MIDIbox SEQ V4 Lite (in short: MBSEQV4L) is a new “MIDI sequence looper” which lets you create a sequence and then apply various MIDI effects to spice up the original recording, in real time. When a new sequence is entered, loaded or stored from/on a SD Card, MIDI effects are added, etc. It will always run in sync with the internal or externally supplied clock.
Here’s a demo of the sequencer in action:
[0:05] configuring Seq1 for 32 steps (2 bars)
[0:14] a basic pattern is entered in Live Recording mode to define the basic rhythm
[0:19] now this sequence is automatically looped
[0:25] switching to Step Recording mode
[0:27] and entering additional notes for selected steps
[0:32] activating force-to-scale: Pentatonic Minor (previously forgotten)
[1:05] yes, we can also enter chords!
[1:55] activating the Humanizer with extreme settings (random keys/velocity/length – always in scale)
[2:04] activating Groove with Shuffle feel and modified Delays/Velocities/Lengths
[2:11] now it gets more funky!
[2:12] trying some magic LFO presets – affecting note and velocity
[2:36] trying different Step Progressing presets – affecting step increment/decrement/repeat
[2:35] some different LFO presets again
[3:17] entering a second sequence, played by a virtual Wurlitzer
[3:26] notes are entered in Step Recording mode
[3:57] trying different MIDI Echo effects on Seq1 with Note increment (but forced to scale)
[4:28] introducing our special guest!
[4:32] my beloved app “Pianist Pro” is running on the iPad, it sends OSC messages to MBSEQV4 which are converted to MIDI and thereafter sent to Logic Audio via USB
[5:21] additional notes are entered, making the sequences more complex
[5:33] muting Seq1, the Wurlitzer plays alone
[5:58] all MIDI effects are activated – MBSEQV4L jams a bit out of human control meanwhile, but it still sounds nice
[6:40] unmuting and modifying the MIDI effects of Seq1
[7:04] slowly some steps are disabled to thin out the sequences
MIDIbox SEQ V4 Lite Details
MBSEQV4L is a derivative of MBSEQV4 with reduced control surface and feature set, tailored for a single usecase: using it during a live session. The firmware contains the same sequencing engine like the original V4, but only provides access to the most important functions, such as various MIDI effects. Instead of entering effect parameters directly, 15 presets are available per effect. This reduces the possibilities, on the other hand the prepared setups are working well and they are available immediately with a single push on a button.
The control surface consists of 48 buttons and 64 LEDs. Neither LCDs to display sequences and parameters, nor rotary encoders for data entry are supported. Have a look on MIDIbox SEQ if you are searching for such possibilities. This limitation makes the sequencer inexpensive and easier to build.
Note, Pitchbender and CC values can only be entered by recording the MIDI events from an external MIDI keyboard. Step and Realtime (Live) recording are supported, both are useful! Use Step Recording to quickly enter some notes/chords on selected steps, use realtime recording to enter notes and CCs on-the-fly at the position which is currently played by the sequencer.
Although MBSEQV4L plays 16 tracks at once, only two sequences (Seq1 and Seq2) are available, because each sequence allocates 8 tracks. The first three tracks are used to store Note/Velocity/Length, layered to up to 16 notes polyphony per step. The remaining 5 tracks are used to store Pitchbend and CC values at high resolution. Each track stores 4 CC layers, accordingly up to 19 CC lines can be recorded.
Both sequences are working independent from each other. It’s possible to apply different MIDI effects, and to select an individual MIDI channel. Parameter changes can also be done for both sequences by selecting Seq1 and Seq2 together.
The sequence length is selectable from 1 to 64 steps. Longer sequences would require more Bar buttons and LEDs, therefore they are not supported to follow the philosophy “only directly selectable functions are available”. In general you will notice, that all functions have a dedicated button. With two exceptions (Scale button and the “general purpose” buttons) no double assignments are used to simplify and speed up the usage.
Both sequences can be stored (and restored) on/from a SD Card. The session format is compatible toMIDIbox SEQ V4, therefore it’s possible to exchange patterns. This also means, that it’s possible to play back a 16 track sequence which has been created on MBSEQV4 – use MBSEQV4L as a simple playback machine.
Only a single session is available, which consists of 64 patterns. For more patterns, swap the SD Card. This can be done during runtime without power-cycling the hardware.
The sequencer can be synchronized to an external MIDI clock, or it can be clocked internally. In this case the tempo has to be entered with the “tap tempo” function. MBSEQV4L switches automatically from MIDI Clock master to slave mode once it receives a clock over any MIDI IN.
The MIDI Clock Slave mode supports a special synchronization mechanism: if you are pushing the Start button, the sequencer won’t start immediately, but with the next 16-step bar of the master clock. We find this especially useful in live situations, because it prevents that MBSEQV4L starts with the first step “in between” the measure given by the master clock.
MIDI events are output on MIDI OUT1 and USB. The remaining MIDI OUTs only output a MIDI clock.
MIDI events and clocks are received from all available MIDI INs, USB and OSC (Ethernet). A MIDI Router is available which forwards incoming MIDI events to MIDI OUT1, USB, OSC, CV Out when enabled (“IN->OUT” button). This means, that a synth could be used in “local off” mode, so that MIDI notes played on the keyboard will be routed through MBSEQV4L before they are played.
See the project site for details.