Upgrading from Hermod to Pyramid for Eurorack?


#1

Hermod has become an important part of my modular synth workflow. The main obstacle of working more intensively with Squarp’s approach to sequencing and also using it in live performance is the user interface: the number of controls and also screen size is just to small. I think this justifies Squarp’s position of not extending Hermod’s functionality much further (there are still bugs and important omissions, don’t get me wrong).

User interface concerns and a lof of the functionality I miss with Hermod are actually available on Pyramid. Therefore, I am contemplating “upgrading” from Hermod to Pyramid.

Who has upgraded from Hermod to Pyramid? I would be especially interested in stories from people mainly working with modular synths.

The reason I hesitate getting Pyramid is the lack of a MIDI-CV/Gate interface and high price of Pyramid.

What interfaces are people using with Pyramid? If I make to switch from Hermod to Pyramid, I want at least twice the output connectivity than what I have with Hermod. Not the cheapest, but the most flexible interface is probably the FH-2 by Expert Sleepers.

But if I add up the cost for Pyramid and Expert Sleeper modules (FH-2 plus 2x gate and 1x CV expanders), the total costs are too high. I don’t think it makes much sense to pair Pyramid with Hermod - too much duplication of functionality and too much waste of HP real estate.

Squarp should seriously consider releasing an affordable 16 channel MIDI-CV/gate interface for Pyramid. This would definitely increase their footprint in the Modular community. Is there anything in the pipeline?

Anyway, looking forward to hear your stories!


Pairing the Hermod with Pyramid
#2

I came from this the opposite side, I had a pyramid and wanted MIDI to CV …

First, I think the Pyramid is a good ‘upgrade’ for eurorack, I think for sequencing its UI is better, and its does have many extra features (e.g. flexible track length), and its desktop format I think is much more comfortable, for me, that the hermod.

that said, in a few ways the Hermod is a next generation pyramid, some element are more refined. this means its a bit odd, the pyramid has more features, as the hermod has been ‘cut down’ to suit modular more (and limited hp etc), *but the it does a few thing better… because squarp learnt from their experience with the pyramid.

midi to cv with 8+ channels,
there are various options ES, Endorphin Shuttle, Polyend, Hermod (:slight_smile: ) , but I found the same as you, none of them are cheap … and the hermod is ‘in the same ballpack’ as some!

I ended up going for a hermod (for reasons below),
If I hadn’t, then I was looking at a picking up the older FH-1+ GT etc, you can pick this up on sale in various places… its still not cheap, but much cheaper than the FH2.
(the main advantage of the FH2, imo, is a better UI, but if is just midi2cv I think you don’t ‘need’ that)

Why did I go with hermod?
price wasn’t much more really , and I liked the idea of having my case being self contained - but the other reason was, theres are quite a lot of subtle differences between the pyramid and hermod , that make the hermod still a very useful eurorack module (to me)
… small things like the sequencer being able to change midi fx on the fly, or the way you can use the CV in to modulate things or act as a cv to midi converter, the slightly different approach to Euclidean sequences.

its hard to describe but even though I still sequence (almost) always on the pyramid, I still use the hermod for duties other than just midi to cv. so the overlap is not as great as perhaps it first seems - anyway I’m definitely happy with my choice.
(of course, this is no doubt, a function of what other modules I have in my case!)

perhaps what you could do is get the pyramid, and initially try it with the hermod, then you’ll see if you’ll ‘miss’ hermod for its other features.
if not, then you can sell it… then if you just need a plain midi-cv, then look out for a good deal on a FH1 and its expanders.

anyway, good luck, the I think you’re going to have a great system which ever way you choose to go :slight_smile:


#3

Interesting thoughts, many of which I share.
Possibilities…

  1. Hermod + Midi-CV/Gate Interface
    Hermod as a self-contained sequencer, but also a “MIDI recorder” which records output from software sequencers and modulates them while playing them. I am a big fan of the CV-ins; I usually modulate Hermod using two step sequencers.
  2. Hermod + Pyramid
    A bit of an overkill, IMO
  3. Pyramid + Midi-CV/Gate Interface
    As I don’t have Pyramid, I can’t say much. Would require a lot of buying and selling given my starting point.

#4

Given you already have hermod, another interesting option might be adding a beatstep pro or similar.
This would give you a more hands on sequencer, and playing surface - and you then use the hermod for things like midi fx.

