How did you pick your sequencer?

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newrun
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How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by newrun » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:19 am

How did you find your favorite sequencer?

It seems hard picking one just from Youtube videos and reading through the forums. Sort of tiring too. I'm guessing it's going to take some buying and selling (or returning).

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:28 am

by experimenting and by experimenting often. odds are you’re going to find yourself with multiple units that you utilize for different things. good luck.
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by Agawell » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:41 am

I have 4 'sequencers', in order of purchase - all selected based on the same sources you describe as tiring!

BSP - decent value for money - no hp (at the time I had only a small case and not enough space for anything else) - decent set of features (this was after the major bugfix firmware release) - third voice sequenced via a buffered mult and or sample and hold - using one of the drum triggers as the gate - also sequence my DRM1 mk2 with it

2hp TM/Tune - wanted some 'generative' sequencing and this was a relatively inexpensive and available solution at the time - now retired and in the cupboard - may get used in future

Marbles - most of my first set of modules were mutable - Emilie makes fantastic modules that I seem to gel with quite well - this was in a second set of mutable modules - plaits, marbles and stages - wanted some 'generative' sequencing and - love it - BSP gathered a bit of dust

Sinfonion - wanted to be able to integrate modular into tradition song structures with chord progressions and quantizing to chord - using v/oct from marbles into the quantizers - BSP is not the best for sequencing song part changes as it's clock divider is not that great

want an inexpensive simple 8 step sequencer with trigger in that I can use to sequence song part changes on the sinfonion - maybe next year (other priorities - will need an extra case 1st) - unless of course ACL either add song part chaining to their firmware or they open source the firmware - neither of which I am expecting to happen anytime soon - but no harm wishing!

I've also managed to get myself to a couple of physical shops - if I had done this first I would have picked up a metropolis early on - it's a lot of fun to play with - and may end up being the missing sequencer - if so I will probably buy used

Lots of people seem to go through sequencers like water - buy one try one sell one and repeat - searching for the holy grail - if you are going to do this used will work out much less expensive than new - the rental for each module should be close to the postage you paid
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by Carrousel » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:45 am

Realised cirklon was the absolute king, joined the waitlist, got a varigate 8 and BSP to tide me over whilst I waited. Had cirklon for 2-3 years now and never thought about getting another sequencer
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by DalNiente » Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:57 am

I'm not really the type to compose music based on sequencers (most often prefer keyboard, ribbon control or touch control), so felt like a small tool would be sufficient for me. That's why I chose the Xaoc Tirana II which is quite multifunctional. 4 steps, good cv options, analog and quite easy to program, can be triggered at audio rate and is only 6HP. Love it very much, as sequencer, arpeggiator and kind of spectrum generator.

Somehow the only larger sequencer that really fascinates me and that I dream about is the Random source TKB...

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by plogbidman » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:05 am

It all depends on what you ask to your sequencer. What do you ask to your sequencer ? Many users, many answers, many sequencers. To me a sequencer has to be hands-on, realtime interactive, direct, simple. To me the answer is a Doepfer a-155 with the a-154 controller. And you, what do you ask to your sequencer ?

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:29 am

Agawell wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:41 am
I have 4 'sequencers', in order of purchase - all selected based on the same sources you describe as tiring!

BSP - decent value for money - no hp (at the time I had only a small case and not enough space for anything else) - decent set of features (this was after the major bugfix firmware release) - third voice sequenced via a buffered mult and or sample and hold - using one of the drum triggers as the gate - also sequence my DRM1 mk2 with it

2hp TM/Tune - wanted some 'generative' sequencing and this was a relatively inexpensive and available solution at the time - now retired and in the cupboard - may get used in future

Marbles - most of my first set of modules were mutable - Emilie makes fantastic modules that I seem to gel with quite well - this was in a second set of mutable modules - plaits, marbles and stages - wanted some 'generative' sequencing and - love it - BSP gathered a bit of dust

Sinfonion - wanted to be able to integrate modular into tradition song structures with chord progressions and quantizing to chord - using v/oct from marbles into the quantizers - BSP is not the best for sequencing song part changes as it's clock divider is not that great

want an inexpensive simple 8 step sequencer with trigger in that I can use to sequence song part changes on the sinfonion - maybe next year (other priorities - will need an extra case 1st) - unless of course ACL either add song part chaining to their firmware or they open source the firmware - neither of which I am expecting to happen anytime soon - but no harm wishing!

