Varigate 4+ as first sequencer

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onthebandwagon
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Varigate 4+ as first sequencer

Post by onthebandwagon » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:21 am

I had a Tonestar and a few other modules and was thinking about getting one of these as my first sequencer and have seen quite a few recently on Reverb and not sure if I should see that as an opportunity or a concern. Any thoughts?

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Post by base615 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:38 am

They’re very good and I’d suspect a lot of people buy them and then decide to upgrade to the 8+. I certainly did.

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Post by onthebandwagon » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:40 am

base615 wrote:They’re very good and I’d suspect a lot of people buy them and then decide to upgrade to the 8+. I certainly did.
Any reason aside from price not to begin with an 8 vs 4?

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Post by base615 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 9:44 am

onthebandwagon wrote:
base615 wrote:They’re very good and I’d suspect a lot of people buy them and then decide to upgrade to the 8+. I certainly did.
Any reason aside from price not to begin with an 8 vs 4?
HP mainly I’d say. 26HP is more than a lot of people have space for, especially if it’s paired with the voltage block for another 20HP.

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Post by retoid » Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:16 am

Yeah definitely the size that's the second hindrance other than price. I got the VG4+ earlier on and really like it and thought about the VG8+, but I just don't have the room for it.

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Post by onthebandwagon » Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:19 am

retoid wrote:Yeah definitely the size that's the second hindrance other than price. I got the VG4+ earlier on and really like it and thought about the VG8+, but I just don't have the room for it.
I’m working on filling a Make Noise skiff and basically thought to master something like that Varigate and when in the distant future I get another case to purchase a more complicated sequencer at that point. Anyways...

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Post by rosten » Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:54 pm

Another 2-cents: Are you primarily trying to sequence melodies? or rhythmic patterns? (or cv?)

I found it pretty annoying to work with as a melodic sequencer. The gate sequencing was pretty great.

Also, it's a little hard to expand with/integrate into other sequencers because it doesn't have many cv inputs (you can just send it a clock and reset the sequence) and you can't chain together multiple sequences very easily (without something else like a sequential switch).

But if 8-step sequences with ratcheting and probability sounds like your jam, then you'll be very happy.

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Post by pinkflag16 » Sat Mar 16, 2019 1:59 pm

The VG8+ gives you a lot more if you have the space and money. 16 steps and the ability to tap out gate sequences (abd melodic ones now, but it takes some practice) are a big upgrade. Song mode is easy and intuitive as well.

Did I mention I’m selling mine? ;)

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Post by onthebandwagon » Sat Mar 16, 2019 3:26 pm

Thanks for the replies they were helpful—any other intuitive to learn sequencers around 12hp that members would recommend?

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Post by euromorcego » Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:00 am

onthebandwagon wrote:Thanks for the replies they were helpful—any other intuitive to learn sequencers around 12hp that members would recommend?
i quite like the small pittsburgh micro sequencer: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/pittsburg ... o-sequence

probably not has powerful as the VG4+ but much more intuitive, the transpose mode is a clever idea (using it as a 4 step sequencer that is sequentially transposed by the other 4 steps). But i just played with it a bit, and do not own it, so i don't know to what the feature is usable in the long run (might sound a bit 'samey' after a while).

I only know the VG4 (original) but didn't really connect with it. To program a pattern from scratch was fine, but then if you later what to adjust something it got quite confusing. That is the price you have to pay for having a lot of functionality with few knobs.

I also do not agree with the proposition: "master something like that Varigate and ... [distant future] ... purchase a more complicated sequencer at that point."
First VGT4+ is as complictaed as they get. Second you can have a larger sequencer for the same price. Pre-ownded Rene mk1 not difficult to get now, and it is still an excellent sequencer.

In principle you also do not need a proper sequencer but can do a lot with clock dividers, s&h and a quantizer (if you want to 'master' something).

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Post by onthebandwagon » Sun Mar 17, 2019 1:51 pm

euromorcego wrote: I also do not agree with the proposition: "master something like that Varigate and ... [distant future] ... purchase a more complicated sequencer at that point."
First VGT4+ is as complictaed as they get. Second you can have a larger sequencer for the same price. Pre-ownded Rene mk1 not difficult to get now, and it is still an excellent sequencer.

