Obliq Museum: genoQs machines Octopus MIDI Sequencer

The genoQs machines Octopus MIDI sequencer is the all-time KING of step sequencers IMHO.  This hardware-only interface will boggle the mind of any laptop-jock, but for those like me that are into hardware this is probably one of the best sequencers that will ever be made.  This German engineered musical instrument controller is actually quite simple, ergonomic and elegant and packs a ton of power into your studio!  Any feature is less than two clicks away!

My only gripe is I’m not in my studio often enough and I tend to forget some of the steps for functionality; for example I always seem to hit the manual to remember how to put it in MIDI slave mode.  That is what cheat sheets are for.  If you have any handy cheat sheet references, leave a comment as I’d love to include them here.  I’ll upload mine soon.

Black Sea Octopus

The rare, limited edition genoQs machines Octopus Black Sea edition (#8 of 20) – King of MIDI Sequencers

I was so excited when I read about the release of this MIDI controller I contacted the manufacturer in Germany and put one on order.  Contractually I had to purchase through their US distributor but mine was the first one shipped to the USA.  A while later I had the chance to acquire the ultra cool and very limited Black Sea edition.  Although this is a beautiful edition, I ended up trading it and continued to use the original “Classic Legacy” edition in my studio.

Early in 2011 genoqs machines posted to the internet they were going to be going out of business; although they said they’d keep up their website and offer limited support.  Fast forward three years and their website is down and manuals and OS versions are hard to come by.  Often is the case with boutique equipment; I have no clue how many they sold, but with the several limited edition runs I suspect there are 200+ that made it to studios around the world!

UPDATE:  On 2/13/15 on the genoQs_users Yahoo Groups list it was announced that genoQs Mahines have put back up their website at http://www.genoqs.com.  This contains all the latest and greatest information that was there before.  I’ll continue to keep these things up on my site, but great news!

genoQs machines octopus

genoQs machines Octopus (now called Classic Legacy edition) – First one imported into the USA – the brains in my studio (even when I’m there!)

I decided I would post what documentation and operating systems I had to the internet as these are scattered around the web (at best), and may become hard to find in the future.  If you have other documentation that I don’t or OS versions and would like to add to this archive, I’d be glad to include it here, please contact me if that is the case.

Here are a couple of pretty useless videos i shot when I had both the Original and Black Sea versions; more eye candy than anything useful.

Here are some of the files, again if you have files that I don’t, I’d love to improve this archive so please let me know what you have!

Operating Systems

Manuals

  • Legacy v1.62
  • Black Sea v1.62 (NOTE:  The Black Sea and other editions have exactly the same functionality, just different colored LEDs that are described accurately in this version.)

Other

Tutorials

Links

  • Yahoo Groups (lots of documentation and updated OS for Octopus and Nemo)

Sequential Circuits Pro One – Alive after 20 years!

It is time, finally, to repair my Sequential Circuits Pro One synthesizer!  Back in “the day” when I was picking up analog gear like it was trash to the new “digital synth craze” I was able to procure this for $35 (it was DOA). I have purchased 2 CPU chips over the years but they were DOA as well. Finally, I ran across this new Turbo-CPU chip from Music Technologies Group. I have yet to install the MIDI part, but the SCI is working like new!

What a great piece of gear; I HIGHLY recommend MTG and appreciate his passion for keeping old synths alive!

Getting ready to replace the chip:

Before/After of the CPU:

The Pro One after it was 100% working!!!

Some cool etchings on the board! Anyone know what the bottom one says?

Here is a quick drone track I did immediately after it was working. The first time this machine has talked in at least 20 years!
Sequentialstein by davealex

Selling (or trade?) my analog sequencer genoQs Octopus

This is the king of Analog-style analog sequencers, it is VERY rare and powerful! I actually ended up with two of these amazing sequencers; and that is simply more sequencing power than I need and I’m looking to sell or perhaps a trade is more what I’m looking at. If you are interested, let’s talk!

genoQs Octopus LegacyThis genoQs Octopus Classic Legacy is one of the first ones to make it into the United States. This German sequencer is absolutely beautiful in hardwood and in great condition; its built like a tank! For those unfamiliar with this hardware sequencer, it is currently only a MIDI sequencer but I suspect since the operating system is Open Source (thank you genoQs!!!) that there could be an OSC version coming…we’ll have to wait and see on that.

