The standalone MIDI hardware sequencer has had formidable competition in the age of the computer. But it seems ready to make a comeback in a big way. With more hardware, more affordable hardware, and more fans, all-in-one tactile control is just what the doctor ordered.
Of course, having used a computer, you’re less likely to be accommodating of inflexibility. That’s why the MTRX-8 from Fyrd Instruments shows real promise. It works as a standalone sequencer, true, with MIDI in and out ports. But it also coincides nicely with a computer – from programmability over USB to doubling as a MIDI interface and clock source.
And most of all, it can adapt to any situation. Out of the box, there are modes tuned for making melodies and basslines or drum parts. And there are presets for the KORG volca series, Dave Smith Tetra and Mopho, the open source Shruthi synths, and our own MeeBlip.
I wrote a full hands-on review for De:Bug magazine in Germany, which you can read either in English or German:
The layout/form factor I think is the one thing that might produce some controversy. You get buttons, not encoders, per-step – adjustments are made via a big jog wheel. And you have eight, not sixteen (you can chain events, but since the point is hands-on control, that won’t please everyone).
I think it is worth looking closer at this unit, though, because everything else is incredibly intelligent, including some very powerful performance setups. And that 8 step x jog wheel configuration is fast at many, many tasks.
I view the MTRX-8 as just the first indication of what’s to come. And open source hardware here makes lots of sense, certainly as regards the firmware, as it means the sequencer can be reconfigured to fit the many possible applications someone might use with this hardware these days.
I’m curious: what do you think of the MTRX-8? What would you want it to do; what would be your perfect hardware sequencer?