Standalone sequencers are one thing of a luxurious within the fashionable music-making panorama. Today, even the most cost effective synths and samplers have no less than rudimentary sequencing capabilities. And whereas many MIDI controllers have on-board sequencers, they’re often meant to again up stay efficiency reasonably than exchange it. After all, there are a number of exceptions to this rule (Arturia’s BeatStep Professional stays extremely well-liked even eight years after it was launched), however you need to begin wanting into the complicated and sometimes intimidating world of Eurorack and modular synths to repeatedly come throughout units whose sole objective is enjoying again strings of notes for you.

Eventide, greatest identified for its high-end results models just like the and TimeFactor, shouldn’t be an apparent candidate to delve into the world of Eurorack. However that’s precisely what it determined to do with , its first sequencer. Now, no person would have blamed the corporate for enjoying it secure with its first foray into the area. As a substitute, it determined to chuck the standard conventions out the window and make one thing distinctive that’s equal elements enjoyable and confounding, particularly when you’re deeply entrenched in conventional music concept and keyboard-based composition.

I’m not an adept pianist. Nor do I’ve a very deep information of Western music concept. And even nonetheless I initially struggled to wrap my head round Misha. That’s as a result of the buttons on its face don’t play particular notes. As a substitute they play intervals associated to the final notice performed inside a scale.

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The best strategy to clarify that is by means of an instance. Let’s say we’ve set the Misha to play a C Main scale. Under the display screen, which exhibits you the important thing and scale, are 9 coloured buttons labeled -4 by means of +4. If you happen to press 0, you get a C proper off the bat, as a result of that’s the root notice and it’s zero intervals away from the beginning of the size. If you happen to press the +1, as a substitute of getting a C#, you’ll get a D, the subsequent notice within the scale.

To this point, so good, proper? However when you press the +1 once more, you gained’t get a second D, and as a substitute you’ll get an E, one interval greater within the scale. To get a second D notice, you’d need to press 0. And when you needed to return to C, you’d need to press -1. It’s not difficult essentially, but it surely breaks a fundamental expectation that any musician would understandably have – that when you do the identical factor, you need to get the identical notice. If I play the fifth fret on the low E of a guitar, I anticipate to get an A each time. If the notes continued to climb by 5 steps, with out transferring my fingers, I’d have a a lot tougher time enjoying something.

However that is the core idea of the Misha. It’s not constructed round absolute pitch and as a substitute forces you to compose based mostly purely on the relationships between notes in a scale. If that concept sends you operating for the hills, then this in all probability isn’t the sequencer for you. If, nonetheless, you’re like me and intrigued by Misha’s distinctive method, hold round and let’s dig slightly deeper.


Eventide Misha MIDI in and out jacls

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Earlier than we go too far down the rabbit gap of scales, modes and sequencing, let’s take a step again and take a look at the {hardware}. Whereas my unit got here with a devoted pod for housing the Misha, it’s ostensibly designed to stay in a Eurorack setup. At 28hp huge, it’s a comparatively giant module, but it surely’s fairly shallow at simply 19mm deep, which means it ought to slot in even essentially the most transportable skiffs. That width is type of mandatory, although. The 17 buttons, two knobs, microUSB port, microSD slot and and 16 ¼” jacks for MIDI, audio and management voltage would really feel impossibly cramped on something smaller.

The format feels simply spacious sufficient to be viable as a efficiency software, with out fully dominating a smaller Eurorack setup. The 9 interval buttons are well-spaced, the display screen is giant sufficient to ship all the required data and the knobs are sturdy. My solely subject hardware-wise is that the shift buttons have a hole spring to them that feels a bit low cost they usually make an audible popping sound.

The 12 CV (management voltage) jacks are cut up throughout three tracks, with three pairs of gate and CV outputs in addition to two inputs every. This offers you a good quantity of choices for controlling a number of synth voices or modulating the Misha’s sequencer. There’s additionally MIDI out and in jacks, in addition to stereo out and a clock in. The microUSB port can be linked to a pc keyboard to be used with customized keymappings. You’re not gonna be wanting for connectivity choices right here.

Eventide branding and CV jacks on the Misha.

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The display screen within the lifeless middle provides you all the information you want about navigating Misha’s interface, although it could take a bit to determine the way it all works. I extremely suggest studying the handbook. It’s not lengthy and might prevent a lot of time and frustration. When you come to grips with how the Misha works, it’s virtually deceptively easy. In reality, I continuously felt like I needed to be lacking one thing. That, for positive, this module, with all its buttons and knobs and 1-inch display screen, was hiding options from me.

Undoubtedly take time to customise these 4 consumer buttons, although. Whereas the default capabilities of up and down one octave (button one and two), and up and down one chromatic step (three and 4) are helpful sufficient, they will provide numerous efficiency energy when mapped to satisfy your particular wants. Personally I like swapping in “transfer pitch” for the chromatic steps, and setting it to a fifth. That provides a bit extra spice than a easy octave, however usually nonetheless works properly musically with no matter else is occurring.

