Yamaha is a pillar of the electronic music production world, but is perhaps best known for its stage synthesizers and studio monitors. That may change today after the company introduces the SEQTRAK (“seek-track”) groovebox. Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, yes, this is very similar to Yamaha’s decision to have a meeting and go head-to-head with Teenage Engineering. SEQTRAK (RIP my shift key) takes some inspiration from the Swedish firm. OP-Z portable studio and even borrows what the firm prefers gray and orange aesthetic (Although SEQTRAK is also dark grey/black).
SEQTRAK includes a drum machine, sampler, FM and sample-based synthesis and this semi-titled sequencer, a built-in battery (3-4 hours of expected playtime) and a built-in speaker, making it a portable, stand-alone device. . It also comes with a multi-platform (Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android) utility that allows for more visual controls, deeper settings, additional sounds, and even a video visualizer. With wireless and physical MIDI plus built-in USB connectivity, it promises to be an all-purpose idea machine that can only live on your desktop.
The drum section offers seven tracks, each of which can hold six sounds. There are many pre-installed drum patterns that can be tweaked and changed to suit your taste and then inserted into the sequencer section below. Patterns can be up to 128 steps/8 bars long, and the substep function lets you trigger the sound multiple times in the same step to create flourishes and fills to match your own rhythm.
Given the company’s heritage in the synthetic space, it’s no surprise that there’s a strong influence from the DX series here. SEQTRAK’s FM synthesizer has four operators and eight-note polyphony. Meanwhile, the company’s long-running “AWM2” sample-based synthesis engine has been scaled down for SEQTRAK and features a maximum of 128 polyphony. If flat samples are more your thing, then you can accept 16-bit/44.1kHz audio. either using the built-in mic, USB, aux-in or even re-sample your performance.
SEQTRAK’s footprint is slightly taller, if not larger, than the elegant OP-Z. OP-1 Area, but still cuts a sharp silhouette. The step sequencer/keyboard section does benefit from the extra space, though it will be interesting to see how well these keys fare in performance. It’s not unusual to not have a screen in this form factor, and of course the software is there when needed (again, like the OP-Z). Many can remember QY series portable workstations and their spirit lives on here, but with an exciting new design direction. No doubt there will be plenty of comparison videos with its Teen Engineer rivals once it’s launched (no word on when that will happen at the moment).
One of the main differences with the OP-Z is the price. While you can pick one up for $499, it costs $599 when it goes on sale. SEQTRAK, however, is listed for pre-order at retail stores for $399, that’s a pretty solid deal. Of course, there are many differences between them. First, a slightly larger footprint will be attractive or underwhelming depending on your needs and playing style. OP-Z is portable, but very “hunt and hunt” for settings and performance. Voter credentials on SEQTRAK also feel more robust than their Swedish rivals, with 500MB of space rather than the OP-Z’s 24MB (or OP-Z). special KO II examples 64MB for this).
Will it be enough to win the same number and level of fans? Only time will tell. For now, you can register your interest now at SEQTRAK and expect more to be revealed during next week’s NAMM show (we’ll be there!).
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