I guess it depends, what do you feel you lack?

( I’m personally ok with 8cv/gate but my rack is relatively small)


#5

In addition to Hermod, I have two independent Ladik 8-step sequencers with several CV tracks each. Plus Pamela’s New Workout for gate patterns.
Pyramid would definitively replace Pamela’s; at least one Ladik would probably stay.


#6

I have been suggesting from the starting gate a way to change projects on both pyramid and hermod (or two pyramids) simultaneously. Without this, it appears i’m coming to the same conclusion as the commenters in this thread.

I can build projects(songs) on both pyramid and hermod and program on both machines, but if I want to change both machines to another project at the same time, it must be done manually on both devices. The work around is using Pyramid as the sequencer and Hermod as a Midi-cv converter. Considering this, Pyramid and any high output midi-cv module seems more logical to sequence from than using hermod as an expensive converter that you can’t program on.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Hermod, but I feel like this limitation leads me to think Pyramid is the sequencer to keep if this never gets addressed. I love programming drums on Hermod, but once I make 8 sequences, moving on to the next project in time with with pyramid seems pretty difficult to do with two hands on two machines and two different menus all at the same time.

Also, what is the solution for using two pyramids together and changing projects in unison? We have the sequence control we need, but projects change leaves a lot to be desired.


#7

Interesting: I actually hated programming percussion on Hermod, because there was no simple way of sending triggers per note. Additionally, Hermod “only” has eight gate outputs and the Euclidian MIDI function did not make much sense at all. This is why I had Pamela’s besides Hermod.

Using Hermod as a MIDI-CV/Gate interface only is too expensive and a waste of rack space. In addition, it seems to have the disadvantages you pointed out. Hermod was not really designed to complement Pyramid, I think.

By the way: I am replacing my Hermod + Pamela with 1x Pyramid + 2x Mutant Brain.; this gives me eight CV/gate note channels and 16 additional gate tracks for clocks and percussion, allowing me to make full use of the Pyramid polymetric/-rhythmic capabilities. Plus the much more performance-oriented user interface of the Pyramid (both Hermod and Pam’s are not really designed for live performances). And everything still within Squarp’s approach to sequencing, which I absolutely adore.


#8

interesting, we all have different perspectives on this …
perhaps its because I started with the Pyramid, and I’m familiar with its limitations … so some of the ‘advances’ on the Hermod are a breath of fresh air :slight_smile:

the main thing for me about the hermod, is ‘sequences’ are nothing like sequences on the Pyramid, they are full blown snapshots - you can re-configure pretty much everything, which you cannot do on the pyramid at all.
this is crucial to the way I use the Hermod, its not just midi to cv, its the fact I can reconfigure its setup on the fly - awesome.

I guess that’s why 8 sequences is also not a limitation for me, as they don’t hold the notes/patterns, that’s all done on the pyramid - and so 8 configurations is absolutely fine for my purposes.
(I also don’t have a huge rack, nor have a lot of percussion elements, so I don’t need that many cv/gate pairs … if I did, I would have gone for the ES without a second thought)

I guess if we could switch projects without stopping on the pyramid, this might be similar, but that wont happen it a design limitation, it takes too long to load the project from sd card to make this viable … and the limited memory in the pyramid, means its not viable to ‘side load’ a new project.


#9

Fully agree, sequencing is something very subjective and depends a lot on workflow.

What can you re-configure on Hermod that you cannot on Pyramid? Pyramid has FX automation. On Hermod, I made heady use of FX parameter modification via the CV ins. But generating these control voltages in the system tied up a lot of resources (many times, I used a 8 step sequencer to modify Hermod).

Other issues of Hermod that I found very much limiting: a) not possible to manipulate individual notes in polyphonic patterns, b) the “song” structure is way too limited, c) unnecessarily crippled functionality (e.g. not able to randomize note length), d) lack of ability to load MIDI files (not full songs, but patterns generated on a computer) or export MIDI information.

ES is too expensive and I don’t like their approach - trying to do everything, not good at anything.

Pyramid’s inputs (touchpads etc.) make a very good controller for live performances generally jam sessions. With Hermod, I spent too much time “programming”.

Working with one - but large and complicated - project is sufficient for me. My system is 100% Eurorack (and 95% analog), so I cannot switch to different “songs” anyway, at least not in performance situations. Once you have unpatched a Eurorack system, the “song” is gone anyway. So loading a large number of projects fast is not a topic in my situation.


