Novation Summit Review

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This bi-timbral, polyphonic hybrid synth is a true stunner. We found that the pro-grade synth is truly the best of both worlds, with its combination of analog sound and digital capabilities. While instruments like the Novation Peak are a bit more economical, we think that this one is worth saving up for- The extra voices, controls, and power make it worth the price.

This bi-timbral, polyphonic hybrid synth is a true stunner. We found that the pro-grade synth is truly the best of both worlds, with its combination of analog sound and digital capabilities. While instruments like the Novation Peak are a bit more economical, we think that this one is worth saving up for- The extra voices, controls, and power make it worth the price.

Novation Summit: Overview

Novation Summir review

Meet the Novation Summit: A Digital/Analoghybrid synth that boasts analog filters, digital oscillators, and a keyboard with 61 semi-weighted keys with aftertouch. This instrument was based on the Novation Peak’s technology, which was then improved upon, with additions to the voices, envelopes, new controls, etc. 

Some of the most notable features of this newer Novation include numerous new controls/buttons, as well as the ability to split and or layer patches. Overall this instrument is much more powerful than the previous one, making it ideal for industry professionals.  With hundreds of patches and presets, the world (at least the musical one) is your oyster! 

According to Amazon.com and Novation, this instrument…

Built on the innovative foundation of novation’s critically acclaimed peak, Summit is a three-oscillator-per-voice, 16-voice keyboard synth aimed at the professional or semi-professional musician seeking an inspiring, empowering instrument for use both live and in the studio. Summit effectively puts the power of two peaks at your fingertips, enabling two completely independent patches to be split or layered across the keyboard, or switched between on the fly. It also expands on peak’s layout, with many ‘hidden’ controls and functions made accessible on the front panel – FM routing, LFOs 3 and 4, all arpeggiator parameters, and more – Plus the addition of pitch and Mod wheels.

 Summit also features numerous new filter options, and an audio input for processing external sources with its reverb, chorus, and delay effects. At the heart of Summit are three digital new Oxford oscillators per voice, Hosted on the FPGA (field programmable gate array) chip. As well as generating authentic analog-style waveforms at incredibly high resolution, this also facilitates FM and wavetable synthesis for the design of rich, complex, and highly textural raw tones. Each voice feeds into a true stereo signal path comprising dual analog filters, three stages of Analog distortion, and analog vcas; while a wealth of modulation assignment options and three colorful effects bring movement, life, and polish to your patches. 

Features: 16 voices, expanded front panel controls, New filter options, a five-octave keyboard and more; multitimbral engine for splitting, stacking, and switching between two simultaneous patches; digital FPGA-generated new Oxford oscillators for analog-style, wavetable, and FM synthesis; dual analog filters, analog vcas and three stages of Analog distortion per voices; process each part or an external audio signal with reverb, chorus and delay effects, and create riffs and melodic lines with a variety of ARP modes, adjustable gate time and preset patterns.

 In Novation’s biggest update for Summit, firmware update v2.0 brings in essential improvements and a multitude of features across stereo controls, modulation, unpredictability, and effects, that give you powerful tools to shape your sound.” -Novation/ Amazon

Let’s unpack some of the information about the instrument below! 

Features

The Summit has an impressive array of features, including free software/plugins, a versatile arpeggiator, partially weighted keys, and studio-grade effects. 

Versatile Arpeggiator 

The Summit model’s arpeggiator has 33 presets, as well as a fun ‘chance’ setting. Synths are getting more and more complex, and the Novation Summit arp. Is a prime example of this. Take a listen to some of the patterns played by Tung Meister in the video.

Loads of Space

This instrument has a total of 512 memory patches and 256 presets, meaning you won’t be running out of slots or inspiration any time soon.  

Free Software and More

Each Novation Summit comes with a Lite version of Ableton (Novation instruments are optimized for Ableton). This model also comes with plugins, which are free from Sound Collective. 

The Sounds of True Analog

To me, the most impressive thing about the Novation Summit is its integration of analog and digital sounds. There’s nothing like true analog- sound waves that are produced authentically from a source. This model has analog filters, and analog variable gain amplifiers (also known as VCAS). In addition to this, each voice can be equipped with 3 different types of distortion, which is analog as well. 

