Squarp Pyramid - New sequencer etc.

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Rex Coil 7
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:12 pm

Pyramid Tuna ......

[video][/video]
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:31 pm

More Tuna .... (I was all set to sell my Ver3 Pyramid earlier today ... I've changed my mind, I feel wisely so) .....

[video][/video]
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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:50 pm

4th video of today ....

.... here's what the person that created it (John Kreston) had to say about it .....

"I have made a video track using the Squarp Pyramid, Novation Circuit, Moog Sub 37, PreenFM2, Rhodes, Minifooger Delay, and Korg KP3+. I’m not great at making these (hence the shaky video), but they’re fun to do every so often. Euclidean patterns drive each of the four Circuit drum parts through individual tracks on the Pyramid. I have it setup with four Euclidean patterns per track bank for a total of sixteen. This way I can mix and match all sixteen patterns on the Pyramid and even swap them or combine them with patterns on the Circuit."


[video][/video]
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Post by RickKleffel » Tue Nov 20, 2018 6:08 pm

Thanks for this discussion! This Squarp, in which I had zero interest, has of a sudden become quite interesting to me. Pair one of these up with a Blofeld, maybe, lots of fun. Faneffing-tastic work Rex. Sequencers are wonderful instruments BECAUSE OF not IN SPITE OF their quirks and limitations. Friction begets creativity. The ultimate sequencer, so to speak, is Band in a Box. Not for me!

And checking out the size, I may just have a place for it. Where to put the Blofeld, or Ambika... that's the question. Looking forward to see what comes next from Social entropy. The Engine kicks all sorts of [Phillip Gl]ass!

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Post by Rex Coil 7 » Wed Nov 21, 2018 8:09 pm

Yea, the Pyramid is one hell of a sequencer. The manual is pretty lousy ... well, let's just say it's better than some, worse than others. The explanation of the hierarchy (patterns, tracks, and the unfortunate use of the word "sequences" in the way that Squarp used it) is completely non-existent in the manual. If a person doesn't have access to Tou Yube they are 100% screwed since it takes viewing of at least two to four hours of tutorial videos to work out how to use the Pyramid. It doesn't have to be that way, if the manual were written better (a lot better) videos would be totally unnecessary altogether.

All things considered the Pyramid is worth it's asking price. It offers a lot, it's very capable, Squarp has taken an active and demonstrable interest in listening to their customers and have provided firmware updates in a very timely manner. Firmware updates that actually provide new and very useful functions and features, not just bug fixes. True upgrades.

It seems to be built very well, with metal chassis construction and tough controls. They also seem to hold their value as well, the used ones I've seen sell for just around 10% off new prices. Some hardware sequencers sell for half price once the box is opened (so it would appear).

And here's my one "if I could change one thing about it" wish:

MUCH BETTER MANUAL! WITH A USEFUL TUTORIAL .... THAT BEGINS WITH POWERING ON .... AND ENDS AT HOW TO SAVE A PROJECT!

DAMMIT already! :rage: :redneck:

Do you know that not one single word is said about whether or not any of your work can be saved inside of the Pyramid in the manual ... at all? Not once does it say whether or not an SD card is required to save anything or if it has any internal memory to save projects on board! Now look, something as basic and rudimentary as that should be in the bloody goddamed manual!

Manual is suck. There is absolutely no excuse for this.

~Whew~ .... ok .... I blew that frustration out of me ... I'm good now.

Other than the manual being crappy (have I mentioned that yet?) the Pyramid is very well spent money. The tutorial videos are it's saving grace, I'm very grateful for the end-users that took the time to post helpful instructional videos. The videos that Squarp produced are difficult for me to follow ... the narrator's French accent is as thick as Grey Poupon mustard, and the English subtitles make it difficult to watch the actions and read along simultaneously. So it's a good thing there are generous end-users out there that took it upon themselves to help dumasses like me with getting familiar with using the Pyramid.

