Zaquencer Firmware Turns Behringer’s BCR2000 Into A Hardware MIDI Step Sequencer

Behringer-BCR2000

Developer Christian Stöcklmeier contacted us to let us know about Zaquencer – a custom firmware for the Behringer BCR2000 (above) that turns the popular MIDI controller into a standalone hardware step sequencer.

Zaquencer does this by replacing Behringer’s firmware, which makes BCR2000 work as a MIDI controller, with a custom firmware that makes the BCR2000 work as a hardware step sequencer.

Here’s an overview of Zaquencer:

The BCR2000 + Zaquencer combo is going to be “by far the most affordable way to get a fully featured 4-track hardware Midi Step Sequencer”, says Stöcklmeier. “It has more features than competitors three times the price, while still retaining an intuitive interface.”

Here’s another demo of the Zaquencer in action:

While this is an unofficial firmware, Stöcklmeier says that he has contacted Behringer and they have no objections to it.

The ZAQ Audio Zaquencer firmware will be available mid-October 2014 as a digital download for 69 Euro. Additional details are available at the ZAQ site. The BCR2000 has a street price of about US $150/125 Euro.

70 thoughts on “Zaquencer Firmware Turns Behringer’s BCR2000 Into A Hardware MIDI Step Sequencer

  1. I was thinking about getting a BCR2000 last night to control some of my rack synths, looks like I’m going to have to buy two now!

    1. People are cheapskates. Good luck ‘hacking’ together your own custom firmware. I hope you charge less for it if you’re generous enough to share it when it is complete.

      1. That’s awesome, €200 is damn cheap for a hardware step sequencer that can do all that, but I’m going to restrain my enthusiasm until some more details come out. there are some legitimate points that need to be addressed here.

        The BCR2000 isn’t known as a particularly robust piece of kit – I’ve had encoders fail on units a few times. Can the license be transferred between units for when you need to replace the hardware? (Especially since no more warranty)

        If there’s a power interruption does your work go poof? Is there a way to back up sets or move them to another unit? (see failing units, above).

        Can patterns be copied between tracks within a set? between tracks in different sets?

        What’s the RMS jitter? What’s the added RMS jitter when synced to an external clock?

        I can understand some apprehension over custom firmwares. To perform with something like this, it needs to work 110% of the time, and if it hangs, or doesn’t have important features implemented, then even free would be too expensive. But if this is really a robust firmware that does what it says on the tin and does it well, then it’s a bargain for sure.

        1. I own a BCR2000 since 2006 it traveled with me country to country, somebody spilled beer on it ( actually beer bottle smashed on it too) my gf knocked it over numerous times it still works fine, always on I don’t know what’s wrong with yours.

        2. I hava 2 BCRs – one of em for like 5-6 years. Just in case it helps you, in one of them, the USB-to-midi built in itnerface failed at some point, resulting in unreliable operation – lacking feedback in the knobs. I bought a cheap USB-to-Midi cable and it works ever since without hickups whatsoever.

          Might worth the try for your failed one too! 😉

    2. On one hand, it is a lot of money, on the other hand, I can’t imagine how much time & effort goes into hacking up a 3rd party firmware. I imagine big resources are needed to make that go.

      Would it not be cool if more hardware manufacturers would put out development kits– Akai, Arturia, etc. That way we wouldn’t necessarily have to wait for them to fix their sh!tty OSs, if the hardware is good, the open-source community could make things work in different/better ways.

  2. This looks great! I had a BCR2K for years for controlling my MIDI synths and all the time kept waiting for someone to release a step sequencer hack for it. Alas, I got rid of it when I traded in all my MIDI gear for CV/Gate synths.

  3. AWESOME…
    lol @ charging money for it though. hobbyists like myself (oh right i mean ‘amateur musicians’) spend way too much $$ on music gear anyways, but that’s not something i’d throw down for, even though i have a BCR2000. i’ve bought hardware mod kits for less…

    1. I really can’t believe the attitude of some people who actually believe it is their right to receive the fruits of someone else’s labor for free.

