Future Retro has released the Orb ($550), a compact, single-track, step-based digital sequencer—the first in a new line of XS-ories designed to control and complement the company''s XS semi-modular synthesizer, as well as control other analog CV/Gate or MIDI synthesizers and TB-303 clones.
According to the manufacturer, unlike linear-style step sequencers, the Orb''s circular interface makes it easy to divide a measure of music into equal parts, as well as intuitively display patterns as cyclic loops playing forward, in reverse, or remixed.
The Orb lets you record up to 256 patterns, with note duration, pitch, accent, glide, loop point, time signature, and swing amount. Pattern editing features include copy/paste, pattern shifting, pattern transposing, multiple pattern cueing for chaining patterns together live, real-time editing, and LED chase. Patterns can be arranged in up to 16 songs and multiple songs may be chained together so they play sequentially. Back up patterns and songs via SysEx dumps to other Orb units, Future Retro Revolution units, or to your computer. All pattern editing and recording can be done while the sequencer is running and it automatically saves your edits.
Like the company's Revolution synthesizer, the Orb offers the Remix feature that provides 256 variations for every pattern and song, for more than 65,000 possible patterns.
The Orb has individual 1/4-inch jacks for the CV Out, with adjustable Glide Time control, Gate Out, and Accent Out for playing most analog synths. It can also act as a MIDI to CV converter, allowing any MIDI keyboard/controller or sequencer to control an analog synthesizer. In addition, it''s possible to sync most pre-MIDI analog sequencers and arpeggiators to MIDI clock by using the Gate Out signal as a programmable clock source. MIDI In/Thru/Out are all provided for syncing playback with external sequencers, playing MIDI sound modules, or using the Orb as a MIDI to CV converter.
This unit is housed in a rugged aluminum chassis, with a high-contrast white on gun-metal grey finish, bright blue LEDs, and orb-like spherical switches. The Orb''s compact size (7" [L] x 6" [W] x 2.75" [H]) lets you carry out all sequencing functions with one hand.
The Future Retro Orb is now shipping. For more information, visit future-retro.com.