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Pioneer TORAIZ SP-16 These Days?
Old 11th May 2020
  #1
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Pioneer TORAIZ SP-16 These Days?

So I am looking for a stand-alone sequencer/sampler that is fun and easy to use. I want to use it to sketch out the track with drums, bassline, instruments, samples, etc. Then I want to dump it into Ableton and add the finishing touches and record the vocals.

I have been looking at the MPC One and Akai Force. I already own an OP-1 and Machine. I don't like the Machine because it's too dependent on the computer and I just don't like the software and workflow. I like the Akai's as they look very feature rich and flexible and are true stand alone units.

However, I have been seriously considering getting the Pioneer TORAIZ SP-16. I know it doesn't have all the features of the Akai's and the sequencer and sampler isn't as powerful but it reminds be of the older Ensoniq ASR-10. Although the ASR-10 didn' t have a ton of features, it had core features that worked well and it was fun and since it was fun I enjoyed making music.

I get the same sense from the Pioneer TORAIZ SP-16. Although it's not a feature rich as the Akai's, it is just fun and simple. So my question is this. I know the Pioneer is a little older and simpler than the Akai's but it just looks fun.

Is there any reason I should not consider getting the TORAIZ SP-16? From anyone's experience who owns one or has used one, is there any reason you will tell someone to stay away from it? I am so tempted to buy one because it looks really well built as Pioneer stuff always is and it just looks and feels "fun".

Thanks in advance!
Old 11th May 2020
  #2
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It's hit or miss. I have an MPC ONE that I am likely going to sell if I find a suitable replacement. The One is a formidable machine. It completely replaces a DAW. I got it for shows to brute force away any part of my set that was too hard to do with a modular. Basically to not have to compromise in my productions live.

But, their users are right when they say the Akai workflow is something to get used to. IMO it's jack of all trades and master of sample chopping to pads. Hell it has an auto sample to take a synth patch and put it to each pad, stepping each note along the way. It's almost worth keeping for that and a portable DAW since I have a desktop... I will keep it for awhile since they are releasing 2.8 for $99. Boo $99 but it is a comprehensive update. Pioneer users have been begging on their knees and even offering to pay for an update. Silence from Pioneer...

The Toraiz is, from other's aggregate perspectives, the great sampler box example of a failure to reach perfection. It has deep flaws, like significant midi sync issues, while also being a huge success in immediacy, raw tone, and the list goes on. It cannot record polyphonic midi, apparently. I remember that was one criteria that got me the ONE.

It seems you will be frustrated with it on several levels. Some can get over these issues while others cannot and sell. But many things are amazing on it and put the mpc to shame. It has analog filters, which do make it one of those boxes with a real, simulated character, but MPC one has digital emulations of the old MPCs that are pretty dope. And you can buy DSI filters in eurorack for like $100 and a case for $120 and have that. (I recommend almost any musician with hardware synths to get a Eurorack midi module and a few filters. I mean why not if cost isn't prohibiting you?)

One user had this to say, "Controversial take alert... The SP-16 is the best *Production oriented* sampler/sequencer ever made. Period. Point Blank. Its immediate and muscle memory is easy. MPC stuff is a lot deeper but thats the problem, its trying to be a standalone daw. Use the DAW to polish and produce. If you want to be creative and make things, SP-16 wins. This isnt the best for live performance, but for production nothing comes close. Fight me."

Another: "I think many good folks look at the mpc like a daw because they had no idea of what the capabilities of the mpc have been all along (not you in particular)
stuff like sample delete are not what I would call daw only features, or even features at all.... you can use an mpc as simply as you would use the SP-16, and still utilize muscle memory to great affect... the mpc is not convoluted like an octatrak so just using it for what you need it for is very, very easy. I am very interested in the torrid 16 but it is the first hardware beat machine with some definite inexplicable omissions...I'm still hopeful for those most basic of things to be added though and I still see a toraiz in my future."
Old 11th May 2020
  #3
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Thanks for the info. I do agree with what you are saying. I am not going to use it for live shows and only production to put ideas down. I love the way the step sequencer works on the hardware and it's worth it alone for laying down quick drum patterns with basslines and melodies! It's the first device that reminds me of the way the older samplers work with simplified sampling and simple sequencers. What appeals to me about it is that it is simple. The MPCs are sometimes just too complicated. I don't want a full DAW replacement but just something that puts the fun back into making beats and the Pioneer is the first device I have found that looks like it will do that - flaws and all. I can dump the beat out to the DAW when I hit the devices limits and finish it up.

