Peak is Novation s new polyphonic synthesiser. It's an eight-voice analogue hybrid design with a total of 24 oscillators, a multi-mode filter, analogue distortion, and three discrete digital effects. But behind these headlines, Novation have gone to great lengths to innovate with both digital and analogue technologies. In this preview, we aim to reveal a little more about what's going on under the hood; what makes Peak do what it does, and how. We'll explore the new tech developed specifically for Peak, and highlight the point at which analogue and digital converge.
Peak was designed by synth veteran Chris Huggett under several important design principles. The big picture outcome was for it to be the best-sounding synth Novation has ever made. To achieve this, the design would combine Novation s acclaimed analogue synthesis technology featured most recently in the Bass Station IIwith future-facing digital advancements.
Central to Peak is the use of a high-powered processor component called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA). In contrast to traditional DSP chips, which often need to run in pairs or quads, the FPGA is a single processor on which many functions can run from oscillators to the modulation matrix. The key benefit to an FPGA is that it runs at a much higher rate than DSP-based technology, and this has a direct impact on the clarity of sound.
Each of Peak's eight voices has an independent oversampling digital-to-analogue converter (DAC). These DAC s are oversampling at over 24MHz (24 million times per second), using a simple RC (resistor-capacitor) filter on their output in the analogue domain. In itself, this is not new technology, but their integration inside the FPGA has enabled their design to be extended to enable optimum waveform synthesis. Because other virtual synths use discrete off the shelf DAC chips, which are restricted to running at sample rates of either 48kHz or perhaps 96kHz, they often have aliasing issues, especially when synthesising higher frequencies. Peak s ability to generate waveforms at the oversampling frequencyup to 512 times the traditional rateensures that Peak’s waveforms are pure at all frequencies, free from digital artifacts no matter how aggressively the pitch is modulated.