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Sequencers, sequencers, sequencers... Drum Machines & Samplers
Old 27th December 2010
  #1
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Sequencers, sequencers, sequencers...

I'm currently going through the process of selecting my first hardware sequencer and I feel like posting my thoughts here before buying anything. At this point I am between a FR Orb and a Doepfer MAQ16/3. The Orb seems like a good choice for an easy and fun sequencer, but I'm afraid it could get boring after some use. The MAQ then again looks really versatile and I really like its hands-on interface (I'm not too fond of the Orb's Up/Down scrolling system), but it also looks a bit cryptic and maybe a bit too challenging for a beginner like me (though then again I shouldn't really let this put me off as I like to learn complex systems). Please share some thoughts!

I am open to new suggestions. My only real requirement is that the device is capable of receiving and sending MIDI data. The price range should also preferably be around $500-800. I hear everyone talking about Sequentix Cirklons, but seems like those won't be out still for a while.

I'm also trying to keep in mind that I intend to build in the near future a x0xb0x and a MIDIbox SEQV4, so I'm not really after any functions which aren't covered by these two.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the year!
Old 27th December 2010
  #2
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Yoozer's Avatar
europa midi step sequencer is perhaps an option.
Old 27th December 2010
  #3
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flat's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post
europa midi step sequencer is perhaps an option.
Wow! looks like an awesome piece of kit!

Got quite excited until I saw the price
Old 27th December 2010
  #4
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My Cirklon should be shipping from Colin this week. It's a preproduction one though (and I am presumably the first on the US list) - i'm not entirely sure when the 'official' ones will be shipping, but I think that it's going to be relatively soon.

The Cirklon though is more in the $1500 range.

If you're willing to pay in that range, you might look for a used Schrittmacher - a very powerful sequencer in its own right. You might also look for a used p3 - these allow all sorts of algorithmic programming, untouched by any other hardware sequencer - the display is small though, and might not present a very friendly environment.

The ones mentioned above and the cirklon/schrittmacher are very different in one respect - the cirklon and schrittmacher, while basically built from an analog step sequencer template, are primarily (well, the schrittmacher 100%) midi sequencers, and allow extensive programming. There are also sequencers that have some midi, but are more similar to pure analog sequencers - more immediacy, not not much more programming of sequences other than what you see in front of you.

I haven't used one in awhile, but I think that the Oberkorn is a great sequencer - I can't remember the extent of its midi out - but it does have some pretty good midi control of sequences. It is mostly a strictly analog style sequencer though.

In most cases, the more powerful hardware step sequencers are expensive. Probably the king of the hybrids right now is the sam-16 - very much an analog style sequencer, but also sends out midi, has 2 sequential switch lines, and even allows you to modulate midi lines with cv. Very expensive though...Of the midi programmable type, there is the forthcoming cirklon, the schrittmacher, and at the top of the price range, the Octopus. But genoqs seems to have gone missing for the most part...

But ultimately you should think about the kind of features you want. Something like the Cirklon is a very different kind of thing than the mfb, analogue solutions, etc - download the p3 manual and look at the descripion of auxilliary events. If you want to be able to do the kind of things that the Cirklon does, it really might be worth looking for a used p3, which has come down in price since the Cirklon's announcement.

I never much liked the maq - the display is cool, but I don't like programming it at all. In some ways the schrittmacher seems like a much more programmable update of the maq, but midi only.

Oh - I also should mention - despite my dislike of the midibox crowd (verging on a cult), I think that the sequencer is quite great - closest thing to a cirklon/p3 that I've seen.
Old 27th December 2010
  #5
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The Hamburglar's Avatar
 

Drool, that's a very interesting post. Do you have any thoughts on any sequencers in the < $1000 market?
Old 27th December 2010
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hamburglar View Post
Drool, that's a very interesting post. Do you have any thoughts on any sequencers in the < $1000 market?
Well, if I were looking for a midi sequencer in that range, I'd try to pick up a used p3. There was one sequencer that came out a couple of years ago that looked interesting - the cyclus 3 from spectral audio but it had some problems. I don't know if it's still available, or whether the issues have been fixed....it's on pre-order at nova, and analogue haven doesn't have them ('email us for availability'). I tried one of the future retro mobius things and I didn't like it...

If you're looking at primary analog there's a bunch of stuff now...mfb, analogue solutions, doepfer...

But you should be able to get a p3 for a bit under $1,000, I'd think.
Old 27th December 2010
  #7
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Does your budget stretch to a Genoqs Nemo, perhaps?

After dabbling in various (analogue and digital) sequencers I originally had a good amount of fun with said Schrittmacher, however I found it a bit too limiting to use in creating complete tracks. It is, however, an excellent tool for use in more Berlin-school type of music.