Manual blows

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Post by Daisuk » Tue Dec 25, 2018 4:36 pm

In my eternal (it seems) quest to find the one sequencer to rule them all, the time has now come to the pyramid. Hopefully I'll receive it next week. I'm fully expecting to have found enough annoying flaws in it by February, and to have sold it come March. But I'll remain somewhat positive for the time being regardless. :lol:

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Post by Shrigg » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:50 pm

What is the difference between the Mk. I and Mk. II? Can a Mk. I become a Mk. II through firmware upgrade?
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Post by Daisuk » Fri Jan 04, 2019 2:22 pm

Shrigg wrote:What is the difference between the Mk. I and Mk. II? Can a Mk. I become a Mk. II through firmware upgrade?
I think I read somewhere that the MKII just have a bigger pad area for drawing in automation. More robust aluminium housing and screen protector, updated screen printing as well, according to this:

https://squarp.community/t/differences- ... nd-mk2/320

I got my Pyramid today, finally. Only had time to play with it for about an hour, and seeing as the manual isn't great I was fumbling about a bit, but having watched the loopop video a few times during x-mas made it relatively easy to get going.

It's funny. I've been going through so many sequencers (had Cirklon, Engine, Push 1 and 2, Maschine, been through pretty much every euro sequencer out there), and never even cared to have a second look at the Squarp. The loopop video just really sold it well, and convinced me it was worth trying out.

First impression is very good, I really liked jamming on it, and got something useful pretty fast. We'll see with a bit more time though, whether it's up for it - one of the most important things for me is that program changing actually works - Push just never nailed that, and was annoying me to bits. Promising start though, at least (although the manual is doing my head in from time to time). :)

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Post by Nelson Baboon » Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:39 pm

lol - figured one would be useful now, for various reasons, so found a nice v2 on reverb.

it arrived today, and I'm reminded about how awful the docs are.

I've been trying to figure out how to actually output midi and have failed miserably. Entering from step mode, notes seem to be there, but....nothing coming out. the getting started section seems pretty useless, and I'm not yet sure where to look to find the probably INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS thing I'm missing.

It's showing up in the audio midi setup (mac) so apparently the usb is being seen. but, like, this is kind of ridiculous. And pathetically, I've used one before.

maybe I can waste many hours this weekend just getting midi out of it. sigh.

Edit: ok, midi is working with a DIN cable, but I'd rather use usb. usb is turned on in settings, but obviously there must be somewhere that you can turn it on for midi, but I'm not finding it. Fuck you, Mary Tyler Moore.

Edit 2: finally. hold midi channel in track mode and scroll until you get to usb. I mean, shouldn't that be one of the very first things in a getting started section? I can see progress is going to be slow.

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Post by Daisuk » Sat Jan 05, 2019 2:19 am

Nelson Baboon wrote:lol - figured one would be useful now, for various reasons, so found a nice v2 on reverb.

it arrived today, and I'm reminded about how awful the docs are.

I've been trying to figure out how to actually output midi and have failed miserably. Entering from step mode, notes seem to be there, but....nothing coming out. the getting started section seems pretty useless, and I'm not yet sure where to look to find the probably INCREDIBLY OBVIOUS thing I'm missing.

It's showing up in the audio midi setup (mac) so apparently the usb is being seen. but, like, this is kind of ridiculous. And pathetically, I've used one before.

maybe I can waste many hours this weekend just getting midi out of it. sigh.

Edit: ok, midi is working with a DIN cable, but I'd rather use usb. usb is turned on in settings, but obviously there must be somewhere that you can turn it on for midi, but I'm not finding it. Fuck you, Mary Tyler Moore.

Edit 2: finally. hold midi channel in track mode and scroll until you get to usb. I mean, shouldn't that be one of the very first things in a getting started section? I can see progress is going to be slow.
I struggled with changing midi channels too, as the manual kept referring to "hold 2nd and midi channel" or some such, and no buttons are labeled midi channel! But if you put on the getting started overlay sheet, one of the buttons is labeled midi channel. It's not super intuitive, but I've found that once you learn a button combo it's quite easy to remember.

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Post by Man-In-A-Suitcase » Sat Jan 05, 2019 9:47 am

having looked through this whole thread, i'm now considering a pyramid, but watching videos of it, it's just mostly folks making crappy techno on it, no videos or music tracks making berlin school kinda stuff with it.

be nice if squarp put step skip function on it, probably the chance fx is near to that function though.

