Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

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operator808
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Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:17 am

Hey guys.

I'm looking for some advice. I'm set to begin composing a large-scale A/V piece that has been commissioned by a film studio/tech company and I'm looking for a capable and stable sequencer or a combination of hardware and software tools to control an ensemble of digital gear. Here's a bit of background:

I have limited DAW knowledge but own licensed copies of Ableton and Bitwig.
I've got 15 years of analog and digital synth expertise.
I have used hardware sequencers such as Oberkorn, Doepfer, SQ-1, etc but none of the new stuff in the digital realm other than Eloquencer and FLXS1
I am a very fast learner.

Here's the gear being used in the show:

Novation Peak (played by SL MK3)
ASM Hydrasynth
Elektron Digitone
Eurorack system (w/ Make Noise Telharmonic as main voice)
Arturia Farfisa-V
Eventide H9 Max

I just really want to know whether I'd be safer and better off writing sequences in the DAW using something like Five12 Numerology OR whether it would make sense to have a piece of hardware. I can accept the learning curve for either but my primary concerns are this:

a. Stability of OS X powered machine running a DAW when it comes to clocking and sending MIDI messages + stability of MIDI-CV box/module

b. Flexibility of hardware sequencer since I would need, other than a stable clock, options for ratcheting, step LFOs, and the ability to easily compose/sequence melodic parts and trigger them live. Ability to import MIDI from computer into this would be great too.

c. Budget of $1500

Help?

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JankySwitch
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by JankySwitch » Mon Mar 09, 2020 5:23 am

Have a look at the Squarp Pyramid - it might do what you want.

It only has one CV/Gate/Env out, but has 2 midi outs, 1 midi in and USB MIDI if you need it.

I use mine with a BSP to get 3 CV/Gate/Env and 8 Trigger outs in total (and a MIO4 connected via USB for extra MIDI sockets)

You can import/export MIDI with the SD card too.

It's €619 from their store, and is available from other places too.
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Red Electric Rainbow
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Red Electric Rainbow » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:04 am

Social Entropy Engine with the CV Breakout installed could be an alternative.
TOO FAR GONE

operator808
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:28 am

Both options very interesting. I think I'm able to test out a Pyramid locally but not the Engine so will do that. Still hoping to her from people who sequence via DAW and how stable that is. For this to work in a live situation without hiccups is CRITICAL so I need something foolproof.

Stides
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Stides » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:27 am

Akai MPCX or MPC One. I use the one and have been happy with it. It can replace some functionality of the daw, and gives you a ton of standalone control.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by JankySwitch » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:42 am

One thing that would put me off the Social Entropy Engine is availability. It isn't made any more.

You could always buy 2 Pyramids and copy the SD cards for an easy swap if something goes wrong.
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operator808
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Tue Mar 10, 2020 2:51 pm

Stides wrote:
Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:27 am
Akai MPCX or MPC One. I use the one and have been happy with it. It can replace some functionality of the daw, and gives you a ton of standalone control.
Fantastic the MPC X is definitely out of the price rannge but the MPC One is well within. Will try and locate one to demo as well.

I'm considering also a setup that includes Five12 Numerology, Bitwig Studio and an Expert Sleepers ES-8 and if someone has experience with either of those, would love to hear some feedback.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Stides » Tue Mar 10, 2020 8:46 pm

The X is around $1500 b stock here in the states, maybe like new. I know for a fact guitar center has them used. They offer some warranty and ability to return too.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:27 am

If you already own and happen to have experience with Ableton or Bitwig both of these options are ideal for your purpose. The limitations of the hardware won't be in your way.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:58 pm

Monofunk wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:27 am
If you already own and happen to have experience with Ableton or Bitwig both of these options are ideal for your purpose. The limitations of the hardware won't be in your way.
I own both but have no experience with them. I would imagine the learning curve for just learning to use them for sequencing may not be too bad so I'm willing to dive in immediately. Would you happen to have any experience with hardware I can pair with the DAW such as a capable MIDI interface that can link up to the Hydrasynth, Digitone and the eurorack system?

Thanks

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:10 pm

operator808 wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:58 pm
Monofunk wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:27 am
If you already own and happen to have experience with Ableton or Bitwig both of these options are ideal for your purpose. The limitations of the hardware won't be in your way.
I own both but have no experience with them. I would imagine the learning curve for just learning to use them for sequencing may not be too bad so I'm willing to dive in immediately. Would you happen to have any experience with hardware I can pair with the DAW such as a capable MIDI interface that can link up to the Hydrasynth, Digitone and the eurorack system?

Thanks
The learning curve won't be bad. Both companies focus a lot of resources on usability.

For MIDI in and out you could get a USB MIDI interface with the number input and output ports you would need.
For MIDI to CV you could get something from Kenton. The only potential downside to a box like a Kenton is that it has a limited amount of CV outputs. It depends on how much CV control you need.

You could go for a more sophisticated setup by using Expert Sleepers modules which can handle both MIDI and CV but this will increase the complexity which may not be desirable while also learning a DAW.

Would you be using an audio interface with this setup?

