Novation Supernova 2: Rule Britannia!


The MiniNova is a wonder to be heard, but mine has slowly fallen apart from just one show and I’d recently thought about taking a hacksaw to rack it. Then I thought maybe I should just get a rack, as I was likely to hacksaw the wrong bit and end up with a VL-tone and no fingers. A proper rack made out of good English steel.


I saw the Supernova 2 on eBay auction, it was reasonably priced, I ummed and ahhed about it and gave myself endless reasonable advice about seeing what happens etc. and of course it quickly sold. Duh. Idiot. Happily for me it reappeared (the winner thought that ‘free postage’ meant airmail to Norway with all VAT paid) and I immediately made an offer. The vendor was grateful for not having to put up with Norwegians and home delivered it as thanks.


48 Big Ones


In an age where virtual analogues are back to a piddly 4 voices, or 8 if you’re damn lucky, it’s empowering to have 48 voices, each with three complex oscillators. At no stage are you warned that you have to cut back on anything, as with the Virus TI. You can hold down 48 damn notes and to hell with everyone. And you can have those in 8 parts, with 8 different effect chains. The calculator inside this thing is worth twelve chained Roland Boutiques. It does not sweat.


First half hour was a depressing trip through late 90’s rave presets. I’d heard it was a bit more primitive than the Mininova, but surely not that much. And then I found the SPECIAL FILTERS. Oh very yes.


Although all the necessary controls are visible on the front panel, these only lead to necessary sounds. On the Virus TI that results from designed evolution - newer Viruses keep all the controls of older ones and stack new things behind them in menus. The Supernova I think imitates the Virus, betting that 90% of users will never go past the basic twiddles. For example the filters appear to be limited to the usual Hi, Band and Low pass, at 12, 18, 24 dB. You get good results there, but you’ll get great results by selecting the special filter and then from the menu one of the more crafty dual filters or the super nasty resonant variants.


The oscillators are bit easier to wind up. There’s the usual saw & square, the SPECIAL is a dual saw, not quite a supersaw but the same basic idea appropriate to having 3 of them. To the right you find treatments - a synch internal to each oscillator, pulse width, hardness - and up in the menus the strange synch slew and formant width, which bend and warp the shape of the standard shapes. In combination these make sounds that resemble a Kawai 100f, or a Prophet 5 or Jupiter. There’s also a simplistic FM synthesis available that doesn’t threaten the SY77, but still does a pretty good TX81z. The Supernova can sound like many things and do it well.


Although the Virus TI is more advanced, the Supernova just sounds better. As you tweak the settings the sound responds in an expected and eager manner, and you find sounds that suggest their use in a piece of music. It’s been a long time since I immediately stared to record the sounds I was creating on a new piece of gear.


If there was ever a rack version of the Ultranova that might be better. The Ultra has wavetables. Any oscillator can be made ‘super’, including the digital sounds. Another LFO, and these can be wavetables as well. Six envelopes. All of these new things tend to lead you into making more metallic shimmering, while the Supernova is more into heavy grinding analogue - something like six stacked MKS 80's.


You see what I mean.









It was either this or a red car and I think I chose wisely.