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The Novation K-Station thread Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 15th September 2011
  #1
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dhollmusik's Avatar
The Novation K-Station thread

Surprisingly we haven't had a single thread with the K-Station in the title.

It arrived yesterday after about a year of hunting and has quickly become one of my favourite synths.

I wonder why no one talks about it? The big sell is that it's a great-sounding knobby VA keyboard small enough to fit in your rucksack Not quite as high-end as the Virus or Supernova, but good enough to feature effortlessly in the mix. Better-sounding than its mini-me peers, certainly (Micron & Microkorg...both of which I have experience with).

The best thing about it is its brilliant UI...it's so playable, you can evolve a patch from a flat square bass to a huge dreamy drone-pad within seconds...


...which is good news for my droney jam doughnuts:




Anyone else have the K-Station and fancy sharing your audio with it? I'll be doing a review in our new subforum once I've had it a little longer.
Old 15th September 2011
  #2
I have just bought one today!
It will be here tomorrow!
Old 15th September 2011
  #3
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flat's Avatar
I always thought it had that nice novation smooth/mellow charactor. Very nice layout as well. The only thing that I thought was a pain was that they didn't use the LCD to display patch names???

I'm unsure if this was ever rectified in any update, but it seemed such a silly omission. Another half octave would have been nice too.

Very nice little synth though.
Old 15th September 2011
  #4
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d1rtynyc's Avatar
I loved it when it came out and almost bought it after playing it every day at work in 2001.
They have been going for really cheap lately and was considering picking up one. I saw a GS classified post with one for less then $200 which I missed. And just yesterday saw one for $225 on CL.

Really nice value, a steal really IMO.

I would highly suggest one to anyone learning synthesis because the layout is so good and nearly everything has a knob or slider.

Really for anyone who wants something new in their set-up for uber cheap.

Edit: Rouge has one for $225 right now.
http://www.roguemusic.com/keyboards.html

Someone get it.
Old 15th September 2011
  #5
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flat's Avatar
One thing I always wondered, how similar is it to the X-Station? I've never quite worked out the major difference sound-wise.
Old 15th September 2011
  #6
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d1rtynyc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by flat earth View Post
One thing I always wondered, how similar is it to the X-Station? I've never quite worked out the major difference sound-wise.
I remember it sounded very similar, but with a USB audio interface and cooler Pitch/Mod control with a X/Y pad.

I never spent too much time with that one though. I was obsessed with Waldorf and the Neuron at the time. Then again, who wasn't. heh
Old 15th September 2011
  #7
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dhollmusik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcpepe View Post
I have just bought one today!
It will be here tomorrow!
Great! Let's hear some audio when you're ready


Quote:
Originally Posted by flat earth View Post
The only thing that I thought was a pain was that they didn't use the LCD to display patch names???

I'm unsure if this was ever rectified in any update, but it seemed such a silly omission. Another half octave would have been nice too.
I don't mind the numbers at all...I've never needed my patches named. If it's critical just stick a post-it note on the synth to remind you which numbers are your favourite patches.

Regarding the extra keys, I guess it may have been possible to move the mod/pitch wheels further up (also making them smaller) and adding maybe 5 or 6 extra keys in that space. Still, I much prefer 25 full-size keys over 37 mini-keys.



Quote:
Originally Posted by d1rtynyc View Post
They have been going for really cheap lately and was considering picking up one. I saw a GS classified post with one for less then $200 which I missed. And just yesterday saw one for $225 on CL.
Edit: Rouge has one for $225 right now.
Now that is really cheap...surprising as normally Novation gear is more expensive in the dollar areas than in Europe (because of origin).

The reason I've been hunting for a year is because I didn't want to spend over €200 (I'm a bit of a cheapskate, haha). But yeah, it took me a year because all the ones I kept seeing were €250-€300.


Quote:
Originally Posted by flat earth View Post
One thing I always wondered, how similar is it to the X-Station? I've never quite worked out the major difference sound-wise.
About a year ago when I began my hunt I did some detailed research so I knew exactly which mini-synth I wanted (having discounted the ones with tiny keys):


X-Station pros:

- semi-weighted keys with aftertouch control
- loads of controls
- also an audio interface


X-Station cons:

- synthesis is based on the KS-engine (which I've played and found weak and a little boring). Interestingly enough, I heard a lot that the V-Station sounds almost as good as the K-Station, so you could in theory use the X-Station to control the V-Station if you're more PC-inclined than me.


Xio Synth pros:

- good aggressive filters
- lauded key action


Xio Synth cons:

- not impressed by online audio demos (may have been user error, tho')


K-Station pros:

- almost every single online demo sounded great (may have a lot to do with the ultra-friendly interface). The synth engine is the same as the A-Station which is trickled down from the Nova/Supernova...far superior to my ears than the later KS-engine.