One last item value noting is that Misha has a built-in oscillator that you could activate within the settings. However, past offering a easy sound supply for auditioning melodies and usually getting a really feel for the sequencer, it’s virtually ineffective. In reality, it’s not even talked about within the handbook.


Eventide Misha set to play A Major scale.

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Misha ships with starting from fundamental (Melodic Minor), to unique (Enigmatic), to microtonal madness (48 notice equal-tempered). And, if by some means that’s not sufficient for you, there are 100 consumer slots for loading your personal scala information. Between the varied scales, modes and keys, the musical choices baked into Misha are seemingly infinite.

Essentially the most instant strategy to begin exploring them is to pick a scale after which begin urgent the interval buttons. That is truly a reasonably satisfying means of enjoying an instrument, too. I don’t have a giant rig to stay this in, however I paired it with , in addition to the and Elektron Digitone all to great impact.

This isn’t the form of course of you go to if you need to translate a melody you hear in your head to the true world. Maybe somebody might prepare themselves to assume in intervals to make use of Misha that means, however it might take numerous work. As a substitute this may create completely happy accidents. You simply need to pay particularly shut consideration to what you play to be sure you can recreate something that catches your ear.

Now, sure, there are methods to lock a controller to a particular scale, just like the Misha – mainly making it inconceivable to play out of tune. However there’s one thing about enjoying intervals as a substitute of notes that feels each intuitive and shocking, in a means a keyboard by no means might. Crafting melodies turns into a rewarding exploration the place I’m mainly compelled to cede management, reasonably than a irritating try to make use of my restricted concept information to show concepts into actuality.

Scale knob on the Eventide Misha.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

One of many few issues I’ve to determine beforehand is what number of octaves I need to mess around in. Setting the notice vary to 2 octaves, as an example, means, as soon as I climb past that cap, the intervals will swing again round to 2 octaves under my root notice. It’s in all probability greatest to try to keep away from going all the way in which round, although. Leaping down two octaves can sound a tad harsh.

The octave limits additionally apply when utilizing Misha as a sequencer, so you may play a melody line unfold out over 4 octaves value of a scale earlier than beginning over. The sequencer, although, is the place issues get slightly dicey. It’s constructed across the thought of a “,” a tool utilized in serial composition the place all twelve notes within the chromatic scale are performed, with out repetition, to create a motif. The innovation right here is that this idea of a tone row might be utilized to any scale, not only a twelve-note, Western chromatic one.

This methodology of composition undoubtedly falls on the experimental finish of the spectrum and with sure scales it could come off slightly awkward. This additionally implies that the variety of steps in a sequence relies on which scale you’re utilizing. A single octave sequence in a minor pentatonic scale will solely have 5 steps, whereas two octaves of the quarter tone scale can have 48 steps. Whereas I recognize the novel method, a part of me actually needs that the tone row was a mode you would activate and off. I’d like to see Eventide add a extra conventional sequencer by means of a firmware replace the place notes might be repeated.

There may be additionally a chord mode that lets you ship three-notes out over MIDI or divided between the three CV outs. If in case you have a Eurorack setup with a number of synth voices, it is a nice strategy to create some complexity and variation, particularly when you’ve got different utilities that may additional modulate what the Misha places out. For instance, you may ship the foundation notice by means of a easy arpeggiator for the bass whereas utilizing the opposite notes to play leads or pads. Sadly, there isn’t a onboard strategy to sequence chord voicings. You’ll be able to manually change it whereas performing, but it surely’s type of a ache. Alternatively, you would use one other sequencer to ship MIDI CCs to Misha and alter chord voicings, which looks as if overkill.

Diagram showing the default MIDI mapping for the Eventide Misha

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Simply the easiest way to make use of the Misha is as a efficiency software paired with an exterior MIDI controller. Right here, the white keys provide you with a fair broader vary of interval jumps (9 in both direct) in addition to fast entry to the foundation notice, whereas the black keys can repeat a notice, play a random scale notice or transfer chromatically up and down one step at a time. And, in fact, you may nonetheless hit the 4 consumer programmable buttons on the entrance of the module and even map different notes on the keyboard to place extra variables at your fingertips.


Eventide Misha on a desk with book, patch cables and a very pretty pen.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

At $599, shouldn’t be low cost. And that jumps to $699 when you want a Eurorack pod and energy adapter. However it’s additionally actually distinctive. If the attract of interval based mostly efficiency or tone row sequencing is what you’re after, properly, that is the one recreation on the town (no less than that I’m conscious of). I’m positive that there are methods of getting an analogous impact utilizing software program, however relating to {hardware}, that is it.

I do want that Eventide made a number of extra concessions to conventional composition, although. I need to have the ability to repeat notes or program passages which might be an arbitrary size, reasonably than be restricted to the variety of notes in a scale. Perhaps these can be added in a future firmware replace, at which level it is perhaps tougher to provide you with causes not to purchase one. For now, Misha is a dear, area of interest software that’s additionally undeniably playful and artistic.

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