What sequencers is everyone using? Hardware and Software

Having trouble finding a master sequencer for Zynthian and other devices that isn’t a DAW. One where you can record MIDI in real time from a keyboard. Zaquencer? An old Yamaha QY10 or QY70? An all in one keyboard from the 90s? Or are most using DAWs?

Part of the trouble is that sequencers means different things to different people.
My first sequencer was a cmos 4017 and sixteen pots… But as you say I’d didn’t take long for that to become the incredibly complicated beasts we have nowadays. Personally I think a lot of it is down to audio editors (a large community) wanting to make Midi like an audio track with editing so you don’t ever seem to see the same conceptual interface for configuring the midi side on any of the various options.
I’d love something really simple Midi Editor seemed nice but it crashes at critical key presses. Seq64 looks considerably more robust and its got some pedigree of live use so that is optomistic & it now has Jack so that’s good.
As far as DAWs go I’d plump for ardour cos of the guy that wrote it but really that’s not a zynth choice as such it’s down to the personal use case.
If we settle on a headless Seq64 for midi recording and playback then we get a simple solution that will satisfy those that simply want basic midi file handling. It really not much different from handling patch files. However if you want an all singing and dancing editable note handling environment then you probably best look to the DAWs and that can get almost religious…

Thank you! Yeah I started to make a 4017 sequencer a few months ago but didn’t finish. I have a partial modular eurorack system with a SH-101 style MIDI sequencer in it, that accepts and outputs MIDI as well as CV (DIY version of Mutable Instruments Yarns). Korg SQ-1, Volca FM, Volca Sample, Pocket Operator PO-16. And still want to make a Beat707.com Beat NXT step sequencer.

But maybe I’m hoping to force those devices to be something they’re not. I should just work within their very limited step-resolution and do more live-ish performance recording. There are tricks to get extra notes with arpeggiators and or manipulating samples in novel ways on all of those devices. But nothing like old Yamaha sequencers etc. I might get a QY-10 (had one in the 90s) just to start with, you can record with a metronome etc, MIDI In/Out.

I started with tape and a Casio HT-500 synth when I was a kid. Yamaha keyboard with real-time sequencer. 4-track tape. Then Cubasis, Cakewalk, then computers started being able to synth things in real time, so I’ve used Reason/Live/Cubase and Reaper off and on for years (mostly Reason) with controller keyboards. The Nektar Panorama P4 etc interest me a LOT for a more hands-on feel and not using the mouse/keyboard/big screen, but I don’t have one. Was feeling uninspired by the god-like power of DAWs and VSTs. Maybe I could try Sequencer64, on a very mini Windows or Linux PC with a very small screen and use MIDI only. Also the Wusik SQ200 software is extremely hardware-like and I do enjoy it. Yes, something that had the power of a MIDI software sequencer from early 90s would be enough…maybe haha. Maybe just a second RPi with a sequencer in Raspian? :slight_smile:

Well there’s my life story haha, what’s everyone else use?

I built one, but currently without case. I used an Arduino-Mini-Pro-3.3V instead of the original PCB.

Regards, Holger

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Hmm… can some of the components on the PCB use an Arduino in it’s place? I have all the parts to make the breadboard or stripboard version and flash the standalone Atmega IC. But I do have a generic UNO I haven’t used yet, bought for another project.

Take a look at my fork:

I created a new Fritzing breadboard like this:

I didn’t build the LD33 circuit (on the right side). I am using a simple USB-serial adapter (which is not shown in the Fritzing image) which has a 3.3V pin for powering everything.

You need a 3.3V Atmel-328P-Arduino (!) and IMHO the only one is the Mini-Pro (or perhaps also the Nano?). The 3.3V Arduino has half the CPU speed than the normal ones (8MHz instead of 16Mhz) - so if not using one you will get much timing trouble!!!

