Novation Super Bass Station by Rayek
Although relatively difficult to find these days, the Super Bass Station is a worthwhile pickup, and worth far more than what they routinely go for. A lot of hate has been simmering over the years for Novation's brand of analog monosynths although I'm not entirely sure why, other than the original being billed as a "303 clone" of sorts, which it clearly was not. The Super Bass Station is closer to a Bass Station 2 than an original Bass Station, and has a very distinct "near-SH-101" flavor.
While having it's own distinct sound, I find that this unit can be an incredibly close SH-101 imposter, as well as edging a little bit further into Moog territory. Zaps, Kraftwerk-esque sharp hits, gritty filter sweeps, searing lead sounds are it's forté. I also tend to use it a lot for higher-pitched trills and nuances. I've recreated several sounds from records where a 101 or a 202 were used with great accuracy. One thing that must be said is that it does sound a bit clinical, and the waveforms it generates lack a bit of character, but this can also be said about the 101/202 when comparing it to beefy 70s synths. Overall though, the unit can be placed anywhere an analog monosynth sound could go and fit in nicely.
Just a quick glance of what it can do in terms of sound shaping:
- Two envelope generators (great for zaps and hits)
- Two oscillators with PWM and a sub oscillator
- Multimode filter (12db/24db lowpass)
- Oscillator Sync
- 2 LFOs
- Chorus... etc.
The envelopes are very snappy, zaps, hits, drum sounds are easily achieved. The oscillators lack waveforms (no triangle or sine here), and they sound a little too clean, which can be good or bad, depending. The filter is great, 12db mode is acidic and sounds very nice, and the 24db mode is aggressive and wild, they did a very good job.
With all of this, it's incredibly hard NOT to recommend it for people looking at getting a newer analog mono. This would sit nicely beside a vintage monosynth in a studio as well. Mixing it into tracks has been very easy, it rarely needs reinforcement and sounds fantastic with basic reverb.
A knobby rack. Very few things are buried in the menu, nearly everything you need quick access to is right on the front panel. One minor quibble would be the "selector switches" between the oscillators and the LFOs. Essentially, both oscillators share a set of knobs, and a switch needs to be flipped to tell the SBS that you're adjusting this or that oscillator, and I've noticed that sometimes (maybe it's in my head) the unit gets it wrong and needs a couple more flips of the switch to get to the right selection. Other than that, there's not much more you could ask for for a 1-space rack unit in terms of control.
It's MIDI implementation is very complete as well, so if you're into sequencing CC values, it's a straightforward process.
I managed to snag mine for around 300 USD about 4 years ago, and I'd say it is worth double that, easily. As of this writing, they have rightly gone up to about 450 USD and that is still an incredibly good price. The sonic palette the SBS gives me access to has been indispensable. It's hard to recommend anything else in the $400 range as much as I'd recommend this.
I think this synth would be a bargain for anything under 500 dollars USD, it's peers are closer to the SH-101, the Bass Station 2 and sometimes the modern Moogs than the original Bass Station.
Recommended for anyone with a packed, MIDI'd studio and a rack, someone who doesn't have a Bass Station 2 or a 101, but might already have a vintage mono (did I mention the SBS has a dedicated MIDI-CV converter that can handle s-trig, v-trig, hz/v and 1v/oct?) and wants another kind of sound. I'd also recommend it as someone's first analog mono.