Novation Circuit

Hi there,
Any opinions on that device? It seems very limited, but something attracts me to it.
I’m just not sure that it will actually add anything to my setup. I already have a JD-Xi that I don’t use as much as I should. Yes the Circuit is portable, but so is a laptop or an ipad…on the other hand, it is fun to play.

Any one has this by any chance and/or has some input?

Thanks in advance.

The device looks like a lot of mobile fun to me to create interesting beats. Seems to me a bit too toy-like to me, though. At the end of the day I would still prefer a good drummachine vst. My 2 cents. Or a used surface pro 3 (seen it for ~600).

I ordered it :slight_smile:

It’s absolutely fantastic! I can’t sing it’s praise enough. It’s not nearly as limited as people think. Not only is there a synth editor which gives you complete control of the synth, but they’ve recently released the midi params for the internal synth, so you can fully map it to an external midi controller and have all the control you need!! It’s so awesome. Most recently, and maybe the best of all, you can upload your own samples! So for $330 you get, two 6 voiced polyphonic nova synthesizers, a four part sample drum machine (that you can load your own samples to!), and a polyphonic midi sequencer! I can’t think of thing else you get that much shit in an external device for so little money. I highly recommend it.

After I own mine for almost a week now, I can confirm it is absolutely a fun tool! Time to brush up my synth programming skills. Now I am trying to find out how to use it in elegant and time saving ways in combination with Renoise. I guess they work well with each other, and my idea is to transfer those sessions and patterns from one to another in both directions to be more free to use either the Circuit hardware only, or the Renoise software editor to finish a piece.

Are there already some “best practices” or tricks that I should know about?


1 Like

the new update makes it waaaay better. check out this vid my friend made

@midi error. Yes, recently I have seen many of your friend’s videos and learned some useful tricks from him.

This little machine is really addictive. In the beginning I felt disappointed and thought it is broken or I need an extra amplifier to hear its sound, when I tried to use it together with my little analogue synths. But I guess (I am not yet so experienced) analogue synths are louder by nature, and so my solution is setting its volume to 100 % and the Mopho and Microbrute to only 10-20% volume, additionally I set the gain value for Circuit in my Zoom R16 to 75-100%, and for the analogue synths down to max. 20 % - and suddenly I can hear it among the others. :yeah:

1 Like

I have it now for quite a while, and I do like it. I, however, do not use it with Renoise. I tried, but I could not come up with a good workflow. I use it with Reaper at the moment:

But you can use it with Renoise? I mean, it works and you can assign all buttons and stuff?

I didn’t intend to buy it as a controller, but for the synths, sample player and sequencer inside. Basically it works like a standard MIDI controller, you can use 32 pads and 8 faders to control functions in Renoise, as it is described here: - the other buttons seem to be dedicated Circuit’s functions only. 1 extra fader sends to channel 16 (the filter knob).

I think it can only send and receive on channels 1,2, (10 and 16). And I did not try much with it - currently still using the computer keyboard. 10 and 16 seem to be useless, as 10 transmits only 4 notes (?) and 16 is used to control parameters in the Circuit’s synths.

So, you could probably use channel 1 (switch to synth 1) to enter the notes, and use the keys C0 to C9 in channel 2 (switch to synth 2) to use some of the other functions in Renoise (transport control, track muting etc.).By switching between channel 1 and 2 you can also “double” the fader knobs virtually from 8 to 16 (8 knobs transmitting data to either one or the other midi channel). The user interface is simple, but very well designed. Usually there is no menu diving in the circuit, and you can reach most functions by pressing only one button - also the switch from synth 1 to 2. Little disadvantage of the simplicity of the hardware interface: The rather powerful synths can only be patched via Midi - there is a good synth editor for it available for free.

The pads are velocity sensitive, so they also transmit the velocity value to Renoise, you can switch through the octaves. I think as a substitute for a small keyboard on the desk it is not so bad. I like the feel of the pads more than of my old launchpad. At least as a keyboard it knows scales. After you chose the scale, you cannot really type a wrong key anymore and it can also remember chords for you. I think for programming the melody part in Renoise it is more pleasant than the computer keyboard. But it seems to be difficult for editing effects, and it lacks support of all the good features in the Renoise editor, such as transpose, interpolate, etc . :slight_smile:

Here’s a little demonstration - in Renoise it works basically the same:

If you want to control the Circuit from Renoise (or a controller), here’s the midi documentation:

And here some articles about circuit:

Edited: to add some additional info.

