Sonic LAB: Novation Summit - 16 Voice Bi-Timbral Poly

Two Peaks and some      19/08/19
    MP4 23:58 mins    

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Summit is Novation's latest synth and takes their Peak 8 voice poly, adds a 61 key keyboard and doubles up the voice count. Effectively Summit is like two Peaks but with more features.

With a 61 key keybed (yes it has aftertouch) Summit has more real estate to add extra controls, and thats the first thing that we get. With Peak, although we have a lot of front panel controls, there's still a lot  of stuff accessed by the section menus.

Summit adds - voice control, FM controls per oscillator, arpeggiator controls, global LFO 3+4 control and envelope looping buttons. This all helps bring more parameters to the fore and is most welcome.

Summit works in four basic modes - single - with up to 16 voices - each with three of the Oxford Oscillators,

  • Multi: Split - one layer for either side of the split (up to 8 voices)
  • Multi: Layer - two sounds played as one, with A/B layer
  • Multi: Dual  - Bi-timbral mode each layer can be addressed via a separate MIDI channel

Layers are selected with the A/B buttons - somewhat similar to the way the Sequential the Rev 2 handles it, but with a more positive indication - the pitch and mod wheels, animate buttons all change colour (orange/blue)

Additionally you have an AUX stereo output so layers can be routed to their own stereo pair. Remember, each layer is basically a self-contained Peak - with 8 voices and those lush FX engines (chorus, delay, reverb and distortion).

Another major change to the actual voice is the inclusion of a Dual mode filter - something those familiar with the Oscar (Chris Hugget also designed this) - the 24dB filter can be split into two 12dB filters with a separation controlling the distance between the peaks. It's a fairly unique and interesting sound.

Audio Inputs - we have a stereo input to the engine which can be routed to the mixer/filter/VCA etc, but also now can be routed directly to either FX engine - without the need to for key-down or VCA getting involved. In practice, that means you can run one of the FX engines as a purely external FX processor, which is actually pretty cool. One thing, the settings for this are not stored in the Multi but rather globally.

Speaking of memory - you get 512 single patches (four banks of 128) and 512 multi patches. These are completely independent and dedicated to multis and store the full settings for both engines.

How does is sound?
As with the Peak, there are many, many complex patches available - it's a lovely synth to program, still a little menu-ey, but a synth of this complexity, you have to expect that, but essentially, it's hard to run out of routings, we have the same 16 slot mod matrix, and also a four slot FX mod matrix for modulating FX parameters (level, speed, delay time etc)

For a full review of the Peak - check out our videos.

On the whole, I really like this instrument, it's priced at around £1899/$1999 so it's comparable in price with the 16 voice REV 2, but with three fully featured oscillators per voice, you get more oscillators and therefore more synthesis.

The FX engine speaks to my more ambient leanings, but it's fully capable of a wide range of sounds, with all that extra drive of the original it can get ugly too - if that's what you want.

A good instrument that follows up on the Peak's philosophy. Hard to fault.

Available End of September 2019

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