There have been MIDI sequencers on iOS for a long time now, and in that category there have been some truly amazing and versatile apps. Apps like Genome MIDI Sequencer, Phaedra, and more recently STEPS (from the makers of Reactable). So whilst it isn’t a terribly crowded market it is one with some very capable competitors. Into that mix comes Xequence. Described as “an advanced linear MIDI Sequencer and Keyboard / Controller for iPhone and iPad.”

The app itself boasts some fairly advanced features and functionality, but to describe it I’ll use the app’s own description. Here it is:

HIGHLIGHTS:

– Efficient User Interface for an amazing editing workflow on a mobile device
– Scale-Aware Keyboards and Pianoroll Editor: All modules and functions observe the current instrument’s scale
– 16 scales included
– Extremely tight, best-in-class MIDI Out timing
– 100% accurate song looping, no dropouts/jitter at loop points
– Robust controller (CC) handling with backtracing (inside parts)
– Supports any time signature
– MIDI In and Thru with full re-channelization and re-routing to currently selected instrument
– MIDI Sync Master (Clock / Continue / Stop / SPP) – other DAWs can run in accurate sync with Xequence, e.g. to use audio tracks
– Works perfectly with e.g. AUM or Gadget as hosts / sound generators, or with Beatmaker 2 for synced audio tracks

ARRANGER:

– Unlimited Parts
– Unlimited Tracks via In-App Purchase, 4 tracks out of the box
– 64 Undo/Redo steps
– Per-track non-destructive Swing and Delay (timeshift +/- 200 ms)
– Any Track can be routed to any Instrument
– Parts can be independent or linked (editing the original modifies all the copies)
– Looped parts
– Selection tools: Marquee/Rectangle, Same Track, Same Instrument, Linked Parts, Invert
– Two selection modes: Add & Replace
– Editing tools: Create Copy, Create Linked Copy, Unlink, Split, Join, Convert loops to parts
– All edits can be performed across multiple tracks and parts
– Individual Parts can be named
– Per Track Mute/Solo
– Draw mode
– Position/Length Handles at screen edges for efficient editing

PIANOROLL EDITOR:

– 256 Undo/Redo steps
– Fully scale-aware, all editing operations consider the current instrument’s scale
– Relative or absolute grid: Snap Events to nearest grid line, or move by grid increments
– Live Auditioning of all edits and mini keyboard keys on the left
– Selection tools: Marquee/Rectangle, Same Note, Same Key, Same Beat Position, Invert
– Two selection modes: Add & Replace
– Editing tools: Copy, Legato, Quantize, Quantize Ends, Transpose +/- 12, Fill part with selection
– Smart Draw mode: Touch to create, touch again to delete, drag up/down to transpose, drag left/right to change length
– All editing settings remembered intelligently. It works like magic! ™
– Note velocities can be edited as if they were controllers, see below:

CONTROLLER EDITOR:

– 256 Undo/Redo steps
– Selection tools: Marquee/Rectangle, Same Beat Position, Invert
– Two Selection modes: Add & Replace
– Editing tools: Copy, Reduce, Quantize, Compress/Expand, Fill part with selection
– Smart Draw mode
– Automatic removal of redundant controllers
– Velocities of notes can be shown as controllers and edited with the same tools

KEYBOARD / CONTROLLER:

– Fully scale-aware single or dual keyboards
– Base key and last played notes highlighted for easier orientation
– Three modes: Scroll, Glide, Lock
– Three available key widths
– Up to three CCs (controllers) can be shown as touch bands next to the keyboard
– All three CCs can be controlled either via touch or device rotation (up to three axes simultaneously), with pickup
– Velocity emulation option (via vertical position on key)

INSTRUMENTS:

– Unlimited Instruments (an Instrument is a MIDI destination + channel)
– Up to 3 definable CCs (Controllers) per Instrument
– Compatible with virtually ALL synths and hosts

VARIOUS:

– MIDI Metronome
– Ruler can be either fixed or modal (hidden automatically after use, to preserve screen space)
– In-App hints for important features

COMING IN AN UPDATE:

– Audiobus 3 MIDI
– MIDI file import / export
– “Open In…” support for importing and exporting projects
– …and many more!

ISSUES:

– No tempo or time signature tracks
– If you want to use MIDI hardware, you might need an app like MidiBridge

FIRST RELEASE! Please report bugs via our site!

Now, whilst that’s not a bad list at all I’m somewhat cautious of an app that firstly explains it’s own issues and what’s coming next. On the one hand it’s nice to know that this is an honest developer who’s telling it how it is. On the other I think it could’ve been better to actually add in AB3 for the first release rather than waiting for a 1.1. Not being able to connect to MIDI hardware is a bit of a problem too, so for now I guess this is somewhat restricted. As for the “no file import or export”, well that’s a bit of a deal breaker for me.

For now I’d say that this is one to watch to see what happens next and if some of these limitations are lifted. When they are I’ll be much happier to take a look.

Xequence is on the app store and costs $4.99:

  • Wonderful stuff!

  • intrr

    Hey Ashley,

    thanks a lot for the mention! I’m the developer of Xequence, and just wanted to clear things up a bit if you don’t mind:

    – Most external hardware should work out of the box with Xequence. We just didn’t want disappointed / surprised users (mainly with older MIDI hardware) so we mentioned the possible need for MidiBridge (now MidiFire). As you noticed, we try to be as open as possible about the app. On the Audiobus forums, there’s already many people who successfully use MIDI hardware without additional “fuss”.

    – We released the app early in order to judge the response to an app in a difficult market. Although on the iPhone at least, I think there’s currently not really much choice when it comes to “normal” (timeline-based) MIDI sequencing.

    Anyway, have fun with Xequence and thanks again 🙂