Novation Digital Music Systems Ltd. is a British musical equipment manufacturer, founded in 1992 by Ian Jannaway and Mark Thompson as Novation Electronic Music Systems. Today the company specializes in MIDI controllers with and without keyboards, both analog and virtual analog performance synthesizers, grid-based performance controllers, and audio interfaces. At present, Novation products are primarily manufactured in China.
Novation’s first commercial product, released in 1992, was the Novation MM10, a portable battery-operated keyboard controller with full-sized keys, designed to operate with the Yamaha QY10 music workstation
In 1993 the company released the Novation Bass Station. Influenced by the Roland TB-303 Bassline, a portable compact synthesiser designed for instrumental accompaniment, the Bass Station used digitally controlled analogue oscillators (DCOs), an LFO, and a filter to replicate the sound of a traditional monophonic twin-oscillator analogue synth
The core technology of Analogue Sound Modelling (ASM) was introduced in 1995 with the Drum Station, which modelled the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 drum machines using digitally synthesised models of the original waveforms
Novation’s first technical director was Chris Huggett, who designed the Wasp and OSCar synthesisers and wrote the operating system for the Akai S1000. While working for Akai, he gave Novation’s founders advice and support, contributing to the design of the Bass Station and Drum Station – the former featured both the filter and amplifier
Supernova, released in 1998, was a 3U rack-mounted polyphonic synthesiser with 16+ note polyphony and multitimbral operation, an important feature being the provision of multiple effects units which could be assigned to each timbre, allowing a much richer sound than had generally been possible with a multitimbral synthesiser]
In August 2004, Novation was acquired by Focusrite Ltd. and became a subsidiary named Novation Digital Music Systems Ltd
A keyboardless MIDI controller, the Novation Launchpad, was launched in 2009 with an 8×8 grid of large illuminated buttons that could be used to trigger sounds, loops, effects and other parameters, initially in conjunction with the Ableton Live music performance application.
The company expanded into DJ controllers initially with the Novation Dicer in 2010, which consisted of two sets of buttons designed to be attached to a turntable or laptop, and then a full-blown DJ controller in 2011 with Novation Twitch, which differed significantly from then available devices of the type in that it used twin touch-strip controllers instead of the more common turntable emulation, providing additional control capabilities
All these different areas of synthesis and control have increasingly combined in Novation products to create hybrid instruments and devices such as keyboard controllers with miniature grid launchers and on board synth and vocoder capability, for example the Ultranova (2011) and Mininova
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