The sequencer may look intimidating at first; but after you get your head around the workflow it actually is very musical and easy to create great sequences with. It has 2 MIDI ports (A & B) with an In/Out for 16-channels on each port. The circle area controls the transport, chording, transpose, bpm and other various sequencer controls. The rectangle grid are the sequencer tracks. 10 rows of 16 steps that can be expanded to a single track of 160 steps, or any number of tracks/step combinations that you desire. Completely configurable. One way I like to use this is set up a page with each of the 10 rows being a different MIDI note number. Then you can craft your sequence across the 16 steps and always be in key (one thing I didn’t like about older analog sequencers without quantization). Of course, this is just one way to craft patches with the sequencer; there are many many more!

Another cool feature of this sequencer is it is a great hardware sequencer for your software/laptop setup. You can control Ableton, Logic or other sequencing packages and configure all the knobs (which have many banks to extend the amount of knobs) to be real-time control of whatever parameters of your soft synths! So you are in full control of your soft synths with an analog-style sequencer; with plenty of knobs to change parameters in real-time! This is another amazing way to utilize the sequencer.

If you are familiar with Elektron style sequencers and parameter locks; the Octopus can do this too. On any given step of your sequence you can adjust anything of that step (note, length, start, etc etc etc etc); whether you’re hooked to a laptop, keyboard, drum machine, sampler or whatever. The object-based design makes the user interface powerful and you’ll be creating amazing patterns quickly. There are also really great chording features with a “strum” mode and transpose is powerful in performance too. For editing, you can play around in a temporary “buffer” and if you want to revert it is a simply click away! The sequencer then lets you chain with some really sweet chaining features.

You can record from an external keyboard/sequencer/computer to load your sequences. I was able to make it control surround sound using MIDI CCs which is really sweet by recording surround control from my iPad! I suspect with a little work you can control all your Christmas lights with this thing too…it has been a dream of mine to do; but I’m not a Christmas lights kind of guy…

There are 3 general modes, the Grid mode which is mainly used for control of patterns; double-clicking on a button in the grid drills you into one of the 160 pages which is full of your tracks with sequences. You can adjust, create, delete, and generally control your sequences from this mode. However, double-clicking on a button in Page Mode takes you into the step mode on that step where you can see and adjust all the detailed parameters of a given step. The Esc button takes you back out a level; so everything this can do is basically one or two button presses away. Note there is no LED or computer screen; this is a good thing with this sequencer!!! Again, once you understand the paradigm it is a simple and powerful sequencer! I’ve demoed this for very sophisticated software sequencing musicians before and they wanted to write a Max/Ableton patch to give a computer-based representation of the sequencer…I just laugh as they obviously don’t “get it” and are making things way way too complicated!

If you’re familiar with the classic Latronic Notron sequencer, this also has the concept of hyper steps; I believe the Notron was the initial inspiration for this sequencer.

I recommend you visit YouTube and do a search as there are some great instructional how-to videos that will get you up to speed very quickly!
first… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzpLp0VNEkE&feature=related
then this one… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiK6SCRRMIw&feature=related

This isn’t an iPad or computer; it is hardware, so you will need to take a little time with the manual and/or these how-to videos but I was able to get great music out of this within an hour of opening the box! Heck, the first thing I did was drag your hand across the grid and then sit in awe for minutes on how amazing this sequencer is! Once you have the basics down the unit becomes intuitive and very quick to create music and sequences! For me, only one other manufacturer of gear has ever been as creative (Elektron Sweden).

The unit is in great condition and has only been out of the house once–I used it at an smoke-free venue for an electronic music festival. Laptop jocks take note…with this thing in front of you, there will be a line of people watching you memorized by all the blinking 3 color LED lights, silver ball bearing buttons and custom made brushed bolt/knobs. It really adds a dimension to a live show, especially if you are mainly a laptop jock–it’s the perfect companion (I think watching laptop jocks perform is rather boring; add an Octopus and your audience will be transformed!). There is nothing better, however, than having the Octopus sitting next to a modular analog synthesizer; it’s the perfect compliment for any studio or live rig!

So, why am I getting rid of it you ask? I acquired a limited edition version (Black Sea) and that is just more eye candy (like that is needed as this is already ultra-eye candy, but I’m a guy and a gear nerd, so I had to have it)! I’m actually torn as I really like the Classic Legacy version (this one I’m offering) too; it sits beautifully in my studio that has several synths with wood sides. I guess I _may_ be able to be talked out of the Black Sea version instead; but that will require a lot more in trade/cash to persuade me!

I’m looking for analog polyphonic (or perhaps monophonic?) keyboard synthesizers…Dave Smith, Moog, Alesis A6 that type of thing; but am open to suggestions.

Shoot me an email if you have interest in any kind of trade or cash offers and we can go from there.