Sequential Circuits Studio 440

DRUM MACHINE  |  BACK

sequential circuits studio 440Sequential Circuits Inc. (SCI) was a California-based synthesizer company that was founded in the early 1970s by Dave Smith and sold to Yamaha Corporation in 1987. The company, throughout its lifespan, pioneered many groundbreaking technologies and design principles that are often taken for granted in today's greatly enhanced world of music technology. Sequential Circuits was also pivotal in the planning, design, and support of 1982's groundbreaking music technology, MIDI.

The last Sequential Circuits instrument commercially released was the Studio 440 in 1986. This $5000 unit looked like a drum machine and combined a sampler and a sequencer to make a music composition workstation. This preceded the release of the popular Akai MPC sequencers by several years, which were designed by Roger Linn, a good friend and frequent collaborator of Dave Smith.

The Studio 440 is a sophisticated and fully programmable twelve bit linear digital sampler, a multi-track MIDI sequencer with a 50,000 note capacity, an audiovisual post production tool that reads and writes SMPTE, and a powerful drum machine featuring velocity and pressure sensing pads. The Studio 440 is easy to use and provides more capability in a smaller package than any other system at any cost.

The STUDIO 440 sequencer controls parallel the transport controls of a typical multi-track tape recorder, emphasizing ease of use. It operates in MIDI Modes L 3, and Multi-mode (an enhanced Mode 4), and records up to 50,000 notes with as many as 999 measures per sequence, 99 sequences, a song build function, manual tap or programmable tempo control, single step and real-time recording. Its two independent MIDI outputs can control up to 32 channels of external MIDI equipment. Each of the sequencer's eight tracks can hold any combination of internal sound events and external MIDI events. And for ease of editing, all MIDI channel information is retained per track.

If you combine a high quality digital sampler featuring individual outputs with a 50,000 note SMPTE/MIDI based sequencer, all you need to create a superior drum machine is velocity and pressure-sensitive pads. The 440 has eight, organizing its 32 sound samples into four kits and four banks over these eight sound pads. In addition, every sound has two sets of sound parameters that include sample play back direction, pitch-bend envelope, loop types, loop points, start point modulation, and the familiar VCA VCF controls.

The four programmable kits allow for infinite variations of the same sound by editing only the performance parameters. Performance parameters can be assigned to any pad and include sound number, pan, pitch, volume, and a choice of one of the two sound parameter sets. These performance parameters are easily edited in real-time, and settings for all eight pads can be stored and recalled instantaneously from any one of the kits. And since the alternate parameters can have individual start/end points for each sound, there are actually up to 64 "different sounds" available at one time.

Separate VCF and VCA per voice. VCF is lowpass 24 dB/octave.

Outputs: Each (up to 32) sample assignable to any of the 8 outputs; or, assignable to any one of 32 pan (stereo placement) positions. Stereo placement can also be a function relative to the sample's pitch.

Envelopes: ASR type, 2 per voice (VCF, VCA) DIR type, 1 per voice (BEND)

VCA attack can be exponential (positive values) or reverse exponential (negative values-typical of reverse sounds).

Attack and Release times can each be fixed from 0 to 120 seconds.

Sustain time can be fixed (from 8 milliseconds to 120 seconds), or GATED, which sustains the sound for as long as the pad is held.

Special BEND envelope to create pitch sweeps upwards or downwards from the original pitch. Can be set to occur immediately or upon release of a pad.

All envelope settings (attack rate, sustain time, release rate, and bend depth/rate) can be set to track pitch and velocity.

MAPPING OF SOUNDS: Sound mapping is done per MIDI channel and is over an 88 key range, from low A (A 1 ) to High C (C7). All samples can be mapped to one MIDI channel, or distributed throughout the 16 MIDI channels.

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