Polyend launches limited edition Black Medusa hybrid synth

famed for bringing new technologies to creative musicians by building innovative and unique musical instruments, Polyend is proud to announce availability of its aptly- named Limited Edition Black Medusa — a (literally) limited-edition of the Medusa hybrid synthesizer jointly released to widespread critical acclaim in 2018 but bettered by a minimalistic front panel facelift and major firmware update at a reduced price — as of May 1…
As acknowledged by the tasteful Dreadbox & Polyend Hybrid Synthesizer ‘subtitle’ set across the Limited Edition Black Medusa’s matt black anodised aluminium front panel — perfectly matching all previous Polyend products — as part of a minimalistic graphic layout letting the Polish company’s distinctive design aesthetics mature, Medusa was originally developed in close collaboration with Greek boutique analogue synthesizers and effects manufacturer Dreadbox as a symbiosis of classic synthesis characteristics and a unique digital controller. Creatively including six oscillators — three (voltage-controlled) Analog and three Digital (with Wave Table) option — and a multimode analogue FILTER with L2 (2-pole low-pass), L4 (four-pole low-pass), and HP (one-pole high-pass) settings (based on Dreadbox’s Erebus duophonic analogue synthesizer) alongside a 64-step sequencer (inheriting the DNA of Polyend’s Seq) and an 8 x 8 grid of pressure-sensitive pads to play the synthesizer and program the sequencer was — and remains — a beautiful combination.
Changes to the Limited Edition Black Medusa extend beyond its clear-cut looks, however. Indeed, it also benefits from a major (v3.0) firmware update — also available to owners of the original Medusa for direct download (https://polyend.com/medusa_downloads/) — with the following additions: LFO random Wave (selectable via the last position); MIDI Local Off (as a MIDI configuration option) — allows Medusa’s MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) pads to be used to play an external instrument while simultaneously playing its internal synth engine using an external controller; and updated LFO(s) and ENVELOPE(s) — able to send out their native values as CC (Control Change) messages, so all synth parameters are now displayed with the assigned CC number. Note that the v3.0 firmware update also includes additional presets by Kenny Rakentine — a.k.a. Angel Dust, an abstract sound/art/drone/noise project from Pittsburgh, PA, USA — as an added bonus.
Creative collaborations and combinations continue to come into play; Polyend is teaming up with Expressive E to offer the French next-generation musical instruments manufacturer’s upcoming Carbon virtual synthesizer — soon set to become part of its MPE Collection, combining banks of exclusive sounds into a versatile suite, ready to play with any MPE-supporting instrument — to owners of the Limited Edition Black Medusa and the original Medusa for free via a download weblink on the dedicated webpage (https://polyend.com/medusa/) when available.
But better still, would-be owners of the original Medusa should surely be tempted by the Limited Edition Black Medusa’s pocket-friendlier price of €699 EUR/$799 USD — all the more so as an even more potent proposition when bundled with Poly 2 (https://polyend.com/poly2-midi-to-cv-converter/), Polyend’s polyphonic MIDI-to-CV Eurorack module boasting a multitude of connectivity options to play nicely with all manner of sequencers, DAWs, keyboards, apps, and more! 

The Limited Edition Black Medusa comes complete with an alternative set of coloured knobs (with which users can optionally replace the standard black ones as an added visual aid), and is available to purchase through Polyend’s growing global network of authorised dealers (https://polyend.com/where-to-buy/) at an MSRP of 699 EUR/$799 USD. Or order online directly from Polyend itself via the dedicated webpage (https://polyend.com/medusa/), which also includes more in-depth information. 

Polyend Tracker forward thinking retro inspired

Polyend Tracker reboots retro form factor of software past with forward-looking functionality as world’s first hardware tracker

