by Robin Vincent | Approximate reading time: 2 Minutes
Nina

Nina  ·  Source: Tonelab.tv

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A pre-NAMM tease has emerged that features Nina, a 12-voice analogue polysynth with motorised knobs. Maybe this is the ultimate synth preset recall?

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Nina

We don’t know much beyond a YouTube short and a couple of Instagram posts. These all come from the Melbourne based Tonelab.tv who usually produces demo videos and tutorials on classic studio gear. Other than the name Nina I can’t see a manufacturer name or logo anywhere on it.

But, what’s important is what happens to those knobs. Check this out.

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From the description in a couple of Instagram posts, we know it’s going to be at the NAMM show. We know it has 12 voices and is at least partially analogue. I can see two VCOs and a Wave section that could perhaps offer a wavetable oscillator. The mixer section seems to be able to blend between the oscillators, Wave and XOR cross-modulation. There’s a variable shaped filter with its own ADSR, a VCA with an ADSR and some effects on the output.

But what about those knobs? It appears that everything is physically in motion. While it’s something very familiar in software it’s not so common in hardware. With any synth with presets, we know how annoying it can be that once you switch to a new preset the front panel no longer reflects the patch. Nina appears to take care of that very dramatically. I wonder if this movement extends to modulation? If you patch the LFO to the cutoff does the cutoff move in response? Couldn’t that be problematic in how fast it can move and how you can interrupt that movement to take back manual control? Maybe it’s just for preset recall or morphing between sounds? You’ll notice that the word MORPH is on the display.

Evidently, we’re going to have to wait to find out. Motorised controls on hardware do tend to be notoriously expensive.

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2 responses to “NAMM 2022: Nina 12-Voice Polysynth with spinning knobs”

  1. iixorb says:

    What a fantastic idea; pricey no doubt but a great innovation. I know mixing consoles have had motorised faders for years, but I’ve never seen it on a synth. I bet Sequencial, Oberheim and Moog are ‘peering over the fence’ at this one….

    Regarding LFO modulation of – say – cutoff (as mentioned in the article). I wouldn’t imagine that the cutoff knob would physically move left and right accordingly; it wouldn’t be able to keep up!! I suppose the knob just moves to the position it was set to when the patch was saved, whilst the wibbly-wobbly stuff just happens in the background- like any synth, really. But yeah, I get the point – taking back physical control of the cutoff could result in a sudden parameter jump, depending on where the LFO cycle is at that moment.

  2. pfrf says:

    Considering we have endless encoders with lights for reference, this doesn’t seem all that smart, but maybe there is some benefit here that will surprise me. Flying faders are great because, obviously, a fader doesn’t rotate and a physical position is necessary, but motorized knobs seem to me like a (breakable) gimmick.

    My digital piano has endless encoders with position lights that change with presets or with motion. My mixer has motorized faders and lights for the encoder positions. Those systems works perfectly.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for Sequential, Oberheim, or Moog to adopt this already surpassed technology, although I would love it if all synth manufacturers would use encoders with lights like the Nord 3 did or like Yamaha do now.

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