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Post by Nelson Baboon » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:07 am

Man-In-A-Suitcase wrote:having looked through this whole thread, i'm now considering a pyramid, but watching videos of it, it's just mostly folks making crappy techno on it, no videos or music tracks making berlin school kinda stuff with it.

be nice if squarp put step skip function on it, probably the chance fx is near to that function though.
well, i wouldn't be concerned about the demos. I find that often in gear that I'm researching - the people who put up demos are usually not those who have similar tastes to me, and aside from picking up some little things, it usually takes quite a bit of time before I can discover some relevant information that will actually help me make a decision. And because sequencers don't make sound, and their use is so idiosyncratic to individual users, I think it's even worse.

If you're not sure, maybe look for one used, where you can get back all or most of your $ if you decide you don't like it. I had a pyramid before this, and actually (given my lazy-ass self) didn't use it to full capacity. I loved 2 features on it - the recording flexibility is unmatched (to my mind) and i found it's cv to midi (the direction there is the point) to be very useful. This time around, i searched Reverb, and found a great condition v2 at a reasonable price. the v2 has the same feature set as the v1, so I suppose this was a somewhat arbitrary choice.

this time I'm going to spend more time learning it (meaning swearing a lot when the manual brags in the middle of a feature description, that it does all of this great stuff, but then doesn't tell you how, or refer you to the relevant page, etc, or simply doesn't describe the steps in enough clear detail.

It's obviously a very powerful device, but it is designed with a different model than the sequencers that I've known and loved (and there have been embarassingly many). I've always been more comfortable with (i think there is a term for this, but I'm not remembering it) sequencers where you have knobs laid out, representing the individual values, so that you get a visual representation of the sequence, and can manipulate it with some immediacy. The pyramid is not like that. I was told that the original inspiration for the pyramid was that old Alesis mmt-8 (is that the right name?), but I never got on with that one years ago.

my impressions after 1 night of frustration, but also persistence through frustration - this will be a valuable part of my music if I just stick with it.

And, despite the poor manual description, I'm finding that the actual functions seem to be easy to accomplish and remember (thus far). I don't think it will be like the octatrack, which whenever I returned to it after a hiatus, it's like I'm recovering from a severe case of amnesia and remember nothing. One example I guess is the assignable knobs - my impression was that it's really easy to assign them and then record their turning in a sequence (though after a point the recording stopped working - is it because the values are overdubbed and not overwritten? I'd like a choice there, if I have this wrong), but I also found (despite the manual being very unclear) that it's pretty easy to just delete all of a particular cc#).

all in all, I think I learned in about 3 hours what it should have taken about 30 minutes to accomplish, mostly because I just couldn't find the most basic things, like sending midi out the usb port (see earlier post). But right now I'm feeling like mastery of this (partly because the work flow is so different, and hence stimulates different brain pathways - and did I just say that?) will really benefit me. I'm old and set in my ways, and want to be less so.

sorry for the long rant. Ultimately what I'm saying is that the 'jury' is still out for me, but I'm seeing tremendous potential right now.

Then again, I'd say that you shouldn't count on features that have not been implemented, like skipping notes. I don't much care about that, but if you need it, and don't have some kind of credible assurance that it will be added soon, or can get around it with some efficiency, I'd pass.

The pricing on these seems very good to me. It used to be that good sequencers were very expensive, and people used to ask why.

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Post by Man-In-A-Suitcase » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:36 am

Nelson Baboon wrote:It's obviously a very powerful device, but it is designed with a different model than the sequencers that I've known and loved (and there have been embarassingly many).
indeed it is a very powerful sequencer, just it's laid out all wrong, maybe
the french engineers of it had something different in mind, but with the
way the pads are all laid, it's like maschine or those other pad controllers.

screen is rather small though. but the price of 619 euros is nice.


Nelson Baboon wrote:I've always been more comfortable with (i think there is a term for this, but I'm not remembering it) sequencers where you have knobs laid out, representing the individual values, so that you get a visual representation of the sequence, and can manipulate it with some immediacy.
i guess some of us like something very visual and tactile, pyramid sometimes comes across as a button pusher's nightmare! and to most
knobs are more immediate than menus and submenus.
Nelson Baboon wrote: my impressions after 1 night of frustration, but also persistence through frustration - this will be a valuable part of my music if I just stick with it.
i wouldn't buy a sequencer if it just causes frustration and that you have
to spend more learing it than making music with it.


The Schrittmacher is in my sights, but pity Manikin have not done anymore OS updates for it with new features, it's like they don't care about their products anymore, kinda puts a negative light on them in a way!

