Replacing my Pyramid with a Hapax

Hi everyone! I am sure this has been beaten to depth, but I just purchased a used Hapax with the intention of replacing my Pyramid with it. I use my Pyramid mostly as a live midi recorder and often have tracks of different lengths. My main frustration with the device is the lack of support for PolyAT and MPE (which the Hapax addresses). For those of you coming from the Pyramid, what do you miss about the old workflow or find that the Hapax does not cover? I am aware of lack of instrument definitions, but I can imagine that this will end up on the Hapax eventually. I am hoping to sell the Pyramid when I receive this, but I wanted to see if anyone is using both and if there were any regrets in shifting workflows.

just so ya know, Hapax DOES have Instrument Definitions!

I guess I am behind the times. I am really looking forward to putting the Hapax through the paces.

i was only just starting to vibe with the Pyramid when Hapax was announced so i didn’t really go much further in digging deeper with its full range of features. and i’ve only just now started getting in depth with Hapax but . . .

first impressions is Hapax basically does everything you could do on Pyramid but in a workflow that lends itself more to building up a track from start to finish. sequencing Patterns/Tracks on Pyramid into a full-blown song was not as intuitive for me as Hapax’s grid-based method. coming to Hapax with prior Squarp knowledge probably makes it easier as well but i found myself able to do in a weekend what it took me several months to learn how to do getting up to speed with Pyramid

at least as Hapax is currently configured, the main thing I miss about Pyramid now is 64 Tracks (x 32 Patterns per track). for instrumentation, i’m not even coming close to hitting the 8 pattern limit on Hapax, but for drum tracks and sample tracks where i’m triggering vocal verses, choruses, and bridges, it’s a limitation. oh, and the Delay FX is the only Pyramid MIDI effect that hasn’t made the jump over yet

overall, i feel like making tracks on Pyramid is like working at ground level, seeing everything that goes into a project from the bottom up and Hapax is the ability to stand above it all but zoom in to each part as needed while never losing sight of the whole. similar but different, depending which kind of method of composing you like

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Thanks Chris,

This is exactly the response I was looking for. Honestly, I rarely use anywhere close to the Track count available on the Pyramid, so this was the logical decision for me. I really like the Squarp approach to sequencing, especially being able to make on the fly changes while the sequencer is running. Now that I have a Hydrasynth and a controller capable of MPE, I am hitting the limitations of the Pyramid more in terms of recording the midi data that I am generating. I am hoping the Hapax will be a breath of fresh air in how it handles this type of information.

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I think overall, the workflow on the Hapax is much improved over the Pyramid, and probably why I much prefer it… in particular, patterns are fundamentally better supported and integrated into the workflow, with clips.

the main advantage the Pyramid has are:

  • size of unit :slight_smile:
  • time signature per track and its polymeter / polyrythm handling
  • number of tracks/patterns
    (thought this is organisational only, since pyramid has less events in a project)

the latter is debatable, as its much more complicated… but I really enjoyed this.
we dont have to do the maths that sometimes the pyramid required… to get relatively simple things,
but I think that encourage ‘education’ on music theory time, which Im grateful for!
however, I think for most, track elasticity is much more useable.

apart from that, hapax is better in pretty much every way.

as for MPE, please check out other topics on this !
yes, event count is much higher.
however, MPE is pretty much limited to record/playback, as we don’t have editing yet.

also be aware of the lack of multi-track recording on Hapax… thats probably the biggest missing feature from the pyramid (for me) - however, I view this as a ‘missing feature’ rather than fundamental difference, as Im sure it will be added. (*)

which also gives the other advantage/disadvantage of the hapax.
the pyramid is more mature… it now is feature complete.
hapax is very stable, but not as mature, but is also in active development.


(*) however, never buy a product, based on what you think MIGHT be added later !

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I agree with all of these sentiments. One other advantage of the Pyramid is that it can be powered via USB. I have mine hooked up to a CME WIDI host right now which basically makes the whole unit accessible via Bluetooth MIDI and sends Bluetooth MIDI. The advantages of the Hapax in my set-up outweight these nice features of the Pyramid. I will most likely keep both for a few weeks, but I have a feeling the Hapax will definitely be a replacement for the Pyramid.

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I was hesitant to buy a Hapax when first announced because there were a few things that Pyramid did that no other sequencer in my price range did, things that made Pyramid the only real option for me. Unfortunately, one of those things Pyramid does that most don’t involves the length of tracks.

