HOW TO CHOOSE A EURORACK SEQUENCER
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Eurorack Sequencer
When selecting a Eurorack sequencer, there are several important factors to consider. These factors will determine the functionality, flexibility, and overall performance of the sequencer in your setup. Let's take a closer look at each of these factors:
1. Number of Steps and Channels
The number of steps and channels is a crucial consideration when choosing a Eurorack sequencer. The number of steps determines the length and complexity of the sequences you can create, while the number of channels determines the number of voices or instruments you can control simultaneously. If you prefer shorter and simpler sequences, a sequencer with fewer steps may be sufficient. Some sequencers with shorter sequencing options have a variety of features for randomization and and probability that are very effective at making a short sequence feel longer. However, if you want to create longer and more intricate melodies, a sequencer with a higher number of steps will be more suitable. Similarly, if you plan to control multiple voices or instruments in your Eurorack system, a sequencer with multiple channels will be necessary. Something else to consider that in a similar vein to step length is pattern chaining or a song mode. Pattern chaining and or song mode is the ability to link sequences together to make a longer more complex sequence. Often this feature comes equipped with some sort of recall that will enable you to work on a project, powerdown, and return to it later.
2. Interface and Controls
The interface and controls of a sequencer play a significant role in its usability and workflow. Consider the layout and design of the sequencer's interface to ensure that it is intuitive and easy to navigate. Look for sequencers with well-labeled controls and clear visual feedback. Knobs, buttons, sliders, and touchscreens are common control elements found on sequencers. Some sequencers also offer customizable controls, allowing you to tailor the interface to your specific preferences. Additionally, consider whether you prefer a hands-on approach with physical controls or if you are comfortable with a more menu-driven or computer-based interface.
3. Performance and Live Use
If you plan to use your Eurorack sequencer for live performances or jamming sessions, its performance capabilities become crucial. Look for sequencers optimized for live use with features like performance-oriented controls, real-time parameter manipulation, and the ability to store and recall presets. Consider whether the sequencer offers features like pattern chaining, song mode, and the ability to trigger sequences on the fly. Some sequencers also offer performance-oriented features like probability-based sequencing, randomization, and improvisation tools that can add a dynamic and unpredictable element to your performances. Another feature to consider is MIDI in and USB MIDI device hosting. With these features you can program sequences with your existing MIDI hardware and slave the sequencer to your grooveboxes or DAW.
4. Connectivity and Integration
Consider the connectivity options and integration capabilities of the sequencer with the rest of your Eurorack system. Look for sequencers that offer a variety of inputs and outputs, such as CV (control voltage), gate, trigger, and clock inputs and outputs. These connections allow you to synchronize your sequencer with other modules in your system and expand its functionality. Additionally, consider whether the sequencer supports MIDI or USB connectivity, as this can provide additional integration options with external devices like computers, MIDI controllers, and DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations).
5. Modulation and Automation
Modulation and automation capabilities are essential for adding movement, dynamics, and variation to your sequences. Look for sequencers that offer a range of modulation options, such as CV modulation inputs for controlling various parameters like pitch, gate length, velocity, and modulation depth. Some sequencers also provide built-in modulation sources like LFOs (Low-Frequency Oscillators) and envelopes, allowing you to create evolving and expressive sequences. Consider whether the sequencer offers features like glide/portamento, ratcheting, accent/velocity control, and the ability to modulate parameters in real-time during playback.
6. Musical Features and Variations
Consider the musical features and variations offered by the sequencer. Some sequencers provide musical scales, quantization options, and chord modes, allowing you to easily create harmonically pleasing sequences. Look for sequencers that offer features like transposition, octave shifting, and the ability to switch between different scales and modes. Additionally, some sequencers offer performance-oriented features like randomization, probability-based sequencing, and Euclidean pattern generation, which can add creativity and unpredictability to your sequences. Consider whether these musical features align with your creative vision and musical style.
7. Expandability and Firmware Updates
Sequencers that offer expandability and regular firmware updates can provide long-term value and flexibility. Look for sequencers that allow you to expand their capabilities through firmware updates or additional modules. Some sequencers have dedicated expansion modules that add new features and functionality. Additionally, consider whether the sequencer supports open-source or community-driven firmware, as this can provide a vibrant ecosystem of user-contributed enhancements and improvements. Expandability and firmware updates ensure that your sequencer can grow and adapt with your evolving needs and the changing landscape of the modular synth community.
8. Budget and Cost
Budget is always an important factor to consider when making any purchase, and Eurorack sequencers are no exception. Set a budget for your sequencer and consider the cost relative to the features, functionality, and quality you desire. Keep in mind that higher-end sequencers often come with more advanced features and build quality, but they also come at a higher price point. It is essential to strike a balance between your budget and the features that are most important to you. Consider whether you are willing to invest in a sequencer that can grow with your modular system over time or if you prefer a more budget-friendly option that meets your immediate needs.
The Intellijel Metropolix is a powerful and versatile Eurorack sequencer module that excels in both studio and live performance settings. This sequencer is optimized for hands-on control, featuring a user-friendly interface with knobs, buttons, switches, sliders, and a display. The Metropolix offers two main pitch/gate sequencer tracks (TRK 1 & 2) that can interpret the main sequence in unique ways, allowing for the creation of polyrhythms and counterpoints. It also provides three AUX inputs for external modulation, eight modulation lanes, and the ability to store up to 64 presets. The Intellijel Metropolix is known for its flexibility, customization options, and intuitive workflow, making it an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced modular enthusiasts.
Erica Synths Drum Sequencer
The Erica Synths Drum Sequencer is a comprehensive and powerful drum sequencer module designed specifically for rhythm programming in Eurorack systems. This sequencer offers 16 trigger outputs, 12 accent outputs, a CV track with scales, a gate track, and two LFOs with synced or independent BPM frequency. With the ability to create patterns with up to 64 steps, individual track settings for time signature, direction, pattern length, and shuffle, and features like pattern linking and quick copy/paste, the Erica Synths Drum Sequencer provides extensive control and flexibility for creating complex and dynamic drum sequences. It also offers MIDI compatibility, eight banks of 16 patterns for easy recall, and seamless integration with other MIDI-compatible gear.
Five12 Vector Sequencer
The Five12 Vector Sequencer is a versatile digital eurorack sequencer that comes packed with features, offering 8 independent parts each with two sub-sequencers for internal modulation. While the default mode is monophonic, parts 5-8 can be switched to 4-voice chord or drum modes. The unit boasts a range of connectivity options, including dual sets of analog outputs for Pitch, Gate, and Velocity, two 3.5mm TRS MIDI outputs, USB A and B connectors for MIDI over USB, and three bi-directional trigger I/O connections. An optional Jack Expander module adds even more output possibilities, with 4 additional analog voices and 8 trigger outputs. The user interface is designed around two high-resolution OLED displays and a bank of 9 encoders for seamless parameter editing. Below the encoders, a one-octave keyboard allows for quick sequence recording and editing. Additional features include per-step chance operations, a dedicated Part page and Scene page for preset management, and a micro-SD card slot for project saving and firmware updates. With its extensive functionality and user-friendly design, the Vector Sequencer is a complete sequencing ecosystem, ideal for those looking to push the boundaries of modular sequencing.
XOR Electronics NerdSeq
The XOR Electronics NerdSeq is a powerful and unique sequencer module that combines the functionality of a sequencer and a hardware tracker-based CV in a single unit. With six tracks for trigger/CV/MOD generation and up to 18 outputs, the NerdSeq offers immense sequencing capabilities in a compact 32 HP module. It features four usable-assignable inputs, allowing for seamless integration with your existing system. The NerdSeq also offers two available audio tracks for sequencing samples, integrated oscillators, FM synthesis, and dedicated patch points for each trigger output. With its extensive sequencing and sound manipulation capabilities, the XOR Electronics NerdSeq is an excellent choice for those looking to explore complex and experimental sonic possibilities in their Eurorack setup.
Winter Modular Eloquencer
The Winter Modular Eloquencer is a unique and innovative Eurorack sequencer module that offers a wide range of creative possibilities. This sequencer features eight tracks of gate signals and CV, with 16 steps per track and the ability to chain patterns for extended sequences. What sets the Eloquencer apart is its controlled chance randomness, which can be applied to gate, ratcheting, gate length, CV, and other parameters. This randomization feature allows for continuously evolving and morphing sequences, adding a sense of unpredictability and experimentation to your compositions. The Eloquencer also features an intuitive user interface with a large OLED screen for easy parameter visualization and navigation.
Malekko Heavy Industry Varigate 4+
The Malekko Heavy Industry Varigate 4+ is a feature-rich and performance-oriented sequencer module that offers four channels of sequencing in a compact 12 HP module. This sequencer provides dedicated patch points for pitch, gate, and modulation, allowing for precise control over each channel's parameters. The Varigate 4+ features innovative functions like the ability to patch the output of the CV and gates simultaneously, play/stop function, scales, glide per step, and preset banks. It offers a user-friendly interface with intuitive controls for easy programming and manipulation of sequences. With its versatility, expandability, and musical variations, the Malekko Heavy Industry Varigate 4+ is an excellent choice for both beginners and experienced modular enthusiasts.
TipTop Audio Circadian Rhythms
The TipTop Audio Circadian Rhythms is a versatile and performance-oriented gate sequencer module designed for creating complex rhythmic patterns in Eurorack systems. This sequencer provides gates and triggers for drum modules and can also be used as a clock source for other sequencers. It features a 512-step, eight-channel master gate sequencer with a user-friendly interface for programming sequences. The Circadian Rhythms offers features like pattern chaining, song mode, and the ability to perform real-time manipulation of phrases. It also provides patch points for pitch, mod, and gate, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer keyboard playability and want to incorporate melodic elements into their sequences. The TipTop Audio Circadian Rhythms is a reliable and versatile sequencer that can elevate your rhythm programming capabilities in your Eurorack setup.
The Doepfer A-155 is a classic analog trigger sequencer module that combines simplicity with powerful sequencing capabilities. This eight-step sequencer can produce both analog voltages and trigger/gate signals, making it suitable for controlling various parameters in your Eurorack system. The A-155 features three rows dedicated to triggers and one row dedicated exclusively to gates, providing precise control over each step. It offers start/stop, step, and reset functions that can be operated manually or by CV, allowing for dynamic and interactive sequencing. With its intuitive interface and focus on pitch control, the Doepfer A-155 is an excellent choice for those who prefer a straightforward and hands-on approach to sequencing.
ERICA SYNTHS BLACK SEQUENCER
In the realm of eurorack sequencers, the Black Sequencer stands out as a comprehensive solution for both composing and performing. It offers 4 distinct tracks, each with CV, gate, and modulation outputs, as well as MIDI IN/OUT capabilities. Notably, each track can be programmed with up to 64 steps, which can then be chained into longer songs, making it incredibly versatile. The device also includes a variety of timing divisions and multiplications per track, as well as a built-in quantizer for pitch-perfect sequences. Customization is made easy with 16 encoders and per-step adjustments for note, glide, gate length, and modulation. Add a sprinkle of unpredictability with probability, repeats, and ratcheting settings, or even dabble in microtonal tuning. For those who love to shuffle, the sequencer offers adjustable shuffle modes per track. Other perks include an SD card slot for easy backup and firmware updates, and a whopping 16 banks of 16-pattern memory. Despite its deep programmability, the Black Sequencer remains user-friendly, positioning itself as a master controller for a wide range of modular setups.
The Vermona Melodicer is a unique and intuitive sequencer module that offers a fresh take on the concept of sequencing. This sequencer features a straightforward user interface with sliders, knobs, and buttons, making it accessible even for those new to modular synthesis. The Melodicer offers two modes: DICE mode for repeating patterns and real-time mode for generating melodies. It allows for shifting the start and endpoints of patterns, creating complex and evolving sequences. The Melodicer also provides a 16-space memory for storing presets, allowing you to recall your favorite settings and explore new sonic possibilities. With its simplicity, musicality, and ability to create both rhythmic patterns and melodies, the Vermona Melodicer is a versatile and inspiring sequencer for any Eurorack setup.
The WMD Metron is a 16-channel trigger and gate sequencer designed for the Eurorack modular system, offering a plethora of features aimed at both intuitiveness and complexity. This powerhouse of a sequencer stands out with its super intuitive drum programming interface, allowing users to view 4 channels at once or zoom in on a single track to see 64 steps at a time. Flexibility is at its core, supporting up to 256 steps per pattern and different pattern lengths for each channel. The Metron provides five instantly recallable variations, with the option to view and edit variations that aren't currently playing, perfect for non-stop performances. Save your patterns to an SD card for easy recall and seamless pattern loading, while two assignable inputs allow for external CV control. Onboard effects and fills add instant variation to your sequences, and the unit also features an internal clock with swing functionality. Additional advanced features include MIDI preset mode for interfacing with other modules, random pattern generation, per-step and group probability functions, burst per step for ratchet/roll sounds, and custom fill patterns. Quick editing functions, step looping, and manual gates further elevate the Metron's functionality. For those in search of expanded capabilities, optional Voltera and Axxent expander modules are also available. With its intuitive interface and expansive feature set, the WMD Metron stands as a comprehensive solution for anyone looking to explore extensive sequencing possibilities.
Orthogonal Devices ER-101 Indexed Quad Sequencer
The Orthogonal Devices ER-101 Indexed Quad Sequencer is a highly regarded and unique sequencer module that offers extensive control over voltage contours in your Eurorack system. This sequencer features four tracks of gate signals and CV, with 16 steps per track and the ability to chain patterns for extended sequences. What sets the ER-101 apart is its controlled chance randomness, which can be applied to various parameters like gate length, CV, and more. This randomization feature allows for continuously evolving and morphing sequences, adding a sense of unpredictability and experimentation to your compositions. The ER-101 also provides an intuitive user interface with a large OLED screen for easy parameter visualization and navigation. With its advanced sequencing capabilities and unique approach to randomness, the Orthogonal Devices ER-101 is a powerful tool for creating dynamic and evolving sequences in your Eurorack setup.
Make Noise Rene 2
The Make Noise Rene2 is a three-channel sequencer module that builds upon the success of its predecessor, the Rene. This sequencer offers an expanded set of features, including three independent sequencers and simultaneous Cartesian and Snake modes. The Rene2 features a tactile interface with touch-sensitive pads and a unique layout that allows for flexible and expressive control over your sequences. It offers features like transposition, octave shifting, and the ability to switch between different scales and modes. The Rene2 is known for its musicality, versatility, and ability to create complex and evolving sequences. With its innovative design and performance-oriented features, the Make Noise Rene2 is a powerful and inspiring sequencer for any Eurorack system.
Choosing the perfect Eurorack sequencer for your setup and needs is a crucial decision that will shape the way you create and perform music with your modular system. By considering factors like the number of steps and channels, interface and controls, performance and live use capabilities, connectivity and integration options, modulation and automation features, musical variations, expandability and firmware updates, and your budget, you can narrow down your options and find the sequencer that best suits your requirements. Whether you prefer hands-on control, extensive modulation capabilities, randomization features, or performance-oriented functionality, the top Eurorack sequencers highlighted in this article offer a range of options to explore. Take your time to research and experiment with different sequencers, and remember that the perfect sequencer is the one that inspires you and allows you to express your musical ideas to their fullest potential.