€ 26,00 (Euro) to
this paypal address: [wcologarb at gmail.com] writing "peak
& summit patches"
+ your email in the title / note.
I will send the
soundset after I get notified about your payment
(max 24 hours).
Via Debit / Credit Card:
Send me an e-mail letting me
know you'd like to have your card charged - I will send you a payment request
and it will be processed by my Paypal and your bank (you don't have to own a Paypal account,
your card is enough, it's 100% safe -
here's full explanation).
How many patches?:
You will receive all the sounds from my Youtube & Soundcloud demos plus extra sounds (250 original presets + their variations = 254 presets in total).
What format / import method?:
My patches come under the name "WCOG" in a soundbank
saved as a sysex file exported directly from my Peak & Summit. They will work on
both synths! Also, you don't need any custom / external wavetables. All you need
is a standard factory unit of Peak or Summit. In the
demo I'm sometimes using the bi-timbral setting of the Summit (multimode with
patch A and patch B active). If you have a Peak, you will receive the soundpack as a collection of single layer
patches. If you have a Summit, you will also get single layer patches plus the
multimode setup from the demo.
Any external processing?:
I did not use
any external FX in the demo;
all the delays, reverbs, noises and
other effects are part of the Peak /
& mod matrix.
I recorded my demo straight through an audio
Notes on grades lower than 3/3:
can be very modern, but the specs are rather "classic"
relatively limited filter & fx section, no wave modifiers (like in Argon8)
but not as dense as the champions (like Rev-2)
but hi-fi most of the time, no vocal / formant filters, no phaser
aforementioned limitations and no sequencer
ease of use:
cumbersome position of display (Summit)
THE GOOD: NOVATION REBORN
Deciding to buy this synth (Summit) was the hardest
mental exercise. The synth was kind of low-profile, not stirring very much hype
or excitement in the synth world. Also, I still remembered the
Novation Nova II and the
I owned around 2008. Those synths had deep engines and impresive, full-spectrum
sound, but there was an
element in the inherent Novation timbre that I just couldn't fully accept. I
didn't "gel with it" and I'm quite sure I had not used those synths in any of my
productions, which is always a shame and a red light / alarm bell. That's why I was very reluctant to buy the Summit. I was afraid of going through the
same story - powerful synth creating a less than powerful user.
But something changed in those 12 years and
when I finally unboxed and powered my brand-new Summit up, I was surprised. It sounded
great from the very beginning, and it's not often
that deep synths sound great right out of the box. I'm even tempted to
sounded like a totally different synth, because even though it still retained the "Novation
sound" (which I'll describe later on), it surely sounded noticeably different. There was
a kind of breathing space, smoothness and "luminosity" in the tone - a
great overall balance of the various
ingredients. I quickly learned that the unison, the 12db filter and the "dense"
(supersaw-esque) sawtooth waves, plus the extraordinary reverb are pure magic. It happens for the first time that I'm playing a wavetable synth
and I never get tired of hearing its sound, no matter how many hours or weeks
I've been playing it. I remember when Novation announced the
/ Summit it was hard not to notice the "FPGA NCO OXFORD oscillators"
but to me it sounded like yet another marketing WTF gibberbabble and I simply turned
a deaf ear to it. Now I think this might be the reason behind
this new & improved Novation timbre.
