Wow, I finally got it. 2 days of using it, plugging all my gear into it. First impression: It sounds so musical(think old meat beat manifesto, DR DRE, Aphex Twin’s older stuff. I had the sensation of 80s and early 90s music rushing through everything I was recording. This was not hard at all to use and figure out. The feel is so different to me. Not like the atari, not like the drunken computer pc jitter, and not like the I CAN’T SYNC MY TRACKS MAC. I would turn on the recorder, and magick happens. Wow, I can actually still write drums. What hurt my last release was my drums, I would sit for days messing with battery and recording myself playing and never be impressed, even with swing on logic, nothing ever sounded right. the sound quality of the software even with the elite fx did nothing for me. Now, I have an emu e6400 ultra sampler(known for fast midi response, you have to be aware that some gear will add midi slop on their inputs, old emu stuff was really bad, so was the roland s550 and 770 with out the turbo board, Akai S samplers are really quick with midi as well), those same libs, with the korg tr-rack, I can spit out any kind of drum sound I want and get it to sound great, swing, punch and hit tight and realistic. There is a swing all the time, and that is good because it makes it sound a bit more live and human, but not great for super robotic stuff like the atari ST does. I can put this thing in a single measure loop, and just write drums like mad and come up with tons of stuff fast. It records right. It plays back what I play in. PC would never be right in loop mode, I would have to stop and edit. Mac would drop notes and put quantized stuff in the wrong place. USB is the devil for midi. So recording rhythm is really evil on all computers. This has been my experience since I left the atari back in 1997(something I regret to this day). This takes some getting used to. I have never used hardware sequencers. I have always used graphical tape recorder style like Cubase 1.0 interfaces. Where I could copy and paste at ease, repeat stuff easy, move stuff around really easy. This is no longer the case here. Now, I have to pay attention to bars and measures and time. I used to edit my songs visually and I think this is a bad thing, now I have to use my ears and memory instead of my eyes. The way the asq10 is set up is pretty easy to understand, its kind of like patterns, but not really.
Sequences are like patterns, except that you can actually turn a sequence into a full song if you would like. Sequence mode is “Main Mode”. Then there is “Song Mode” which is more like a tracker, where you sequence the sequences like patterns. You set how many times to play each seq. Once you set this up, you can convert this into a sequence as well if you want to do fine edits. Fine editing can only happen in “MAIN MODE”. I have managed to do some basic copy operations. But copying and deleting and arranging tracks is going to take some getting used to. I don’t mind because this thing records me playing way better than any PC or MAC I have owned over the last 15 years with almost every interface you can think of. I like how it makes my e6400 and tr-rack sound when writing drums. Love how it makes my bass lines play with the drums. I am so impressed so far. I can see why everyone told me on gear slutz to get an mpc60. The Asq-10 is the sequencer from the mpc 60 that roger linn wrote. That guy is a genius. His timing swing and tight midi is really good, so much better than any daw playing hardware(hardware sounds better than software, so I don’t care about tight soft synths and soft samplers because the sound is whack. I love how this makes my midi sound like a tight human band, not a tight robot. There is the head bobbing rhythm thing that can ensue when using the asq10 and mpc60. I figured out how to use the step editor and this really kicks ass compared to some of the other ones I have used. You go step by step by 16th and 32nd notes, so the screen isn’t so cluttered and confusing :) You can insert any midi CC stuff, bank and program changes if you know how to do the bank, its cc#0 value 0, cc#32 value 0 thru 10 for banks. Yay. I had to read on the net how to pull that off. Now you know too(also works on the mpc60). Loading and saving off the floppy drive I thought was going to suck, but guess what, its really fast :) Editing track names, and file names is cool, once you go into the name editor, you can use the buttons on the front, they all have a letter by them. I couldn’t be happier. One thing that sucks, there is no way to save midi files with the OS version I have. Not sure if there is a way to convert them in the computer or not. I love spinning the dial on the BPM controls. WOW, so cool ahahah. This thing is tight, musical, and sounds so much better sequencing hardware over modern computers and a lot of other hardware sequencers.
I see this as the king of the hill when it comes to hardware sequencers with it’s 2 midi ins and 4 midi outs built in plus smpte ins and outs. It’s important to not send too much midi out 1 midi out, so having 4 outs and spreading out the midi load more really helps things sync and sound tight, the Asq-10 pulls it off. Sure it’s kind of big and the screen is ok but could be much bigger but that doesn’t put me off too bad. Another big plus is that this thing boots up and is ready to go in seconds, unlike my daw that takes me forever to get into and load stuff up. There is no latency with this, and switching through the outputs and controlling stuff with a keyboard via the inputs and out into external gear is really fast and responsive unlike computers with a heavy cpu and audio load. One bad thing I have run into is that there is no UNDO :( so I have to be really careful. There is a help button and it works in every mode you are in for most functions as well, this is a really user friendly hardware device. Also I really love how you can delete while in loop mode, you hold the erase button and hold down the key on the keyboard or drum pad you wish to delete. Also once you stop, if you don’t like erasing the bar on the track is like a two button task, so its pretty quick. I still wish that someone would make a hardware sequencer that is MIDI ONLY with 8 midi outs and 4 midi ins, swing options and robot options with a touch screen interface for drag and drop tape style cubase look and make it super tight and has smpte and all the sync options, self contained and turns on instantly like this one does. Honestly, even with the audio engine off on logic, it’s still not right even with the amt8. I am so sick of modern midi. Midi is fine if you have good hardware with fast midi response, and if you use an old atari or mpc60, mpc3000, or asq10, qy770. This is how you get tight midi that sounds more musical. This is how you get good drum sequences. Sure sample accurate software can have robotic timing or swing, but it sounds like crap to me(even with the best converters on the market), thin, lifeless, cold, tweety, stale, and boring sound. I need my hardware, I will not move out of the analog dedicated machine age of music composing ever again, so i need a midi sequencer that holds up sounds tight and records right. DAWS FAIL AT THIS. My emu, rolands and hardware sound thicker, punchier, more present, and sits in the mix way better and much easier to mix as well. I have proven to myself that I can infact still write drums, I just needed something that records midi correctly to do it well. I did try the MPC-1000 with the jjos and it has a crap sound, sounds like computers, crappy fx and cuts the transients of your samples off, so the attack is never right on some samples. I got this with out the drum brain for 350 + shipping. USB MIDI DOESN’T CUT IT on recording or playback on hardware. I think this is a gift from the GODs for me.
The above Video is the results of like 5 minutes of messing with it and my hardware, I was able to get a tight fast aggressive seq, with all instruments being played live real time with no slop or bad timing. I cannot believe how easy it is, how tight it is, how much more inspiring to use it is. I feel like a 10 ton weight has been lifted from my musical creation frustrations that I have had since leaving the atari in 1997 :( …. I make no jokes, I turned to guitar music on my last LP because of how bad midi timing on my DAWS were with usb. This will get me back to the aggressive dance sound of VAC. I welcome it. One last thing as well. With this, it turns on fast, feels immediate, I feel connected to it because it is so responsive, daws feel like a big fat clumsy elephant compared to this with latency. On this, there is nothing to distract me, no emails, no instant messages, no web forums calling out my name. This focuses me on music. Computers tend to distract me from music. I give this an 9 out of 10. Not perfect because the user interface could be a little better.
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- Velvet Acid Christ Live in Delaware @ Asylum 13 Friday Jan 30th 2015 with Mindless Faith, Rodney of the Dead Milkmen
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