Eventide Misha overview: A playful sequencer that claims to hell with custom

Standalone sequencers are one thing of a luxurious within the trendy music-making panorama. As of late, even the most affordable synths and samplers have no less than rudimentary sequencing capabilities. And whereas many MIDI controllers have on-board sequencers, they’re often meant to again up stay efficiency relatively than substitute it. In fact, there are just a few exceptions to this rule (Arturia’s BeatStep Professional stays extremely widespread even eight years after it was launched), however you must begin wanting into the advanced and sometimes intimidating world of Eurorack and modular synths to often come throughout units whose sole function is enjoying again strings of notes for you.

Eventide, finest recognized for its high-end results models just like the and TimeFactor, shouldn’t be an apparent candidate to delve into the world of Eurorack. However that’s precisely what it determined to do with , its first sequencer. Now, no person would have blamed the corporate for enjoying it secure with its first foray into the house. As an alternative, it determined to chuck the same old conventions out the window and make one thing distinctive that’s equal components enjoyable and confounding, particularly should you’re deeply entrenched in conventional music principle and keyboard-based composition.

I’m not an adept pianist. Nor do I’ve a very deep information of Western music principle. And even nonetheless I initially struggled to wrap my head round Misha. That’s as a result of the buttons on its face don’t play particular notes. As an alternative they play intervals associated to the final observe performed inside a scale.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

The simplest technique to clarify that is by an instance. Let’s say we’ve set the Misha to play a C Main scale. Under the display screen, which reveals you the important thing and scale, are 9 coloured buttons labeled -4 by +4. For those who press 0, you get a C proper off the bat, as a result of that’s the root observe and it’s zero intervals away from the beginning of the size. For those who press the +1, as an alternative of getting a C#, you’ll get a D, the subsequent observe within the scale.

To this point, so good, proper? However should you press the +1 once more, you gained’t get a second D, and as an alternative you’ll get an E, one interval larger within the scale. To get a second D observe, you’d must press 0. And should you needed to return to C, you’d must press -1. It’s not sophisticated essentially, nevertheless it breaks a fundamental expectation that any musician would understandably have – that should you do the identical factor, it’s best to get the identical observe. If I play the fifth fret on the low E of a guitar, I anticipate to get an A each time. If the notes continued to climb by 5 steps, with out shifting my arms, I might have a a lot tougher time enjoying something.

However that is the core idea of the Misha. It’s not constructed round absolute pitch and as an alternative forces you to compose based mostly purely on the relationships between notes in a scale. If that concept sends you working for the hills, then this in all probability isn’t the sequencer for you. If, nevertheless, you’re like me and intrigued by Misha’s distinctive method, grasp round and let’s dig a little bit deeper.

{Hardware}

Eventide Misha MIDI in and out jacls

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Earlier than we go too far down the rabbit gap of scales, modes and sequencing, let’s take a step again and take a look at the {hardware}. Whereas my unit got here with a devoted pod for housing the Misha, it’s ostensibly designed to stay in a Eurorack setup. At 28hp broad, it’s a comparatively massive module, nevertheless it’s fairly shallow at simply 19mm deep, that means it ought to slot in even essentially the most moveable skiffs. That width is type of crucial, although. The 17 buttons, two knobs, microUSB port, microSD slot and and 16 ¼” jacks for MIDI, audio and management voltage would really feel impossibly cramped on something smaller.

The format feels simply spacious sufficient to be viable as a efficiency instrument, with out fully dominating a smaller Eurorack setup. The 9 interval buttons are well-spaced, the display screen is massive sufficient to ship all the required data and the knobs are sturdy. My solely problem hardware-wise is that the shift buttons have a hole spring to them that feels a bit low cost and so they make an audible popping sound.

The 12 CV (management voltage) jacks are break up throughout three tracks, with three pairs of gate and CV outputs in addition to two inputs every. This provides you an honest quantity of choices for controlling a number of synth voices or modulating the Misha’s sequencer. There’s additionally MIDI out and in jacks, in addition to stereo out and a clock in. The microUSB port can be related to a pc keyboard to be used with customized keymappings. You’re not gonna be wanting for connectivity choices right here.

Eventide branding and CV jacks on the Misha.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

The display screen within the useless middle offers you all the data you want about navigating Misha’s interface, although it could actually take a bit to determine the way it all works. I extremely advocate studying the handbook. It’s not lengthy and may prevent plenty of time and frustration. When you come to grips with how the Misha works, it’s virtually deceptively easy. Actually, I regularly felt like I needed to be lacking one thing. That, for positive, this module, with all its buttons and knobs and 1-inch display screen, was hiding options from me.

Positively take time to customise these 4 person buttons, although. Whereas the default capabilities of up and down one octave (button one and two), and up and down one chromatic step (three and 4) are helpful sufficient, they will provide a number of efficiency energy when mapped to fulfill your particular wants. Personally I like swapping in “transfer pitch” for the chromatic steps, and setting it to a fifth. That provides a bit extra spice than a easy octave, however typically nonetheless works effectively musically with no matter else is occurring.