        1. Are you privy to the effort that was involved? I don’t even own a BCR but from the description this is a complete replacement of the firmware not a simple “hack” as you put it. As a software developer I am impressed. I’m also tempted to pick up a BCR just for this.

        2. It’s a completely new firmware written from scratch, not a quick and easy modification. He’ll be lucky to sell a few hundred copies, and you’re complaining as though he is somehow overcharging.

          Heaven help us if we live in world where individuals are expected to give away everything they create for free, while corporations make billions.

    2. So you think 0+1 are less value than transistors and so on ? Making a hardware mod or a software mod both takes time.

      Whats up with all those haters these days, its like we got a schoolyard in here.

  4. I understand the objection to charging but just looking at it from an economic standpoint it is so worth it. The cost of the hardware and that software is way cheaper than equivalent hardware. I’m definitely interested.

  5. buncha cheapskates on here.. if you’re complaining about the price, then get a job.
    you’re really complaining about $69 that turns your $100 midi controller into a sequencer… something that some models charge $500+ for…

    noobs.

    1. ok, all-in all $87 (euro->usd) + $150 is really great for a midi sequencer that versatile. this is exactly what i had hoped people would do with the bcrs, cuz they’re just cool cheap encoder banks. but… nearly $90 for a firmware upgrade? as in, processor-level software that could easily render the machine unusable if it’s at all unstable? you have to admit that it’s a bit silly, especially since ‘zaq audio’ has no other products or history or reviews. this seems like the kind of thing that one would release for free online, as awesome as it is. that being said, yeah i’d gladly buy it for $30 or so.

      1. Consider how any people are realistically going to buy something like this, how much work must have gone into it, and what a hardware programmer gets paid before you suggest that it should be $30. Probably hundreds of hours of work, but not hundreds of buyers.

        If it’s not worth it to you, don’t buy it, but don’t diss the guy because he wants to get paid what his time is worth, rather than what he’d get working at Wal-Mart.

  6. This is great from a gigging standpoint too. You can keep the firmware stored safely at home, take your bcr2000 gigging not caring if someone spills beer all over it. Go buy another one off of eBay for $100 and you are back in action. Very cool!

  7. Why so angry guys? are you married to behringer or something

    69 euros does seem pretty expensive for a hardware unit that costs 130 new…

    not saying they don’t deserve to get paid what they’re asking for, but comparatively the price is a little steep.

    1. Not angry, but it’s depressing to see how many people feel like developers owe them something!

      This type of application would take hundreds of hours to develop, by someone who really knows their stuff.

      If we want smart people to develop cool stuff like this, we have to make it worth their while!

  8. This is nice. Excellent point that the unit is 150 to replace, but the firmware upgrade is a onetime purchase! Compare the above bcr for 250 to the standard for 100 less with no standalone sequencing goodness. Still cheaper than livid gear. Stop whining and save $ for a few week, $100 bucks isn’t much for honest work.

  9. Another thing: I think we ALL want Behringer to produce a cheap-ass hobo synth. this is another nudge from the hacking community to promote that kinda development. What a great decade this is for electronic music, if nothing else

    1. Given Behringer’s habit of copying other’s designs and slapping them together in a their Chinese factories, I’m in no hurry to see them enter the synth world.

  10. Also, think about it… once you have purchased the firmware there’s nothing from stopping you to install this on more than one machine! As others have said, it’s a real bargain considering how much something like this would cost that has been designed specifically for that function.

  11. I love this site, but seriously 75% of the comments are so highschool I feel like vomiting. Of course he can charge 69 bloody euros for his work? He can also charge 600, just don’t buy his product then! That’s how reality works, you pay for a product or make it youself! JJOS costs over 100 by the way!

  12. Simple solution to those who don’t like the price:
    1. Don’t buy it
    2. Continue to live your life as normal

    That advice would cost you at least £30 on any other board, so at least you can smile about that!

