There have been some in-depth reviews already but do not think that they reach out to the same audience as the readers of this website and think that it can be useful to be aware of this lovely piece of hardware.
The first thing that hit me opening the nice packaging and bringing out the hardware itself was the weight of the thing. Having seen some images and videos were pretty much expecting hard white plastic. It is all in metal and sturdy as can be.
Feels like it can take a serious beating for many years. The knobs are top notch as well, not flimsy and it seems that they would not get loose unless you get serious withsome tools.
What I am trying to say is that it is nothing that feels cheap and for sure one thing that Arturia have been thinking about is that it should be able to be used live and be able to withstand abuse.
So what is it?
Beat Step Pro is a step sequencer and midi controller.
What makes it interesting is that there is three step sequencers built into one piece of gear. The unit has been well designed and there is easy access to all controls and the different sequencers. The sequencing can be for step by step input or recorded live with quantization. With sixteen to 64 steps for each sequence and up to sixteen separate sequences that are easy to jump to through specific buttons it is more than enough to write a song or a lot of variations.
The Beat Step Pro holds in itself sixteen songs/arrangements but it comes with software to be able to save as many as desired.
Two of the sequencers are made for melodic input reaching over five octaves with one octave of pads for playing or sixteen fixed midi notes meant for drums or as sample triggers.
The pads are sturdy and velocity sensitive.
So for example it is possible to clock a DAW to play and record while having one analog synthesizer/drum machine and for example two Android devices. It can also be slaved to another sequencer/DAW.
So as have been suggested in other places it can be the heart of a live set-up or for just plain home studio jams.
One thing that helps with jamming is that the midi control rotaries also can be used to switch notes and in scale. If the scales provided are not enough there is the possibility to create your own scales.
The 16 rotaries also, outside of being midi controllers are there for other functions as well.
One for each pad or step being sequenced. As mentioned before the rotaries can easily change notes of each note triggered in the sequencer but functions for the velocity and gate (note length) as well with the push of a button.
In the drum sequencer mode there is one very cool function which is to be able to shift each drum/sample pad forward or backward, making it very easy to build up any kind of groove desired. With separate options of velocity and length as well of course.
For each sequencer there is either separate or for all three sequencers a swing function which is nice, plus there is rotaries for randomness and probability that can be fun to play with to get some unexpected rhythms or unexpected melodies going, specially if locked to a scale. The randomness function is as well separate or for all tracks.
Two last things to mention is the roll/looper function to repeat parts of the sequence on the fly. Plus that the software that Beat Step Pro comes with makes it adjustable in questions of midi messages etc and even the possibility to edit midi in a piano roll window.
In conclusion Beat Step Pro is a great addition to any set-up as it can be used in so many different ways. Even though the sequencers are monophonic they are enough for making basic tracks and jams if just hooking up hardware and devices and not wanting to involve a DAW or as said before as part of a live set up.
Maybe one thing that could added is the possibility to sequence chords but the pads are playable polyphonically though for recording if recording into a DAW with external synthesizer/ a mobile device or using VSTi’s.
I am pretty addicted to it and it is great to be able to get Android apps (without sequencer) sequenced plus to hook up the one hardware synthesizer that I have to play nicely together. Have also had a lot of fun using it as a Groovebox to multi track apps with nothing else. Before have been composing with different apps by recording them into a DAW and then syncing them up manually afterwards this is now much easier both for composing and for getting everything synched from the start by clocking the DAW with the apps when recording.
The price is pretty good for what it is and well worth considering if you are thinking about getting a midi controller or sequencer and especially if you have hardware synthesizers.
In the end is something that will enhance and add to any kind of set-up.
Personally if I had to choose in-between this and my midi keyboard with midi controllers this would be much more preferable. Admittedly I am not a keyboard player though…
The price being 249 euros/299 dollars It is pricier than some other midi controllers with pads but having so much flexibility and being three sequencers in one it is pretty cheap in comparison, plus not being in plastic with the build quality being top notch makes it more impressive at this price.
Will write another post in a day or two regarding Beat Step Pro and Android apps that I have used with Beat Step Pro. As some works excellent and some apps with inferior midi routines built into their apps works less well. But have to say that Beat Step Pro will take my Android music making to other places that were difficult before.