Social Entropy Engine Sequencer Demo


At the 2015 NAMM Show, Social Entropy introduced Engine, a new x0x-style multi-channel step sequencer.

Social Entropy is known for their drop-in CPU mods that bring updated sequencing capabilities to the Roland 303 bassline synthesizer and the Roland 606 drum machine.

Engine is multitrack hardware sequencer, that builds on their experience with 303/606 sequencing, and is designed for creating both melodic and percussion patterns in a compact tabletop unit.

In the video below, Social Entropy’s John Kimble discusses the architecture of Engine and then demos making a basic song pattern, using various sequencer options:

Engine will be available in early 2015, with an expected price around US $700. See the Social Entropy site for more information.

41 thoughts on “Social Entropy Engine Sequencer Demo

  1. Does it do Elektron-style parameter locks? That he mapped filter cutoff to velocity makes me think it doesn’t.

      1. The idea of parameter locks makes perfect sense on a hardware sequencer. My octatrack has eight channels of it. What about being able to automate control change/velocity/note value etc doesn’t make sense?

        1. Elektron’s ‘parameter locks’ let you sequence patch changes, which make sense on a combination sequencer/synthesizer. This is Electron-specific, there’s no ‘parameter locks’ in MIDI.

          On a separate hardware sequencer, you’d either want the ability to sequence MDII Program Changes or to sequence CC values.

          1. The MachineDrum, MonoMachine, Octatrack can “parameter lock” midi data..
            All are hardware step sequencer.
            its Elektron´s business model
            Makes perfect sense 🙂

          2. “Elektron’s ‘parameter locks’ let you sequence patch changes”

            Yes, you clearly know what you’re talking about.

            “there’s no ‘parameter locks’ in MIDI”

            Right, your understanding of parameter locks is truly impressive.

            “On a separate hardware sequencer, you’d…want the ability…to sequence CC values”

            From the comment above yours: “My octatrack has eight channels of…being able to automate control change”

            *golf clap*

            1. ElektronOG

              It seems you’re unaware of the differences between Elektron’s proprietary ‘Parameter Locks’ feature and CC sequencing.

              With ‘Parameter Locks’ – a proprietary Electron feature – each step in a sequence can be a ‘snapshot’ of all the parameters of a sound. If you can sequence every aspect of a patch on each step, you effectively have the power to use a different sound on every step of a sequence.

              This sort of comprehensive control is possible with Electron’s internal sequencers, because Electron knew all the possible parameters available in its gear when it created the sequencer.

              It doesn’t make any sense to expect Elektron’s ‘Parameter Locks’ to be available on a hardware sequencer, though, because there’s no way for a hardware sequencer to know all the parameters that are available on every synthesizer. Most synths do not even comprehensively expose all of their parameters to external control via MIDI.

              With CC sequencing – a non-proprietary feature – you can modulate an aspect of a sound (like filter cutoff). This is sort of like ‘Parameter Locks Lite’. Still very cool and very powerful, but not the same thing as what Electron is doing with its internal sequencers.

        1. You are describing CC sequencing and control-voltage sequencing, which are nowhere near as powerful as ‘Parameter Lock’ sequencing!

  2. No information available on their website, just a picture of the “Engine”. It seems that they are still in the “prototype mode” 😉

    1. This fills a different niche than the A4, those of us that need a flexible hardware sequencing option that is not tied to a synth or computer, especially useful if you’ve gone modular. Once you start comparing the price to single channel sequencers in eurorack, this starts to look cheap (or at least reasonable).

      Also, the elektron sequencer does not jive with everyone (I am in this boat).

  3. $700.00 for something like this isn’t really that expensive…. Look at the Cirklon or Genoqs sequencers… 2-3 times the price. Totally different animal than the A4. This is more for someone who is looking to tie all their hardware together into one big instrument. Kinda the heart of a studio or live setup. I cannot wait for this!!! There is a serious hole in the market for Engine. And at $700 I think it’s a steal of a deal!!!

