The 10 Best Hardware MIDI Sequencers
This wiki has been updated 9 times since it was first published in April of 2020. The renaissance of synthesizers has been in full swing for a while now, with countless companies releasing reissues of classics and new designs every year. If you're trying to break free from solely computer-based music production, creating a track with any instruments will require one of the high quality standalone hardware MIDI sequencers we've gathered on this list. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 17, 2020:
Though computers are certainly extremely powerful tools when it comes to music production, many people interested in electronic music find that these machines can stifle their creativity. There is now a huge scene of people exclusively focused on hardware electronic instruments, finding that their tactile button, knobs, sliders, and sometimes even their limitations lead them to a more enjoyable composing experience. One of the best parts of standalone electronic instruments is their variety, and the degree to which the user can decide how they'd like their setup to operate. We've covered a wide range of options in this list that should meet the preferences of many different musicians.
If you're already happy with your setup in regards to synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines, then you might be most interested in our selections which deal exclusively with sequencing. Options such as the Polyend Seq, Pioneer DJ Toraiz Squid, and Arturia BeatStep Pro don't have the capacity for internal sound generation, but it also turns out that these machines tend to have more complex sequencing abilities than units that try to handle all these tasks at once.
That being said, it can be hard to pass up units that seem to do it all, especially at the prices found in the market today. Models like the Akai Professional MPC X, Elektron Digitakt, and Akai Professional Force feature both robust sequencing capabilities and things like integrated samplers or digital synthesizers. It's far from difficult to compose an entire song with nothing more than these units, but they fit equally well into a setp with several pieces of external gear.
In addition to synthesizers and drum machines, there has also been a resurgence of multifunctional and often affordable devices known as grooveboxes. Models such as the Roland MC-707, Korg Electribe 2, and Novation Circuit are definitely focused on dealing with their own internal synthesizer and drum sounds, but all of them can turn their sequencing powers towards external gear quite easily. These options are nice for someone who would like to start making tracks right away and is dealing with only a couple pieces of external gear, but it should be noted that they tend to have less sequenceable tracks and generally less advanced composition features than previously mentioned selections.
Sequentix Cirklon The waiting list for the Cirklon is very long, but it would be unjust to leave out this legendary machine that has been used by major electronic music artists such as Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada. This machine is hand made in small batches, and features thoughtful touches like high quality rotary encoders, 5 MIDI inputs and outputs, and wooden side panels. It's worth considering for those who don't mind a high price and a long wait. sequentix.com
Squarp Pyramid The Pyramid is a dedicated sequencer, meaning it has no abilities for internal tone generation or sampling. It remains a much-lauded option, however, due to its robust sequencing features that aren't found on many multifunctional units. 64 MIDI tracks, nearly unlimited polyphony per step, and polyrhythm support make it one of the most powerful MIDI composition tools available today. squarp.net