Beatstep Pro impressions

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Machinesworking
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Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Machinesworking » Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:50 am

I've recently bought three very dissimilar modern controllers (and sometimes software) combinations:
Ableton Push
Maschine Studio
Beatstep Pro


All three have distinct strong points and maybe aren't a "real" shootout, but of the three by far, by a long shot really Beatstep Pro completely utterly stomps the others for my use.

Drum machine wise, Beatstep Pro is limited, most of the dynamics are going to be controlled afterwards, it doesn't come with a library, unlike Push or Maschine, but it fucking floors them for just fun drum programming. it's extremely intuitive, and very 808 style, so far I haven't made it past it's absolutely perfect integration with NI Battery. Seriously, Battery sucks with Push, with Maschine, with Geist with everything drum machine like really, but it's absolutely perfect with Beatstep Pro. Battery is a great device to hold all your drum samples and it's been just maddening how nothing integrates with it well, and now I think I'm pretty much done with everything else.

If you have no love of analog style step sequencers then the two monophonic step sequencers will seem like a waste, but personally I think this has been one of the best ways to get some great bass and odd lead lines going, and I've been waiting for someone to bring it back correctly. Velocity, gate and pitch on 16 knobs, up to 64 steps etc.


To sum up, to me Beatstep Pro flattens the amazing Push and outstanding Maschine in UI and intuitive fast songwriting. I'm a happy user, if you're on the fence I would recommend purchasing. I've only owned it for a couple days, haven't finished learning it but I would recommend it if it only could do what I know now. it writes MIDI into your DAW via USB so you really don't need to know much.

TomViolenz
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by TomViolenz » Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:23 am

Looks pretty great. I love that the pads are pressure sensitive. How do they feel MW?! Nice and soft like on Maschine with a lot of pressure distance to play with, or hard like on Push?

I could well see this being more useful for certain workflows than Push or Maschine. It's certainly easier to bring with to gigs.

I assume it has something like Maschines ControllerEditor?!

This could be a great companion for an Electribe for a lightweight all hardwear set up btw. 8)

Too bad I'm not in the market for either right now :?

tedlogan
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by tedlogan » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:32 pm

Good to hear - I've been eyeing it for a while as well. Would love to control Hive's sequencer with it. With Push it's cool, but Beatstep's layout seems better for what I want.

A pity Zebra and Bazille's sequencers cannot be MIDI controlled...I would buy it now if you could. My next spare-cash-gear-lust moment will probably be a Beatstep Pro.

I would like to try one out, but in the last 10 years, so many of the regular London music store haunts have closed down or moved. Turnkey was great for checking stuff out. Red Dog and DV247 are a bit far out. Not far out dude, but far out.

Kent_in_CO
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Kent_in_CO » Fri Aug 28, 2015 1:34 pm

I've been digging the device too after living with the Beatstep Pro for a few weeks now. Here are some brief thoughts:

Rather than using it to sequence outboard gear - which is an awesome use case - I'm using it only to send MIDI into Ableton.

Monophonic sequencing can be a bit limiting for certain things - say, chord progressions - but I'm really liking the way it makes me approach writing in a different way.

It's awesome developing an entire multi-part 4-bar loop without having to mess with a piano roll. Hands-down my favorite feature so far is the fact that notes from the two melodic sequencers can both be forced into a variety of scales. It's fun to randomly tweak the knobs and change the pitch of notes, knowing that it'll all sound okay in the Harmonic Minor, or whatever scale you've selected. It also has a user scale, so if you want to get all metal and pull some Phrygian, that's doable too.

The learning curve is a little steep but most aspects of the device are immediately understandable. Bonus points to Arturia for also adding a MIDI control mode, which repurposes the sequencer controls as learnable MIDI to control your DAW. The mute functions and universal patch control make it good for performance too.

I wish the drum sequencer also had some sort of pitch control, as this would let me have fun with chopped up samples in a drum rack, as opposed to only controlling drums. But it does get the job done.
It's also a sexy piece of gear for a good price. Definitely check this bad boy out if you're a.) looking for a full-featured step sequencer, and/or b.) want to spark your creative process with a different way of writing.
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Machinesworking
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Machinesworking » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:30 pm

TomViolenz wrote:Looks pretty great. I love that the pads are pressure sensitive. How do they feel MW?! Nice and soft like on Maschine with a lot of pressure distance to play with, or hard like on Push?
Somewhere in between, not as sensitive as Maschine, less stiff than Push.
I could well see this being more useful for certain workflows than Push or Maschine. It's certainly easier to bring with to gigs.

I assume it has something like Maschines ControllerEditor?!
As Far as using it as a MIDI controller? From what I can tell it's as simple as pressing the button to MIDI as opposed to USB or Internal. I'm still stuck on using it with Battery and soft instruments until I get back to Seattle.
This could be a great companion for an Electribe for a lightweight all hardwear set up btw. 8)
I could see that, it does make you want to run out and buy some tiny Mono analogue synths to sequence, but just using it with Massive, Absynth, Zebra etc. is a blast so.

