This is the second part of our look at the new hybrid polysynth from Novation. Peak is an 8-voice synthesizer with digitally generated oscillators, effects and modulation matrix, with analog VCF, VCAs and 3 distortion circuits.
To see our take on the Chris Hugget designed New Oxford Oscillators and the VCF, check the first part.
The analog distortion adds a whole bunch of drive and grit, right up to the full - overblown sound of everything on max. Too much for some, but plenty who want more.
LFO's - there are two per voice - 24 total - TRI/SAW/SQ and S&H waves for each with high rate modulation (up to 1.6kHz) plus sync to master tempo. As well as the usual parameters - slew, common tigger, fade-in or out. An additional neat feature is the ability to specify the number of repeats for each LFO from 1-127.
Envelopes - VCA envelope plus 2 mod. ADSR type, with nice logarithmic scaling (as with all parameters) for musical operation. Simple, with velocity depth for each, that's about it.
AD+R values can be routed via the Mod matrix as a destination.
Chorus - three types - 2 tap, 4 tap and esemble, a nice selection of rich sounds possible with this. Speed speed and depth controls - with more parameters via the FX menu.
Delay - tempo syncable - time and feedback controls on the front panel, damping, left right ratio via the FX menu.
Reverb - this is a big, rich modulated reverb as standard, with up to 2 minutes of decay for some really long textures, more editing via the FX menu gives you some more traditional sounds.
Overall the FX are actually pretty nice, not particularly extreme, apart from the reverb's largess, but add immediate colour to most patches. Nice to see the inclusion of a bypass button.
Mod Matrix - 16 slots, each source with A+B - B multiplies the a signal, so for instance, LFO via Modwheel would allow you to control the depth, but there are many other possibilities, Good to see LFO with both uni and bi polar options. I do feel that there could be a few more destinations though, LFO repeat number, and some FX parameter routings would be nice.
It is a but heavy on the menu action - perhaps Novation can add some shortcuts for setting up routings - indeed I know they are working on this - it would be welcome.
Arpeggiator - all the usual suspects, 6 octave range, plus 33 rhythmic variations, clockable beat divisions, swing and a dedicated gate length knob. Would like to have seen the tempo on the front panel, rather than a menu item.
Connections - Power - 12v 1A wall wart, USB for MIDI only, In Out and Through MIDI dins, 2x pedal inputs, CV input - up to 1K mod rate for hooking up modular gear and a pair of balanced jack outputs and a 1/4 headphone port.
I think I clicked with this synth, it's a compelling synthesizer. The sound of the basic oscillators means you can make quality, deep sound using just one, but you have three to play with so complexity comes easily to the curious sound designer. With four banks of 128 patches (two are pre-filled, 2 empty) there's plenty of storage too, though I expect you'll fill them up quick - nice to see where you are writing patches too as well, harder to overwrite.
A strong return to the poly synth market from Novation. Sure it's not a low cost instrument, with this area getting a bit crowded, you might find it hard to choose between a DeepMind, DSI Rev 2 or Roland System-8, but I would heartily recommend you give this a listen, if you get your hands on one I suspect you might not notice the time pass as you lose yourself in it's capabilities.
Available soon £1249/ $1299
The first standalone semi-modular from Pittsburgh Modular