The novation made us laugh in February with the Circuit Rhythm, but we had almost no information other than the fact that it was based on samples and what we were able to tick off the front labels. Well, Rhythm is officially here and offering a pretty convincing shot of the Circuit’s workflow and SP-404-style battle for $ 400.
At its core the Rhythm Circuit is built on the same platform as the Circuit Tracks. It also has the same chassis (just in light gray instead of black) and rechargeable battery as the tracks. The core of all Circuits is also the eight-track 32-step sequencer and the 32-pad control surface. They also have several built-in effects, more mutations, and probability functions to add variation and evolution to your models.
You’ll also find the exact same selection of I / O ports at the bottom, including MIDI on, out and thru, analog sync, plus a USB-C port, a microSD card slot, a headphone jack, stereo audio outputs, and two audio outlets. ins.
But where the audio-ins on the Track are two mono audio feeds for the mixer, on the Rhythm are stereo ins for the sampler. And instead of having two dedicated synthetic polyphonic motors, two external MIDI tracks and four drum tracks, the Rhythm has eight championship tracks that can be anything you like. You can load track one with a few kicks and hit a hit, throw a loop shaker on track two, play a chromatically low bass sample on track three and then cut some strings on track four. And you’ll also get four more tracks to add small pieces of candy to your ears.
In addition to the reverb, delay and sidechain effects you’ll find in the Tracks, Rhythm also has what it calls Grid FX for the live show. These are punch-in effects that certainly draw some inspiration from classic sampling workstations like SP-404 and SP-303 favored by likes of J Dilla and MF Doom. There is a beat repeat, a door, a vinyl simulation, a phaser, an auto-filter, digitizing and vice versa.
Key to capturing the vibration of those classic machines no matter what the sampling characteristics. For one, you can recreate a cycle you’ve worked through these effects to bake into some compression and crackle vinyl, before cutting and rearranging your batter for even more stuttering, lo-fi goodness. But, crucially, you can also play external audio through stereo inputs and outputs and then cut it either automatically into equal pieces or manually touch pads while the sample plays to insert slices. This gives it a big head start over some other budget grooveboxes like the Elektron Model: Champions.
The big question is whether the Circuit’s workflow, which escapes a screen through a series of function pages navigating with RGB pads, will be as intuitive for manipulating samples as it is for playing bass synth. To respond however, you will have to wait for our review (which is already underway).
The Novation Circuit Rhythm is available to preorder now for $ 400 and will ship in mid-July.
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