30 Years with the Novation Family
Staff and friends share their memorable moments with Novation over the past three decades.
Novation wouldn’t be what it is today without the community who have been on the journey with us over the past 30 years.
The Novation team are a unique gathering of people passionate about creating exceptional instruments who have given us years of inspiring moments. The instruments that we make are made even greater by the talented artists who have used them in studios and on stages all over the world, in countless genres of music.
We asked around to find out what their favourite moments were and which of our iconic instruments they loved the most.
Artist and Staff Quotes A-Z
Alex Godfrey // UK Product Specialist
“Circuit Rhythm is my favourite Novation product. Along with Circuit Tracks, we built this over lockdown and were so proud to produce something amazing, despite the whole world being turned upside down. Months of complex engineering challenges came to fruition with a super fun, advanced, yet easy to use device which is now the centrepiece of my workstation. There's so much you can do with it, but it's really quick to get going with and never ceases to inspire my creative process
Within the Novation community, there's so much ingenuity that goes into building instruments to facilitate creativity and self-expression.
As an intern in 2016, I was working late one evening when a very excited R&D engineer, Dave, emerged from the lab looking for someone to demonstrate a Novation Circuit that he'd hacked to be able to playback “Amen” breaks. This was later released as the 1.3 update that enables users to upload their own samples via Components. The feature is now taken for granted, but it was a revolutionary moment in the evolution of the Circuit range.
As I understand it, Dave had more or less taken it upon himself after hours to hack the feature together and was so stoked when it worked that he went straight to the first person he could find to show them. That's the enthusiasm and ingenuity that makes this such a great place to be, and that creates so many great products.”
Andrew Fructuoso Jr. // Technical Support Engineer
“I love the Summit synth because of its massive power as a performance instrument. I love pairing and syncing a Circuit Tracks with a Summit and AFX Station, and all the tunes resulting from it! I have a lot of respect for all of the Novation users that show appreciation towards how accessible support is and show it when they speak with anyone on the support team (shout out to TOM for being a MIDI guru). I love the ease of use and social aspects of sharing packs, banks, patches, and templates through Novation Components, as well as this community's dedication to beat production.”
Anqi Jiang // China Marketing Lead, APAC
“Hands down the Circuits are my favourite Novation instrument – they're so convenient, which is a key element these days. DAW-less, portable with built-in rechargeable battery, lightweight and sleek design. One can easily take it anywhere to enjoy making music & beats. From pros and beginners, all can find benefits in these little machines. I've heard band members that said they could use them to quickly sketch motifs for new songs without going through a complicated setup and using cables to connect stuff because a melody and beats can be all they need sometimes when they have a blinking light bulb above their heads and to not have the idea fly by is crucial!
For beginners or the hobbyists like a lot of young creators these days where music is a lifestyle, they appreciate something they can instantly get their hands on and play. The workflow is so friendly that they're able to feel their own accomplishments. Plus, even having them as a stylish accessory also gives some good social value. I sometimes still feel unabashed to take one out with me just to "show-off" a little bit!
Music is about truth, and I feel the Novation community really represents that spirit and is filled with pure-hearted, genuine people who just love and enjoy music and have passions to drive that energy in their own life. The community is loving, sharing, and diverse. No matter what genres or origins of the music or where people are from, there's a place for them.
Every time I see a new user discover what a Launchpad can do for the first time it still puts a smile on my face to this day. That’s a good long-lasting Novation moment.”
Billy of pop band Tilly Birds, Thailand
“Summit was the main synth when my band, Tilly Birds, and I made our second album. That album would not sound like it does today without this keyboard. Novation always ups its game when it comes to hardware. I have been using Novation keyboards for over nine years and they have never let me down. I think my favourite moment was when I created my own patch on the Summit and laid that down in the song. It was really magical because it was so easy.”
Chris Calcutt // Product Specialist
“Trying to choose my favourite Novation instrument is like trying to choose your favourite child! An impossible task, there have been so many amazing products over the years that I’ve been working at Novation. The recent highlights have been SL MKIII, that’s a truly amazing sequencer keyboard! Circuit Rhythm is a super powerful sampler/sequencer which has become the backbone of everything I make. But if I had to pick one thing, it has to be the Summit synth. Chris Huggett’s final masterpiece and hands-down my desert island synth. Even after three years of constant use it just does everything that I want it to do in the right way!
