MAN CAVE, or a grotesque of mid life crisis
Novation Ass Station 2
In the photo, Mr. Chris Huggert who you can see is the creator of the Wasp, Gnat, OSCar and other such things. The brown tinge to the photo reinforces that these are vintage and therefore acceptable possessions for discerning dorks. But if you consider Mr Huggert as an artist (and after all if Tracy Enim is an artist then let’s not hold too high a barrier here) then you would expect he would develop his artistry over the years, become better at what he does.
He went on to create the BassStation, Nova, Supernova, Supernova 2 which if nothing else were more powerful – wasps became whales you might say. More recently he had something to do with the Ultranova and Mininova, but there is no doubt that he took a soldering iron to the BassStation 2, look here is the photo. Built the damn thing. Surely you would think that’s got to be the pinnacle of his craft.
As is often the case, no one seems to care about equipment photographed in colour. They are discounted left right and center. Me, I count on discounts. Get a BS2 for about 1/10th the price of an OSCar. Win.
Part of the problem is the name. It comes from Novation’s origins in Roland penis envy, the BassStation 1 being a better BassLine. From the name you’d think the BS2 did the one thing, but actually it would be the OSCar which had the emotional range of a spoiled cat*. I can’t let that name pass and so at least my one is called the Ass Station.
It wouldn’t be a Novation product without some kind of QC failure, in my case the filter knob is the same small size as all the others. Yes, straight from the factory, maybe they ran out of big knobs in China that week. I cared for about a minute, I might write to them get the proper one some day.
It’s very small. Sits on your lap. Not quite Microbrute, but petite. You will turn it on and get a nice analogue bass bumphy bumphy noise. SH-101 definitely. Get the arppegiator going, it’s much more sophisticated than most, having numerous rhythm styles. You get bluh bluh bluh bluh, but also bluh be be bluh be, and even bluh bluh bluh bebe. It can go up n down or follow the notes you play, and you will latch that and start to twiddle some Berlin School Lunch.
Definitely much warmer than Roland, more in the territory of the MS2000 in being grumpy, particularly when you raise the distortion knob. The thing I was most keen to hear was the filter being modulated by the audio signal of Osc 2, because that’s a very Kawai 100F thing to do. So much is coming down the pipe (2 oscillators and a sub and a ring modulator) it took me quite some time to get the same kind of demented squealing – you have to use only the self resonation of the filter being harmed by OSC 2 at high frequencies, and slowly introduce signal – being analogue the mixage doesn’t follow sense, being more like mixing a gin and tonic.
Pretty soon I was getting really odd sequences going which you could pass for some expensive modular Christmas tree. It brought joy. At one point I managed to get vowel sounds by assigning a very high frequency OSC 2 to mod the filter and moving the distortion knob. That was contrary to my understanding of synthesisers and is evidence that this is an analogue weird-shit device.
Here’s some of the bad things. It has fixed key tracking for the filter. Why would you do that Mr. Huggert? There is fun to be had with the filter going insane, so it not tracking as wanted is A Very Bad Thing. It could be that this feature is hidden in the functions that are selected on the piano keys. There’s a lot there and you can’t see their settings very clearly (another very OSCar thing). Also there’s a lot of switching between OSC 1 and 2 and the two ADSR settings. So what you are seeing on the sliders may not be the reality. You get fooled into tweaking the wrong thing at times, it’s not really something I would be 100% confident in using live.
Also I am dead sure the little blue lights in the wheels will die. It’s Novation.
You want this if you want to make bleepy doodles, somewhat near to those of the MS2000. As a bass synth, sure, it’s fine, about par with SH anything. All in all a very my-first-80s-synthesiser feeling – SH-101, Novation making a thing that is better than the thing you remember. A good choice.
* It’s not that the OSCar was a bad synthesiser, although I sold mine very quickly back in 1985. But it only did two things really, sound all big n boomy, or if you used the additive synthesis feature that was its big selling point it sounded like a software organ for the Apple 2. That’s not quite enough for a whole soundscape.
Chip on April 6, 2016 at 1:26 pm said:
People have complained to Novation about filter tracking since the BSII came out. Last November Novation responded on a thread about this in its own forum, saying, “After looking into the status of the feature request, I see that it is something that is still currently being investigated by our development team, but I am not sure on the exact details of where they are at with it. This has been a widely requested feature so they are actively pursuing it and taking the request seriously. I will make sure to submit this information over to them so they know users are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the feature.”
In 2013 the guy who tested the BSII for the french website audiofanzine asked Novation’s Nick Bookman about the filter tracking implementation and was told: “When it came to deciding if filter tracking should be included as a physical control, we explored the user case for this on this product and we decided that it couldn’t justify its position as a physical control compared to the choices that we opted for. We then explored the idea of keeping this as a programmable on-key function, but again, other parameters took precedence. Ultimately we opted to fix the key tracking for the classic filter at 100% and the acid filter at 50%. It was a tough call, but historically this is not new to the Bass Station line of products. The original Bass Station keyboard, Bass Station rack and the Bass Station plugin all omit filter key tracking as an editable parameter”
THIS TOY IS A CLASSIC MONO SYNTH
IT MAKES WARM FUZZY SQUELCHY SOUNDS
THE SOUND QUALITY IS GOOD
IT WAS MEDIUM PRICED AND IS COMMON
ITS RATING IS DAMN STRAIGHT
It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.