Novation SL MkIII Update Adds Unquantized Recording

Novation has released a free update for the SL MkIII MIDI keyboard controller and sequencer, adding unquantized recording.

Here’s what they have to say about firmware v1.3:

We’re excited to bring an important new feature to the SL MkIII range of MIDI keyboard controllers. New in firmware v1.3 is unquantised recording, which brings new flexibility and musicality to the built-in sequencer.

In the previous firmware version, we introduced micro-step editing, allowing users to position notes off the grid for subtle timing variations. With unquantised recording, users have the ability to record into these micro-steps. This means that the organic, human quality of performances and punched-in beats can be captured in all their wonky glory.

The ability to record off the grid in the SL MkIII sequencer has been one of the most requested features from users. Now, even the most rhythmically complex ideas can be captured without losing the vibe.

The update is available now as a free download.

6 thoughts on “Novation SL MkIII Update Adds Unquantized Recording

  1. I can’t quite get my head around this unquantised sequencing claim from Novation. It sounds to me like it will quantise to the nearest microstep rather than the nearest 16th note, which means it isn’t totally unquantised.

    1. Hi Jamie,

      Every digital recording will be quantized to some degree. The sampling rate of audio capture, or the PPQ (parts per quarter) of MIDI sequencers. When described as “unquantized”, the performance is not limited to the downbeat of each of the 16 steps, but rather can be capture at the closest subdivision of those steps. I’m not sure of the resolution of each of those steps, but to answer your question… yes, the note event is “recorded” at the closest microstep (or PPQ subdivision) in that step and replayed at that microstep. Compared to previously having the note event “recorded” at then subsequently played back at the closest 16th note event time (quantized)

      In a literal sense, it is always quantized.
      In a modern musical production sense, it is “unquantized”

      1. Unquantized should be a whole lot more precise than their micro steps.
        It’s disingenuous of Novation to describe it this way, they’re clearly not bringing attention to that fact.
        It is a grey area to be sure, but 90’s and early 2000’s synths and sequencers had WAY more precise ppqn, at least more than 1/96 in most cases.
        Novation is getting smoked in the resolution department by Arturia and Elektron’s cheaper sequencers.
        I’d much rather have the full size 49 key SL MKIII, but due to the above, I’ll be more likely getting a Keystep Pro once the reviews come in.
        I’m still a Novation fan, but their sequencers are falling behind.

        1. Literally every sequencer when it is offering a choice between quantized or unquantized is either going to snap to a specific note value, or leave the note on its recorded “microstep” (based on its ppqn). There’s nothing disingenuous about this. Perhaps you know of an exception?

          I agree that the term “Unquantized” is more meaningful when the PPQN resolution is very high like 512. But even at 96 ppqn, where you are dividing a 16th note into 24 steps is sufficient for most needs. I’d even argue that if the resolution is higher, it might make entering values more tedious (more scrolling and/or typing an additional digit each time).

          In the case of 96 ppqn, you would obviously hear interaction between two identical notes, one microstep apart. At very slow tempo, it would be a tight flam/slap. At a fast tempo it would be like a flanger.

          But if you just listening to a sloppy, greasy rhythm, 96 ppqn will get you want you need. Unless you are just wanting something that is technically precise to a degree that goes well beyond what you can discern.

      2. I used to sequence on an mpc2000xl and there was an option to turn off quantise. If you hit a note anywhere in a one bar beat it sounded like it would play it back exactly where you hit it. This made it great for creating live sounding patterns. I believe the mpc has 96ppqn. Not sure what novation plan is when calculating the microsteps element. Thank you for the detailed reply, much appreciated.

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