Squarp Instruments introduces Hapax high-end professional standalone sequencer as authentic setup centrepiece
PARIS, FRANCE: having originally designed and released Pyramid almost a decade ago as a compact, standalone 64-track hardware sequencer packed with creative tools that its music-making creators could not commercially find available elsewhere, subsequently applying that same thinking to their Hermod followup by bringing the power of MIDI to the ever- widening Eurorack modular world while inheriting some creative elements from its Pyramid precursor, Squarp Instruments is proud to introduce Hapax — duly designed from the ground up with dual-ARM processing architecture upping the computational power ante as a high-end professional standalone sequencer in a rugged, minimalist housing that deconstructs everything that the avant-garde machines-creating company already knew about sequencing to offer everything needed to compose songs in the studio and perform them onstage as an authentic centrepiece of any setup, sequencing and synchronising vintage to modern synths and modular systems, and even DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations), while maximising creativity with carefully crafted tools as the first hardware sequencer that fully supports MPE (MIDI Polyphonic Expression) — as of March 4…
Billed by its creators as a polychronic performance sequencer since it can clearly do many things at once, Hapax’s dual-processor architecture allows it to record and transform tremendous amounts of data in next to no time — and all without breaking into a sweat. As an around the clock performer, it can handle two separate and independent projects — each with 16 tracks and eight patterns per track — that can be played simultaneously, so users can compose or load another project while the first one is already playing, enabling endless sets and seamless transitions. The fact that Hapax is also the first hardware sequencer that fully supports MPE speaks volumes about Squarp Instruments’ intentions; it is perfectly possible to record the finest gestures, slides, and articulations of anything played, after all — and all without compromising quality.
Quality also shines forth for all to see and feel when it comes to the construction of the Hapax housing, manufactured from 2 mm machined aluminum, with a unibody ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) back panel. Put it this way: with connections for multiple midi in (DIN and TRS), midi out (3x DIN and TRS), cv in (2x -5V to +5V/16-bit), cv out (4x -5V to +5V/16-bit), gate out (4x +5V), switch (stereo pedal footswitch), USB Host (for linking to a MIDI USB controller), and USB Device (for linking to a DAW-hosting computer and associated virtual instruments), it quickly becomes apparent just how well thought through that back panel actually is in terms of conceivably communicating with everything that the music technology world might make available at this moment in time — hence Hapax ably acting as an authentic centerpiece of any setup, sequencing and synchronizing vintage to modern synths and modular systems, and even DAWs.
Digging deeper, Hapax’s adaptive workflow — with the top panel proffering hands-on access to no fewer than 128 RGB (Red Green Blue) matrix pads, 52 click pads, nine sturdy clickable encoders, and two OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode) greyscale displays — is designed around four main modes: live uses those 128 pads as an isomorphic keyboard or chord generator, giving rise to harmonic capabilities aimed at anyone — regardless of their theoretical knowledge — as a synaesthetic sensory blend of hearing, vision, and touch, thanks to its colorful interface; step uses them to add or fine-tune notes (or drum events) with surgical precision; autom uses them to create MIDI (or effects) automation; and pattern enables performing in sync by using the 128 pads to set the playing pattern of each track — create sections (or groups of patterns) and chain sections to build a song. Making music might involve using a polyphonic or MPE track to take advantage of the advanced step sequencer and quickly lay down notes or edit live recordings when writing melodies, or control up to eight different instruments with a single track when creating beats using the drum sequencer that is tailored to ease rhythm writing and jamming, for instance.
It is also possible to effectively bring those connected synths to life since Hapax embeds multiple real-time, polyphonic, non-destructive MIDI effects, as well as project-wide assignable LFOs (Low Frequency Oscillators). On top of that, each parameter of those effects can be automated in the dedicated mode, and processed in the mod matrix, which provides even more ways of routing and modulating.