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Post by Daisuk » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:48 am

Sounds to me like you might want to take a look at a Cirklon. It's quite expensive and there's a long waiting list, but sounds like it would suit your needs very well.

I had one a few years back, and while I thought it was very powerful, its workflow just wasn't for me - I can tell by just having used the Pyramid for a few hours that it's much better suited to my needs (but I don't make Berlin style stuff too much). Cirklon would be perfect for that, I imagine.

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Post by Nelson Baboon » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:57 am

you jump to a lot of conclusions, yet you haven't used one. I'm not finding the layout to be a problem, though I imagine that if the unit were twice the size, and probably twice the $$, the interface could be less menu driven.

I didn't say that it "just causes frustration". I said that the initial learning curve causes frustration because it is partly caused by poor documentation.

my experience with Squarp in the past has been very good. I remember good support, and a company that listens to its users.

Mannikin is a different story.
Man-In-A-Suitcase wrote:
Nelson Baboon wrote:It's obviously a very powerful device, but it is designed with a different model than the sequencers that I've known and loved (and there have been embarassingly many).
indeed it is a very powerful sequencer, just it's laid out all wrong, maybe
the french engineers of it had something different in mind, but with the
way the pads are all laid, it's like maschine or those other pad controllers.

screen is rather small though. but the price of 619 euros is nice.


Nelson Baboon wrote:I've always been more comfortable with (i think there is a term for this, but I'm not remembering it) sequencers where you have knobs laid out, representing the individual values, so that you get a visual representation of the sequence, and can manipulate it with some immediacy.
i guess some of us like something very visual and tactile, pyramid sometimes comes across as a button pusher's nightmare! and to most
knobs are more immediate than menus and submenus.
Nelson Baboon wrote: my impressions after 1 night of frustration, but also persistence through frustration - this will be a valuable part of my music if I just stick with it.
i wouldn't buy a sequencer if it just causes frustration and that you have
to spend more learing it than making music with it.


The Schrittmacher is in my sights, but pity Manikin have not done anymore OS updates for it with new features, it's like they don't care about their products anymore, kinda puts a negative light on them in a way!

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Post by Nelson Baboon » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:59 am

Daisuk wrote:Sounds to me like you might want to take a look at a Cirklon. It's quite expensive and there's a long waiting list, but sounds like it would suit your needs very well.

I had one a few years back, and while I thought it was very powerful, its workflow just wasn't for me - I can tell by just having used the Pyramid for a few hours that it's much better suited to my needs (but I don't make Berlin style stuff too much). Cirklon would be perfect for that, I imagine.
there is also the midibox sequencer. Very powerful, probably the closest in concept to the cirklon. If you have good diy skills you can build one yourself.

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Post by Man-In-A-Suitcase » Sat Jan 05, 2019 11:05 am

Daisuk wrote:Sounds to me like you might want to take a look at a Cirklon. It's quite expensive and there's a long waiting list, but sounds like it would suit your needs very well.
i don't have the 18 months to wait on a Cirklon.

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Post by visible cow » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:36 pm

One of the features I most enjoy on the Cirklon is its ability to borrow notes from another track. This way I can set a muted track to play a set of notes randomly and on the main track I can choose which steps borrow the note info from the previous track (or from any track I want). It's a great way to add a very controlled variation to a part. I'm looking at the Squarp manual now and don't see this type of functionality but maybe I've missed something. Is there a way to achieve this?

I'm attracted to the Pyramid's form factor but would hate to lose the ability to do this.

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Post by Nelson Baboon » Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:31 am

visible cow wrote:One of the features I most enjoy on the Cirklon is its ability to borrow notes from another track. This way I can set a muted track to play a set of notes randomly and on the main track I can choose which steps borrow the note info from the previous track (or from any track I want). It's a great way to add a very controlled variation to a part. I'm looking at the Squarp manual now and don't see this type of functionality but maybe I've missed something. Is there a way to achieve this?

I'm attracted to the Pyramid's form factor but would hate to lose the ability to do this.
I haven't used the cirklon in years now, but I'd say that in all likelihood, the more that you combine the unique cirklon aux events, the harder it is to get there on another sequencer. Maybe some clever person could do the above in a simple way with another sequencer, but there's so much stuff on the cirklon that part of the fun is combining these features, and the overall logic gets harder and harder to mimic. So, using the above feature in the context of an otherwise complex cirklon sequence? Nah.

