TC Electronic Nova System

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by sakeido, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. sakeido

    sakeido Contributor

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    Jul 24, 2006
    Calgary AB
    I'll just copy the one I wrote for HC and make some changes... :) there was some pretty inaccurate/unfair stuff on there I felt like rebuffing.

    Ease of Use
    It is very easy to get a good sound out of this unit. The editing of patches is pretty intuitive, and the manual is very concise with its explanations. The factory presets are actually quite useful. They aren't ridiculous over-the-top "sell me!" kind of presets that will wow kids into buying the unit; they are much more subtle, tasteful and usable sounds that I could actually see myself using in practice.

    The only thing that is more difficult than it should be is setting the levels; there is no true bypass on this unit, so it took me quite some time to get the unit's level set "just so."

    I am using firmware 1.10.

    The first reviewer made a huge deal out of how the unit does not instantly switch presets. His complaints are ridiculous - absolutely ridiculous. He makes it sound as though you hit the button and then a second later it will switch sounds - it does either one of two things:
    - If you tap a button, it enables or disables that effect.
    - If you hold a button for one second, it will flash "ready" and change to that preset when you release the button.
    It works as a kind of hybrid stompbox/pedal arrangement. I can see the appeal of this setup. TC definitely did make the system with guitarists in mind, and probably went this route to make up for the limitation of only having three presets per bank. They explain it very clearly in the manual, and it is very consistent and easy to pull off smooth preset changes in practice. You can hold the button as long as you want; just queue up your preset changes a bar in advance to solve all problems.

    TC probably did not count on people being so unrealistic about it. If you are used to instant preset changing, it will take some time to adjust. If you are not a spoiled prima donna and can accept change, you will be able to get into this unit without any problems.

    Sound Quality
    I play a Jackson SLSMG, 7 string COW, and an Ibanez S7320 with bareknuckle pickups into a Mesa Stiletto Deuce stage II, running into a Orange 4x12 cabinet. I run the Nova System in the effects loop of my amp.

    It isn't noisy - the fuzz that is there is just the natural fuzz of the amp. It makes popping sounds and beeps as you adjust the effect levels, but this is not a dealbreaker by any stretch because you shouldn't be adjusting these live.

    The effects, as usual for TC, sound fantastic. It is basically all the power of the G Major coupled with a very, very sturdy footswitch in an all-in-one kind of unit. The delays are exceptional, as are the reverbs. The modulation effects are quite good as well. It has an intelligent pitch shifter built in too, and it is pretty good. I myself don't have much of a need for it, but it doesn't hunt for notes and you just need to set it up properly in the right key and scale for it to do a pretty good job of harmonizing your playing.

    The weakest effects of the bunch are the distortion & overdrive. They are atrocious. I only ran the unit for a little while into the front of my amp (the drive effects are disabled when using the line input) just to see how they sounded and suffice to say, no one should use them ever. At very light levels they were passable, but as soon as you turned the gain up, the sound quality became absolutely terrible. It was very nasally, with overwhelming bass at the same time. It sounded like a recording that had been clipped at -40dB.

    I quite like all the sound effects and there is a lot here I can use.

    HOWEVER, the unit is not entirely transparent. It is very close to being transparent; but do not believe TC when they say they found a revolutionary way of doing conversions so that you couldn't hear the unit when it is not engaged. It adds a sort of digital buzz to higher notes. It is subtle, and you would almost certainly not notice it in a blind test comparing the amp on its own to the amp w/Nova, but it is still there. Even with the levels set correctly, I have not been able to get it to go away. It is so subtle, I am wondering if it is just my imagination - but, try and listen for this yourself if you go and test one out.

    Unfortunately, I have to give it poor marks here. The unit I received was dead right out of the box - bricked before I even received it. It would boot to the screen that said "TC Nova System" and then would go no further. I had to send it away and received a new unit on warranty that works fine.

    It feels very sturdy and dependable. The footswitch portion is rock solid, but I am leery of the softer plastic part above the footswitch. If you avoid stepping on it, you won't have any problems, but there are flimsy plastic knobs that protrude out past the harder metal face that could easily be broken by a kick or misplaced foot. The display is also right there, and is not recessed very far into the top, so it is vulnerable to a bootstomping as well.

    Customer Support
    When the unit arrived broken, TC was very quick to reply to a request for technical support. All that could be done though is to send the unit away, which I did so. Turnaround time was about one day. It took nine business days total to get a replacement unit.

    I play my own brand of metal that veers at different times into Devin Townsend Band and Tool territory. I need to be able to do atmospheric effects every now and then to suit the mood of the song; the Nova System will do this perfectly. I did not want to assemble a rack and add even more gear to what I already have to lug around, and the Nova fills a perfect niche in the TC lineup.

    I'm not going to pretend like I've been playing for 40+ years. I have only been practicing hard for about four years.

    You get slightly more power than the G Major has, and have a very sturdy footswitch with MIDI capabilities built in at the same time. The price is just right for what it is. It is easy to plug it in and get it going, the presets are easy to set up, and most importantly, it sounds great.

    I have never really owned a good multieffects unit before. I've had a Pod XT Live, a GNX3000, and a G Major before, but the Pod and GNX both sounded quite poor and the G Major broke within three days. For awhile I was making due with a Nova Reverb and Nova Delay pedal, but the Nova Delay in particular is a very user unfriendly pedal and I didn't want to do the very complicated tapdance it requires. When I started shopping around to get the effects I needed to make the music in my head, I was looking at spending over a thousand dollars on putting together a pedal board, or spending $1500+ on an Axe FX or G System.

    The Nova System offered everything I needed at just the right price, and that is what I love most about it. I wish that it had worked right out of the box though - I am somewhat leery of its long term reliability now, but my experience with TC's customer service was great so I could deal with replacing it again so long as it does not die in the middle of a gig.

    The only thing I wish it had was a fourth preset selector, and that it was slightly wider. As it is, it is fine, but it is deceptively smaller than it looks in pictures online. It will certainly help me make music and once I really get the hang of setting it up and operating it, I have no doubt it will do everything I need it to.

    You will be able to here what I record with the Nova system at SoundClick artist: temps - Lamb of God tuned to Korn soon. I will make a special note of it in the notes of any song I upload that makes use of the Nova's effects.
  2. Jan

    Jan Regular

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    Jan 7, 2007
    Reading, UK
    I agree, When I plugged the Nova into the effects return of my practice amp, that digital buzz was killing me. It appeared on the verge of hearing, but it was there, sounding like a terrible distortion asdded to clean sounds. It was so awful I thought there was something wrong with my unit. However, with my Peavey 6550 it's practically nonexistent. I don't know why, really.

    PLUS ONE on the statement that the Nova is not transparent. It used to suck out some of my tone AND volume, but after turning down the MAXIMUM BOOST level to 4db and the sensivity set to 24, the volume is now the same as without the Nova, only with some difference in tone (less bass, more highs). However, with a footswitchable loop for my purposes this difference is negligible. Otherwise the Nova is a great solution. Will need to wait longer to give an opinion on its reliability though... I know mine is one of the faulty batch with bad RAM, but it has been serving me well for the last 2 weeks...

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