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To start, what’s not to love about an analog synth under 400 bucks? The Novation Bass Station II is the spiritual successor to the original Bass Station that came out in the ’90s. While we dug the old black and blue box back in the day, we love this one even more. Controls are simply laid out, which is great, and the preset bank is thankfully not only usable, but also easy to program. The real meat, though, is in the oscillator section. While we loved the Moog Sub Phatty for its beefy sound, we went absolutely bananas for the sub-oscillator on the Bass Station II. Why? Simple – you can choose between one octave below or TWO octaves below, resulting in bass lines so deep you would swear Deadmau5 just showed up at your home studio to put on a private show.
In all seriousness, though, the Bass Station II provides a lot of unique features, considering many units at this price point try their best to be Moog clones or one-trick ponies. One touch we really dug in our hands-on test was the filter section. You’ve got a classic filter, which can be set up just how most of us like it: 4-pole 24dB low pass. But if you want to get adventurous, we recommend flipping the switch to the Acid Filter, and letting your ears dig the subtle timbral changes you can affect by making the filter high pass or band pass, and experimenting by going between the 24dB and 12dB settings.
Besides the unique filter options, the pretty decent oscillators and the nice aftertouch on the keybed itself, we were pleasantly surprised to find a board in this range that had a useful arpeggiator and simple step sequencer on board. If we had to lodge a complaint, it would be the same thing that held us back from absolutely falling head-over-heels for the original Bass Station, and that is that the construction leaves a bit to be desired. It’s not flimsy, per se, but it’s definitely not as rugged as we would have liked. The overall feel is a tad plastic-y, and there’s a bit of wobble to the knobs and switches. Not a major gripe, but worth noting if you plan on making this a road warrior.
If you want to jump into the world of analog synths, but don’t want to spend a fortune, the Novation Bass Station II might be perfect for you. Or if you want a dedicated bass-line machine with the flexibility to be a solo lead monster. Great for electronic music production and live electro sets.
Unique filter section, great presets, fantastic sub oscillator, tons of modulation options, great price.
Feels about as rugged as its predecessor, which is to say not very.
–Analog synth: brand new version of the classic Bass Station
–Two distinct analog filters: brand new “Acid” filter joins the “Classic” original Bass Station filter
–Ships with 64 factory patches and a further 64 user slots
–Pattern-based Step Sequencer and Arpeggiator
–Layout includes dedicated controls for all major parameters
–Two Oscillators plus an additional Sub Oscillator
–Flexible modulation featuring 2 Envelopes and 2 LFOs
–MIDI I/O and USB connectivity
What do you think of our review of the Novation Bass Station II analog synthesizer? Let us know in the comments below or drop a line on the Performer Magazine Facebook page or on Twitter @Performermag. And be sure to read more from the special Synth Issue of Performer Magazine.