Mode Ma­chines SEQ12

The SEQ12 in­tro­duces a step-style MIDI se­quencer; Bruce Aisher rel­ishes the chance to go DAW-free

Future Music - - CONTENTS -

CON­TACT KEY FEA­TURES WHO: Mode Ma­chines WEB: modema­chines.com 12 track MIDI Ma­trix Se­quencer with ad­justable note, oc­tave, length, ve­loc­ity, shuf­fle per step, Each track also has 2 or 3x con­troller tracks, 1x MIDI In­put and 3x MIDI Out­puts, 3x track types: drum, chord and mono­phone, 16x pat­terns per Track with step and real-time record­ing modes, Jam mode for live se­quence trig­ger­ing

Mode Ma­chines are per­haps best known for x0xb0x, their TB-303 clone. How­ever, their ex­per­tise also ex­tends to drum ex­pander mod­ules, con­trol sur­faces, mi­cro­phones, mod­u­lar gear, pro­ces­sor and se­quencers. It’s the lat­ter of these that we ex­plore here in the guise of their SEQ12 MIDI Ma­trix Se­quencer.

The first thing you no­tice about the SEQ12 is the plethora of but­tons. These dom­i­nate the unit, with only the right-hand side of front panel break­ing from this, with its LCD dis­play. On the back panel you’ll find three MIDI outs, one MIDI in, a socket for the ex­ter­nal power adapter and a ‘pro­gram­ming port’ for up­grad­ing firmware. Turn­ing the unit on re­sults in a blaze of red light. All switches are backed by red LEDs, with the LCD dis­play fol­low­ing suit in with its bright red back­light.

Each track can be set to one of three modes – Mono, Chord or Drum. Mono is straight­for­ward, and in pitch terms of­fers con­trol over note and oc­tave. Chord mode adds polyphony, whilst Drum mode uses each of the 12 lanes to trig­ger dis­tinct MIDI notes. Sadly, this last mode doesn’t al­low you to set a dif­fer­ent MIDI out­put for each lane, as this would have made for a great multi-unit pro­gram­ming sys­tem.

Each track can store 16 se­quences, with in­de­pen­dently con­fig­urable length and clock divi­sion (from the master clock). Tracks (and other set­tings) are ac­cessed us­ing the ar­row keys below the dis­play. It’s a shame that there are no ded­i­cated track se­lec­tion but­tons or tempo con­trols, as this would have given bet­ter ‘on-the-fly’ use. ‘Jam mode’ how­ever lets you ‘per­form’ pre­pro­grammed se­quences more ef­fec­tively, with a sin­gle but­ton as­signed to the 16 pos­si­ble se­quences avail­able to each track (with Func­tion but­tons for mut­ing).

Un­like many sim­pler ana­logue step se­quencers, where you might have one knob/switch per pa­ram­e­ter, SEQ12 re­quires you to switch pages to set or al­ter most set­tings for each step. This does al­low for much more com­plex se­quenc­ing sce­nar­ios, but with only red LEDs to guide you, it can get con­fus­ing. I can’t help think how much eas­ier things might have been with mul­ti­colour LEDs for each mode, even if it added to the cost. I’d hoped things would im­prove by dim­ming the stu­dio lights, but this didn’t help. Given how in­ter­est­ing the SEQ12 could be in a live sce­nario, this is a real shame.

Over­all, the SEQ12 is a pow­er­ful unit, though it does take some per­se­ver­ance to get the most out of it. It will per­haps find most in­ter­est from those look­ing to avoid star­ing at a DAW screen or in­ter­ested in find­ing new creative pos­si­bil­i­ties in their cur­rent MIDI setup.

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