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natehorn
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Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

Greetings fellow patchers.

As a non-traditional musician (talentless hack) I've come to rely heavily on the magic and wonder of the NDLR as the main sequencer in my setup. I love its ability to force my exploration into something melodic but what I value the most is the ability to easily progress through chords/change key - I make quite melodic music and these are often really important in how I compose. Additionally these changes are often live - although I do rely on sequencing to hold the structure of a song together I don't compose entire tracks in sequencers, and always work organically to evolve tracks while playing them. This ability to change key for all tracks is super important to me and what seems lacking in most sequencers. I like that it can do polyphony as well.

However there are things I don't like about NDLR:
  • I sometimes feel restricted by the 4 parts - which are fixed to pad, drone and two motifs. The motifs can't be divided (only multiplied), and so I find to make my style of music I often have to drop the BPM to 40. Basically I need to be able to sequence something other than arps.
  • Although it can be very immediate I don't really like the interface. The screen is small and even after having used it exclusively for months I still find I that I have to push and turn every knob twice to rememeber what they're doing at any given time. Its saving grace is that it is very fast - but to get the most out of it you would have to spend a lot of time working in a fairly unpleasent environment.
  • I also don't really like the feel of the NDLR, it's built well and solid, but the pots don't feel precise and the buttons feel cheap. It's not a pleasurable device to use, in my opinion - and I think most eurorack people would agree this tactility can be important in our process!
  • It's not a eurorack moduel. This I can live with, and do like to interface with MIDI as well as CV - however I do have a preference for eurorack format and like the ability to modulate with CV where possible. NDLR is very much a MIDI device and at times it feels a bit like I'm speaking two languages.
I've looked at various popular options but am struggling to tick all the boxes - would love some opinions from folks!
  • Hermod (or pyramid) - Love this form factor and the randomisation features look really useful - effects seem to be good for keeping things in key but I haven't found a way to issue broad key/chord changes to all sequences simultaneously so I don't think it can function how I need.
  • Eloquencer - Seems very tactile and immediate, with lots of visual feedback - however global key changes seem a bit awkward/hacky and I feel like I'd be trying to use it for something it's not made for. I'd also need the extender for MIDI support making it a bit more pricey.
  • NERDSEQ - Boy I love pretty much everything about this sequencer - and I'm a tracker nerd that used LSDJ in the past - so I totally get it. However I worry that I would lose a lot of immediacy and speed with this format - convince me I'm wrong. I think that nerdseq can do what I want (and more) but I don't neccessarily want to spend most of my modular time using a gameboy.
  • Vector - So this one looks really interesting to me but I've been struggling to get answers about global transposition/key changes and those aspects of performance - I feel like it's possible but haven't seen any good demonstrations of it. Frustratingly (for us all, I imagine) the expander feels almost neccessary and is quite frankly absurdly priced (even by eurorack standards) - I'd go as far as to say it's a bit of a rip off.
  • Oxi One - This is likely what's interested me the most - with a lot of obvious crossover with the NDLR - but it's not a module and they've done the thing that everyone does and put the jacks on the back where nobody will want them. You need a pretty ugly eurorack module to use CV properly - but at least it's sensibly priced so currently this is pulling me in hardest - looks to be available from March 2022
There are plenty of options I've left off the list - please feel free to mention others!

It's strange to me that melodic structure and key changes are such a rarity in the eurorack world as it's such a fundamental aspect of making many types of music - along with polyphony we're due a revolution!
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cbm
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by cbm »

I have used MIDI and software to control my modular in the past, but recently I've really been quite enjoying using the Frap Tools USTA, which ticks most of your boxes, I think. It's worth a look, at any rate.
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natehorn
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

cbm wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:10 am I have used MIDI and software to control my modular in the past, but recently I've really been quite enjoying using the Frap Tools USTA, which ticks most of your boxes, I think. It's worth a look, at any rate.
Thanks for the suggestion! I've only very briefly looked at the USTA but it did look interesting - is it possible to get MIDI out of it? It can't really do polyphony which unfrotunately would be the most limiting thing for me - I could really do with at least 1 poly track, or the ability to easily spread over multiple tracks to achieve polyphony - but ideally I need a poly pad.
Last edited by natehorn on Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Kosmikos
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by Kosmikos »

