Nostalgia is a two-way street for an electronic musician and producer: The preferred, and now classic, sounds are in one direction, but antiquated technology and cumbersome playability is in the other. Getting those ‘80s synth washes is contending with a lack of touch sensitivity and with equipment that has a greater chance of failing during a live performance – not to mention it can’t hold everything you need and requires multiple supporting devices.

UltraNova synthesizers, around since the late 1980s, capture EDM’s burgeoning beginnings but don’t compromise classic sounds for convenience. The “Nova” series of analog-modeling synthesizers equipped with powerful effects processors literally keeps the original components intact; in fact, modern devices have the timeless Supernova II synthesizer engine as a starting point. But, beyond this, modern technology, far more features, and improved organization and storage prevent the latest UltraNova synthesizer from being a relic. Specifically, the modern UltraNova includes new wavetable synthesis, high-quality filters, a software editor, and touch-sensitive performance mode.

Electronic musicians, specifically, require equipment versatile enough to be used in the studio and live, and the UltraNova is designed for both. Playing-wise, the device allows the user up to 18 voices and offers 14 filter types, 36 wavetables, and five effect slots and features 37 keys in a first-rate key bed with after-touch, which is optimal for natural performance, and a vocoder. Touch-sensitive controls, located in the synthesizer’s animate section, improve sound shaping, which makes for better live performance. The user, in this case, activates envelopes, LFOs, and FX by touching encoders, including oscillator pitch, sync, hardness, and filter distortion options. All parameters can be fine-tuned with a rotary control.

The vocoder feature applies to more than the voice. The goose-neck microphone coming with the UltraNova gives the user an option to record his or her voice, but the UltraNova can process other sounds, including instruments. To do this, instruments need to be put into the back panel stereo line input.

Along with all features for playing and recording, the UltraNova comes with a 2 in 4 out USB audio interface, which can be bus-powered. Through this function, the user can stream audio to and from a computer.

Software and the patch library are significant assets for the UltraNova, allowing for full visual editing and viewing. Able to be hosted on a Mac or PC, the patch library already features 300 sounds, which are organized and can be sorted by genre and type, and a limitless amount can be saved, stored, and searched at a later date. All patches coming with the UltraNova are already tagged for easy searching.

Ample storage and search features at an affordable price make UltraNova stand out from other synthesizers. Professionals who perform, record, and produce frequently will find this synthesizer extremely beneficial: not only are the sounds high-quality, include many classics, and cover many genres, the UltraNova has no cap on the number that can be stored, and all are easily accessed for current and future reference.