Orwell Digital has released the OR-1m, a standalone step sequencer for Macs. The say that it delivers the performance and flexibility expected from a pro-level step sequencer, while introducing several innovative features in terms of realtime modulation shaping and controlled randomness. Here's the full details in Orwell Digital's own words...
At its most basic, the OR-1m is a standalone sixteen-step sequencer with per-step controls for note pitch, duration and velocity. In addition, each step features four knobs for generating MIDI continuous controller data of the user's choosing.
The Random Module allows any or all of the OR-1m's step and loop parameters to have their values randomly generated within user-specified ranges. Using this feature, musicians can instantly experience new, randomly generated arrangements of melodies that they've entered into the OR-1m, or decide to completely randomize any or all note, controller or loop data. Thanks to the OR-1m's Force To Scale module, any randomly generated note output can remain firmly in key.
Through the use of range restriction parameters, notes can be randomly generated over a span of just a few pitches, or the entire multi-octave range allowed by the MIDI specification. Likewise, MIDI controller data can be limited in the values randomly assigned, a feature which is proves itself useful when a user needs to, for example, restrict the maximum value sent to control a filter's resonance or similar parameter.
The OR-1m also introduces the concept of Random Locks, which are present on each sequencer step and sequence loop. When activated they prevent their associated area from both having its parameters changed by the Random Module, as well as protecting from value alterations due to Global Channel changes. When using the Random Module to repeatedly generate new note data, this feature allows users to "lock" the steps and loop settings which they wish to retain and protect from change.
The Loop section of the OR-1m features four loops, each of which has separate settings for the highest and lowest steps that will sound when the loop is played. Per-loop settings also include controls for section transposition and playback direction, including forward, reverse, alternating and random playback modes.
Any of the four loops can be selected for playback individually. In addition, all four loops can be played in sequence, allowing for the generation of extremely complex melodic lines and rhythmic patterns. This playback-chaining feature can lead to very unexpected and often inspiring results when per-loop parameters such transposition, loop start step and end step have been randomized.
The new Bias Channel allows users to easily offset the values of outgoing MIDI data without changing the settings of the individual steps. For example- With a turn of the Bias Channel's Pitch knob, all notes being generated by the OR-1m can be transposed up or down by single steps, or radically shifted over several octaves. Similar controls on this channel allow for other MIDI output to be offset as well, including note duration, velocity and the four-per-step MIDI continuous controllers.
The OR-1m also features extensive MIDI remote control of all significant front panel settings via standard MIDI Controller messages. Bi-directional MIDI communication is also fully supported, allowing for MIDI control surfaces such as the BCR-2000 from Behringer to update their displays when parameters on the OR-1m's control panel are changed via mouse or preset recall. This lets users experience the flexibility and performance of a computer-based sequencing solution, combined with the immediacy and feel of hardware.
The OR-1m also supports note-triggered sequence playback and direct-step triggering via MIDI Notes. Note triggering allows for the OR-1m's sequencer to advance to and play its next step every time a particular MIDI note is received. This feature lets sequencers and MIDI instruments control the OR-1m using a pattern of MIDI notes, which can be quantized and repositioned to trigger the OR-1m with whatever rhythmic "feel" the user prefers. Another option made possible by this feature is "playing" the OR-1m live using a MIDI keyboard or other controller, allowing for all manner of realtime creative interaction.
The Direct Step Triggering feature allows any of the OR-1m's sixteen steps to be triggered when specific MIDI notes are received. This provides complete flexibility in playback order and also allows users to mix sequential playback with steps triggered out of their pre-defined positioning.
The Common Channel on the far right of the OR-1m's control panel allows for assignable MIDI controllers to be sent independently of the internal step sequencer. These fully assignable controllers can be used to set the volume, effect mix or any other MIDI-controllable parameters of the unit or software receiving the OR-1m's MIDI output, without having to access the receiving unit's interface directly.
The Force To Scale module allows users to make every note sent from the OR-1m conform to any of a wide variety of provided scales and keys. An octave transpose feature is also found in this section.
To retain all user note and sequence data, the OR-1m provides extensive patch storage capabilities. Over 1024, nameable patch locations are available per bank. Banks can be easily saved to and loaded from disk.
The OR-1m is currently available in Macintosh standalone format for Intel systems running 10.5 or newer.
Pricing and Availability:
We sat down with Rob to discuss the creative process and what lead him to using a modular