Samplers on ACID

Everything we love about Samplers from E-MU, AKAI, Ensoniq, Kurzweil, Roland, and all the rest.

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#1 2015-02-16 15:00:12

cube48
Member
Registered: 2015-02-09
Posts: 15

What sequencers do you use?

Question is simple.

What sequencers do you use to sequence your samplers and other gear? What do you love/hate about them? HW or SW?

Please, share your weaponry experience smile

Here are my affairs.

Yamaha RS7000
After years of SW I got the Yamaha RS7000. Loved everything about it's MIDI sequencer, especially the MIDI FX section (realtime beat stretch, delay etc.), all the editing tools and also the live aspect of it. It could even record 16 channels simultaneously (cool for quick MIDI sequence transfer). I loved the mute/solo buttons, pattern transpose, quantized pattern switching etc. Overall versatility was pretty unmatched in it's price range.
I didn't like the fact that you had to stop the sequencer during live recording if you wanted to switch to another track/instrument. That's why I swapped it after 5 years of joy for E-MU Command Station.

E-MU Command Station XL-7
It's different beast compared to RS7K, smaller display, deeper menus, no realtime MIDI FX (except Repeat and Arpeggio) but everything else it's comparable. And the most importantly for my workflow ... I can keep the groove going while recording. Live record can be enabled/disabled with foot switch on the run, switching to another track while recording is no problem. MIDI event edits are not so straight forward but possible.
I love the 16 knobs and the whole E-MU logic across the OS. Nice complement and 'command station' to my E-MU E6400 Ultra, it's like they have been created for each other. Also, in the song mode you can chain your patterns and then record the parameter automation independently, over your patterns. There is still so much to be discovered, I have it less than a year now but it's used as dedicated seq for Ultra.

MIDIBox Seq V4
Just built mine recently and still waiting for the case and front panel. I can't comment a lot yet on it but from the first impressions it's gonna be fun. I'm curious about the live recording mode.
People say it's the best thing after Cirklon. Let's see.

Elektron Octatrack
MIDI sequencer is quite limited when compared to anything from 90ies-2K era but it's got a few tricks in it's sleeve. Semi-independent track lengths and tempo scales and 3 LFO's per track. Still it's just 3 notes polyphony per track, reduced resolution for slower track tempo scales, 8 CC's per track etc. But it's main power lies in live sample mangling where it excels.

Atari ST
I fire good old Cubase up from time to time when I'm in the mood for more visual approach. Great for higher perspective and targeted track composition, tight timing. With the modern LCD monitor it's pleasure to read the 'magnified' and B&W UI. There is also M, really cool interactive composition program which helps musically self-educated people like me to come up with something that sounds 'structured' :-D
Good thing is that Atari doesn't have any active cooling so it's completely silent. It also boots quite fast.

From the software side of the sequencing moon I can only mention Seq24 which is Windows and Linux only AFAIK. Simple yet efficient. I like it's Atari-GEM like UI and it's focus on PC keyboard control. Cool for visual music drawing and triggering. Other sequencers I used are just common DAW's with usual bells and whistles and I use them for audio recording only (Ableton Live and Reaper).

My track composition workflow varies from track to track. It depends on how the muse strikes. Sometimes I record bits into one of the sequencers, record audio into DAW and then arrange these bits. Other times I create the whole song structure in one sequencer, record the tracks individually and then finalize in DAW. And sometimes I just trigger pre-recorded sequences live together with manual tweaking and other sort of performance.

Looking forward to your stories as other people kitchen recipes are always inspiring read ;-)

Cheers,
cube48

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#2 2015-02-18 19:53:35

philtipping
Administrator
From: Wales, UK
Registered: 2014-10-31
Posts: 58
Website

Re: What sequencers do you use?

Nice summary cube.
Never heard of M - missed out on the Atari era but from the way people still talk about them, they had some great ideas.
Started looking for a RS7000 but they're just too rare nowadays. Ended up with a Korg EMX1. Definitely a fun machine but early days yet.

The E-MU Eos sequencer has really limited editing so only use it for playing midi files if at all. If you try recording and mess up, it's almost impossible to fix it. To me, it's the only bad feature in Eos.

The Doepfer MAQ & Schaltwerk are good hands-on fun. The MAQ's 3 tracks of rotary knobs allow each step to be tweaked in realtime; the Schaltwerk only has buttons to turn steps on/off, but the menu gives access to all step properties and you've got 8 tracks plus a pattern/song system for gluing them together. Worse bit is keeping track of saved seqs - it's all numeric so overwriting your masterpiece is an accident waiting to happen. Only used their MIDI outputs up to now but a new modular synth meant venturing into the world of CV, so a nice bonus was both units have CV o/p's for each track. 

