There are two ways of looking at Novation’s new AFX Station - a collaboration with electronic music luminary Aphex Twin. On the one hand, it’s a powerful signature synth that might turn out to be pretty collectable (not to mention a lot of fun to play with); on the other, it’s just a re-badged version of something that already existed.
The story starts in 2013, when Novation released the Bass Station II - a successor to 1993’s popular Bass Station synth. Then, in 2019, a firmware update endowed the Bass Station II with the AFX Mode; designed with the help of Aphex Twin (Richard D James) this assigned a discrete set of synthesis parameters to each note.
This effectively meant that every key on the synth could become a new patch, enabling you to use it as an analogue drum module, sound design tool or just a good old bass or lead powerhouse. Used in combination with the Bass Station II’s sequencing and arpeggiation features, there was a lot to enjoy.
It’s this AFX Mode that inspired the AFX Station - essentially a signature Aphex Twin version of the Bass Station II that was teased around the world over the summer. The mode comes pre-installed, and there’s a new look that’s said to make it easier to access.
You get 128 new synth patches, plus seven new overlay banks. Graphical changes include some touches of purple on the mainly black casing, plus an Aphex logo round the back. Oh, and the ‘giftbox’ is designed by AFX collaborator Weirdcore
This isn’t a synth that Bass Station II owners are going to upgrade to, then - they can have all of its features for free already - but it might convince a new generation of producers that they need this instrument in their lives.
The AFX Station costs $485/£399 and is available in limited numbers. Find out more on the Novation website.