Semi-Weighted Keybed 

The Summit’s keybed is partially weighted and has aftertouch. The size makes it easy to make music with a wide range as the keyboard has about 5 octaves on it. Overall the keybed feels satisfying to play- Not only do the controllers feel sleek, but the keybed is really nice, too. 

 16 Voices 

Whereas the instrument’s predecessor only had 8 voices, this synth has double that amount. With the Novation Summit, you’re highly unlikely to run out of voices. 

Digital Oscillators

The instrument has 3 NCO oscillators per voice. New Oxford Oscillators are designed by Novation and aim to combine the best of analog and digital by achieving the sound of analog oscillators while also keeping the flexibility of digital ones. 

At the heart of Summit are three digital New Oxford Oscillators per voice, hosted on the FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chip. As well as generating authentic analogue-style waveforms at incredibly high resolution, this also facilitates FM and wavetable synthesis for the design of rich, complex, and highly textural raw tones.” -Novation

New Editor

Novation’s new wavetable editor makes making music extremely efficient. Novation advertises this new editor (which is available only on the Summit and Peak models) as being able to “Supercharge” your sound design. This feature lets you draw in your own oscillator shapes, and load them into the instrument. 

Other Notable Features and Capabilities of the Novation Summit: 

  • It can split patches
  • Mod and pitch wheels
  • Single, split, layer, and dual modes
  • 50 rotaries
  • Comes with Ableton Lite and other software 
  • The addition of more parameters for LFOs 3 and 4
  • Great quality reverb
  • Effects like Lo-Fi Delay, Flanger, Analog Distortion, Chorus, and Delay onboard

Side note: It has more chorus modes than the previous mode, the Peak

Amazon Package

Amazon offers both a Novation Summit bundle and a regular Novation Summit (just the instrument). Surprisingly, both cost the same. If you get ‘just the Summit’ you’ll get a beautiful synth with wood grain sides. And if you get the package, you won’t get the more aesthetic synth, but what you will get is a better deal. 

You can view the instrument on its own here.

The Amazon package for the Summit includes the following items: 

  • Auray FP-P1L Sustain Pedal
  • Auray X-Style Piano Bench
  • Auray Double-X Keyboard Stand
  • 2x MIDI Cable

If you’re going to be at the instrument often, having a bench and stand are obvious must-haves. The addition of the sustain pedal in the package means that you can have notes held with the press of your foot- Making the recording expressive, and meaning that you have less editing to do. Lastly, the MIDI cables are another necessity, as you can’t record anything without them!

Specifications

Novation Summir keyboard

Sourced from Novation Summit’s user manual, Sweetwater.com

  • Weight: Roughly 23 pounds
  • Dimensions: 3.62″ tall  39.31″ wide, and 11.95″ deep
  • Presets: 1024
  • Arp Patterns: 33
  • Types of Waveforms: Sine, Triangle, Pulse, Sawtooth, Square
  • LFO: 2 regular, 2 global
  • Input and outputs: 2x ¼ inch inputs, 2 x ¼ inch outputs
  • Pedal Inputs: 2 x ¼ inch inputs

Who is it suitable for?

The Novation Summit is best suited for adult music producers, semi-professional and up. 

The Summit in Action

Let’s check out Sweetwater’s Novation Summit demo video with Daniel Fisher to learn more about the instrument.

Reviews

The Novation Summit was rated 4.8/5 stars on Amazon.com checked out the instrument, as well as did a deep dive into musician forms and Amazon reviews to learn more about the Novation Summit. 

Positive Reviews:

  • This is my favorite polysynth of all time. It delivers hands-on control for the most used functions and a wealth of advanced functionality for more experienced players. The sound can be anywhere from Juno smooth & warm to dirty or dark apocalyptic industrial. These will be future classics”. -Tech 6
  • “It’s worth it” -Junkie Bass Studios

There was only one review with less than 5 stars, but the buyer didn’t leave any comments. 

