Ok I was able to get some decent hours with the HAPAX today, and I wanted to share a brain dump of my initial thoughts.
I am using the HAPAX for my modular system, but not with the HAPAX’s cv/gate output. Instead I’m using the Expert Sleepers FH-2, with a whole bunch of gate/cv expanders on it. I have it set up with multiple channels of midi–cv for both melodic and drum parts, as well as CC mappings. FH-2 connected to the HAPAX via the USB Host port. Additionally, I have the Knobula Poly Cinematic directly connected to the HAPAX via TRS midi
So, after jamming with it for a few hours now, here is my stream of consciousness:
- this is a very powerful, very fast sequencer. from a workflow perspective, it is super easy to build out a full track or tracks. In general, its very intuitive, and things work how you’d expect them to. Honestly the closest approximation is probably the Push 2 with Ableton. In hardware, idk that theres anything like it. the Nerdseq has similar “power” from a modular perspective, but not nearly as intuitive. In many ways, it feels like Squarp pulled a lot of the best features around the area and put them into one.
- “Chord mode” is probably the best I’ve seen on hardware. For someone like me with no keyboard skills, this is an amazing way to try out/perform chord progressions.
- The dual-project system is brilliant. Having played live with other sequencers, trying to hold a reverb tail or something while switching songs is less than ideal. Being able to seamlessly transition and work in full sets is wonderful.
- The hardware feels really solid. I know a few people have seen issues with the knobs getting pressed on the stem too far (i’ve seen it once or twice), but beyond that, it just feels really nice. the “instant on” in particular is impressive
- I feel like Squarp took the feedback on screens from their previous devices to heart. the displays are great, very readable. If you like the Elektron screens, you’ll like these
- I almost forgot to mention undo! my god what a lovely thing, such a workflow powerhouse. for something so obvious, its surprising how many pieces of gear dont have this.
- MIDI FX + Automation Lanes = generative dreamland. being able to change the settings as a part of a pattern/clip is a very powerful way to generate dynamic sequences from simple notes.
- Automation lanes in general are very well thought out, specifically with the interpolation.
Now for some critiques…
- Coming from using elektron boxes most recently, copy-paste feels backwards. On Elektron boxes, you hold the thing you want to copy, then hit the copy button; same for paste. On the HAPAX, it is the opposite: you hold the copy/paste button THEN hit the thing you want to copy/paste. It’s a minor thing, but it’s tripped me up a few times. Once i get the muscle memory, it’ll be fine, but its taking me a tick to get used to
- Its possible I’m missing it, but in the live chord mode, I don’t see a way to set velocity. you have to switch back to step mode, change the velocity, then go back to live.
- 8 patterns per track I think is workable for a completed track, but maybe not for working on new tracks if that makes sense. For me, I generally like to work by copying patterns and then manipulating them to create variations. Not all of those variations will make to a final song, but it helps to be able to experiment. You can work around this on the HAPAX by having multiple tracks pointed to the same output, but that has other complications in terms of making sure that multiple patterns aren’t running at once. I don’t think 8 patterns is a dealbreaker but I would love to have more (of course).
- I think the terminology in the “Generatr” algo is not very intuitive. Definitely one of those things where you have to experiment with it to understand what the variables are and what they do.
- There are a handful of UX gotchas, where it isn’t very clear what requires pressing the 2nd button, what requires a knob press or hold/turn etc. Would love to see these clarified, ideally with some sort of UI clue to show which is needed. Mostly these can be learned to muscle memory but occasionally for the ones you don’t touch often, it could be improved. a great example is changing the midi channel on drums requires a hold and turn, which is not really present elsewhere.
Thats all I have for now. Overall this thing is really, really great. None of the critiques are dealbreakers, and the foundation is super solid.