Machinesworking
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Machinesworking » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:34 pm

tedlogan wrote:Good to hear - I've been eyeing it for a while as well. Would love to control Hive's sequencer with it. With Push it's cool, but Beatstep's layout seems better for what I want.

A pity Zebra and Bazille's sequencers cannot be MIDI controlled...I would buy it now if you could. My next spare-cash-gear-lust moment will probably be a Beatstep Pro.

I would like to try one out, but in the last 10 years, so many of the regular London music store haunts have closed down or moved. Turnkey was great for checking stuff out. Red Dog and DV247 are a bit far out. Not far out dude, but far out.
You really do not need to use Zebra or Bazille's sequencers at all with Beatstep Pro, any soft synth has access to a hardware version of those sequencers in Beatstep Pro. Hands down though the closest I've come to the 16 step analogue style sequencer is using Hive with it Automated to the Remote SLMKII, since it has 16 knobs and buttons to use for this purpose. It's really too bad Automap is near dead at this point because it's better than it's ever been, but that's the tech industry in a nutshell.

TomViolenz
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by TomViolenz » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:47 pm

Machinesworking wrote:
I assume it has something like Maschines ControllerEditor?!
As Far as using it as a MIDI controller? From what I can tell it's as simple as pressing the button to MIDI as opposed to USB or Internal. I'm still stuck on using it with Battery and soft instruments until I get back to Seattle.
This could be a great companion for an Electribe for a lightweight all hardwear set up btw. 8)
I could see that, it does make you want to run out and buy some tiny Mono analogue synths to sequence.
Well I would think you'd need to change the Midi messages around on the Beatstep so that they align with what you want to sequence on the Electribe, right?
So I thought of a controller editor as a tool to do that.
Or am I overthinking this?!

irrelevance
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by irrelevance » Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:00 am

Ah you got one in the end. Good for you mate glad you're enjoying it!
Machinesworking wrote:
Drum machine wise, Beatstep Pro is limited, most of the dynamics are going to be controlled afterwards, it doesn't come with a library, unlike Push or Maschine, but it fucking floors them for just fun drum programming. it's extremely intuitive, and very 808 style, so far I haven't made it past it's absolutely perfect integration with NI Battery. Seriously, Battery sucks with Push, with Maschine, with Geist with everything drum machine like really, but it's absolutely perfect with Beatstep Pro. Battery is a great device to hold all your drum samples and it's been just maddening how nothing integrates with it well, and now I think I'm pretty much done with everything else.
I own komplete but gave up with battery because I would always have to mess around with midi note messages to trigger drum cells or navigate a wide range to find the cell I wanted to trigger with push. I then figured that the only reason I would need to use battery was for the soundsets or fx but since racks are controlable with push and pxt live there wasn't much point and I could save the headache. How does beatstep pro improve things here?

Machinesworking wrote: If you have no love of analog style step sequencers then the two monophonic step sequencers will seem like a waste, but personally I think this has been one of the best ways to get some great bass and odd lead lines going, and I've been waiting for someone to bring it back correctly. Velocity, gate and pitch on 16 knobs, up to 64 steps etc.
Would be great to have an analog style sequencer that was not tied to live piano roll. Plus hooking it up to feed the minibrute and my standalone yusynth moog filter project would be cool!

Machinesworking wrote: To sum up, to me Beatstep Pro flattens the amazing Push and outstanding Maschine in UI and intuitive fast songwriting. I'm a happy user, if you're on the fence I would recommend purchasing. I've only owned it for a couple days, haven't finished learning it but I would recommend it if it only could do what I know now. it writes MIDI into your DAW via USB so you really don't need to know much.
How does it flatten push workflow for say writing three tracks 1 lead, a baseline and drums?
Well I'd like to know how stable the software editor is and how much one would have to rely on it to use the BSP. As mentioned elsewhere sparkLE let me down in the software dept so it's boxed up and not in use. I guess the midi control center doesn't have much to go wrong though.

Machinesworking
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Machinesworking » Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:38 pm

TomViolenz wrote: Well I would think you'd need to change the Midi messages around on the Beatstep so that they align with what you want to sequence on the Electribe, right?
So I thought of a controller editor as a tool to do that.
Or am I overthinking this?!
Looking at the manual it has a default set of MIDI messages it sends and the Controller Editor lets you change them to do things like control a specific device like the Electribe. One thing, isn't one of the strong points of an Electribe it's intuitive sequencer?

Tarekith
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Tarekith » Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:44 pm

Unless you need to step edit something, it can be a bit long winded.
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Machinesworking
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Machinesworking » Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:58 pm

@Tarekith, thanks, didn't know that, got into software heavily about the time the Electribes were arriving so never really got into them.
irrelevance wrote:Ah you got one in the end. Good for you mate glad you're enjoying it!

