The Novation Ultranova MIDI Keyboard Synthesizer

The Novation Ultranova MIDI keyboard synthesizer is a single part synth using the Supernova II synth engine combined with newer technology and brand new features. It’s the latest addition to the “Nova” series of analog-modelling synthesizers. The first thing that catches your eye is that its blue – a return to the traditional blue of the legendary Supernova II. Even the backlight of the mod wheel and pitch bender is blue (which you can opt to turn off or have it turn on when in use).

There are 37 full sized keys that are responsive to both velocity and aftertouch and they are fast and very playable. It comes with a generous proportion of buttons and knobs for every use you can imagine – 8 detented touch rotary sensitive encoders, 1 large smooth encoder, 1 large patch select and speed dial encoder, 2 volume and monitor mix dials, a pitch wheel and a modulation wheel. And so you know the names and values parameters of what you’re doing there’s a 144 character LCD screen.

What makes the Novation Ultranova MIDI keyboard synthesizer beat is its synth machine. It’s based on the Supernova II rack and comes as a single part with up to 18 voices, 14 filter types, 36 wavetables, 5 effect slots and a Patch Browse that enables you to browse 300 sounds by type & genre. What may shock a lot of nova users is that unlike its predecessors the Ultranova is monotimbral.

Each of the 18 voices has three oscillators that each have independent density, virtual sync and detuning. Each oscillator comes with 70 sound source options with 14 analog and 24 digital waves to choose from along with 36 wavetables. Then there are the factory patches. There are four banks each with 128 patches. You can select the patch you want simply by turning the large patch selector or pressing the patch select button. It’s easy to choose the one you want since the patches are numerically or alphabetically sorted.

And speaking of patches, the Novation Ultranova MIDI keyboard synthesizer also comes with a patch librarian that you can host on a PC or a Mac. With it you can save an unlimited number of patches to your host computer and organize them the way you want them. With the 12 band vocoder that comes with its own goose neck microphone you can process your own voice (through the mic) or other sounds (via the stereo line inputs in the back).

Then there’s the powerful software editor that enables you to do visual editing of all parameters as a plug in editor of your Digital Audio Workstation software. You can also turn the Ultranova into a MIDI controller with the automapping feature. You can use the 8 controllers as parameter controllers for instruments you want controlled. The Novation Ultranova MIDI keyboard synthesizer is one powerful machine with its 18 voice synth engine and options. It offers great sound and a flexible layout. There is, however, a potential high learning curve and while the features are impressive they are not necessarily unique especially with its competition. But it will get the job done and that’s what counts.