Novation K Station and KS4/5 user thoughts.

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brian.only
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Novation K Station and KS4/5 user thoughts.

Post by brian.only » Tue May 06, 2008 8:32 am

Hey all,
I passed up a KS4 a while back- shortsightedly turned off by the trance presets and one note arpeggiator jams, I let it slip by... :roll:
A few months ago I picked up a K station on the cheap and have been getting a lot of use out of it for nice clean punchy bass and surprisingly moving glittery pads. Its really very intuitively laid out and will make a good gig synth w/ a better filter after it.
I really have a hard time playing w/ 25 note keyboards and am thinking of stepping up a few octaves.

a few questions for some owners-
Are there any glitchy os issues I should look for in the KS 4/5?
-is it possible to split the keyboard for left /right/zones?
-will k station user patches work on the KS synths?
-Is the filter as digital 'steppy' sounding as the K station?

I tried searching but came up w/ everything else under the sun- so sorry if this is covered territory.
I actually made a complete song w/ it shortly after getting the K station that I've been thinking of posting to the one synth/song thread.
cheers!
sell me your KS5!

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Post by toonelind » Tue May 06, 2008 9:48 am

the whole novation line shares the same engine with little differencies: a-station, k-station, ks and x station.

ks line had trouble with noise, which was solved with last os update. you still have to take care that to total sum of all the asc values is less than 127.

k-station patches work on ks.

it's possible to make a perfomance patch, wich can have up to 4 sounds and I think you can have different zones for all 4 sounds or you can use them in layers. outgoing midi data doesn't see the zones.

filter sounds almost the same.

i haven't compared k-station and ks side by side, but when comparing a-station and ks it seemed, that a-station had more detailed and punchy sound. ks line seems to have more options than it's proccessor is able to handle.

otherwise really nice synth with distinctive sound and easy programming. best for ambient pads and soundscapes.

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Post by clubbedtodeath » Tue May 06, 2008 11:31 am

toonelind wrote:the whole novation line shares the same engine with little differencies: a-station, k-station, ks and x station.
Not quite.

While they share many features, the KS synths had several enhancements significant enhancements.
ks line had trouble with noise, which was solved with last os update. you still have to take care that to total sum of all the asc values is less than 127.
Digital clipping. I rarely find this a problem (the OS update mentioned by Toonelind here took care of that). While I find I rarely have to 'take care', it is something you need to be aware of.
it's possible to make a perfomance patch, wich can have up to 4 sounds and I think you can have different zones for all 4 sounds or you can use them in layers. outgoing midi data doesn't see the zones.
Yes.

You can split the keyboard into ranges, and so theoretically you could play all 4 parts seperately on the same keyboard. Typically what I do is have two parts on the bottom half of the keys, and two on the top (for bass/pads).

But I digress.

I've had a KS4 for many years, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I've managed to get passable electric pianos, ambient pads, drum'n'bass bass lines, techno leads, a Spanish guitar, a brass section, organs, and even the mellotron flute out of the Beatles' Let it Be.

I've never even played an A or K-Station, so I can't really compare it. I'll list the features of the KS anyway:

- 16 note polyphony

- 4 part multitimbrality. You can create multitimbral (performance) patches out of monotimbral patches, but they're stored in a seperate area, so if you change the original monotimbral patches it won't affect the performance patch.

- 24 waveforms (could be more). Beyond the standard sawtooth, square etc., there's a whole load of extra wave shapes to use. Very handy to achieve sounds a VA is not usually capable of.

- Aftertouch. This for me really brings the synth alive. Like the modulation wheel, I can route aftertouch to the filter, pitch, pitch LFO, volume. Coupling the two together works well.

- Oscillator drift. Nicely fattens up the sound, by simulating VCO pitch drift.

- 6 simultaneous effects. Reverb, delay, chorus/phaser, distortion, vocoder, panning. While certainly usable, I find myself switching the reverb off and using a better-quality external reverb. Nonetheless, it's useful in reminding me how a patch should sound. In multitimbral mode, the mix level for each effect on each part is seperate (this is quite damned handy).

- Octave up/down switches. These are located just above the keyboard on the left side. As a right handed player, this means I can very quickly switch up or down an octave or two, in real time. It also transposes the transmitted MIDI notes. I have come to appreciate this feature quite a bit.


The only bad I can think of is the aliasing. If I have a sawtooth patch, and play around a lowpass cutoff with high resonance in the C4-C5 range, I can hear it.

This is the only thing I can think of, however.

Things to watch for

After years of use, some of the knobs may become jumpy. I suspect this is due to dust which a good contact cleaner should fix. There's a web page about this, but I forget where.

OS issues. You can get the latest OS, 2.1 (I think) for free from Novation's website. The version of the OS is displayed when you switch the keyboard on; if it's not OS 2.1 I strongly recommend that you update it.

Cheers,
Clubbed.

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Post by brian.only » Tue May 06, 2008 6:53 pm

Thanks for the great feedback guys- esp. clubbed for being so in depth, now I just have to find another one.
cheers
b
sell me your KS5!

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Post by clubbedtodeath » Tue May 06, 2008 7:28 pm

brian.only wrote:Thanks for the great feedback guys- esp. clubbed for being so in depth, now I just have to find another one.
No problem Brian.