THE GOOD: THE "NOVATION SOUND"
So what is the "Novation sound"? At the
beginning it seems like a mix of
two things: being "pro" and "neutral" at the same time. Some people will call
the neutral part "meh" / "characterless" just like in the case of
Modal Argon8. And
since both brands come from the UK, it's tempting to say there exists
a "British school" of making synths. Imagine (or recall) the stereotypical behavior of the well-mannered British
aristocrats. Stylish, decent, respectful, competent and not transgressing one another's
space by more than an arm-length (at least out in the open when everybody's
looking). Or think about the proverbial "stiff upper lip" of the Brits, their composure, self-control, not showing their true feelings, not making a scene,
etc. Now try to transfer these social attributes onto
sound. To my ears this sound is very smooth, clean, civilized, refined and solid like an aged,
oak-barrel Scotch whisky. There is no "West Coast" (Sequential, Oberheim) type
of unstable texture in it. There is no "East Coast" (Ensoniq, Alesis) type of
unanticipated irregularity or "creative chaos" in it. I think I would place this new Novation
sound closer to Japan on my globe of timbres, but to be honest I think the place
that it comes from - the UK being right in the middle between Japan and the US -
very well reflects and symbolizes the nature of this sound. I just can't point my finger and describe any specific ingredient of that
timbre in isolation. There's no trace of any kind of Eastern or Western "twang" in this fomal
On the one hand, the new Novation Peak / Summit synths sound like the best era of Roland
- Jupiters, Junos, even the dusty JX-3P. This is the element that I've been looking for
in the last 15 years and the flavor I found missing in
all of the "modern vintage" synths. Sequential synths sound great & cool,
but it's the "Prophet" sound, whereas I needed the bouncy-ness and the
softness of the
Roland sound. Peak and Summit have this! (Summit also has more: a kind of
Oberheim-y sound thanks to its dual filter which the Peak lacks.)
On the other hand I was surprised when I managed to
create something that resembled a peculiar patch from my US-born
Alesis A6 Andromeda. Then I
heard something that could come out of the
Moog Sub-37 / Grandmother / Matriarch and that's
when I realized it makes no sense to try to put a label on the new Novation
sound - whether it be Roland or Oberheim or Andromeda - if you go into the "vintage"
direction, your Peak / Summit will acceptably mimick the late 70's / early 80's VCOs / VCFs
(in a "clean" way).
Should you go the other way, you won't get disappointed either. The smooth / cinematic sound plus the various oscillator features
will usher you into the "modern / digital" realm, and you'll
be able to dial in more varied textures & wavetable soundscapes reminiscent
Waldorfs or Synclavier. Back in the day I felt the same kind of appreciation when I had my
German-made Virus TI. The Peak / Summit, just like the Virus, have an extreme
ability to sway in various directions while still sounding like themselves,
which is a very peculiar state, because I would say there is no "self".
Anyways, to put a long story short - the Peak /
Summit timbre is like a blend
of the classic, raw (Moog-ish / Oberheim-y) synthy sound and the more clay-ish, grainy sound
of other competitors like the aforementioned Virus TI (but leaning more to the
hi-fi side). It's tempting
to say the Novation sound is like a jack-of-all-trades while being a master of
none, but this would have to be understood in a
positive sense as an extremely good state where the synth is very responsive to your input
/ tolerant to any modulations you might inflict on it and each hour spent with it produces a ton of new
patches (and they all "make sonic sense", so to speak). It's kind of like in a modular setup where there is no "one sound", because all
the modules add up to create a more generic sound rather than one with defined
personality, but the potential for patch creation seems endless once you accept
the fact that you have to know your way around all the cables. Here, instead of
cables, you have to uncover and adjust some things hidden in menus. There's not a lot
of them, but many times they are essential to transform the synth into something
more than just a factory-preset playback-machine. Once you learn how the distortion, noise,
FM & FX routing influence the sound, you'll work wonders.
INTRO TO THE BAD...
SHOW ME THE GUYS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS DESIGN
I WANT TO PUNISH THEM. They compromised what could have been a perfect synth for me.
This might be a needlessly exagerrated rant, but I have to warn you, because
Summit's architecture & engine limitations might prove disappointing, especially when you buy
after a Hydrasynth or
a REV-2 (or
in other words, when you've been pampered & spoilt by the Hydrasynth / REV-2).
1. Summit has the worst display location of all
synths I've come across. Why did the designers of the Hydrasynth, Alesis Ion,
Prophet REV-2 or Korg Opsix put the screen in the middle? Because it makes
sense! After a couple of days I got a really troubling neck pain from the weird
position I had to employ to edit my Summit, which resulted in a feeling of deep frustration.
I felt excited by the synth and I wanted to play it, but on the other hand I did
not like the prospect of straining my body again. I thought "eh, I'd better
go and watch a movie instead". (Peak doesn't have this
2. There's no way to peek (peak?) the value of a parameter.
You will only see it after you move a knob and destroy the original value. We
should have a solution for this (something like the "show button" in Sequential synths or the "edit
page" button in Alesis Ion).
