Posts categorized "Synth: UltraNova" Feed

Novation Posts 1.1b1 Public Beta for UltraNova Synthesizer Firmware and Editor


Novation just posted a 1.1b1 public beta for the UltraNova hardware synthesizer. While only a point release - there are a lot of great new features and some fixes. Links to the update are at the bottom of the post.

Note, according to a Novation rep on the forumThe update is not immediately reversible, however if you were experiencing any problems we would be able to help you out!” I just upgraded and for me it’s been a very solid and the features do improve the user experience quite a bit. I had one case where a patch I created on the last OS had started experiencing minor clicking artifacts. I set my sample rate to 48 and the problem went away (even if I go back to 44.1).

There are some notable features such as the added display to show the big knob Control Lock assignment.


“An asterisk is now displayed next to the patch number to show that the patch has unsaved changes. …When editing it is fairly easy to lose your edits by navigating away from the patch. Now, if you do navigate away by mistake, you can press the Compare button to revert your edits”.


“A compressor with fixed settings has been added before the input to the modulator for the vocoder: this improves the overall sound.” All the vocoder patches sound way better!

This beta also shows that Novation hasn’t forgotten about us UltraNova users and continues to support this great synth. I personally hope this also signals an even bigger update with enhancements note in this update – like Tap Tempo and Tweak encoder “toggle”. 

What’s New

Below is a list of what’s new copied from their public beta forum. Lots of great features above-and-beyond the few I mentioned.

Firmware Updated to version 1.1.03

  • Added display to show the big knob Control Lock assignment.
  • When editing it is fairly easy to lose your edits by navigating away from the patch. Now, if you do navigate away by mistake, you can press the Compare button to revert your edits
  • Pressing any of the synth menu buttons a second time will return to the main patch menu.
  • An asterisk is now displayed next to the patch number to show that the patch has unsaved changes.
  • Arpeggiator now outputs notes via MIDI and USB. This is a setting within the global menu.
  • Delay, EQ and distortion are now full stereo effects. Many more of the factory Vocoder patches will now maintain stereo width.
  • A compressor with fixed settings has been added before the input to the modulator for the vocoder: this improves the overall sound.
  • Fixed Octave button LEDs becoming out of sync with Octave setting.
  • Fixed bug preventing envelope decaying to zero in some cases
  • Fixed long release times did not allow the envelope re-trigger to work correctly.
  • Fixed issue when very long envelope release was combined with touch trigger envelope: touch now gates properly. 
  • Fixed an issue with the release of a touch envelope during the release stage of a voice that prevented the proper operation of touch trigger.
  • Fixed an issue with chord function when triggering notes if a patch was set to poly2 voice mode.
  • Improved anti-aliasing filter on sine wave: as a result all patches that used this, in particular bass patches, sounds cleaner.
  • Improved smoothness when modulating filter to avoid unwanted artefacts.
  • Improved interpolation between legato mono voices with different velocities.
  • Improved Mono Auto-glide legato portamento consistency
  • Improved oscillator level modulation from LFO sources.
  • Improved LCD layout for audio menu to make headphone level control more obvious.

Plugin Editor Updates

  • Added Touch on and off as an on-screen automatable parameters.
  • Added Ultranova Editor as an AU insert FX. Logic users are recommended to use this.
  • Added further selection options in the Mod table.
  • Editor now installs RTAS to 32 bit directory when running Windows 7 64
  • Fixed value mismatch when syncing certain parameters.
  • Fixed Editor not updating synth parameters when instantiated while in Automap mode.
  • Fixed not being able to automate using hardware in Ableton Live.
  • Improved CPU usage when changing patches.
  • Improved mouse sensitive on stepping parameters.