#10

its almost the opposite … what can you do on the pyramid!

on the hermod you can change which FX are loaded, track layouts , as I said pretty much everything.
on the pyramid its limited to patterns and mutes… so basically track data, not setup.

also the Euclidean works completely differently on the hermod to the pyramid.
(I wish they would take the hermod FX over to the Pyramid!)

so yeah, I agree with the limitations on the Hermod (except ive never had it crash), which I circumvent by using the Pyramid, but then I use the cool bits of Hermod , as a kind of midi2cv but with brains :slight_smile:

(also whilst the hermod UI is limits its still better than many of the polyphonic midi2cv modules :wink: )


#11

Hermod has no FX automation, so it’s very limited what you can do. On Hermod, you can manually switch on or off the overall FX, that’s all. CV controlled FX parameters are possible by using the four CV ins or then by “self-patching” Hermod (i.e. track 8 spits out CVs which are used on CV In 1 to control (for example) arp parameters of an FX of track 1). But this is clumsy and not fun at all, especially for the modular folks - modular is all about user interface and direct control; if I want to mess around with menus and cramped displays, I use a computer…

Don’t get me wrong: Hermod is by far the best Eurorack sequencer I have used. It is absolutely great for entering tonal information (especially polyphonic notes) and is useful (clumsy and limited, but useful) for creating generative musical patterns. It’s a great MIDI recorder and player.
But once you have come to like Hermod, you want more. Especially if jamming and live performance is a topic. Most of the missing features can be found on Pyramid. I am also sure that this is not a coincidence: Hermod was not designed as a Eurorack gateway for Pyramid, but a standalone Eurorack solution with useful, but limited functionality. Even Hermod’s price is decent. Squarp has also communicated that they will not really extend Hermod’s functionality much - which is correct, because this would clearly blow the already spartan user interface of Hermod. Personally, I am left with the impression that the purpose of Hermod is to make users buy Pyramid.


#12

I think we all come from a place of respect in regards to Hermod, but workflow really matters and these small requests turn two good machines into an undeniable force. I don’t use Hermod to traditionally step sequence drums, but I do generally send fixed voltages on modulation tracks and add lfo’s to control my rhythm sequencers. I love hermod for this, love the interface and can program very quickly.

When I finish programming my 8th sequence, that’s about all the utility I can get out of hermod unless I decide to no longer program on its interface(which I enjoy) and use it as a midi-cv converter. I guess this workaround solves a problem, but severely limits how you interact with hermod and ultimately it’s usefulness as a standalone sequencer. For the same amount of money I could double my cv/gate outputs with a few standalone midi-cv interfaces.

It’s wishful thinking to think that you can demand a product to conform to your needs, but these products come from the same developers in a small market where the user input should have some weight. We all help perfect the machine by sending bug reports and user experiences and we put in time testing each os release. Hopefully squarp sees these criticisms as constructive as the products are impressive in their current state, but leave things to be desired.

I didn’t account for the project load time of pyramid as hermod projects can change seemlessly in sync. That’s what made me wonder about project changes across machines. I would take a project sequencing feature (on either machine) that allows you to string projects together either when the sequence chain completes or a specific number of steps per project occurs. Pyramid seems to have enough space to lay out things logically in one project, but hermod does not for me. I look forward to the next few os updates, but foresee myself ultimately sequencing on pyramid and using a slew of midi-cv modules in place of my dear hermod.


#13

By the way: in the meantime, I have replaced my Hermod with a Pyramid and two Hexinverter Mutant Brain MIDI-CV/Gate interfaces.


#14

Andreas how are you finding this solution now? I am kind of going round this exact loop now… I am tempted by the expert sleepers but the usb situation seems to confuse me… adds complexity and not sure there is the reliability there between the pyramid… the expert sleepers would have to offer it’s host power to the pyramid… people are talking about sync issues with fh-1 also… I like what you are doing with the mutant brains… seems like you are keeping things in the midi domain and therefore simplifying the process… are you happy with the hexinverters? they seem like a cut down version of the expert sleepers…