32 Bar track length limitation
The Pyramid track length of 384 bars blew away (blows away) so much of the competition and for the music I made, it sealed the deal. The 32 bar max on Hapax is an infuriating limitation for me every. single. time. Track elasticity is great for a certain use case but almost never works for me. When I’m running multiple instruments on my sampler, I can’t just set one track to be half-time because that screws up the clock being sent to the sampler (the correct clock and the halftime clock hack) and even then, what does half time elasticity really do for me? 64 bars instead of 32? That’s not really helpful.
Math is great! I love it! But it is no substitute for a sensible track length. Want a note to be a quarter note the first time through but be an eighth the second time? If that is possible, I haven’t figured out how to do it.
I’ve worked around this by… well, I just haven’t made that kind of music on the Hapax. I’m hoping this is fixed soon but until then, I’m keeping my Pyramid. For this reason but also for a couple others.

Pyramidi
Nuff said.

Consolidate
When composing on the Pyramid (and to a lesser extent on the Squarp), I often use arps, delay, scaler, chance, LFOs, and/or harmonizer fx on a track until I get something I love, then I make it permanent. That was extremely simple on Pyramid thanks to the Consolidate feature. With the Hapax, I play the midi to my laptop, record it in Logic, then play it back from Logic and record it on the Hapax. Not my favorite workflow. I mean, one of the top 3 reasons I own a hardware sequencer is so that I can avoid using the laptop.

Named notes in Instrument Definitions
Back to the sampler. I almost always have multiple instruments on my sampler, thanks to multisamples. I’ll have a multisampled drum kit or a piano or vocal parts or whatever, each on their own MIDI channel, then a single MIDI channel for the rest of the sampler pads. On the Pyramid, my drum kit multisample instrument definition uses named notes so that I can see which note is which drum, and the notes that aren’t part of the kit are hidden. I also use named notes for hardware that has note range limitations (like the Minitaur). Hapax doesn’t support named notes so using the drum kit on my sampler is just too much trouble for me. I’m not good enough to remember note 50 is Crash Cymbal 1 choke. When I use the Pyramid, I don’t have to remember that. So I still use the pyramid for drums.
But wait, what about drum tracks on Hapax?

Only 8 lanes in a drum track
Let’s see… what can I do with 8 drums? 1 kick. 1 snare. 1 crash cymbal. 1 closed hat. 1 open hat. 1 half-open hat. 1 tom. 1 floor tom. That’s it.
People make fun of Ringo Starr’s minimal drum kit and even he had more pieces than that.
And I am no Ringo Starr. I mean that as self-deprecatingly as possible.
There is a strict limit of 64 samples in a multisample instrument on my sampler so I take a full multisample kit with 3 velocity layers and brutally cull it down to the smallest usable number of instruments/velocity layers so that it is under 65 samples and still meets my needs. That usually means around 20 “lanes”. Could I get it down to 16? Probably. Down to 12? Maybe? Down to 10? Ehhhh… Down to 8? No.
I work around this by… keeping my Pyramid and using it for writing drum parts. What do I do with the parts after that? I’m glad you asked.

No MIDI file import
I love how easy it is to both get the MIDI files from a Pyramid project and to import MIDI files to a Pyramid project. But how to get those parts from the Pyramid to the Hapax? The same way I work around the lack of composite feature: I play the drum track on the Pyramid, into the Hapax, and record it as a poly track on the Hapax (because Hapax drum tracks aren’t useful for me). It’s not an ideal workflow and (like a lot of what I’ve spent a couple years learning on/from the Pyramid) it isn’t anywhere near as nice as working the Pyramid.

I love running my Pyramid via USB battery power
I totally get this limitation but that doesn’t make me miss it :slightly_smiling_face:

But what about everything else?
Well, that’s the thing… it’s twice the price and it’s 4 times as nice. Hapax does SO MUCH more than Pyramid and does SO MANY things better than Pyramid. Other than the items above (and a couple I’m surely forgetting), Hapax is better in every way. If I had written down my list of things I wish were different about the Pyramid, Hapax checks off all or nearly all of the items on that list. The pads/key entry, multiple projects, gapless saving, maths, more ports, algos, no micro-USB, I really can’t list them all. That’s why I ordered the Hapax a few days after it was released. The sum of its parts are so much more than just “better” than Pyramid. It’s a different category of device and most use cases wouldn’t have any of the problems I have moving from Pyramid to Hapax. I can’t even remember my full Pyramid wish list because I’ve grown so used to having the power of the Hapax, I’m already taking it for granted. If none of the missing features are ever added, it was and is still more than a worthy upgrade for me.

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Owning both, I agree Hapax is better in many ways.

Although I really miss Mono Edit mode to have a global view of which of the 16 steps are filled with notes.

