The Novation x-station synth is a very versatile and flexible synthesizer for its money. The whole package includes a virtual analog synth, a midi controller, a 2 in / 2 out audio interface and an effect processor. It comes in both 25, 49 and 61 semi-weighted keys. This makes it sort of an all in one unit. The only things missing to really make it an all in one unit (e.g workstation) is a sampler, sequencer, and multitimbrality. The synth section is monotimbral, but hey must every synthesizer out where have multitimbrality? No, I would say. In this case, it’s one of the synths charms not to be able to do multitimbrality.
The synth engine includes 3 oscillators with 17 waves each and an independent noise source, a ring modulator, oscillator 1-2 sync and FM (2 operator FM synthesis). In the oscillator section, you find the standard analog waves like sinus, square/pulse, saw and triangle. Plus some noise sources and some really interesting digital waves that are sort of like wavetables or preset sounds. Making just the oscillator section alone very massive and huge when it comes to possibilities and making some interesting sound palettes. The filter onboard is a 12 dB / 24 dB multimode filter including low, band and highpass filtering. The section also includes a very interesting drive circuit. There is also two very interesting LFO’s with 32 waves each, two ADSR envelopes and an AD envelope for the FM synthesis with velocity.
Other things found in this synth include a portamento section (glide in some synths), unison, a very groovy and somewhat funky arpeggiator. An effect processor that’s makes anything sound big and large, a very addictive X/Y pad that in its default setting controls an filter of some sort (not sure what it is but it sounds awesome!).
So what are my general thoughts about this synth?
First of the build quality is a bit flimsy on this synth when it comes to the knobs (not the sliders), the combo jacks, headphones amplifier, the master amplifier for the main outs, the outer casing and the joystick locking mechanism. Do remember these are just some minor issues....
But apart from that THIS synth is truly a super flexible and a massive synthesizer that can produce both virtual analogue patches like bass, strings/pads, screaming bass- and lead patches, mild leads, FM, Yamaha GS 1 type of FM tones, PPG wave 2 (bells / wavetableish) “like” patches, ARP Solinaish patches and much more. Not to mention that this synth is a very groovy and a rhythmic synth due to some very nice sample and hold waves in the LFO’s and of course the funky arpeggiator section. Both the LFO’s, arpeggiator and the effects processor can be synced to an external midi clock.
This synth gets four stars out of five due to the synth engine being so good it overlooks the flimsy construction. Personally, I just love this awesome synthesizer since it never stops to amaze me every time I use it and tweak its sound.
Demos & Media
review by: Daniel Fletcher of D.S (a Swedish synthpop / synthrock group)
Images from: Dolphinmusic.co.uk