I agree that there’s a lot of trial & error and frustration involved when using MIDI gear. And yes, MIDI sequencers will always be imperfect and wil never be compatible with everybody’s personal desires and workflow.
There are just to much possibilities / parameters involved with MIDI and with making (electronic) music in general. Some people prefer to program stuff with mouse and screens, others like to turn and twist knobs, other people still love to record their parts by playing the keys, like I do, etc…
There simply NEVER will be a device that will be good for every type of musician (and that’s just the same with a DAW, by the way).
That’s really why you must think of each device as being a specialized tool for specific tasks that it’s build for, and maybe not as a tool that completely will replace your computer with a DAW. If you want something that a computer with a DAW does, well just use your computer with your prefered DAW!
I’m very lucky to own both the MPC Live and the Pyramid right now, though I’m just partially happy with each of them separately.
Both devices are still in progress of development, and that can be extra frustrating sometimes. I really just hoped to have finished products that work very well from the beginning, when I have bought them!
I don’t like to be a beta-tester, I just want to make music. But, for Squarp I’m making an exception, as they are doing their best to improve their stuff and listen to their customers, and they’re a small company that tries to deliver something special, and make this with much love and passion, I’m sure…
But actually, and this might somewhat rude, I don’t really like being on the forum too much here. I don’t like being in the need of having to ask things frequently, reporting bugs and giving a lot of suggestions to the creators of gear.
At the end, we won’t be paid for all the time we’ve spend doing this and for our ideas that get into this. It’s all time that you’ve lost and couldn’t just make some fine music. But hey, that’s more and more reality with modern gear being released too early, quite often.
On the other hand, it’s nice when, at the end, having some improvements you thought of finding it’s way in a next update…
Now back on track and continue with my personal story of the imperfect MIDI sequencer:
I bought the MPC live because I needed sampling / play back of full audio tracks / MIDI sequencing for a live project I’m involved with. I didn’t want to use a computer on stage anymore. I did that with a band earlier in my career, and didn’t feel very comfortable with it, as hard disks failed (SSD didn’t exist at that time), weak cable connections failed, crashes, etc…
Though many people thought the MPC LIve would be a complete standalone DAW replacement, it was soon clear that it wasn’t.
The Live is very good for making beats (with samples) and flexible sequencing and arranging tracks / sampling / playing back audio / …, but it’s MIDI routing and implementation is poor, and there are no nice and creative MIDI FX like the Pyramid has. Also the audio FX are not that impressive, and it feels like the device lacks a little bit of horsepower…
For another live project I just needed a creative and reliable standalone MIDI looper / sequencer to control my hardware synths, and so I discovered the Pyramid.
Though the Pyramid is yet far from perfect (it’s becoming better though with next update), it does really very nice things the MPC Live simply isn’t capable of!
Things like nice MIDI Fx, Live recording of MIDI loops is almost there (just the MIDI routing still sucks a little). Definitions will be a nice addition as well, as are the encoders per track. Pyramid has a very stable clock etc… It’s great to have all this in such a small package (even with a small screen).
Now having both devices set up for some ‘home-studio’ experiments, I started experimenting to use both devices simultaneously, syncing the one to the other (having the Pyramid as a master right now). Like this, I can make full benefit of both of the devices strengths, each piece of gear covering the other’s weak points.
I’m using an iConnectivity MIO10 midi interface (really great piece of gear as well), and have quite some hardware, Ithink about 14 units, connected to all it’s DIN in’s / out’s and even a USB hub that’s connected to the USB Host input.
It’s still not perfect and there will always things I can’t do with this that I can with a computer & a DAW. But hell yeah, i’m getting close to have everything work nice together and I’m starting to see the loads of power and flexibility of my setup, there’s a lot of creative possibilities smiling to me right now finally!
The nice thing is I can use these devices’ hardware to manipulate things in a way you wouldn’t really do when just connecting a MIDI controller to a laptop & a DAW.
There still are a lot of limitations over a DAW, but the biggest limitation of making great music with this setup right now will be myself, always thinking I might find better solutions that would comply to all my specific desires.
Personally I prefer not to go very modular / CV, because you simply will end up in a mess of cables, and you need even loads more of cash compared to buying 2 sequencers and some nice hardware synths. With MIDI you also can have a lot more being ‘virtually patched’ to each other and have things programmed for each specific track / project.
It requires quite some dedication and, as said before, loads of trial & error, unfortunately. But, once you get to the point to know how MIDI works (and how it can mess up things as well), and how to take benefit of it’s strengths and have your gear work together like it should, it will be more easy to live with the limitations of each piece of HW, and just have fun with it…
Having said all this, I still hope the MPC live get some more love and care, and also Squarp will do some more improvements after the 3.0 update, as there still are some things that might require some attention and correction, LOL
Hope somebody has learned something of my experience, and also will be able to turn those moments of frustration and lack of productivity and creativity into a more positive story!