Personally, I chose to upgrade to an Octopus, and have not looked back since.
The Octopus and its little brother, Nemo, come with a fairly steep learning curve, though, and the actual status of Genoqs support leaves to be desired - have they actually left the building?

A fairly obscure (yet cheap and fun) sequencer can be found in the E-mu XL7 and MP7. Much deeper than the groovebox-oriented outside reveals at a casual glance.
Old 27th December 2010
  #8
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I had an Octopus at one point, and thought I'd save space (the octopus is huge) by getting a Nemo. I hated the Nemo. I found the interface to be severely compromised, and the notion that this is an 'instrument' that doesn't need a display is ludicrous in my opinion. Yeah - i suppose that there are more tools for longer tracks in the nemo than the schrittmacher, but I think that the schrittmacher is a far better sequencer. The octopus is great, but I still found that, because of the absence of a display, and the horrible manual, I couldn't remember how to do functions that I hadn't done recently. there are things to recommend it over a p3, but given the algorithmic tools on the cirklon, its nice display, and the fact that Colin actually supports his product, I'd much rather have the cirklon.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hanz View Post
Does your budget stretch to a Genoqs Nemo, perhaps?

After dabbling in various (analogue and digital) sequencers I originally had a good amount of fun with said Schrittmacher, however I found it a bit too limiting to use in creating complete tracks.
It is, however, an excellent tool for use in more Berlin-school type of music.

Personally, I chose to upgrade to an Octopus, and have not looked back since.
The Octopus comes with a fairly steep learning curve, though, and the actual status of Genoqs support leaves to be desired - have they actually left the building?

A fairly obscure (yet cheap and fun) sequencer can be found in the E-mu XL7 and MP7. Much deeper than the groovebox-oriented outside reveals at a casual glance.
Old 27th December 2010
  #9
Gear Nut
what about the akai asq-10?
i see them go for as low as 300$.

has the mpc 60 swing,

thinking of getting it myself...

AKAI ASQ-10 ARCHIVE PAGE AUDIO PLAGROUND SYNTHESIZER MUSEUM
Old 27th December 2010
  #10
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Hanz's Avatar
 

Not having used the Nemo myself, just having quickly fiddled with it at Musikmesse, I tend to agree with you Droolmaster, it's probably too much of a compromise.
The Octo may be a little big, but to me it is everything I ever wanted in a sequencer - and much more (which I do not always understand - the manual's indeed not what it should be).

What I missed most in the Schrittmacher was the ability to make an arangement of single patterns / chaining etc.
You are essentially stuck in the same 16 step pattern all the time, the only thing you can use to make tonal variation is the interaction between multiple patterns running at the same time.
But just doing a 4x pattern 1, then 2x pattern 2, then running 4x pattern 3 ... basically, just forget it.
From a software engineering standpoint, this would not even have to be very difficult. I spoke to Manakin's engineer once, during Musikmesse, and got quite a blank stare. Got the impression that the Schritty is at the end of its development cycle, so to speak...
(there was a software release v1.0d which I used for some time, which does not seem to be publicly available!)

One device which I hated with a passion: the Doepfer MAQ 16/3. I found it to be user-unfriendly and unergonomic to an extreme.
The Dark Time looks promising (if fairly traditional / simple), though!

Also, I did try to have fun with Roland MRC (MC-300/MC-500) but honestly, if feels a little convoluted by now and you're better off using a computer.
One cheapie which seems to have a lot of followers is the Alesis MMT-8. Never tried that one myself!
Old 27th December 2010
  #11
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I love my MPC 60. But that europa looks nice, I def like TR style more than a hip hoppy 16 pad MPC. I wonder if it sequences synths well like the MPC too? ...or if the ease and features are just as good as my MPC60 ....i would so replace my MPC if it did, and just get a S950 rack for my 12 bit sampler.
Old 27th December 2010
  #12
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Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by fooddude View Post
I love my MPC 60. But that europa looks nice, I def like TR style more than a hip hoppy MPC.
It's too bad that the product that will have both an MPC -and- a TR interface will not appeal to either group enough - plus you'd really have to do quite a bit of work on the sequencer and make it behave well in both modes.

(there's Geist, but that's software).

Quote:
I wonder if it sequences synths too?
Uh - yes. The vertical "keyboard" is meant for exactly that; there is no difference in MIDI between "drum" notes and "note" notes
Old 28th December 2010
  #13
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hmmm's Avatar
Speaking of sequencers... Just found out about the Doepfer Dart time and can't wait to get one... naice!
Old 28th December 2010
  #14
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cramseur's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by droolmaster0 View Post
There was one sequencer that came out a couple of years ago that looked interesting - the cyclus 3 from spectral audio but it had some problems. I don't know if it's still available, or whether the issues have been fixed....
I have a Cyclus 3 and could never figure out how to mute a step. The volume and gate wouldn't go to zero values, and there was no "skip" feature. I e-mailed the manufacturer, and they told me that it was an eprom problem. The fix required some serious small soldering. They would not do the repair themselves,and would not exchange my unit.

