SEQ: Hardware polyphonic MIDI Step Sequencer from Polyend
Polyend was showing the latest development of the SEQ at NAMM in January although I hadn’t come across it until now. The SEQ MIDI Step Sequencer is a hardware step sequencer with 32 steps, 8 polyphonic tracks and room for 256 patterns. It’s built from wood and aluminium and looks stunning. Polyend are now taking pre-orders.
It was originally conceived as a drum sequencer, to which the 8 tracks and 32 steps lends itself perfectly. But during development they decided that they could extend its usefulness into the melodic, which, I think makes it a far more attractive product. Controlling drums is a piece of cake and you instantly experience how useful a beautifully designed hardware sequencer can be. For melodic sequences you need to feed those notes in from a MIDI controller. You can record in step or real time and quantize independently.
The controls are minimal but easy to grasp and get along with. You have full control over note, velocity, length, modulation and roll. Each track can be set to an independent mode of normal, reversed, ping-pong, random, polymetric and polyrhythmic. The sequence information is displayed and edited on the wonderful array of buttons. The light intensity indicates velocity and also note length.
Out the back there are two MIDI outputs for easy connection to at least two sound sources. For the more modular inclined Polyend have an expansion Eurorack module which converts the MIDI from the SEQ into gate, pitch, velocity and modulation CV for each step. In many ways I’d like that to be built into the SEQ but actually, it’s quite a smart solution. MIDI people don’t feel they are buying a load of functionality they are not going to benefit from.
I think the SEQ looks amazing and definitely feeds into our increasing need to be external and present with our music making.
The Polyend SEQ is available for pre-order for £999. The “POLY” Eurorack expansion is £399. So it’s a serious piece of hardware then? More information on the Polyend website.