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B-Step Sequencer 2 Pro – A deep sequencer from Monoplugs

Monoplugs has recently released their new app, B-Step Sequencer 2 Pro. This new version of their sequencer keeps a lot of the previous version in tact, but adds some great features.

If you're a fan of step sequencers, you likely already have a few on your iPad. As I'm both a fan of step sequencers, and I have terrible rhythm, I've come to really utilize step sequencers more and more. So when I heard about this sequencer, I knew I had to check it out.

With B-Step 2 (which is how I'll refer to it throughout the rest of this review) you've got a very deep step sequencer that works very well with iOS apps via virtual MIDI. A selling point of the app is also how well it works with external hardware, but seeing as I don't have any physical synths (yet-resist the urge!), I've only used it within my iPad. Set up of virtual MIDI is a breeze. A few steps, and you're on your way here. Open your virtual synth, open B-Step 2, and select the connection symbol right below the gears, and it's go time.

I'll admit that at first the interface and the functionality took me a few tries to figure out what does what. Once you learn that the controls on the right hand side are global controls, and you get comfortable with the individual step controls, this thing is a breeze. As I just dove in head-first without reading any of the help screens or the manual, it took me a few minutes to suss this out. As always, the manual is your friend.

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Running across the top portion of the app is the 16-step sequencer, with four rows available. Here's is where you select the notes (or chords) that will be in your pattern. While this looks simple enough, you can dive further into this by selecting different chords for each step.

There is a whole lot going on with this app, and I know I need a lot more time spent utilizing it to its full capacity. Each step can be manipulated in so many different ways. The step duration can be adjusted to as short as 1/96 . Step velocity can be adjusted. If you want, throw in some delay per step. Another sweet touch - step probability. How about step repeats? Ratcheting. Reverse. MIDI clock. The beauty of this app is how much control you have over each individual step. This can be daunting at first, and admittedly I am still a bit overwhelmed, but in a "kid-in-a-candy-store" kind of way.

What I found best was to find a good lead synth sound with a short attack and not much release, so I had control over the controls at first. Plugging in a simple pattern at first, and then messing about with the duration was the next step. Once I found a comfortable groove, I dove into the chord set section. Found by tapping on the pencil icon next to the "chord set" in the global controls, this brings up the option to program six chords based on certain scales. These in turn can be used within your sequence. It's difficult to explain, but you'll get it. I did, and I am nobody's definition of a genius.

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There are so many nice features with the UI as well. If you've chosen a certain step duration that you want to use throughout the 16 step sequence, and simple 'hold-and-drag' across the steps will copy/paste it right onto the other features. I mentioned the global controls earlier, and these I suspect could be used to great effect during a live performance. By using the fairly large sized dials on the right side of the screen, you can easily change either your octave or the key that the entire song is in.

B-Step 2 has a lot to like. I mentioned earlier that I stumbled a bit with some of the features, and I was able to get most of my answers through the help section. It opens up in your browser, and I've always preferred an in-app manual to a separate browser page, but it works here. A few things I had to figure out on my own, but that also presented me with the opportunity to learn some new things in the process.

So, let's say you've read all this, and you're thinking "Sean, you've used over 700 words so far, and I still don't think you've fully explained the app!" Fair enough! I admit, Shakespeare I am not! Here's where Monoplugs has come through for you. There is a lite version available for free in the App Store. It is a great way to try out the app before you buy the Pro version. Now you're probably thinking "Sean, you could have said that at the beginning of the review, and saved me some time!" Fair enough!

Being a life-long guitarist, step sequencers have been a bit of a revelation for me. I really enjoy plugging in a sequence, and then running through the stacks of virtual synths that I have, finding the "right" sound. If I need to break out of a rut, I usually turn to a step sequencer to help. B-Step 2 is a great option, as there are so many ways that you can alter a simple 16-step sequence, chaining it together with 16 more sequences, with step repeats and different step durations and probabilities (I could go on and on). Don't be fooled thinking that this is "only" a 16-step sequencer.

There are a lot of good step sequencers available for us iOS musicians today. I am an unabashed fan of midiSequencer, and Xynthesizr is top-notch as well. I would argue that you can never have too many sequencers, as each of these has their own strengths. There are some good YouTube videos available right now for B-Step Sequencer 2 Pro (I especially suggest you check out the demo by Alba Ecstasy!), and with the aforementioned lite version in the App Store, it would be worth your time to give it a spin.

If you're thinking about buying B-Step Sequencer 2 Pro, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

[app 854779961]

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