Following on from David Morales’ comments the other week, there’s been some hot debate about the DJ/producer synergy. the reality is that it’s inevitable there will be some crossover between the two disciplines. When the Novation Circuit first showed up, the DJWORX team all agreed that its simplicity made it an attractive offering for both beginners and seasoned producers alike.

Now, audio plugin tinkerers Isotonik Studios have released a freebie just in time for Christmas that opens up the Novation Circuit hardware wide open. The Circuit Editor is a quick download that hooks in to Max4Live, to let users edit many of the parameters that change the behaviour of the groove box. Along with the editor comes a beta firmware that fixes a bunch of things and adds a few new features based on community feedback. You can now hook in an external MIDI device to record notes within the Circuit, and there are some changes to how recording works.

DJWORX team member Darren wrote on the Isotonik blog:

Virtually every element of each Synth is editable. You can adjust every parameter in realtime and play the results on the Circuit, tweaking everything imaginable from the Oscillators and LFO’s to the Chorus and Distortion settings. As part of the Circuits’ attraction is the 8 macro dials (which can be mapped to up to four parameters each) we’ve given you the ability to re-define what they’ll modulate when you perform Live!

When you’re happy with your new sounds you can save a bank of your own 64 patches to Disc and then load them to the Circuit for your next performance, or if want to retain some of the factory content there’s the ability to load a single patch to a Synth slot as well.


MaxforLive AMXD – On a Mac the editor can be run within Ableton Live through a simple MaxforLive device that sits on a single MIDI track.

Max Standalone Versions – We’ve created standalone versions for both Mac and Windows so you don’t even need Ableton Live to get editing your sounds!

The Mac version presents itself as an .app file whilst Windows is a .exe in both cases you’ll need to have downloaded Max7 for it to work. You don’t need a full license as the editor will continue to work when your trial has expired. This means that you don’t even need to have a DAW to get new sounds out of and into your Circuit!!


We’re not be stopping there though, you’ll see what we mean when you open the device! Get involved, send us your feedback and let’s make this thing the best it can be!!


v1.0.0 – released 17/12/2015

  • YOU MUST UPDATE to the Firmware beta available from Novation – CLICK HERE
  • MaxforLive Device compatible with MAC OS – YOU MUST HAVE MAXFORLIVE 7 INSTALLED
  • Standalone Versions for MAC OS and Windows
  • Grab Patch from Circuit
  • Patch Upload to Circuit

There are also some notes on the changes in the beta firmware:

Release notes for Firmware Updater 1.2 (firmware revision 3191)

New features

  • Added support for Patch Editor
  • Enabled recording of external MIDI (notes and macros)
  • Implemented momentary record button
  • Circuit now responds to Program Change messages on channel 1 (Synth 1) and channel 2 (Synth 2)
  • Drum choice can be selected via MIDI CC to channel 10: CC 8 (Drum 1), 18 (Drum 2), 44 (Drum 3), 50 (Drum 4)
  • Clearing automation from a knob while in automation record / step edit mode will only clear that lane for the selected step
  • Added application icon to updater


  • Copying a step between tracks (synth -> synth, drum -> drum) now works correctly
  • Master filter is now always set to neutral on startup
  • Fixed stuck notes when switching sessions and after selecting patch 1
  • Fixed sporadic audio glitches with Synth

My thoughts

I won’t wade in much on the DJ/producer debate here, other than to say that it’s always a good idea to expand your skills, regardless of what your interest or career might be. If you’re delving into the early stages of production, the Circuit seems like a great place to start your Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I personally bought a Korg Volca Beats off the back of our demo stage review at BPM2015, and it’s left me wanting more stuff.

For straight up adding to your DJ setup, the Circuit takes in a MIDI clock sync signal so it’ll work like any other drum machine (like the Volca Beats, or the TR-8, for example), except you get two Nova synths to play with as well! The unit should have no trouble slaving to something like Traktor or Serato DJ. Then, add Ableton/Max into the mix (pun intended) and you’ve got a really powerful setup.

It’s great to hear that Novation are so keen on listening to the community, and that they’ve engaged with part of that community like this, on a shared project to extend the Circuit’s features. Right now the Max4Live patch from Isotonik is for editing the two Nova synths only, but as you can see below, there are a LOT of parameters you can play with.
One thing that seems to be missing here is the ability to edit drums and add sample patches. With it having updatable firmware and USB access, there’s a chance new samples could be loaded into the drum machine. Otherwise, we can wish for it on the Mk2. Hopefully Novation continue to listen and throw that into the mix to make this a very powerful and flexible tool, like a Volca Sample, Bass and Keys all built into one!

Your thoughts

What do you think of the Novation Circuit? Can you see something like this fitting in your DJ setup?
The Novation Circuit will cost you a bargain €330/£250. The Circuit Editor is free from the Isotonik Studios site.