My Novation MiniNova Review
Novation Digital Music Systems Ltd. is a British musical equipment manufacturer, founded in 1992 by Ian Jannaway and Mark Thompson.
Today the company specialises in controllers, performance synthesizers, and DJ equipments and interfaces.
My Initial Thoughts
The Novation MiniNova is a small, compact synthesizer that features a three-octave mini-key keyboard, as well as a whole bunch of other switches and controls which allow the user to take charge of their performance to the fullest.
Though it was made to compete with the microKorg XL, it has its own personality and flare, which makes it stand out.
In this review, we will be taking a look at all the most important features contained within this device, starting from its most basic specs first.
We will then move on to the more advanced capabilities it offers.
With that in mind, let's get started!
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Feel, Specifications, Dimensions, and Integrations
This is an entry-level synthesizer that is arguably geared more toward composition than performance, though the manufacturer may argue exactly the opposite.
That is evidenced by the fact that it includes micro keys instead of full sized ones, which may hinder performance, but is more than enough for the purposes of composition.
One drawback to these keys is that they do not recognize aftertouch, so they don’t allow the user to fully express themselves in the way they intended.
However, the other features of this device make up for this oversight.
The keyboard supports 18 note polyphony, which is more than enough for a relatively small device.
Furthermore, as many as 5 effects can be activated on the device simultaneously, allowing you a lot of freedom to explore different sounds and textures.
The front panel also contains 8 ‘animation’ buttons, which can be used for many purposes.
Some of these purpose include things like setting the steps on the arpeggiator, and having quick access to your favorite sounds.
Advanced Features and Performance
This synth can produce intense and textured sounds through its many features, as well as its comprehensive control scheme which allows you to tweak all parameters exactly to your liking.
To that end, let me enumerate some of these features and controls.
In terms of waveforms, it comes with 14 different conventional ones to choose from, including square, sine, sawtooth, pulse, triangle and any combination of these.
This allows you to tailor the sound to your particular needs and your creative vision.
Furthermore, it comes with 36 wavetables, and 20 digital waveforms, which just builds on the previous features and allows for an even greater range of sounds and textures.
On top of that, it also has 20 different modulation slots which can be linked in any sequence specified by the user.
The standout feature of this synthesizer is, however, the fact that it has a vocoder ready to go at the user’s fingertips.
This vocoder has 12 bands, and will allow you to perform the vocals live, with a dedicated microphone (not included).
Pros & Cons of MiniNova
Great balance of controls
Advanced synth capabilities
Keys are a bit too small for my hands
No aftertouch capabilities
Writing barely legible
A bit clunky for a mini synth
My Final Thoughts
The Novation MiniNova is a fantastic entry-level synth which comes filled to the brim with features and options, at quite a low price.
Though it has all the capabilities in terms of software to be able to perform live, this functionality is hindered by the mini keys, which may be hard to operate in a performance situation.
However, this synth is a great fit for beginner composers who want to transcribe their ideas quickly and easily.
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