This picture shows three pieces of equipment that ctrlbeatz uses, one of them being the novation circuit.
Novations "Circuit" groove-box is a puzzling piece. Internal Virtual-analog style synth, based on the (Super/Ultra/Mini)Nova wavetable synth system. Very expressive system with EGs and LFOs for oscillators/filters/distortion. Presets in "packs" feels cheesy and designed to show off superficial range. No screen and blank knobs, where most presets map multiple parameters non-systematically to "macro" knobs make this a "tweak and see what happens affair. Requires a (very well done) software editor to personalize... which i've been working to do. The modes/menus become very intuitive for context switching of the 8x4 grid of pads, allowing yout play parts, mix and match patterns, and control effects, but you have to push buttons to jump around alot. This is made less-clunky by momentary context-switching, but it still feels like it requires two hands to drive. I really like how the pads can be set to a specific key and scale, and send out MIDI control. It allows me to explore notes/chords/etc on external synths without using a conventional piano layout. Many of the Circuits very inspired design ideas were used on later Novation gear, such as their MK3 controllers and X-series LaunchPads.
Got this as a second groovebox. It really got my creative juice flowing. Such a little simple tool with so many useful features. 8x1 bar patterns are freely chainable, which gives me 8 bar loops, which are adequate in many cases. Patterns are MIDI, not tied to synth parameters, except when automation is used. 32 Scenes of pattenrs can be switched in realtime without interruption in sound, so that's a huge plus for a live performance. The synths are smooth and fx are lush. I really love the sound of the circuit. Build quality is superb. It runs on batteries, so I was taking it everywhere with me, and I still am sometimes. I occasionally use it as a sound module with Nord Electro. I really do not have much to be desired, considering the price of this little fella, oh and the constant updates are a bliss.
I've had a decent history with drum machines and grooveboxes starting with the Roland MC-303 in the 90's. A friend bought one of these after I got my Korg Electribe 2 and I actually sold the Electribe to get this. I just didn't like the workflow of the Korg. The Circuit's workflow is very visual and there's no LCD screen to mess with. It's a really accessible tool for making songs. You can put some headphones on and run it on batteries anywhere and the ongoing firmware updates keep adding great features like panning and drum microsteps. Great unit. I love it so much I got a 2nd one.
After reading the 61 page User Manual, I was blown away with how much technology is packed into this little jam machine. Circuit is a breeze to sequence and tweak on the fly.
UPDATE: After using Circuit for about a year, I ended up HATING it and sold it back to Guitar Center. The synth sounds are horrible.
+2 Nova synth engines, 4 drum tracks.
+Polyrhythmic 8 bar sequencers. Every bar can have a different length, as well every synth, and drums in pairs.
+"Sample flip" - though you can load one sample per drum track, and every drum track is monophonic, you can record changing samples. Very powerful.
(I should point out the memory: 64 presets (both synths share the same presets), 64 samples - 60 seconds of 16-bit mono .wav audio, 32 sessions - projects)
+Really easy to use. You turn it on and start making music.
+Portable - it runs on batteries and has a speaker built in.
+Cloud saving - When connected to a PC, you just go to https://components.novationmusic.com/ and you can backup all your sessions, samples and presets in the cloud.
-Synth editor is a bit hard to use. You can't edit presets on-board, you have to use the editor, which isn't the best designed program in the world. (They're working on a new one, VST, may be interesting)
-Only cloud saving. Though you can download samples, presets and sessions to your PC, you can't transfer it to Circuit without accessing the website. Which means no internet = no backup.
Can be used as a drum machine with 2 synth sounds or with the online updat, can be used as a sampler/ trigger for any sounds, easy to use!
This handheld box can sequence 4 drum tracks and 2 synths, 1 mono, 1 poly. It can then store up to 64 16 step sequences. Ive made about 5 beats so far on mine. I think its a good thing to have to rock parties and cookouts... or even the Aux plug on a roadtrip. Many find it ideal to control other synths via midi. It has room for improvements so I patiently await updates.
I love this little thing. I can run around with it or maybe sit in the garage with the door open on a rainy day and just chill and work on it. But then when I plug it into my computer I get all of it's functionality as well.
This has been gradually getting better and better due to firmware upgrades and is now quite a capable little box....2 synth voices and 4 drums with built in sequencing using pattern chaining to form songs. It can be a lot of fun to sit on the couch and just experiment with.
This thing was so easy to pick up and start making music on. They really did a great job making this. The sounds are hit or miss, some are great and others are just so-so but the ability to import samples makes that a non-issue
I have integrated the Circuit into my live performances with the NI Traktor S4 to do live instrumentation and on the fly beats to add to the songs I'm mixing. I love that you can easily update the sound library and create your own synth patches to fit your style.