I must correct my previous info. I was playing a little bit more with it, and found out more:

128 notes on channel 1, 128 notes on channel 2, 4 notes on channel 10 - that you can trigger via the 32 pads.

You switch between the channels by pressing either the Synth 1, Synth 2, or Drum x button on the Circuit. Then you use the Octave Up/Down buttons to reach the other octaves.

adds up => 260 triggers / toggle action s in Renoise can be mapped via the midi learn function.

I assume that you want to use 128 of them for (velocity sensitive) midi note input and I just reserved channel 1 for it. On channel 2 you can use the 128 notes to trigger some function in Renoise. (It works with muting/soloing tracks, start/stop playing, going into edit mode, and more)

Then each synth track has eight “macro” knobs that send midi CC data in their particular channel (1 or 2), and Drum 1/2 and Drum 2/3 also have the eight macro knobs assigned that send 16 different CC values on channel 10.

sums up to => 32 different midi CC faders that can be assigned to faders in Renoise. (It is also possible to use them for navigation within the sequencer, choosing tracks, etc.)

Additionally there’s the filter knob that sends CC74, on channel 16 - no matter which track or channel you choose on the circuit. Here I assigned the master track volume.

I think it is fun to navigate Renoise by using the knobs. Totally different feeling than the cursor keys. And the possibilities to control Renoise via midi are great. Press [CTRL] + [M] in Renoise to see what’s doable.

There’s one thing that I am missing so far. That is making a selection [shift]+[cursor down], cut [ctrl]+[x], paste [ctrl]+[v], delete [del]. There are some ways to manipulate parts of your song via midi control, but I found no way to make a selection (not yet).

Map-ability for every single menu command, and also very cool would be a way to assign the simulation of a custom keyboard input (strings, key combinations, etc.) to a midi trigger. Switching between midi maps via midi trigger would be another nice to have. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Cool! I always wanted something like a launchpad or a Push 2 (I know, that one is for Ableton), so this one maybe a good compromise.

I do not know Push, but in my opinion as a controller the Circuit can do a little bit more than a Launchpad that has no knobs or faders.

And as a standalone instrument: Have a look at some demos and jam sessions on YouTube :slight_smile:

It is very easy to learn playing it in one afternoon. Learning to make your own synth patches with the dedicated software (powerful modulation matrix, and freely assignable macro knobs inside! ^_^), uploading own samples, etc. maybe takes another afternoon. Tutorials made by users in YouTube help a lot. All in all I think it is a nice product that integrates two good synths and a sample based drum machine, keyboard and sequencers and a midi controller in one small battery powered box (with an internal speaker!), usable filter, reverb and delay on board - somewhere in an online shop I even saw it once for less than 300 Euro. Only I wish more memory for step sequences (it can store 32 sessions x 4 tracks x 8 patterns x 16 steps) and samples (limit is 60 seconds for all samples together).The sequencer is not that good as a dedicated tool such as the BeatStep pro, but it is OK for now.

I also like my Microbrute or DSI Mopho and maybe I would even buy those little beasts again, but if I must make a decision between those three and had only one choice, today I’d choose Circuit because it is so multifunctional - and lightweight, small, battery powered etc. - also the “userinterface” does not distract you from making music, very simple and effective design.

P.S. My initial idea was not to use it as a controller, but to create a song in Renoise built with a maximum of 8x16 steps (that fits into one “session” in the Circuit) with a limit of four tracks (2xsynth, 2xsamples) to record them via Midi cable into the Circuit, and back from the Circuit into Renoise. Like having a portable editor for the music, as a companion for the “stationary editor” Renoise in my PC. But I believe that would limit my creations to just using pitch and velocity, and all other effects and parameters would get lost. For simple melody transfer it might work. Another application is using it as a notepad, and later transfer your notes into Renoise to finish your song “at home”. :slight_smile: