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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » Sequencers
Suggest a Hardware MIDI Sequencer
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sbowman



Joined: Jun 02, 2005
Posts: 38
Location: Media, PA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 6:18 pm    Post subject: Suggest a Hardware MIDI Sequencer Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hello,

It's time I added a sequencer to my rig. I need something I can use in live performance, and that I can rely on to work (which is why I don't have a computer in my performance setup).

I've scanned all the applicable threads in this section of the Forum, I've checked out a few links of some, and now I'm more confused than ever. Also, I'm new to sequencing, but not new to MIDI hardware synths, and I've pushed my arpeggiator on my Alesis Ion about as far as it will go. But I'm a newbie at classic sequencing things like the difference between pattern sequencing and grid sequencing, etc.

I'm interested in being able to emulate Berlin-School sequencers, but I don't want to be limited to just that. So I'd like a sequencer with some depth and flexibility.

Here's what I know I want:

    A piece of hardware--tabletop or rack. Not too big. (no software )
    Able to output and control outboard modules via MIDI. I don't need CV.
    Multi-track, and ability to bring parts in and out in real time.
    Real-time knob control of some parameters--filter, resonance, etc.
    Step sequencing.
    Ability to write sequences from a MIDI keyboard.

I think I want, or might be nice to have:
    Drum pads
    Internal sounds (but not cheesy dance sounds)
    Rhythmic flexibility (eg, able to sequence in 5/4 or 7/4)
    Long sequences--more than 16 steps.

Based on some recommendations that Greg made in the Analog Sequencer thread, I've singled out the E-mu XL-7 as a good candidate. I'm checking out VAZ Plus demo as a way to learn about sequencing, but not as a final solution. I looked at the PEI, which is cool, but it's too expensive. I'd like to keep cost (eBay prices) under $500 if possible.

What would you suggest I look at next?

Any advice will be welcome, including advice that might be of general use to others reading this thread in the future.

Steve

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Alexander



Joined: Apr 22, 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For the above described functions I could suggest a yamaha rm1x. I use one for a lot of sequencing and it's a good reliable machine.
It's very cheap, has a very high resolution (480 ppq) and can basically do anything with midi data.
For playing parts you'll need a keyboard controller/pads or whatever, but as for programming and editing, the machine provides all you need.

I hate sounding like an advertisement Wink but i'm speaking from experience, it's a really nice and deep midi sequencer! The web has plenty of reviews and discussions on all sorts of hardware sequencers and you should be able to easily find one suiting your needs.

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Adam-V



Joined: Jan 29, 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 7:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

How about a Yamaha Rm1X? I used to perform with one hooked up to an Emu e6400 with a Roland A-30 Controller keyboard and it worked rather nicely. I also wrote a seven piece minimalist ambient album entirely with its internal (albeit tweaked) sounds so although it is considered a dance music tool it is not explicitly tied down to writing and performing dance music.

Cheers,
Adam-V
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sbowman



Joined: Jun 02, 2005
Posts: 38
Location: Media, PA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks for the suggestions. Two votes right away for the RM1X.

Greg suggested the RM1X and the E-mu XL-7 in the same sentence in an earlier thread. I checked out the reviews of both and found a few people who said that the RM1X was unreliable and had flimsy pads and knobs. Care to comment on that?

The XL-7 seemed to come out on top, praised for its ruggedness and flexibility. I didn't go for an XL-7 because I wasn't sure it would do what I wanted. If it compares to the RM1X, maybe it will. Any comments?

I suppose I could snag and RM1X on eBay and give it a try.

Steve

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Adam-V



Joined: Jan 29, 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 8:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I didn't find the Rm1X to be unreliable at all (Other than one incident where it progressively trashed some sequence files each time I saved them until they were unusable but that was an isolated incident that probably had more to do with the crappy floppy disks I was using than anything else). The pots and buttons seem fairly rugged to me; you want flimsy, check out the knobs on a BassStation!

It might be worth your while to try and find somebody who will let you play with one before you make your decision. Alternatively if you can pick one up cheaply on e-bay and are not happy with it you can always re-sell it I guess.

Cheers,
Adam-V
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Alexander



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 4:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The pads are not really that great, not that any of them broke down or anything, but, as I mentioned earlier, you'll need a keyboard/controller to play in parts. For programming and editing, the provided pads are sufficient. You'll be using the pads live for a lot of things, like muting tracks, selecting sections, doing grid sequencing, etcetera etcetera!

The EMU command station is a different machine with a lot more and higher quality internal sounds. The RM1x has about 4mb of sounds and provides you with a lot of drumkits and sounds. I use these to program patterns and then replace the sounds with a sampler or synth.

Please read through the manual, it will answer all of your technical questions:

www2.yamaha.co.jp/manual/pdf/emi/english/synth/RM1xE1.pdf

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sbowman



Joined: Jun 02, 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Thanks again for your comments. You're confirming that I'm on the right track to focus on the RM1x and the XL-7.

From what I can see on eBay, Completed Auctions, the RM1X sells for between $120 and $220. The XL-7 is more, ranging from about $250 for "as is" machines, to $350 for one-owner sweeties. (July, 2007).

In three of the ending-soon auctions for the RM1X, the units are missing knobs, FWIW.

Does anybody else have any different suggestions before I buy one of these things to try?

Steve

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Alexander



Joined: Apr 22, 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 6:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Don't buy the one with missing knobs!
Don't worry about the operating system version, the RM1x had an upgrade, but the workaround for the (small) bug is easy! People might overreact on forums about the upgrade and how essential it is, well, it's not!
If you buy an RM1x see if you can get one locally and try it first, see if it looks good, the knobs feel alright and whatever reason people are selling it for.
I bought mine for 250 euros and the guy upgraded to a rs7000. Mine was used but everything worked fine. I never had the chance to work with an XL7, but $350 seems very very cheap. The EMU soundmodule that is in it is worth a lot... be careful for things that are too cheap, it usually is better to wait and go for a bit more money and quality!

Good luck, for anything on the RM1x, please let me know!

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sbowman



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2007 8:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Again, thanks for the info.

No, I don't buy anything on eBay that isn't at least represented as being perfect. Missing knobs means rough handling and probably more problems.

Steve

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ultra



Joined: Dec 04, 2006
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

midibox?
www.midibox.org
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