Synthtopia

Five12 Vector Eurorack Sequencer (Sneak Preview)

At Knobcon 2017, we talked with Jim Coker of Five12 (makers of Numerology), and he gave us a hands-on demo of his upcoming Vector Sequencer for Eurorack.

The Vector Sequencer is an advanced 8-channel sequencer, with many algorithmic features. Coker said that he was close to putting it into production, but did not have pricing or availability info yet. 

Vector Sequencer Preliminary Details:

Coker previously shared these details on his site:

The Vector Sequencer is a digital sequencer in the Eurorack modular format. It provides a significant amount of the sequencing features you can find in the MacOS version of Numerology, including a flexible sequencing engine, sub-sequencers for internal modulation, support for multiple parts, as well as presets and a playlist function.

It has enough built-in outputs to support four or more independent parts. There are two MIDI outputs on 3.5 mm TRS jacks, and two sets of analog CV outputs (Pitch, Gate and Accent), so it will integrate well with both modular gear and standalone synths.

By adding some sort of jack expansion (under consideration), or by doubling parts on MIDI jacks, it will almost certainly be able to support more than 4 parts, but there would be some tradeoff with preset memory. (more on that in a bit).

The UI is based around two sharp and contrasty OLED display panels, resolution is 256 x 64. Don’t pay too much attention to the odd fonts in the current videos, those are just the fonts that come with the default driver code for the displays. The displays are graphically adresssable and I will be updating the layout considerably — custom fonts and sizes, better layout, more indicators about what’s going on, etc.

Below the displays are 8 encoders used for editing parameters — so you can edit one parameter across 8 sequencer steps at a time. There are next/prev buttons for accessing sequences longer than 8 steps. The current max sequence length is 16, which will be expanded later on.

To the left of the displays is a ninth encoder. This can be used to edit all steps of a sequence or a selected subset of steps at a time. For instance, you could select all the odd-numbered steps and edit the gate time for them all at once.

The sequencer engine (for each part) is based on the one used by Numerology’s Note Sequencer modules. So for each step, you have several parameters to work with. The current list includes: Pitch, Gate, Velocity (err, Accent), Step Length, Ratchet (aka Gate Divide), Probability, and Random Jump. I expect Step Repeat, Groove, and some sort of Glide will also make it in. Sequence controls also include settable start and end step, direction, rate, key, scale and semitone offset. I plan to replace “end step” with length — as that makes some modulation tricks (sequencer windowing) much easier.

There is a dedicated button for Modulation which will bring up one or two sub-sequencers that can modulate params on each primary sequencer (per part). These sequencers will be simpler than the Mod Seqs in Numerology, but will work very similarly. They will have up to 8 steps, with params for length, rate, direction, and target param.

There will be presets and some sort of preset playlist. Presets will be grouped into banks and will be loadable from an SD Card. The number of presets per bank will vary according to sequence length — so if you need longer sequences and can get by with fewer presets, that will be a configuration option.

The SD Card is currently mounted on the back of the module, with the intention that it will be mountable on your computer from the USB connection.

In addition to the sequenced parts, there will be at least a couple “controller” based parts. When they are active, the unit will act as a MIDI controller, either for Numerology (via USB MIDI) or for some other device — say for other software, or a synth like the DSI Tetra which doesn’t have many front panel controls. Of course, there will be a custom controller template in Numerology for it.

Synchronization of various sorts will be supported: External clock (w/ divisions), MIDI Clock (master and slave), and DIN Sync through either a port expander or something like the STG Soundlabs Time Buffer. The run & clock jacks on the front panel will be configurable so that you can use them to generate clocks with any common time divisions.

There are two modulation inputs for external modulation sources.

The module width is 42 hp and is quite shallow — will measure next time I have it out of the case.

I have one prototype built, and a couple more are in progress for testing. I’m currently working on code to support the USB port (MIDI and Mass Storage), the SD Card, and fleshing out features like presets and sub-sequencers.

Also in progress: the next hardware revision — some part tweaks, and jack adjustments. I haven’t finalized the button selection, but once that is done, I can order some proper front panels. — The very shiny one you see in the YouTube videos is a temporary plexiglass panel…

You can follow the development of Vector via the Five12 forum or via their Facebook page.