This will sound like ad copy, but it’s true: Steps is the handheld iOS sequencer that all your mobile gear has been waiting for.

Our MeeBlip line makes MeeBlippy sounds, but it needs a MIDI input for notes – like a step sequencer. (I’m not just plugging our product here – I’ve even pondered writing my own app to fill the void.) The volca series and Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators have their own sequencers, but it’s useful to have a clock source for all of them – and you might outgrow their built-in sequencing functions. Add to that countless other bits of gear you’ve got lying around the studio, to say nothing of apps.

There are some terrific iPad sequencers, like Modstep. But Steps is unique in that a) it’s really simple, b) it’s easy to dial in polyrhythms, and c) it runs on an iPhone.

So, for instance, I wanted to sequence my MeeBlip triode at a recent gig. Steps was perfect. The ingredients:

1. An iPhone (an iPod touch will also work)
2. The oddly named “Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter.” It was introduced with the iPad Pro, but it’s even more useful on the iPhone – because you can plug your iPhone into both a USB accessory and power.
3. A MIDI adapter. (I used the iConnectivity mio.

Now, you’ve got an ultra-portable rig that has a sequencer. And you can expand from there.

Ableton Link support means you can wireless sync up to your computer. So in this case, I didn’t even connect my iPhone to my laptop – I just used another tiny accessory (a pocket-sized wifi hub) and connected both my PC and my iPhone to it. Sync was rock solid between Ableton Live, Traktor, and the iPhone – nice.

A recent update made some other tweaks and added Audiobus 3 support. So you can also imagine your mobile studio inside the phone, as it were.

Check out the product here:

http://reactable.com/steps/

Honestly, for all the deluge of apps out there, I find the apps I come back to number about a half dozen – and this one just rocketed into one of those slots.
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  • I’ve been looking for an iOS MIDI sequencer that isn’t horribly complex, so I insta-bought this app, and now I feel ripped off. Unless there is some hidden functionality lurking inside that I couldn’t find (even after reading the online manual and exploring the presets), it’s just an eight(!) step sequencer with a really unintuitive UI.

    I assumed from the screenshots that each dial was a separate sequence I could individually program (kind of like Loopy but for MIDI) — but no, each dial plays a single note, and all it can do is play a series of either that note or rests, before the sequence moves on to the next dial. How is that in any way better than a traditional sequencer?

    Yes, it can control external MIDI synths. And yes, it runs on an iPhone. But other than that it appears to be a toy. At least I only wasted $3 on it.

    • Rich Rath

      [Deleted for being in wrong place].

    • Shaun Lewin

      I agree. For me the killer was the absence of midi routing and clear information on notes. I tried to use it and then realised it would never run anything other than a monophonic bassline. I ended up buying midiSTEPS. Its completely great, much simpler than modstep and works really well in AB3

    • DrüMünkey

      10000% percent agree! I was actually motivated to write them a pretty long email saying that this thing is not even half baked. If they would have released it for free, it would be ok, but as a paid app, even that cheap, its soooooo crippled and limited. Not being able to at least set a scale?!?! You have to count little lines and fiddle with it, etc… I like and respect Peter, so obviously he’s seeing thing differently, but as he said there soooooooo many sequencers that will do what this does x1000 and run on iPhone.

      The only trick this has is the audio sync…

      I’ve sequenced the Blip with many of them… I would never insult my Bleep by making it take orders from this app! 🙂

      Here’s a little recommendation if you like the concept of this app but want more. Check out an old drum machine / sequencer app called Gumdrops. Yea, it’s a stupid name, and yea it’s marketed as a drum machine but you can set midi notes per “circle” and build up so FANTASTIC rhythmic stuff by overlapping channels and disks.

      Or as I did in my video a looong time ago, use something like the ancient mSequencer, then you can sequence CC to the blip.

      These guys are obviously innovative, I just can’t figure out how or why they released this as a paid app in this state. It feels like a high school programming project…

  • Rich Rath

    Hiya Peter, what is the portable WI Fi hub? That sounds handy too.

  • I’m Surprised you didn’t mention that this is the same REACTABLE that made the REACT-Table system a few years back. Nice to see they are still doing cool Stuff. (Downloading now)

  • Mike Will

    Can every CDM post have a built in preface that says “this might sound like ad copy:”?

  • Graham Brinkert

    After years of feeling a DAW was too bloated for the hardware midi sequencing I wanted to perform, and an MPC was too expensive for the workflow (and an MPC500 is just not reliable enough… I’ve tried for months to get more than 5 channels reliably sequenced from an MPC500 and the jitter/stuttering that occurs is set-killing).

    None of the iOS midi sequencers I’ve tried have made the cut. The most feature-rich (like ModStep, Genome, BM2, or even custom built in Lemur/TouchOSC, etc.) have suffered from either poor interface or spotty real-world reliability.

    The scaled-down sequencers (Little Midi Machine, Moog Sequencer Clones, Steps, etc.) have generally good reliability but not enough power/output channels/patterns/sequences.

    I just bought a pyramid and called it a day (2 weeks ago, already received in the US this weekend). It is by far the best hardware midi sequencer I’ve ever used (not perfect and even missing a few “key” features, like ratcheting for instance) but in terms of support, main features, number of midi channels/messages sent, speed of workflow AND ease of use, it takes top spot. I’ve owned it for 24 hours and I’m already zipping around the damn thing without the manual at all.

    Best money I’ve spent on a piece of gear in years.