If you think of any other questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

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Post by valdiorn » Wed May 07, 2008 2:28 am

Hey there. I'm a proud owner of a Novation KS4 which I scored off ebay.co.uk for 230 pounds with global shipping, best deal ever :)

So far I've been really impressed with it (I've had it almost 2 years now). I originally bought it when I was doing more trance-y stuff, but it proved to be a lot more useful in the ambuent/electronic range for me, which is good since that's where I'm at now :) The sound really can be described as "liquid", the filter and the overdrive are really smooth, and you add a touch of osc. drift and it's amazing :)

Glitchy issues: I've had problems downloading patches and soundbanks from it, but this is probably more due to my messed up midi setup. But I was able to upgrade the OS to v2.1 without any problems on 2-3 occasions (over the last 2 years) it has frozen up on me, but a quick power off/on fixed that.

You can split the 4 layers by high/low notes, or layer them together.

You can not load A/K/V-station patches on it, I don't know about XioSynth, though.

The filter has 128 steps in its movement, and there is noticable stepping if you have the resonance up high and sweep slowly :/

My favorite part of the synth are the drum maps, it's strange that you don't see this kind of feature on more synths
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Post by stikygum » Wed May 07, 2008 4:30 am

Love the KS synths! I had a KS4 and loved so I bought a KS5. It's an incredible and totally overlooked. The sounds that can be created on it are so lively and it doesn't try to be anything it's not. Great at everything, leads, arps, deep basses, sfx, and the motion in the sounds I can get is fantastic. It's one of my favorite synths for VA. I like it more than Roland, Access, and Waldorf (haven't played much on the Ion).

I sold my OB-12 for the KS and it was one of the greatest moves I've done. Instantly feel in love with it once I started editing it.

Like someone said, presets can't be judged. Start editing and then judge. Presets are nice basic trance stuff, but the 24 different waveforms allow you to create so many different types of synthetic instruments.

One feature no one's mentioned that I really like is HyperSync. Basically allows you to lock all of your effects and sync them to beat. Very rythmic and adds unique motion to the sound.

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Post by brian.only » Wed May 07, 2008 9:17 am

stikygum wrote:
I sold my OB-12 for the KS and it was one of the greatest moves I've done. Instantly feel in love with it once I started editing it.
:shock: im even more curious now!
stikygum wrote: Like someone said, presets can't be judged. Start editing and then judge. Presets are nice basic trance stuff, but the 24 different waveforms allow you to create so many different types of synthetic instruments.
Yeah I tend to mangle presets or solely make my own, I like how the K defaults to one unadorned square making it easy to start a patch. I'm still waiting for a synth w/ useful presets. If the K had a better filter it's really be a truly perfect little beasty, this will be a good reason to finally get the MF101. The K sounds really sweet w/ a boss CS2 and springverb though- very analog.

stikygum wrote: One feature no one's mentioned that I really like is HyperSync. Basically allows you to lock all of your effects and sync them to beat. Very rythmic and adds unique motion to the sound.
sounds cool!

thanks all for the feedback!
sell me your KS5!

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Post by brian.only » Wed May 07, 2008 9:22 am

valdiorn wrote:
The filter has 128 steps in its movement, and there is noticable stepping if you have the resonance up high and sweep slowly :/
yeah I really dig playing w/ the cutoff on synths but no dice on the K...
I have been instead using a filter wah.
valdiorn wrote: My favorite part of the synth are the drum maps, it's strange that you don't see this kind of feature on more synths
whats are the drum maps? is it different pitched drums, or sections?
sell me your KS5!

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Post by drawtippy » Wed May 07, 2008 4:56 pm

For what it's worth, I had a KS4 and loved it. Looked great, sounded great, laid out well and easy to understand...

But then it developed the phantom parameter switching problem which is well documented (look through the reviews on harmony central). I don't know if Novation ever fixed or addressed the problem but I promptly sold mine on Ebay and got a Micron.
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Post by valdiorn » Wed May 07, 2008 9:42 pm

brian.only wrote:
valdiorn wrote: My favorite part of the synth are the drum maps, it's strange that you don't see this kind of feature on more synths
whats are the drum maps? is it different pitched drums, or sections?
well, banks 5-8 have 49 patches each (500-548) and act as drum banks (1-4 are regular banks, and there are also 150 multi-banks). Patches 500, 600, 700 and 800 act as patch maps, so if you tune to patch 500, for example, the first note on the keyboard plays patch 501, the second note plays 502, the next 503, etc... so you can build up a drum kit with this (kind of like having a 49-timbral multi-patch, with each patch having only a 1-note keyrange :))
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Post by Sexor » Thu May 08, 2008 2:35 pm

I've got the K-Station... never had any problems with it. It's a nice handy thing for live stuff and the occasional bleep in the studio. The KS synths really do have their own sound and feel.

The vocoder on it really sucks though.
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Post by Music*aL » Thu May 08, 2008 3:28 pm

I am interested in getting a novation synth again. I used to have the A station but sold it because I didn't like the interface with the cluttered knobs. I did like the sound of that synth however. So, here's my question: How does the KS series compare with the Novas/Supernovas?

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Post by supermel74 » Thu May 08, 2008 11:48 pm

Sexor wrote: The vocoder on it really sucks though.
I completely disagree. The vocoder on the K Station is actually quite amazing. What makes you think it sucks? I used to think so too, and then I started actually using it. The few presets they put on there are complete junk and I'm surprised they're even on there because they give the vocoder a bad first impression. Aren't presets supposed to "show off" a machines capabilities? Even though there are not many parameters to adjust on the modulator/incoming signal, the amount of instant tweaking you can do with the carrier more than makes up for it. Using s/n with the vocoder you can get really cool grainshifter like sounds. It's everything a vocoder should be imo.

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Post by brian.only » Fri May 09, 2008 5:08 am

I run the k's vocoder through the murf on pos. 1 w/ lotsa drive and its sounds the awesome. :wink:
I also dont think it sounds too bad either w/ some tweaking.
sell me your KS5!

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