In principle you also do not need a proper sequencer but can do a lot with clock dividers, s&h and a quantizer (if you want to 'master' something).
Point taken. I’ll likely get the 4+ due to space constraints. Thank you and the previous posters for making such informative replies.

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Post by rosten » Mon Mar 18, 2019 3:15 pm

One possibility is to get a Micro-Ornament and Crime. I find the Sequins sequencing app in there to be pretty intuitive, and a lot of fun to use. (surprising since you have to dial everything in with 2 rotary encoders). You'll have 2 sets of gates and 2 sets of cv/pitch. It gives you enough visual feedback that you can figure out what it's doing easily and there are lots of ways to play with CV in to tweak your sequence. Then, if you want to expand, there will almost always be something useful for the Ornament and Crime to be doing in your set-up.

I found the V4+ easy to mess around with to get something interesting going but fairly hard to recall what its settings were or to build together into a longer set/song.

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Post by Nutritional Zero » Mon Mar 18, 2019 4:02 pm

Hold the phone.

The Varigate 4+ is a quality product (I have it), but it’s basically like using a sequencer from 1976.

At its best, it’s a fun way of creating short CV and gate patterns quickly, without menu diving. I use it as a way of creating random-ish sequences that I never would have programmed by hand. I use it in conjunction with other sequencers as well as shift registers and quantizers.

But Malekko’s “illuminated sliders” paradigm makes precision of any kind impossible. There’s basically no way to sequence a particular melody and no way to see what the value of a parameter is since the sliders represent many things at once... And it’s eight steps. If you don’t get teeth-rattlingly bored using it as your first sequencer, I’d be impressed.

Yes, it has presets! But I can’t imagine ever wanting to save one.

For your first sequencer, you need more horsepower.

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Post by onthebandwagon » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:22 pm

Thanks for the critical feedback on the Varigate above—Nutritional Zero, what would you chose as your first sequencer?

Rosten, I planned to get an Ornament and Crime at some point to complete the rack in question, so maybe I’ll invest there before making a decision on a more complex sequencer.

I plan on buying a Grandmother in the next couple months, I imagine it would be a daunting task for a novice to use the sequencer in that to control an external module?

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Post by rosten » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:37 pm

Right, another good option is to just use an external sequencer. Beatsteps and keysteps can be had pretty cheaply. If you're stressed about HP, just getting something that's totally out of your rack may be pretty useful. If you do give more of a hint of the kinds of sequences you are trying to make, that'll help you get better advice.

Are you wanting to sequence melodies? percussion? ambient washes? chance-ey and evolving? pretty tightly controlled?

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Post by onthebandwagon » Tue Mar 19, 2019 12:49 pm

rosten wrote:
Are you wanting to sequence melodies? percussion? ambient washes? chance-ey and evolving? pretty tightly controlled?
I would say melodic which by the advice in this thread the varigate seems I’ll suited for. I often see key-steps in the sub $100 range on Reverb so maybe I should consider that route. I was also planning on getting a pico drum and pico seq for the skiff to add some percussive options—it likely seems like I’m all over the place...

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Post by euromorcego » Tue Mar 19, 2019 3:43 pm

onthebandwagon wrote: I would say melodic ...
from the value for money ratio, the beatstep pro is quite hard to beat. And it has a very classic analogue style workflow. For small money you can also get an Korg Sq-1 (but again 8 step might get limiting after a while).

yet another external option is one is a small synth: the microfreak (though not yet available) looks quite useful as a controller/sequencer and takes no hp.

Also some midi-CV modules, like Yarns, have an onboard sequencer (which works best wish an external keyboard) and not much hp.

I'd say most import is that you are clear about what kind of workflow you prefer, a 202-style sequencer is not like an analogue style row of 8/16 buttons is not a VG4+.

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Post by Marizu » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:15 am

I've got a VG4+ and I really like it. I also have the VG4 and the Quad LFO.
The downsides of the VG4+ are as mentioned. It is functionally dense and it has a limited scope for visual feedback. Making slight changes to something that you have already done can be tricky.
Another downside that it has in comparison to the original VG4 (and I assume the VG8+) is that you can't delay the gates, so the timing is always locked to the strict 8 steps of the timing grid (plus ratchets). It can't swing :bang:

Where I think that it excels is when you use it in conjunction with another sequencer. Each track can have different divisors and multipliers of its clocking so I often use it to sequence (transpose) other sequencers. Just set the divisor down to four or eight (depending on the needs of the piece) and you are have root movements (chord sequences) out of Metropolis or Generator.