So it sits on a shelf gathering dust.

My perfect sequencer would be Octopus with both midi and cv/gate outputs. That would be the boss. Awaiting Cirklon. Avoiding Spectral Audio...lousy support.
Old 28th December 2010
  #15
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Headphones's Avatar
Don't forget, Doepfer's Dark Time sequencer, and MFB's Urzwerg are being released. Not sure about Doepfer's, but the Urzwerg is $450 at analogue haven...
Old 28th December 2010
  #16
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rachel's Avatar
Sequencers, sequencers, sequencers...

I am now investing all my skill time into the octopus
which is doing everything I want. I had an MAQ 16/3 but found elements of it extremely annoying and I sold it
so I could have a Vermona DRM I.


rachel
Old 28th December 2010
  #17
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crufty's Avatar
Cirklon seems to be it. If octopus had more then two midi out....

IMO

The mc808 has a real tight sequencer but the box is GIGANTIC and lacks velocity sensitive pads. The mc909 has pads but I never used it nor mpcs so not commenting...909 seems like a good value if it's sea is like the 808.

The workstations (korg m3) are also fairly good but require actual playing and there are some workflow foibles.

The tribes are fun but no velocity and mono lines only.

The cyclus 3 is good but I couldn't get the first step to skip either so it made things challenging. It is not organic which can be plus or minus.

I tried making a variety of sequencers in reactor but one really needs multitouch--or at least I found the mouse+hw emu via sw more limiting then a piano roll.

So maybe some kind of iPad+numerology backend is the future too? Heh heh
Old 28th December 2010
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by droolmaster0 View Post
My Cirklon should be shipping from Colin this week. It's a preproduction one though (and I am presumably the first on the US list) - i'm not entirely sure when the 'official' ones will be shipping, but I think that it's going to be relatively soon.

The Cirklon though is more in the $1500 range.

The ones mentioned above and the cirklon/schrittmacher are very different in one respect - the cirklon and schrittmacher, while basically built from an analog step sequencer template, are primarily (well, the schrittmacher 100%) midi sequencers, and allow extensive programming. There are also sequencers that have some midi, but are more similar to pure analog sequencers - more immediacy, not not much more programming of sequences other than what you see in front of you.


In most cases, the more powerful hardware step sequencers are expensive. Probably the king of the hybrids right now is the sam-16 - very much an analog style sequencer, but also sends out midi, has 2 sequential switch lines, and even allows you to modulate midi lines with cv. Very expensive though...Of the midi programmable type, there is the forthcoming cirklon, the schrittmacher, and at the top of the price range, the Octopus. But genoqs seems to have gone missing for the most part...

But ultimately you should think about the kind of features you want. Something like the Cirklon is a very different kind of thing than the mfb, analogue solutions, etc - download the p3 manual and look at the descripion of auxilliary events. If you want to be able to do the kind of things that the Cirklon does, it really might be worth looking for a used p3, which has come down in price since the Cirklon's announcement..

Gene, thanks for the always infromative posts about current crop of sequencers. i was really thinking about Cirklon, ever since first info came out, and talked with Colin a few times... but have been out of the loop lately,., my numero uno interest was announced implementation of whole barrage of CV/GATE outputs, to be implemented via break-out box..

are you getting yours with this? if not, do you now how are things going with that?


it will make Cirklon a full featured digital CV/GATE sequnecer, without the meddling of MIDI/MIDI->CV bottlenecks and timing issues. sorta like modern day MC4. when it comes to fast monophonic sequneced lines, i hate MIDI timing with all my heart. i've recently sold RS7000 as it couldn't keep even one straight 8-step sequence thru kenton, with absolute accuracy*, and moved to laptop with expert sleeper's silent way - we'll see how that goes... ill probably run ableton and/or numerology. however, i still want/need a dedicated hands-on hardware machine.. and also as a parallel system in live performance, if macbook crashes or something.

*maybe kenton p2000m2 is partly to blame.. dunno..
Old 28th December 2010
  #19
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crufty's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer View Post
europa midi step sequencer is perhaps an option.
Pretty nice--is it polyphonic per track?
Old 28th December 2010
  #20
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I think that the story is that it's set up for it, but you still need to have something made in order to actually connect the cables. Sorry - I just don't know the electronics ends of things. I'm pretty sure that Colin said that he would probably come out with the actual box at some point, but that it would have to be diy or something before then. I think....