I've also managed to get myself to a couple of physical shops - if I had done this first I would have picked up a metropolis early on - it's a lot of fun to play with - and may end up being the missing sequencer - if so I will probably buy used

Lots of people seem to go through sequencers like water - buy one try one sell one and repeat - searching for the holy grail - if you are going to do this used will work out much less expensive than new - the rental for each module should be close to the postage you paid
BSP? ACL? DRM MK2? I really wish folks would spell out things just once so readers won't have to attempt to look up what some ambiguous initials are supposed to mean. It's very frustrating and puts the burden on the reader and inconsiderate. People from all over the planet read this stuff when it shows up on general searches, chances are they won't know what a BSP is. I just kinda glaze over when I see posts with a lot of undescribed initials.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by Carrousel » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:32 am

Well ACL is the actual company name, and they make the sinfonion which was spelled out.

BSP (beatstep pro) is probably the most common sequencer in circulation on account of its low price and decent feature-set and I would have thought most people on here would recognise the abbreviation.

:despair:
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by cackland » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:34 am

I picked it based on the length of the sequence I could create and its melodic capability.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by newrun » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:44 am

plogbidman wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:05 am
It all depends on what you ask to your sequencer. What do you ask to your sequencer ? Many users, many answers, many sequencers. To me a sequencer has to be hands-on, realtime interactive, direct, simple. To me the answer is a Doepfer a-155 with the a-154 controller. And you, what do you ask to your sequencer ?
I think I want something hands on, like the Keystep Pro or the Monome/Ansible/Grid. Something I can noodle on. I read that the Keystep Pro is still a little buggy. The Monome/Ansible/Grid combo looks interesting, but will probably be out of stock for a few months.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by starthief » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:56 am

I started off using MIDI to CV, with a CV.OCD. I'd been using DAW sequencing for 13 years, might as well keep doing it...

At some point I found I liked taking multiple gates from the converter and running them into a matrix mixer to generate pitch CVs. I also had some more space to play with due to getting a second case, so I started to try a few different CV sequencers that seemed like they'd be fun. There's plenty I haven't tried, but it gave me a good idea of what I like. Where I settled was:

Teletype: great for algorithmic stuff, but can also have patterns programmed in or can read values from a 16n Faderbank or compatible controller. Sometimes I like addressing steps with CV or another fader. One of these days I may get around to trying a Grid with it :)

Marbles: the clever quantizer, the Deja Vu feature, and the way it can musically "learn" and follow clock patterns make it the first random generator I really appreciated. I find it combines very nicely with Teletype scripts.

Zorlon Cannon: not random, but patterns generated through logic that can be mixed into CVs. I like using it as a combined pitch and trigger sequencer to accent certain notes in its eventually repeating pattern; another good companion to Marbles and Teletype. Also makes nice retro noise at audio rates.

Korg SQ-1: small and cheap and relatively versatile. I actually have mine in a drawer though ever since getting:

0-Ctrl: has control over dynamics and its own rhythms (unless you patch it do something else), and is also a fine touch controller, and you can patch it into fun hybrid behavior (such as trilling between two notes when you release one).

Stages: usually I use it for simple LFOs and envelopes, but once in a while I'll have it sequence for me.

Bitwig Grid: I don't use MIDI-to-CV anymore, but sometimes I'll combine software and hardware modular in my sequencing. Bitwig applies the concept of phase to sequencing as well as audio, so you can phase-distort your clocks or table lookups, which can lead to some fun results...

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by GauthierM » Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:59 am

TMO, a perfect sequencer should have:
- a dedicated knob or fader per step (much more inspiring than setting each note after the other)
- at least 4 outputs
- a function to randomize parameters without having to press an actual randomize button,
- a pleasant interface and logical layout for basic, immediate operations
- the ability to communicate with all gear through usb, midi, cv...
- a comprehensive manual.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by mdoudoroff » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:14 am

newrun wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:44 am
I think I want something hands on, like the Keystep Pro or the Monome/Ansible/Grid. Something I can noodle on. I read that the Keystep Pro is still a little buggy. The Monome/Ansible/Grid combo looks interesting, but will probably be out of stock for a few months.
You’re recognizing that how a sequencer works (is operated) is at least as important as what it can do. Good! It’s a super-personal thing, and that’s why it’s so hard. The more elaborate a sequencer is, the more you’re having to buy into a particular designer’s notion of an ideal tool, and you will probably find that you are not in agreement with most sequencer designers. The fanciest sequencers promise the world, but they really only deliver a fairly narrow slice of it readily—the rest must be wrung out of it, often with inconvenience, tedium, and/or frustration. Because: every design choice entails significant tradeoffs. Miniaturization (e.g., to fit into 3U) implies further tradeoffs. At extremes, your sequencing experience becomes like laparoscopy.

