dual-track 16-step CV sequencer solutions

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felix le chat
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dual-track 16-step CV sequencer solutions

Post by felix le chat » Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:48 am

Hello

I am using software for this, maybe this is the best solution

Is it possible, realistic, practical to have a Eurorack or external hardware dual-track 16-step CV sequencer with clock input, different pattern length (1-16) per track, and 32 controls for setting CVs and showing their actual values? I can accept 16 controls only, but when switching from one track to another for editing, are there sequencers that always display the actual step values (like, a system with encoders and LEDs for example)?

Using several Doepfer A-155 and associated A-15x modules would be very big for my system, and expensive

I found 2 solutions with one track, so you need to duplicate them, or use one of each (my preference), which makes a not-really-inexpensive 64 HP sequencer:

1) [32HP] Doepfer A-138m (mtx mixer) + two A-151 (sequential switch) + any 4HP logic AND module (this is for resetting the A-151s for less than 16 steps sequences)
* http://www.doepfer.de/A138m.htm
* http://www.doepfer.de/a151.htm
* http://www.doepfer.de/a166.htm or http://ladik.ladik.eu/?page_id=1919 or any other

2) [32HP] two RYO VC Sequencer + two RYO Trig Xpander (for sequences shorter than 16 steps) + A-151 (for 9- to 16-step sequences)
* http://ljunggrenaudio.com/products/sequencing.html
* http://www.doepfer.de/a151.htm

Is there anything more adapted?

This is for studio use (no song mode or presets needed), in combination with sample-and-holds, comparators, slew/lag processors, clock dividers, logic processors, switches, random, MIDI keyboards/pads, etc
(example: A-151 + Maths + Sport modulator + white noise)
Applications: mostly for generating rhythms and modulations, also occasional melodies

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Post by MarcelP » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:11 am

Arturia Beatstep Pro would appear to be the solution? Well - it’s the solution I use when doing what you describe... and would be a cheap “mistake” if it didn’t suit your workflow, etc.

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x2mirko
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Post by x2mirko » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:22 am

Unless I'm missing something about your description, Frap Tools USTA is exactly what you want. It does have four tracks (or eight, depending on how you look at it), though. Hope that's not a dealbreaker :hihi:

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Post by MossGarden » Mon Nov 11, 2019 6:39 am

x2mirko wrote:Unless I'm missing something about your description, Frap Tools USTA is exactly what you want. It does have four tracks (or eight, depending on how you look at it), though. Hope that's not a dealbreaker :hihi:
USTA is what I would suggest too, it's got 16 LED ring'd encoders which give you a lot of visual info when working on complex patterns. You get 4 channels, each having two CV+Gate outputs. Seriously powerful beast :bananaguitar:

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Post by mdoudoroff » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:55 am

The devil is always in the details with sequencers.

If you prefer classic analog-style sequencers (like the A-155) you could consider the Koma Komplex. I have used one for a couple years and can answer questions about it. A Komplex would be four 16-step analog-style sequencers in a relatively compact form factor that gobbles desk space instead of more expensive rack HP.

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Post by target_destroyed » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:33 am

Beatstep Pro's price/performance ratio is probably the best you'll find. It's stupidly cheap for its capabilities.

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Post by stickman » Mon Nov 11, 2019 4:10 pm

Analog Solutions offer a few different options like generator

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Post by felix le chat » Mon Nov 11, 2019 7:49 pm

Many thanks for your help everybody!
MarcelP wrote: Arturia Beatstep Pro would appear to be the solution? Well - it’s the solution I use when doing what you describe... and would be a cheap “mistake” if it didn’t suit your workflow, etc.
target_destroyed wrote: Beatstep Pro's price/performance ratio is probably the best you'll find. It's stupidly cheap for its capabilities.
I agree the BeatStep Pro is a great machine for a nice price.
I did not read all the manual carefully, but there is one thing I am not sure about: can SEQ1 and SEQ2 have different pattern lengths, like the DRUM sequencer in "Polyrhythm" mode?

One problem is that for SEQ1 and SEQ2 you cannot see the whole sequence (unless I missed something). You can only touch each encoder for displaying its value on the screen, one by one. There are no LED rings around the encoders, nor do they light up more or less dimmed depending on the value, and the screens cannot display the entire sequence graphically. I understand this would have increased the costs a lot, but for me it means editing complex polyrhythmic sequences is less friendly and longer than on a software or vintage analogue sequencer.
Fore sure I would use it in live, for example to avoid a computer, but I don't play live electronic concerts currently and I don't plan to bring a modular synthesizer live anyway
MossGarden wrote:
x2mirko wrote:Unless I'm missing something about your description, Frap Tools USTA is exactly what you want. It does have four tracks (or eight, depending on how you look at it), though. Hope that's not a dealbreaker :hihi:
USTA is what I would suggest too, it's got 16 LED ring'd encoders which give you a lot of visual info when working on complex patterns. You get 4 channels, each having two CV+Gate outputs. Seriously powerful beast :bananaguitar:
Looks great! It is indeed very deep so I need to study it a bit. It is 120€ more than the solution 1 from my first post, but it has a lot more functionality. I will check the videos to see if the workflow is ok for me, and if it does not overlap too much with my software sequencer
mdoudoroff wrote: The devil is always in the details with sequencers.

