I distinctly remember the first time I saw the Teenage Engineering OP-1. It was in a Swedish House Mafia music video (One feat. Pharrell), and the entire video was centered around that one gorgeous-looking synth, which the EDM trio even used in their own music production. The song seemed less like a dance track and more like the perfect endorsement of exactly how powerful and incredible the OP-1 synth was. Fourteen glorious years later, Teenage Engineering has absolutely cemented its position as an audio company with a fun streak… and it seems like Yamaha wants a bit of that too. Just last week, the company debuted the SEQTRAK, a funky-looking synth that tries to emulate the casual brilliance of the OP-1.
The SEQTRAK is a compact, affordable, and highly capable battery-powered MIDI synth that lets you play, sample, remix, loop, and manipulate audio from multiple sources, whether it’s from your laptop, an SD card, or even audio samples recorded on the SEQTRAK’s microphone. It’s got two rows of 12 keys each, a set of dedicated knobs for percussions, synths, and sampling, a few more for sound control and effects, and even a bunch of touch-sensitive sliding pads for working with audio envelopes, passes, and filters. Designed for both hobbyists as well as seasoned professionals, the SEQTRAK lets you do everything from jam to compose, and even occasionally deejay. Who knows, maybe you’ll make a cool music video too??
The SEQTRAK’s petite design is a crucial element in its appeal. Its compact size, fitting comfortably in a laptop bag, makes it an ideal companion for music producers who are always on the move. This portability doesn’t come at the cost of functionality; the SEQTRAK is equipped with a built-in speaker and microphone, allowing for impromptu music sessions wherever inspiration strikes.
Despite its compact form, the SEQTRAK doesn’t compromise on sound quality. It houses two versatile sound engines: the Advanced Wave Memory 2 and a four-operator FM engine. The former supports 128-note polyphony, offering a range of authentic sounds from acoustic instruments to synthesizers. Meanwhile, the FM engine can generate synth pads, leads, FM electric pianos, and more. These features are packed into a unit that sports a playful design, with an orange-gray variant reminiscent of LEGO bricks… or perhaps an unofficial hat-tip to Teenage Engineering with a playfully-minimalist design that we’ve come to expect from the Swedish design studio.
The SEQTRAK is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, catering to both beginners and seasoned music producers. Its one-to-one interface allows producers to take control of their music, effectively turning them into their own DJs. Additionally, the SEQTRAK includes a station sequencer for creating seamless compositions and arrangements. The machine’s station library, with over 2,000 presets of professionally crafted tunes, is a significant resource for experimenting with different styles and sounds.
Yamaha has enhanced the SEQTRAK’s functionality with streamlined connectivity options. The dedicated SEQTRAK app allows users to shape their sound with various editing features. The app also supports adding supplemental content, providing a more comprehensive music production experience. Additionally, Bluetooth MIDI and Wi-Fi functionality are included for wireless connections, further enhancing the unit’s flexibility.
The $599 Yamaha SEQTRAK represents a significant step in the evolution of portable music production. It combines quality sound, intuitive design, and connectivity in a package that’s both affordable and appealing to a wide range of music enthusiasts. Whether you’re a budding producer or a seasoned pro, the SEQTRAK seems to have something for everyone. And at a price that doesn’t hit a sour note, it’s poised to be a hit in the electronic music community. So, if you’ve ever dreamt of laying down tracks on a flight, sequencing synths at a café, or having a rave in your room, Yamaha’s SEQTRAK might just be your ticket to on-the-go musical nirvana.