Arturia has upgraded its KeyStep sequencer and controller to 37 keys, expanded the Chord mode, added new Arpeggiator patterns, a display, MIDI controls and lights above the notes. Let’s take a look at that new stuff.
Sitting nicely between the simple KeyStep and the complex KeyStep Pro the KeyStep 37 offers just a bit more in a satisfying size and feature set. It has a few more keys, the same as the KeyStep Pro, and they’ve expanded the Chord mode with some dedicated controls that can also double as MIDI controls for MIDI devices and software. Most importantly the key features that made the KeyStep such a hit are still there with the combined playing and sequencing of CV/Gate and Modulation outputs, MIDI and USB.
The display is the welcome answer to probably most of the criticisms of the original which can show you the tempo along with Chord functions and MIDI control values. The knobs can be mapped in 4 banks of 4 MIDI CC numbers to throw out some useful control over MIDI. Otherwise, they take care of the new Chord functions which cycles through 11 predefined chords and one of your own design that you can play from a single key. Another knob dictates the number of notes contained within that chord and another lets you control how many notes will sound dynamically. The last knob defines the timing of a Strum function from almost instantaneous to long, slow, tempo-synced note placements.
Arpeggiator and Sequencer
The Arpeggiator has two new modes; Walk and Pattern. “Walk” is a probability-based mode where 50% of the time the pattern will move forward, 25% of the time it will repeat the current note and 25% of the time it will walk backwards. It gives some nicely unexpected variations of the notes you’ve played. “Pattern” mode generates a random pattern based on the notes you’ve held and repeats that pattern constantly. It can create instant sequences, melodies and basslines for you in a remarkably satisfying way.
The Sequencer remains largely the same with up to 64 notes. There’s no metronome so you’ll need to set up something to play along to if you want to sequence in real-time. Otherwise, step-sequencing is the way to go and you can use the Tap Tempo button to inject rests and ties. The sequences are polyphonic and you can overdub notes onto a running sequence. The sequence select knob can store up to 8 sequences for instant recall. Sequences can be saved into the MIDI Control Centre and rearranged into any of the 8 slots.
The useful “Keyboard Play” function is still there which lets you play over the top of a sequence without affecting it. You can also set this to a different MIDI channel to play a completely different instrument.
A little bit more
The KeyStep 37 is a useful upgrade to the original fleshing it out a bit more with useful additions and tidying up the functionality. For combining MIDI and modular workflows it’s simple and instantly engaging without the added complexity of something like the KeyStep Pro.
The KeyStep 37 is available now for £