Novation Supernova II







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Manufacturer: Novation

Release Date: 2000

Type: Virtual Analog / Subtractive Synthesis

Reviews: Vintage Synth | Sound on Sound | Electronic MusicianAudio Technology


Ahh, the Novation Supernova II. Besides the Roland Jupiter 8, this was the synth that originally got me interested in synthesis and synthesizers — especially after seeing Shaft9000’s excellent demos on Youtube (demo 1, demo 2), and Plasma22280’s awesome chillout jam.

Put simply, when I first saw photos of it back in 2012 I was blown away by the interface — so many knobs and buttons, it just seemed like a very fun synth to play and tweak real-time, since hardly any menu diving would be required. Further, due to my interest in ambient electronica, the multi-timbral capabilities and ability to have up to 7 on-board effects enabled SIMULTANEOUSLY per patch was a big plus, as I tend to like reverbs and delays being used at the same time . With 24 voices and the ability to upgrade to 36 or 48 voice models via expansion cards, this is a beast of a synth in terms of polyphony.

After more than a year’s wait, in 2013 I was finally able to buy one from a local seller on Craigslist who was moving out of country. It needed some minor repairs but I took it to the shop and since then has been good as new. I find the sonic character of the Supernova 2 to be somewhat “refined” and “timeless”. The filter is both resonant and offers multiple modes, and there are 3 ADSRs to tweak for flexible shaping. This is a sound sculpting synth and provides an interface many synths can only dream of to accomplish such goals. The arpeggiator in particular offers an unbelievable amount of options/settings, which can make for some great live performances.

I very much enjoy the Novation Supernova 2 and find it to be a good complement to my other synths. The Supernova II also excels in areas that other synths may do not (ie virtual analog modeling, arpeggiator options, multiple simultaneous effects, hands-on interface etc). It also has massive sound banks and presets, a drum map,  and 42-band vocoder.  Build quality is good; however, note that it is hard plastic (ie, may be prone to cracking or breakage in the event of mishandling).

Overall once you get accustomed to the SN2’s design and programming methods, you’ll be off creating new sounds in no time. If you see one on your local Craigslist, eBay or, definitely take note… they aren’t that readily available, and they are still excellent virtual analog synthesizers today. 


Interface   43 knobs, 134 buttons, 134 LEDs
Polyphony   24, 36, 48-voice models; plus additional 12 or 24-voice expansion boards
Oscillators   3 Osc per voice (square, saw, double saw, variable width pulse, sine via hardness parameter) and noise
2 FM modes, 2 ring modulators; eight different FM/Ring mod algorithms.
LFO   2 with control of VCA, VCF & pitch; saw, square, tri, sample/hold. Offset, Delay and Slewing parameters.
Filter   Hi/Low/Band pass, 12/18/24 dB/oct ranges, resonant self-oscillating filter with overdrive
VCA   3 ADSTR envelopes; Loopable.
ModMatrix   130 possible routings
Arpeggiator   Up to 8 independent arpeggiators; 128 preset monophonic, 128 preset polyphonic and 384 user patterns. Patterns can be up to 64 steps long.
Vocoder   42-band vocoder with sibilance modes and spectrum analyzer
Effects   56 effects, 7 simultaneously; Distortion, Comb Filter, EQ, Reverb, Phaser/Flanger/Chorus/Quad Chorus/Ensemble/Rotary Speaker, Delay and Panning/Tremolo.
Keyboard   61 keys with velocity and aftertouch (keyboard models only)
Memory   1024 user-programs; 512 performances; ; 128 favorites; 400 drum banks
Control   MIDI (8 multitimbral parts). MIDI In, Out, Thru. Two balanced audio inputs, routable to filter, effects, and vocoder. Eight assignable outputs.




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