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Review Hardware Sequencer

Yamaha Tenori-On: The Test

Unidentified Musical Object In the world of electronic instruments, when you think innovation, the name Yamaha rarely comes to mind! Yet this Japanese company was the creator of the first FM synthesizer, the DX7. So just to show you that they can still innovate, Yamaha has created the Tenori-On, a sort of UMO (Unidentified Musical Object) halfway between a musical instrument and a portable game console. read more…

User reviews on Hardware Sequencer products

A great device! (Akai - MPC X)

By ayman357, 10/08/2018
Hi all,

I see no review has been published for this product so far, so I’ll shoot first.

As an introduction, I'll start by stating that I’ve owned almost each and every MPC model ever released, the good ones (60, 3000…) and the not-so-good ones (2000, Renaissance...), plus several other samplers (EMU, 440, SP...).

So, here’s my review:

On the hardware side, this MPC X is a very good device. Sturdy, heavy duty, the knobs don’t seem fragile and the building quality is flawless. A little problem with the screen, though: while very practical, it still protrudes above the device when folded, which not only looks strange but also tends to limit its transportability – nothing too bad though.
Very efficient LED display on each qlink pot.
The main wheel controller is just as you like it, neither too stiff or too soft: the same as on a Ren (and this is one of the Ren’s strengths), and it also reminds me of the 60’s and the 3000’s.
The touchscreen does the job. I particularly appreciate the fact that each control has been doubles, through the screen and qlink: in the end, you can choose depending on your own preference.

As for the firmware, the software was really well-thought. It features a classical architecture with sequence, track, drum program, MIDI or audio. The various modes are interesting to use and rather intuitive, both in grid edit or step sequencer mode. They have really worked on the ChopChop, and the result is here! The sound edit feature is also totally MPC-worthy. As a whole, the navigation process is rather easy and quick, it will favour creativity and allow you to do everything you can expect from an MPC (granted, it won’t make music in your place!).

The audio engine is very transparent, I personally use it in 24bit/44kHz mode (you can choose from 16 or 24bit). The output dynamics is respected, I’ve sampled through the phono and line ins and the outcoming result was up to my expectations. Now, you know the saying, Shit inside/Shit outside, so if you sample s###...

The overall architecture does the job, I have experienced no bug or freeze so far. However, I haven’t pushed it heavily with 50-track projects overloading the RAM or whatever of the kind.

The various controllers I’ve used with it respond perfectly, even if you don’t insist. The MIDI and CV/gate perfectly communicate with other instruments or modules. The USB host is very practical, I have plugged a tiny keyboard on it and it’s instant plug-and-play – a real pleasure. The preamps offer a certain margin, so you can boost your sources if necessary without inducing a hiss.

I haven’t used it in controller mode (and I don’t intend to use it as such either), so I won’t review this part of the device.

So, that was a first review after using it for 3 days. I may complete it with time if necessary, but so far I believe Akai has really managed to go back to the original standalone MPC concept. I’m unsure as to whether JJ has a lot of margin for software optimization. ;-)

It’s well-thought and efficient – hats off!!

A surprising device (Elektron - Monomachine SFX60+ MKII)

By Hox3D, 25/08/2018
A good device. Honestly, it’s great! You could just pass it by if you were to just try it too quickly, but it has an incredible potential.

I use it to make small loops, to write things I think of on the spur of the moment. It’s the very first “composing” machine that I’ve owned, and it suits me perfectly (I’d already tried with a computer before, but making music using a mouse and keyboard just isn’t my thing). I intend to use it for a live set soon, but nothing precisely planned yet so far. One thing is for sure: it will perfectly find its place in a live setup.

Design is flawless: it’s sturdy, you could pogo on it and it barely would feel it (it’s just a figure of speech – but you can try if you feel like it). Seriously, the aluminium front seems reliable, the control buttons seem unbreakable and the machine itself is a very sturdy metal block. The sole problem comes from the knobs which may end up moving in an undesirable manner, but nothing too bad.

