Euclidean sequencing reads like something from a Lovecraft novel, is usually too convoluted even to approach, and all too often sounds non-musical and only appeals to modular nerds (no offense of course, as I have many such friends). But it’s the potential of what Euclidean sequencing COULD achieve that keeps me coming back to it again and again.

If only something could create usable sequences in an inspiring way (instead of oddly mathematical), I might be a total convert to its potential.

When I saw a random YouTube video about the Torso T-1 Sequencer, I thought it could do just that. So I got my hands, bristling with excitement, on the sequencer to see if I could finally have fun with Euclidean melody generation. So, let’s take a quick moment to break down what precisely this sequencer is before we dive into my favorite parts about it, talk about something that I didn’t like that much, and then bring it all home by talking about who I think this sequencer is designed for.

So let’s start by discussing the tech specs, what it is, does, and more…

What Is The T-1 Algorithmic Desktop Sequencer?

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review

At the heart of the Torso Electronics T-1 lies a Euclidean rhythm generator, which allows users to create complex rhythmic patterns effortlessly. This is further enhanced by a step edit feature that enables manual adjustments to the generated rhythms and a per-step note repeater that adds dynamic variations to sequences.

In addition to rhythm creation, the T-1 excels at composing melodic and harmonic structures. It utilizes looped random sequences to modulate pitch and includes a quantizer to lock notes to specific musical scales. A voice-leading algorithm ensures smooth chord transitions, offering various voicings for musical compositions. The T-1 also features a flexible randomization function, which can either gradually evolve sequences or generate entirely new ones instantly.

The T-1 has extensive connectivity options, including support for Ableton Link, MIDI via TRS and USB, and analog clock I/O. It also offers multiple CV/Gate outputs, making it highly versatile and portable. Whether used as a standalone sequencer or integrated with other equipment, the T-1 is a powerful tool for any music producer.

With the more vanilla tech specs out of the way, let’s get to the fun parts.

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review – The Pros

It’s Incredibly Inspiring

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review

The biggest and best feature of the Torso T-1 is easily how inspiring and “usable” the results you get out of it are. It has a unique workflow, which I’ll discuss in a minute. Still, once you understand how to start putting melodies and riffs together, it has a very systematic way of constructing these sequences, allowing you to quickly create enjoyable and exciting patterns, grooves, and harmonies.

This speed and pace of idea generation is what makes it so inspiring to use.

You can throw a ton of sequential “paint at the wall” and either wait until something sticks or find something with potential and chip away at it until you get something you love by adding or removing Pulses, adjusting the Voicing, messing with the Phrase, and more. Whether you’re starting with a fresh project and need some melodic ideas that sound great right away, need to program some light-but-nuanced drum layers, or need some textural ear candy to fill out the background of your track; the Torso T-1 has so many use cases that all sound great and are fun to use that it quickly became a go-to tool in my workflow.

It’s Hands On

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review

I’ve tried a handful of MIDI sequencers, but the one I have the most experience with is the sequencer on my Push 3. And while even the Push 3 bills itself as much as an instrument as a MIDI controller, it’s nowhere near as tactile as the Torso T-1 regarding sequencing specifically.

Between the pushing and twisting of the encoders, the pressing of the sequencer buttons, and more, the Torso T-1 is incredibly hands-on and makes you feel like you’re playing it as an instrument and not just pressing in notes on a sequencer in hopes of getting something you like.

This is another quality that makes it incredibly inspiring to use, if for no other reason than the tactile nature of this sequencer makes it easy to get lost in the generative sequences you create with it. If I ever feel like I’m stretching this thing to the max, it usually means that I have two hands on the encoders, a pinky hitting the Cntrl button, and a few other fingers messing with the step pads below, all moving simultaneously together to get amazing riffs and drum patterns from the Torso T-1.

It’s At Its Best When It Talks To Itself

You haven’t gotten the most out of this thing until you’ve started experimenting with stacking different sequences together, and that is where the Torso T-1 comes to life. Because you can have so many other channels all running simultaneously to the same MIDI out, you can pair a 4-bar sequence with an 8-bar sequence with a 12-bar sequence, and so on.

As these different patterns cascade over one another, it creates unique and exciting interactions between the various layers of the sequence, almost as if they are talking to each other. In my opinion, this is when you get the most magic from the Torso T-1 and is when it’s at its best.