  13. 1+

    Problem is IMO quite opposite: because of all those iOS or Android apps which cost nearly nothing, nowadays it’s very hard to earn real money from your work. Many music apps are some way special that there aren’t million people market out there. No matter how many hours (or years) you have spent time to develop your thing, people are willing to give you just few bucks for it. That’s because app isn’t supposed to cost more than that.

    Problem comes back to us when those developers must have other jobs to make their living: our apps do not develop or develop painfully slow. I’ve seen this so many times. For example, Genome has huge potential to be greatest MIDI seq for iOS but it’s still after years very unstable and buggy.

    Just my few cents why we hear complaints for prices like that… 😉

  14. This is the best thing that has happenend since i own the BCR2000. This is a brilliant idea. I cannot understand people complaining about the price. It is well worth that price if it delivers as promised.

  15. Sequentix Cirklon – €1,480
    Manikin Schrittmacher – €1,390
    Doepfer MAQ 16/3 – €680.00
    Doepfer Dark Time – €444.00
    Analogue Solutions Oberkorn MK3 – €919.00
    Elektron Octatrack – €1489

    Do I need to say more?

    1. Used MPC 500 = 200€ and full multichannel MIDI sequencing and events editing, original new price was 499€ and it does way more than sequencing.
      Do I need to add all the MIDI hardware sequencers currently being sold are a ripoff?

        1. Still I would be glad if that type of multichannel sequencing with quantizing would be sold standalone, like right now. For 200€ or less. Also, you can edit single events, so it’s not even more limited just the interface is being different.

    2. Yeah, you could add “Audio Damage Sequencer 1 – $600 and it’s not out yet”, and also “Genoqs Nemo – €1399 and they don’t make them any more (although there’s one on eBay at the moment).”

      But your point is already very well made, sir.

  16. I dream to see these kind of ideas applied to the Mackie C4. A lot of knobs and 4 LCD screen that die the day that Mackie decided to kill the 10.9 OSX support. Im going to bye a BCR to replace the Mackie C4.

  17. As the developer of a cheap midi step sequencer (midiSequencer $7 albeit needing an ipad) this is great and well worth the price imo. Glad I kept my BCR2000 – thought those knobs would come in handy as I’ve just added midi learn to enable you to do the same sort of thing without the firmware.
    As Ross said, hardware versions are 20x the price.

  18. I’d like to echo the sentiments above that if people feel that €69 is too much money for “software”, the creation of which was the culmination of 1.5 years work, which completely transforms the functionality of a low cost device into something incredibly inspiring, making it equivalent to devices only sold in the realms of more than double (and triple, and quadruple) the cost, that they are welcome to write their own version and make them available for less, because how hard could it be, right?

    This is totally, totally, totally incredible, and if I hadn’t just got a Push in the last few days I’d be all over this. Likely one day I’ll get it and a BCR anyway!

  19. I have a bcr2000 and rarely use it anymore except to control a few knobs on iOS synths.
    I am more than happy to pay the price asked for this firmware to make it a hardware sequencer! Someone put a ton of time and energy into this and I am stoked! Yes it is pricey but go buy a real step sequencer and see the price. I have three of the Korg E-1 series and they put me back a few bucks so this is pretty damn cool.

  20. Strange that people are fine with spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on hardware, but reluctant to spend less than $100 on the software to run it. I think this is a great bargain, have you seen the prices of standalone Step Sequencers like the Europa or the Octatrack?

  21. I’ve had a BCR for about 10 years, it’s so useful. Most of that time I’ve used it as a very capable controller for Ableton using Mackie Control Emulation mappings developed by a clever Japanese guy. Started thinking recently I needed a step sequencer, can’t believe the BCR can do this too, thanks to this developer’s work. Played with the demo last night and found it intuitive and powerful, seems very well thought out and implemented. Definitely going to get the full version, and possibly another BCR!

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