But the Cirklon isn't the only sequencer that in its totality can produce unique results. You can get to places with the schrittmacher where the internal logic is unique to it (or at least you can get there more efficiently than with other sequencers - it doesn't have the more complex algorithmic type stuff that the cirklon has).

and it seems also that the pyramid can go to its own places also.

I miss what you can do with the cirklon. What I don't miss is actually setting the stuff up, which wasn't for me (partly the result of a small brain) as efficient as with some others, and hence seemed to resist my workflow.

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Post by autopoiesis » Sun Jan 06, 2019 11:22 am

visible cow wrote:One of the features I most enjoy on the Cirklon is its ability to borrow notes from another track. This way I can set a muted track to play a set of notes randomly and on the main track I can choose which steps borrow the note info from the previous track (or from any track I want). It's a great way to add a very controlled variation to a part. I'm looking at the Squarp manual now and don't see this type of functionality but maybe I've missed something. Is there a way to achieve this?

I'm attracted to the Pyramid's form factor but would hate to lose the ability to do this.
pyramid gives you transposition master tracks, which other tracks can be transposed by. the master/slave relationship can't be sequenced per step, though, so if you want some track to get pitches from another track on only certain steps (eg, 31 and 32 out of 32) , you'd need to only sequence those particular steps (31 and 32 out of 32) on the master track.

but since you mentioned random, if what you want is actually random for certain steps, you can sequence a randomization effect to be active for a given track on only certain steps, and you're given control over probability of positive vs negative offsets.

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Post by Daisuk » Sun Jan 06, 2019 2:53 pm

Been having a blast with Pyramid tonight. I've found pattern mode to be quite convoluted to work with, but working just with tracks instead of mixing patterns into it works great for me so far. I've so far been just splitting instruments into groups of four and four tracks (so four tracks with different variations to notes and rhythms and velocities and what have you) - that way you can layer tracks for oddness, or mute as you wish and you get access to five MIDI fx slots per new track, which is excellent for just adding small variations to an already existing track. Much faster to work this way than with patterns, and tracks are way more flexible than patterns as well. Seeing as you got 64 tracks, might as well use them. :)

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Post by visible cow » Sun Jan 06, 2019 3:11 pm

I've owned the Cirklon for years and I love it but am sort of in the mood to move on. I don't have (or want) a big collection of midi gear and mostly need a sequencer to play back long, un-quantized sequences (although I do also write tightly sequenced music).

Maybe I'll buy a Pyramid and see how we get along, I'd hate to ditch the Cirklon only to find myself not digging the Squarp. It sounds like there are ways to inject controlled unpredictability into sequences although probably not with the same methods as the Cirklon.

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Post by visible cow » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:35 pm

One more thing.....is it true that there is no control of pattern direction? I don't see evidence of it in the manual. I have to say that's a very intriguing omission.

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Post by autopoiesis » Sun Jan 06, 2019 7:52 pm

@Daisuk, have you tried switching patterns with the TRACK+STEP+PAD# shortcut? it makes the pattern workflow comparably fluid, to me

@visible cow, only forward playback of patterns. squarp has been aware since the beginning that a lot of sequencer freaks would like this but I guess they didn't find an event model that could work for this along with all the midi fx and polyrhythmic/metric track timings.

playback of long unquantized sequences is definitely something it's really good at

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Post by Daisuk » Mon Jan 07, 2019 1:48 am

autopoiesis wrote:@Daisuk, have you tried switching patterns with the TRACK+STEP+PAD# shortcut? it makes the pattern workflow comparably fluid, to me

@visible cow, only forward playback of patterns. squarp has been aware since the beginning that a lot of sequencer freaks would like this but I guess they didn't find an event model that could work for this along with all the midi fx and polyrhythmic/metric track timings.

playback of long unquantized sequences is definitely something it's really good at
Hey, yeah, I've tried that, and gotten it to work well, but where it gets confusing and a bit slow to me is when you have several tracks with several patterns each and want to create what squarp call sequences with them. If there was more of an overview way of switching patterns of multiple tracks at once instead of having to enter every track and then select pattern, it'd work. I just lose a bit of overview of which patterns I have selected where. Sequence mode really could be better at displaying some sort of overview, in my opinion. But then again, just using tracks is nice, as you get to mix midi fx around as you wish, which is ace. :)

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