(no K-Station cons as things like PC-intergration and better key action are mere bonuses and not that essential in my decision-making process).


So the K-Station won that little head-to-head purely based on the sound I was hearing online. And now that it's finally arrived and I've had a good long spiel with it I definitely made the right choice.


So now that I've scratched the mini-synth off my slut-list all that remains really are two very special full-size synths:

DX7-IIFD - to replace my sold and missed DX7)
Prophet-600 - to replace my other Polysix...keeping the first P6, of course

...oh yeah, and swapping my Virus KB for the Indigo. Apart from that I think any other purchases in the coming months and even next year will be of the spontaneous non-essential über-slutty kind.

I do really wanna try the D50 at some point...
Old 15th September 2011
  #8
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Mr. Varaldo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by flat earth View Post
I always thought it had that nice novation smooth/mellow charactor. Very nice layout as well. The only thing that I thought was a pain was that they didn't use the LCD to display patch names???

I'm unsure if this was ever rectified in any update, but it seemed such a silly omission. Another half octave would have been nice too.

Very nice little synth though.
Flat, IIRC from reading the manual (or the Novation website, or a review) it was because Novation wanted to keep 100% patch compatibility between the K-Station and the A-Station (the rack version of it, which clearly doesn't have a large LCD display but just an alpha-numeric little one)

AFAIK they never updated the K-Station os version to have them show the patch names, which yes, is a pity considering how large it is...

I agree, great little 3-oscillator synth!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhollmusik View Post

Xio Synth cons:

- not impressed by online audio demos (may have been user error, tho')
Have you listened to my Xio demos? They were straight from the factory patches- i thought the Xio was an excellent machine... with a similar sound to the A/K-Station but a bit more mid-rangey / aggressive, the excellent gated arpeggio, and the same wonderful chorus effect that's the Novation trademark

Really the only bad thing I could say about the Xio is that it didn't have MIDI IN, so if you have the 25-key model and want to control it via a longer keyboard, you can't unless you want to fiddle and go through a computer USB interface etc.

I've always really liked the Novation sound, in fact, I'd like to get a Supernova

It's also one of the rare VAs that can do the "mid-80s Roland sound" well, I think
Old 15th September 2011
  #9
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dhollmusik's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Varaldo View Post
Have you listened to my Xio demos? They were straight from the factory patches

I've never been one to judge a book by its cover (or a synth by its presets). But I think this was before I discovered Synthmania...since I learned about your site it's become one of my first points of reference

I mostly listened to Youtubers and some forum stuff...I guess because the UI is not quite as friendly as the K meant that most of the audio demos were a little amateur.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Varaldo View Post
Really the only bad thing I could say about the Xio is that it didn't have MIDI IN
Wow...that is a huge omission...so glad I didn't buy it then.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Varaldo View Post
I've always really liked the Novation sound, in fact, I'd like to get a Supernova.
I've had the Supernova and heartily recommend it. I only didn't keep it because it was outranked by my Virus KB and Nord Modular (which are both pretty amazing synths), but it still got a fair bit of use in my little experimentations. It's a lot easier to blend in a mix than the Virus & Nord (not sure why that is, but that's how it turned out anyway).

I'd rank it above my now-sold AN1X and non-VA's like the DW-8000, Microwave and Wavestation....the User Interface is the most important aspect of a synth after its sound, and the UI of the Supernova is excellent. Very playable and feels high-quality too.

It also sounds that little bit more high-end than my K-Station, especially the internal effects and bottom-end. But I wanted K-Station over Supernova because I wanted a small keyboard synth in my setup and this way I still get to keep the Novation sound while sticking to a maximum of 3 VA's in the studio (classing the Nord G1 as a VA here).


If you already have a nice master keyboard (I'm sure you do) then get the rack version...save yourself a bit of money and space then.
Old 15th September 2011
  #10
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d1rtynyc's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Varaldo View Post
Have you listened to my Xio demos?
WOW!
What a site.
Just book marked it.

Big thumbs up for the great work.
Old 15th September 2011
  #11
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I've had my K for about 6 months now. When I first had it I was amazed, it sounded really good with great interface for a bargain price. I like the distortion on it, a bit of that (say 4-7) really adds some subtle grit to the sound. The FM is an interesting addition to explore. I've tried V-Station but it seems a bit unstable on Vista 64.

