yamaha qy700 the best hardware sequencer in the world?
a kind of review of the yamaha qy700 in comparison to steinberg cubase and the yamaha rm1x, or how prosper finally ended up as a hardware sequencer user.
since i started with the poor internal sequencer of my sci sixtrak in `87, i was blown away by steinbergs cubase, wich i acquired in 1994 running on an atari st1040. that was like heaven and caused a massive explosion of creativity. i loved it and i still do. my simple midi setup at that time:
sci sixtrak, roland alpha juno 2, kawai k1r, atari st 1040 > ibanez mixer > tape deck
i just had to set the left and right locators, record a few massures, quantize them, copy them a few times. next intrument. how easy and efficient. a “now line” runs from the left to the right through the timeline, that is filled with bars, which contain notes/events. every track controlles an instrument via midi. simplicity is the best friend of creativity!
at that time, i used a mixer and a stereo tape deck to record what i had created. i did
not even save a single song on disk. the result was an idea, caught on tape in only one trial. after turning off the gear, there was a song on tape, with all its imperfection and noise. i worked on ideas fastly without adjusting any detail, or fault. i still have more that 40 tapes with tons of homemade songs. a diary of my teenage day!!
over the years, cubase became much more complex with its vsts and audio tracks.
by now, it offers endless possibilities by clicking on buttons. the simple atari midi sequencer grew into a professional virtual studio. and with this, my workflow changed.
instead of working on ideas anymore, i tried to produce a perfect piece of music, over and over adjusted and modified. my creativity died over this and at the end i quitted with
no doubt, cubase was great. cubase´s way of sequencing became a world standard. the
user interface was copied many times. but i was tired of using software, i was looking
for something different. something real. i wanted my simple midi setup back, and get rid of the computer. hardware only, thats the trick!
my choice, the yamaha rm1x
this wonderfull box hosts a very sophisticated sequencer combined with a sound
engine and real time controllers. the rm1x is a very complex piece of gear from 1999. if you are interested in the rm1x, go to the channel of “meecek” on youtube. he´s the greatest rm1x manipulator.
the sequencer of the rm1x is based on pattern/sections. every of the 16 sections
(A to P) controlls up to 16 tracks/instruments. thats cool, because you can jump
between sections in realtime and remix your song on the fly. thats why this thing
is called a sequence remixer > A is the intro, B is the 1st verse, C is the refrain…
a song is a chain of sections you can freely combine > A A B C A B C D E E F A and
then convert to a song.
Although i liked it a lot to play around like this, i missed the “now line” of cubase
running through a song. there were no locators that i could set. after a while i realised
that i didn´t like this kind of pattern based recording. no doubt, the rm1x is great, but
i am not a club dj. so i went further looking for something else.
and i found this wonderful oldstyle looking sequencer, that seemes to come right
from the 80s with its charisma of a cash register and plastic buttons as huge as
the yamaha qy700
and i fell in love again. not this kind of wild passionate love that i felt when i
encountered steinbergs cubase in ´94. this time, it feels like coming home, like a friend
who will stay with me forever. the yamaha qy700 is a solid rock, that runs stable, even
if the world would come to its end.
forget the luxury of a software sequencer. working with the qy700 meens doing
number work. my hand has five fingers, and i need them for counting measures all
working with this machine makes me feel like alan wilder or vince clark. this is
how i always imagined the studio work of the 80s. its a time travel, because everytime
i want to edit something, i first have to choose the right job number. i even have to
press enter to verify my decision. it is a cash register, wonderfull!
when it comes to my beloved workflow, which i described above, here is how its done with the qy700.
the “punch record mode” allows me to set two locators and record inside the chosen area.
job number 01 does quantize the chosen area / measures.
job number 11 does copy and paste my measures.
the wonderfull “track view display” of the yamaha qy700 gives me some kind of an
overview. the coloured line is my new “now line”. the bars which stand for events/notes run from the right to the left. thats a bit like the cubase user interface. the qy700 controls up to 32 midi channels of external gear and it saves my songs on disks, thats so lovely retro!
the yamaha qy700 offers a “song orientated” workflow and a useful track view display.
it brought back my creativity, fun and this certain 80s feeling. all this makes it best the hardware sequencer in the world…..to me!
always remember: simplicity is the best friend of creativity!
see also: http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/1996_articles/nov96/yamahaqy700.html#
It has been quite a while since i wrote this enthusiastic review on the qy700. and the good thing is, that i still use it extensively. i realised that most of the vititors of prosper-donge.com are searching for articles about a reliable and decent hardware sequencer. the qy700 is one of these candidates. slowly i really feel that many other synth nerds and geeks are searching for an alternative to their software sequencers and plugins. myself, i got soooo bored by clicking the mouse, that i quit working with a computer when it comes to making music. to me, it has nothing to do with music, when only my forefonger is in action while making a track. my forefinger itself can´t feel, nor get lost in inspiration. might be that yours can, lucky you!
if i suppose that it was boredom of software sequencing that led you to this article, i think i should add a bit more of my subjective impression about this wonderful device.
if you red the article above, you know that i sold my Yamaha rm1x for a qy700. after working with both for a while i have to admit, that i thought of getting back the rm1x. but why?
the rm1x is much more hands on and is made for realtime tweaking. it simply has more “jamming” character than the qy700 has. both devices would complement one another very well. until a certain stage of work, the rm1x is perfect for getting inspiration and tweaking parameters in realtime, i.e. during the first stage, when an idea is found.
the rm1x might be faster when it comes to developing an idea. in addition it is easy to play around with the sections in order to create different parts of a song and finding out which combination works. it is way easier to mute certain intruments/midi channels than with the qy700. and there is another thing about the qy700, one has to know. if you set the locators in song mode for looping a certain area, the qy700 will produce a little “offset” while jumping from the end of the loop to the start. it disrupts the loop for a few miliseconds, but that is enough, to be disturbing. that means, you cannot use the loop function in song mode for live tweaking.
But when it comes to fixing everything in a song and to working on details [editing single midi events, midi cc, or sysex] the qy700 can´t be beaten in my opinion. the user has the the absolute in depth control over every single parameter. there´s nothing you couldn´t achieve with this monster.
i am curious about other users and their experiences with one of the devices. one question i would have is: is it possible to save a song in the rm1x and then load it directly to the qy700?
and damned! how does the accompaniment feature of the qy700 work? does anyone outhere even know what it does?
any help appreciated! contact me, please……