I bought a Beat Thang when it came out and man I LOVE the way it works but the software is so buggy it crashes constantly and they were never able to make it stable or I would use the hell out of it. It's simple and effective. But the company went under and it was left half baked. But my point being that the Beat Thang was the closest device I ever had that was what I was looking for. Man that thing is amazing when it works.

I miss the simplicity of the Ensoniq EPS 16+ and ASR samplers. Yes, they were simple and didn't do everything but man they were fun and I made some amazing stuff on those machines because they didn't try to do everything - just what was needed very well. As soon as I started looking at the TORAIZ I realized that it was just like an Ensoniq but with features like time stretch.

I am more than likely going to buy one and try it out because it looks so fun.
Old 11th May 2020
  #4
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So I ordered it today and will have it tomorrow. I am going to give it a try. If it sucks, I will exchange if for an MPC but I hope I like it because it looks really cool.
Old 13th May 2020
  #5
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Ok, so I have had this thing for the day and spent about 4 hours with it and have already mastered it. I don't care what anyone says this is the BEST sampler I have ever owned. It's so easy to use and you can put anything down you can come up with in your head. The splicing is insanely easy and step sequencer is phenomenal. It feels like I am using my Ensoniq 16+ again.

There is no way I am returning this thing. I am enjoying working with it so much! It's so nice to get away from a DAW and all the BS that comes with it - drivers crashing, updates, problems, OS issues, etc. I can just sit and make beats.

Highly recommend this thing.

Last edited by smccarthy945; 13th May 2020 at 03:39 AM.. Reason: Update
Old 13th May 2020
  #6
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Michael T's Avatar
MPC 4000...or X. You will need one eventually unless you're just making techno.
Old 13th May 2020
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
MPC 4000...or X. You will need one eventually unless you're just making techno.
The Toraiz SP-16 has the be the single greatest purchase I have made in years. I am having so much fun with this. I recently bought an OP-1 and own a Maschine as well as use Ableton and nothing was inspiring me and I wasn't enjoying using anything until I bought the Toraiz. I am telling you that this machine is amazing! It has that old simplistic yet powerful Ensoniq ASR feel to it. It's the closest thing I have used to the Ensonic ASR which is a good thing. It's so easy to use and fun! I already made 6 beats on it because you can just move so fast with it.

Guys, trust me. If you are considering an MPC or something along those lines, do yourself a favor and try the Toraiz. I was skeptical when I bought it and made sure I had 30 days to return it because the negative I heard about it but the step sequencer is the best I have used in a LONG time.

Fantastic piece of equipment. It's going to be the only thing I am going to use moving forward with the beat making process.

Last edited by smccarthy945; 13th May 2020 at 02:38 PM..
Old 13th May 2020
  #8
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Michael T's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
The Toraiz SP-16 has the be the single greatest purchase I have made in years. I am having so much fun with this. I recently bought an OP-1 and own a Maschine as well as use Ableton and nothing was inspiring me and I wasn't enjoying using anything until I bought the Toraiz. I am telling you that this machine is amazing! It has that old simplistic yet powerful Ensoniq ASR feel to it. It's the closest thing I have used to the Ensonic ASR which is a good thing. It's so easy to use and fun! I already made 6 beats on it because you can just move so fast with it.

Guys, trust me. If you are considering an MPC or something along those lines, do yourself a favor and try the Toraiz. I was skeptical when I bought it and made sure I had 30 days to return it because the negative I heard about it but the step sequencer is the best I have used in a LONG time.

Fantastic piece of equipment. It's going to be the only thing I am going to use moving forward with the beat making process.
Well it seems like you already got your mind made up sir. I thought you were asking for opinions but rather it seems you want cosigns. You're right. People were making great music way before the Toraiz was invented. It's just another tool in the box.
Old 15th May 2020
  #9
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Getting cheap too. I thought $850 with case was a good deal like a year ago!