OLSZTYN, POLAND: famed for bringing new technologies to creative musicians by building innovative and unique musical instruments, Polyend is proud to announce availability of Tracker — effectively extracting the best bits of yesteryear’s tricky tracker software classics and rebooting them with forward-looking functionality as the world’s first hardware tracker, deftly designed as an easy-to-use compact standalone workstation with immediacy and simplicity at its creative core, and aiding artists with forging unique avenues of sonic construction to boot — as of March 18…
For the benefit of the uninitiated, a music tracker — tracker, for short — is a type of sequencing software. Speaking historically, the tracker term itself is derived from the first tracker software, Ultimate Soundtracker, starting life as a game sound development tool released for the Commodore Amiga personal computer back in 1987. The first trackers supported four pitch and volume modulated channels of 8-bit PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) samples, a limitation imposed by the Amiga’s audio chipset. Classic trackers represented music as discrete notes positioned in individual channels at discrete positions on a vertical timeline with a number-based user interface. Indeed, notes, parameter changes, effects, and other commands were entered via computer keyboard into a grid of fixed time slots as codes comprising letters, numbers, and hexadecimal digits — the latter being a positional system representing numbers using 16 distinct symbols. Saying that, those in the know appreciated the immediacy and simplicity of classic tracker software, if not necessarily those hexadecimal digits! One thing’s for sure, though: tracker software has exerted its influence on modern electronic music with influential IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) artists like (Aphex Twin alias) AFX, (Polish-American) Bogdan Raczyński, Brothomstates (a.k.a. Lassi Nikk, Finnish composer), Machinedrum (a.k.a. Travis Stewart, American electronic music producer), and Venetian Snares (a.k.a. Aaron Funk, Canadian electronic musician), to namecheck but several so-called ‘demo scene’ movers and shakers skilfully orbiting around those tricky trackers. That said, some might say that trackers need not be so tricky in this day and age. And it is this thinking that led toPolyend’s trailblazing Tracker.
The timely arrival of the aptly-named Tracker puts Polyend in pole position for blazing a new trail, tooled to take the tracker concept to a new level of innovative, inspirational, and immediate music-making by effectively extracting the best bits of yesteryear’s tricky tracker software classics and rebooting them with forward-looking functionality as the world’s first hardware tracker. Thankfully, Tracker waves goodbye to hexadecimal hysterics — not only did those entering the brave new world of classic trackers not necessarily know what those values actually represented, they could not see what was affected by them. Thinking inside its beautifully-engineered box, Tracker instead implements a simplified system of readable decimals that also shows the effects parameters when those decimals are entered in a frenzied fast track to creativity.
Tracker takes the quintessential characteristics of a classic tracker — the vertical timeline, powerful sequencer, and mechanical keyboard — and cleverly combines them with a newly-designed input interface, divided into several sections: a (high resolution, crisp, and bright) big screen and associated screen keys — mechanical controls that always correspond to what is displayed on the screen directly above them; the grid — featuring 48 backlit multifunctional silicon pads for quick note and pattern value entry and visual feedback (while also acting as a highly-customisable keyboard controller with editable scales); function keys — for fast and responsive control over all functions and options; plus navigation keys and associated (metal-manufactured) jog-wheel (with haptic feedback for fast scrolling or precise adjustments) — for facilitating transport control alongside arrow keys for navigation control, as well as dedicated InsertCopy/PasteDelete/Backspace, and Shift keys. All are at hand, helping to streamline making and performing music in a new and innovative way — without having to leave the world’s first hardware tracker, deftly designed as an easy-to-use compact standalone workstation with immediacy and simplicity at its creative core, and aiding artists with forging unique avenues of sonic construction to boot.
Better still, the classic tracker look of that dominating (default) screen — showing (up to) 48 instruments and 256 patterns with a maximum of 128 steps per pattern per project — belies an infinite source of inspiration. Indeed, Tracker comes complete with a wide variety of onboard sound design tools to enhance creativity still further for those wishing to take it to the limit. Let loose with Instrument — a chain of tools (VolumeTuningPanningFiltersReverb Send, and ADSRs) to make an instrument from any sample; Sampler — choose from different (1-shotForwardBackward, and Ping-Pong) play modes; Slicer — slice samples manually, or let Tracker take care of it ‘automagically’ at any time; Wavetable — full-blown wavetable synthesis with variable table length to make it compatible with the most popular (Ableton Wave and Serum) standards; Granular — single grain yet very powerful granular synthesis to create crazy and futuristic sounds from old and boring samples; Sample Editor — built-in precise offline rendering sample editor with multiple effects; and Sample Recorder — records up to two minutes of 16-bit/44.1kHz samples using built-in RadioPattern selection, Mic or Line In inputs, all of which can be saved to the included (16GB) MicroSD card for later use or loaded directly into a project. Put it this way: with Tracker, users can quickly and easily use existing sample libraries, record new ones, or use the built-in FM (Frequency Modulation) radio. Record samples, play them, slice them, mash them, or even make a synth out of them!
Tracker also plays nicely with other instruments. Thanks to its bidirectional MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) implementation, it can be used to sequence and control external gear or be controlled as a sound module by any external MIDI software or hardware devices. Whatever way anyone chooses to use it, armed as it is with an impressive arsenal of sonic weaponry — including automatic filling, randomiser, probability, selection rendering, effects per step, live recording, batch parameter editing, micro-tuning, micro-timing, rolls, and much more besides — it has what it takes to be a surefire hit, harbouring endless creativity. Compatibility with MOD files — a computer file format primarily used to represent music, made up of a set of instruments (in the form of samples), a number of patterns (indicating how and when the samples are to be played), and a list of what patterns to play in what order — allows users to import and finish tracks from way back when or export and finish their Tracker creations in modern-day software trackers.
The world’s first hardware tracker is slick, light, and portable. It is also energy efficient, so will work with any USB (Universal Serial Bus) power source. Sturdy and compact, the retro form factor of software past with forward-looking functionality makes for a great music creation companion — in the studio, on the run, or on stage. Simply put, Polyend’s Tracker puts everything right on track as a ‘back to the roots’ experience like no other! 