One of my favourite aspects of the Novation community is the sense that we’re all in this together. Trying to make the right products that everyone can benefit from. We’re always listening to what folks are wanting and whenever we can we’re delivering those wishes!
I love that we’re always inclusive, too. Our products sit perfectly next to other brands’ gear and can totally integrate into pretty much any workflow. This is how most folks use gear in the real world and it’s always a pleasure to spot one of our synths or controllers sitting pride of place next to a raft of other gear in a studio picture!
Having been at the coalface with Novation for 10 years, there have been so many memorable moments. Here are a few for me:
• Walking through the door on 6th Feb 2012 (my birthday) and my first day at Focusrite/Novation!
• Jamming with KiNK in Amsterdam at ADE for the release of Circuit, he’s become a great mate since.
• Releasing Peak at SuperBooth – the buzz about that synth’s release was incredible. Working on that synth also let me get to know Chris Huggett a lot more and as a result, he became a firm friend until his passing.
• When we were working on the AFX Station I had a couple of email chats with Richard James. He is my all-time musical hero, so that was very nice!”
Conor Boyd // EMEA Channel Marketing Coordinator
“Summit is my favourite piece of gear from Novation. It’s such an articulate and rich sounding synthesiser that’s extremely versatile ¬– thick basses, warm leads, dark pads. It’s my go-to all around polysynthesiser, and the fact that Novation continues to update it with features like lo-fi delay and noise as a mod source means that I’m always confident it’ll inspire me whenever I turn it on.
Novation users are a diverse range of people; however, we share a common goal of wanting to get the most out of our products, and Novation helps with this by putting on various live streams and videos to accompany any major update or product feature.
The release of the Peak and Summit was a really important moment, not just for Novation, but for the synth community in general as it used FPGA Oscillators – Oxford Oscillators courtesy of Chris Huggett – that went into a true analogue VCF and VCA signal path. This is what helps gives the Peak and Summit such clarity in its sound characteristics and is a sound architecture that we’re seeing adopted by other synth manufacturers now too.”
Dan Clarke // Focusrite Senior Product Designer
“Bass Station II is my favourite Novation synth – it sounds amazing, has a pure design, and now, I think it’s safe to say, is timeless! What I love about the Novation community is everyone’s desire to be involved, hack, innovate, and collaborate. A favourite Novation moment would be revolutionizing music-making with Launchpad!”
Daniel Hughley // Focusrite Senior Marketing Manager
“Having The RZA call out Bass Station in Wu-Tang’s song ‘Triumph’, arguably one of the best hip hop tracks of all time, is a huge Novation highlight to me – ‘Program fat basslines on Novation.’”
DeerMX, Mexico and Hong Kong
“We have worked with three Novation synths: Peak, Bass Station and MiniNova. We love the three of them, but my favourite is The Peak. You can do a lot of things with it – it’s easy to work with and the results are always amazing.
We have been in contact with the people from Novation Hong Kong and they have been so helpful, kind and supportive to our project. Rob helped us a lot and believed in the project, he also made a remix for the band and was produced a track for us, rest in peace dear Rob Ascough. Javi has helped us a lot and is always kind to us – she lets us play with new gear and thanks to her, we are here today, and Matthew has helped us with some technical queries. We have found a very supportive team in the Novation community.”
Emma Fitzmaurice // QA Engineer
“Peak is my favourite Novation product – it’s a compact but super powerful box full of sonic possibilities. A true contemporary poly-synth in a market that leans nostalgic. What I love about Novation is the people; it’s a group of big music nerds making cool musical things. A favourite Novation moment in the last 30 years is a very personal one, but when I was at school, a friend brought in a Bass Station II and a MiniNova and they were the first contact I ever had with hardware synths.”
“The UltraNova is my favourite Novation synth, easily ahead of its time! When nobody was talking about Audio over USB, we did it and brought it to a synth in 2010. Now in 2022, people are asking for Audio over USB as a standard for their equipment. Being able to travel to Germany with the Novation team for SuperBooth 2018 was an incredible experience. Getting to put email names to faces and see the 3D versions of people instead of the flat zoom call version was so nice. And to top it off, everyone was super cool and nice!”
