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Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear
Rob Ocelot's Avatar

I have a number of hardware sequencers, some built into equipment and some standalone. I tend to mix it up for variety but generally keep the same sequencers and/or sequencing styles for similar tracks or similar themes.

*Zaquencer/BCR 2000 (MIDI)
*Doepfer Dark Time (MIDI, CV)
*Korg SQ-1 (MIDI, CV)
*Moog DFAM (CV)

-The knobby pattern based sequencers are useful for off the cuff happy accidents or quick and dirty polyrhythms by artifically truncating the sequence length (thus throwing the notes and accenting out of frame). As most of these are hybrid (output both MIDI and CV) they are useful as glue to go from something outputting either only MIDI clock or analog clock to the other. I sometimes use the Zaq with a 4 channel MIDI-CV converter (CV OCD. Fantastic and inexpensive, go get one if you dont have one). More often than not I'm using the SQ-1 with something else to sequence just CV to filter cutoffs (what analog synths don't have CV to cutoff?) like a custom LFO of sorts. The DFAM is a special case where it's a simple knobby sequencer as part of a synth and I find I spend a lot of time using something else like the SQ-1 to enhance or override the DFAM sequencer so it's freed up to do something else in the synth besides pitch and velocity.

*EHX Clockworks

-Not strictly a sequencer but worth a mention because I use it quite often. A brilliant little pedal that takes analog clock signals and hacks them up into divisions so you can get some funky polymeters (think 3/4 layered on 4/4). There's lots of Eurorack stuff that does clock and frequency divisions and my Kilpatrick Phenol has them too but the Clockworks is so simple and immediate with 4 channels and 4 sliders and as far as I know it's the only standalone option. Now try and feed it some non-regular rhythms (say from the combi output of a Roland CR-78) and watch the magic happen!

There's lots of synths with built-in non-knobby sequencers. I probably have some that I don't even realize have sequencers in them (Ensoniq SQ-80) and some that I do but I don't think of sequencing anything else with them (The TR-505 springs to mind):

*Korg Mono/Poly w/Tubbutec upgrade
*Akai Timbre Wolf
*Roland MC-202
*Roland SH-01A
*Yamaha QY-70

-I like the enhanced Mono/Poly for a lot of reasons, chiefly the great sequencer and arpeggiator but also for the poly chord feature that lets you assign a chord that will play when one note is struck (it doesn't need to be related to the note in question). The regular Mono/Poly also can use one of it's LFO's to pitch bend just oscillator #1 allowing you to vary an arpeggiation or sequence on the fly. I use this a lot in my music.

-The Timbre Wolf may be many things, but it's also a cheap and cheerful simultaneous 4 channel sequencer that fits right into my studio where I need it.

-The MC-202 is a great little sequencing box with a 2-pass programmer (you program pitches, then go back and and do timing) that can lead to some interesting happy accidents, much like the TB-303's quirky sequencer. It's getting a Tubbutec upgrade in the near future too.

-Not much to say about the SH-01A other than it's my grab-and-go mini sequencer of choice that runs on batteries. Does what it needs to do and sounds good doing it while also sequencing other gear in a small package.

-The QY-70 is an interesting package. A MIDI sound bank with nifty effects and a MIDI sequencer all in a portable gaming console form factor that can run on batteries. I just got this so I'm still wrapping my head around it but it's shaping up to be my portable sequencing box of choice next to the SH-01A.

The Standalone sequencers:

*Yamaha QX-1
*Twisted Electrons Crazy-8
*Conductive Labs NDLR

-The QX-1 is a big, ugly wedge that relies on a 5 1/4" floppy drive that it constantly accesses (and thus slowly kills) and has a physical keyboard that looks like it was made for grey aliens with three fingers. Yet, it's got 8 simultaneous MIDI buses (meant to drive the 8 TF-1/DX-7 cards in the TX-816 rack and companion DMP-7 MIDI mixer). Utterly amazing in it's specs and equally horrifying to program and operate, it's one of those "I'll get around to it" learning experiences I keep putting off that will eventually enhance my life (maybe). It sticks around because I got it for free and I can't bear to get rid of it.

-The Crazy 8 is a fantastic little 8 channel sequencer that does both MIDI and CV. It's my main non-knobby sequencer for the most part. It's UI can sometimes be a little frustrating but that's the compromise for so much functionality in such a small package.

-The NDLR is more of an advanced arpeggiator than a straight up sequencer. It's creating variations for you based on the chords you enter. I wouldn't use it as my primary sequencer but it's a very effective way to add some colour and variation. I'm still getting a feel for its potential as a live performance tool.

*Roland CSQ-600

-Somewhat unique as a sequencer. It's basically four SH-101 seuquencers in a box with no synth attached. You have to either 'play' CV to it live or step program CV's into it, so you need either a CV keyboard or another sequencer to program it first. The sequences are serial, meaning you can only have one running at any one time but you can chain them. I don't use this often but it's interesting as it's one of the only things that directly interfaces with the weird 12ppqn DIN sync clock of the CR-78 (most DIN clocks are either 24 or 48ppqn).

Last edited by Rob Ocelot; 2 weeks ago at 07:42 PM..