More difficult than purchasing a synthesiser, selecting the best hardware sequencer for your style of music-making can prove. It can end up serving as an expensive doorstop in your studio if you’re unsure of how it will fit into your workflow.
There are typically two types of sequencers. There are two types of sequencers: the MIDI sequencer, which primarily works in the well-known musical area of notes and arrangements, and the analogue sequencer, which deals in voltages, gates, and patterns. Even though they might be utilised very differently, they are frequently conveniently found in the same piece of hardware. What am I sequencing should be one of your initial inquiries. Do you want to control MIDI-capable synths and sound modules from a single hub? Or, do you have a desk full of synths with CV and Gate inputs that need a machine to take control of them?
The market for hardware sequencers almost completely disappeared with the introduction of computer-based DAWs. Manufacturers steadfastly resisted for years to provide anything even like a hardware sequencer, instead focusing on the increasing number of computer-savvy musicians and producers. But hardware sequencers have subsequently made a strong comeback and are more widely used than ever.
Akai Professional MPC X | Fully Standalone MPC with Multi-Touch Display
- Beat Maker Essential – Standalone flagship MPC, sampler, drum machine and MIDI controller (for the included MPC Software – Mac / PC) with the...
- Control Evolved – 16 MPC drum Pads, 16 touch-capacitive Q-Links with OLED displays, transport controls, full monitoring control and connectivity for...
- Studio Centerpiece – Pristine studio quality recording via XLR, ¼-inch balanced/High-z, and Turntable RCA inputs, plus switchable phantom power...
One of the most comprehensive and fully equipped sequencers on the market, the Professional MPC X is Akai’s top-of-the-line sampler/sequencer and comes with a price to match. The MPC X, an advancement over past Akai products, has three USB 3.0 connections and a 10.1-inch multi-touch screen with a resolution of 1270 by 800. It functions well as a solo device but also integrates nicely with computers. There are sixteen high-end, RGB illuminated velocity and pressure-sensitive pads in the MPC X. There are 16 360-degree touch-sensitive Q-Link controllers for adjusting parameters, a 360-degree encoder for adjusting value/data, and seven conventional knobs for gain and mix settings.
Up to 128 MIDI tracks and 8 audio tracks can be found in a sequence. The pads are used as step buttons by the Step Sequencer, which is used to create MIDI tracks, to replicate the sensation of a conventional step sequencer. The touch screen offers a graphic interface that makes it simple to change each MIDI note’s velocity. Up to 999 bars can be selected as the maximum track length for each track. You can choose to specify a sequencer tempo that differs from the master even though all tracks play back at the same rate. In the Song Mode, you can arrange several segments to create an entire song.
The “programmes” that route tracks to outputs are coupled to the tracks. MIDI track data is transformed into control voltages via a CV programme. It is able to operate a number of vintage synths or other analogue equipment via the eight CV/Gate outputs. An extensive selection of analogue input and output connections are offered by MPC X. The combination 1/4-inch/XLR jacks on inputs 1 through 2 allow for mic or line level input. The turntable or line signal can be connected to inputs 3 and 4, which include RCA and 1/4-inch connections. A main stereo pair, six auxiliary outputs, and two headphone outs are all available as analogue outputs. 114 dB is the dynamic range. With two MIDI In and four MIDI Out connectors, the MIDI interface is also quite large. There are also two USB 3.0 connections available. This is the Best Hardware Sequencer in 2023.
Elektron Octatrack MKII 8-track Performance Sampling Workstation/Sequencer
- 8 Track Dynamic Performance Sampler - With the Octatrack MKII, discovering the perfect sample is only the beginning. Twist it, dismantle it, distort...
- Sampling is the Inception - Record samples in real time via any of the Octatrack’s varied source options. Connect directly to the four inputs,...
- Audio Mutate, Audio Mutilate - The powerful crossfader adds immense depth of control. Choose how you want it to affect your samples. Then decide how...
The Octatrack MKII is Elektron’s follow-up to the Octatrack DPS-1, which was a hit. Backlit buttons, high-resolution encoders, extra function buttons, and a smooth crossfader have all improved workflow. The upgraded 128 x 64 OLED display and balanced audio inputs for increased headroom are also included in the MKII.
Eight audio tracks and eight MIDI tracks are available on the sequencer. It’s simple to create intricate, changing textures because each track has its own length and time signature. Pitch bend, aftertouch, up to ten assignable CCs, and up to four notes with changeable velocity and length can all be used on a single MIDI track. With the exception of parameter locking, LFO modulation, and micro timing, MIDI tracks operate almost exactly like audio tracks.
