Many of you will be familiar with Novation's Circuit, a groovebox designed for jamming, cased in a compact enclosure. It looked awesome in the demo videos and many people were excited to see such good design for something both so small, and so cheap. For others however, it was too limited, and that is why I'm excited to show you the new Circuit Mono Station!.
The new Circuit Mono Station addresses many of the issues which held people back from buying the circuit. Most significantly were the unnamed controls for each parameter which were confusing to start with, and controlled different hings for each patch.
The Circuit Mono Station has improved on this by adding a whole section from which you can control the synth parameters, much more like your standard synth. Its main features are adapted from Novation's Bass Station II so for some users will be very familiar.
In addition it keeps the sequencer section that made the original Circuit so cool, though it does remove the drum sounds which may be the deciding point for many. In total, it sports three sequencers, and two oscillators to play with. These are complemented by Low, High, and Band-Pass filter options, as well as three distortion modes.
The oscillators offer four shapes of waves (sawtooth, triangle, square, and sample), complete with fine and coarse tuning, a sub oscillator, ring modulation, and a noise generator. These can be further controlled by a four-by-eight modulation matrix.
The back panel shows that the Circuit Mono Station can control other hardware with the MIDI out, and CV gate, with patches being managed from a PC by USB link.
So what is the final verdict? It is being sold for $500, which is comparable to the Bass Station II, but offers a very different approach to playing. For many, the interface will be jarring, combining the modern look of the original Circuit with older hardware controls, but this is also something which the Circuit lacked. If you can handle the lack of drums, and the absence of fashion, this may be a better choice than the original Circuit.
It definitely sits perfectly in the price range, and ease of use level for a beginner's first hardware synth, and it's expanded range of control compared to the Circuit will mean it is hopefully going to sound better.