At NAMM we saw the launch of Arturia’s remarkable Keystep Pro. It’s like a Beatstep Pro with a keyboard upgrade and 4 tracks of polyphonic sequencing over MIDI and CV.
I liked the Beatstep Pro. It was one of those devices that opened up Eurorack modular to familiar musical paradigms. The original Keystep did a bit of that too, but only a bit. The Keystep Pro takes this further by dropping a keyboard into the mix to provide a more traditional piano-based approach. Couple that with the expanded sequencing and the Keystep Pro could become the beating heart of a DAWless studio.
4 tracks of sequencing doesn’t sound like much but in a performance and certainly in a modular environment it’s actually plenty. Each of the 4 tracks are independent and can be assigned to run CV/Gate/Mod, MIDI on DIN or over USB. Track 1 can be assigned to run 24 tracks of drums through the 8 drum gates. You can of course clock up to other hardware or software sequencers to enlarge your system.
Recording can be done in step or real-time using the 16 buttons for up to 64 steps per sequence. Each step can handle 16 notes with velocity, gate length, time shift and probability available for each. The Drum track can handle 24 parts and can be pushed into polyrhythms. The sequencer has some performance functions with some pattern randomisation, looper and an arpeggiator with 7 modes and chord mode.
It’s a nice package. Makes more sense than the Beatstep Pro, offers more tracks and moves the concept from something that sparks ideas into a device you could write music on. And it’s great for MIDI as well. It has 2 MIDI outputs making it easier to connect your external gear but you could run a MIDI studio with it and still engage with your DAW over USB. Whether you have modular or analogue gear now or you might have it in the future the Keystep Pro will be a mightily useful device.
The only disappointments perhaps are the small octave range and slim keys and perhaps the colour which doesn’t reflect the modular environment it hopes to find itself in.
The Keystep Pro is available now for €399.