NAMM 2014: If Arturia's new BeatStep's build quality matches its looks, this smart little hybrid could make a splash. Half pad controller, half sequencer, it will hit shelves with an RRP/MSRP of $129/€99.
Arturia BeatStep press release
Arturia's breakthrough BeatStep offers a new level of functionality and performance features in a powerful, portable pad- and encoder-laden USB Class-compliant controller at a hitherto unheard of price-to-performance ratio. Taken at face value, triggering audio clips within powerful, flexible software environments such as Ableton Live or playing drum parts in conjunction with the likes of FXpansion BFD or Toontrack EZdrummer is as easy as exercising your trigger fingers!
Users can comfortably use BeatStep's 16 sensitively-spaced, velocity- and pressure-sensitive pads to create dynamic percussion performances. Performing onstage? Well, when working in CNTRL (controller) mode those pads backlit LEDs are brightly lit in red — perfect for overcoming far from ideal lighting conditions that are typically associated with onstage operation. Actually, this also assists with making studio-based beats easier on the eye, too.
But beyond that trigger-happy, percussion-friendly facade lies a wealth of flexible features for creating mind-blowing music. Switch to SEQ (sequencer) mode and those backlit LEDs become blue for instant visual confirmation of the mode change. The pads now perform a different function, too. Each one represents a step in a 16-step sequence while pitch adjustments for each step is available via BeatStep's 16 encoders. Up to 16 sequence pattens can be conveniently stored for instant recall. Elsewhere, encoder-enabled scale modes, sequencer playback modes, and time division functions allow for realtime performance changes.
Whatever your connectivity preferences may be, Arturia has helped keep BeatStep one step ahead of the competition by thoughtfully providing MIDI, USB, and CV/GATE options. Users can comfortably drive anything from software instruments to suitably-equipped hardware, including instruments like Arturia's own super-selling MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer and MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer. Supporting BeatStep's super-slender form factor, a custom breakout cable can be used to drive standard MIDI gear. Freedom of choice is always a wonderful thing — even more so when it comes to step sequencing!
Speaking of connectivity, when used with an Apple iPad and Camera Connection Kit combo, BeatStep becomes one of the most flexible iPad app controllers around as well. Indeed, its relatively diminutive dimensions make these desirable devices the perfect production partnership. After all, freedom to travel is also a wonderful thing — especially when carrying around a production-ready BeatStep-carrying backpack that is far from backbreaking and also unlikely to break the bank!
Those wishing to use BeatStep as a general purpose control surface are also well and truly catered for since its pads can be configured to be MIDI CC buttons or assigned to send Program and Bank Change messages as well as note messages. The transport buttons can be MMC controls or MIDI CC to start and stop any connected DAW. With 16 encoders, 16 pads/buttons, and 16 preset memories at your command, you can come up with multiple ways to use BeatStep in any live or studio environment.
Put simply, your wish is BeatStep's command. Controlling and step sequencing is fun and flexible — and all available at an amazing asking price with Arturia's breakthrough BeatStep. To see one is to want one — which is exactly why Arturia has seen fit to include a Kensington Lock to keep your BeatStep secure from prying eyes (and hands)! However, you can walk away with one from your local authorised Arturia dealer for only €129.00 USD/$99.00 EUR (MSRP)... soon.