3. When I tweak a parameter on the fly, the display does not stay in
this "edit mode", it always goes back to
the "preset library" screen. I don't care about the preset view! All my
presets are named "Jexus"! Darn!!!
1. The Summit has a lot of knobs on the panel, but a
lot of them are hard-wired assignments. For example the FM section
contains three knobs: [3->1] & [1->2] & [2->3]. It means you cannot modulate
[2->1] = [OSC-1] by [OSC-2]. Or [1->3]. It's a pre-defined circuit of modulation.
One goes into two, two goes into three, three goes into one.
Next: the [Oscillator Pitch] modulation knob is
hard-wired to [LFO 2]. [Filter Cutoff] modulation knob is hard-wired to [LFO 1]. And so on. Fuck.
Did you happen to use the hard-wired [Mod Env 1->Osc Shape] assignment and are you now
finding yourself in need to change the [Filter Envelope] settings? Too bad. This is the
same [Mod Env 1] envelope! You won't change the first (shape) without changing the
This way we are sacrificing some amount of freedom
of operation for the sake of quickness of editing. The UI would get a huge boost
in the positive direction if there were more "multimode" knobs - I mean knobs
with a button that selects its destination. Right now we only have two such
multimode knobs on the Peak:
[Oscillator Shape] (3 selectable modulations) and [Filter Envelope Amount] (2
2. [LFO 3] and [LFO 4] are global and cannot be modulated,
so if you wish to make a patch with a modulated-LFO-parameter, sometimes
you have to rearrange the whole patch structure, especially if you had succumbed
to the temptation of using the "easy", ready-made connections from the
panel. "Swapping" [LFO 1] and [LFO 4] (for example) could solve this, but
this is not technically possible. Also, those global LFOs have no "fade" option, no "slew" option, and they are
the only ones availbale in
the [FX Mod Matrix] (a separate matrix just for the effects section).
3. It is not possible to route a [Mod Envelope] to
effects in the [FX Mod Matrix]. I'm confused here, because Novation website
says the Peak firmware version 1.2 allows you to "automate delay time
changes using an envelope". Well, my Summit does not, even though the website
widget says my firmware is "up to date".
4. There's no way to modulate [VCA envelope level]
or [VCA sustain] to create a tremolo effect. You can only modulate each oscillator volume separately (modulating the [VCA
level] parameter is not the same thing). This applies to other things too: you
cannot modulate all the waveshapes at once: you have to route your [LFO] to [OSC
WAVE 1], then to [OSC WAVE 2], then to [OSC WAVE 3]. This is possibly fixable via a firmware update
too, but the REV-2 has it available from the get-go.
5. The quality and the price of the synth would suggest a "no
compromise" approach, but there's no flanger, no phaser, no tremolo - just chorus, delay &
reverb. The chorus is specific - some might like it, some might hate it. The delay has only one type. More effects could deeper transform the
timbre and enhance the synth's plasticity (=ability to be a chameleon in the
6. The synth has no panning options or "pan spread"
feature in the vein of REV-2 or Nord Leads. You cannot pan
the oscillators or modulate the panning (apart from using the "spread"
feature, but it only randomizes the panning of the voices in a weird way - when
you play legato as opposed to staccato). This often leads to a situation when
your patches have not enough stereo panorama / movement and this results in a
feeling of inertia. It is obvious that not every synth has this feature by
default, but the lack of it in the case of Novation
Peak / Summit is the most evident / painful. While I might turn a blind
eye to the aforementioned cons, this one is the biggest letdown. That's why I
decided to make a demo with both synths playing simultaneously (left channel:
Peak / right channel: Summit) and now the patches sound amazing;)
SO DO I LIKE IT OR NOT
Someone once told me to buy the Novation Summit and
make a demo of it because "it is the best synth of the last 10 years". And this
is yet another example, after
Alesis A6 Andromeda,
Access Virus TI,
Jupiter 6 and countless other "best" synths that there is no such thing as
best synth (understood as "perfect"). The creators will always fuck something up, or cut corners, or we the users will
always find a quirk or a limitation that will make what seemed "the best synth"
only a great synth. Synths can be best in some aspect, but not as an
independent whole standing against all the competition.