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by XXXEsq » Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:30 pm

Find a second hand Social Entropy Engine with a CV breakout board. Mine is indispensable. Great for live performance and improvisation as well as studio use. It syncs to my DAW (Cubase and Live) flawlessly. It's obviously discontinued, but there is talk that Social Entropy has a new device coming out in the not to distant future.
If you want the BEST and most versatile hardware solution, look at the Cirklon. Long waiting list for a new one and on the expensive side, but second hand ones pop up now and again.
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Thu Mar 12, 2020 8:34 pm

Since you mentioned a eurorack system you can also get a eurorack module like Mutable Instruments Yarns which is a MIDI to CV interface that will have more IO than a Kenton box.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:49 am

Monofunk wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:10 pm
operator808 wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 1:58 pm
Monofunk wrote:
Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:27 am
If you already own and happen to have experience with Ableton or Bitwig both of these options are ideal for your purpose. The limitations of the hardware won't be in your way.
I own both but have no experience with them. I would imagine the learning curve for just learning to use them for sequencing may not be too bad so I'm willing to dive in immediately. Would you happen to have any experience with hardware I can pair with the DAW such as a capable MIDI interface that can link up to the Hydrasynth, Digitone and the eurorack system?

Thanks
The learning curve won't be bad. Both companies focus a lot of resources on usability.

For MIDI in and out you could get a USB MIDI interface with the number input and output ports you would need.
For MIDI to CV you could get something from Kenton. The only potential downside to a box like a Kenton is that it has a limited amount of CV outputs. It depends on how much CV control you need.

You could go for a more sophisticated setup by using Expert Sleepers modules which can handle both MIDI and CV but this will increase the complexity which may not be desirable while also learning a DAW.

Would you be using an audio interface with this setup?
Yes my main audio interface is an RME UFX+.

Do you think this MIDI interface is a good option? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... micro-lite

I will essentially be sending MIDI notes from the DAW or Numerology to Digitone and Hydrasynth plus a three Eurorack Voices (Telharmonic, E352 and Twin Waves). I think the combination of the MIDI Interface and Mutable Yarns might just serve me well. Yarns seems to be a stable bet for many years.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:51 am

XXXEsq wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 2:30 pm
Find a second hand Social Entropy Engine with a CV breakout board. Mine is indispensable. Great for live performance and improvisation as well as studio use. It syncs to my DAW (Cubase and Live) flawlessly. It's obviously discontinued, but there is talk that Social Entropy has a new device coming out in the not to distant future.
If you want the BEST and most versatile hardware solution, look at the Cirklon. Long waiting list for a new one and on the expensive side, but second hand ones pop up now and again.
I would love to explore the Social Entropy Engine option particularly since its been backed by many for its nearly flawless stability and live use, but I need to source everything by April 1st to start rehearsing. I was actually on the first Cirklon wait list but gave my spot away because I needed to buy a car that same month :(

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:00 pm

operator808 wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 6:49 am
Yes my main audio interface is an RME UFX+.

Do you think this MIDI interface is a good option? https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail ... micro-lite

I will essentially be sending MIDI notes from the DAW or Numerology to Digitone and Hydrasynth plus a three Eurorack Voices (Telharmonic, E352 and Twin Waves). I think the combination of the MIDI Interface and Mutable Yarns might just serve me well. Yarns seems to be a stable bet for many years.
Your audio interface is high quality and reliable. The UFX+ has two physical MIDI ports. One of these could be routed to a module like Yarns and the other could be routed to your DIgitone and Hydrasynth. You may not need another MIDI interface. You could start with this setup and test how it works. The RME should be solid.

People speak well of MOTU MIDI interfaces so I am guessing it would be reliable but read the manual to make sure it covers what you would need.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:03 pm

Another thing to consider since you are using a UFX+. If you need more CV outputs than a module like Mutable Instruments Yarns offers you could run an Expert Sleepers ES-3 module off of the UFX+ ADAT port to gain a lot CV channels. This will add much more complexity compared to using a Kenton or Yarns type module but is worth researching if you need a lot of CV control.

operator808
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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:17 am

Thanks again Monofunk!

I'm thinking I'll do a basic shootout between the Expert Sleepers, Polyend Poly and the Yarns so that I don't run out of CV options.

Eventually, I think I'm going to go this route and then call it a day:

MOTU Micro lite MIDI Interface
ES8/Poly/Yarns
Bitwig Studio

It's a new approach for me, but it'll be interesting, especially since both Bitwig Studio and Numerology are actually wonderful to use.

Thank you all for your help :)

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:43 pm

operator808 wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:17 am
Thanks again Monofunk!

I'm thinking I'll do a basic shootout between the Expert Sleepers, Polyend Poly and the Yarns so that I don't run out of CV options.

Eventually, I think I'm going to go this route and then call it a day:

MOTU Micro lite MIDI Interface
ES8/Poly/Yarns
Bitwig Studio

It's a new approach for me, but it'll be interesting, especially since both Bitwig Studio and Numerology are actually wonderful to use.

Thank you all for your help :)
Yes that sounds like a good combination and with Expert Sleepers you'll have full CV flexibility.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Voltcontrol » Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:48 pm

Also check out what the miditracks on your Digitone can do to control external gear. Can be a lot of fun!

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by operator808 » Sun Mar 15, 2020 5:40 am

Voltcontrol wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 1:48 pm
Also check out what the miditracks on your Digitone can do to control external gear. Can be a lot of fun!
Will do. Thanks :)

I was writing some patterns yesterday on Bitwig Studio and had many unexpected crashes so I might forego Bitwig Studio for now and try and do this using the Ableton Live 9 Suite.

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Re: Sequencer For Digital Synthesizer Ensemble

Post by Monofunk » Sun Mar 15, 2020 1:27 pm

Live should be stable. You may need to mind which 3rd party plugins you use for increased stability.

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