I own komplete but gave up with battery because I would always have to mess around with midi note messages to trigger drum cells or navigate a wide range to find the cell I wanted to trigger with push. I then figured that the only reason I would need to use battery was for the soundsets or fx but since racks are controlable with push and pxt live there wasn't much point and I could save the headache. How does beatstep pro improve things here?

Push is all about drum racks, you have to have your sounds mounted in Racks, essentially attached to Simplers. Battery has workarounds etc. to get it to work with Drum Racks but nothing is elegant about it. With Beatstep Pro the sequencer is in the hardware. You simply assign Beatstep as your MIDI controller in a track with Battery and drag the sounds you want to use to the 16 notes Beatstep uses. It Allows Battery to be what it's supposed to be, a container for your drum libraries that adds relevant processing. No setting up Racks in proper folders for Push to see, no hassles.
Would be great to have an analog style sequencer that was not tied to live piano roll. Plus hooking it up to feed the minibrute and my standalone yusynth moog filter project would be cool!

Absolutely, and you can use CV if you want, supposedly superior to MIDI timing wise.
How does it flatten push workflow for say writing three tracks 1 lead, a baseline and drums?
Well I'd like to know how stable the software editor is and how much one would have to rely on it to use the BSP. As mentioned elsewhere sparkLE let me down in the software dept so it's boxed up and not in use. I guess the midi control center doesn't have much to go wrong though.
I don't find Push that great for step sequencing instruments. Great for drums, but IMO anyway a set of 16 knobs and 16 buttons etc. is just more conducive to coming up with part I like than a grid with 8 knobs. I think it's obvious why that would be the case. The track automation tweaking with Push is amazing though, and it's definitely a great device. Beatstep is not about automation really, although it would be easy enough to reassign velocity to another CC in a DAW to accomplish that.

TomViolenz
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Aug 29, 2015 4:24 pm

Machinesworking wrote:
TomViolenz wrote: Well I would think you'd need to change the Midi messages around on the Beatstep so that they align with what you want to sequence on the Electribe, right?
So I thought of a controller editor as a tool to do that.
Or am I overthinking this?!
Looking at the manual it has a default set of MIDI messages it sends and the Controller Editor lets you change them to do things like control a specific device like the Electribe.
So just to clarify, the editor then changes the Midi messages each element of the Beatstep sends so that it corresponds to something meaningful on the Electribe?

One thing, isn't one of the strong points of an Electribe it's intuitive sequencer?
Absolutely, but I would think having more then one sequencer at the same time would be very good
Especially since the sequencer pads on the Electribe can be used for other functions too, so freeing them for a bit from sequencing would be useful.
Plus you have all these knobs to alter things on a per step basis on the Beatstep.

Machinesworking
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by Machinesworking » Sat Aug 29, 2015 5:41 pm

TomViolenz wrote: So just to clarify, the editor then changes the Midi messages each element of the Beatstep sends so that it corresponds to something meaningful on the Electribe?
yes, from what I read in the manual you do need to use the editor to change CCs on the BeatStep, but I'm pretty certain you don't need the computer around for this after the settings are sent to BeatStep. Caveat, BeatStep only sends CC's and notes (some MMC for the play, record stop buttons), no SysEx or NRPN's, but it does have PolyPhonic Aftertouch on it's drum pads! 8O
Plus you have all these knobs to alter things on a per step basis on the Beatstep.
Yeah I'm looking forward to getting back to Seattle and messing around with the Moog, sending CC's to do drastic automation on one Sequence while using the other to step sequence it. This brings up a possible shortcoming in that it might be that you cannot use USB (sequencing gate, velocity, note) mode on one Sequence while sending CC's on another, I'll look into that, that would be slightly disappointing. The work around would be to get your DAW to change one sequencers velocity CC's to whatever CC you wanted modulated, so not a huge loss but still not super user friendly.

TomViolenz
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by TomViolenz » Sat Aug 29, 2015 6:04 pm

This sounds really promising and I certainly see a lot of cool uses for the polyphonic aftertouch 8)

cpyatak
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Re: Beatstep Pro impressions

Post by cpyatak » Mon Sep 14, 2015 11:42 pm

Glad I searched this before writing a new post.

I'm looking at picking one of these up and I have a question or two -- I think I just may not understand the system.

When using sequencer one or two for MIDI via USB, do the knobs for pitch/velocity/gate still correspond or is that purely for the CV outputs? I know this is probably a "duh" question, but I think this is a front runner for a new controller for me and I am running completely inside the computer -- no hardware synths. (One thing I do like about this is it gives me the ability to go that direction in the future if/when I can afford it) :)

Also, I was thinking the monophonic sequencers may be able to do some cool stuff with the Chords device in ableton.

Thanks for any info.

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