One last item value noting is that Misha has a built-in oscillator which you can activate within the settings. However, past offering a easy sound supply for auditioning melodies and usually getting a really feel for the sequencer, it’s virtually ineffective. Actually, it’s not even talked about within the handbook.

Composing

Eventide Misha set to play A Major scale.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Misha ships with starting from fundamental (Melodic Minor), to unique (Enigmatic), to microtonal madness (48 observe equal-tempered). And, if one way or the other that’s not sufficient for you, there are 100 person slots for loading your personal scala information. Between the assorted scales, modes and keys, the musical choices baked into Misha are seemingly limitless.

Essentially the most speedy technique to begin exploring them is to pick a scale after which begin urgent the interval buttons. That is truly a fairly satisfying method of enjoying an instrument, too. I don’t have an enormous rig to stay this in, however I paired it with , in addition to the and Elektron Digitone all to fantastic impact.

This isn’t the kind of course of you go to while you need to translate a melody you hear in your head to the true world. Maybe somebody might prepare themselves to suppose in intervals to make use of Misha that method, however it could take a number of work. As an alternative this will create comfortable accidents. You simply must pay particularly shut consideration to what you play to be sure you can recreate something that catches your ear.

Now, sure, there are methods to lock a controller to a selected scale, just like the Misha – mainly making it unattainable to play out of tune. However there’s one thing about enjoying intervals as an alternative of notes that feels each intuitive and shocking, in a method a keyboard by no means might. Crafting melodies turns into a rewarding exploration the place I’m mainly compelled to cede management, relatively than a irritating try to make use of my restricted principle information to show concepts into actuality.

Scale knob on the Eventide Misha.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

One of many few issues I’ve to resolve beforehand is what number of octaves I need to mess around in. Setting the observe vary to 2 octaves, for example, means, as soon as I climb past that cap, the intervals will swing again round to 2 octaves beneath my root observe. It’s in all probability finest to attempt to keep away from going all the way in which round, although. Leaping down two octaves can sound a tad harsh.

The octave limits additionally apply when utilizing Misha as a sequencer, so you may play a melody line unfold out over 4 octaves value of a scale earlier than beginning over. The sequencer, although, is the place issues get a little bit dicey. It’s constructed across the concept of a “,” a tool utilized in serial composition the place all twelve notes within the chromatic scale are performed, with out repetition, to create a motif. The innovation right here is that this idea of a tone row may be utilized to any scale, not only a twelve-note, Western chromatic one.

This methodology of composition positively falls on the experimental finish of the spectrum and with sure scales it could actually come off a little bit awkward. This additionally implies that the variety of steps in a sequence relies on which scale you’re utilizing. A single octave sequence in a minor pentatonic scale will solely have 5 steps, whereas two octaves of the quarter tone scale could have 48 steps. Whereas I recognize the novel method, a part of me actually needs that the tone row was a mode you may activate and off. I’d like to see Eventide add a extra conventional sequencer by a firmware replace the place notes may be repeated.

There may be additionally a chord mode that permits you to ship three-notes out over MIDI or divided between the three CV outs. If in case you have a Eurorack setup with a number of synth voices, this can be a nice technique to create some complexity and variation, particularly when you have different utilities that may additional modulate what the Misha places out. For instance, you may ship the foundation observe by a easy arpeggiator for the bass whereas utilizing the opposite notes to play leads or pads. Sadly, there is no such thing as a onboard technique to sequence chord voicings. You may manually change it whereas performing, nevertheless it’s type of a ache. Alternatively, you may use one other sequencer to ship MIDI CCs to Misha and alter chord voicings, which looks like overkill.

Diagram showing the default MIDI mapping for the Eventide Misha

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

Simply one of the best ways to make use of the Misha is as a efficiency instrument paired with an exterior MIDI controller. Right here, the white keys provide you with a fair broader vary of interval jumps (9 in both direct) in addition to fast entry to the foundation observe, whereas the black keys can repeat a observe, play a random scale observe or transfer chromatically up and down one step at a time. And, after all, you may nonetheless hit the 4 person programmable buttons on the entrance of the module and even map different notes on the keyboard to place extra variables at your fingertips.

Wrap-up

Eventide Misha on a desk with book, patch cables and a very pretty pen.

Terrence O’Brien / Engadget

At $599, shouldn’t be low cost. And that jumps to $699 should you want a Eurorack pod and energy adapter. Nevertheless it’s additionally really distinctive. If the attract of interval based mostly efficiency or tone row sequencing is what you’re after, effectively, that is the one sport on the town (no less than that I’m conscious of). I’m positive that there are methods of getting an analogous impact utilizing software program, however in the case of {hardware}, that is it.

I do want that Eventide made just a few extra concessions to conventional composition, although. I need to have the ability to repeat notes or program passages which can be an arbitrary size, relatively than be restricted to the variety of notes in a scale. Possibly these will probably be added in a future firmware replace, at which level it is perhaps tougher to give you causes not to purchase one. For now, Misha is a dear, area of interest instrument that’s additionally undeniably playful and inventive.

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