Soundwise, the device unveils itself as a first-class synth. It has a sound of its own, which may seem quite repetitive in the beginning (I must admit that I first started to wonder why I’d bought it), but once you get familiar with it its capacities appear endless, from beautiful, long pads to tech-like aggressiveness. The principle behind the Elektron “machines” – with one machine corresponding to one given type of synthesis – is very simple to understand once you got it. As stated earlier, some machines sound very much alike, but they reveal their interest once you’ve started to tweak the sound: yes, there are a lot of possibilities for modifying the sounds and they’re really interesting, including Sample Rate Reducer, single-band EQ, delay, VCA, filter and envelopp, disto, 3 LFOs – and this goes for each track! Needless to say there’s room for experimentation: I’ll leave you calculate how many possible combinations this offers, considering that the device allows to layer up to 6 tracks simultaneously.

It’s also particularly interesting for external synth sequencing (it’s basically one of the things it was designed for btw): it can control up to 6 synths at once, which is quite practical (and really, really great). While I have explored this aspect very little so far, I have tried a bit external sequencing and it’s incredibly easy.

Just a word on the onboard sequencer: it’s somehow the core of the machine, as it has a major role in the sound design process. The “parameters-locks” allow to modify the patch thoroughly for one precise given step, all while featuring easy copy/paste features to copy songs, patches or full tracks and paste them for other uses.

In the end of the day, the balance sheet is easy: if you have the opportunity to use one for long enough, go ahead and do it! Now yeah, granted, the learning curve can be relatively long, and one of the reasons for that is the interface which at first may seem terribly complex. However, once you get used to it, it appears logical and user-friendly (yes, I swear it does!), yet it clearly seems intimidating at first. Something I regret is the fact you can “only” use 64 steps: sometimes it’s well enough, but sometimes it’s not. Now, you can’t always get what you want, and you still can chain two patterns to turn them into a longer pattern.

Anyway, at first, you’re bound to have a hard time, finding a precise feature will take you hours (reading the manual is vividly recommended, especially considering how comprehensive and pleasant to read it is), you’ll feel like the sounds resemble each other too much and that you always end up doing the same thing, and you’ll get fed up with it; then, slowly, its capacities will appear clearly and you’ll feel that you can’t live without it. Because it allows crazy sounds (just have a look online, there are so many examples), because it’s very user-friendly once the learning curve absorbed, because it’s an exceptional device, and because it has no direct competitor, being in a league of its own.

Of course, you’ll have to like the sounds it creates. But if you like the demos you’ll come across, then it’s very likely that you’ll like the machine too!

Alesis Data Disk - All your synths now belong to us (Alesis - DataDisk SQ)

By gulgul2006, 01/10/2018
So basically if you want convenience, GIG travel usefulness and simplification of your MIDI libary, buy one of these. they average about $50 on ebay.

Someone said "you cannot use 1.44MB disks" That is NOT true. It supports both SD and HD 3.5" floppies. (only formats in 720k regardless however)

So you are technically "wasting" a 1.44MB floppy however it can be used. You're just going to be only utilizing 720KB of it's capacity. Also keep in mind you won't need to worry about it since MIDI information is plaintext and takes up very little space.

I'd say the only CON of this unit is that the powersupply is external. BOO.

News Hardware Sequencer

[MUSIKMESSE][VIDEO] Pioneer Toraiz SP-16

Published on 04/07/16
A quick tour of Pioneer's upcoming Toraiz SP-16, which features the analog filters of Dave Smith's Prophet-6.


Published on 04/07/16

Feature Articles Hardware Sequencer

Octatrack Video Tutorial Series

Published on 11/18/11
Octatrack Video Tutorial Series
Enjoy creating electronic music? For Octatrack users here is video trip into the guts of the machine- sampling tips and tricks to produce the grooves that you want.

Tips & Tutorials Hardware Sequencer

Fun toy, but get the manual.

Published on 01/10/13

Forums Hardware Sequencer

Hardware Sequencer classified ads

Roland JSQ-60 Sequencer

$130 Reverb classified ad

Elektron Octatrack MKII

$1,225 Reverb classified ad