Squarp Pyramid, anybody using it here?


#1

I’m still looking for a good sequencer for my live rig. I was hoping to be able to use the Electribe 2, but that doesn’t really work for me.
I’ll say right away that I don’t want a Cirklon, so don’t say: “get a Cirklon” :slight_smile:
The Pyramid looks interesting, it has many cool features, but there’s a couple of things that I anticipate to annoy me. Since I’ve been trying a lot of sequencers and none of them really worked for me, I’m starting to become a bit more cautions, especially considering the price.
So if anybody owns that thing, I’d really love if you could share some real-life experience about a couple of things and tell me if I’m right or wrong about the following assumptions:

tracks and patterns: as far as I can tell, there is no such thing as multiple patterns for the same track. There’s just 64 tracks (which is a lot I give you that) but it forces you to make one track for every pattern you need. So if you have a bassline and want to make 5 different variations for that, in the Pyramid you have to create 5 bassline tracks. This seems rather weird and counterintuitive to me. This also means that performing a project boils down to muting and unmuting stuff.
Moving stuff: Let’s say you lay down all of the building blocks for your song with a several tracks for every part, then you realize that you need another variation of that bassline you created right at the beginning. How do you keep things in order, so you don’t get lost? Now you could probably copy-paste all the tracks after those basslines to make room to fit one more in, or you can add that bassline track at the end of everything. I don’t see a quick way to just rearrange things though, or is there one?
Routing: can you use a track to just route an attached keyboard to a synth that is attached to the out of the Pyramid and use that to play stuff live while in SEQ mode?
Program change: is there a way to attach a program change message to a track?

Thanks a lot!


#2

Getting a Cirklon is difficult anyway sadly. They were 10 months late with my order and I assumed they had forgotten and I had spent the money.


#3

@6581punk: yep, one more reason not to get one. But I didn’t want one anyway. :slight_smile:


#4

What sort of sequencer do you need, what features and interface?


#5

Not saying it meets your requirements, but have you looked at the Carbon from Kilpatrick? It’s newer so maybe you have not looked into it. It should be ready by summer.


#6

If you can’t find anything, you can always bulid what you want in Reaktor, MAX, or PD. :wink:

I love the E2, but it is still just a suplement to my DAW. I can’t really think of any hardware that can do what a computer can. My recommendation would be to not buy a stand alone sequencer. A touchscreen laptop and a MIDI converter will be more milage per buck live or in the studio. No questions.


#7

Actually Ableton Live, with a bit of Max4Live and a launchpad does more or less what I want. That’s what I had been using until I decided to try to do live gigs without the computer.
This has been a sort of liberation, it helped me to focus a lot more on the music and makes both improvising and performing a lot easier. My main use for a sequencer is to sequence drums, since all the rest is either played live or played live and looped with a Boss RC-505. So the E2 for me is mainly a sample-based drum machine that can play percussive sounds chromatically (which is something I use a lot).

Actually I really like the E2, and it’s very simple and straightforward interface, so I could live with most shortcomings, even with the fact that editing a sequence is total PIA. But there’s a couple of big deal breakers for me, and they are:

  • There’s no projects, all the patterns live in the same monolithic project. This wouldn’t be a big issue, if you could at least re-arrange the patterns in some way that does not involve the cumbersome duplicating/overwriting process.
  • You can’t have dynamically clone a part. i.e. you can’t create a part and then use it in several patterns, so when you change parameters in it, the changes are propagated to all patterns. Sure you can work with the pattern launch page, but I find that very messy to use, since usually I just prepare the patterns and play them in sequence anyway.
  • There’s only one master effect and only one stereo output. Most of the time I like to have some reverb on certain parts but not on others, the only way to do that is by using it on the master (that’s the only place where the E2 has a reverb). But by doing so, you can’t use any of the cool beat-repeater and sequence mangling effects on the pattern.

What do I need? Well I’ll try to make it easy
I have two choices now:

Either I go for a drum machine, that supports samples and has a nice sequencer that let’s me perform stuff live in an intuitive way (The Elektron Rytm would be a candidate, but I’m not sure I have 1.4K), Something like the E2, without the annoying things above and with a proper sequence editor would be great. It should have fully featured, polyphonic, sequencer tracks, no drums-only tracks like the Beatstep (Pro), which I also tried and discarded. If it could have different sequence speeds and play modes per track, next to different sequence lengths that would be even better.
The other choice is to go with a “pure” sampler, and use the modular to play the sounds (since I have a bunch of drum modules anyway). It’s not my preferred solution, but it would work with what I already have.

So since I’ve come to the point that I’m exasperated with these things, I tried to look for other options. I did check the Carbon, which has a couple of really nice features (like that you can apply different gate patterns to the same sequence and shift things around), but I’m a bit turned off by the fact that you only get 6 scenes per project and that they all base on the sequence (though I’m not 100% sure about that). Didn’t get to try the thing out myself at Superbooth unfortunately.

I did try a lot of iPad-based sequencers and wasted a lot of good money on that. Both the hardware and software has been very disappointing in many regards and I’m not wasting one more cent on it.

The Fyrd SQR had a couple of really nice features for me, but alas, the company vanished and rumour has it that a lot of people who paid for the device apparently will never see their money back or get what they paid for.

