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When we put out our Synth Issue last year, one of the biggest surprises was a schoolbus-yellow beast called the Sledge, courtesy of Studiologic. It easily earned one of our top spots for the best synths under $1000. So, when the opportunity arose to check out the Numa Compact 2 from Studiologic, we were pretty excited.
Where the Sledge is a full-on digital synth monster (with oscillators, filters, envelopes, etc.), the Numa Compact 2 is a more specific instrument that focuses its energies on the more traditional pianist/keyboardist, with acoustic and electric piano, organ, lead and bass synth sounds (along with some surprisingly effective orchestral presets and some other random tones). The first thing you’ll notice is that the unit is lightweight without feeling cheap, and the weighted keybed is not only full-sized (a bonus over other units you may be considering like the Yamaha Reface), but it’s also semi-weighted (with aftertouch, yay!) for a more realistic feel. We were not surprised, considering it comes from Fatar.
But of course, what good is a nice feel if the unit is hard to use and doesn’t sound good? Well, again, at this price point, we were very pleasantly surprised here as well. We typically don’t like menu-driven systems, but the small screen is clear and all the controls are easy to navigate. We appreciated having the tactile buttons to press, so the entire operation is not completely based in nav menus. It’s easy to bank through different sounds with a light tap of the buttons and for the most part, they all sound really good. You’ve also got a few bonus features, like zone splitting and some pretty convincing built-in fx.
Where you’d normally find pitch/mod wheels, Studiologic have option for two small, metal joystick-like controllers on the left side of the front panel, but truth be told, they’re just as easy to use for expressive purposes as a traditional wheel control. So, no worries there.
The Numa Compact 2 also comes with built-in speakers. And while they’re not the richest small speakers we’ve ever encountered, they’ll surely suffice for practice purposes. That’s one of the nice things about the unit. We can envision this as a go-to piece of equipment for practice to work on your compositions or even in a rehearsal space, since it’ll connect easily to your PA. It’ll even work as a road unit, if you just need a few select piano-based sounds for your band on tap, but don’t require the overkill of something like a Sub37 or a Sledge. And finally, it’s gonna make a pretty nice MIDI controller for you as well, when it comes time to record.
All in all, the Numa Compact 2 is an ideal solution that’s insanely versatile: it plays great, it delivers on the sounds it promises, and will be at home in the jam space, the studio and the tour van. Well played, Studiologic. Well played, indeed.
Great sounds, nice weighted keybed, ultra-portable and affordable.