In Hapax currently there is no way to see a single line step view like in pyramid mono edit.

In this view I also miss the ability to mute steps.

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Solid list. Here are a few more starting with the one that immediately sold me on the Hapax.

Sections limitations
The Pyramid was limited to 32 the last time I used it which, if used cleverly, can get me to around 20-30 minutes per project. After that, I have to get clever when switching to a new project when playing live. The Hapax likely also has a limit of sections, but I have yet to hit it. Beyond that, the Hapax allows loading multiple projects which makes transitions smoother and mixing tracks possible.

Sequence launching
On the Pyramid, I really like bouncing around the pads to launch sequences. On the Hapax, it’s entirely done via the encoder. On the one hand, I can name a sequence which helps me remember what it is when playing it back weeks/months later. On the other, it’s not as fast to switch between them. I use a combination of those and the pattern pads when improvising.

BPM midi effect
The Pyramid has a BPM midi effect which can be pretty fun. I heard a rumor this may eventually make it to the Hapax. :slight_smile:

Polyrhythms
I actually do miss how this works with the Pyramid, but with a little math, you can do similar things with elasticity.

Maturity
As mentioned above, the Pyramid is extremely stable. This was a huge selling point for me with the Hapax. Even though I encounter occasional bugs, I have full confidence in the the Squarp team. It’ll be solid in no time.

The Hapax is fantastic
As far as the things on the Hapax that are better than the Pyramid, that’s a MUCH longer list. Some highlights:

  • With the Pyramid, I relied on an external keyboard for note input. I no longer have to do that which frees up desk space.
  • The pads are REALLY nice so note input and drawing shapes is better than even the trackpad (which i disabled) on the Pyramid.
  • The two screens are NICE. They make it easy to see and understand changes. They are very accurately synced (helps see where you are on tracks that are silent), Thy make changing settings or assigning notes/channels a breeze.
  • The extra midi ports and CV/Gates out make it trivial to add extra gear or sync with other folks.
  • It’s just fun to use
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I spent my first day with the Hapax. My takeaways:

32 Bar limitation
I do occasionally have patterns longer than 32 bars (rare, but it does happen). Currently, the work around is to break them into multiple patterns on a specific track. This is not ideal, as you have only 8 patterns to work with and timing is tricky in terms of seamless switching.

Drum lanes
This is not an issue for me, as my percussive elements are usually split over multiple tracks. I usually have 4-6 drum elements per percussive track.

USB power
I will definitely miss this. The Hapax lives in my studio, but if I ever want to take it out live, I will miss the flexibility of using a battery bank.

Pyramidi
I am embarassed to say that I never used this on the Pyramid. I was a fairly basic user and primarily used it for recording midi tracks.

64 tracks vs 16
This is not a deal breaker for me, as I did not use more than 16 tracks in most projects. I think I will need to get my head around the dual project environment of the Hapax, as I can see using one project for automation lanes and the other for recorded note data. Also the possibility of switching projects mid-stream adds to the compositional possibilities of the Hapax environment. I have not played around with the dual projects yet, but I plan to during these coming weeks.

Things that I find inspiring on the Hapax

  • Chord mode is fantastic
  • Track launching is intuitive and flexible.
  • Dual screens provide better visualization of the compositional space. The pads are useful and provide helpful information. COLOR!!!
  • Muting and changing modes is easier and faster than on the Pyramid.
  • Connectivity options are phenomenal.
  • Quick workflow.

Things that I was expecting, but didn’t work as expected.

  • Poly Aftertouch implementation was non-existent. This was one of the main reasons I upgraded. I know that it is coming, but this is a bit frustrating.
  • Tempo range only went up to 250BPM. Maybe I am missing something here, but the Pyramid went a lot higher.
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Tempo range only went up to 250BPM. Maybe I am missing something here, but the Pyramid went a lot higher.

Good callout. I got the Pyramid up to around 9970 bpm before it froze which was fun and ridiculous.

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Same here, didn’t expect to miss this as badly as I do :smile: Especially when entering notes via midi learn, I’m struggling to keep track of where I am since the view jumps around constantly.

Another thing I find myself struggling is “which section am I in?” and remembering to save changes to them by overriding.

Still very early days with Hapax with me, and very much in the process of unlearning various Pyramid habits and conventions and developing ones suited for the Hapax. Someone with no Pyramid background may see certain things differently.

I didn’t expect size to matter, but I do miss the slanted form and low front of the Pyramid. A proper stand will help with the former, which is also the bigger deal for me.