If you prefer classic analog-style sequencers (like the A-155) you could consider the Koma Komplex. I have used one for a couple years and can answer questions about it. A Komplex would be four 16-step analog-style sequencers in a relatively compact form factor that gobbles desk space instead of more expensive rack HP.
What I like in classic analog-style sequencers, and more generally in analogue modular systems, is that you can both see and edit all the parameters at any time. Coming from acoustic instruments and computers, I see it as a kind of a hybrid machine with a typical "compose, patch, record, unpatch" fast and immediate workflow. During production I never have a trial-and-error workflow, I do this separately for learning about the modules. Compared to acoustic instruments, a modular system allows to program imaginary sounds and impossible/improbable rhythms; compared to a computer it is more limited but also faster to use (I never use original presets and very few commercial programs). And of course, the computer, the analogue machines and the acoustic instruments can each do things that are almost impossible to do with the others, so they work well together

The Koma Komplex is really complete, has a great interface, and does far more than I need, but it is really too expensive for me (even if I think it is quite affordable given its possibilities). If I was much richer I would buy it, but at the moment it would be a luxury and risky choice, especially as I can program similar functionality in software (without the same physical experience of course, nor the same "joy" factor, but still quite close to it in terms of workflow).
Why did you sell it?

For my modular system, I would like to patch specific sequencers for each song or each song section using several minimal modules (see the list in my first post), but it lacks a module that allows to store a pattern of 16 ordered CVs that you can play from step X to step Y (or from 1 to Z). 8-maximum would not be enough in practice.

Maybe this is a good example (with many additional features, though):
https://www.modulargrid.net/img/modcache/16851.f.jpg
(it does not actually exist but you get the idea)
stickman wrote: Analog Solutions offer a few different options like generator
Yes they are great but all tracks always run in parallel, you cannot have different pattern lengths like this:

Time (clock)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 etc

Channel 1 (3 steps)
1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 3 1 2 etc

Channel 2 (4 steps)
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 etc

Channel 3 (7 steps)
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 2 3 4 etc

Same problem with the Serge TKB, Analogue Systems, etc
__

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Post by mdoudoroff » Mon Nov 11, 2019 8:53 pm

felix le chat wrote: The Koma Komplex is really complete, has a great interface, and does far more than I need, but it is really too expensive for me (even if I think it is quite affordable given its possibilities). If I was much richer I would buy it, but at the moment it would be a luxury and risky choice, especially as I can program similar functionality in software (without the same physical experience of course, nor the same "joy" factor, but still quite close to it in terms of workflow).
No question it is an investment. Komplex is a bit like having four Metropolises in a box… for about the same cost as three Metropolises (but less, because no hidden rack cost). It would be nice if Koma made a half-size version. It would still be relatively expensive, though—lots of components.
felix le chat wrote:Why did you sell it?
I didn’t sell it. It remains my primary sequencer. I wound up with it out of frustration, because I disliked all the “digital” Eurorack sequencers I tried. Still haven’t found a sequencer I would prefer.
felix le chat wrote:For my modular system, I would like to patch specific sequencers for each song or each song section using several minimal modules (see the list in my first post), but it lacks a module that allows to store a pattern of 16 ordered CVs that you can play from step X to step Y (or from 1 to Z). 8-maximum would not be enough in practice.
Well, yeah. I think that’s one of the main strengths of the Komplex: you’ve got sixteen steps, and you can set the sequence length (manually and/or with CV), and you can set the offset (SSP, again manually and/or with CV), so you’re now playing any sub-sequence of those sixteen steps. You can change direction. You can wrap around from end to beginning.

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Post by batch » Mon Nov 11, 2019 9:44 pm

Take a look at the ER101/2. It will do everything you want and a ton more.
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Post by mdoudoroff » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:36 am

batch wrote:Take a look at the ER101/2. It will do everything you want and a ton more.
This is probably true, functionally-speaking, although the ER-101/2 is also one of the sequencers that drove me to buy a Komplex, instead—your mileage may vary. The ER-101 meets none of your usability desires.