Known issues

  • Metering will not display when using the AU FX editor when mod wheel, aftertouch, expression, velocity, and keyboard is in the Mod table.
  • 32 bit plug-ins crashes 32 bit bridge when running under 64 bit. Users are advised to use 64 bit version of the plug-ins.
  • Mac VST version of the editor in Ableton Live only: Touch parameters not configurable as automatable parameter if the hardware is connected. Users are advised to configure the parameter first without the hardware connected or use the AU version of the plug-in instead.
  • Grabbed patches folder now cannot be dragged to from other banks/folders.
  • Fixed not being able to drag hardware banks to the 'My Patches' folder
  • Improved time when creating a new user banks on a Mac
  • Fixed Librarian 'busy' status when double clicking patch when there is no hardware connected.
  • Fixed not being about to drag and drop in OSX Lion
  • Fixed parameters with patch A07
  • Fixed glitch on patch C031
    Known issues:
  • Copy and paste a bank from hardware to a computer folder will be blank in some situations.
  • Patch cannot be drag from bank to bank at the same position
  • Graphic icon for folder and bank may not appear if Librarian is in icon view.
  • Updated Novation USB driver to version 2.3 for Mac and Windows.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums:

UltraNova Synthesizer Tip & Example Patch: How to Latch Notes to Create Drones


I’ve seen some questions on the UltraNova forum asking if it’s possible to sustain a note indefinitely to create drones even though there is no “hold” parameter. It is indeed possible and can be done by using the Gator effect. Here is how it works.

  1. Insert the Gator effect into a free slot
  2. Turn on the effect
  3. Set the algorithm to “Mono 16” and turn all steps to full on
  4. Press the “Latch Button”

Now when you press a key, the note will sound indefinitely. If you want to toggle this in real-time, use the “Effects” menu system on the UltraNova and navigate to the “Gator” and turn the knob above “GLatch”. Turn it on and off, then press the “Lock” key. Now the Touched/Filter knob will toggle between a droning not and a note that follows the amp envelope.

Click here to download a sysex patch I created called “Latch Note MM” that illustrates the concept and can be used as a base patch for drones. I mapped a few modulators to make the patch a little more interesting. Use the UltraNova editor to load the patch.



Happy droning!

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
Official Web Site:

Video: Automating Novation UltraNova (Mininova) Synthesizer Parameters with Dummy Clips in Ableton Live


Update: These same technique work with the Mininova.

Since May I’ve been working with the Novation UltraNova. The synth engine and touch encoders make this a fantastic performance synth. I especially love the VST/AU Editor which I’ve been using not only to tweak and create patches but also as a controllerism bridge between Ableton Live and the UltraNova hardware.

Checkout this video I just published on YouTube “Automating Novation UltraNovaSynth Parameters with Ableton Live Dummy Clips” (Watch embedded video in HD). Note the techniques shown in this video could be applied to other hardware synthesizers with plugin interfaces.

The video illustrates how you can use Ableton Live automation envelopes to modulate parameters on the Novation UltraNova. In the video I connect the UltraNova via USB and then configure Live's MIDI ports to see it as a controller. I then insert the UltraNova plugin editor (VST in my case as I'm on Windows) into a MIDI track. I press the "Configure" button on the device which allows me to add UltraNova parameters to the device simply by turning a knob in the editor interface.

Once this is completed you can create a dummy MIDI clip in an empty clip slot and draw modulation envelops for the parameters mapped.

The video really shows off how quickly the UltraNova video editor display updates the interface when being modulated. This and other UltraNova tips area available on

If you want a more detailed explanation of configuring the UltraNova for use in Live, checkout this post from May which I just updated with more info on recording and transmitting automation – “How to Configure Ableton Live to Work with Novation UltraNova”.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums:

Novation UltraNova MIDI Implementation Chart


Novation has posted a MIDI implementation chart for the UltraNova synthesizer. Download the chart here -

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums:

Review of The Novation UltraNova & MiniNova Synthesizer's Effects Processor

Update 11/22/21015: The information in this post can also be applied to the MiniNova - although the screens may look slightly different in the editor.

I’ve been working with the UltraNova for a few weeks now and just spent some quality time working with effects. I can tell you that the effects section is simply superb both in depth, modulation, real-time control, and the fact that you can use up to 5 effects on a patch!

The Upside of Being Mono-Timbral

Novation has taken some heat for not going multi-timbral with the UltraNova. One upside to this is they can use all the processing power to maintain fidelity and polyphony even when all 5 effects processor are being used. Many of the effects parameters can even be modulation targets and controlled in real-time as well.

Effect Types

The UltraNova supports the following effects types which can be added freely to empty FX slots.

  1. EQ
  2. Compressor 1,2
  3. Distortion 1,2
  4. Delay 1,2
  5. Reverb 1,2
  6. Chorus 1,2,3,4
  7. Gator

You’ll note that there are multiple instances of some effects like “Delay 1,2”. For these effects you use one instance per slot. For example, you can use the single EQ in one slot, Delay 1, and Delay 2 in two different slots on so on.