Have you considered a Sinfonion?
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/acl-sinfonion
natehorn
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

Kosmikos wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:18 am Have you considered a Sinfonion?
https://www.modulargrid.net/e/acl-sinfonion
I have! I have to be honest the only reason I didn't include it in the list is that I'm not sure I could bring myself to spent £900 on a sequencer - even if I have to admit that it's probably exactly what I need......

I've seen Colin Benders use it too and I like what he does - although he seems to use an additional sequencer along with it which makes my wallet have a panic attack.

It's cheating to dismiss a eurorack suggestion because it's too expensive though, isn't it.

Edit: Although actually I don't think you can get any midi out of it - which actually does reduce its utility a bit for me, possible to get around with a midi/cv interface but that's even more money!
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by cnicht »

natehorn
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

cnicht wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:27 am Performer

https://westlicht.github.io/performer/
Thanks for the suggestion - I came briefly across performer yesterday but the scent went cold pretty quickly - this is purely a DIY project right? I'm comfortable soldering kits together but this looks to be BOM only and involve SMD so is beyond my scope I think.

Or is anyone making built modules that I'm missing? Would be interested to learn more about it tbh.

Edit: Someone in Italy has some on Reverb, that's an option, especially at the price - will look a bit more into it, thanks! https://reverb.com/uk/item/35828159-wes ... -sequencer
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cnicht
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by cnicht »

I’ve built a few and they’re not too complex to construct.

The limitation at the moment is the availability of components.

Have a look at some of the YouTube videos and PM me if you’re interested in one.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by sui_city »

natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:35 am
cnicht wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:27 am Performer

https://westlicht.github.io/performer/
Thanks for the suggestion - I came briefly across performer yesterday but the scent went cold pretty quickly - this is purely a DIY project right? I'm comfortable soldering kits together but this looks to be BOM only and involve SMD so is beyond my scope I think.

Or is anyone making built modules that I'm missing? Would be interested to learn more about it tbh.

Edit: Someone in Italy has some on Reverb, that's an option, especially at the price - will look a bit more into it, thanks! https://reverb.com/uk/item/35828159-wes ... -sequencer
I was just about to post that link for you.

I had a hermod and hated it. Really struggled with the screen size, and the UI of the whole module.

Got a Westlicht recently from a Modwiggler. Best decision yet. Besides the bigger screen, the whole ui just makes a lot more sense.
natehorn
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

Thanks appreciate the perspective - I've seen a few people say similar things about the Hermod - which is a shame as from a distance I love it, but I can't ignore those opinions from people actually using it!
natehorn
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

Ah it seems the Performer isn't great with polyphony over MIDI - this might be an annoying sticking point for me - however I'm happy to consider alternative ways to achieve this as I can think of a few, with a space and financially efficient module I'm more open to this as an option :)
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richie
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by richie »

If you find a eurorack sequencer thats good with polyphony im all ears!
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

richie wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:59 am If you find a eurorack sequencer thats good with polyphony im all ears!
This is where the Vector really shines, I just haven't seen 'that' demo that shows me I could use it how I want. Both the chord and drum parts are polyphonic. Unless I'm misremembering I think Hermod can do polyphony too. Sinfonion too but a bit more limited.