George FitzGerald, UK
“It's close between the Bass Station II and the Peak, but the Peak just wins it for my favourite Novation instrument. It's such a brilliantly executed synth. I initially got one to use in my live shows as the sonic range of it is so broad, but it's become an important part of my studio too. The user interface is completely intuitive, and the sound is incredible. I've used a lot of Novation gear over the years, and they always seem to be designed to give the musician what they want. Strangely, that's a rare thing. Instruments like the original Bass Station and Supernova made sounds accessible to people that simply weren't before. Things like the Peak and Bass Station II continue to do that now. My first ever piece of hardware was a DrumStation. I couldn't believe I had those sounds in a little rack unit like that. I wish I still had it!”
Georgia Dillon // Artist and Media Executive
My favourite Novation product is Circuit Tracks. I love the portability and it really packs a punch. The standout for me is being able to get into a unit without setup and finding a hook within minutes. It has been my biggest inspiration in electronic music.
The Novation community is really unlike any other. What I find really special is interacting with the community online and then bumping into them at events. It’s an incredible experience to build a relationship with like-minded people and then connecting with them in person.
For me, the limited edition AFX Station remixed by Aphex Twin was a big moment. It came at a time when we all needed something to keep us inspired and I, like everyone, have obsessed over Aphex for a long time. I vividly remember seeing the Weirdcore artwork for the first time, that was a really profound experience for me. I’m excited to do more of that.
Groove Armada, UK
“The Supernova was really instrumental to the writing of ‘Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub)’. I think we even took it out on the road for shows. There’s a track on that album called ‘Fogma’ with a killer bassline, and Novation was a big part of that. It had a rootsy, funky sound, it could produce edgy, acid noises but also smooth and round bass sounds you’d associate with a Moog. Looking at a photo of it just now made me a bit nostalgic.”
Hannah Bliss // VP of Marketing, North America
“My favourite Novation product is Circuit – I am not a music maker, but even I can get sounds out of a Circuit! It is very easy and intuitive to use. I know that I can just start pressing pads, entering sounds into the grid and something musical comes out of it. It is our main instrument that makes me think I could create a full track if I really wanted to!
The Novation community is very dedicated. They put the work in, and they want to learn. It is an inspiring group of talented people to interact with. I do really enjoy speaking to people who are passionate about their music creations and their process.
A highlight Novation moment for me would be combining 128 Launchpads together to make a fully playable Launchpad XL at NAMM 2019 (64 on the floor, 64 on the wall). Nothing had ever been done like it before or again since. People grabbed a pair of Novation branded nonslip socks and danced around on the floor of lights. It didn’t matter if you were a music maker or not – children, men and women of all ages hopped on and gave it a try. It was awesome to provide people with a fun experience they had never seen before.”
Hugh Lobley // Novation Product Manager
“My favourite Novation synth is Bass Station II. I made some of my favourite tracks with it, so it’s always got that special place in my studio. And AFX mode is just totally wild and inspiring. It gives me ideas I didn’t know existed! On the MIDI controller side, it’s got to be Launchkey. It never lets me down. There’s no better way to play keys and control a DAW all from one device, and Mini can always fit on my desk regardless how cluttered it gets.
I love being a part of the story that is Novation by developing technology that helps people to achieve their musical potential. Hearing and seeing people using the tools we develop to connect with themselves and others while contributing to the future of music and sound makes me very proud.
During my time with Novation, I particularly loved being part of AFX Station. Working with Aphex Twin on that was a dream come true. I also loved developing and shipping FLkey. It felt like that keyboard was needed for a long time, so I was really happy to help deliver it and see how well it resonated with users."
IDIOTAPE, South Korea
“Our favourite product is Peak. We needed a small and powerful polyphonic synthesizer that didn't weigh much because we play many gigs overseas. The rich sounds created by Peak are also helping our new songs. It goes well with other instruments, so it can be used in various ways. The great advantage is that most of the functions required for control are accessible on the front panel, allowing intuitive sound making.