8 Routing Algorithms


There are 8 FX routing algorithms which are quite strong when compared to many hardware synths- even those at higher price points. These routing options rival some options I’ve even seen in some soft synths. The algorithms allow for a wide variety of of sound shaping possibilities including some algorithms with feedback (see screen shot above). As you can see each effect has parameters, gain and an overall output parameter.

Routings In Use

Just to give you an example of how simply changing routing can change the sound of a patch I’ve created a sound that uses “Distortion 1” in Slot 1 and “Delay 1” in Slot 2. In the screen shot below I use “Routing 1”. When a key  is pressed, you’ll hear the signal routed through distortion and the signal entering the delay is clean.


By simply changing to “Routing 2” both the note on, and the audio being sent into the delay will be distorted as the signal runs in series.


Selecting “Routing 2” sends feedback from Slot 2 back to Slot 1. You can see in the screenshot below that I’ve cranked up “Feedback” which will produce nastier and nastier delays with more repeats going through the circuit without changing delay settings.


Here is a small audio clip I’ve recorded to demonstrate this idea. Effects Routing Test by MarkMosher

Modulation Friendly FX Parameters

Parameters like delay time can be modulation targets. In this case, changing delay time would produce pitch shifting effects. Novation took some extra care in this department and added  a “Slew Rate” allowing you to smooth out the jump between pitches.


Here is what it sounds like: Delay Time Slew Rate Test by MarkMosher

Vocoder, Process Incoming Audio, and More

The UltraNova has both a Vocoder and the ability to process incoming audio through the synthesizer engine. I’ll save these topics and more info on the deep effects processor for future posts.


Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer

Novation UltraNova vs M-Audio Venom vs Roland Gaia



I recently purchased a Novation UltraNova. As I was researching I compiled specs form manufacturer web sites and placed them into a spreadsheet from other synths at this price point so I could compare the instruments side-by-side. I thought I’d pass this info on to save you time if you were in the market.

Now while I chose UltraNova, you may read this information and come to a different conclusion based on your particular priorities. For example if you have an absolute need a multi-timbral synth Venom would be of interest. If near one-for-one knob for parameter control was a high-priority Gaia becomes more interesting.

As a  synthesist and controllerist, the UltraNova was a clear winner for me because of it’s analog modeling, wavetable synthesis, strong modulation matrix, aftertouch, strong effects, VST/AU editor and touch encoders.

I compiled this manually so if you find a mistake let me know. After you checkout this table, swing by my UltraNova 411 post.

Spec UltraNova Venom Gaia
Price $699.00 $499 $699
Aftertouch Yes No No
Analog Modeled Yes No Yes
Waveforms Square, sine, tri, sawtooth, pulse, 9x saw:pulse combinations. 20x digital waveforms, 36 Wavetalbes (w/ 9 waveforms each) 41 oscillator waves and 53 drum sounds sampled from vintage synths. SAW, SQUARE, PULSE/PWM, TRIANGLE, SINE, NOISE, SUPER SAW
Wavetable Synthesis Yes No No
Modulation Matrix 20 Slots 16 Slots No matrix, but you can select routing of modulators within signal path. Such as d-beam to pitch, volume, effects; LFO to pitch, filter amp depth
Modulation Sources 17 31 None
Modulation Destinations 66 (Includes FX Params!) 17 None
Filter Drive Yes Yes No
Filter Types 14 6 4
FM Synthesis No (There are however some FM waveforms in wavetable) Yes No
Envelopes Per OSC 6 3 3
Audio Input Can Be Processed by Synth Engine Yes No No
Vocoder Yes No No
Computer Editor Yes Yes Yes but costs an extra $99
Editor Runs as VST/AU Stand-Alone Stand-Alone
Control 8 Touch Encoders, Filter/Last Param Knob, Mod & Pitch Wheel Matrix, Mod & Pitch Wheel Nearly 1-for-1 knob sliders, D Beam, Mod & Pitch Lever
Front Panel Editing Experience LDC + Page linked knobs with  touch encoder focus. More dedicated back lit buttons for selecting sub menus than Venom Matrix + LCD Clear signal flow on front panel with nearly 1-for-1
User Preset Slots 508 (4 banks of 127 Slots) 512 single, 256 Multi 64
Effects Distortion (up to 2 instances),
Compressor (up to 2 instances)
, Chorus/Phase (up to 4 instances),  Delay (up to 2 instances), Reverb (up to 2 instances)
, Gator,  EQ, 12 band vocoder
Global: Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Flanger, Phaser. Insert: Compression, EQ, Distortion, Bit Reduction, Decimation, 
Audio Interface 2 in 4 out 2 in 2 out USB Audio Streaming in from Gaia
Multittimbral No 4 No
Polyphony 20 12 64
Power Options Bus Power/AC AC AC/Batteries
Ableton Integration Automap/Stream Audio via USB Stream Audio via USB Stream Audio via USB
Keys 37 49 37

Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer
Official Web Site:
Listen/Download Albums:

How to Configure Ableton Live to Work with Novation UltraNova (Update: How to Record & Transmit Automation)

Here are some notes I've made on how to configure Ableton Live to both edit patches on UltraNova and record the USB audio stream. Screen shots are from Windows 7.

  1. Download and install latest software
  2. Plugin-in UltraNova via USB
  3. Configure Ableton Options: Menu>Options>Preferences>Audio tab to select ASIO and the the novation USB driver. This tells Ableton you want to use the UltraNova as your sound card.
  4. Turn the Monitor knob on the UltraNova (the knob just under the mic input) all the way counter-clockwise to "From Host" so your only hearing output from Ableton.
  5. Make sure your UltraNova is on MIDI Channel 1
  6. Assuming your using the UltraNova as a soundcard - plugin headphones or outputs form Master Output 1 & 2
  7. Configure Ableton Options: Menu>Options>Preferences and configure Ableton to see UltraNova. Make sure you turn on Track, Sync, and Remote for both Input and Output.
  8. Insert the UltraNova editor plugin into a MIDI track in Ableton
  9. Insert an Audio Track into Ableton to recieve audio
  10. Ctrl-Click to arm both UltraNova editor and Audio Track
    Now when you play a key on the UltraNova you should hear it via headphones or speakers
  11.  You can now record audio clips from the UltraNova by clicking circles within the Audio track.
  12. To edit the synth using the plugin, click the MIDI track containing UltraNova plugin then click the wrench icon to launch the editor.

8/29/2011 Update: I've learned more about using the UltraNova with Live so I've added some two new sections below.

Automating UltraNova with Dummy Clips
If you want to use an automation envelope within a MIDI clip in Live to modulate parameters within the UltraNova via the UltraNova VST or AU follow these steps:


  1. Click the "Configure" button on the device holding the UltraNova editor
  2. Move a control corresponding the parameter you want to control from within Live
  3. You'll see the parameter appear in the list of device parameters. Continue to move controls for other parameters you want to map.
  4. Once you've selected all the parameters you want to use, click "Configure" again once you've specified all the parameters you wan to map.
  5. Double click on a blank clip slot in the MIDI track holding the UltraNova editor to create a dummy clip. You can now draw automation envelope for the parameters you configured. Play the clip to send automation to the UltraNova.

Recording UltraNova Knob Movements As Automation Into Live
When you press buttons and turn knobs on the UltraNova, MIDI Continuous Controller data is transmitted via MIDI and over the USB connection to Ableton Live if the Global paramater "Local" is "On". See this post for a link to the MIDI implementation chart for the UltraNova. 

In order to record this controller movement as automation data into Ableton Live clips (in either Session or Arrangement view) as you perform you need to remove the UltraNova editor from the MIDI track. This is necessary as the presence of the UltraNova Editor within a Live set will automatically turn off "Local On" on the UltraNova hardware to prevent MIDI loops. If this is the case the MIDI CC corresponding to UltraNova controller movement will not be transmitted. So, simply remove the editor plugin and you'll be able to record automation. In the screen shot below I turn the a "Tweak" knob associated with Filter 1 Frequency (CC74). I was able to record Arp On/Latch, and Chord memory buttons as well. I could record touch encorders but it was a little fidgety.


You could also use yoru mouse to hand draw envelopes for any CC the UltraNova can recieve.



Mark Mosher
Electronic Music Artist, Boulder, CO
Synthesist | Composer | Keyboardist | Performer