It is fun, quick and sounds great!
Old 15th May 2020
  #10
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Yea, the price is amazing for what you get! The simplicity of it is what makes it amazing. Look at what Dj Premier was working with in the old MPCs and the amazing records they made. Sometimes having a piece of equipment that does too much is what ruins things. Machines like the old MPCs and Ensoniq's are so loved because they had the perfect balance of features. I think that's why I love the Pioneer so much. Yes, the new MPCs so everything you can imagine but that means more complex menus, processes, etc.
Old 15th May 2020
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
Well it seems like you already got your mind made up sir. I thought you were asking for opinions but rather it seems you want cosigns. You're right. People were making great music way before the Toraiz was invented. It's just another tool in the box.
Well, I wasn't sure before and just decided to take a chance and buy it after watching videos on it. Once I got it and learned it, I am glad I bought it. I don't need any cosigns. I was looking for opinions before but just decided to take a chance. My plan was to replace it with an MPC if I didn't like it.
Old 18th May 2020
  #12
mp3
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Big fan of the SP-16 here. The thing I like most about it is just how inspiring it is and how productive you can be with it. It just makes you want to make another beat as soon as you’re done with one. It’s addictive. And I haven’t felt that way about any sampler except the SP-12 and ASR-X I had back in the 90s. The SP-16 just doesn’t feel like work.

For the filter, I would say don’t be scared of the resonance. It’s not self-resonant so the entire range of the resonance knob is useful. My favorite setting is with the cutoff around 1-3 o’clock and the resonance anywhere from 12 noon to 3 o’clock. You can get some nice old school sampler type sounds out of it with those settings. Back off on the drive though, I would say set it by ear but then back off by 20% when you go to track out.

After the filter, my next favorite feature is the step automation. One thing for you to try is step automating sample start/end points in the sequencer. It’s totally different from MPC chopping (and ASR chopping and most everything else chopping) because instead of putting different chops on the pads/keys, what you do is put different chops on the sequencer steps. The sh!t makes magic happen I’m telling you.
Old 18th May 2020
  #13
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How do you set sample start end points in the sequencer? I had no idea you can do that! I know you can set start and end points for the pads but you can set for the step sequencer?? That is amazing. Yea, this thing is truly amazing. I can't believe it hasn't got more attention given how amazing it is. I didn't understand why they made such a big deal about the effects in the marketing but I get it now. The knows to set drive, etc are absolutely amazing. The sound engine is the best I have ever hear. It's like the Ensoniq on steroids. I am going to have to dig into how to set the sample points on the step sequencer.

Yea, I think this is one of the greatest pieces of equipment made in the last 15 years and it's a shame MPC is getting so much more attention because the SP-16 is truly an amazing tool. My friend owns all the different MPCs and I use them but what they are missing is the step sequencer right on the front panel.

Yea, I agree. I am so glad I took a chance on this thing because I just happened to stumble upon one of the best pieces of equipment I have bought since the Ensoniq EPS 16+. I own the OP-1, Machine and Beat Thang and they all sit and collect dust for the most part because I don't like the way they work. I am probably going to sell the OP-1 soon. The Beat Thang is probably my 2nd favorite sampler but the company went out of business and it crashes alot so it's almost unusable. When it crashes, it blasts a massively loud noise across your speakers and I can't risk blowing out my monitors lol. Had Beat Thang got the software stable, I would use it alot more - but again no step sequencer.

Absolutely incredible device.
Old 18th May 2020
  #14
mp3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
How do you set sample start end points in the sequencer? I had no idea you can do that! I know you can set start and end points for the pads but you can set for the step sequencer?? That is amazing.
Step automation. It’s explained in the manual. Basically you just hold one of the 16 step buttons down and twist whichever knobs you want. If you’re on the sample display page you can automate those sample parameters including sample start, sample end, and the loop start if you turn on looping. If you’re on the effects page you can automate the effects. Etc and so on. Once you get the hang of it you’ll be hooked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
Yea, this thing is truly amazing. I can't believe it hasn't got more attention given how amazing it is.
Well it has its flaws, but it’s mostly because it’s short on features. And features sell...
Old 18th May 2020
  #15
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Ok, I am going to have to give that a try. Thank you!

Well, features may sell but it doesn't make a great machine. The SP 1200 was probably one of the most basic samplers ever made but it's more valuable than the newest pieces of equipment out now because of it's sound and workflow. People still buy and use ASR-10's and X's because they are amazing devices. Loading a device with tons of features doesn't make a good device.

I completely agree with what you are saying but it's a shame people don't see the beauty of the Pioneer SP-16. Again, I own most everything and the SP-16 is the only thing I use now. I think that's what made the Ensoniq's so legendary - simple and effective.
Old 19th May 2020
  #16
mp3
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Well to be fair the ‘A’ in ASR stands for advanced. And they were advanced back in their day. In 92 when the ASR-10 was released it was by far the most advanced sampler on the market until the EMU E4 came out in 94. (Same was true for the EPS-16 that came out in 90 really.) To this day there’s still stuff the ASR-10 can do that other sampling workstations can’t. But you’re right they were easy to use (and relatively affordable) and that was the real key to their success.

