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Bass Station II in new design

Review: Novation AFX Station

Published 8:39 am on Sunday 31st January 2021 by Beat Magazine

Filter tracking

Originally, the Bass Station 2‘s filter tracking was fixed at 100% for the classic variant and 50% for the acid filter, which caused some criticism. This does correspond to the behavior of natural instruments, where the harmonic content of high notes is more pronounced than that of low notes. Even if you use the filter in self-resonance as its own sound gene- rator, filter tracking is necessary for tonal playing. However, if you want a balanced filter response across the entire tonal range, you can now lower filter tracking in 7 steps until it is completely disabled.

Paraphony and tuning

Paraphony has also been added as an option, the AFX Station can now be played in two voices. Both voices have to share the further signal path with only one filter and amplifier, but you can set a different waveform for each of the two voices and also the combination of paraphonic playing and ring modulator provides interesting sound variations. The Error function lets you emulate random pitch fluctuations of the otherwise very tuning-stable DCOs, from slight detuning to drifting by almost a semitone. Microtuning lets you set different frequencies for each key, allowing you to use more exotic tunings like the Turkish scale with 7 notes or the Indian scale with 22 notes per octave.

Loopable envelopers & DCO

Envelope Retrigger ensures that the envelopes are played in a loop and do not end after a single pass. This turns them into flexible LFOs. The number of repetitions can be limited to a specific value, which is interesting especially for percussive sounds like claps. Also interesting for percussive sounds is the option of a fixed sustain time. This can be set as an alternative to the retrigger mode and provides 1-shot sounds that are played independently of holding the keys - with a length that can be selected via the decay control. Another new feature is the ability to adjust the pitch of the sub-oscillator separately from the other two oscillators, allowing you to use the AFX Station as a 3-oscillator synthesizer for fat Minimoog basses and house chords.

AFX mode

The highlight is obviously the AFX mode. It is based on an idea by Aphex Twin mastermind Richard D. James, who is also responsible for the exterior design of the AFX Station. In AFX mode, you can assign a sound to each of the 25 keys. All you have to do is select one of the 8 internal overlays and then press one of the 25 keyboard keys. Any changes you make to the sound will only affect that key. You can then copy the sound to another key and make variations of it, or you can set a completely different sound for each key and make yourself a nice little kit of electronic drums and effects, for example.

Since the arpeggiator and step sequencer are also active in this mode, you can get exciting synth drum patterns or weird effects sequences in no time.

Verdict

The AFX Station not only impresses with its chic design and rich analog sound in the best Novation style, but also with a huge range of functions for a monophonic or paraphonic analog synthesizer. The highlight is, without question, the AFX mode, in which you can assign an individual sound to each key. The new trigger functions of the envelopes, as well as the tunable sub-oscillator, expand the already extensive sound potential of this compact synthesizer. It is commendable that owners of the „old“ Bass Station II can also enjoy these new functions free of charge.


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The Producer Blog - Hardware

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