Future Music

Sequential’s Pro 3 brings the best of analogue and digital


It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new synth from Dave Smith’s Sequential brand, so we were hoping for something big at this year’s NAMM show. We weren’t disappoint­ed. The Pro 3, is a three-oscillator paraphonic synth that combines both analogue and digital components. There are two analogue oscs each with saw, triangle and variable-width pulse waves. These are joined by a DSP-powered digital oscillator that can produce 32 types of morphing wavetable, along with analogue oscillator emulations and a supersaw mode.

This DSP oscillator can also function as a complex wavetable LFO for interestin­g modulation possibilit­ies. There’s also an additional noise generator, plus controls for hard sync, per-oscillator glide and a Slop feature for adding analogue-like inaccuraci­es.

There are three analogue filter types onboard – a Prophet-6 LPF, a Moog-style ladder filter and the continuous, state-variable design from the OB-6. The ladder filter here includes an optional resonance compensati­on feature to maintain bass presence even with resonance cranked. The OB-6 model also has a band-pass switch to complement its morphable low-pass, notch and high-pass modes. A drive control lets users add grit at filter stage too.

On the modulation front, the synth has four freely-assignable, looping ADSR envelopes plus three syncable LFOs with phase-offset and slew. A 32-slot modulation matrix with 171 possible destinatio­ns should allow for copious routing options.

On the digital side, the Pro 3 has dual effects sections boasting multiple types of reverb, delay and modulation effects including chorus, phasers and flangers; plus a programmab­le analogue distortion and tuned feedback.

While the Pro 3 is a monosynth at heart, it can also be used in a three-voice paraphonic mode with individual­ly gated envelopes per-osc.

Finally, there's a powerful-looking sequencer with 16 tracks. On its rear, the hardware has four CV inputs and outputs, plus a gate out, and the sequencer can be used to control the synth and external hardware at once.

The Pro 3 is out now, available either as a standard model ($1,599) or as a hinged, wooden-ended special edition ($2,099), both featuring a 37-note keyboard.

Nektar’s Aura is a beat- and performanc­e-focused pad controller and MIDI sequencer that looks like it has some pretty advanced features. In fact, with a TFT colour display and tight plugin and DAW integratio­n – plus the added option to sequence your MIDI hardware – it has the potential to one day sit at the hub of your studio.

With a look undeniably reminiscen­t of NI’s Maschine, Aura is focused around 16 RGB-lit pressure-sensitive pads that support a flexible pad repeat mode. This enables you to use pad pressure to control velocity while changing repeat rates with the RGB LED buttons, making it easy to create dynamic rolls. Customisab­le parameters available include Repeat Rate, Gate, Accent Interval, Accent Velocity Offset, Swing, Trigger Mode and

Clock Source.

Thanks to the included Nektarine 2.0 software, you can use Aura to control your VST and AU plugins. You can fill your pads with sounds from one plugin or multiple ones – in fact, each pad can play a different plugin if you wish, making it easy to create custom kits. Assignment­s are saved as part of your DAW project or as a Nektarine Multi-Patch.

Using Plugin mode, you also have instant control of your plugin’s parameters, so you can tweak the likes of pitch, decay or level when you’re programmin­g drums. Relevant parameters are automatica­lly selected and assigned to the eight rotaries based on the last triggered pad, keeping you in control.

The Nektarine 2.0 software also offers four effect insert slots per hosted instrument plugin, giving you the option to use up to 64 effect plugins per Nektarine instance. Effects buttons enable you to select and control the hosted effect plugins, and there are a further four global send effect slots that are controlled for each instrument in Aura’s mixer page. This also enables you to control the volume, pan and mute/solo for each plugin.

There’s also a comprehens­ive sequencer mode that turns the pads into a 16-step programmin­g interface. You can use 16 patterns (one for each pad) with four parts, giving you a total of 64 steps to work with. The fact that you can trigger parts in combinatio­n at any time – and that each pattern and part in a pattern can have a different length – gives you massive polyrhythm­ic potential, and there are multiple editing features, some of which can be used on a per-step basis. And, because there’s an external MIDI Out, you can use Aura standalone to sequence your hardware if you wish.

Back in computer land, there’s integratio­n with the likes of Ableton Live Suite, Bitwig Studio, Cubase, Digital Performer, GarageBand, Logic, Nuendo, Reaper, Reason and Studio One. You can use Aura for transport control, track selection, project navigation and more.

Aura will be available this spring priced at $350/£300/350 euros.

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