As others have noted, the overall workflow on Hapax is much more approachable as most things are always directly at hand and viewable on the grid, whereas the Pyramid would occasionally feel like playing 3d sudoku through this tiny 2d vieport :sweat_smile:

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as I mentioned when I very first got the Hapax, and many asked about it.
I still don’t think the Hapax is a 1-1 replacement for the Pyramid.
I think there still is a role for the Pyramid, in certain use-cases.

and frankly, given used prices, I doubt I’ll sell my Pyramid - I think its now a bit ‘undervalued’, as people look to the new shiny thing, they forget how good the Pyramid actually is!

so whilst I don’t use it much, for day-to-day,
it’s still fun to pull out in a smaller setup, or when I want to play with polyrhythm/polymeters in a bit more ‘depth’… and I think its smaller form factor means this feels ‘ok’ too.

besides, I learnt with eurorack, different flavours of modules can be useful, and sequencers are no different… my USTA is nothing like, Pyramid/Hapax/Hermod… even though they are all ‘just sequencers’.
the differences are in the details, and thats where often the fun lies… even if you dont need them :laughing:

so, whilst Id not swap my Hapax for general duties, as its connectivity/workflow, is unmatched by anything else I have…I still love my pyramid.

… and this goes beyond listing the multitude of features of either machine :slight_smile:

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This makes a lot of sense Mark. I have already made more inroads with the Hapax in two days than I have with Pyramid in the many years I have owned it (I have a mk1). You make some very valid points, so I will consider shelving the Pyramid and breaking it out for smaller set-ups. It would be great if there was a Pyramid export for simple Hapax projects (ie no MPE or PolyAT).

I made a suggestion on how to handle longer track lengths, but I don’t know if it aligns with the Squarp product philosophy. In theory, as pattern length is restricted by the memory in the unit, what if the number of patterns could be reduced for a particular track proportionally to the length. Ie. 4 patterns of 64 bars, 2 patterns of 128 bars, or a single 256 bar pattern. This would open the door to longer pattern lengths while retaining the memory allocation and compromising with less compositional flexibility.

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I had confirmation from the Squarp team that this is not possible due to the way memory is allocated to tracks. 32 bars is where it is at. It is very usable for my purposes, but if someone needs a longer section, they will need to either break that pattern into multiple tracks or use a different device to record it.

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Would be nice if you could just link 2 patterns to eachother. Similar to Ableton and MC-707 follow action. That would be an easy way to increase the pattern length at the cost of number of patterns.

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Agree with TBear. I hold out hope that polyrhythmic implementation in Hapax may match the Pyramid, but will hold onto my Pyramid until that day.

it’s maybe not as effortless as just dialing in different time signatures per pattern in Pyramid’s Step mode but the way Hapax deals with Sections and Songs (essentially launching a snapshot of a given collection of mute states on all the Patterns), it kind of gets you to the same place.

for example, although technically each Pattern is a multiple of a single bar (or an even fraction of a bar), you can truncate within a given Pattern by single steps. so limiting a one-bar Pattern to 12 steps is effectively giving you a 3/4 time signature. which, when you integrate that Pattern into a Section with other 4/4 Patterns = the same polyrhythms that Pyramid does somewhat more efficiently. it’s basically in there as far as i can tell from just a few weeks experimenting with programming 303 patterns of varying step lengths, relative to the other 4/4 one-bar patterns

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I don’t think the Hapax will ever ‘match’ the Pyramid , it takes a very different approach.

and, if you search this forum, you will find that many found the Pyramid’s approach difficult to comprehend. Im pretty sure this is why the Hapax has gone a ‘simpler’ route.

that said, the polymeter implementation of the Hapax, combined with track elasticity means you can achieve the same results… just you have to approach it in a slightly different way.
(we also have ‘native’ support for triplet grids.)

Personally, I do wish the Hapax expressed track elasticity as ratios, this I think would be more musical, but it also would be more accurate …
e…g
2/3 on 120bpm is ‘obviously’, is exactly 80 bpm… (120*2) / 3.
but if you use 66.6% = 79.92 bpm,
or 66.7% = 80.04 bmp
now of course, Squarp can ‘fudge’ this… but fundamentally I think its ‘wrong’, and as I say, less musical.

(ok, nothing is perfect here … if you know a bit about floating point representation, we can still get inaccuracies, but I think this does not make my point less valid ;)))

anyway… this is not the same as different time signatures per track, but it does highlight that both polymeter and polyrythms are possible with Hapax. (even without resorting to micro timing)

anyway, in this regard, I do think the Pyramid will remain pretty unique in the sequencer landscape.
… and thats not a bad thing

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