    1. Yes you are. When the devices you want to sequence are hardware only, using a DAW for sequencing is a pain in the arse. You pay for features you don’t want. they require decent hardware to run and you’re occasionally stuck because of OS or app updates. The MIDI timing can be a bit iffy and it’s all just a bit awkward. A dedicated hardware sequencer works more naturally with your workflow, it feels more of a creative tool, it’s easy to use and you can see whats going on by looking at a few LED’s. Dicking around clicking on menus in a DAW makes me feel more like I’m making a spreadsheet in Excel.

      It’s great to see more hardware choices, it’s weird that it’s taking this long to get something that moves past what an Alesis MMT8 could do 25 years ago. But I’d say if you haven’t tried making music with just hardware, give it a go – you might be surprised how liberating it is to not be tied to that screen and having to comply with what someone else thought would be a good workflow for you.

      1. Actually, I have programmed and sequenced hardware with CV, then MIDI…As I was quite young at the time, I’ve seen the transitions of Computer Sequencers to DAW systems.

        I just don’t see the point in using a horse-drawn wagon when you have a min-van?

        Then again, I suppose if it’s a hobby and not work, nostalgia’s worth any price… Have fun! 🙂

        1. Oh poor Tom.
          Working with hardware is kinda timeless, it works now and still later!
          Sure we both (you with software, me with hardware) could have a nice jam today..
          and again ten years from now.. oh wait, your OS doesn’t work with your latest software?
          What a pity! Let me play you some tunes!

        2. Not sure why you used a minivan as something on the “good” side of your equation? I thought minivans were pretty much universally despised as necessary evils for parents. Did you mean BMW perhaps?

        3. Lookout everyone for Tom, he’s packing his laptop in his mini-van and ready to rock that house party at the drop of a hat! Lol

  4. I recall someone once saying here, it would be nice if someone does a hardware sequencer – you wait years and they hit you all at once. This reemergence is good, just like how the analogue vibe is now convincing a lot of people that digital is the future, it will take another two years for them to decide software sequencing is the way to go – it is a process of learning that is needed before the evolution starts.

  5. I am waiting for Atari to re emerge, with a similar console to the old one.
    ATARIS CUBASE AND OTHER atari based SEQUENCERS where stunning compared to everything that has slowed dowm music making since. Love the MMt reference. Really good Opinion.
    Come back Atari, all is forgiven.

  6. I just watched the video to catch the list of features. This is going to be a quality product. John is a great guy. I have both of his quicksilver 303/606 CPU upgrades, which are solid. This takes the concept even further, especially with the CV multi-out expansion. Yes….

  7. Looks like a very intuitive device. One thing i was very curious about, but that wasn’t even mentioned at all, what kind of sounds is it? How do u change the waveforms & filters? are there sample slots? Can u design sounds? These are all important questions.

  8. with that price about 700$ i prefer to buy korg electribe n even smt else cause electribe can do as a hardware step seq, also had sound engine n even less expensive.

    1. Dude, I own the electribe2, and it’s fun and all, but it pops constantly on the audio outs when the envelopes restart, doesn’t allow midi-thru (controller->e2->synth will never work… only after recording does midi go out…), you’re limited to max of 4-bar patterns with a max of 32nd resolution, the effects tails are chopped off on pattern change, there’s no reverb on the insert effects (only sustainer, which is half-assing it…), the drift can be quite the boner-killer, and for touting the cool auto-scale feature, it seems a bit short-sighted to not include the ability to define your own scales…. but it’s fun to play with, i’ll admit, it just has a lot of little shit that adds up that makes me want to puke if i mess with it for too long.

  9. Stupid comparisons above, each machine is completely different, i´m an Elektron owner, i use Octatrack to sequence 8 track, it can do chords by tracks and lot of possibilities by parameters locks and more, but they are different animal, a good hardware dedicated sequencer would be good too, to meet the Elektron stuff, why comparing??, they are different just all, this one can do things which Elektron Octatrack can´t and vice versa, for this price you can consider Pyramid and compare them they pretty much more similar, but not the same in any case. also one tack sequencer for half the price is the Zilliion, again different features, but the cheaper and really powerful are the ones DIY or made by midisizer, also different. can´t be compared on what is the best. the best it depend of your needs and budget

  10. by the way my favorite iis the Berlin modular, cause it as all you can dream from a sequencer and it cost similar to this one with the eurorak box

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