Hi, welcome to this Novation Ultranova review. I saw that this was a really popular synth, so I decided to take a look at it and see whether it’s any good…
SynthsAndSoftware.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This is at no extra cost to you.
Novation Ultranova Review Video
Full of Awesome Sounds
As you probably heard in the above video, you can get a lot of weird and wonderful sounds out of this synth. It’s easy to see why once you see the capabilities it has. There are 18 voices, 14 filter types, 36 wavetables, and 5 effects slots.
Each of the 18 voices has 3 oscillator with wavetable and ring mod capabilities, 6 envelopes, 3 LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators), 2 filters that can be routed either in series or in parallel, 20 modulation routing slots, and 5 effects. So there is a lot you can do with sounds once they are generated.
But even just with the oscillator, you can clone up to 8 waveforms and detune them slightly. This gives it a fat hyper saw type effect. It’s just a shame these individual waveforms can’t be panned to different positions on the stereo spectrum, as this would give it a really fat sound.
Of course, one of the key parts of any synthesizer is its filtering capabilities. Here we have a whole bunch of different filter types – low pass 6, low red, low pass 12, low pass 18, low pass 24, plus various types of band pass and high pass filters. Sweeping the filter gives a smooth transition between the frequencies except when the resonance is all the way up in which case it does step a little bit. It also has something called “filter drive”, which has different drive types to change the sound of the filter.
The LFO has a variety of different settings. As well as te standard LFO waveforms, it also has sequences such as stepping up or down in 4th notes. You can also add a slew to the waveform for a portamento type effect. This all gets very interesting once you combine it with the 20 modulation slots, as you can set parameters to modulate other parameters. For example, you can set aftertouch to control the LFO 1 speed, or you can have LFO 3 affect the speed of LFO 2.
But once you have generated and manipulated such crazy sounds, it is the effects which give it all the final touch. With 5 effect slots per patch, you can do a lot to the sounds. You have EQs, compressions, distortions, delays, reverbs, choruses, and gater; and these can be routed in various configurations of series or parallel. Each effect has adequate editing capabilities. All in all, you can get some pretty complex things going on with the effects.
A Lot of Control at Your Fingertips
This is a 37-key synth action keyboard with aftertouch. The backlit mod and pitch bend wheels add a nice touch, and the octave switch button is easily accessible.
Across the top of the front panel, there are 8 rotary encoders that can be assigned to various parameters that are then shown in the long LCD display beneath it. They have a useful “touch mode” which enables you to quickly change parameters during performances. There is a nice big dedicated filter knob. The knobs are a bit wobbly, so you wouldn’t want to use too much force when playing around with them.
There is a useful patch browsing system which enables you to filter them by type, genre or category. In total, there are 4 banks each with 128 programs. The first 3 of the banks are full of preset sounds, but the 4th bank you can use for your own custom sounds.
When it comes to parameter editing, you can do this either via the front panel of the synth itself or the computer software that comes with it. Both are good ways to edit the sounds, it really depends on which you prefer. You can do it all from the front panel of the synth if you want to, but some people may really like the look and feel of the software.
The Ultranova could make a good performance synth, with the 33-pattern arpeggiator including all the classic patterns and also different modes for chord and gating type effects. Speaking of chords, the ability to program chords into single keys could be useful if you want to quickly transition between chords with just one finger.
As for the vocoder, well, you really have to hear it get a feel for what it can do. As you can hear in the video above, all you need to do is speak into the microphone and play the keys and you can get some classic vocoder sounds.
Works Well with Digital Audio Workstations
It has 2 inputs and 4 outputs, and can also route the audio from the synth. You can monitor it on headphones and the sound quality is very good. As for other ports, you have SPDIF, expression pedal, sustain pedal, MIDI ports, and a USB connection.
Overall this synth has a lot to offer. It has a very capable synth engine and has some truly unique and interesting parameters. It’s just a shame that it’s not multi-timbral, but we can’t have everything, can we?
I hope you found this Novation Ultranova review helpful or even just interesting. If you have any comments or questions, please post them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.
All the best,