- one sequencer is often not enough, because any given sequencer will be better at some things than others

- sometimes simpler (“utility”) sequencers combined with your own selection of utility modules adds up to more useful, flexible sequencing power than a fancier sequencer that tries to do it all (but never can); with enough low-level tools, you can essentially design your own sequencer for a given patch

- anyone claiming they have found nirvana with a single sequencer deserves a lot of side-eye: even if they’re basically truthful, they’re glossing over crucial context (narrow use-case, particular working style)

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by bgribble » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:29 am

The great and terrible thing about sequencers is that there are so many takes on what they even are. It’s really hard to compare apples to apple s because no two sequencers attack the concept the same way.

I think in general it’s a mistake to think of having just one sequencer in a system. Much better to have several small ones that each have their own vibe and strengths. That said there’s also a place for a “battleship” sequencer that can be the master cylinder.

When I was looking for a battleship sequencer to help wrangle multiple parts to a piece, multiple channels of CV and pitch, I thought “I’m a nerd, are there any sequencers that are made for nerds?” and imagine my surprise when I found the NerdSeq!

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by mdoudoroff » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:48 am

bgribble wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:29 am
I think in general it’s a mistake to think of having just one sequencer in a system. Much better to have several small ones that each have their own vibe and strengths. That said there’s also a place for a “battleship” sequencer that can be the master cylinder.

When I was looking for a battleship sequencer to help wrangle multiple parts to a piece, multiple channels of CV and pitch, I thought “I’m a nerd, are there any sequencers that are made for nerds?” and imagine my surprise when I found the NerdSeq!
I like the battleship metaphor, and I’m gonna borrow it! Having followed the battleship market carefully for a couple years, I think there are three leading products that are currently available: NerdSeq (Tracker de luxe), Vector (Cirklon-meets-Numerology-meets-Eurorack), and USTA (Buchla MARF/DARF reimagined for Eurorack). They are wildly different from each other. There are, of course, many other options, each with their own strengths and a few new ones coming down the pike.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by newrun » Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:58 am

bgribble wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:29 am
...
When I was looking for a battleship sequencer to help wrangle multiple parts to a piece, multiple channels of CV and pitch, I thought “I’m a nerd, are there any sequencers that are made for nerds?” and imagine my surprise when I found the NerdSeq!
Oh I sold the NerdSeq. It's a great sequencer. 6 sets of cv/trig/mod outs, beautifully built, loved the mechanical feel of the keys, the big screen was nice and most importantly, the developer was super responsive and helpful. Maybe I needed more time with it, but I didn't like entering notes on it.

It's part of the reason I'm finding it hard to pick a sequencer. The NerdSeq seemed perfect.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by mdoudoroff » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:01 am

newrun wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:58 am
Oh I sold the NerdSeq. It's a great sequencer. 6 sets of cv/trig/mod outs, beautifully built, loved the mechanical feel of the keys, the big screen was nice and most importantly, the developer was super responsive and helpful. Maybe I needed more time with it, but I didn't like entering notes on it.
Then I would propose you are either a good candidate for “classic”-style (analog-style) sequencers, and/or tools that you influence through parameters or gestures to pick notes for you (a whole ‘nother topic).

