MATRIXSYNTH: Sequential Circuits Model 800 CV / Gate Sequencer + Roland SH-2

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Sequential Circuits Model 800 CV / Gate Sequencer + Roland SH-2

Published on Jan 3, 2017 4TrackNation

via this auction

"Various improvised performance abilities with this amazing old sequencer hand built by Dave Smith himself.
Externally clocked by a simple square wave oscillator.

Pre programming is dead simple and accomplished similarly to the way old school Roland sequencers were programmed.. Just play a series of notes on the keyboard.

This machine has 16 banks of up to 16 notes. It moves freely through them and you can enable and disable on the fly. Amazing tool that no other sequencer, somehow, has matched to this day.

Like the Roland CSQ 100 and 600, this sequencer can be used for either live performance of CV notes from keyboard or step performance of CV notes from keyboard. The video is all step performance. Notes were added to each bank by simply enabling the bank, hitting the start-record button and playing them one at a time from the keyboard, in no particular rhythm, then hitting stop-record."

via this auction

"This is an extremely rare and amazingly intuitive sequencer. It belongs with someone who will use it more than i do. It's one of the finest Cv/Gate sequencers ever made due to it's logical layout and improvisational capabilities. More on that later...

There were only around 500 made, and they were hand made by Dave Smith himself. He started his entire company Sequential Circuits based on this round of sequencer sales, which then provided his business foundation for developing the Prophet 5 and other major musical instrument milestones .

And what's more is that of the 500, only the first 50 or so had the capability of working with both V/Octave standard AND Hz/V standard. This is one of them. It is serial number 0041, and presumably this capability was more expensive due to the pricier D/A conversion necessary for the higher resolution.

AND, what's even more, is that this is one of a small handful that had a mod done to the unit (by Dave Smith) that allows for musical rests to be placed between notes. One can add as many single beat rests as any sequence can fit.

You are buying a major piece of history here.

Ok, so now for the depths...
Here is THIS sequencer, as fully discussed by the technician who serviced it. Yes, this is the actual sequencer for sale here, serial 0041, so you can read all about it's technical restoration and performance:
There is not a lot of information about the musical performance on the Model 800 sequencer on the internet, but Keith Murray has put together quite a nice site with this and other instruments. Here are two pages on the 800

Also he has posted some elaborately informative videos [posted here]

But getting to my personal opinion on this sequencer.. The real magic behind this thing is the capability to move around from sequence to sequence in a gorgeously intuitive manner. You have 16 banks of up to 16 notes, and you can disengage or engage any you like, at any point in time. When the previous bank is done playing it will jump to the next logical place. It sounds simple but there really are NO other sequencers that do this. On the 800 you can set your sequencer flows and forget it. It just keeps playing all of the sequences one after another in a long cycle. Have an urge to remove one? Flip a switch. Next time around it'll skip it. You can also make it function like typical step sequencer by loading only one or two notes per bank, and then you can use the whole set of 16 banks treated as one note each to make a short short sequence as a single musical phrase. But having the ability of loading up to 16 notes per bank means it performs both like these step sequencers and like a series sequencer such as on a Roland JX3P and other Rolands. The flexibility and musical performance improvisation in this single device is still unparalleled to this day. Needless to say there are a lot of possibilities with this unit. 16 notes x 16 banks equals 256 total note sequence, with beautiful live variability.

I also have included a custom cable for external clocking. The clocking works perfectly and is rock solid tight like other professional cv/gate sequencers.

The unit has a collapsable stand as well, allowing for propping up the face to be above a synth if you place this unit behind a synth on a table. It also allows for cabling to be tucked underneath.

Included are physical copies of all of the manuals and schematics, as well as pdf copies of all too.

The only thing to be aware of operationally is that it needs to warm up for 20 minutes or so before pitch is perfectly consistent at all times. It powers up immediately and operates fully but for the first bit of usage it can go off pitch seemingly randomly. But after it's been warmed up it runs perfectly. Besides, maybe this really doesn't change your sessions because you'll want to leave this unit on a lot anyways since it's the old school volatile memory type of sequencer. I was in touch with the tech who fully restored this and we decided the pitch thing after startup was a temperature issue and that once the circuits are settled in temperature the pitch is solid. As you can tell from the video, this is the case. Absolutely perfect, as is the timing. So just turn it on ahed of time and you're set. Or just leave it on. If you need further evidence of stability, i suppose i can make a long long video showing it playing for an hour straight haha."

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