Sonic LAB: Novation Bass Station II Review

New Millenium Analogue Monosynth      15/10/13

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18:50 mins    

Novation started with analogue - the first Bass Station in it's creaky plastic case, then into VA with the K, KS, SuperNova and newer Nova ranges, now back to it's roots with the Bass Station II - a new affordable analog monosynth with true analog innards.

Build

A solid plastic case feels up to the job as do the knobs, there seem to have been a number of poorly mounted knobs recently and fortunately, the Bass Station II does not follow this trend, faders and toggle switches are okay too you'll be pleased to know. Two octave synth feel keyboard features velocity and aftertouch, both of which can be routed.

Architecture

2 multi-wave Oscillators (SINE/TRI/SAW/SQUARE) with a pretty vast range, the Oscillators go from LFO territory into only audible by small mammals, there's a Sub Osc too with Sine, SQ, and PW over two octaves, linked to OSC 1, which means you can tune it to an interval - both feature +/- 12 semitones in 0.2 increments and +/- 100 cents fine tuning. These are fed into the mixer section - with an additional Ring Mod source and white noise, plus an external input for processing.

Filters

Dual filters - only one at a time switchable between the classic Bass Station filter with Low pass/BP/HP switchable between 12 and 24dB slope and Acid - a Diode ladder filter - more akin to the TB-303. There's a pre-drive to the filter too so you can dial in the smudge and drive. Filter cutoff is a large knob with 256 MIDI steps for smooth sweeps - many of the BS2 parameters are 256 steps in fact - so smooth control overall.

Additionally there's an analogue overdrive circuit post filter which can really mash things up. AND a filter Mod control which adds FM from Osc 2 for more sonic mayhem.

Quite a wide palette of sounds available from this filter actually, perhaps not as characterful as an MS20 Mini or Sub Phatty, but more flexible.

Modulation

Two ADSR envelopes share the same controls, a toggle switch selects, typically, Env 1 is amplitude and Env2 (mod env) can affect pitch and filter and PWM. Two syncable LFOs (TRI/SAW/SQ/S&H) with a good range from almost off, to audio rates. They also have a delay feature to allow slow introductions. Interestingly there's also a Slew feature (accessed by the Function/Keyboard combination) which fades the wave in and out, for instance to round off a square wave.

Arp/Sequencer

All the usual suspects for the Arp types (up/down/up-down/random/played) over a four octave range, but there's also 32 pattern variations in between for different feels (1 is 8ths, 32 is 16ths) additionally there are four user sequencer patterns (global) into which you can record up to 32 steps, or rests (there is a button). Again, the 32 playback variations can affect the sequencer too. And theres a swing parameter to add some er, swing to the party.

Sounds

Bass Station II certainly has a wide range of sounds, with plenty of drive and cross mod for the dirtier side of life if thats the way you roll, with most parameters on the front panel, it's a breeze to program, the function button keyboard combination are simple enough to use. Perhaps not the beefiest of oscillators, but not everything in can be a Moog, nor should it.


The on-board patches (128) don't really do it justice, but then you should really be getting your hands on a synth like this and doing what comes naturally. As a first analogue, it's got a lot to offer for the price - which is one of the primary factors these days. Hooking up to the computer gives you MIDI control, though the on-board MIDI ports are not shared over USB, there's plenty of controls here to transmit MIDI to other devices should you wish too or automate via your DAW of choice.

Available now

£399/$499/€469 Street price

 

 

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