Oxi One can too but that's not a module even though it was on my list so we won't count that one. It has a full CV compliment though and a eurorack extender so it kind of counts though.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by LDT »

natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 5:06 am
richie wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:59 am If you find a eurorack sequencer thats good with polyphony im all ears!
This is where the Vector really shines, I just haven't seen 'that' demo that shows me I could use it how I want. Both the chord and drum parts are polyphonic. Unless I'm misremembering I think Hermod can do polyphony too. Sinfonion too but a bit more limited.
Yes, Hermod does polyphony. Indeed, every track can be the equivalent of a fully polyphonic midi looper. Meaning: You can record from a midi keyboard, and Hermod will play it, but you can not edit it. But you can process the midi in various way, and send the processed midi to multiple destinations.
Vector on the other hand, requires that you input chords (maximum 4 notes) into a step by setting note distances from a root note. So yes, polyphony, but it does not record polyphony.
For me, that is an enormous difference.
So far I have not seen any euro sequencer that can do midi polyphony like Hermod, so while it is not “perfect”, Hermod is what I use.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

LDT wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 6:41 am
natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 5:06 am
richie wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:59 am If you find a eurorack sequencer thats good with polyphony im all ears!
This is where the Vector really shines, I just haven't seen 'that' demo that shows me I could use it how I want. Both the chord and drum parts are polyphonic. Unless I'm misremembering I think Hermod can do polyphony too. Sinfonion too but a bit more limited.
Yes, Hermod does polyphony. Indeed, every track can be the equivalent of a fully polyphonic midi looper. Meaning: You can record from a midi keyboard, and Hermod will play it, but you can not edit it. But you can process the midi in various way, and send the processed midi to multiple destinations.
Vector on the other hand, requires that you input chords (maximum 4 notes) into a step by setting note distances from a root note. So yes, polyphony, but it does not record polyphony.
For me, that is an enormous difference.
So far I have not seen any euro sequencer that can do midi polyphony like Hermod, so while it is not “perfect”, Hermod is what I use.
That makes sense and a good example of the differences in use and execution. For me, a non musical person - the stepped root note approach makes a bit moe sense. 4 notes is admitedly a bit of a limitation though - plenty good enough for eurorack polyphony of course but if breaking into the midi world I like big thick 8 note chords.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by brandonlogic »

richie wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:59 am If you find a eurorack sequencer thats good with polyphony im all ears!
Nerdseq does 4 voice poly midi per track quite well.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by James_S »

Have you explored WMD Metron plus Volteras? Like with all Eurorack sequencers it has pros and cons but for me offers the best overall package.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

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James_S wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 7:31 am Have you explored WMD Metron plus Volteras? Like with all Eurorack sequencers it has pros and cons but for me offers the best overall package.
I’m guessing he needs at least 4 channels of cv.
Metron plus four Volteras is $1670 (not cheap!)
Plus it’s midi capabilities looks pretty minimal?
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brandonlogic
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by brandonlogic »

natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 3:59 am
It's strange to me that melodic structure and key changes are such a rarity in the eurorack world as it's such a fundamental aspect of making many types of music
I think a the solution for a lot of people is simply make/record your sequences in they keys you want into different patterns.
Then when you switch your patterns the key changes as desired.

The nerdseq is nice for this because it treats every sequence channel independently. You don’t have to make new patterns on all tracks if you just want a key change, you can just do it on one or two tracks without effecting the other channels.

You can also sew up quantization tables.
You could take one melodic pattern and make a couple different copies of it and have different quantization settings and transposition offsets on every copy of it.

The nerdseq is so flexible when it come to structuring your songs/sequences because of how independent all the tracks are handled and how you launch the patterns and how they play through, very similar to ableton live’s clip launch screen.

I can see how relying on a screen so heavily might be a turn off for some people, but there’s a USB expander coming soon for launchpad integration, that will add a lot of hands on control of the nerdseq, for step sequencing and pattern launching.
Last edited by brandonlogic on Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:23 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by Dark Barn »

natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 6:58 amThat makes sense and a good example of the differences in use and execution. For me, a non musical person - the stepped root note approach makes a bit moe sense. 4 notes is admitedly a bit of a limitation though - plenty good enough for eurorack polyphony of course but if breaking into the midi world I like big thick 8 note chords.
With Vector you could use another chord track and point it at the same MIDI channel for 8 voice polyphony but it would be some work (to write and to make future edits on chords within two different tracks)

