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In-depth Feature:  Novation KS-4
Multitimbral, multi-outputs,multi-effects, more voices and even more synthesis
Nick B writes: .


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In the Beginning
It doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was enjoying the K-Station we had in for review, I was delighted with it’s excellent user interface and hands-on tweakability, and I was not alone. Since it’s unveiling at the start of the year, Novation have been shipping K’s like hot cakes. The interface played a big part in the K’s initial success, encouraging the user to get stuck in and create sounds from scratch. Novation seem to be getting their pricing just right too – good interfaces are both expensive to manufacture and to design, so lucky for us that Novation have embraced the K concept and released two more keyboards – the KS-4 (4 octaves) and the KS-5 –you guessed it – 5 octaves. A rack version was announced at the time of this review: 5U high, with a wedge shape making it usable on the desktop. The KS is adding quite a lot more under the hood than it’s predecessor, but is it a substantial rebuild or just a lube job?

The Same, But Quite Different
What drives the sound of the KS is essentially the guts of the K-Station but with several major improvements. Both the basic functionality and synthesis have had some good lovin’ from the Novation boffins, with care taken to ensure that K-Station patches can be read by the KS but not vice versa. Physically the KS-4 is larger, with 49 keys as opposed to the K’s 25. This allows more space for controls – oh goody! The KS boasts 29 knobs and 48 buttons, of course, some of these are dedicated to the additional functions – performance and drum mode plus extended arpeggiator and Hypersync functions, more on these later.
As previously stated, the major news is that the KS synths both have 16 voices and four-part multitimbrality, each part benefiting from 6 simultaneous effects, there’s a bank of drum sounds and an extra pair of outputs – four total, making it more attractive for those who sequence.

Another improvement is the introduction of descriptive patch names - the K only had numbers – patches are also browsable by categories: synth, bass, dance, organ etc, plus six can be user-defined, very handy for internal organisation. The synthesis engine for those of you not already familiar with the K, is virtual analog running on the latest Motorlola DSP chip.

More Resources              Articles - full listing
  • KS-4 @ zZounds.com
  • New Video flyby of front panel with audio (Real)
  • KS-4 On-board Demo
  • Download the Brochure (PDF)
  • Video flyby of front panel with audio (WMA)

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