Zoom ARQ Sequencer, Drum Machine & Synthesizer Hands-On Demo


At the 2016 NAMM Show, one of the most unusual introductions was the Zoom ARQ – a drum machine, sequencer, synthesizer, looper, and MIDI controller with a built-in accelerometer.

Here’s an overview and demo from the NAMM Show floor:

The Zoom ARQ consists of two components—the Base Station (AR-96) and the detachable Ring Controller (AR-96c).

  • The Base Station – The ARQ Base Station houses 468 drum/instrument
    sounds (“one-shot” sampled waveform sounds), 70 types of synthesizer sounds, and dozens of digital effects. Dual 1/4″ line-level audio inputs enable phrase recording and looping. There are also stereo 1/4″ line-level outputs, as well as a dedicated 1/4″ headphone jack with its own volume control. A USB port allows connection to your computer, and an SD card slot lets you save patterns and loops, import prerecorded audio, and update firmware.
  • The Ring Controller – The detachable Ring Controller communicates with the Base Station, as well as DAWs, via wireless Bluetooth. It offers 96 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads for clip launching and playing drum sounds, instrument sounds, and sequences. Phrases and sounds can be played chromatically, or you can choose from dozens of preset scales in any key. Its unique Grip Detection automatically prevents accidental triggering of the pads under your hand. There are dedicated buttons at the top and bottom of the Ring for REC/PLAY/STOP, as well as Filter/Delay/Reverb/MASTER FX on/off. An onboard 3-axis accelerometer generates MIDI control messages to alter sounds and effects in real time. Its internal Lithium-Ion battery automatically charges when the Ring is placed on the Base Station.

More information is available at the Zoom site.

21 thoughts on “Zoom ARQ Sequencer, Drum Machine & Synthesizer Hands-On Demo

  1. Give credit for an original music device. Interesting design and concept. Looks like something Laurie Anderson would use.

  2. good to see experimentation, Im not the target of ARQ but brands must always bring these strange things from time to time because we need innovation even if it doesn’t looks useful at the begining.

    Interesting if you need some wireless show or digital tamborine live. maybe … maybe in the future could be useful to play with…. who knows?

  3. Audacious move on Zoom’s part, so kudos to them for taking some risk and doing something different and original. I know them mainly for making audio recorders, so this seems like it’s coming out of nowhere.

    Based on the specs, the ARQ looks like it will be pretty powerful, and the circular interface seems ideal for visualizing loop-based and sequenced music. The Future Retro Revolution sequencer used the same approach, which was pretty cool.

    This reminds me a bit of the Tenori On – cool, but probably something that will be limited to a niche audience.

    Looking forward to seeing some performance demos of this, though.

  4. If this had proper midi to accept incoming midi clock to sync to the rest of the gear I would have been in the pre order pile…shame midi is becoming an after thought these days

    1. I don’t get it either. The engine isn’t sophisticated enough to be the only thing for a gig, and it needs a computer to talk to anything else. In that case why not just make it a controller with a packaged plug-in?

      Also tapping pads on the edge of something while you’re waving it around seems super awkward. A flat surface like a tambourine or bodhran makes much more sense, performance-wise.

  5. Changed my mind on this one, I’m actually gonna get it to play with on the beach

    Should be just the right size to wear on my head too, blinging!

  6. I guess if you get tired of trying to play it, you could use it to replace the fluorescent light ring that is on its way out in your kitchen.

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