OP-Z step sequencer: how many steps are possible?

I’m new this community and to the OP-Z, the latter of which I’ve gotten along with it quite well so far. One question, though, related to the limits of the step sequencer on the OP-Z that I’m hoping the community can answer:

I’ve sequenced certain instruments (a synth here and a drum track there) up to four bars (64 steps) using the step length feature. I don’t know if I’m doing things completely wrong, but that’s how I’ve been working with the step sequencer. Am I wrong to think that the step length feature allows you to sequence up to 160 steps?

My apologies if my understanding of “step length” differs from Teenage Engineering’s official definition. What I’m trying to get at is the limit of OP-Z’s step sequencer. For instance, the Elektron Digitakt’s sequencer is capable of 64-step sequences (excluding pattern chaining). What is the OP-Z’s limit before one would consider pattern chaining to go beyond this limit?

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Short answer 384 steps per track.

Long answer.
Each step has 24 possible positions, so depending on what your track settings are upto 8 bars (or more) is possible depending on what resolution you require. So if you set the step length to 16 you could have a maximum of 384 steps per track, then set the division you required eg 1/8 etc.

@darenager said:
Short answer 384 steps per track.

Long answer.
Each step has 24 possible positions, so depending on what your track settings are upto 8 bars (or more) is possible depending on what resolution you require. So if you set the step length to 16 you could have a maximum of 384 steps per track, then set the division you required eg 1/8 etc.

I really appreciate the reply, but I have no idea what you mean. hehe

And I think that this is because my mind is thinking in terms of a traditional 16 step sequence = 1 bar. Here are a few examples of what I mean. The Moog Sub 37 has an onboard 64-step sequencer for four bars. The Korg Volcas have onboard 16-step sequencers, and same with the Minilogue and Monologue. The Digitakt has a 64-step sequencer (per pattern), though of course you can chain patterns—but for our purposes, we could say it’s a 64-step sequencer that gives you four bars.

Maybe another way of asking the question is: how many times can an instrument on the OP-Z, without doing anything tricky, run 16 steps.

What do you mean when you say each step has 24 possible positions? I don’t understand the process here.

I don’t understand either, but I have another answer: If we’re talking strictly step sequencing, the answer is 16. Right now there is no way to put in notes on “sub steps” other than recording them live. So when you’re using the step sequencer, no matter the step length, you will only be able to place 16 “things”; a thing is a group of notes where the number depends on the track, up to 4 on the chord track. There is no way to nudge individual notes, only the whole “thing” can be nudged.

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Ok, if say you set it so that the 16 steps take 8 bars to cycle then you can record in realtime at 16th or whatever resolution (depending on quatise setting) as gero said you can nudge steps but not individual events on the steps.

@gero_ said:
I don’t understand either, but I have another answer: If we’re talking strictly step sequencing, the answer is 16. Right now there is no way to put in notes on “sub steps” other than recording them live. So when you’re using the step sequencer, no matter the step length, you will only be able to place 16 “things”; a thing is a group of notes where the number depends on the track, up to 4 on the chord track. There is no way to nudge individual notes, only the whole “thing” can be nudged.

Right! I realize that you can have longer sequences by playing live, too. I’m recording notes live instead of inputting them into the step sequencer.

So, here’s a different example, which I think will get right to the heart of this question.

Let’s say I want to play a different chord on the keyboard every 1/4 note. Let’s say the chords I play are C, A, B, D. I play them live so that the first 16-step sequence or bar is as follows: Step 1 is C; Step 5 is A; Step 9 is C; and Step 13 is D. The way I tend to think about this—and maybe this is my mistake in understanding sequencing in general—is that when the sequencer finishes its cycle through that bar of notes, I still call it a 16-step sequence, even if in the scenario above only 4 notes active.

Now, let’s say I want to do various configurations of those chords and have the sequence automate these chord changes on playback (for chord change variety) so that it looks something like this:

_(*And when I say 16 steps below, that should be taken to mean an entire bar with only 4 active steps, with the rest inactive.)
_
Bar 1 (first 16 steps): C, A, B, D (just as I stated above)
Bar 2 (next 16 steps, or 17-32): A, B, D, C
Bar 3 (next 16 steps, or 33-48) B, D, C, A
Bar 4 (next 16 steps, or 49-64): D, C, A, B

…and so on, across subsequent bars with different chord progressions. A 64-step sequencer, like the one on the Digitakt, allows me to do those 4 bars with different chord changes.

With this in mind, how many times can I have the sequencer, which I’ve played live in recording mode, automate different chord changes for those 16 step bars?