So the Pyramid is the only hardware sequencer I can imagine to work for me. It has many cool features I like, especially all the polyrhythmic and polymetric ones, the fact that the tracks are independent, it’s small and compact, it even has CV-gate outputs (albeit only one) and looks like it has a nice and straightforward interface.
It has those disadvantages as listed in the first post though so… if you confirm that my assumptions are right, I guess it’s going to be a computer with Ableton


#8

Have you discarded the zaquencer? Connect a raspberry pi on each midi out with samplerbox firmware installed and you have a monumental sample based drum machine and sequencer for under 200euro.

Or something similar…


#9

Yes I’ve been checking it out, but a) I don’t see the huge advantage over just using my laptop with what I already have on it, which costs me less than 200€… actually nothing. b) I know how it might end if I embark in the raspberry route, I’ll waste months trying to get things running and then abandon due to my lack of technical skills. I’ve been there many times. I learned not to mess with Linux if it’s anything more than installing a deb from a repository… and even there, things have never worked for me. I could of course use the zaquencer with my euro modular… but I don’t know. The specs are cool, but I don’t know, the demos did never really convince me.


#10

Actually somebody should take over the development of Seq24… that would be a great combo with samplebox on a PI2 or PI3 and would make a nice standalone sampler-sequencer box.


#11

Samplerbox is just putting the firmware into a Pi, adding a USB soundcard and turning it on. I don’t even know what a deb or a repository is! :slight_smile: Worked first time for me. If you have a Pi and a USB soundcard knocking around I’d give it a go.
Zaquencer is very handysy. I can understand your reticence from the available videos - but equally a borrowed Behringer and the demo firmware hopefully wouldn’t be too hard to come by.

Admittedly I prefer to layer sequenced drums over anushri controlled drums. It depends on how may hands you have available and whether your toes are prehensile. Only you know your needs best :slight_smile:

Actually, (lastminute edit) I thought you had an LXR at some point. What’s stopping you using that? Triggers out etc etc


#12

@rumplefilter you should contact the Squarp team directly, they are usually responsive and boast updating their firmware to please customers. :slight_smile:


#13

> Samplerbox is just putting the firmware into a Pi, adding a USB soundcard and turning it on. I don’t even know what a deb or a repository is! :slight_smile: Worked first time for me. If you have a Pi and a USB soundcard knocking around I’d give it a go.

From the website it looked like it involved a lot more DIY than that.

> Actually, (lastminute edit) I thought you had an LXR at some point. What’s stopping you using that? Triggers out etc etc

It’s the lack of sample support. I know you can load samples on the LXR, which I did, but it’s nowhere near a real sample-based drum synth.
Actually the LXR ticks most of the boxes in my list other than that and maybe in combination with a Samplerbox PI it could be put back to it’s drumming duties…


#14

@Rumpelfilter
I hope not to derail anything, but are you unhappy with the synthesis portion of the LXR? I’m recently started to get a bit sad about mine, after a two years use. I recently got a mfb-503 to support the, in my opinion, lacking hats of the lxr, and now I’m slowly drifting towards selling it completely and saving up for another machine.
I actually run a LXR + Zaquencer setup that I’m very happy about. The Zaq interface can be a bit convuluted sometimes, especially in a live situation.


#15

@rumplefilter, might be a tight squeeze, but a pi could fit in an LXR case?


#16

Yeah samplerbox can just be the Pi and the firmware. It sound terrible but that’s solved by a 5euro USB soundcard. I have some 5pin to USB midi cables so that allows control from the sequencer including programchange to switch sound banks…

Or you could use a volca sample with the rk-002 cable to simplify midi routing. Erm… seems that’s much more expensive now. Ahem.

Interested in LXR opinions too.

Or how about the 2020 semi modular on kickstarter. Etc etc


#17

Samplerbox on the Pi is pretty limited though- it’s monotimbral, for example, although you can kind of get around it by setting different samples to note ranges up and down the octaves. I’ve been messing with the LXR as a sequencer lately, and I think it works quite well provided you can work with 8 patterns at a time.


#18

I need to elaborate a bit why I moved away from the LXR I think. I do really like many things about the LXR, especially the sequencer. Some thing I was using a lot: substeps, probability, the roll function. All things which makes for a nice live-playable drum machine and which I’m missing on the E2.
jensu: no I wasn't really unhappy with the synthesis engine. Maybe the bassdrum lacks a bit of punch, but that might also be me not being good enough at programming it. it's very good at making glitchy, crisp digital sounding percussive sounds, which is basically the type of drum sounds I'm after. But I need a nice full kick and some full-sounding snares/claps as well. BTW. here you can hear what I mean with a real-life example: "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKa8qyV146U#":https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKa8qyV146U# (volumes are a bit off on this recording and the drum machine is a bit low...) Jump to 25:00, 39:00 or 50:00 What it did not have, and which I was in need of was: a good interface to program chromatic sequences for external gear (or an on-board synth engine), internal effects, more advanced ways to mangle with the stored sequences, and as previously mentioned, sample-support. Other than that, I could probably use it with the modular...Varthdader: Not sure there’s still room in the metal case :slight_smile:


#19

@rumpelfilter- re: good interface to program chromatic sequences: have you tried using a midi keyboard into the LXR? There’s a certain midi setting (I stumbled across it by accident) which enables you to play each drum channel chromatically. This makes sequencing external synths much more pleasant.


#20

@elthorno: no never occurred to me that it could work! Well, good hint, thanks. I see, I must experiment a bit more with the LXR maybe…