First hands-on with Novation's new Nocturn plug-in controller

Computer Music exclusive! We get hands-on with Novation's innovative new Nocturn plug-in controller.

Nocturn has landed! Novation’s brand new “intelligent plug-in controller” – complete with the all-new Automap Universal 2.0 technology – has just turned up on the Computer Music doorstep ready for testing. So, without further ado, here are some choice pics (click for hi-res versions) and a few words on our first impressions…

Out of the box, the unit’s very light and compact – a mere hand span’s width across – yet with just nine dials and a crossfader, things are certainly not crowded. The rotary controls feel lightly stepped and quite sturdy, while the crossfader feels smooth and not far off what you’d expect from a decent quality DJ mixer.

16 illuminated soft rubber buttons take care of any switch-style parameters, as well as accessing various on-screen functions. And here it is in action…

The supplied documentation is very light, which turns out to be a testimony to just how fast Nocturn is to get up and running. In fact, it couldn’t have taken much longer than two minutes from opening the box and glancing at the ‘getting started guide’ to controlling a 10-band URS EQ with the thing!

Getting used to the semi-transparent ‘heads up display’ – which replaces the functionality of the LCD screen on Novation’s SL series controllers – doesn’t take long at all, and we suspect with time this only becomes more intuitive.

Note that we’re running Renoise here – although sequencer mixer control is not supported by this particular application, controlling plug-ins in it is no problem whatsoever.

From our experience thus far, we can say that this is a very promising start for what could well prove to be the future of hardware controllers. Novation Nocturn is compatible with PC and Mac, and will be available in April for a very reasonable £69. For more information about Nocturn, check out Novation's website.