Tracker comes complete with a USB-A power adapter, 2m USB-C cable, 3.5mm to 2x 6.3mm adapter, Minijack to MIDI DIN adapter, 16GB MicroSD card, and MicroSD to USB-A adapter, and is available to purchase through Polyend’s growing global network of authorised dealers (https://polyend.com/where-to-buy/) at an MSRP of 499 EUR/$599 USD. Or order online directly from Polyend itself via the dedicated Tracker webpage (https://polyend.com/tracker/), which also includes more in-depth information.

Watch Polyend’s intriguing introduction to Tracker here: https://youtu.be/Pl4Kiwjwkh4 

Arturia announces KEYSTEP PRO for namm 2020

Arturia reveal KeyStep Pro at NAMM 2020
The newest, and most hotly anticipated member of the Arturia Step family is to be revealed at NAMM 2020 in Anaheim, California. 

The sequencer the world has been waiting for. KeyStep Pro gives keyboard players incredible sequencing and performance power in a compact, versatile controller. 

KeyStep Pro is a 37-key MIDI controller and multi-channel polyphonic sequencer all in one. It will allow musicians to take full control of their modular rigs, outboard synths, and software studio all at the same time. The 4 independent polyphonic sequencer tracks give you full control over your instruments, and Track 1 can also function as a 16-part integrated drum sequencer. It’s incredibly intuitive, has unparalleled connectivity, and promises to make even complex performances a breeze. 

If you prefer keys to pads, you’ll love KeyStep Pro. It sports a great-feeling 3 octave keyboard with velocity sensitivity and aftertouch. Letting you fully articulate your musical ideas, this expressive little sequencer truly puts your whole music-making ecosystem at your fingertips. Arturia’s designers studied the way musicians actually used their Step controllers, and created KeyStep Pro to remove the barriers between you and the music you want to create.
4 independent polyphonic sequencer lanes
TRACKS4 independent sequencers, controlling whatever synth, module, or drum machine you want.PATTERNS16 patterns per track. Each sequencer pattern can be up to 64 steps long, and contain 16 notes per step.CHAINSLink up to 16 patterns together to create whole songs or sections of your set.SCENESSnapshots of all the sequences within a pattern, letting you instantly switch between sets of sequences.PROJECTSEverything in one place. Load, duplicate, tweak, edit, and save for later in its onboard memory.
16 part drum sequencer
To get hands on with KeyStep Pro, look out for Arturia at NAMM 2020. 

Meet the Arturia team in Hall A, booth 11910. This new member of the Step family will begin shipping worldwide in Spring 2020.

