The Novation Peak was released about three years ago and has easily become a hype amongst musicians. The hybrid synth with effects and digital control also counts for an analog sound and heartbeat, which makes it an interesting and intriguing choice at the same time.
The UK-based company Novation has launched numerous controllers and instruments over its 25-year history, but nothing seems to come close to the performances of the Peak synthesizer.
One of the first things you will notice about this product is its interface, and this is also the main focus point if you ever decide to purchase it. Although it doesn’t feature a keyboard, the device is not completely lightweight or compact. Despite that, it is exceptionally well-made and incredibly sturdy, which means you can use it in almost any location either for practice or for live gigs.
It features 42 control knobs for effects, LFOs, tweaking oscillator shapes, and others. Unlike many other similar items, the knobs on this unit are metallic, and the interface looks luxurious, similar to a high-end instrument, which improves the overall playing experience. Each section of the layout is presented clearly for a positive user experience.
Although many users and music enthusiasts rated this product as an excellent synthesizer, there are various aspects of the software policy that should be changed or updated. First of all, Novation requires you to register with all the product’s security elements, including the date of purchase and the serial number so that you can download firmware updates and various other software.
This step only enables you to use other Novation products that only work with the company’s products. All in all, the registration process is lengthy and frustrating only so that you can have access to basic software and firmware drivers that you can find for free everywhere else.
Main features explained
Versatility at its best
One of the main aspects you’ll encounter in the new Novation Peak synthesizer is the product’s incredibly versatile hardware that allows you to play with various functions and effects to reach the perfect sound.
Unlike some of its high-end rivals that cost over $1,000, the Novation Peak isn’t fully analog but more of a hybrid with an analog filter and digital oscillations. This will lower the production costs without sacrificing the outstanding sound quality or the overall positive user experience.
Thanks to a built-in processor that runs at 512 times the speed of most digital-to-analog converter chips, the waveforms created are free from digital artifacts, which translates into a better, improved sound.
The bass patches sound as if they come from a vintage instrument, while the pad sounds are expansive and lush. The leads deliver the right amount of bite so you can easily imagine you are listening to a fully analog synthesizer.
Part of the Novation Peak’s versatility is given by the 17 different wavetables available that can be used to add new harmonic structures to sounds, including amazing vocal effects. As a result, everything that runs through this synth can turn into a nuanced and unusual tone, which is why it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between the Novation Peak and any other fully analog synth.
The product is great not only for complicated tasks but also if you just want to emulate vintage sounds, adding even more versatility to its functions. All in all, the synth is everything you can ask for and more, so you’ll spend days playing with all its amazing features.
Even professional musicians will have a hard time discovering the endless possibilities provided by this hybrid synth, so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you still find new vocal effects after weeks of playing with the product.
An advanced modulation system
The new Novation Peak is capable enough of recreating advanced analog-style sounds but one of the model’s greatest innovations has to be the modulation system. You can find on the front panel various options to add more movement to your patches but what’s under the hood is even more impressive.
The modulation matrix allows you to fully explore the dimensions of each sound and create new, innovative ones for your beats, demos, and live sets. Mapping either of the product’s two dedicated animate controls to the pitch or the LFO is done easily and will help you obtain wobbling leads of strange falling and rising effects with a single push of a button.
If versatility and convenience are what you’re looking for, you’ll be pleased to find that the Novation Peak delivers just that and more. Step on a new world of possibilities with the synth’s matrix that even allows you to change the waveshape of an oscillator with the help of the keyboard’s touch, saving time, and allowing you to explore new sound opportunities in the studio.
Although the matrix requires getting used to the menu and browsing through its different features until finding the one that best suits you, the overall experience isn’t too complicated.
And, if you’re thinking about the effects section, you should know that it is as impressive as the modulation matrix. The new Peak allows you to use the reverb, chorus, and delay sections to modify sounds in any way you could think of, unlike the onboard effects of other synths that sound more like an afterthought.
Even if you only have little experience with modifying sounds and creating new ones, you will be impressed by the distortion and overdrive of this synthesizer. The first adds the right amount of grit, helping you achieve crunchy yet subtle effects for various instruments.
Low-frequency oscillation (LFO)
Unless you didn’t realize it by now, the Novation Peak is no toy for beginners. You may find your way around some of the product’s features if you want to experiment with new sounds and a few effects but you won’t be able to fully enjoy its features unless you know what to look for.
Another feature in the new Novation Peak that impressed people is the LFO. The low-feature oscillation represents an electronic frequency under 20 Hz that emits a rhythmic sweep or pulse. The pulse is mainly used to modulate your synth and other similar music gear to create effects like phasing, tremolo, and vibrato.
Novation Peak boasts four types of LFOs to choose from, as well as three dials and ranges for Rate and Fade Time. The first LFO modulates the shape of each oscillator and the filter frequency, while the second one allows you to modulate the pitch to obtain a perfect vibrato effect.
The Ring Mod options in the mixer section allow you to bring some noise and “dirt” to the sounds you’re creating.
The Envelope area of the synth is linked to the Mixer section and is designed to help you easily control the note Attack, Decay, Sustain, and Release (ADRS) values or, in other words, the way a note’s volume changes in time.
The Novation Peak boasts two mod envelopes, with the first one suitable for the filter frequency and the shape amount of each oscillator. The Envelope 2 mod will help you modulate the pitch of every oscillator. In other words, the Peak rule is simple and consistent toward the entire display of the synth – 1 is for shape, 2 is for pitch.
The number of effects you’ll find on the synth is incredible. For instance, the Overdrive works pre-filter and adds crunch and power when needed, while you can add drama to your overall sound by using any other effect, such as delay, reverb, and chorus.
Other cool features
We have already talked about the incredible Modulation Matrix area the Peak boasts, as well as the Mod button and the LFO choices that you can use to affect or modulate your sound destination (for instance, the shape or pitch of an oscillator).
However, the Peak is much more complex and can provide hundreds, if not thousands of sound variations, depending on the virtual instruments you use and the sound you want to create.
The product’s Matrix counts for an astonishing number of 16 sources, a CV input, and 37 destinations which allows you to connect a full suite of MIDI and audio accessories and play with various sounds, effects, and instruments.
Given that you have 16 different slots or combinations you can set up at any time, you can experiment with sounds for hours. Moreover, for any slot, you can add two sources modulating one destination, with sources multiplying their effect together.
And, if you want various slots modulating the same destination at once, you can achieve that too, although we’re not sure you want to go that far.
Operating through these features is simpler than the overall user experience you would get with other synthesizers, which means you won’t have a hard time exploring your options and finding what works for you. All you have to do is select one slot out of the 16 available, two different sources and one destination, then choose the depth of each one, and you’re done.
What’s best about this product is that you get dozens of these options available on the top layer of the synth, and many others to experiment with beneath the surface. As we already mentioned, the entire display of the Peak makes it convenient to use and provides a comfortable experience, no matter how you like your sounds.