DJ

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Okay, this is very theoretical and is hitting several limits of the Z. Firstly, the sensible way of doing this is putting the step length to 4. This way every step will be a quarter note and you can insert 16 chords total which would resemble the 64 step scenario in your example. This would be the limit of doing it “nicely”.
But in theory, the Z can do a bit more than this. When putting the step length to 8, you’d be able to fit two sets of quarter notes into a single step (only when live recording). BUT there is a limit to 4 notes per step, so you won’t get 2 triads in there.
To go even further, you could also set the step length to 9 (10 doesn’t work for some reason) and try and squeeze even more notes in, but good luck to make any musical sense of this.

So, yeah, I guess the sensible answer is: OP-Z’s special kind of 64 steps.

– edit to clarify: 64 steps but 4 “bars”/16 chords from your last example

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_
Bar 1 (first 16 steps): C, A, B, D (just as I stated above)
Bar 2 (next 16 steps, or 17-32): A, B, D, C
Bar 3 (next 16 steps, or 33-48) B, D, C, A
Bar 4 (next 16 steps, or 49-64): D, C, A, B

I just tried to set this up using jump components and component sparks. I got the first three passes right, but ran into a limitation that might be easily remedied with a software update.

The problem is that you can’t select every individual step within spark components. In this example, not being able to select 2 out of 4 was the issue.

Here’s what I did:

Step 1- C chord
Step 5- A chord
Step 9- B chord
Step 13- D chord

Step 16 Jump component, value 2, component spark 1/4 (press numeric 4 button while editing component until the 1 is blinking and other numbers are still)

Step 8 Jump component 4, Component spark 3/3

**Step 4 Jump component 3, component spark 2/2

The fourth step needs a 2/4 component spark to work correctly, but it is not presently an option when cycling 4 in component sparks. Having only 2/2 means it jumps to the third chord again on the final pass where it should play the second then third chord. You would also have a step component on step 12 jumping back to the first step only on the fourth pass if everything else was set up correctly.

I tried using a reset counter component spark with a trig spark, but it didn’t work that way. You might be able to use the pulse hold component before these Jump sparks are to occur to use more unused steps for components, but it sounds exhausting and copying the pattern would be much easier.

Anyway, we just need a few more options with the sparks and things will be good.

^ Seems like the synopsis from “Looper”, the movie… :s

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I tried creating this pattern again using the pulse hold component. I entered all 16 of the chords in order, one on each step, and added a pulse hold. The pulse hold allows you to sustain events on a trig for a number of steps. A pulse hold setting of 8 with a track length extended to 8, for example, would make each chord 4 measures long.

All events will be sustained, so chords or drones seem like the most useful application here. I don’t know… maybe you could build a melody with it using multipliers and ramp/tonality components…

Big problem

The pulse hold step component seems to have a longer sustain than a single step. At present, there is voice stealing within chords programmed next to each other with pulse hold.

Actually, I’m on the last firmware. Maybe someone can try it out and see if it’s been fixed?

4 notes per trig. A 3 note chord counts as 3 trigs. So 4x16 = 64 trigs per pattern, distributed maximum 4 notes per trig. Live recording is currently the only way to enter off the grid. But we have discussed a great way to input notes off the grid.

Then there’s step components that can sort of add steps and sub divisions in different interesting ways.

@Lymtronics said:
Actually, I’m on the last firmware. Maybe someone can try it out and see if it’s been fixed?

It’s the same with 1.1.17, I ran into this as well.

@punji said:
^ Seems like the synopsis from “Looper”, the movie… :s

LOL. Amazing. :smiley:

From Teenage Engineering’s Marcus Blom, who got this answer from someone who wrote the OP-Z’s code (not sure who it is, but I think maybe Jonas?). This is a direct quote. I’ve put the most relevant bit in bold and italics.

“Each pattern has 16 tracks and each of these tracks has an individual 16-step sequencer. Each step consists of 24 ticks that allows a trigger to have micro-timing. On top of that, each step can contain up to 4 triggers, each trigger with individual micro-timing. It is also possible to slow down the sequencer of individual tracks making it have up to 9 times as long duration as a default track. This means that a single pattern can run for a 9 * 16 steps before starting over. On top of this, there’s also something called step components which can alter the behaviour of the sequencer when reaching that step. Using these components, a pattern can become almost endless.

With that said, the most accurate answer is that the OP-Z has a 16-step sequencer, but it doesn’t really do it justice to talk about it in those terms. ”

So, doing the math of 9 * 16 steps before looping, that gives us 144 steps. That is before messing with other types of sequencing variability.

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Thanks for asking this question, I too have been confused about the “step length” thing as well. I find some of the op-z terms or explanations (or lack there of) to be un clear, anyway this whole strand has been so helpful. :slight_smile:

Any updates about step length? Does the latest firmwares changed anything?

Step length depends on tempo .

…and with the step components, especially the first two, they do increase the number of steps happening on one trig.

the only classic approach is the 16 step grid, the rest of the OP-Z is just the future by now. which makes this Unit outstanding

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I haven’t heard anything. I could ask some people at TE I’ve communicated with as a journalist in the past.