offering huge sound palettes, creative controls and expansion with their freely available expansions.
The Novation Launchkey synthesizers are the quickest and easiest ways to create and perform electronic music. With mini synths and larger ones ranging from 25 to 49 and 61 keys, faders, knobs, temp, and velocity-sensitive RGB pads, you can produce immediate tracks with easy control of your session view, instruments, effects and mixers.
The Novation Bass Station II was the latest hardware to follow on from the Mininova and Ultranova synths. Based on the older but classic Bass Station, this version is host to new controls and features to bring it forward to the 21st century. The Novation Bass Station II is a fully class compliant MIDI device, able to connect to other MIDI devices or your computer over USB. It comes with a step sequencer, arpeggiator, modulation control, two filters, two oscillators and a sub-oscillator. The Novation Bass Station II has all the makings of a synth built for bass, but is capable of so much more!
Looking for something that you can just plug in and play without worrying about setup or price? Novation does affordable MIDI controllers that come with a simple notion, just get straight into jamming and creating tracks! Novation’s MIDI controllers come with a plethora of controls such as LED lit knobs to adjust fade, sequencing, tempo etc, and tons of multicoloured touch-pad buttons so you have full control over the music yourself. Bundled in are your classic MIDI sounds as well as more modern sounds and synth replicas, making owning a MIDI controller basically a one-man band. Making music has never been this easy!
With synth legends such as Massive Attack, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails and much more all using Novation products, it’s no wonder so many artists stand behind Novation as a leading innovator in the electronic instruments industry. And with all these famous artists using Novation, that should inspire and give confidence in knowing that all Novation gear will meet the demands of their owners, whether they’re creating tracks at home or jamming on a stage in front of hundreds of people.