It's nice to be able to easily refer to many artists who use Novation in the community. It was also a great experience to watch the launch and successful establishment of the Launchpad. We also have a special song using Bass Station II among the new songs that we have not yet released. It's a song filled with the charm of this instrument using the Acid filter and unique distortion sound. It's scheduled to be released in 2023, and I can't wait to play this song to you guys.”
James Otter // Project Manager
“Novation Summit is my favourite Novation product – it creates a fine balance between complexity and ease-of-use, all while sounding amazing! My favourite Novation moment in the last 30 year was the release of the Bass Station II. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals with a passion for music and audio engineering – this is what glues us together.”
Javi Li // Marketing Manager, APAC
“Circuit was the first ever Novation gear I managed to make music from – it’s that easy, even for people like me who are new to music production! The Novation community is an open-minded space in which people are more receptive and respectful to each other, and that’s also where we are more creative and motivated to work. I can’t pick a favourite moment from the last 30 years, but every time I see smiley faces playing with our gear is great to me.”
John Loftus // Social Support Manager
“I will always love Launchpad in every iteration, but particularly the original which I purchased back in the day, before joining the company. I quickly found that the integration with Ableton Live was really empowering and it made me approach music creation with Ableton Live in a totally new way. I still have that Launchpad and it still works a treat.
I also really love the original Circuit. The dedication and support that it received, both internally from our teams and externally from the community was mind-blowing. Watching it develop into the little creative powerhouse that is today was really exciting and all of the incredible features that were created and later refined and distilled into Circuit Tracks are something that I work with every day.
I really enjoy having the opportunity to work closely with our community every day because I am basically one of them. They want the same things I do. They're behind us, championing us and our products and are keen to see them develop and expand devices in really exciting ways. I was a Novation fanboy before joining the company and always will be. In the early days, I felt like Tom Hanks in Big, having the opportunity to play and familiarise myself with all of these incredible toys.
There are few achievements that stand out for me over the last 30 years. The WXAXRXP Bass Station II is incredible. There are only 5 of them! I like the rarer releases we've created. If memory serves, the WXAXRXP collaboration was the first hardware unit that we put out that featured AFX Mode. I was lucky enough to see the video sent to us by Richard D. James, demonstrating his early method of achieving this and it blows my mind that we were able to recreate this on the hardware alone and then later share it with all Bass Station II users as a free firmware update. MoroderNova was, obviously, incredible too but not many people know we also made a pink MoroderNova for the artist Sia.”
“The SuperNova and the Novas are so lush, delicate, colourful and adventurous. The way the portamento behaves with the filter envelope – it has these unique sweet spots, these flourishing droplets like a sweet, succulent honeydew of VA synthesis. I have three Novas and one Supernova. I use the Novas a lot for my live shows. One day I am going to get a SuperNova II, I am sure. In the early days, Novation was one of the first to give access to more affordable new analogue gear like the Bass Station and DrumStation. I think everyone that couldn't afford a TB303 or TR909 had a Bass Station or DrumStation in the 90s.
I also think the Launchpads have been very important. Everyone that uses Ableton needs those. They are pretty essential for playing live with Ableton as they give instant hands-on control. I always use the Launchpad Pro and a Launch Control at almost every gig.”
Lex Luger, US
“Right now, my favourite instrument would have to be the FLkey 37 and the Peak synthesizer. FLkey 37 has made producing in FL Studio so much more fun and more hands on. I’m able to do almost everything right from the keyboard itself. I’m able to play chords, scales and plus play my drums on the pads. Also, can do triplet rolls. I just recently got the Peak synthesizer, and this is my first time owning a synthesizer. It’s refreshing to create and manipulate sounds and there are so many sounds in the sound banks. Peak allows me to be original with sounds as to before all I used were VSTs that have the same sounds almost every producer uses.
I think Novation has impacted all genres by giving musicians the ability to be more creative. The sounds Novation pushes out are so unique, organic and bright but they also allow you to customize and manipulate so much. I love how they have something for everyone. Launchpad is one of the most unique drum machines I’ve seen.
My favourite Novation moment would have to be having the opportunity to sit down with Novation and explain how I personally use FLkey 37. It has become my number one go-to piece of equipment, so being able to talk about it and give an in-detail tutorial on how I used it to make my beats was so satisfying and a blessing. I felt honoured. After all, I’m 31 and Novation is celebrating 30 years! That blows my mind.”