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Post by seta666 » Tue Nov 12, 2019 6:46 am

Teenage engeniering PO modular 16 could be another option
3 tracks plus keyboard

https://youtu.be/RpjgwTTKeqc

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Post by ersatzplanet » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:41 am

How about a Division6 Dual Mini? The DIY version is cheap enough that you could have a few of them.

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:42 pm

mdoudoroff wrote:
batch wrote:Take a look at the ER101/2. It will do everything you want and a ton more.
This is probably true, functionally-speaking, although the ER-101/2 is also one of the sequencers that drove me to buy a Komplex, instead—your mileage may vary. The ER-101 meets none of your usability desires.
Yes, it does everything I want and much more, except that you cannot see the sequence globally, only step by step, and I really need it.
This is a great sequencer but I think it is more adapted to programming long melodies. Nearly all the time, I play melodies, bass and chords directly with a keyboard. If I really need to sequence a written score, I prefer using the piano roll in Reaper (with Silent Way VST when using the modular), but it happened something like 3 or 4 times in my life.
Last edited by felix le chat on Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:48 pm

mdoudoroff wrote: No question it is an investment. Komplex is a bit like having four Metropolises in a box… for about the same cost as three Metropolises (but less, because no hidden rack cost)
Isn't it even 8 Metropolises? I thought the Metropolis was 8-step, not 16
I didn’t sell it. It remains my primary sequencer. I wound up with it out of frustration, because I disliked all the “digital” Eurorack sequencers I tried. Still haven’t found a sequencer I would prefer.
Ah ok sorry I misread it

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 12, 2019 7:49 pm

seta666 wrote:Teenage engeniering PO modular 16 could be another option
3 tracks plus keyboard

https://youtu.be/RpjgwTTKeqc
Thanks, I will check this one too!

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Post by BaloErets » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:00 pm

As many have echoed, sequencing is so very personal. One of the tools that I have personally used in the past was the Hermod. I loved it's features and the capabilities that it brought, but detested it's interface for programming sequences. It's great if you're live-inputting your sequences or if you're using a lot of MIDI, but programming sequences was extremely frustrating.

I've had 2 Metropolis and that's a pretty solid solution but it costs and uses a lot of real estate.

I've settled and am quite comfortable with Rene2. Yes, you might at first glance see it as three, 8 step sequencers, but once you get comfortable working with the Z axis that is pretty much CV control over saved states of Rene, then it's just a simple matter of sequencing the sequencer to give you 3 tracks of any length sequences that you could imagine.

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:26 pm

ersatzplanet wrote:How about a Division6 Dual Mini? The DIY version is cheap enough that you could have a few of them.

Image
Thanks, yes I know this one, you can only see all steps (not all CVs) at the same time but as it is really compact it's ok. Perhaps the only problem for me is that it does not have a clock output (except using one track as clock of course, but you don't want to do this)

This brings me to a controversial and somehow taboo problem that I wanted to avoid talking about because people would confuse it with trolling

Given that all digital machines have latency (can be 10 microseconds, 10 milliseconds, or more), how tight and synchronized is a sequencer made from several chained or fed-back digital modules that all have a different latency which is never published in the specifications?

For example, I am using a computer as "digital modules" interconnected together, the whole system has a considerable latency (say 1-20 ms round trip latency, depending on settings), but you can measure it and compensate it so that what comes from outside the computer (modular synthesizer and other instruments) is perfectly synchronized (well, with a precision of 1/48000 second but it's fine).
I currently have no digital module except the ES-3 (computer sequencers to modular interface) and the A-190-5 (only for MIDI keyboards and pads, not for using with the computer), so I have no experience of digital module latencies. I have nothing against digital modules, it's just that my modular started as something that would allow me to make sounds that I was not able to program easily with a computer.

Of course, if you have a "master" digital sequencer like the René, Komplex or USTA and you only connect analogue sequencers, switches, etc to it, then it is not a problem.
But this is why I said the problem of the Dual Mini Sequencer (for me) was not having a clock output, so it cannot be used as a master sequencer. For example, if I have an LFO as master clock and connect it to both a Dual Mini Sequencer and an analogue sequencer that run in parallel, but both control the same drums, how can I be sure it is tight enough? I would never want to add precision digital delays to compensate latencies in each specific patch!

Sorry for this long message but I searched for it on the Internet and found nothing. I guess the great modular digital sequencers would not sell if there was a problem, but I needed to ask.
For sure, "audio" A/D and D/A converters with high quality sound, anti-aliasing filters, etc have a lot more latency than "analogue I/O" A/Ds and D/As; then latency depends on the programs that are running. This is all I know about it.