Quote:
Originally Posted by clusterchord View Post
Gene, thanks for the always infromative posts about current crop of sequencers. i was really thinking about Cirklon, ever since first info came out, and talked with Colin a few times... but have been out of the loop lately,., my numero uno interest was announced implementation of whole barrage of CV/GATE outputs, to be implemented via break-out box..

are you getting yours with this? if not, do you now how are things going with that?


it will make Cirklon a full featured digital CV/GATE sequnecer, without the meddling of MIDI/MIDI->CV bottlenecks and timing issues. sorta like modern day MC4. when it comes to fast monophonic sequneced lines, i hate MIDI timing with all my heart. i've recently sold RS7000 as it couldn't keep even one straight 8-step sequence thru kenton, with absolute accuracy*, and moved to laptop with expert sleeper's silent way - we'll see how that goes... ill probably run ableton and/or numerology. however, i still want/need a dedicated hands-on hardware machine.. and also as a parallel system in live performance, if macbook crashes or something.

*maybe kenton p2000m2 is partly to blame.. dunno..
Old 28th December 2010
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Headphones View Post
Don't forget, Doepfer's Dark Matter sequencer (for some reason Doepfer's site won't load up on my browser), and MFB's Urzwerg are being released. Not sure about Doepfer's, but the Urzwerg is $450 at analogue haven...
Didn't the op want Midi sequencers? I don't think that other than some basic connections to sync up gear, that these are full on midi sequencers. I could be wrong.
Old 28th December 2010
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hmmm View Post
Speaking of sequencers... Just found out about the Doepfer Dart time and can't wait to get one... naice!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Headphones View Post
Don't forget, Doepfer's Dark Matter sequencer
Umm, you guys mean the Dark Time?
Dark Time


And I rather like my MAQ 16/3, but horses for courses 'n all that..
Old 28th December 2010
  #23
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Headphones's Avatar
I meant to say that, but when I couldn't get Doepfer's site up, I had to sorta guess what it was called. But I also tried to find it online, but came up short there as well. Now this morning their site is up, and I goofed on the name. Sounds like it'll be awhile before Doepfer will have any to release on the market...
Old 28th December 2010
  #24
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alexp's Avatar
Love my MSQ 700!! heh



alexP
Old 28th December 2010
  #25
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I still have my Roland MC 80. I use it with my Alesis DM5. I used to do all my jingle work with that MC-80 and my Roland VS2480. Archaic now but man did I work faster back then.

I find the MC-80 to be a pretty easy box to use and still like the way it makes me program certain drum and percussion tracks. I use DP7 and Reason 4's MIDI sequencer for 99% of what I do but again I spend way too much time edit velocities and dragging MIDI notes around. Keeping a few Out of the Box options available keeps me sane (well that's debatable).
Old 29th December 2010
  #26
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Not mine, but a Doepfer Dark Time sequencer demo




Would also like to see some Cirklon demos... I think Colin is getting round to making a few videos very soon.
Old 29th December 2010
  #27
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esaias's Avatar
Any experience on Doepfer Regelwerk? I saw one for sale couple days ago and have been wanting a hardware seq like that... (and I do have RS7000, I'm just an idiot and do not utilize it fully :P )

-Tomi
Old 29th December 2010
  #28
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rachel's Avatar
Sequencers, sequencers, sequencers...

Octopus is not restricted by only having two MIDI outs
as you can use a MIDI interface to have as many ports as you want. I use Logic as a MIDI router to split channels on the octopus plus the 3 AMT-8's I have, that comprises a 24 port interface. And that is using only the first MIDI port on the device. There is a USB port on the Octopus, but it is currently only used to load the firmware updates, but there was a plan to use it as a MIDI host.

rachel
Old 29th December 2010
  #29
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crufty's Avatar
Cool. How about sysex / patch changes / cc?

I always figured if one had a few multitimb synths those two slots were a limiting factor ( latency / jitter )
Old 30th December 2010
  #30
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Thanks for all the replys!

Wow, Octopus looks like a dream! But yikes at the price. Europa feels like it would serve as a really good drum computer and the note sequencer itself is pretty nice in its own simple way, but I can't imagine paying 500 pounds sterling for it. Doepfer's Dark Times seems much more better than I had first thought. Thanks for the video! Though I wish it could save settings as presets.

My original intention was to buy a sequencer next week, but instead I went and ordered a Strymon El Capistan, so looks like I still have some time researching sequencers. Since everything else seems so pricey I might just build a MIDIbox SEQ and use it as a launchpad to see what kind of functions I don't really need and what I crave for.
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