Novation XioSynth

Novation XioSynth Image


At first glance, you might think that Novation's XioSynth is just a scaled down X-Station. Actually, nothing could be farther from the truth, it's just as powerful, if not more.

Like the X-Station, the XioSynth (available in 25 or 49 keyboard sizes) features Novation's X-Pad (X/Y touchpad) and pitch/mod joystick controllers. The XioSynth retains all the features of the X-Station's synthesis engine (except external audio processing), but it has at least two new features that set it apart from its older sibling. First there's the filter overdrive that's said to give the XioSynth "grittier" overtones. Secondly, there is the X-Gator patch programmer which can gate each patch to create unique 16-32 step rhythmic patterns for every onboard sound, all synchronized to MIDI clock. X-Gator adds a unique flavor not heard on many other synths.

Novation XioSynth Image


The routing is fairly standard with the classic oscillator-filter-amp layout. It boasts PWM, two LFOs, and a noise source. The first LFO is for oscillator modulation and the second can be used for filter modulation. The three oscillators each feature classic analog waveforms plus some useful wavetables. Osc 1&2 can be sync'ed to each other. The filter is a 2- or 4-pole capable of highpass, lowpass, and bandpass. There are two envelopes: one for the amp and the other for the filter (referred to as the "mod envelope"). The XioSynth has six Effects, each with adjustable levels and settings. These include: Delay, Reverb, Chorus/Phaser, Distortion, a 3-Band EQ, and Stereo Panning.

Programing the powerful synth engine is a breeze with the matrix-style front panel which features 11 knobs and a rubber button to go with each. In "play mode" the buttons perform simple on/off functions but in "edit mode" each button brings up an edit menu where parameters can be tweaked from the corresponding knob.

Besides packing all this synthesis power in to a small frame, Novation also decided to throw in a USB audio interface. The audio quality may not be pristine, but it is very good considering XioSynth's price point. As well as being a powerful synth and USB audio interface, the XioSynth is also an awesome MIDI controller (every controller is assignable). It can store 16 templates, which are all user editable via the template editor. The editor can also act as an excellent patch librarian for the synth. There is also a third party PC editor available.

The XioSynth has pair of left and right stereo outputs plus a headphone output. There is also a duo of inputs: an XLR and a 1/4-inch TRS. MIDI and audio are transmitted over USB, so an audio interface is not needed to hear your shiny new XioSynth through your DAW. Sadly, there is MIDI Out but no MIDI In or Through. Power for the XioSynth can be provided by the included power supply, USB, or by six AA batteries.

All in all, the XioSynth is a great synth that will give you a lot of bang for your buck. If you are looking for that K-Station sound at a much more affordable price point, the XioSynth will do it

Lookup Novation XioSynth Prices

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28 Visitor comments
June 12, 2011 @ 7:36 am
got mine (25-key) from a local buy&sell website for around $200 here in the philippines. first, the pitch bender didn't work because of a lose connection. it needed a DIY fix. and now, an entire line on the LCD has faded away. talk about quality. nonetheless, i still love the output this thing delivers. great sound, awesome features and portability. no complaint about the plastic construction. though, i'm still waiting for an answer from novation regarding my lcd problem. i'm a fan of focusrite products, i just hope they check, recheck their newer novation products when it comes to quality.
May 10, 2011 @ 2:33 pm
Definitely agree on the build quality, pretty cheap feeling but to be fair I've owned since just after it came out and it's remained in decent condition. Synth itself sounds good, I love the distortion and filter overdrive, get some real grit from it.

Having issues with the audio interface, keep getting distortion from it when recording other synths, but you can't complain too much at the price.
May 10, 2011 @ 1:29 pm
I don't know anything about synthesizers, but I know good writing when I see it. This reviewer is an excellent writer and should be writing for his career. Way to go!
May 10, 2011 @ 9:20 am
I hope someone would a make good software editor for Xio! I know there is atleast one out there but it was quitee iffy/confuding when saving & loading patches.

presets on Xio are a like worst ever :#

if pitchbend casues problems, just disconnect it (open the unit and pull the connector from board)
May 8, 2011 @ 10:25 pm
Awesome synth. As mentioned before, appaling build quality, though. Real time control is extensive for such a tiny unit, some of the alternate waveforms are rather nice, filter is capable and the overdrive is a cool feature. Presets are mostly crap, shock, but editing and saving is quick. Audio interface is reasonable for recording other synths. Could easily take this thing travelling and make nefarious bass in hotel rooms, thanks to optional USB/battery powering. Prices are at an all time low, 100-120 quid at the moment, so snap one up and take care of it before the only ones left fall apart.
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Rated 3.31 (247 Votes)

  • Check Price
  • The link above will take you to an eBay search for this synth to see active listings. If you don't find it there, try looking in our forum marketplace or post a wanted classified.
  • Specifications
  • Polyphony - 10 voices
  • Multitimbral - Monotimbral
  • Oscillators - 3 analog modeled oscillators
  • Waveforms - Sine, Square, Triangle, Sawtooth, White Noise, HP Noise, BP Noise, HBP Noise, plus wavetables
  • LFO - 2 LFO's with 32 waveforms (Sine, Tri, Saw, Square, and many more patterns)
  • Filter - 1 12/24 dB Filter with LP, HP, and BP modes and ASDR envelope
  • Envelope - 1 ASDR Envelope
  • Effects - Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Distortion, 3-band EQ, Stereo Panning
  • Vocoder - None
  • Sequencer - X-Gator: 32 step on/off patch programmer
  • Arpeggiator - Latchable, Multi Octave, Up, Down, Up/Down, +32 patterns
  • Keyboard - 25 / 49 velocity sensitive semi-weighted keys
  • Memory - 200 User Patches. 16 MIDI controller templates
  • Control - MIDI Out, USB
  • Date Produced - 2007

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