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:44 pm

BaloErets wrote: I've settled and am quite comfortable with Rene2. Yes, you might at first glance see it as three, 8 step sequencers, but once you get comfortable working with the Z axis that is pretty much CV control over saved states of Rene, then it's just a simple matter of sequencing the sequencer to give you 3 tracks of any length sequences that you could imagine.
Yes, to be fair the only reason why I don't have a René is the size and the price (but I don't find it overpriced), because I like the fact it brings a new approach to sequencing that I find very interesting. But yes maybe it is great even for more "traditional" sequencing, I will check it again

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 12, 2019 8:53 pm

Should I consider 2x Korg SQ-1?

Each SQ-1 has
- 2x8 or 1x16 steps
- 16 potentiometers and 16 buttons
- variable pattern length between 1 and 16
- clock input and output
- cheap price

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Post by SyndieBot2000XL » Tue Nov 12, 2019 11:49 pm

felix le chat wrote:Should I consider 2x Korg SQ-1?
Probably my favorite sequencer ever for “messing around until something cool emerges”, rather than “I have a tune in my head and I need to get it down”.
I had two sq-1s for a while until I loaned one to a friend. Implulse bought the second one when it came up on Reverb for $65, shipping inclusive.

It’s a surprisingly powerful and “performable” setup. Fun to set up different parts and mute them in and out by switching four (or whatever) steps at a time.

Handy if you want to clock midi from modular or a volca as well.

I never really used the usb except to power it. It did not behave well with my install of live 9 so I just didn’t persue it. Great box for the money though and I use it all the time. Gotta get that second one back from my friend...

Re: BSP seq1&2 can be set to have different lengths from each other and the drum sequencer iirc.
It began as a mistake.

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Post by BlinkyLights » Wed Nov 13, 2019 12:04 am

Yes the BeatstepPro Seq1 and Seq2 sequences can be different lengths.

In lieu of LED rings.around each Encoder, you just gently touch the Encoder in question and its current value is shown on the Display.

And to "see the whole sequence" you press both the Back and Forward buttons at once while the unit is sropped, th4n they'll both illuminate and then the 16 steps view follows all the way to as many as 64steps, showing you what's what for the 1-4x 16 steps in question.

Far from perfect, no doubt, but none are.

It's all a matter of trade-offs and personal preferences.

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Post by sir stony » Wed Nov 13, 2019 3:01 am

felix le chat wrote:
ersatzplanet wrote:How about a Division6 Dual Mini? The DIY version is cheap enough that you could have a few of them.

Image
Thanks, yes I know this one, you can only see all steps (not all CVs) at the same time but as it is really compact it's ok. Perhaps the only problem for me is that it does not have a clock output (except using one track as clock of course, but you don't want to do this)
But it does totally show the CV value. As a key indicated by the leds in the little keyboard, plus two octave leds next to it.
(edit) Argh. You said "at the same time". Nah, it will of course only show the active step's value. (/edit)
About the clock, well, yes. I usually feed it externally, and need to to have them stay in sync.
It makes a really funny little modulation/sub sequencer at a nicely small price (particularly the diy version) and does a good job. I definitely love the old school, straight forward interface, and having two of everything makes it a toy that can keep you happy for hours no problem. It totally seems to be a keeper.

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Post by felix le chat » Tue Nov 26, 2019 2:33 pm

I was wrong about the Division6 Dual Mini Sequencer, I thought the LED row could display which steps fire a gate, but actually it seems they only display which step is currently active

I have checked all these sequencers (BeatStep Pro, USTA, ER-101, Teenage Modular 16, Division6 DMS), they are great, but not that adapted to my workflow. Generally speaking, too many parameters are "hidden", making editing slower than on a one-control-per-function sequencer, and there is no global view of all the tracks which I finally find more important than I thought in my original post.
One thing I really like on my modular system is that everything is fast and direct, and I would like to keep this approach

The Korg SQ-1 would have been ok especially because of the price, but I just discovered you cannot have a 16-step sequence when driving it with an external clock! (why, by the way? I see no reason for skipping clock pulses in some modes)

Also, my software sequencer + ES-3 system can already do everything I want, it is simple and fast to use, and I can add specific features when required

I think I prefer analogue sequencers (I mean, without a larger microcontroller unit with complex software and OS) like the A-155, but none have 16 steps and variable sequence length per track.
I started to design a DIY sequencer some years ago, I will check if it is really possible to build it (looks very simple, but I am sure it is quite difficult in practice)

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Post by ratchet » Tue Nov 26, 2019 4:37 pm

The Korg SQ-1 would have been ok especially because of the price, but I just discovered you cannot have a 16-step sequence when driving it with an external clock! (why, by the way? I see no reason for skipping clock pulses in some modes)
Are you sure about this? I'm fairly certain I've used mine externally synced before with a 16 step sequence.

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