Tracks can also be processed with compressor, flanger, chorus, comb filter, parametric EQ, and “kill EQ.” Additionally, there are six LFOs accessible for sound modification, with three for each audio and MIDI channel. There is a MIDI arpeggiator as well. With a S/N ratio of 104 dB and an output level of up to +17 dBu, Octatrack offers stereo main and cue audio outputs, as well as a headphone out. There are also USB 2.0 ports and MIDI In/Out/Thru ports available, but no analogue CV/Gate outputs. This is the Best Hardware Sequencers in 2023.
teenage engineering OP-Z Portable Synthesizer and Multimedia Sequencer with Wireless Bluetooth Connection
- DELIVERS UNLIMITED SONIC POSSIBILITIES - The teenage engineering OP-Z offers 16 sample packs (24 samples each). You got bass, effects, drum machine,...
- PROVIDES EXCELLENT AUDIO RESOLUTION - The 16-track synthesizer is equipped with Analog Devices Blackfin 70X DSP and Cirrus Logic audio co-processor,...
- OFFERS UPGRADEABLE EFFECTS & VISUAL CONTROL - It has upgradeable modular effects including built-in delay, reverb, bit crush, and distortion. You can...
Teenage Engineering operates in a unique way. The OP-Z combines a sequencer with eight onboard synths, a sampler, and a lighting controller. It can also control 3D graphics. It contains a single small audio connector for line out or headphones and a USB-C port for charging and transferring files as well as playing external MIDI gear. All of this is contained in a box that is only 2.26 x 8.36 x.39 inches (57 x 212 x 10mm) in size.
Eight audio tracks on the OP-Z sequencer are devoted to various instruments, such as the kick, snare, percussion, and bass. Eight control tracks are also available for effects, the tape recorder, lights, etc. The length of each track can be independently changed to 1 to 144 steps, allowing for variable looping rates. Furthermore, each track can be played at a different tempo. An uneven and random jump-cut between individual songs can cause a brief sequence to sound different each time it is played.
Twelve internal synthesis engines, including bowed strings, clustered oscillators, piano, bass, and a PCM sample player, are currently available for OP-Z. Future firmware updates are anticipated to include more possibilities. 16 sample packs including kicks, snares, other percussion, and effects are also included. Your mobile device, which serves as the graphic interface and supports multi-touch, connects wirelessly to it. Even better, you can take a number of pictures that are synced to a pattern to produce an instant music video.
Four infinite dials with color-coded settings that are flush with the top surface are used to adjust performance parameters. A music keyboard made up of 10 numbered buttons is used to enter notes, and another two dozen or so specialised buttons are used for all other editing chores. There aren’t any drum pads that react to velocity.
Korg SQ-64 64-Key Midi Controller
- 64-step Polyphonic Step Sequencer
- CV/Gate/Mod Outputs
- with 64-pad Matrix
Consider the Korg SQ 1 if you’re looking for a straightforward, affordable, and highly functional sequencer. It is primarily a CV/Gate sequencer with two output channels that may be powered by USB or AA batteries. But it also has MIDI Out so you may connect to contemporary equipment. Additionally, it provides Korg’s exclusive sync in and out, allowing Volca owners to connect two units wirelessly without the need for MIDI connections. Additionally, it serves as a MIDI to CV converter.
You can transmit two 8-step sequences to various outputs with the SQ-1, or you can combine them into a single 16-step sequence. So while it’s wonderful for carrying out straightforward concepts, you’d probably want to possess a couple of them for the majority of live performances. Reverse playback, Step Jump to any step, Active Step to toggle steps on or off while playback is in progress, and Slide to progressively vary the voltage between steps are all features. Voltages are controlled by knobs, allowing them to take on any value within the predetermined range (1, 2, 5, or 8V).
Learning the SQ-1 is not that difficult. There are no menus to learn or navigate because there is a separate knob for each step, allowing you to see what is happening instantly.
Arturia Keystep Controller & Sequencer
- Slimkey keybed with velocity and aftertouch Arpeggiator mode features up, down, inclusive, exclusive, random, note order, double up, double down modes...
- KeyStep is a new breed of portable musical tool combining the functionalities of a keyboard controller with a polyphonic step sequencer to control...
- Package Weight: 1.724 kilograms
The KeyStep combines a polyphonic step sequencer with a full-featured velocity-sensitive keyboard controller. It can control both analogue and digital instruments because it has MIDI and CV/Gate outputs. The 32 small keys on the Slimkey keyboard can detect aftertouch as well as velocity. An adaptable built-in arpeggiator functions in up, down, last played, random, and other modes.
There are eight sequences that can be stored and recalled, with each step allowing for up to eight notes. The number of stages in a sequence can be set at will, between 1 and 64. Legato provides steps with voltage changes but no triggers between notes, whereas Tie allows you to retain a note through subsequent steps. Real-time Record/Replace is another important feature for editing previously prepared sequences.
KeyStep converts notes into CV/Gate signals, either Volts/octave or Hertz/volt, which are available through rear panel ports in addition to MIDI Note output. A normal gate or a 5V or 12V trigger can be selected for the gate on/off. The value of the onboard Mod strip controller or MIDI velocity or aftertouch can be output through the third connector, called Mod. Because KeyStep sequencers can be polyphonic but CV outputs are monophonic, you can determine whether the first, last, or lowest note is output by adjusting the note priority option.