This thing is enormous. You tend to automatically assume a hardware sequencer is going to follow something close to the Eurorack format. The SEQ12 from Mode Machines bucks that trend by unapologetically being in a 19″ rack mountable, console-sized format. The integrated rack ears probably make it seem larger than it needs to be, but this front panel is packed with hands-on sequencing goodness.
The 12 x 16 matrix array of LED buttons dominates the front panel. It lets you visualise and manipulate each of the 12 tracks concurrently with ease and intuition. Each track can be one of three types. MONO – a monophonic track with three controller lanes, POLY – a polyphonic track with two controller lanes, and DRUM – which subverts the matrix into a 12 channel drum sequencer within that single track and has two controller lanes. Each track can store up to 16 sequences which are freely selectable on-the-fly.
SEQ12 can be used in three different modes. In SEQ mode you program sequences into the matrix, either in steps or via a MIDI keyboard. With JAM mode the 16 steps become triggers for the 16 sequences stored for each track so that you can fire off whatever patterns or arrangements you want during your performance. In SONG mode you can start building songs by chaining up patterns and combining them into parts. Each track can handle up to 64 steps when chained together. Everything you program can be stored in up to 32 “setups”.
Where’s the analog?
They are calling it an analog and MIDI sequencer but I’m not sure where the “analog” bit comes in. It may be built from analog components but the sequencing engine and the output is all about MIDI. You have 3 MIDI outputs which are really very useful, and the third one appears to be labelled “Out3/CV” but there’s no information on how this works. The manual doesn’t refer to it at all. So it’s best, I think, to ignore the word “analog” and just focus on what is an amazing hardware MIDI sequencer.
The matrix appears to be a very effective method of data entry and visualisation. It can represent notes, chords, octaves, controller information as well as illuminating the steps, relationships and letting you fire off patterns. It would certainly have no problem being the centre of your performance space or studio environment, with or without computer accompaniment.
It’s a serious piece of hardware with a serious introductory price of €999.
- Mode Machines website.