Mario Buoninfante // QA Team Lead
“My favourite Novation instrument is the K-Station! It was my first virtual analog synth, and I just loved it. Clear and intuitive UI, compact, ‘retro-futuristic’ look, great sounding engine and audio input. I used it a lot in studio, but live too. I sold it when I moved abroad, and I still regret it...”
Nicholas Howlett // Head of Brand and Marketing
“My favourite Novation product is definitely the Circuit Mono Station and what I love about the community is how our instruments evolve with the firmware updates and the way the community uses them evolves, too. I love that all of our stuff has grown a lot over the years. The OG Circuit went from one thing to something else entirely. I remember when we added Sample Flip and it felt like such a huge step and totally changed what it could do. Likewise with Peak and Summit gaining wavetables, or Bass Station’s upgrade with AFX Mode. Huge stuff, very cool. A favourite Novation moment would be the pop-up event in 2019.”
Rachel Collier, UK
“One of the first Ableton performances that I ever created was on the SL MKII, a cover of James Bay's 'Hold Back The River'. I posted it on YouTube and a short while later, an amazing point in my career, I got asked to create a performance for the SL MKIII launch. I used it to build a live performance cover of ‘Time After Time’, also using Peak. I had so much fun creating the performance and track, it's an awesome controller.
The Novation controllers and Focusrite interfaces have been an essential part of enabling the world to perform with Ableton Live. For both my Ableton courses I used Launchpads and Launchkeys – they’re friendly and affordable devices that have made up the heart of many music-makers set ups. My favourite moment was receiving Peak – that synth makes an unbelievable sound and was my first introduction to a polyphonic hardware synth.”
Rebecca Florence // Novation Global Marketing Manager
“It’s almost impossible for me to pick a favourite product from Novation, each one brings its own unique group of music-makers to the community. From FLkey’s passionate group of FL Studios users, the complex and complicated sound designers that use Peak and Summit, the Circuit community of jammers, to the diverse and DIY talents that are attracted to Launchkey and Launchpad.
Probably one of my favourite projects though has been the AFX Station – for me, it summarises a lot of the things that has meant Novation is celebrating 30 years this year. For AFX Mode and then the limited edition AFX Station (which applies that firmware to all BSII’s as well) we were approached by a ground-breaking artist to add a feature to the Bass Station II, a product that he loved and used since its first version — and also a version of a synth that allowed a generation of music makers 30 years ago to make new sounds — was because he wanted that additional functionality for his own productions. It meant that we were able to share that inspiration with a global audience of musicians, who can use Aphex Twin’s idea, combined with Novation technology to keep pushing sounds and music production to exciting new heights.
Now, seeing and hearing how younger, emerging musicians and producers have used that in their own tracks on YouTube, watching Bass Station II getting adopted by a whole new generation of artists on social media and seeing it on the stage, is a perfect example of the power of how music technology can be used to help the creative process. I can’t imagine – or wait to hear – what music will be made in the next 30 years and know that by listening to artists within our community, Novation will continue to be a positive force in that.”
Sonia Calico, Taipei
“Launchkey is the gear that I’ve been using the most, whether it’s for production or performance. I really like that it has pads, sliders and knobs in one panel so I can assign and control different effects and add samples to it without all the hassle of connecting to another controller. After having the chance to take part in one of Novation’s showcases at Sonar Hong Kong back in 2018, I really felt that Novation is a big family. All the staff were kind and respected the artists very much.”
Stefan Archer // Beta Programme Coordinator
“My favourite Novation product is the K-Station. I saved up and bought one pre-owned in 2004. It’s the synth on which I really began to explore patch design and learn about synthesis in general. I love the hands-on user interface, space-age design, efficient workflow, and characterful sounds that can be coaxed from it.
Through my role as Beta Programme Coordinator, I get to engage with some of our most dedicated customers. It’s wonderful to discuss our new products with them as they help to beta test features and to experience their excitement and fondness for the Novation brand.”
Tell us what you love about Novation in our biggest competition yet
30 years calls for one of the biggest prize bundles we’ve ever offered – a full studio’s worth of our instruments. One lucky winner can own everything Novation as well as three years of our future innovations.