During the last few months I’ve been deciding on a main sequencer for my setup. Some of the main contenders included the BeatStep Pro, the Electribe 2, the Squarp Pyramid, and the Octatrack. The latter two are a little bit on the expensive side. Plus, the Octatrack’s workflow is something of a unique thing, with a manual the size of a small novel. On the other hand, the Pyramid’s operation is much more straight forward, but the lack of documentation and demos makes me wonder if it will have any supporters in the future.
So, the two main contenders ended up being the BeatStep Pro and the Electribe 2. The BeatStep Pro is a very neat sequencer that can (in theory) control some pieces of gear, while I jam away freely in another synth. The electribe 2 also features a nice patter sequencer, plus a built-in synth engine that is derived from the mighty King Korg. Unfortunately, both the BSP and the E2 have some important shortcoming when I started to plan how they would fit my setup. The BSP does not have ANY support under Linux. Although the device appears as a class-compliant USB-MIDI device, Arturia’s refusal to publish the SysEx implementation means that backing up projects, or assigning CC values is only possible using their software (which does not run well on a VirtualBox or Wine). This is despite all the program does is send and listen to strings of SysEx messages.
As for the Electribe 2, I would be my first choice if I ever need something for live performances, but for my personal journey in the studio, I need something that can hold patterns with more than 4 bars (I still prefer the classical 8-bar phrase) and also be able to play drones, which is not easily done with an Attack-Decay envelope similar to that of the Volca Sample.
Earlier this month I began looking for other alternatives, including older gear. I already own a Yamaha QY-70, which is interesting for recording MIDI, but a little bit troublesome to create and edit patterns. Then I found this video by Meecek and instantly feel in love with the RM1x. It took a few weeks until I found one available on e-bay, as these things, although not expensive, are a little bit rare to come by. Then I was able to score an almost new-old-stock Yamaha RM1x from a collector in France, and the machine arrived just in time for Christmas.
So, here is my Christmas tale for 2016, now lets wait and hear for what 2017 will bring! :)