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Mod Squad: Koma Elektronik Komplex Sequencer

January 12, 2017

At first glance the Koma Elektronik Komplex Sequencer looks like a straightforward 4-channel step sequencer that would work with any 1V/octave synth—and it is. Yet despite its name, the sequencer is simple to operate while providing a variety of musically useful options. These include the ability to combine the sequencers to get up to 64 steps, or drive a sequencer at audio rate to create an oscillator.

The Komplex Sequencer has an aluminum frame and feels solid, yet it remains lightweight and easy to carry.
Each sequencer can be used independently and includes identical features, such as 20 patch points, 16 CV sliders and multicolor step-select buttons, and six knobs: (clock) Division, Speed, Sequence Length, Gate Length, Glide, and Play mode. (Play mode determines step-playback direction—forward, reverse, ping pong, ping-pong reverse, and random.) The four sequencers can have different numbers of steps, and the step number can be changed during playback (manually or with a CV). In addition to global Play and Stop buttons, individual sequences can be set to One Shot mode, so a selected sequence is played only once when started manually or with a gate/trigger.

Shared controls and programming options include MIDI I/O and MIDI Clock output, channel-based quantization and CV output ranges (2V, 5V, 9V). A CV Recorder stores seven banks of sequences, which you can play and step through using voltage control.

Section Controls set parameters for each step in each sequencer—step select, number of repeats, glide amount, sequence start point, and gate on/off. Button color indicates the parameter you’re editing.

Furthermore, the Mode button selects one of two options for certain parameters of each sequencer. For example, Repeat mode can be set to play a selected number of note repetitions in time with the clock (thus adding steps to a sequence) or play them in Ratchet mode, in which the repeats happen within the time of a step. You can also determine whether a sequence completely skips a step or holds the previous step through the skipped one. Other Mode parameters include the ability to select unipolar or bipolar response from the CV outputs of any of the sequencers, as well as set their MIDI parameters.

In addition to a Gate output and a pair of CV outs, each sequencer provides pulse outs, one sent when a sequence begins, another when it ends—useful for chaining sequencers together.

The complexity begins to emerge when you exploit the CV options of each sequencer. From the patch points, you can start and stop a sequence, control the CV recorder’s playback speed, change Play mode, skip a step, transpose notes, and alter a sequencer’s starting point, gate length, sequence length, clock division, and the number of iterations in a repeated step. (A quick-start manual provides CV levels to set the clock division and Play mode.) Put it all together to create detailed, organic sequences quickly and intuitively.

Although the Komplex Sequencer is a desktop device, it’s roughly the size of a standard 6U Eurorack case. And with everything situated on top (including power input), it seems well suited for rackmounting.

At $1,625, the Komplex Sequencer may seem expensive until you realize the price includes four independent sequencers in a powered case, plus MIDI I/O, a CV recorder, and plenty of CV I/O. But no matter how big your modular system is, the wealth of options in the Komplex Sequencer makes it fun to play and useful in nearly any performance or studio situation.

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