And that's my opinion about the Peak (Summit). It's a
synth that delivers one of the best timbres in the contemporary synth
market. I've grown to admire the "more
than meets the eye" aspect of the so-called "neutrality" of the
sound and the freedom that it gives. Sometimes you do need a synth, or your track / song needs a sound that is neutral and
middle-of-the-road, just like you need a level-headed manager to bind a team together.
The core sound of oscillators and filters plus
the onboard reverb, which I think is the best-sounding reverb of all the synths
I've played, made me hit the "save" button like crazy during my
sound-design sessions. I was making a few knob
tweaks, many times having just one oscillator active in the mixer section, but
it was enough to come up with something worth saving. Each patch, be it bass, fm or pad, sounds good, and the amount of patches one can
create with this relatively limited engine is astounding. Some "vintage" ones prove to be as good as, or in some respect even better
than modern-day Moogs or OB-6
- synths which I thought had no competition in their department. Some of the
digital ones became the nicest I've heard in a decade. Ironically, maybe because
they were so neutral and candid. What's more, this synth delivers the best
execution of "metallic" timbres. Bells, cymbals and other ring-modded goodies
really sound like metal.
The instrument is a great blend of effective sound and depth of the features.
I praised the Hydrasynth and the REV-2, but the Peak / Summit have a
place of their own (and in some areas they are even better). Also, the build quality is top-notch. The materials
stand out. Solid chassis, wooden cheeks, beautiful & precise knobs, nice keybed. It's a
Range Rover or a Jaguar among synths. Synths like
Roland JD-XA or
cannot compare. But... all the above praise and all the superlatives
I've generously showered on the Peak / Summit are valid if (and only if) we accept the sad fact that it's a "mono-output"
synth. I know that a lot of people call the Peak / Summit "the best sounding
contemporary synth", and I will happily agree - under any of the following two provisos. One: if by "sound"
we mean "timbre". Two: if we pretend that we live in a world where all
synths have mono output. Technically speaking the Peak / Summit do have a stereo audio output, but
that's only because of the chorus / panned delay. Other than that it's a "mono-output"
synth, which means that everything is fine as long as we use external audio
monitors. Alas, the moment we put our headphones on, some of the magic disappears.
It is especially evident after you've played a synth like the
which there is so much going on in the stereo field. The Peak /
Summit timbre may be judged to be better than Hydrasynth's if we need "warmth"
or more "classy" synthy tone, but if we define
synth sound as "aural experience" - then Hydra blows the Novations out of the water.
One more word about the UI - whatever we get, man always wants more.
I am also guilty of that sin.
Most of the patches I mentioned above (and will list below) are ready in no time once you start tweaking
the "init patch" from scratch, so maybe the UI isn't that bad in
reality. Maybe it was just me with my silly desire to have the perfect synth. I
find it a bit cumbersome during deep
patch tweaking, but it has to be said that as long as you don't cross the line, the synth
is very accessible, and if you do
not mind the hard-wired mod assignments, you'll find this layout and your
music-making process effortless, especially if you decide to use the mod matrix
instead of the hard-wired shortcuts. And we have to remember there are two sides
to every coin. I've praised the Hydra or the REV-2 for their interface, but I know people who are put off by the "limitless"
/ "total freedom" interfaces - it's quite impossible to come across "happy
accidents" with such an interface. Peak / Summit, on the other hand, make it
possible, because some connections are already right there on the front panel.
Had Novation decided to make more "multimode" knobs (I described them above),
the synth would give us both total freedom & happy accidents.
I just hope that the company realizes the huge potential
of this synth and they don't abandon it. This is the "investment" type of synth
that could last for years if it got ongoing support. It would be great to see some firmware
upgrades that do away with the aforementioned engine limitations. My number one
request would be to enhance (introduce?) voice panning adjustments, because many
times the spatial depth of the sound falls short of one's expectations. It's
too centric (read: boring). Also,
some additional modification of the waveshapes would be nice (something in the
vein of Modal's wave modifiers), or the ability to mod a mod (modulate a mod
matrix slot with a different slot). But even if they don't improve it, it's
still wonderful as it is.
YOUR FIRST / YOUR ONLY SYNTH?