The Korg i30 workstation is used as a sketchpad for either patterns which can be glued together or complete 'backing sequences' which use the auto-accompaniment rhythym/chord system. Having the keyboard built in makes it easy to just switch on and create/noodle. The internal hard disc has a named folder/file structure so you can be as organised as you like. The internal ROM sounds are a bit dated, but the MIDI o/p can drive other synths so it's been an old favourite of mine since the mid 90's. The (Fatar?) keybed has a really positive feel.

I try and keep computers out of the loop (excuse pun) if possible but use a very early microLogic AV for assembling & editing finished pieces. Tend not to use it for live recording though, just copy MIDI files from either the i30 or Sequetron.

Of course, for inspiration & fun (& price) can't beat Sequetron... but then the author is allowed to be biased! Before that, I'd dabbled with sequencers like Logic, Cubase, Powertracks, an old DOS program called Prism, etc. but nothing gave me an on-the-fly way of recording/looping/sequencing, and I hate distractions switching between music keyb and computer, so it grew from there. The computer is only used as a background 'engine', leaving you to control everything from the music keyboard. The freedom it gives you is like a breath of fresh air (to quote one user) - no limits on track lengths or nos. of steps per track, and anything can be recorded - notes, chords, cc's etc. Allows on-the-fly experimenting with timing, melodies, chord sequences etc. If I get a good pattern I can either save the tracks in SMF files or capture the whole lot with Logic and finish off processing there.

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#3 2015-02-19 01:53:47

alien_brain
Member
From: Qualia
Registered: 2014-11-15
Posts: 52
Website

Re: What sequencers do you use?

not as if i actually complete things with my sequencers, but i do hold them in high regard as far as hardware that i own goes.

ZAQ Audio Zaquencer:  i have 2 of these, they satisfy my step writing urge for the most part.  im super impressed with the detail the creator made available to the user.  if you like step sequencers, this is one to get.  and cheap too!  i paid $250 new for hardware, firmware and overlay sticker.

Sequentix Cirklon:  I have yet to get in deep with this one, although its my most expensive single piece of gear.  it just wasnt as intuitive as i had imagined...  not as immediate.  this means nothing of course, and i have major plans to use it with the rest of my setup.  its certainly visually impressive.  not that that means much to a musician.

JJOSXL with AKAI MPC 2500:  this is my go to hardware midi sequencer.  i absolutely love it for the depth it offers beyond the AKAI OS.  i dont think ill ever get rid of it.  people should try to look past the hip hop stigma.  JJ made this machine a world class performer and filled it with many useful features too many to list.  it will record and play back any midi event even if it doesnt produce it internally (like sysex).  i sometimes make a sequence on my Zaquencer and bounce it to my MPC.  the internal voice architecture has been improved over the AKAI OS, but is still very basic.  for me, its the last AKAI standalone sequencer worth its scrap value simply because of JJOS.  it would be a worthless pile of parts without that imho.  sometimes its nice to simply tap out a beat!

NI Maschine:  you all know this.

Ableton Live 9:  you all know this.

Last edited by alien_brain (2015-02-19 01:54:29)

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#4 2015-02-22 09:43:07

cube48
Member
Registered: 2015-02-09
Posts: 15

Re: What sequencers do you use?

Thanks for sharing guys. As expected, it's a nice read.

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#5 2015-04-05 22:32:15

CF3
Member
Registered: 2015-04-05
Posts: 19

Re: What sequencers do you use?

Wow, where do I start....

I've used a ton of different sequencers over the years. MPC's being my main unit (60, 3000, 2000, 2500, currently 1000 w/ JJOS). But I've used all manner of midi, cv and software.

The centerpiece of my setup is currently the Sequentix Cirklon (used to own a P3). I use it with everything... MIDI, CV, USB. Incredible sequencer. And probably my favorite after the MPC60 (for sentimental reasons). Using it with any sampler is pretty straight forward. Really no different that anyother hardware or software sequencer as far as set up. MIDI routing is really good. Being able to incorporate all my gear (modular, samplers, synths, drum modules) into one central, fun to use sequencer is awesome. The support is really good too. Big props to Colin over at Sequentix. Instant classic.

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#6 2015-04-07 17:15:25

alien_brain
Member
From: Qualia
Registered: 2014-11-15
Posts: 52
Website

Re: What sequencers do you use?

yeah no joke, dig the 5 midi i/o.  thats a record for a sequencer init?  takes a wizard to run that thing.

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#7 2015-07-12 11:25:31

TonE
Member
Registered: 2015-07-12
Posts: 2

Re: What sequencers do you use?