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by bwhittington » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:05 am

I have several sequencers in other formats but only one in Euro. I chose 1010 toolbox because I was using my Euro case live and wanted digital memory and stability. That came with trade offs, of course. Live *knob* manipulation is obviously out with it, and it is hard to program perfectly with its tiny screen entry. I do find it good for slowly or randomly dropping in notes to build a sequence, the selectable assortment of up to 8 sequencers, piano rolls, or tempo synced LFO's is ace, it is still quicker to program a specific melody than by tuning eight knobs and hoping they stay that way, and the assignable modulation options of most parameters (gate width, transposition, divider, step count, LFO divisions and depth) feels like the Oberheim Xpander of sequencers while still being easy to readily navigate too. And MIDI outputs, too. I often really dislike menu driven modules, but its first version was very intuitive and the deeper second became so with use. It has become an essential tool that replaces thousands of dollars of other module functions. It's main downside is screen size, so I don't get the trend of making them smaller. I'd be first on the list if they made iPad-size-screen versions of the 1010 toolbox and bitbox.

If the things I described liking remind anyone of another hardware/software sequencer, I'd be keen to know!
DalNiente wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 5:57 am
I'm not really the type to compose music based on sequencers (most often prefer keyboard, ribbon control or touch control), so felt like a small tool would be sufficient for me. [ . . . ] TKB...
Don't forget you can trigger a sequencer with a key press using an envelope follower or other tools, and that they aren't just for pitch. All the same sequencers, dividers, logic tools, etc can be really good with a keyboard, too.
mdoudoroff wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 7:14 am
- one sequencer is often not enough, because any given sequencer will be better at some things than others
And voltage sequencers produce interesting things when played off of one another!

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by newrun » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:12 am

plogbidman wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:05 am
...
To me a sequencer has to be hands-on, realtime interactive, direct, simple. To me the answer is a Doepfer a-155 with the a-154 controller. And you, what do you ask to your sequencer ?
Anything similar to the Doepfer a-155/a-154, but smaller and at least 16 steps?

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by funeralcake » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:20 am

I bought a Voltage Block based on watching videos mainly using it as a CV slider bank (probably not the best advice for deciding on sequencers), only to find I use it more for generating triggers and sequencing melodic doodles. I seem to be in the minority of people that really likes working with it in this way, programming short musical sequences via the sliders, if only because that's how I ended up learning to do it within my modular.
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by mdoudoroff » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:25 am

newrun wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:12 am
Anything similar to the Doepfer a-155/a-154, but smaller and at least 16 steps?
What about Tesseract Step Fader?

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:31 am

Rex Coil 7 wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:29 am
BSP? ACL? DRM MK2? I really wish folks would spell out things just once so readers won't have to attempt to look up what some ambiguous initials are supposed to mean. It's very frustrating and puts the burden on the reader and inconsiderate. People from all over the planet read this stuff when it shows up on general searches, chances are they won't know what a BSP is. I just kinda glaze over when I see posts with a lot of undescribed initials.

:despair:
The OP has to do SOME work here right? Why do we have to do all the heavy lifting?
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by newrun » Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:33 am

mdoudoroff wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:25 am
newrun wrote:
Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:12 am
Anything similar to the Doepfer a-155/a-154, but smaller and at least 16 steps?
What about Tesseract Step Fader?
That looks interesting. Thanks.

It's too bad Guitar Center didn't carry eurorack. It'd be so nice to try things before buying.

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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by albiedamned » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:03 am

My sequencer selection process:

1. Read stuff on Muffs, watch videos, etc., and find one that seems like it will be a good fit.
2. Buy it.
3. Use it for a while.
4. Decide it's not a good fit and sell it.
5. Return to step 1.

I've been doing that since 2013!

Right now I have an MPC One which is obviously not Euro but integrates well. So far it's seeming like a good fit. We'll see if that lasts.
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Re: How did you pick your sequencer?

Post by exper » Thu Aug 13, 2020 9:03 am

By trying many until I settled on the ones I really love and seem to offer something unique.

Too many in the past to list, but I've settled on:
Metropolis - Just incredibly funky and always interesting. Even with sequencers that offer more channels, this is still my favorite for inspiration.
Tete/Tetrapad - Not just a sequencer obviously, but the way you can interact with sequences and manipulate it in realtime is just amazing. Those modules changed the way I patch.
Five12 Vector - Super powerful and easy to program complex and interesting patterns. I'm testing out the integration with a MK3 launchpad Mini and I'm finding it a blast to work with. Plus it is midi out so I can send just one cable to my Bitbox Micro and/or a cv.ocd for more CV outputs.

Unfortunately, I found that you just have to buy and try to find what works. I've had many of the past "big" sequencers and many of them felt uninspiring or had weird workflows.
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