Each step has a variable amount of slew/glide. This can be used (again, often with divisors) to make a control voltage that smoothly changes within specific ranges over extended periods of time at varying rates. This is so handy.

If you had a precision adder, you could use one track of VG4+ to transpose another.

All in all, I think that this is a really handy little sequencer. It's great in a small case and it can play a very useful role within an expanding system.
Whilst I would love the 16 steps of the VG8+, but I wouldn't want to give up two of the control voltage channels.

BSP is incredibly powerful for what it is, but I don't particularly enjoy using it.

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Post by Nutritional Zero » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:44 am

onthebandwagon wrote:Thanks for the critical feedback on the Varigate above—Nutritional Zero, what would you chose as your first sequencer
Hard question to answer without knowing your music, your budget, your goals. I’ll tell you what I did and why, maybe some of it will ring true.

1. My first eurorack sequencer was actually a used Elektron Analog Four. It has two pairs of CV/gate outs. I used the A4’s own voices for drums and pads to compliment the modular. The advantage of this, or some similar groovebox, is that you get a sequencer capable of precision note entry/melodic work, longer patterns, and often arrangement or song mode. Plus all of the groovebox’s own sounds and features. Not all grooveboxes have CV out, but you could sequence with, say, a Digitakt and a cheap MIDI to CV converter. When you compare the price of a groovebox to most eurorack sequencers, you’ll see why.

2. My first eurorack eurorack sequencer was a Make Noise René 1.0. Compared to using an external MIDI-style sequencer, this was like going back to the stone age. However, among eurorack sequencers, René is one of the best for its playability and flexibility. I learned to appreciate eurorack sequencers for what they are: difficult and limited if what you are looking to do is “build tracks” e.g. for recording, but inspirational and ephemeral by creating things you wouldn’t have been able to think of or play by hand. René in particular is extemely playable, very immediate and can produce some stunning long, evolving melodies. I fell in and out of love with René several times, sold it, and went on to regret it deeply until the 2.0 was launched (in which case I feel lucky to have sold while the market was still relatively firm).

A used René 1.0 could probably be had for not much more than a new Varigate 4+ and blows it out of the water in every conceivable way. The market is flooded so it may be hard to resell it if you eventually GAS for René 2.0 (unlike the Varigate, which you should be able to sell fine if you don’t like it). But there’s also a chance that René will inspire you and lead you to make great music. Maybe in a year you can consider it a sunk cost and move up to the 2.0.

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Post by atl » Wed Mar 20, 2019 1:34 pm

inspirational and ephemeral by creating things you wouldn’t have been able to think of or play by hand. René in particular is extemely playable, very immediate and can produce some stunning long, evolving melodies.
I'm a relative newcomer and I want to say I like this perspective. After setting aside the integrated sequencer on my semi-modular, I got the BeatStep Pro. I didn't get into it much at first.

My next sequencer was the René 2.0. It "clicked" with me, for a lot of the reasons Nutritional Zero describes. The 2.0 features are deep and make it more unwieldy than my impression of 1.0, but it's more an investment into the future.

Plus, now that I appreciate René's strengths and weaknesses, I've come to use and appreciate the BeatStep Pro now for its own strengths.

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Post by onthebandwagon » Wed Mar 20, 2019 3:57 pm

atl wrote:


My next sequencer was the René 2.0. It "clicked" with me, for a lot of the reasons Nutritional Zero describes. The 2.0 features are deep and make it more unwieldy than my impression of 1.0, but it's more an investment into the future.

Plus, now that I appreciate René's strengths and weaknesses, I've come to use and appreciate the BeatStep Pro now for its own strengths.
Did the Réne somehow make you better at using the BeatStep? I probably would just save up and get the Réne 2 if I go that route, not that I’m the type who buys the next new thing just because, just seems I would be wasting $200 bucks in the long run.

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