The Novation synths will rarely sound
like an Arturia or Korg, but if you're not a synth nerd / connoisseur and you do not
split hairs when it comes to nuances of sound, the Peak / Summit are very
versatile and can serve as a X-in-1 combo:
If you like your straightforward Moogs: Grandmother,
Sub-37 but you miss
the patch memory or you sometimes find them too stiff-sounding (Sub-37) - the Peak / Summit will give you some of
those vintage flavors without
sounding too thick or blunt, plus the patch storage.
If you like your
DX-7 but find them too convoluted to
make a nice patch in a timely manner - the Peak / Summit will give you the
analog flavor / basic FM structures without keeping you at the knobs for 2 hours.
If you like
drowned in reverb but you find the overall sound too dry or plastic and you
spend too much time in the mod matrix trying to maneuver around it - the Peak / Summit
will give you the ambiance and add some extra warmth / smoothness quick.
If you like
your Waldorf Blofeld's glossy waves but you find the
four knobs too sparse - the Peak / Summit
will give you a lot of wavetable patches plus ten times as many knobs.
If you like
Jupiter brassy leads, or some
Oberheim'y fizzy-fuzzy bass but you don't want to
mortgage your house - the Summit will give you some of the flavor
without bankrupting you.
If you liked the "British" sound of the
/ Cobalt series but you found it too rigid or static - in my ears the Peak / Summit
retains the British sound but at the same time makes it more streamlined and
Just bear in mind that all those sounds, even though
so diverse and wonderfully listenable, may sound "samey" or underwhelming when compared with
the "real" (above) synths or when auditioned by somebody with experience.
It's all about the question whether you want a synth with
an established personality / character (Moog, Prophet, etc), or a synth that can be compared to an apolitical / nonpartisan
person; a blank slate that gives
you elbow room to apply the methods of your own art school. A "character" may
be a good thing, but sometimes it stands in the way. Novation, on the other hand, is
slender snake that will crawl into any nitch.
And I want you to know this: maybe the Peak / Summit
is not "the best synth" in the world, but if I were to make a chart of all the
synths I've played, Novation would win by the count of mentions in this chart.
It's good for modern sounds, it's good for vintage sounds, it has good audio
has good engine, it has good interface, etc. Somehow everything is good in this
synth, and by that measure it's a winner. Other synths are great at something
yet bad at something else. But there is no territory where the Peak / Summit are
"bad", and that's quite a feat of engineering.
PEAK vs SUMMIT
I thought the only engine difference between Peak and
Summit was the additional dual filter of the latter. I thought I was ready to
make that sacrifice and get what seemed to me a flawless UI in return (Peak). The Peak seemed
to have everything right in the middle, right in front of my eyes and within my
arms' reach - and for a lower price! However, after playing both synths I
discovered many more differences, and the choice is not that easy anymore;)
Here's all of them:
1. Summit has 16 voices - Peak has 8;
2. Summit has the dual-filter - Peak does not;
3. Summit has bi-timbrality (layering / splits) - Peak does not;
4. Summit can filter the noise generator in LPF and HPF - Peak only has LPF;
5. Summit has the FM routings & levels on the panel (3 knobs and 3 buttons) -
Peak can only do this in the mod matrix;
6. Summit has the "delay" option for envelopes - Peak does not;
7. Summit has a 7-octave range of the arpeggiator - Peak has 6.
8. Summit has various additional controls on the panel; Envelope Looping, LFO 3
and LFO 4 controls, ARP controls, Voice Poly / Mono controls - Peak can only
access these controls via a menu;
TIPS & TRICKS / LFO SPEED
When Peak and Summit come to you from the factory,
they do not come with the same settings, so to speak. When you compare the
speeds of their LFO 3 and LFO 4, you will notice that Peak LFOs have a broader
range. The LFO 3 and 4 of the Summit have a narrower scope in comparison. To
broaden the Summit's speed range and make it behave exactly like Peak, you need
to go to Summit's LFO menu. Go to Page 7. Find the setting for "L3RateSync" and
set it to 64 beats. Do the same thing on Page 8 for LFO 4. Now the Summit's LFOs will
go to audio range when pushed to max speed, and drop almost to zero when pushed
to minimum speed.
If you don't do this, your Peak patches will not
sound exactly the same when you export them to a Summit, because even though
both synths will have the LFO 3 / 4 speed set to the same value, this value will
produce different results.
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