Regards, Holger

P.S.: I can send more pictures soon…

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Wow thank you so much! I’d planned on flashing the 328P to run at 8MHz suggested from the website, I didnt know there was an Arduino model that ran at 8! All new to me :slight_smile:

Here are some pictures of my Beat-707. Working, but just not ready…

How to connect the three TDAs easily together with a stripe board:

Test build with a breadboard:


Current state of my build:


Regards, Holger


using Musescore (score edting, entry en playback) for learning and modifying my piano lessons, Waveform when I don’t need to see the score anymore, on a linux desktop pc.
And working on Sequencer64 on my first Zynthian as a stand-alone companion (drum / bass / melody) with some midi controllers.

I’m using these 2 hardware sequencers:

  • Zaquencer (Behringer BCR2000 with Zaq firmare)
  • KORG SQ-1

You can check this video (probably everybody already saw it :wink: ) showing the Zaquencer + Zynthian in action:

The SQ-1 is a recent acquisition and i hadn’t time to make a decent video yet …

Really great thank you! I’m now not sure if I should just get a Mini-Pro or Nano, or just keep the 328P and flash it to run at 8MHz the way WilliamK does, since I already bought the parts. I think I have everything I need to flash it, but I haven’t grown more confident in my proto-boarding skills. I do finally have some stripboard now though. Also I love your photos, makes it look so simple (I know it is relatively, just not tons of experience). Love how your table cloth, multimeter, and a lot of the NXT match! :slight_smile: Building eurorack modules from PCBs and panels I can do - from scratch, not lots of experience.

That’s awesome - I never did learn how to read music in “real-time” but I can decode it haha. I guess I would say piano is my “first love” and would still love to have a cheap upright where I live, or at least a weighted 88-key.

Waveform from the Traction folks? Looks pretty great! I’d like to try LMMS myself because it’s open-source but they need more developers :frowning: And it doesn’t have any way to sync with other programs.

Would that be with the Sequencer64 with a full screen? I wish there were some way to make a GUI practical on 320x240 but… I sure don’t know how to do that or add it to Zynthian. Maybe with some extra buttons/LEDs and encoders. Can’t wait to see what the future holds though!

@jofemodo Ohhh yes I’ve watched the first video many times! It’s actually really very nice music, I used to listen to it in the car! Oh man hearing it again now reminds me of buying my soldering iron etc, all the limitless potential! I considered the BCR-2000 using Zaquencer many times back then, probably would have gone for it if I could have found a unit cheap. I have an SQ-1 tho! It was my first real CV/MIDI hardware a few months ago. Zaquencer is completely step-oriented right? A quick check on their site would answer me that I guess. I’m considering slowly building a MIDIBox Seq v4+ when they finalize the design.

Edit: This was a good read: https://zaqaudio.com/files/Zaquencer_SynMag_English.pdf

Have a look at the Arturia Beatstep pro.

Thank you! Yes very aware of the Beatstep Pro! Definitely on my radar :slight_smile:

:joy: Yes - I try to buy and build only equipment where the colors should match on photos.

My absolute favorite hardware sequencer ist Polyend SEQ.

Regards, Holger

I’ve built myself a Midibox SeqV4, and I adore it. It’s quite a large project, but once I had all the parts it only took a weekend to build.

So I’m using that, along with an Arturia Keystep.

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Hahaha that is so awesome congrats! It’s only funny to me because I have to admit I’ve recently become a bit obsessed with waiting for the MIDIBox Seq V4+ parts to be finalized and available! I bought the current core PCB but then found that thread. Would love a 16x16 too haha, Exciting stuff! Oh duh, I said something like that the other day :slight_smile: That’d be so great to have 16 channels of Zynthian going.

I’m using the alesis mmt-8. It works really great with multi-timbric instruments like the zynthian or a nord modular/lead. The video I posted on the other thread is only zynthian sequenced by mmt8

There sure are some drawbacks like possibilities for memory loss and lack of usb-connections which are typical for an 80’s device. Still I don’t know of any sequencer that can beat it in simplicity.

Might try the squarp Pyramid one day once I got the cash for it.