The time has arrived for Novation to fully reveal the new version of their popular groovebox. Does the Circuit Tracks have something new to offer?
You can’t really overstate the impact of the Novation Circuit. There’s something about the design and approach that turns quite a simple groovebox concept into a genre-busting box of musical mayhem. You’ll find them everywhere contributing to all sorts of music in all sorts of places. For many people it was the first step away from the computer into a hardware-focused workflow and it knocks around as a useful and creative thing to play with.
A successor was long overdue although over the years they’ve manipulated the firmware to open it up to all sorts of unexpected things. However, the time has come.
The Circuit Tracks doesn’t stray too far from those well-worn tracks of the original. The look is very similar. It’s a bit sleeker, classier somehow, those gum-drop buttons replaced with cool black squares that match the pads, it’s lost its blue bottom and the internal speaker.
The main functionality remains the same: You have pattern-based sequencing with 32 pads, two polyphonic digital synth tracks, four drum tracks and some performance effects. You can load your own samples into the drum tracks and this time around you have an SD card slot to help with that. The eight knobs at the top provide macro control over whatever is in focus.
What’s is new is the two MIDI tracks for running external synths and instruments. You can then route the audio of those devices back into the Circuit Tracks for mixing and effects processing via the two new mono inputs – that’s really handy. They’ve also replaced the AA battery cavity with a rechargeable one.
The rest of the improvements comes in the refinement of the workflow. Novation has worked in all the firmware updated features that appeared with Circuit as core functions with dedicated buttons and less convoluted access. They appear to have sorted out the sequencer with 8 separate tracks for all your sound sources and 8 patterns of up to 32-steps per track. You’ve got sync rates, quantised and unquantised recording, micro-steps, probability and the Mutate step-shuffle function. They added a click track, boosted the number of patches and projects, added side-chain source selection and pan automation.
It’s all still editable from the Components app if you want to get into the synth engine.
Circuit Tracks looks like a decent update to a well-regarded and enjoyable groovebox that builds on everything they’ve developed so far. It’s not a radical overhaul or mind-blowingly new but they’ve done enough to capture another generation of Circuit users who will appreciate the smoother lines and operation, and the pulling in of a couple of external synths.
No official news yet on the Circuit Rhythm that leaked at the same time as the Tracks but it should be along soon. RRP on the Circuit Tracks is £359.99/€399.
Novation Circuit Tracks Performance with Techno and Ambient Patches
Novation Circuit Tracks Workflow Demo