You need a portable USB MIDI controller, but also want a keyboard that provides a musical playing experience. You have some MIDI modules you want to connect as well, but don’t want the footprint of a large keyboard. You have a modular synth system and analogue gear you want to control via CV (Control Voltage). You want a step sequencer with polyphonic capability that you can sync to your favourite modern and vintage gear. If only a single product could do all of this. Dream on? Not necessarily. Now, thanks to Arturia, that dream has become reality… ready yourself and your music, for the KeyStep Controller & Sequencer does all of this and more!
PARIS, FRANCE: avant-garde musical hardware researcher and developer Squarp Instruments is proud to announce that it is already accepting preorders on its inaugural Pyramid Polyrhythmic Sequencer breakthrough — an advanced hardware standalone sequencer running proprietary PyraOs realtime processing firmware and boasting (multiple) MIDI, USB, CV/Gate, and (Sync48- and Sync24-configurable) DIN Sync connectivity, together with a host of fanciful features belying its compact and bijou form factor — as of May 21…
Most notably, and arguably an absolute rarity in this day and age, Pyramid Polyrhythmic Sequencer is fully polyrhythmic, meaning different and unusual time signatures can be set for each of its 64 tracks to cleverly create shifted-beat sequences — set a track to 4/4 and add other tracks to simultaneously run with it in 5/4, 6/8, 15/8, or whatever — to bring stirring new musical flavours to productions. Pyramid Polyrhythmic Sequencer… it is incontestably an appropriate appellation, after all! Apart from that, though, what makes this standalone sequencer so special and also why resolutely return to hardware in this day and age of commonplace software-based sequencing solutions, courtesy of all-singing, all-dancing DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations)?
Well, to truly get a feel for the flexible future of state-of-the-art and easy-to-use hardware sequencing in the present, perhaps it pays to look to the past? Which is exactly what the forward-thinking research and development team at Squarp Instruments did. “Our aim was to create a hardware sequencer in ‘sync’ with the new styles of electronic music being written nowadays,” notes company co-founder and R&D engineer Tom Hurlin. “There’s a huge gap in the market for this, which is kind of weird, because most popular music from the early-Eighties to the late-Nineties was produced using sequencing hardware. Hip-hop, for example, originated on the MPC series, which actually revolutionised all kinds of music — Madonna to Bryan Ferry to Whitney Houston. How come these machines were suddenly replaced by the computer?”
The KeyLab 49 has been high on my list of potential purchases for a while. I was not fully satisfied with the current controller keyboard I was using, but I also was having trouble finding a controller with the specs I wanted. When I first came across the KeyLab 49 my initial impression was that I really liked the metal casing, the smooth turning knobs, the beautiful blue LED scheme and the layout. I was admittedly a little worried that the light synth action of the key bed would turn me off (being used to a much stiffer controller) however this proved to be unsubstantiated. I found myself very much enjoying the keys over the past 2 months that I have spent with the board.
A few items that really stand out for me are the wonderful faders. It may seem like a small item but they really are a joy to use when sculpting synth ADSR settings. I also found my self enjoying the ability to quickly browse presets from the controllers preset and category knobs. The included software really illustrates how far Arturia has come in the past few years. While All the sounds in the Analog lab software are certainly usable, I did find that the newer offerings (SEMV) compared to older offerings (ModularV) show a much higher sonic quality (listen to a filter sweep between the two and you will hear a marked improvement in the new software).
The vast number of Presets make it a real joy to quickly and easily find what you are looking for. I had no troubles with the software stability I also found it utilized the controller very well. Continue reading →
The Arturia BeatStep is a wonderful little midi controller and Sequencer.
When I first purchased it I had the intentions of using it as both a nice little sequencer for my analog synths and other gear. I also had considered using it as a dedicated controller for my Moog Sub Phatty. Why you ask? Well the Sub Phatty has a plethora of hidden features that must be reached by complicated button presses from the from panel or a VST editor. With the Arturia BeatStep I am able to control all of those functions with direct hands on control just as you can on the Moog Sub37. In recent videos I have seen people wowed by the Sub37’s wonderful looping envelopes. I often here people wishing for those envelopes on their Sub Phatty… little do they know they already have them! yes thats right the Sub Phatty has those same envelopes just hidden!
I spent some time looking into the Moog Sub Phatty Manual and found all of the Hidden Function MIDI CC#’s and then mapped them directly to a template on the Arturia BeatStep… you can download it here —> Beatstep Template for Sub Phatty Hidden Controls
I have been using this App in the lab for a little while now. I notice that when plugged directly in via the iRig midi I have next to no latency and it can be really used to create some wonderful progressions. It’s very flexible in set up and super easy to use. I love it!