Pros and Cons

Novation Summir keyboard review

Pros

  • You get what you pay for… And with the Summit, you get a pro-grade instrument
  • The effects onboard are studio-grade
  • There are many, many ways to explore sound on the model
  • The keys are semi-weighted and feel really nice
  • The sounds it can make are very versatile 
  • It has more notes than other comparable models like Novation’s Peak
  • The instrument excels at producing big aka ‘fat’ synth tones
  • There are more front panel controls than older Novation models
  • Includes new filters onboard
  • External audio can be run through the filters (unlike some comparable models)
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty 
  • There are tons of buttons- Making it a favorite for music ‘maximalists’

Unsurprisingly, there aren’t a lot of bad reviews or big cons with this instrument. 

Cons

  • The instrument is complex to use
  • You can’t set mod slots as destinations
  • It’s expensive
  • Some musicians found the number of voices was too limited for them 
  • The type of aftertouch it has is global aftertouch

As a whole, this instrument was designed for pros- It has a lot going for it, but the onboard hub could be difficult to navigate for newbies. Naturally, this pro-level instrument is a bit pricey, as you’d expect.

One con is that quite a few folks mentioned that they don’t care much for the instrument’s global aftertouch. Global Aftertouch (Aka. Monophonic aftertouch)- a type of aftertouch that doesn’t consider each individual key as Polyphonic aftertouch does. 

Comparable Instruments

The Novation Peak is the instrument most often compared to the Summit. Some musicians call the Novation Summit “2 Peaks in 1” referring to the increased power and capability of the newer model.

 The Peak costs significantly less (Around $1,400-1,600 USD) making it the more economical of the two but is very similar to the Summit. The Novation Summit does have more available filter combinations and portability than the Peak, as well as only 8 voices compared to the Summit’s 16.  The Peak is a great option for those looking for a similar instrument that costs a bit less. 

The Hydrasynth is another instrument you’ll probably hear about. Some musicians say it feels that the Hydrasynth is similar to, but more ambient than this one. This instrument is made by ASM (Ashun Sound Machines) and is often described as a “Sound designer’s dream”. This synth is digital, has 49 keys, and only costs $1,100. It has 128 slots for patch memories and is a great semi-weighted keyboard synth as well. 

Quick View 

Keys 61 semi-weighted keys
Touch sensitivity  Velocity sensitive with aftertouch
Sounds 16 voices
Recording capabilities  USB to MIDI/ MIDI out
Metronome N/A
Polyphony  16 notes
Speakers N/A
Headphones No headphones in the bundles, and ¼ inch headphone jack in the back
Accessories Amazon bundle includes

Auray FP-P1L Sustain Pedal, Auray X-Style Piano Bench, Auray Double-X Keyboard Stand, and 2x MIDI Cable

Price point  $2,229.99

Summit: Conclusion

We hope you’ve enjoyed this Novation Summit review- Thanks for sticking around until the end! In conclusion, this polyphonic synth and bundle is an impressive combination of capabilities and accessories. While it might be a bit complicated for beginning producers and hobbyists, the Novation Summit makes for an excellent upper-intermediate plus keyboard synth. 

Music quote of the week: 

A lot of musicians talk about how they were into music from the start; they always wanted to be musicians. It wasn’t like that for me. I didn’t think of it as a job or a career – it was just something that was constant.“ -Mitski

10Expert Score
Novation Summit Review This bi-timbral, polyphonic hybrid synth is a true stunner. We found that the pro-grade synth is truly the best of both worlds, with its combination of analog sound and digital capabilities. While instruments like the Novation Peak are a bit more economical, we think that this one is worth saving up for- The extra voices, controls, and power make it worth the price.
PROS
  • You get what you pay for… And with the Summit, you get a pro-grade instrument
  • The effects onboard are studio-grade
  • There are many, many ways to explore sound on the model
  • The keys are semi-weighted and feel really nice
  • The sounds it can make are very versatile
  • It has more notes than other comparable models like Novation’s Peak
  • The instrument excels at producing big aka ‘fat’ synth tones
  • There are more front panel controls than older Novation models
  • Includes new filters onboard
  • External audio can be run through the filters (unlike some comparable models)
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty
  • There are tons of buttons- Making it a favorite for music ‘maximalists’
CONS
  • The instrument is complex to use
  • You can’t set mod slots as destinations
  • It’s expensive
  • Some musicians found the number of voices was too limited for them
  • The type of aftertouch it has is global aftertouch

Videos: Novation Summit Review

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