Polyphonic sequencing in 2023

So I have Digitakt, Syntakt, and a few synths, primarily a Kawai K1m, and I’m wondering what people are using for polyphonic sequencing these days. I don’t want stacked-note block chord sequencing, I’d like to be able to lay out harmonic structures fluidly, don’t want to sample chords either. I’m not a great keys player, helpfully. I also don’t use Eurorack so desktop is a requirement.

Digitakt isn’t ideal for this, I’ve tried but it’s best used for mono lines. I have a Yamaha QY700 but that’s a steep learning curve and tbqh I can’t be bothered and don’t have the time. I have a MidiPal on the way and an RK002 lying round unused.
I’ve seen Novation Circuit mentioned but never used one, but any thoughts and suggestions welcome. Budget is €350 roughly, let’s say.


How about a Squarp Pyramid? It’s well thought out, simple to operate and powerful. You can get one for €300-350 easily. I know, because I sold one for €330 a couple of weeks ago. :wink:


I do this with my NerdSeq (although it’s limited to 4-note chords per track [could always use more tracks for more polyphony]). Other good alternatives: MPC’s, Pyramid as mentioned already.

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I haven’t used one myself, but I’m pretty sure that the Sonicware Smpltrek uses a piano roll. So that could be a good compact solution that’s in your price range.

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Did you look into the Retrokits RK-008 RK-008: Real Time Multitrack MIDI Recorder - Retrokits?
It allows easy, unquantized recording of MIDI events just the way you’ve played them.
It recorda all played Midi data, so notes, pitchbend, controllers, program changes etc.

Inspired by the Alesis MMT8.

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The squarp pyramid has nice MIDI fx as well.
Very usable.

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You don’t want multiple chord members on a single trig…is that what you mean?

For me, on the Digitone, being able to enter polyphony on a trig…is a must. For a couple reasons: First, given that there are 4 tracks and 8 voices, I’d run out of tracks pretty fast by only putting one chord member on a trig. Second, distributing a chord among a few different trigs…can cause confusion (who’s on first?), especially if the chord needs to be changed.

On the Digitone, the method I use to enter chords is: hold the trig and use the arrow keys combined with the YES button. I’ve gotten pretty fast at this method, but it relies on more knowing and less experimenting.

Some sequencers, I’ve heard, have fancy implementations for picking chords and inversions. AFAIK, these methods are more suited to users who need to experiment until it sounds right. If you have an idea of what chord/inversion you want, it may be easier to enter each step of the chord separately. In my case, many of the chords I enter contain passing-tones and other non-chord tones (because the melody is also expressed in my chords), so a typical implementation of stock chords in a sequencer won’t work for me.

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MPC all the way for me.

Do like the Roland Verselab too. Really easy to get stuff going on that.


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Unliked stepchild answer here:
TE’s stuff does poly sequencing great imo.
Especially if you’re ok playing it in, The EP-133 and OP-Z are excellent at this, imo,

The EP-133 has the ability to record 99 patterns of 99 bars of polyphonic midi data on a single pad (can have up to 16 channels going in a project) and the keys are velocity sensitive, or of course you can play it in.

The OP-Z used clocks in around your price range. It has lower pattern length and count than the EP-133, but works great for playing things in, or if you keep things simple you can actually use the master track to then complicate you polyphonic tracks (for example you play one bar with a chord, then use the master track as four bars transposing the chord track, boom four track chord progression)

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Been a while since I owned the Digitakt, but was it so that every note in a chord had to be the same length and velocity?


Take a look at the Oxi One.

Edit: apologies, I neglected to read the bit about the budget.

Deluge, Hapax

Synthstrom Deluge is an interactive piano roll that you can setup whatever manner of chords/arps you want.

Toraiz Squid.
300-350 Euros second hand.

The Hapax and Deluge are both above $1000, so more expensive than the €350 proposed by @Mister_Wood. The Oxi One is €650 or so.

The RK-008 (for €360) is probably a bit simpler to learn compared to the Pyramid, because it has a lot less features. But if that is you cup of tea, maybe an original MMT-8 is also an option?

One decision you need to make is how much you would rely on the display for editing, e.g. the OXI One has a really tiny display, and the RK-008 as well as the EP-133 have displays that are not even pixel based, so both can’t display several recorded events simultaneously, let alone a piano roll (as e.g. Pyramid can).

Edit: here’s the thread about the Squid it seems one can get those used for under €350 these days.

Very interesting thread!
Anyone knows whether Arturia Keystep Pro allows for more “linear” polyphonic sequencing (strumming, chord notes played with different lenghts etc.)?
Or is it more typical Elektron-like step sequencing?

is it really worth spending on something entirely new and then learning that, versus learning something that you already own? I assume you know some QY700 basics at least, so I wouldn’t think it’d be that difficult to add to them with poly sequencing abilities. looks like there’s some videos on YT for it. you could be polyphonic sequencing by the end of the day…

or maybe you just didn’t gel with the machine in your experiences with it? so learning on something you don’t like doesn’t seem like much fun.

To save some money, have you tried using several DT midi tracks all set to the same midi channel? In this way, you can program each track as mono lines with individual lengths, probability and timing, etc, but still have things overlapping, triggering at different times, doing melodies/passing notes, etc


Using my old roland Jx-305 as midi controller/sequencer for exactly this. Has 8 midi tracks that can’t be set to different channels then 1-7 and 10 but along with the DT/DN as soundsource and “hub” for other hardware in the chain. This works like a charm.
It always makes me wonder how this rather old instrument provide in a lot more options that today’s developers with way faster processors and available memory can come up with.

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I think this is probably the perfect option for me, does lots of fun things in a neat format and the extra features might even get me using more of the various bits I have lying around, going to deep dive a bit this evening I think.

To respond to several other posts:
The QY700 is a very Yamaha way of doing things and it’s kinda overkill for what I want. I gave it a go but there’s not a lot of resources out there in text form (I find serious learning from video difficult and frustrating) and I’ve lent it to a pal anyway and she lives very far away now! :sweat_smile:

I find the Digitakt layering process doesn’t work for my brain as I work in intervals and not being able to work those on the fly is what led me to looking into a proper solution.

The RK008 is a wicked machine but it’s not designed for editing and so less suited to how I work.

The Deluge, Sampletrack and other devices with sound engines are def not what I’m after, I’m happy with the sound sources I have.

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