In general though I think there is nothing hardware based that does as much snapped to scale generative work for you as the NDLR. Maybe the Sinfonion would be the closest thing. Going to follow this thread in hopes that I’m wrong, I’m not a NDLR owner but I find it interesting and curious what else is out there like it also.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by Dark Barn »

@natehorn I also think a non musical person who wants to play melodic music is probably interested in diatonic chord changes, not key changes as you call them. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I only mention it because it may help you find what you are looking for.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by dooj88 »

keystep pro does everything you want, including polyphonic midi tracks. i dont have one yet but if i were to start working out of the rack, it ticks all the boxes: arpeggiation, various seq mutation options (along with a necessary 'undo my recent changes' option), transposition of recorded chord/note sequences, and even a drum track. loopop's video covers it all very well.

in the rack, i love my westlicht. the cv routing options are brilliant. most people say how incredible it is having one sequencer to modulate another - this one does it all internally!
Last edited by dooj88 on Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:38 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by LDT »

natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 6:58 am 4 notes is admitedly a bit of a limitation though - plenty good enough for eurorack polyphony of course but if breaking into the midi world I like big thick 8 note chords.
Footnote: Actually the boundaries between eurorack and traditional polyphonic midi synths is already a bit blurred. I have two complete midi polysynths inside my eurorack, in other words two Disting EX’s running PolyWavetable algo. As they both have 6 freely configurable CV inputs, the modular integration is really good.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

Dark Barn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:24 am @natehorn I also think a non musical person who wants to play melodic music is probably interested in diatonic chord changes, not key changes as you call them. Please correct me if I’m wrong, I only mention it because it may help you find what you are looking for.
Yes you're right, I guess to be most accurate maybe diatonic chord changes? But that's definitely a more accurate way to describe what I'm after.

You're probably right in that nothing quite touches on my needs as a NDLR replacement as well as a NDLR. I have high hopes for the Oxi One though as a more direct competitor.
brandonlogic wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 7:52 am I think a the solution for a lot of people is simply make/record your sequences in they keys you want into different patterns.
Then when you switch your patterns the key changes as desired.
Good point it is more of a workflow thing - I'm a noodler at heart and so being able to move around more organically suits me, rather than having to plan that stuff in advance in a fairly prescribed way.
dooj88 wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:32 am keystep pro does everything you want, including polyphonic midi tracks. i dont have one yet but if i were to start working out of the rack, it ticks all the boxes: arpeggiation, various seq mutation options (along with a necessary 'undo my recent changes' option), transposition of recorded chord/note sequences, and even a drum track. loopop's video covers it all very well.

in the rack, i love my westlicht. the cv routing options are brilliant. most people say how incredible it is having one sequencer to modulate another - this one does it all internally!
Although on paper not a terrible choice KeyStep is in many ways the opposite of what I want from a sequencer and is probably much better suited to someone that can actually play keys, IMO. I really don't need a keybed either so the space requirements aren't worth it for me. As one of the draws is bringing things onto the rack the only hardware options I'm considering really are more direct competitors like the OXI.

The westlicht does look like a great choice! Nerdseq still tempting me a lot I just feel like it would ultimately slow down my workflow even if I did enjoy the geekery along the way. Maybe that's something that changes with experience and muscle memory.
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Re: Help me find my perfect sequencer!

Post by natehorn »

LDT wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:33 am
natehorn wrote: Mon Dec 27, 2021 6:58 am 4 notes is admitedly a bit of a limitation though - plenty good enough for eurorack polyphony of course but if breaking into the midi world I like big thick 8 note chords.
Footnote: Actually the boundaries between eurorack and traditional polyphonic midi synths is already a bit blurred. I have two complete midi polysynths inside my eurorack, in other words two Disting EX’s running PolyWavetable algo. As they both have 6 freely configurable CV inputs, the modular integration is really good.
That's cool! I also have a Poly Cinematic - further bluring the lines as I use that via MIDI and it's not really all that modular lol
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