I've had to downgrade the OS from V2 to the default (V1) as I was getting semi-crashes where the audio would disappear but the interface carries on as normal. It usually happened with simultaneous knob twiddling and playing. It's happened once or twice with V1 but not every 10 mins as I was getting before.
Old 19th September 2011
  #12
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dhollmusik's Avatar
more k, please







Quote:
Originally Posted by rockmanrock View Post
I've had my K for about 6 months now.
let's hear some, matey
Old 22nd September 2011
  #13
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shaft9000's Avatar
 

i had one for about a week and traded it along w/ my matrix1000 for a jd-990 and a micron = much happier

after having a Supernova2 then the K, the sound of the K-Station just couldn't compare. It has an underpowered CPU or something that causes problems in the delay and in the filter higher drive/resonance parameters can get ugly
Old 22nd September 2011
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhollmusik View Post
let's hear some, matey
Here you go, a load of muddy pads and extended boring areggiations

k-station_twiddles.mp3
Old 22nd September 2011
  #15
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Jorg's Avatar
I have the Rack version and love it!


It's one of the few digital hardware va synth that I have kept on and still like and use it almost daily.
Old 22nd September 2011
  #16
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Hazmatic's Avatar
I owned a K-Station for a while. Bought it for real cheap mostly due to the fact that the envelope slider caps and stems had all broken off. I was able to pump out some real nice leads and pads with it. Mine was a bit glitchy and would freeze up at times, especially when tweaking the LFO's. Absolutely HATED the fact that the sounds were stored as 3-digit numbers. Ugh. Needless to say, I ended up selling it and made my money back and some.
Old 13th December 2011
  #17
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any tips on how I can get this to work with FL? I have a usb to midi cable, but not sure about the settings. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.
Old 13th December 2011
  #18
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NEXUS-6's Avatar
 

Bought new when it came out then traded for an Ion missed it and bought the K rack. Also havs a Supernova II Pro X Rack keepin both
Old 19th April 2012
  #19
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Novation K-Station For Sale

Hello team,

I have one for sale at the moment if any of you are interested. I love this synth, but the bills hate me.

http://honolulu.***************/oah/msg/2966006451.html

I'd be willing to come down on the price for the team
Old 12th February 2013
  #20
Gear Nut
 
dwbkeys's Avatar
 

Lovely bugger

This is my main Gig/jam synth living in the city and for plane travel. The day Fits perfectly in a Line6 pedal board case that I got at GC a couple years ago.

It's a warm sound that's great on the move. External input is fun for experimental stuff like running your ipod through it.

Multi-purpose knobs can be frustrating. If you're in the moment and you want to change the Pitch Mod Amount, you have to do each oscillator one at a time. So, if you want them to move in parallel, you would technically have to remember the amount number and set it 3 different times as you select each different OSC. There's a lot of synths like that today, but if I was gonna name a drawback of the K-Station it would definitely be that.

Y'all just got me thinking, tho, that I should take it out in the studio. I always leave it packed and ready to go. My only Polys in the studio are the DSS-1 and D-50, so it might be a nice modern sound to record!

As far as key shortages, sometimes if I'm not too lazy I'll play out with a master keyboard and send Midi to the K-station putting it on a Crane (laptop stand). But still you really want two devoted hands to freq this guy the way it deserves.

And that's my ode to K....
Old 12th February 2013
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Worth mentioning that Novation's new LaunchKey controllers come bundled with the V-station and Bass Station plugins... and they're really cheap, $149 for the 25-key. I haven't used V-station myself but I would assume they would have just ported the K-station code as directly as possible rather than rewriting it. As someone mentioned the V-station software is compatible with A/K-station patches.

If you just care about studio use or don't mind taking a laptop around, seems to be an extremely cost-effective way to get the Novation sound in your arsenal. Dunno how the build quality or keybed is on the LaunchKey yet, though.
Old 12th February 2013
  #22
Gear Nut
 

The kstation was my first VA synth, that taught me all the basics of subtractive synthesis. I bought it brand new when it first came about 11 years ago. I remember it being praised by all the major music magazines and was on backorder at all of the online stores. It was sort of like the minibrute of it's time in terms of hype. If you ask me, it sort of popularized the whole mini-synth idea. Fast-forward to now and I'm surprised how everyone has forgotten about it and are now jumping on the whole second hand buying craze.

I was happy to see Novation expand on it with the ks4 and 5. The additional filter options were one thing that would have really added to the kstation. Despite the improvements, it just really seemed like no one cared that much for them and were discontinued rather quickly. After that, I feel like Novation went downhill. I tried buying an x-station but it felt like a cheap plastic controller and I exchanged it for a alesis micron. All the newer Novation synths really seem to lack the knobby interface and build quality.

The best thing about the kstation is how simplistic it is to use. However, the basic straightforward synthesis could be what eventually limits you. Unlike my micron and a lot of the newer synths out there, the kstation doesn't do anything advanced like modulation routing. Regardless, I still love it for what it does do and would probably get rid of the micron before I'd get rid of the kstation.
Old 13th February 2013
  #23
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GYang's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jorg View Post
I have the Rack version and love it!


