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Dipping One's Toe (World of Multitrack Hardware MIDI Seq)
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> General Gear  
Author Dipping One's Toe (World of Multitrack Hardware MIDI Seq)
This is a pretty simple question, mostly just looking for a yes or no answer.

I've been thinking about getting a Multitrack MIDI Sequencer in the near-ish future for a couple of reasons. 1) to have the ability to control multiple synths at a time when recording (since I'm crap at playing one keyboard with two hands let alone more than one cry) , and 2) to mess around and work on ideas using multiple synths without having to turn on my computer.

Now with that bit of background info out of the way my question is this:

Is it worth it for someone who hasn't really used sequencers to any real degree (still trying to wrap my head around my Rene on my modular) to possibly first pick up an Alesis MMT-8 or a Roland MC-50, both of which can be had very cheaply, to see if I dig this approach to writing and performing music? The end goal being to then later pick up something like a Squarp Pyramid when finances allow.

I know all MIDI sequencers are different, but I feel like the approach to using them is fairly similar, except for perhaps the whole pattern vs. linear sequencing paradigm.

I'll just add that I make mostly melodic type music that isn't Dance/EDM, and I don't really use percussion at the moment. I can't really get more specific than that because my style hasn't solidified yet and is changing as I listen and learn.

Thanks for any wisdom you can impart for this most likely extremely dumb question...
Bath House
An entire generation of hit records was made on the MC-50. It’s wild that you can get one for under $100 and you should definitely do so and explore it.
Considering u already have modular you may want to consider the possibility to use modular sequencers to control your modular and midi setup.
Both the Eloquencer and NerdSeq now have a midi expansion modules available and both are easy to use after a short 'get to know it' time.
I have not experimented yet with the midi expansions but I will do soon

These sequencers are capable enough to be looked at as stand alone cv+Midi sequencers, something I'll try soon with my hardware

Of course, they are not as cheap as an mc-50

Other options could be the old Roland mc-xox machines. For example the MC-909 has a large screen, piano roll editing... But u woukd need a midi-to-cv converter for modular integration.

Just some food for thoughts
The MC-50 does look fun and pretty straightforward to use after watching a couple YouTube vids of it in action.

I do plan to get a Kenton CV to MiDI box to use rene to sequence my MIDI gear as well since it has three channels.
Variables of sequencers to consider:

Step or xox vs live play input- step is when you go sequentially across each step of your sequence (eg each of 16 steps) and input a note, rest (or tie). Live play is you play your notes live on a keyboard as the 16 steps cycle through.

Quantisation - an option to shift your dodgy played notes onto the timing grid of your sequence so it sounds accurate

Mono vs polyphonic - some sequencers are only monophonic and can't have multiple notes played per step

Song mode or pattern chaining- once you've made a few sequences, you can chain them together to make a song.

Channel number- how many instruments can be playing simultaneously

Pattern length - can it go beyond 16 steps, up to 64?

Interestingly, many old-school sequencers like the ones you're looking at have most of these variables covered - pattern chaining, polyphonic, live play input, quantisation option, plenty of channels. Personally I don't like their workflow but if you can get your head around them (watching tutorials will let you know if you can understand how to use them and if you find that process creative for you) then go for it, nothing to lose. Make sure you check the ability of any modern sequencer you are interested in, many have compromised their scope. Eg my Digitakt does most of the above variables except limited to 8 channels, and no song mode. I'm ok with that for my purposes.

Report back on what you get and how you find it.
The MMT-8 is known to randomly (?) fuck up and corrupt its memory, erasing all contents...
Good luck with your search- it is a field full of pitfalls, and you often don't see them until you start using a machine. Eg the Pyramid has a smaller memory than several of the 90s sequencers. if you record lots of pitch bend and other modulations you could run out of space..
I am working on a poject right now that combines orchestration with modular synths and I was faced with a similar issue. My solution was to get a Roland MC-500.

Though the MC-500 is only four tracks, they are all polyphonic, and you can record and bounce just like a tape multitrack, so for me it’s very intuitive. I can build up a string part, for example, over three tracks on separate MIDI channels, and then bounce them down and it keeps the channel information. That means I can have a single track with more than one articulation.

Where this becomes powerful is when I combine it with my JV-1080 in Performance mode; this allows a single patch to have 16 sounds dedicated to separate MIDI channels. So I have an orchestral Performance patch that has strings, woodwinds, brass, etc and the MC-500 can play all of those back on a single track if I so desire.

I am using a BeatStep Pro to convert MIDI clock to CV and that goes to my modular where I have a NerdSeq as my modular sequencer.

Overall it works great and creates HUGE sounds!

As mentioned above, hardware crashes can occur and need to be planned for.

Hope you find this helpful!
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