Mainly three sequencers:
1. Sequetron, by Phil Tipping, as a flexible force to chord, scale, held notes idea generation platform
2. BlueARP, as vsti inside Reaper, as a pattern editable structure which can be triggered by Sequetron above
3. Reaper DAW, as backend for sounds, soft or hard
4. Keykit, by Tim Thompson, as most powerful midi processing tool, be it real-time or non-real-time
5. AutoHotkey, which can bring together Keykit and any device

Let me start from behind, Keykit and AutoHotkey are only useful if you want to create your own custom 'hardware devices' or prototypes for hardware devices, for doing stuff like 'if I press these and these buttons, this and this should happen', you can apply it on a conventional QWERTY or the latest RGB QWERTY's, if they would have advanced color control, which did not happen yet.

Reaper, with its custom actions, as atomic DAW features which you can build up into bigger molecules to your desire, AutoHotkey can help here, too.

BlueARP I use if I want some editability for the patterns, also the timing inside Reaper is tighter compared to Midi clock slaved Sequetron.

Sequetron, where everything starts. But I use it only for non-drums, so melodies, harmonies, basslines. Drums happen inside ERA 2 vsti. I like especially Sequetron's force to scale, chords, held notes feature which can surprise you again and again. From nowhere you hear magic melodies or basslines. You record a few notes in step recording mode, but having different velocities, or some chords in some steps, and wonder how this can sound so magically? Sequetron is the most fun element in the setup. Everyone should get a Sequetron, as hardware companies will need 100 years to include such a technology in their devices. I route my tracks inside Reaper in such a way for example midi channels 1..5 go to 5 different synths directly, through Sequetron, then midi channels 11..15 going to the same synths through Sequetron again, but additionally they are going also through 5 different instances of BlueARP, so I can always decide if I want a 'BlueARP'ed version' or direct version, simply by changing the midi channel value inside Sequetron, easy, flexible, powerful. Sequetron allows, switching instantly from one version to another through its 'parts'. I also like switching synth sounds and BlueARP patterns using bank select and program change events, using a custom 'snapshot system', built with Keykit and AutoHotkey. What it does is simple, sending for example on midi channels 1,2,3,4,5,11,12,13,14,15 certain bank select and program change events, all together, so you get a specific sound combination, together with BlueARP pattern combinations, in case you used those, too. There are 10 snapshot slots, quickly switch from one sound style into another, if you like some new combination, save it as a new snapshot, for easy, fast, direct later recall.

All together it gives a great experimentation platform where you can start always with nothing, except having your pre-built routing inside Reaper and your preselected synths, then experimentation can begin. Switch sounds, record notes, in unquantized, quantized to 16s or 8ths form, or step quantized, then doing force to scale, chord, held notes, with or without BlueARP. Plus those snapshots, there is another more complex automation generation system, which I will leave out here.

Do I miss anything? Yes. Only one thing. No, not Apple. Atari ST timing. Having Sequetron, Reaper, BlueARP with Atari ST timing would be the end dream. Not sure if those expensive 'pure clock generators' can deliver this? Because precise clock generation is one half, the other half has to lock itself as precisely to it, and is this possible at all over midi clock?

Oh, I forgot, Vangelis and Tangerine Dreamers will love Sequetron.

Last edited by TonE (2015-07-12 11:43:12)

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#8 2015-07-21 07:42:49

TonE
Member
Registered: 2015-07-12
Posts: 2

Re: What sequencers do you use?

philtipping wrote:

Never heard of M - missed out on the Atari era but from the way people still talk about them, they had some great ideas.

If you look at the midi import/export implementation of M, for Atari ST, you see how thoroughly they were implementing functions in those days, everything is there, all functions you would ask for, all there. Your Sequetron has it, too, of course, unfortunately nowadays most other midi software tools are far away from this point, they do not care what is important.

When I was exploring M for Atari ST a year ago or so, I was surprised finding so many advanced midi related functions built in, all stuff I would normally ask for, but they were there already, waiting for me using it. This is how it has to be. Eric Ameres did a great job! https://www.linkedin.com/in/eameres

Software Engineer
Intelligent Computer Music Systems
December 1987 – December 1990 (3 years 1 month)

Worked with music software pioneers Joel Chadabe, David Zicarelli and others to bring algorithmic music composition tools to desktop computing in an easily accessible form. Brought multi-tasking to the Atari-ST product family with "midi-tasking" licensed by Atari Corp.

The only thing I could not get working, in steem in Win XP, was midi clock slaving of M to external midi clock, not sure why. I hope this will work on a real Atari ST properly. It would be great if M and Sequetron, both could follow same external midi clock coming from Reaper, using Anton Savov's great midi clock vst, which is free by the way.

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