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midiSTEPs – The new MIDI step sequencer from developer Art Kerns

After releasing midiLFOs in July of 2015 (review here), developer Art Kerns has released the another in his series of MIDI apps, called midiSTEPs. As the name implies, this app is a step sequencer app that sends MIDI out to your iOS and external synths. Check out the video below.

As you can see from the video, midiSTEPs has a super easy interface. Simply enter the notes on the virtual keyboard, and they appear in the sequence. The interface defaults to a 16-step sequence, but you don't have to enter all of those notes, of course. The default is that the sequence will loop for as many notes as you've entered. If 16 steps isn't enough, you can go all the way up to 64 notes per pattern. And with 16 patterns to save to, that's a lot of notes.

midiSTEPs can also control up to 4 synths at the same time, which is a great feature. If you have a powerful enough device, you can get some complex tracks running here. The MIDI implementation here is very easy to use, even for those of us who are not as MIDI-savvy as others. I had no trouble connecting to other iOS synths, and hooking midiSTEPs up to my KORG MS-20 Mini and Arturia MicroBrute was a snap.

If you're like me, you've probably already got loads of sequencer apps on your device. Heck, this same developer already released the free Little MIDI Machine app years ago (which was my first sequencer app). While the idea of a step sequencer is easy in theory, the user satisfaction of those sequencers is up to the user's preferences. I think Thesys is probably the most powerful sequencer available, yet I NEVER use it, because it gives me a headache. It's too much for my needs. I tend to work in simpler terms, so an app like midiSTEPs is right up my alley.

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Where midiSTEPs does stand out is how easy it is to figure out how to use. As has been one of my testing benchmarks lately, I had my daughters (ages 7 and 5) give it a little spin. Right away they could figure out how note entry worked, and after a little prompting, they were creating some unique tracks. It really is that easy to use. However, if you need a little extra help, the manual for the app is outstanding, walking you through each feature.

Features like note ties and accents are here, as well as some deeper features, like sending CC's per note. Admittedly I haven't gotten too far down that rabbit hole just yet, but it's nice to know it's there. You can even program chords per step, which is sweet.

I've gotten more into hardware synths this year, having purchased the previously mentioned MS-20 Mini and Microbrute. While the Microbrute has it's own sequencer, I'll likely use midiSTEPs instead. The visualization of the pattern, plus the availability to change notes on the fly, add ties and accents, and have up to 16 patterns makes it far more powerful than the built-in sequencer on the MicroBrute. I keep hovering over the 'buy' button for the KORG SQ-1 to sequence my MS-20 Mini, but I think midiSTEPs has just saved me a few bucks there.

Much like his other app midiLFOs, developer Art Kerns has delivered a simple but powerful MIDI utility app. The app is currently iPad only, which I'm guessing might disappoint some of you. This would be a great app to have on an iPhone, so I'm hoping that's something that could come down the line. There simply aren't very many good sequencer apps available for iPhone (Xynthesizr or Little MIDI Machine are the only ones that come to mind currently). Other than that, I'd strongly suggest midiSTEPs for anyone looking for a step sequencer that provides a lot of power in a deceptively simple package.

If you're thinking about buying midiSTEPs, please consider clicking through our App Store link below. Thanks!

[app 1001532047]

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