Hapax has so much more to offer discerning devotees of hardware sequencers, with powerful tools for offline note transformation and generation always at hand — harmonically inverting a musical motif, generating a controlled random counter-melody, slowly ramping up the velocities, emphasizing every fifth eighth note… almost anything is possible! Hitting Hapax’s red button enables recording using the encoders and matrix pads, external MIDI instruments (including MPE controllers), or any incoming analogue signal at a high resolution of 192 PPQN (Pulses Per Quarter Note). Needless to say, looper-style recording, countdown and metronome options, and punch-in mode means that there are options to suit any workflow, while each track has an elasticity value that changes its playback speed, expressed as a percentage of BPM (Beats Per Minute) — quickly double or halve the speed of a track, for example, or create subtly shifted tracks that slowly drift out of phase with each other.
Of course, hardware usage should not — in a perfect world — curb creative flow. For this reason, Hapax has a dedicated undo REDO button with extensive history to enable its users to go back in time as deemed necessary; thankfully, the button-activated snapshot function allows users to save the state of a pattern for instant recall with a single press; and dedicated copy, paste, and delete buttons help Hapax on its way towards offering a complete toolbox for promptly editing tracks.
Music-making should always remain an enjoyable experience, though, which is why Squarp Instruments favored dedicated buttons over key combinations when realizing a clear-cut interface and simple architecture for Hapax. Having striven to minimize the importance of screens when performing live, however, the dual greyscale displays implemented in Hapax help with keeping track of things in a studio context.
Clearly, then, deconstructing everything that they already knew about sequencing to offer everything needed to compose songs in the studio and perform them onstage as an authentic centerpiece of any setup has paid off for Squarp Instruments, with the Hapax high-end professional standalone sequencer surely set to make its mark in the music technology world while literally living up to its polychronic performance sequencer billing when expected for delivery in June 2022.
Hapax is available on backorder for expected delivery in June 2022 — priced at €864.00 EUR (plus VAT for individual customers in the European Union)/$979.00 USD — directly from Squarp Instruments’ online Store here: https://store.squarp.net
|A New Generation of Sequencing: Erica Synths Announces Black Sequencer|
|Erica Synths’ Black Sequencer takes classical modular sequencing to a new level by adding tons of features required for contemporary modular synthesizersNovember 20, 2020 — Erica Synths announces the arrival of its long-anticipated Black Sequencer Eurorack module, which is shipping at the beginning of December. |
Sequencing power for a new generation of synthesistsThe Black Sequencer features four channels with CV, gate and modulation outputs, and up to 64 step sequences that can be chained into songs, independent track time divisions, multiplications and lengths. It ncludes a built-in quantizer, LFOs, envelope generators, parameter randomization, a MIDI in/out and many other features essential for composing and performing electronic and experimental music. Despite the Black Sequencer’s depth of features, it provides many programmable parameters per step. Further, it is intuitive, easy and straightforward to use, and can serve as a master controller for many modular setups.
Features4 CV/GATE/Modulation tracksMIDI IN and MIDI OUTClock and Reset In/Out16 encoders for easy sequence inputUp to 64 steps per patternSong mode – up to 64 patterns in chain, each pattern can be repeated up to 32 timesNote, Glide, Gate length and Modulation adjustment per stepProbability, repeats and ratcheting per stepMicrotonal tuningAdjustable shuffle per track, shuffle mode customizationTiming divisions/multiplications per trackBuilt-in quantizerRandom pattern generator16 banks of 16 pattern memorySD card slot for backup and firmware updates
Erica Synths Black Sequencer will begin shipping in early December at a cost of €510. For more information, please visit the Erica Synths website.
OLSZTYN, POLAND: 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 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 Insert, Copy/Paste, Delete/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 (Volume, Tuning, Panning, Filters, Reverb Send, and ADSRs) to make an instrument from any sample; Sampler — choose from different (1-shot, Forward, Backward, 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 Radio, Pattern 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 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.
|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.|
|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.
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 Musical Circuits
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