Bass Station v4.14 Firmware Update News Story
The latest firmware update for Bass Station II adds five powerful and innovative new features to Novation’s hugely popular monosynth, all of them developed in response to user feedback and requests, one of those users being particularly noteworthy…
Electronic music legend Richard James, aka Aphex Twin, has already played an instrumental part in the Bass Station II story, having provided guidance for the implementation of the micro-tuning added with Firmware v2.5. His conceptual contribution to v4.14 is even more profound, however – hence the version number and release date, which pays homage to the Aphex Twin track ‘Avril 14th’.
Letting his imagination run riot, Richard envisioned the decidedly radical notion of having a discrete set of synthesis parameters assigned to each note of Bass Station II, either variations on a ‘seed’ patch, or disparate sounds designed to constitute a chimeric whole. Although this sort of thing could already be kludged using very fast program change messages, having multiple sounds active at the same time would clearly be a far more creative and efficient system.
AFX Mode is the realisation of Richard’s out-there concept. Put simply, it lets you modify your Bass Station II patch on a key-by-key basis. Use it to introduce subtle changes to a sound as you play up and down the keyboard; divide the keyboard into multiple zones (one per key if you like!), each playing its own sound; or create entire drum kits in a single preset for triggering manually or via the Arpeggiator. It’s a truly inspiring feature that really does open up a whole new world of sound design and performance possibilities.
Fixed duration envelopes
Aiding in the programming of drum sounds and plucks especially, the sustain segments of Bass Station II’s envelopes can now be set to a fixed length, moving on to the release stage regardless of when the key or trigger is actually released after playing a note. When fixed duration envelopes are enabled, the decay stage is taken out of play, and the Decay slider instead sets the duration of the Sustain stage.
Extended sub-oscillator control
With Firmware v4.14, Bass Station II’s sub-oscillator, slaved to the pitch of Oscillator 1, can be detuned using the Coarse and Fine controls. Now you can set the sub to any non-octave tracking interval you like, and knock it out of tune – subtly or dramatically – for creative effect.
Oscillator glide diverge
Prior to Firmware v4.14, both of Bass Station II’s oscillators could only be set to the same Glide time, but now you can slow down the Glide time of Oscillator 2 relative to Oscillator 1 by a variable amount, causing the two to diverge for interesting portamento effects. Just the thing for adding thickness and character to basslines, pads and leads, and certainly not a function you’ll find on many other hardware or software synths.
Envelope retrigger count
The Firmware v2.5 update added envelope retriggering, and now, to help with drum synthesis, the number of times the envelopes retrigger can be adjusted.
Introducing AFX Mode, fixed duration envelopes, extended sub-oscillator control, oscillator glide diverge and envelope retrigger count, Firmware v4.14 is a free update for all Bass Station II users, available, as ever, via the free Components Software for Mac and PC.
Novation Bass Station II Analog Synthesizer Features
- A pure analog audio signal path, reviving the spirit of the original Bass Station with an all-new design optimized for bass
- Two distinct analog filters: New ‘Acid’ filter joins the ‘Classic’ original Bass Station filter (‘Classic’ switches between low, hi and band pass with 12 and 24dB slopes)
- Comes with 64 factory patches and a further 64 user slots
- Archive and swap sounds with Patch dump
- Arpeggiator with a programmable step sequencer to store and call up patterns and sketch-out ideas
- Analog synth layout includes dedicated controls for all major parameters for hands-on control of the sound engine
- Two sync-able, tune-able oscillators with 4 waveforms, plus a third sub-oscillator for enormous bass sounds
- Fully analog distortion and filter-modulation effects and a filter overdrive for a crunchy sound-quality
- Analog effects section Flexible modulation featuring 2 Envelopes and 2 LFOs
- LFO waveforms include triangle, sawtooth, square and sample and hold
- Two ADSR envelopes are available for filter, pitch and pulse width modulation
- MIDI I/O and USB connectivity
- Two-octave (25 note) velocity sensitive synth-action keyboard with full-size keys and assignable aftertouch
Novation’s Bass Station II is an analog mono-synth geared for incredible bass, but has a sound-engine that is versatile enough to kick out sharp leads and crisp arpeggios. It brings the best elements of the original Bass Station into a brand new design with re-worked modulation, effects, filters and more; like the Bass Station, but a much bigger sound.
The signal path of the Bass Station II is pure analog - including the effects section. The hardware has been laid out in modules with dedicated pots, switches, sliders and buttons for all major parameters. You can store and recall patches on Bass Station II. Novation packs it with 64 killer factory presets, but it has space for 64 of your own sounds on the hardware, and you can store more on your computer.
The key-mech consists of 25 full sized keys that are velocity sensitive with assignable aftertouch. It has been developed as a ‘synth-action’ keyboard, where each key is individually sprung so it is light to the touch and highly responsive to the synth engine. Bass Station II is a fully class compliant MIDI device with MIDI I/O on 5 pin din ports – for connecting to other MIDI outboard – and with your computer over USB. You can even connect an external instrument and run it through Bass Station II's analog filter and effects.
Bass Station II is built on three analog oscillators and a noise generator. There are two fully independent oscillators plus a sub oscillator (which is the critical component in creating rich, analog bass sounds). Oscillators One and Two are switchable between sine, sawtooth, square and variable pulse width, and Oscillator Three - the sub osc - can be set to one or two octaves below Oscillator One. It can be square, sine or narrow pulse width, delivering the characteristically ‘fat’ bass tone.
You can select between two discrete filters - ‘Acid’ or ‘Classic’ - each with a built in overdrive for pushing filter tones from dry, to warm, to nasty! The ‘Classic’ Bass Station filter can be switched between low pass, high pass and band pass at 12 or 24dB slopes. The ‘Acid’ filter is based on a diode ladder filter design that delivers a characteristically 303-esque sound that is designed to squelch!
Bass Station II has two effects (not including the filter overdrive). Analog distortion drives circuit components to add new frequencies to the sound. Bass Station II’s Distortion function can add gentle warmth, filthy granularity and anything in between. The second effect is ‘Osc Filter Mod’ which creates a distinctive FM-type sound by using Oscillator Two to modulate the filter frequency. This is very good at crunchy, sound-mulching effects that substantially fatten up bass and lead patches.
There are two envelope generators and two low frequency oscillators (LFOs). The first envelope is an ADSR amp envelope and the second is a mod envelope that can be used to modulate filter frequency, oscillator pitch and osc pulse width. LFO One is dedicated to pitch modulation whereas LFO is used to modulate osc pulse width and filter frequency. Although it looks like there are four LFO waveforms, the ‘LFO Slew’ function can be used freely to sculpt LFOs into smoother wave-shapes creating many more LFO possibilities.
Arpeggiator and step sequencer
Novation Bass Station II’s Arpeggiator and Step Sequencer are killer performance and production tools. The Arp can be directed to run through 32 different rhythmic patterns in different directions with a switchable octave range. You can also engage the Step Sequencer. Up to four sequences can be played in – with legato and rests – and played back using any one of the 32 rhythmic patterns. As well as getting ideas down quickly and programming performance sequences, this is a brilliant way to preview patches while you are editing them.
This just scratches the surface of the synth engine. Novation Bass Station II is a powerful little synth with a lot more than first meets the eye. There are many more oscillator, envelope, LFO and modulation functions that are too numerous to detail here. The best way to experience Bass Station II is to get hands-on!
CALIFORNIA PROPOSITION 65 WARNING
WARNING: Cancer and Reproductive Harm - www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.