Novation’s Circuit Tracks is out now – I’ve got one to test. But there’s another Circuit coming. Circuit Rhythm leaked before, but isn’t announced officially yet, other than it’s due this summer. It’s the one that samples directly; here’s what we know so far.

Told you, I did. Sampling onboard, it won’t. Slice on your PC and load onto microSD cards, you must. That boy is only mixing and sidechaining our audio.

But … there is another.

Circuit Rhythm is the light-gray sibling to Circuit Tracks. Novation declined to comment about Circuit Rhythm, but instead pointed press to this post:

Same form factor, same layout, same I/O, even most of the same triggers and labels – Novation have been a stickler for consistency on their grid devices.

But the big difference is that Circuit Rhythm will have the one feature Circuit Tracks lacks – you can sample directly onto the device. So, while both have 2x audio input jacks, on the Rhythm that’s a “sampling” input. (The Tracks just mixes external audio with device audio, and allows you to route through audio effects or use to sidechain.)


Click to embiggen.
For comparison.

The rest we can glean from the statement – and the silkscreen image. From the statement, I can extract that the Circuit Rhythm lets you:

  • Record samples directly into the machine
  • Resample (that makes for a nice, MPC-style workflow)
  • Apply Grid FX – apparently synced, rhythmic audio effects specific to this device, including beat repeat, vinyl simulation, and more to come
  • Chop up beats

Like its sibling, it’s both a live jamming/performance and production machine.

So why wouldn’t you just wait for summer and get Circuit Rhythm? Well, it appears to drop the internal drums and, crucially, the polysynth tracks from Circuit Tracks. That means if the appeal of Circuit is partly for its synth, you’ll still want to consider Circuit Tracks now.

Even more telling, Circuit Rhythm may drop those new MIDI tracks available on Circuit Tracks. That means sacrificing the ability to sequence and control external gear. I would hate to lose that, especially since we already know you can still load up Circuit Tracks with your own samples via microSD.

In other words, how tough a decision it is to pick between the new Circuits remains to be seen.

There are also some different options on the encoders that are suggestive.

Unique to Circuit Tracks: FX (presumably the reverb, delay, and sidechain FX). Filter envelope, Amp Envelope. Oscillator + Oscillator Mod.

Unique to Circuit Rhythm: Dedicated HP Filter and LP Filter controls (the Tracks has both, but you switch between them). Distortion. (Oooh.) Length (though that’s probably just the sample-specific equivalent of the Amp Envelope). Dedicated Start position. Dedicated Tune control (for samples)

And there is an actual Sample Rec trigger.

When you see how minimal this is, and how little apparent use there is of Shift, you do start to appreciate why Novation chose to make separate pieces of hardware.

I’m sure it’ll stir controversy, but it’ll be interesting to try in practice. And the price of Circuit Tracks, at least, is appealing.

Watch this space.

And meanwhile – let me know any questions about Circuit Tracks as I get my hands on it. Preview – which looks appealing: