Gajits Sequencer One Plus
Atari ST Software
Gajits popular entry-level Sequencer One gets a face lift. Ian Waugh looks into cost effective music making the Manchester way.
Due to a combination of good reviews - deservedly so, too - and aggressive pricing, Gajits' Sequencer One has done very well for the boys from Manchester who wrote it. It appeared recently as the cover disk freebie of an ST mag which must have boosted its user-base somewhat, if miffing in the process anyone who had just paid full price for it.
But time and Gajits stand not still and the reason for the giveaway was to make room for Sequencer One Plus. Sequencer One was reviewed back in MT March '90 and an updated version in August '91. The Plus version has more new features than we can list here so we'll look at the main goodies. S1+ is available for both the ST and Amiga computers and the two versions are nigh on identical. It can play back four channels of samples (in mono on the ST but stereo on the STE and Amiga) and it supports the range of ST Replay cartridges. Sample replay ability was added to later versions of Sequencer One but Plus has better playback and improved sample handling facilities. It shows the pitch at which samples were originally made and supports various sample formats including SPL, AVR, SAM and other raw data formats as well as IFF.
New additions to the transport controls include Track Solo and Punch in. Solo works intelligently and does not affect any tracks which are muted. Although I'm sure some people find punch in and overdub useful, I prefer to record new material on a separate track and merge or replace it afterwards. Probably something to do with my distrusting nature.
Neat new features in the Step Editor screen include Diamond Drag. You may have seen grid editors which let you pick up the end of a note and drag it to alter its length or pitch. Diamond Drag does the same thing but it puts four big "drag diamonds" on the screen for you to aim your pointer at. No fiddling about looking for the start or end of a note even if it's a 64th. To edit a note, you hold down the left mouse button and move the pointer around the screen. It will latch onto a note as you move over it so it's easy to home in on and pick up the one you want. There's a box below the note which accesses a mini menu offering Re-size, Copy, Snap (to grid), Interval, Control and Delete options. Control can turn a note into control data or a program change. And it's excellent - by far the easiest grid edit system I've seen although I couldn't find an Undo function to put back an edited note the way it was before I started messing around with it...
Gajits have also added tails to the notes to indicate velocity and retained and improved the Note Information box which lets you edit notes numerically. For this sort of close work, however, I do prefer to see a run of notes together in an event list..
Step-time entry in keyboard mode has been improved so it's easier to tie notes and you can see where they're going to appear. For real-time recording you now get a count-in. Great.
Quantise has been given a Strength parameter and Full Quantise causes both Note On and Note Off events to be quantised.
Alter Notes now lets you change all occurrences of a particular note to any other note - useful for re-mapping drum sounds. There are also Scale and Shift Lengths which can make notes more legato or staccato.
A new Tempo Map screen lets you draw in tempo changes using Diamond Drag editing. Tempo tracks are a good idea and this one works particularly well. If you alter the tempo at the start of the piece, other tempo commands change by a proportional amount, effectively allowing you to make relative tempo changes.
The Juke Box screen is new. It allows up to 32 songs to be linked together and played in a predetermined or random order using CD-like controls. Plus will even load one song while another is playing. It's not quite fast enough to provide a seamless join but, memory permitting, the delay can be as short as a second or two. There are Pause and Skip functions and if you are wont to take your ST on the road, you could well use it live.
The MIDI Options lets data on all incoming MIDI channels except one to be filtered out. This is primarily for use with Yamaha keyboards such as the PSS790 and PSS590 which automatically retransmit data arriving at the MIDI In back through the MIDI Out (cunning designers at work here).
Plus can now save and load SysEx data to and from disk. You can arrange it to transmit data automatically when you load a specific song.
Plus offers a very tasty set of additions to what was already a good program. Although it doesn't quite compete with the big boys (and has no score page), it must be top of the list for anyone wanting an easy-to-use budget sequencer. Throw in Gajits' free telephone helpline service and the program has simply got to be the best value for money budget-priced sequencer on the market.
Currently the cheapest way to get Sequencer One Plus is to buy Sequencer One which is still available at £19.95 and an Upgrade Kit for £39.95. If you picked up the ST version of One from the cover disk, you can buy the One manual (the Upgrade Kit manual only details the new additions to One Plus) for £6.95 - a total price of £46.90. Note, however, that this is a limited offer and you must check with Gajits before ordering.
Price: Sequencer One Plus £129.95, Upgrade Kit from Sequencer One £49.95 or £39.95 (while the offer lasts).
More from: Gajits Music Software, (Contact Details).
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Review by Ian Waugh
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