Back in July 2017, I reviewed Novation’s Peak, their flagship hybrid polysynth featuring eight voices and analogue filters. Fast forward to September 2019 and Novation have launched their newest flagship keyboard, based on two Peaks with various other juicy improvements. Once again designed in collaboration with Chris Hugget (Chris designed the legendary OSCar), Summit (Twin Peaks would have been too obvious perhaps!?) feels just like Peak in as much as it’s a premium product with super-tight rubberised knobs, good quality faders, nice, satisfyingly clicky buttons and a clear OLED screen with adjustable brightness.
This time, however, the twin expanded Peak engines are packaged in a very high-quality metal chassis, which stands firmly on a blue rubber surround/pad on its underside. Unlike Peak, Summit has a proper IEC power connector inlet and built-in power supply, so the wall wart is gone, making Summit feel even more ‘pro’. With the new expansive front panel, the plethora of controls have been spread out nicely, though personally I would’ve placed the control section and screen centrally. However, like the Peak, the panel is very intuitive with lots of hands-on control and many of the Peak’s hidden menu items now have dedicated panel controls on the Summit, with all the main controls at your fingertips. Again, deeper parameter editing is done via the menu system but you’ll need to do this less than on the Peak due to the extra front panel controls. The screen is also pleasingly easy to read and navigate.
Hardware-wise, Summit has a lovely, five-octave keybed which, in line with the rest of the hardware, feels premium. Notably, the black keys have a wider top surface than most and these feel great. Velocity and aftertouch response are spot-on too; this is a very playable, precise and nicely-balanced synth-action keybed. The chunky rubberised backlit mod/pitch wheels also feel very premium and add lots to the overall expressivity of the synth.
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