Future Retro has introduced a sextacular new MIDI/analog sequencer, the Future Retro Orb Sequencer.
It’s an evolution of the Roland TB-303 inspired sequencer that’s the heart of the company’s Mobius Sequencer, Future Retro 777 bassline synth and Revolution synth, but redesigned as part of FR’s XS analog synth line.
While the Orb offers a fraction of the connectivity options of Future Retro’s earlier Mobius sequencer, it has a much more elegant design and some unique sequencing options.
The Future Retro Orb Sequencer retails for $550.
If you’ve used the Orb, leave a comment with your thoughts!
The Orb is a single track, step-based digital sequencer, designed to be ideal for controlling Future Retro’s XS semi-modular synthesizer, as well as other analog CV/Gate or MIDI synthesizers. The Orb is also a perfect solution for controlling 303 clones which often lack the essential sequencer.
According to Future Retro’s Jared Flickinger:
The Orb provides an intuitive interface that we feel most accurately represents the principles of time and music. From ancient sundials to modern day analog clocks, time has been represented as the circle, a cycle which never ends. For time itself is nothing more than our perception of the revolution of planets as they journey through their celestial orbit. It is this motion that we call time that can be measured, divided, and arranged to provide the foundation of music. This circular cyclic theme can furthermore be found throughout music in everything from song structure and repeating rhythms to the fundamentals of sound itself, being the sine wave. With this understanding we must conclude that music is cyclic and should so be represented in its natural form.
The Orb sequencer is housed in a rugged aluminum chassis with a high contrast white on gun metal grey finish for easy viewing of controls in dark environments, and bright blue LEDs all around. New spherical switches allow quick selection of multiple steps by sweeping through the surface of step keys.
The sequencer’s interface is circular, which provides several benefits over the traditional linear-style step sequencers. Visually, it is easier to divide a measure of music into equal parts. The circular interface also provides a more intuitive way of displaying patterns playing as cyclic loops, either forwards or reverse, and will help you better understand the underlying geometric symmetries used throughout the remixing process. This design also allows the user to carry out all sequencing functions with a single hand.
There are 256 recordable patterns available, each recording note duration, pitch, accent , glide, loop point, time signature, and swing amount. Pattern editing features include copy/paste, pattern shifting, pattern transposing, multiple pattern cueing for chaining patterns together live, and LED chase. In addition, all pattern editing and recording can be done while the sequencer is running, and it will automatically save all your edits so you don’t have to stop creating.
The Orb also provides the ability to play patterns forwards or backwards, as well as remotely select patterns to play using MIDI program change messages.
There are 16 songs to arrange the patterns in, each recording its tempo, the bank/pattern for each step, the transposition of each step, and the song’s loop point. Each of the 16 songs can contain up to 3,580 measures, and multiple songs may be chained together so they play sequentially.
In addition, the Orb provides a Remix feature, which gives 256 variations for every pattern and song, for more than 65,000 possible patterns right out of the box.
Patterns and songs can be backed up via SysEx dumps to other Orb units, Revolution units, or your computer. In addition, all patterns and songs created in the Orb can be played in the Revolution units, just as all Revolution patterns and songs can be played in the Orb.
The Orb provides separate 1/4″ jacks for the CV out (1V/oct standard) with adjustable Glide Time control, Gate out (positive polarity type, 0 to +12V), and Accent out (positive polarity type gate, 0 to +10v) for playing most analog synthesizers. Or if you prefer, the Orb can act as a MIDI to CV converter allowing any MIDI keyboard/controller, or sequencer to contol an analog synthesizer. It’s also possible to sync most pre-MIDI analog sequencers and arpeggiators to MIDI clock by using the Gate out signal as a programmable clock source.
MIDI In/Thru/Out are all provided for syncing playback with external sequencers, playing MIDI sound modules, or using the Orb as a MIDI to CV converter.
- Number of Patterns: 256 patterns (16 banks x 16 patterns each)
- Recorded Pattern Content: note duration, pitch, accent, glide, loop point, time signature, swing amount
- Number of Steps Per Pattern: 3/4 time = 12 steps, 4/4 time = 16 steps max
- Note Pitch Range: C1 – D#6 (internal), C2 – D#7 (MIDI)
- Loop Point: 1 to 16 notes per pattern to loop
- Pattern Transpose: from -36 to +36 semitones
- Other Pattern Features: pattern remixing, play patterns forwards or backwards, copy and paste patterns, pattern shifting, permanent pattern transposing, multiple pattern cueing (for chaining patterns together live), LED chase, real-time editing of pattern information while the sequencer is playing or stopped, sequencer automatically saves all editing
- Remix: 256 instant variations for playing each pattern and song
- Number of Songs: 16
- Number of Steps Per Song: up to 3,580 measures each
- Recorded Song Content: tempo, bank/pattern for each step, transpose value for each step, song loop point
- Song Pattern Transpose: from -36 to +36 semitones for each song step
- Tempo Range: from 20 to 250 beats per minute
- MIDI Functions: on/off, channel selectable from 1-16, Program Change messages for selecting patterns remotely
- MIDI Sync: internal or external
- MIDI Sysex: for backing up patterns and songs (sysex dumps compatible with the Revolution synthesizer)
- MIDI Data: note on/off, pitch, velocity (transmitted and received)
- MIDI to CV Converter: Converts internal patterns or external MIDI note data into control voltage, gate, and accent signals for controlling other analog synthesizers
- MIDI: in, thru, out
- 1/4″ Jacks: v/oct CV out, +12v gate out (positive polarity), +10v accent out (positive polarity)12 volt AC input, current rating of 1 amp or 1,000 mA7″ length, 6″ width, 2.75″ height
- 1.75 lbs.
- The Orb comes with a 1 year limited warranty covering any failure of components being electric or mechanical.
- For your warranty to be effective, you must register your unit within 30 days of purchase.
- Any modifications done to the Orb automatically void the warranty!