#15

I actually haven’t received the Hexinverters yet. Expert sleepers are too expensive: fh-2 plus a gate expander cost about as much as a Hermod. Additionally, I had bad experiences with the Disting, so I am not surprised to hear that there are issues with FH modules. Pyramid is definitely classical MIDI: as it is powered by the USB MIDI port, this creates all sort of issues. For example, I was forced to buy a Kenton MIDI USB Host to connect my keyboard (Yamaha ePiano), which only has an unpowered USB connection. Pyramid would deserve USB ports like Hermod plus a separate power connector. A fiddly USB mini power connector is also not ideal for live performances. On the positive side, power requirements of Pyramid are rather minor. I can run it from the new Doepfer USB module. One drawback of the Mutant Brains is that they can only be reprogrammed from a computer. I would also require more CV channels. But I will wait, I am sure that we will see more interfaces soon - maybe one made by Squarp?..


#16

I like your solution as keeping everything on the pure midi domain prevents any loss of latency during the translation process. I was initially thinking of using the usb function purely as the connection to eurorack but like you when I look into it I start worrying… especially given I would be looking to draw an additional 500ma of power from my already fully specced eurorack power… I have tired powering hungry modules before and it introduces issues… sure I could use a powered usb hub… but again this extra kit to carry around… my eurorack is designed with performance in mind…like you say the hexinverters have some compromises in regard to number of configurable items but on the whole I think the rewards will be stability… and ease of use… I think that you can only reprogram the expert sleepers from computer too… it has a web based gui simple gui where you can select output function…


#17

Two Mutant Brains are a bit of an overkill in terms of gate outputs - eight additional ones over the four used for the four CV channels. But plenty of gates is nice in my setup because I still have two 8 step sequencers with several CV channels that can be run by Pyramid and used for modulation purposes. And creating interesting gate patterns is exactly one of the strengths of Pyramid. I am also planning to use Pyramid as the sole source of gate/timing information; this spares me from syncing other modules (like Pamela).
As one of my voices is quad polyphonic, I still don’t have enough CV channels - would need at least four more for velocity. For my purposes, the ideal interface is currently 1x Hexinverter Mutant Brains plus 1x Doepfer A-190-5 (which has 12 CV channels - three per voice). But I find the Doepfer a bit expensive. I will do with the Hexinverters and wait for an affordable integrated solution.
Things in Eurorackland are moving towards polyphony. This means that we will see many new MIDI-CV/Gate interfaces soon.


#18

re the overkill gate outputs… this is why I was tempted by the reconfigurable outputs of the Fh-2 solution… but once you are into that solution you are looking at adding on “x” number of additional expanders when you grow or change your system which feels like you are trapped into one company… I have looked at their additional 8CV and 8GT expansion boards and feel like I would be getting too deep into their solution and not having the freedom to choose what I want to do… I agree the mutant brain is a bit specific for triggering drum voices with no cv control… seems a shame they haven’t either given the ability to configure the output type or a different balance… I am still getting my head round what is the best option for me… thanks for your input though as is interesting to read what other people are going through…


#19

Yes, there are many options and it’s interesting to see what people do. Obviously, there is no single best solution - all depends on your setup and workflow. Gate outs are 0 to 5V, while CV outs have to be able to handle -10 to 10V. This is why a CV out can act as a Gate out, but not vice versa. That’s at least my understanding, but I am not an overly technical person.


#20

there are some great midi to cv converters around, the others that I looked at (as well as ES, Hermod) :

polyend poly - http://polyend.com/poly-midi-to-cv-converter/
its a beast 8 channels with, each with gate plus 3 cv … so 8 gates, and 24(!) cv outputs.
(it was a too much for my small case, but for a large setup its interesting)

endorphin shuttle control - https://www.schneidersladen.de/en/endorphin-es-shuttle-control.html
this is really well implemented, and I believe all 16 outputs can be used as CV or gate.

the thing i noticed with all these things is, once you want 8cv + 8gate, they all end up around 400 euro(*), so basically same as hermod.
so its not down to price, more which set of features do you want… so you want more CV (less gates)? , do you want expansion? what kind of UI do you want?

(*) exception is FH1, as this is discontinued, so old stock can be had cheaper.

its a tough choice, I could have gone for any of the above options (ES, Polyend, Endorphin), and I have been happy with my choice - I think they are all great solutions just with different pros/cons depending upon what you think you need :slight_smile:


note: bare in mind with pyramid, you have multiple midi outputs, there is nothing stopping you running to multiple eurorack modules, regardless which one you get now - so ‘all is not lost’