New Novation Animated MiniNova Synthesizer


Novation has announced the new MiniNova, a 37 mini-key synthesizer. It’s an ultra-compact keyboard with some unique design features. It could easily fit on top of a guitar amplifier, and its controls are obviously laid out for performance. It comes with 256 preset sounds, and you can save up to 128 custom patches. The ceiling is high in terms of where you can go with the sound engine, as it’s capable of outputting up to 18 voices, with five effects on each sound. There are also microphone-aided VocalTune and Vocoder effects, an interactive arpeggiator, a visually-based software editor that runs as a DAW plug-in and a pair of snazzy illuminated Pitch and Modulation wheels.

Chief among the elements that set the MiniNova apart are its eight backlit Animate/Arpeggiate buttons. As you scroll through presets, you’ll notice that different Animate buttons light up. Pressing these buttons alters the current patch momentarily. In a way, the Animate buttons are similar to a Modulation wheel, but they instantly toggle on and off. Ultimately, they make the MiniNova a more responsive, emotive instrument; their position right above the keys allows for quick and easy attack. Imagine having a huge-sounding bass patch loaded up, and you start chopping and morphing its tone with Animate buttons as you play. Suddenly, the challenge of performing an epic Dubstep bass line isn’t daunting.

Any sound can be tweaked with five knobs, and a six-position switch beside them enables you to change their assignments instantly to adjust other parameters. This feature is called the Performance Row Selector, and it condenses a lot of functionality into a small piece of real estate. The Animate buttons double as a means to control steps in an arpeggiated sequence, and they can also be used to call up your eight favorite patches. Oversized knobs give you control over filter and genre, with options like House, Hip Hop and Dubstep. It’s also possible to load additional Novation Soundpacks to add even more presets.

The MiniNova shares the same sound engine as the Novation UltraNova, an analog modeling synth that was built on the foundation of the Novation Supernova II, which itself was the second incarnation of the original Supernova, introduced way back in 1998. The new MiniNova represents the latest technology from a company that’s been innovating electronic musical instruments for more than fourteen years and, however steeped in tradition the MiniNova may be, it offers up a totally new approach to interacting with synthesis.

Keyboard 37 mini keys with velocity
Polyphony Up to 18-note polyphony
Multitimbral Mono-Timbral
Sound Engine 14 x Waveforms
36 x Wavetables
20 x Digital waveforms
3 x Oscillators per voice
1 x Noise generator
2 x Ring modulators
14 x Filter types
6 x Envelope generators
3 x LFOs
20 x Modulation slots per patch
Effects Distortion (up to two instances)
Reverb (up to two instances)
Chorus/Phase (up to four instances)
Delay (up to two instances)
Compressor (up to two instances)
Gator (unique to Novation)
Vocoder 12-band vocoder and VocalTune
Arpeggiator Yes, 33 patterns
LCD Yes, 16-character LCD
Utility Controls 1 x Large detented patch select encoder
1 x patch sort switch
1 x Volume dial
1 x Detented data encoder
5 x Navigation/utility buttons
2 x Patch navigation buttons
Performance Controls 1 x Illuminated pitch wheel
1 x Illuminated modulation wheel
4 x Edit/performance knobs
1 x Large filter knob
1 x six position parameter selector switch
6 x parameter indicator LEDs
8 x three-color backlit Animate/Arpeggiator/Favorites buttons
2 x Animate/Arpeggiator LED indicators
1 x backlit hold button
1 x Animate/Arpeggiator/Favorite patch toggle switch
1 x Favorite patch select button
1 x Arpeggiator tempo control pot
1 x Arpeggiator tempo indicator LED
2 x backlit Arpeggiator control encoders
2 x backlit octave select buttons
Inputs & Outputs 1 x XLR dynamic mic input (gooseneck mic included)
1 x 1/4" jack inputs
2 x 1/4" jack outputs
1 x 1/4" jack headphone output
1 x Sustain pedal on 1/4" jack input
1 x 12 volt power input
1 x USB/DC/Off switch
1 x USB port (MiniNova can be powered via USB)
1 x Kensington Lock port
Dimensions (W x D x H) 22.04 x 9.84 x 2.95" (560 x 250 x 75mm)
Weight 5.55 lb (2.52 kg)