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5 of the best DAW-less machines

Free yourself from the screen and jam out with this hands-on kit instead

  • Gavin Herlihy
  • 13 August 2019

1
Toraiz Squid

A 16-track sequencer which can manipulate sequences on the fly, with connectivity for midi, CV/gate and din/sync devices. With lots of features, it blows the cheaper Beatstep Pro out of the water but there’s no Song Mode, only Pattern Sets; hopefully this will be fixed in an update.

£519, buy here.

2
Akai Professional Force

The MPC is one of hip hop and house’s most revered sampler/sequencers. Akai’s follow-up is a self-contained studio environment running its own OS on a powerful multi-core processor, no laptop required. For a cheaper alternative, try the MPC Live.

£1,290, buy here.

3
Elektron Octatrack MKII

This eight-track sampler and sequencer, FX unit and mixer is one of the most creative routes to DAW-less production out there. While its sequencer is limited next to other kit on this list, its skill with samples and midi devices has made it an industry staple.

£1,037, buy here.

4
Cirklon Sequentix 2

For artists like Villalobos or Aphex Twin, the Sequentix has long been considered a best-in-class sequencer. If you have a lot of gear to sequence, the Sequentix has multiple outputs, impeccable timing and is easy to use. There’s a basic midi-friendly one or a dearer CV/gate option.

£1,339/£1,612, sequentix.com

5
Polyend Seq

For those who want to see what’s happening in a song, the Seq is a great (if pricey) choice. With eight tracks of 32 steps laid out on a grid, it excels at long sequences – great for live jams or those struggling to break out of a 16-step loop. There’s 8-track polyphony, 256 pattern storage, but no CV/gate IO.

£835.99, buy here.

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