It's one of the few digital hardware va synth that I have kept on and still like and use it almost daily.
The low cost VA that I appreciate very much (and just few digisynths got my appreciation).
Old 29th January 2015
  #24
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Geissler's Avatar
Just picked one up the other day for £150, mint condition, it's a winner! Simple and friendly interface, great sound. Will throw up some demos once I'm more comfortable with it. Agree that this board is underrated, especially at these prices.
Old 29th January 2015
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by flat earth View Post
One thing I always wondered, how similar is it to the X-Station? I've never quite worked out the major difference sound-wise.
I'm not 100% sure as I've never owned or used the K, but I have the x-station, originally purchased as an all-rounder, with audio io, synth and great control surface.

I still use it, regularly, and I really like it and the sounds too. It's the one small grab and go thing I can take anywhere and given that and a laptop you could really do everything necessary to make music. Arpegiator, battery powered, audio ins, spdif, tons of controls, polyphonic, unison and sync modes, 3 oscs + ring mod + noise per voice.

The X-station can load all A, V and K station patches I believe. I've got loads of patches although interested to share more.

I think it's synth sound is pretty good. The X-Station is in the same K/KS synth engine based synth, presume the K-station is similar sounding (think they all are) and they are all pretty good IMHO. Sometimes while using it with all those controls at your fingertips you can forget it's all-digital, it may not be the best VA, but it's decent and very accessible! Very well integrated and novation seem to put decent key beds in these things, even if they don't have many keys on the smaller synths. Great thing about the x-station is also the controller side, I have controller templates for most of my outboard hardware, making them all instantly very tweak-able in a synth user friendly layout. Today it's controlling my recently upgrades sequential max, that has like no controls on it whatsoever, so transforming the inaccessible to the very accessible in a single step.

From what I read, all the early novation VAs get good review, that's K, V, A, KS, supernova etc. The K/KS/X being like a scaled down supernova. If you don't need multi-timbrality and some of the other additional supernova features, you're in luck with these little gems!
Old 29th January 2015
  #26
Lives for gear
I had a KS-Rack for just under a year, at first I loved it's features and liquid filter, after a while I got a bit tired of it's weak oscillators and overall lack of grunt. I did love the interface though and the KS-Rack looked nice in the rack all lit up (but sound takes priority over looks and features for me).

Not that it was bad, horrible or any such thing, it could do a number of sounds nicely but overall I felt it was the weakest link in my chain at the time. It had little character or presence, it sounded more like my VSTis than my other synths. Generally I'm not much of a standard VA sound person though, so different tastes no doubt.

I've had 2 AN1x (1 before and 1 after KS-Rack) and prefer those by far.
Old 16th May 2017
  #27
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A.I. Batule Chee's Avatar
Hello there!
Sorry for resurrecting this old thread, but I wasn't sure if my question was worth its own thread. So here it goes: I have a k-station since new, and have been gasing for the bass station 2 since it came out a few years ago. But haven't pulled the trigger because it seems to me that it has so much in common, both in functions and sonically, with the k-station. Now, probably many of you are thinking I'm being ridiculous by saying this, but even some presets sound the same!
Do any of you have both to compare?
Do you find them to overlap?
Would you notice any difference in the mix?
Would a monologue be a more suitable choice given my gear selection and the fact that I have the k-station?
Thanks in advance!
Old 16th May 2017
  #28
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A.I. Batule Chee's Avatar
BUMP!

Anyone?
Old 16th May 2017
  #29
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konputa's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.I. Batule Chee View Post
BUMP!

Anyone?
Hmm good question as I too am considering the BS2. I have a KS-Rack and I certainly don't recall it being a 1:1 replacement for the original BS. Alas, I've not played the BS2 yet so I'm in the same situation as you.

As far as the KS goes, I find it very easily finds a place in a mix and I still have it from when I first purchased it in 2005. It's not overly complex, it is simply immediate and usable though. Anyway, I just uploaded a :30 demo made with KS-rack and drum samples if you're interested. Hopefully someone can chime in on the question of overlap.

https://soundcloud.com/konputa/lms-quiet-dog-loop
Old 16th May 2017
  #30
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A.I. Batule Chee's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by konputa View Post
Hmm good question as I too am considering the BS2. I have a KS-Rack and I certainly don't recall it being a 1:1 replacement for the original BS. Alas, I've not played the BS2 yet so I'm in the same situation as you.

As far as the KS goes, I find it very easily finds a place in a mix and I still have it from when I first purchased it in 2005. It's not overly complex, it is simply immediate and usable though. Anyway, I just uploaded a :30 demo made with KS-rack and drum samples if you're interested. Hopefully someone can chime in on the question of overlap.

https://soundcloud.com/konputa/lms-quiet-dog-loop
Sounds good! It'd be interesting to hear how it evolves, you should make it longer.
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