Seq and Ye Shall Find


By Steve Oppenheimer

(September 2005)

When we discuss digital audio sequencers in EM, we usually focus on the professional-level programs, such as Cakewalk Sonar, Steinberg Cubase and Nuendo, Mark of the Unicorn Digital Performer, Digidesign Pro Tools, and Apple Logic Pro. We do cover lower-priced digital audio sequencers, but not as often as we do the higher-end programs. This month, though, we decided to give credit where credit is due, and we produced a cover story dedicated to budget digital audio sequencers (see “Sequencing on a Shoestring” on p. 50).

At one time, low-cost sequencers were so stripped down compared with professional programs that they were useful only for beginners who were thrilled just to be able to record a few MIDI tracks. Today, however, many budget programs offer far more capabilities than you might expect. True, budget programs still don’t offer the deep feature sets found in professional programs. But the more features that a developer crams into a professional program, the more complex its user interface becomes. And if your project doesn’t require pro-level features, why wade through a complex user interface to find the basic features you need?

The first time I launched Apple GarageBand 1.0, I recorded all the final tracks I needed for a song demo within one hour. Admittedly, I knew the parts, and I wasn’t concerned about capturing a perfect lead vocal. And I used the bundled drum loops to whip out a simple drum part. The bottom line, though, is that I spent exactly zero minutes learning the program, and I easily found all of the features I needed. I learned that it’s much easier to use a basic rather than a professional program to knock out a simple piece or as a musical scratch pad.

So if you’re a serious sequencer user, don’t overlook these low-cost wonders. It would be a mistake to assume that just because they’re inexpensive, they aren’t of value. And if you are just getting into digital audio sequencers, check out the budget software first. One of these programs might be all you need for a long time to come.


The EM staff recently learned that our old friend Dr. Bob Moog has an inoperable brain tumor of the type known as a glioblastoma multiforme or GBM. As virtually all EM readers surely know, the good doctor has legions of friends and admirers worldwide. As a result, his family cannot possibly deal with direct personal mail or phone calls.

Fortunately, the Moogs have set up a CaringBridge Web site at There, you can get accurate and up-to-date information from Bob’s wife, Ileana, about how he is doing, and you can leave messages of sympathy, thanks, prayer, and encouragement. Every electronic musician owes a huge debt to Bob Moog, and there’s no finer man in our industry than he. I ask every EM reader to please send healing thoughts and prayers his way.