Novation is incredibly good at providing performance options and creative solutions for music-production puzzles. Their first product, released in 1992, was a portable battery-powered controller keyboard for the Yamaha QY10, which turned the music workstation into what some consider the first fully portable music-creation system. The same philosophy behind the MM10 has continued to be a regular theme, with innovations such as Automap and the Launchpad series providing new and inspiring ways to engage with other successful products. At the same time, Novation has created several popular synthesizers of their own, finding favor with electronic artists ranging from Orbital and ATB to Jean Michel Jarre.
Starting with the original Bass Station Keyboard, introduced in 1993, Novation's hardware synthesizers have been mainstays in the world of electronic music production. A large part of that has been the influence of Novation's premier technical director and longtime design consultant, Chris Huggett, who came to Novation already famous in the industry for his work on the Electronic Dream Plant (EDP) Wasp and Oxford Synthesizer Company (OSC) OSCar keyboards. His advice was instrumental in the creation of the Bass Station and Drum Station, which used emerging analog modeling technology to re-create many popular synth and electronic percussion sounds. The Supernova launched Novation synths into a new sphere of popularity in 1998, and keyboards such as the Ultranova, Mininova, and Bass Station II continued this success well into the following millennium.
When Novation embraced the virtual instrument revolution in 2005 by introducing the first SL series keyboards, they didn't just create versatile MIDI controllers, they created an impressively sophisticated software platform called Automap. Automap's claim to fame is that it automatically adapts control messages and MIDI data between Novation hardware and music software, mapping common hardware controls to primary MIDI continuous controllers. As of Automap 3 PRO, the system even allows Novation controllers to send ASCII keyboard commands, allowing users to control software that's not compatible with standard MIDI controllers. Between the automatic MIDI assignment and advanced shortcuts Automap provides, creative artists working with virtual instruments are able to spend less time setting up their gear, and more time creating music.
Launch Series Controllers
Novation developed a special relationship with the Ableton Live user base in 2009, when they released their first Launchpad MIDI controller. This remarkably simple 8 x 8 grid of RGB-backlit pads provided artists working in Live with a hardware analog of the music-creation DAW's software layout, offering hands-on control over the matrix of loops, scenes, and many important parameters. Following the success of the Launchpad, Novation developed an entire series of controllers expanding on the original idea, establishing popular product lines including the LaunchKey and the Launch Control series.