Edit: we do have similar taste in samplers though. I cut my teeth on the SP-12 back in the early 90s, and then moved on to the ASRs a few years later. To this day the ASR-10 is my all time favorite sampler. The pioneer is pushing for that title tho...
Old 19th May 2020
  #17
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Well I was making music when the EPS and ASR were out and there were more advanced samplers such as the Akai. The Kurzweil was also out. Ensoniq was the out that did it the best and easiest. Trust me there were many other options as I looked at them all. Ensoniq did so well because of their design and workflow but their reliability and build quality sucked.
Old 19th May 2020
  #18
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what midi sync issues
Old 21st May 2020
  #19
mp3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
Well I was making music when the EPS and ASR were out and there were more advanced samplers such as the Akai. The Kurzweil was also out. Ensoniq was the out that did it the best and easiest. Trust me there were many other options as I looked at them all. Ensoniq did so well because of their design and workflow but their reliability and build quality sucked.
Yeah you're right I always forget about the K2000. The Akais though, they were more playback machines whereas the ASR and the E4 and the Kurzweil were more synths. The Akais were advanced but not in that way.
Old 21st May 2020
  #20
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flextone's Avatar
 

Mpc1000 with jjos. Has better midi implementation than the new ipad mpcs and a quicker workflow. It just works and it’s really fun to use. Using mine to sequence a Z8. Load samples through usb, save work to CF. Stable as hell.

Mpc One is sorta cute but not for me. Wouldn’t touch the SP16 unless you will never ever want to break out of the 4/4 2 bar loop thing.
Old 21st May 2020
  #21
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flextone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mp3 View Post
Yeah you're right I always forget about the K2000. The Akais though, they were more playback machines whereas the ASR and the E4 and the Kurzweil were more synths. The Akais were advanced but not in that way.
I love my K2500RS but it’s a pain to use as a dedicated sampler. What a machine though...
Old 21st May 2020
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mp3 View Post
Yeah you're right I always forget about the K2000. The Akais though, they were more playback machines whereas the ASR and the E4 and the Kurzweil were more synths. The Akais were advanced but not in that way.
True - very good point. Great discussion by the way! I agree that the Ensoniq's were unique in that aspect. That's a very good way to look at it. It's funny but a lot of people swear by those S900 Akai's (I think I have the model # right). They claim the sound has the gritty Hip Hop type sound and the new equipment is too "sterile". I don't care what anyone says but those Ensoniq's had a really unique sound.

Getting back into hardware, I have noticed that even the Pioneer SP-16 has a very unique sound as well when I compare it to my Focusrite Saffire 6 USB interface. Like you said before, using the drive, cutoff, Resonance, etc really make a big difference.

I really like the sound you can get out of hardware - even if it's just in my head!
Old 21st May 2020
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flextone View Post
Mpc1000 with jjos. Has better midi implementation than the new ipad mpcs and a quicker workflow. It just works and it’s really fun to use. Using mine to sequence a Z8. Load samples through usb, save work to CF. Stable as hell.

Mpc One is sorta cute but not for me. Wouldn’t touch the SP16 unless you will never ever want to break out of the 4/4 2 bar loop thing.
What do you mean by the 4/4 2 bar loop thing out of curiosity?
Old 21st May 2020
  #24
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flextone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
What do you mean by the 4/4 2 bar loop thing out of curiosity?
On the Pioneer you can’t work in any other time signature than 4/4 and limits you to 2 bars pattern length. Or 4? Either way a pretty ridiculous sequencer on a machine with such serious intentions. Was really disappointed when it came out because I knew akai won’t ever make a good mpc again
Old 21st May 2020
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flextone View Post
On the Pioneer you can’t work in any other time signature than 4/4 and limits you to 2 bars pattern length. Or 4? Either way a pretty ridiculous sequencer on a machine with such serious intentions. Was really disappointed when it came out because I knew akai won’t ever make a good mpc again
Well you can use the arranger to get over the 4 bar limit. All you do is make two patterns and then combine them in the arranger to play back to back so theoretically you can make it as long as you want. I can make 5 4 bar patterns and then just combine them in the arranger and run in arranger mode.

I get the limit but I also think that's what makes the machine so quick to use. It's a trade off. Yes, out of the box you are limited to 4 but you can easily create multiple 4 bar patterns and simply have them play back to back in an arrangement to get over that limit.
Old 21st May 2020
  #26
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flextone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
Well you can use the arranger to get over the 4 bar limit. All you do is make two patterns and then combine them in the arranger to play back to back so theoretically you can make it as long as you want. I can make 5 4 bar patterns and then just combine them in the arranger and run in arranger mode.

