The Varigate sequencing modules from Malekko are found in racks all over the place. The original Varigate 4 is an 8-step gate sequencer, meaning that it triggers gates and so is ideally suited for drums and percussion. When Malekko introduced the Varigate 8+ in 2016 it built on the Varigate 4 and expanded into 8 channels of 16 steps along with many other features. Most importantly it introduced 2 channels of CV making it a melodic sequencer and modulation source. Now they are folding many of the Varigate 8+ features back into the new Varigate 4+ turning it into a very interesting melodic and percussive sequencer.
4 channels of 8 steps, represented in a flowing stream of slider LEDs – I love the look of this thing. It’s only 2HP wider than the original and yet they’ve managed to get in a whole new column of chunky, illuminated buttons. The buttons give access to a lot of new features. Along with the existing Probability and Repeat modes they’ve added buttons for Glide, Note entry, Track select, Save/Recall and Play/Stop.
But the biggest upgrade is the CV outputs. This allows you to send voltages out to control other gear, most commonly as notes to play oscillators. The Varigate 4+ is now a “proper” sequencer rather than a rhythm machine. The four Channel/Track outputs can be configured in 3 different ways. You can have 4 channels of CV, or you can have 4 channels of gate (like the original). Or you can mix it up with 2 channels of CV and 2 channels of gates. That sort of turns it into a bit of a groove box.
Each step of a sequence can be programmed with Probability for gates, Repeats, Glide and Notes (when in CV mode). And you can apply randomisation to those last three parameters. Each sequencer can be quantized to Scale and can have it’s Direction, Length, Division, Multiplication and Pulsewidth played with in Track mode. And you now have 4 banks of 4 presets in order to save your creations.
The functionality available within the Varigate 4 has always been awesome. In my view it’s been crying out for a melodic version. The 8+ did that in spades but it was big and expensive. The Varigate 4+ brings this together at a good size for a sensible price and is exactly the sequencer I’ve been waiting for. You can also slave it up to the 8+ as an expander – good to know if I ever have enough room for both.
Full details are available on the Malekko website and they are taking pre-orders for $279 now and hope to be able to get it to you before Christmas.
- Malekko Varigate 4+ webpage.