Over the years, Arturia has established itself as a leading company in the software and hardware instrument worlds, and the company recently unveiled its BeatStep MIDI controller/sequencer combo, and we had the opportunity to take a look at it.
The BeatStep comes with a USB plug, MIDI, CV and Gate outputs, and it can be used standalone or with a computer and iPad. One of the great things about the device is that it’s quite small, meaning that it’s pretty portable. There are a total of 16 drum pads and 16 knobs. The pads are backlit with both red and blue lights, which change depending on the mode of the pads.
The sequencer of the BeatStep is the main feature of the device. Each pad represents one step, whether that be quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes or 32nd notes. The encoders at the top of the device adjust the pitch of each step. One of the nice things about the BeatStep is the fact that users cant adjust pitch on the fly without fear of being out of key, as users can select which key they are in, after which the BeatStep will skip notes that aren’t included. Users can also change modes to select if some notes are rests instead
The fact that the BeatStep is able to transmit MIDI messages through both MIDI and a CV/Gate output is nice, and should allow for extra flexibility. However users will still need to use the included software to correctly program the device.
The BeatStep is a great device, but it’s even better for the price. As far as budget step sequencers go, the BeatStep is one of the best. There are a few compromises, such as the fact that it’s difficult to use the control center with a DAW, but overall Arturia have done a great job.