Agreed on the arrangement and editing of polyphonic sequences. I fatigue quickly of the finger Twister and scrolling around. But I have the most fun when improvising in its Live mode, processing that through the MIDI FX, and recording the resulting phrases. And since you can just drop .mid files into its projects from your computer, you can do the more serious editing and arrangement in a DAW or whatever, if you want it to hold all your sequences for a performance. (Arguably, though, an important part of using a hardware sequencer is that it makes the compositional process more enjoyable and changes the outcomes due to its particular workflow or constraints. So when I avoid using a sequencer for composition I can’t help but eye it suspiciously.)
My Pyramid arrived out of customs yesterday. Man, I love it already.
Here’s some glitchy IDM sounds from my first few minutes using it with the Volca FM, and some more melodic sequencing also with the Volca FM. Cannot wait to see what I can do with this sequencer once I actually know what I’m doing
I wonder what you can say about the build quality. I’ve heard on good authority that it has a flimsy feel, a cheap plastic cover over the touch screen, and the power plug into the unit isn’t very secure. Just wonder if anyone could offer some perspective.
I unfortunately have to agree on all those points. One of the encoders stopped working properly (won’t press downward anymore) on mine after very light use (maybe 20 hours total), and when I contacted Squarp their response was “this is very rare” and they recommended that I stick a small piece of paper inside the encoder to remedy the situation. It worked, but I’m going to insist that they send me a new encoder because I purchased mine new only 7 months ago and that’s just ridiculous.
I received my Pyramid a couple of weeks ago, and I can say I’m pretty happy with the build quality, and I have used a Push 2, Rytm, Octatrack, OP-1, and various pedals. It’s got a solid metal enclosure and feels sturdy / heavy enough (3.5 lbs) to use live. The knobs are plastic but what aren’t these days… They have a knotched feel, but IMO that makes sense for what you’re doing with them - it feels easier to be precise. When sending external CC, I noticed turning them quickly you get some acceleration. So you can still do broad tweaks pretty easily.
As for the cover on top - I wouldn’t say it’s plastic / cheap - it’s more of an anti-stick / anti-glare that feels like the Push 2’s touchstrip. At first glance, I wondered if it was supposed to be removed, thinking the labels would normally be printed right on the metal, but after using it (especially the touchpad) I actually like it. Your fingers never stick.
The touchpad: on top of the “feel” I mentioned previously, it also seems pretty high res, especially on the x-axis (since its a rectangle shape). Controlling parameters in Ableton via CC felt smooth and responsive. There’s also a “touchpad relatch” setting that snaps the value back to zero (or any value you want), when you lift your finger off the pad. Good for momentary tweaks. Definitely happy there…
The power plug is a mini-usb port, and is about as secure as the Rytm’s USB port. I found it also depends on the mini USB cable you use, because you have to supply your own. Only a mini USB power supply is included. You don’t actually get any cables with it (MIDI, CV, USB). The USB plug does need another solution to keep it safe, like most gear these days. I usually have a long cable and tie it around something before plugging it into wherever.
I know I clearly sound like a fanboy, but this is just my experience. My criticisms would be that velocity-sensitivity is missed, but I’m not hung up about it, and would rather have no v-sensitivity than have it not implemented well (…rytm…). The buttons are stiff and tight in the enclosure. Not a huge deal for me since there’s no velocity. You can actually rest your fingers on the buttons before pressing, which is kind of interesting. Feels very tactile - different from the ultra-sensitivity of the Push 2 buttons (which I LOVE as well).
Another cool thing to note about the Pyramid, since it’s USB-powered it’s really portable. I’m using a USB battery and bluetooth MIDI to go completely wireless! Not just for the sake of it, LOL…
I wouldn’t mess around with bluetooth in a live performance though, LOL. That said, the stability and latency of the 5-pin adapter has been great so far.
This is a more fair assessment of the Pyramid’s build quality. I’m just reeling a little from how Squarp handled my encoder situation, and mine does (subjectively) pale in quality (encoders and overall sturdiness) to the Octatrack and Rytm it sits next to. Maybe it’s just the Stockholm syndrome (or should I say Göteborg syndrome? ) I developed after using only an Octatrack for a year.
update: they ended up agreeing to send replacement parts.
For me, the OT sequencer is the weak link. Has some great and unique features but the workflow never clicked for me. I had an RS7000 which to me, is the becnhmark of hardware sequencers. I was fast on that thing.
I’ve just ordered a Pyramid plus Blofeld desktop with SL. Bye bye Octatrack. Feeling good about the decision and hope to get as fast on it as I was on the RS7000. Oranges and lemons perhaps, but I want a better sequencer than OT provides.
For me, the equation goes something like this:
Octatrack = great sampler with idosyncratic but capable sequencer (not intuitive, to me) - Sample-manipulation is the strong point
Pyramid + Blo = feature-rich, state-of-the-art sequencer, sample playback with synthesis (perfect for me), and great mutitimbral synth - song creation the strong point here
Will keep a keen eye out for OT2. OT1 just didn’t quite hit the mark for the type of sequencer workfow I’m used to.
I am going to get a pyramid to go with my octatrack. The main thing i dislike with the octatrack midi sequencer is the program changes but i love the sampling side so cant sell it
Sorry if this has been covered elsewhere but all the Googling and trawling of the manual hasn’t given me a straight answer to this question:
Can the Pyramid capture a sequence of improvised (i.e. not preset in the Pyramid) chords played on a keyboard controller during real-time recording?
Thanks in advance to the assembled minds.
Yes. The Pyramid happily records realtime polyphonic note data from an external keyboard. It’s exactly how I use my mine. It’s as unrestrained as an MPC at recording realtime MIDI data.
1.5 is in beta … new pattern mode!
Do you want to beta-test the new PyraOs 1.5? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and enjoy the new features!
- track naming
- up to 2048 patterns
- master transpose
- assign your midi controller knobs to CC messages, FX parameters
- screen & interface improvements
This is the reason i will go for the Squarp. It appears to be a world outside of the -sequencer-philosophy, specially for long evolving pad-structures and atmospheres with my Blofeld and the Radias. There are unpleasant boundaries with this 4/4-structure - even when expanded with the time-signature. However, with all this p-locks in use and the LFO’s, the OT is a versatile object for the and other FX-boxes.
could you explain whats going on there even if its a little while ago?
I dont get it, it looks to me like only the volca is hooked up but your playing multiple sounds/patches at once?
thought volca fm was quite a simple device or maybe my mind is just quite a simple device…
are you still in love with the pyramid and what kind of role does it play for you?
cool yea ill be getting one of these
IIRC, I was messing around with the Random (set to pitch), Chance, and Arp midi FX on the Pyramid in those clips. I’m only using one patch at a time there…just some creative programming. I know I wasn’t sending any CCs from the Pyramid or anything since I had just gotten it out of the box and didn’t know how to do that then.
FM is never simple, be it in Volca form or otherwise.
I’m more in love with the Pyramid by the day. Hands down the most important thing in my entire studio now. I have it sequencing everything in my studio (hardware, software, modular) by way of an iConnectivity Mio10 midi interface. Here’s something I started putting together last night using the Pyramid to sequence the MDUW, Monomachine, and Kawai XD-5. Not sure where it’s going to go, but that was only a couple of hours of work, including doing all the synthesis from scratch…the Pyramid makes it very easy to get ideas going.
really like the sounds you put together
would you give lessons on approaching sound in experimental ways?
just sold my pyramid. i really liked its possibilities but i found the surface and systemstructure just really hard to deal with and found myself stepping from here to there and back again.
I’m still new to the ways of the pyramid. I’m slowly getting it, but I’m having an issue trying odd times(in this instance 7/8+7/4) I’m hoping to figure out a way where each page consists only of one bar instead of it running through all 16 steps for each page thus making the structuring a bit messy to toy around with.
Does anyone know if this is supported? Is it possible to have clean cut non-4/4 patterns?
No that’s not possible. I even don’t know if it will implemented. Surely it would be easiest to play with odd meter.
If you play under 16 steps, the easiest is the euclidian sequencer. There, your pattern is on an unique page.
A great machine.