Do call it a comeback. The hardware sequencer, once a forgotten relic of the computer age, has returned with a vengeance. And the reason is simple: we need it. Sure, we might play with a computer, but we’ve fallen for other synthesizers and drum machines – a lot of it quite cheap, too. We want hands-on control so we can play live again, improvise with our hands rather than furrow our brows over a mouse and screen. And we might even have beloved analog gear and want it to groove along with everything else.
Few companies represent the blossoming of love for gear quite like Arturia. It was just a few short years ago that the name meant plug-in emulations of vintage gear. Now, people are more likely to think of something like the hardware MicroBrute synth.
Arturia’s first BeatStep was cool – a combination step sequencer and drum pad controller. But it was also limited: you could only sequence one part, and pattern triggering options were woefully limited.
This month, the company has shipped the long-awaited BeatStep Pro. I’m finishing a review now – it’ll be an in-depth hands-on, and I’m also waiting to make sure I have the latest firmware changes.
But since I’m focusing on those details rather than rushing, we can meanwhile watch some videos of just how this gear looks in action. And you can let me know if that raises other questions – what do you want to know? What gear do you care about working with? I’ll answer as much as I can in our review.
For starters, here are ten analog synths – plus Ableton Live. (Digital or analog? Yes.)
SonicState have gone into a detailed hands-on video:
SonicSense (not to be confused with the previous) have a film that shows how you’d use this live as both an analog (CV) and digital (MIDI) controller, with other hardware.
They’ve also gone step by step through a demo as a sort of tutorial, walking you through how you get started with the hardware:
Source have a hands-on with simultaneous live use of the analog and digital modes:
For more detailed breakdown, Arturia have gone into each individual mode. First, here are your connection options:
While it’s obvious you can do rhythmic sequencing from those pads, it’s also worth seeing the dedicated melodic mode:
And yes, that drum sequencing, too:
And even with all those jacks round the back, it is very possible that you would decide to justify the purchase of your BeatStep Pro solely on the basis of working with a computer. Here’s Arturia on combining it with Ableton Live (though workflow with other DAWs would be reasonably similar, too, so this remains relevant):
Some nice experiments from Tomeso in Germany – love the techniques here:
Seq1 controls Arturia MiniBrute SE via CV
Seq2 controls Arturia MicroBrute SE via CV
Drum Seq controls Arturia Spark 2 software via MIDI
The EPSi convolution reverb is integrated as a send effect via the recording interface. No additional effects.
Lastly, with all the talk of gear, let’s finish with some music making. Arturia traveled to Utrecht to visit the lovely Sonar Traffic and see how they work:
So, what would you like to see? And did we miss any good videos (like yours, for instance)? Let us know in comments.