Mode Machines new Seq12 analog and midi sequencer released

MODE MACHINES make matrix-style sequencing truly tactile with SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER
 innovative electronic musical devices brand MODE MACHINES is proud to announce availability of its SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER — a multi-channel MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) step sequencer in a truly tactile, tabletop (rack-mountable) console-type housing that lends itself to creating and arranging pattern-based music as a live performance-capable standalone sequencing tool or working alongside a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) to enhance production possibilities — as of July 16…
As implied by the 12 TRACK MATRIX SEQUENCER ‘subtitle’ boldly blazoned across its expansive top panel — pressed into play by the 12-line (and 16- column) arrangement of (red) backlit LED (Light Emitting Diode) buttons that musically mark out the namesake matrix laying claim to the majority of that top panel, the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER is a 12-track affair, with each track arranged numerically below the next in the matrix. More meaningfully, each track can freely address one of three MIDI outputs (OUT 1, OUT 2, and OUT 3) to ensure optimal timing (by avoiding serial chaining of connected MIDI devices) and additionally be assigned to one of three track types: MONO (monophonic) — plays only one note per step (sending note, velocity, and note length) and offers three controller tracks (C1, C2, C3); POLY (Polyphonic) — plays back multiple notes per step (sending note, velocity, note length, and chord) and offers two controller tracks (C1, C2); and DRUM — optimised to address drum machines (or similar) with the matrix forming a pattern where each line can be set to transmit a definable note to 12 so-called subtracks (with adjustable velocity and accented notes) from within a single track with two controller tracks (C1, C2)… 12 different drum sounds can be arranged from a single track, in other words.
While the term step sequencing can conjure up mesmerising musical images of repetitive note patterns pioneered and popularised by the likes of Germany’s homegrown Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream in their heyday — the likes of which the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER of course can capably emulate, even down to the latter’s ‘trademark’ ratchet effect (of outputting multiple triggers per step) but bettered by enabling easy creation of rolls, flams, and comparable complex rhythmical functions courtesy of six selectable trigger patterns and a note value to adjust the length of the trigger pattern, there is so much more to this truly tactile step sequencer than might meet the (untrained) eye… eye-catching as all of those 192 flashy (red) backlit LED buttons already are!
Although the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER is at heart a pattern-based step sequencer that generates MIDI data, multiple modes make it stand out from the sound of the (step sequencing) crowd — to partially paraphrase the early-Eighties British breakthrough hit from synth-pop pioneers The Human League, no strangers to the lure of spellbinding step sequencing themselves.
The self-explanatory SEQ mode is used to program a sequence — the smallest ‘unit’ within the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER (containing up to 16 steps) — using the matrix or an external MIDI input device, such as a master keyboard controller connected via the single MIDI IN (input). 16 sequences per track can be stored with parameter values such as velocity, controllers, or step length displayed as backlit LED (button) bars in the matrix.
Meanwhile, JAM mode makes live performance pleasurable and also inspirational with the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER. This time the matrix displays 12 tracks with 16 sequences each, all of which are freely switchable on the fly for immediate playback while the function buttons to the left of the matrix mute and activate the corresponding 12 tracks. And assuming that the tracks are tasked with handling different musical parts — playing a melody with track 1, a bass line with track 2, chords with track 3, and drums with track 4, for example — then it is perfectly possible to create a song on the fly. Flexibility further abounds since switching from JAM mode to SEQ mode only involves a couple of (almost instant) clicks; once there, users can, likewise, edit the selected sequences on the fly.
Finally, SONG mode is where the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER sings for its supper, so-to-speak, allowing for the creation and playback of longer and more complex arrangements or even full songs. Each track is allocated an individual series of up to 64 sequences (or sequence chains in ‘SEQ12- speak’). Still better, there are 12 sequence chains — one for each track; these combine to create a part, with the SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER storing up to eight parts. Parts can also be changed on the fly while the sequencer is running, so, given that those parts could effectively equal song parts, users could choose from, say, an intro, verse, bridge, chorus, or outro, each of which could be called up to be played anytime.
All data that can be changed by the user — namely, sequences, parts, and sequence chains, as well as global settings (with further visual guidance coming courtesy of an informative backlit LCD working in conjunction with various clearly labelled control functions) — is stored as a setup. The SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER stores up to 32 setups. So it is ready and willing to be put through its interactive musical paces onstage or in the studio, thanks to its robust rack-mountable (19-inch/6 HE) design that also includes rubber feet for non-slip tabletop usage.
Ultimately, then, the truly tactile SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER surely ranks as an ultimate pattern-based step sequencer, limited only by its user’s imagination rather than ‘traditional’ step sequencing’s limited note pattern repetition. Reach out and touch… as Depeche Mode sang on their way to sequencer-driven superstardom!
The SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER is available to purchase directly from MODE MACHINES’ online SHOP (https://www.modemachines.com/shop) at an introductory promo price of €999.00 EUR (inc. VAT) or through MODE MACHINES’ growing global network of authorised dealers (https://www.modemachines.com/where-to-buy).
For more in-depth information, please visit the dedicated SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER webpage here: https://www.modemachines.com/seq12
Watch MODE MACHINE’s SEQ12 ANALOG AND MIDI SEQUENCER intro video here: https://youtu.be/lKxNBnHhOkI

Zeta Ohm Fluxus 1 (FLXS1) sequencer goes live on Kickstarter!

The Fluxus one Sequencer from Zeta Ohm

* Breaking news, ZetaOhm have ALREADY reached the goal and are not even halfway through the campaign!*

Recently at Knobcon 2016 I was very lucky to meet an enterprising young man by the name Tenkai. Not only did he save the day (I had a catastrophic computer failure) but he debuted an amazing new eurorack modular sequencer he was working on. Continue reading

Barton Writeable quantizer is a unique way to patch melody

Barton Musical Circuits

Writeable QuantizerbartonUwq03-800x800

The writeable Quantizer(WQ) is an interesting module in that while it can function like a traditional sequencer, it is anything but traditional. What sets the WQ apart is that this quantizer doesn’t come with preset 1/12v divided scales like most quantizers do. Instead the WQ allows users to store voltages into a user defined “scale” and then quantize incoming voltages to those stored voltages. You can use traditional scale values and write those voltages to a traditional scale but what is the fun in that? Continue reading


Pyramid Polyrythmic sequencer available for preorder now


PYRAMID_LOGO                                                                                                by


05 Pyramid zoom



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?”

Continue reading