Novation Circuit Review

The Novation Circuit portable Groovebox

This Circuit review is one that I specifically requested from Novation. I was quite interested in the idea of a portable groove box that held one of my favorite synth engines in a battery controlled, forward thinking design. I was concerned about the macro control layout as I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the layout. I came away from my time with the circuit gaining a new appreciation for this different take on a portable synth. Instead of focusing on specifics like ADSR settings or complex oscillator set ups, This groove box opts to give you macros that can control 4 parameters on any given patch. While this might be a bit confusing, it also serves as the pathway to inspiration and discovery of new unexpected sounds. This is where Circuit can come into its own… The sequencer is a bit on the basic side being only 16 steps but it does allow for independent note lengths and pattern chaining. You can launch patterns in a similar way to the ableton live clip launching method. Speaking of Ableton Live, a copy is included free with Circuit and Circuit can be used as a controller for live.

The Battery power and the fact that it has a built in speaker was a large draw for me. I’m happy to say that through out this entire review I never once needed to actually plug it into the wall (though the wall adapter is included in the box). The internal speaker is quite adequate to get its sound across in a quiet setting (don’t expect it to be loud enough to get peoples attention in a noisy bus station but it will certainly turn heads if you are sitting in a starbucks.)

I found the over all build quality to be extremely good. The knobs feel VERY nice , smooth with decent resolution. the body didn’t creak or feel hollow and plasticy.  The build felt so nice I let my 2 and a half year old son bash away on it with not so much as a scratch or a worry. I have to say he quite enjoyed it as well.

I was skeptical of the layout but came away impressed with the build quality. The constant updates from novation is a very promising sign and the addition of sample import and “sample flip” is not to be over looked. the rigid 16 step sequencer resolution is probably my biggest gripe but for what this product is, its hardly a deal breaker.

If you are looking for a groove box that you can confidently take with you on the go and is truly stand alone… this might be right up your alley.

Arturia Announces DrumBrute analog drum machine

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Arturia has announced its first ever analog drum machine.

So what is the goal with this unit? What are my thoughts?

Here is what I can say, In my opinion this is what the roland TR8 should have been. an all analog drum machine with both step and real time recording that provides the booming sounds of the 808 and 909 (Plus many all new circuits) at an affordable price point and with individual outputs per voice. This isn’t Rhythm wolf low stripped down rushed out low quality, instead its a group of high quality drum circuits (take a look at the engineers credited in the manual) paired with an updated version of the beat step pro sequencer. This sequencer really has some cool tricks up its sleeve like ratcheting and timing shift per step. Think of that like swing on steroids. Random from the beat step pro also appears and to top it all off you have a global steiner parker filter to get your sweep on. Everything syncs via modular clock or midi clock so you can pair it nicely with your modular… yep you can clock it from your modular or have it clock your modular!. 

Another point of note is this drum machine has proper voicing… what I mean by that is the Snare and clap actually punch through a mix unlike many of recent analog drum machine releases in the lower price range… these snares actually crack hard! couple that with some 808 and 909 inspired (and also improved) designs for the kick and you have a pretty powerful unit. 

The reverse cymbal is a new sound not yet heard in an all analog drum machine, and the tambourine and shaker sounds are really impressive (not just ho hum pass over sounds like on many other drum machines). Over all at this price point I am very excited to see an all analog drum machine. Hope to have a review unit soon!

 

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Below is the official Press release:

Arturia are excited to announce the arrival of DrumBrute – a 100% analog drum machine & sequencer designed with performance and in-depth sound editing at its heart.

The newest member of Arturia’s Brute family, DrumBrute is a powerful beat-making instrument that carries the savage DNA of the MicroBrute, MiniBrute, and MatrixBrute. 

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