NAMM 2022: new synth startup Melbourne Instruments intros NINA, a new 12-voice hybrid polyphonic Synthesizer with a motorized control panel.
Ahead of NAMM 2022, some pictures and videos have been leaked of a new Synthesizer with motorized knobs. At first, you weren’t sure if the movements were real or just a video animation. Meanwhile, with more available demos, it’s safe to say the synth and the eye-catching novel hardware knob automation are real.
The NAMM show 2022 has started and all details about the NINA Synthesizer from the new company Melbourne Instruments are out now including a first look video.
NAMM 2022: Melbourne Instruments NINA
NINA is a new 12-voice multi-timbral polyphonic Synthesizer with layer, split and overlapping options. It combines analog and digital synthesis with a motorized recallable and automatable control panel. That’s the real highlight here. A Synthesizer with motorized knobs is innovative but also fascinating to look at.
The motorized pots enable visual feedback of the actual patch on a hardware device that is otherwise only possible with software synths. So the patch change is reflected not only in the sound but also in the interface.
Melbourne Instruments goes even further by embedding this motorization in the modulation, which also gives direct feedback from the active modulations. That’s also super novel. The developers use long-lasting zero-wear encoders with the feel and precision of analog pots. I’m very curious if they really last that long, as these are not just simple pots but motors. A mechanical element that can break.
NINA, Analog Meets Digital
NINA’s engine features three oscillators combining analog and digital synthesis. It features a single analog triangle oscillator with a width knob allowing you to continuously morph it between triangle and sawtooth. According to the developers, it’s different than a traditional blend functionality. It also has an FPGA digital oscillator, a classic wavetable oscillator, and a noise source. There is also a sampling capability but nothing concrete has been communicated about this yet.
Then, you get a 4-pole transistor ladder VCF with modulatable resonance and a filter overdrive with massive voice level says the developers. Modulation side, you get two front panel ADSR envelopes, one for the filter and one for the VCA. LFOs are also included but no further information about the feature set. All of this is managed via a deep modulation matrix that is supported by the motorized knobs. This makes patching very straightforward and quick edits can be done in seconds.
The engine also includes onboard effects and four DCAs enabling stereo infinite panning effects. The motorized knobs also make smooth patch morphing possible, which allows you to create very expressive sounds.
A Raspberry Pi 4 controls the digital part of the engine that is powered by open-source, hackable software. According to the developer, you can use them to develop other synthesizers or to add new functions.
Connection side, you get 4 assignable combo audio + CV inputs and 4 assignable line outputs. One of the inputs also supports a microphone signal. A headphone output is also onboard.
It also features a USB host functionality allowing you to connect class-compliant USB-MIDI controllers directly. Further, you have a classic USB MIDI input that transmits both MIDI and audio to your DAW. So you get full MIDI integration, automation, and an audio interface with the same cable.
There is also a MIDI interface with DIN MIDI input, output, and thru sockets. This section is definitely rich in features, nice.
Sonicstate is at NAMM 2022 and has released a first look and sound demo of the NINA.
NINA is an exciting Synthesizer that arouses the interest of many, especially with its fascinating motorized knobs. The sound features are more or less what we know from other synthesizers. I’m very curious to see the final device as it’s currently a prototype with not all features built in.
Melbourne Instruments NINA will be available for pre-order via Kickstarter very soon.
More information here: Melbourne Instruments