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Arturia BeatStep USB/MIDI/CV Controller and Sequencer
|Price:||$94.00 & FREE Shipping. Details|
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- Beat Step was designed to give you the control you need, whether you're working with your favorite DAW or loop triggering software, VST instrument or effect, drum software, DJ app, MIDI synth or even analog gear with CV/Gate inputs.
- Play with any drum software
- Sequence Analog and Software synthesizers
- Enhance your live performances and DJ sets
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From the manufacturer
Arturia's BeatStep is a controller and sequencer to add hands-on control of your rhythms. Its advanced connectivity interfaces easily with a computer or iPad using USB, a drum module with MIDI, or the CV/Gate inputs on an analog synthesizer.
In SEQ mode the pads become toggles for each step in your sequence. The 16 encoders will adjust pitch for the associated step. 16 memories allow for instant recall of your favorite patterns while the pad scale modes, sequence playback modes and time division functions allow for real-time performance changes.
On top of all that it has MIDI, USB and CV/GATE connectivity, giving you a sequencer that will work with all types of gear, including analog synths, software instruments, and MIDI hardware.
With 16 velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads, BeatStep is the perfect compact percussion instrument. The ultra-sensitive pads allow for great dynamic performances. The 16 encoders can be assigned to adjust various parameters for further real-time control over your drum sounds.
General purpose control surface
The BeatStep pads can be configured to send MIDI note on/off messages, MMC commands, Program and Bank changes, or serve as MIDI CC buttons.
With 16 encoders, 16 pads/buttons and 16 presets, there are as many ways to use BeatStep as there are live gigs and studio environments. You can trigger clips in Ableton Live or use the encoders to adjust the effects in your favorite DJ app. The transport buttons can be MMC controls or send MIDI CCs to start and stop your DAW. It can be the MIDI Clock master or slave to an external clock.
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This item Arturia BeatStep USB/MIDI/CV Controller and Sequencer
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|Item Dimensions||7.1 x 15.75 x 2.44 in||12.36 x 7.08 x 1.8 in||8.4 x 19.1 x 2.7 in||4.06 x 11.61 x 1.2 in||6.26 x 14.02 x 14.84 in||3 x 14 x 10 in|
|Item Weight||2.5 lbs||1.63 lbs||5.45 lbs||0.99 lb||7.94 lbs||3.66 lbs|
Beat Step was designed to give you the control you need, whether you're working with your favorite DAW or loop triggering software, VST instrument or effect, drum software, DJ app, MIDI synth or even analog gear with CV/Gate inputs. The possibilities are nearly endless. Beat Step fulfills multiple requirements for a wide variety of musicians. It's truly a chameleon, ready and able to become many things to many people. No other compact pad controller on the market offers this level of control plus a step sequencer at such an amazing price.
Top Customer Reviews
PROS - The build quality of the BeatStep is impressive. The overall unit has a weight and toughness to it that you just don't find in products in this price range. I've owned comparable MIDI controllers from Akai and Korg, and while they function just fine, the lightweight plastic feel of them just doesn't feel like as nice of a product as what you get from Arturia. The additional heft from the metal backing probably help stabilize the pads during finger drumming, too.
The original BeatStep is a MIDI controller and (very basic) sequencer that doesn't necessarily excel at any one task, but is capable of more than you might expect. I thought the connectivity options were amazing - USB MIDI and 5-pin DIN MIDI out, plus CV Sync in a $100 controller!? It's pretty amazing that you could hook this single device up to a desktop DAW, iPad, or hardware synth and have all sorts of options for controlling notes and sequencing. A lot of older hardware gear only uses 5-pin DIN, so that's a major advantage to have that connectivity right off the bat. A lot of popular affordable gear from Korg, Teenage Engineering, etc. uses CV to sync between units, also. I haven't tried it with all my gear yet, but I've seen enough online to suggest it should work, and you can adjust the voltage and other parameters though a very robust online editor.
I primarily bought the BeatStep to use as a MIDI controller, and it's probably best suited for that purpose. Plug this thing into an iPad sampler, and it's like have the control surface of an MPC with a powerful software sampler behind it. With 16 rotary knobs to adjust CC parameters, plus 16 more pads (and a single large knob usually mapped to volume, but it can be reassigned), there's a lot of flexibility here. I actually thought the pads needed to be more sensitive, but again, that can be adjusted by the software.
In sequencer mode, the BeatStep is very easy to use and interesting as a creative tool. The pads light up in this mode to visually display progress through the sequence. You can change the step time to stretch single bar patterns into multiple bars, or morph slow progressions into frantic note runs. You also have the ability to play the sequence backwards or at random. You adjust the note on each step by turning the 16 corresponding knobs (which are notched for feel), kind of like an old-school step sequencer. It's not a terribly deep or one-size-fits-all solution for writing music, but it's still well-implemented and a lot of fun to work with the sequencer in this way.
CONS - Overall, I'm happy with the BeatStep, but there are some limitations you need to know about. The sequencer is basically monophonic, so you cannot really use the BeatStep to sequence proper drum beats. There's also no velocity control in the sequencer, unlike in controller mode where the pads are velocity-sensitive. As I've hinted at already, there are sequencer apps on the iPad costing a fraction of this already affordable device that are infinitely more powerful.
Arturia has addressed some of the other complaints, such as the CC knobs not working fast enough to be used for filter sweeps, etc. As a controller, the default setting for the pads are chromatic notes. You can change this to a number of different scales, which is neat. But there isn't a convenient way to switch octaves like you would on a keyboard with octave up/down buttons. I believe you can hold "shift" and turn the big knob to transpose a number of steps, and this feature was expanded in a later firmware update. But I can't imagine that would be a practical way to reach the "D" note in the octave above after you just played a "B" note in the lower octave on the pads.
Finally, the BeatStep has no visual display, and in my experience with some of the other budget equipment I've used, this becomes a limiting factor pretty quickly. For example, how do you use the BeatStep to sequence other gear via MIDI or CV if you have no visual readout of the BPM setting? Or, if you want to transpose a sequence by 5 semitones, how can you tell how far you've turned the knob without a display? I think the original BeatStep had the bones of a much more powerful controller and sequencer, but Arturia left out just a few important things that could have taken it to another level. This appears to be part of the lesson that led to the BeatStep Pro, although that's a notably more expensive device at about $250 U.S.
CONCLUSION - Despite everything it's missing, I really like what the BeatStep offers as a controller, and think I might enjoy some of the sequencing features as well. Considering I got it for not much more than the price of a Korg NanoKontrol2, there's really a lot to like here. Also, the software editor is one of the more straightforward experiences I've had with a piece of hardware, and that's a big help. The BeatStep doesn't do everything, but I've found that what it does do is handled efficiently and reliably in an attractive package.
UPDATE (09/26/16): It's been a frustration of mine that the pads on the BeatStep are a bit stiff and really require a firm touch to register. I'm not talking about "touch velocity" - they definitely sense velocity, but it seems like you should be able to configure it so that even very light touches register as hits, and I haven't really figured that out yet. Considered downgrading to 4 stars, but I'm not doing that yet because there's a lot of other good things about this controller, and I suspect it might be user error or my own inexperience with pads talking. But I am considering a used Korg nanoKontrol (the 2006 model) or another option.
If you perform live dance music set's (Live PA), I also recommend this DJ FX unit for making build ups on the fly - awesome! http://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-Pro-RMX-500-Remix-Station/dp/B00I2IYBNO?tag=watitstr-20