I get the limit but I also think that's what makes the machine so quick to use. It's a trade off. Yes, out of the box you are limited to 4 but you can easily create multiple 4 bar patterns and simply have them play back to back in an arrangement to get over that limit.
Still a hassle, and you can’t just play it and record for 20 bars like you can on an mpc. It’s a workaround sure, but what if you want 5 bars in 7/8? This was the real brilliance of roger linn’s design. All these modern grooveboxes like the elektrons and sp16 are just step sequencers. And that may be ok for an 808 but not for something which acts as the sequencer brain of all my hardware. YMMV

That’s why I settled on the mpc1000 + z8. I have arguably the best midi sequencer ever controlling a 24bit/96khz capable sampler. This is the ultimate sampling groovebox for me because nobody is making them to such a high spec these days. Could have gotten an mpc4000 instead but it’s just so bulky...
Old 21st May 2020
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flextone View Post
Still a hassle, and you can’t just play it and record for 20 bars like you can on an mpc. It’s a workaround sure, but what if you want 5 bars in 7/8? This was the real brilliance of roger linn’s design. All these modern grooveboxes like the elektrons and sp16 are just step sequencers. And that may be ok for an 808 but not for something which acts as the sequencer brain of all my hardware. YMMV

That’s why I settled on the mpc1000 + z8. I have arguably the best midi sequencer ever controlling a 24bit/96khz capable sampler. This is the ultimate sampling groovebox for me because nobody is making them to such a high spec these days. Could have gotten an mpc4000 instead but it’s just so bulky...
Yea, I agree with what you are saying but it personally doesn't bother me. I think the trade off with the MPC is you get a more complex interface. I want something super simple and love the way the Pioneer sequencer works over the MPC. I love having the step sequencer right in front of you instead of just pads.

I don't use the Pioneer as the "brains" of my studio so it's fine with me. I use it to build the beats and then export to Ableton to finish it up. I completely agree that the MPC is a fantastic machine that has a great sequencer. I just don't need it.

I wanted something that worked just like the Ensoniq sequencers did that is simple and has the sequencer right in front of you. There is no doubt that the MPC is much more powerful and better. I just didn't need it nor want the complexity.
Old 21st May 2020
  #28
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flextone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smccarthy945 View Post
Yea, I agree with what you are saying but it personally doesn't bother me. I think the trade off with the MPC is you get a more complex interface. I want something super simple and love the way the Pioneer sequencer works over the MPC. I love having the step sequencer right in front of you instead of just pads.

I don't use the Pioneer as the "brains" of my studio so it's fine with me. I use it to build the beats and then export to Ableton to finish it up. I completely agree that the MPC is a fantastic machine that has a great sequencer. I just don't need it.

I wanted something that worked just like the Ensoniq sequencers did that is simple and has the sequencer right in front of you. There is no doubt that the MPC is much more powerful and better. I just didn't need it nor want the complexity.
Cool. It’s a great sounding machine with nice build quality. Really hope the OS will be developed as open source someday.
Old 21st May 2020
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flextone View Post
Cool. It’s a great sounding machine with nice build quality. Really hope the OS will be developed as open source someday.
Well I hope they continue to release firmware updates and put time into it. The last firmware update seemed to address quite a few issues especially with effects. It's possible they can get over the sequencer limits and issues with a firmware update.

I do completely agree with you that it's not a machine you will use to run your studio. An MPC is much more adept at that function. I think the Pioneer is a great machine to quickly throw beats together and then pick up on your DAW to add vocals and master out.

The thing I love about it is how fast it is and fun to use. It definitely is limited but man it's fun and makes some really creative stuff.
Old 22nd May 2020
  #30
mp3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flextone View Post
Still a hassle, and you can’t just play it and record for 20 bars like you can on an mpc. It’s a workaround sure, but what if you want 5 bars in 7/8? This was the real brilliance of roger linn’s design. All these modern grooveboxes like the elektrons and sp16 are just step sequencers. And that may be ok for an 808 but not for something which acts as the sequencer brain of all my hardware. YMMV
That’s fair but I don’t think Pioneer intended the SP to be the brains of your setup. It’s an instrument. Also it’s step sequencer is 4 bars, but it can be sequenced externally if you really, really need 7/8 time signature... Honestly I wish the internal sequencer was 8 bars, but it is what it is. I can get by with two patterns.
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