Not many other sequencers on the market can pull this off. While you could look at devices like the Precision Disrupter Generative Sequencer or the Ornament-8 Organismic Sequencer, they’re either more expensive or are bulkier than the T-1 (whose small profile means it fits easily into pedal racks like mine or other small spaces in the studio).

Its Inputs/Outputs Allow For Flexibility

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review

The device’s back offers various connectivity and control options, including gates, CVs, sync in/out, and even MIDI controls. Of course, the USB-C connector makes connecting it to your computer incredibly simple, even for those intimidated by anything with a patch cable-sized cord.

Furthermore, once you install the app, flexibility is opened up, which can help it integrate with Ableton even more deeply.

…And The Cons

It’s Got A Learning Curve

Whenever I commit to familiarizing myself with a new piece of gear I’m reviewing, I usually expect to spend 3-4 nights digging through YouTube tutorials and manuals to get comfy with the device. I will admit that the T-1 took me a few more nights than this, so there is a learning curve with it.

I’ve played with Euclydian sequencer plugins, so I thought this hardware unit would be apples-to-apples, but this was a wrong assumption. The T-1 is a device in its own class, and when I opened it out of the box, it felt like I was starting from scratch.

On the fifth or sixth night, I started pushing myself to stack different sequences together, as I had mentioned in the “It’s At Its Best When It Talks To Itself” section, when a massive lightbulb went off in my head. Seemingly, all the pieces clicked into place, and it was all smooth sailing from there.

But it did take a while to get comfortable and arrive at that A-Ha moment!

Who Is The Torso T-1 For?

Live Performance

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review

The T-1 gives you much control, so much so that it’s as much a performative device as a studio tool. Not only can you store different patterns that you can queue up and cycle through throughout an entire live set, but also for how expressive the sequencing can be, all on the fly, it can add a whole new level to your live performances.

Couple this with synths and modules that cater to live performances as well, much like the Trinity Drum Synth, and you can create complex drum patterns via the T-1, which can come even more alive when you adjust the parameters on the drum synth to have emotive fills, envelope sweeps and more.

Because you can send MIDI to multiple channels, you can control an entire setup using this sequencer as a main brain for the live setup, which is really cool!

Generative-Focused Producers

There are many types of producers, but the two most common I see in my career are musician-first producers and producer-first musicians. The former can feel an emotion inside and communicate it through their instruments. In contrast, the latter uses tools to hunt for inspirations that evoke the feelings they want to express. Scrolling through inspiring Splice samples is a prime example of this, as is scrolling through cool preset packs.

The T-1 is a generative sequencer that quickly allows you to create riffs and melodies that could potentially inspire you and cycle through the ones that don’t. It’s as if you’re mining for the golden nuggets of MIDI that you can turn into a whole track, and there’s no way to tell precisely what you’ll get or how it’ll make you before until you turn it on and start experimenting.

Sound Designers

Torso T-1 Sequencer Review

As much focus as has been put towards getting musical ideas from this thing, non-musical and whacky MIDI has its practical purpose, too, for creating FX and background textures in songs. I love plugging random patch cables across my Behringer and sending random MIDI from Ableton into it from melody-generator plugins in the DAW.

But the T-1 allows me to sequence directly into my Behringer without looking at my computer screen, remaining hands on my gear the entire time, which is a priceless addition to my workflow. Or, I can route the MIDI from the T-1 through Ableton and into the Behinringer and use the patch cables on the T-1 to control other parameters on the Behinringer! I’m sure you’re getting the point; you can push this thing’s limits in many different ways.

Should You Buy The Torso T-1?

In closing, it’s essential to consider exactly what this sequencer is if we ever hope it’s right for you.

It’s intense and complex, but it’s not impossible to make usable riffs and ideas from. It’s small and mighty, powerful enough to control a whole live setup on stage or in a studio, and it’s inspiring to use.

But it’s also not for the faint of heart and is not entirely beginner-friendly.

If you know what you’re getting into, it’s easily one of the best and most unique products on the market and offers more functionality than you could utilize in a lifetime. That being said if you’re a new producer impressed by some of the things you’ve seen this sequencer do on various YouTube channels like I did and think you can do the same in the same few short minutes, approach cautiously; not to ignore or chide away from entirely, but to know what you’re getting into as this is a pro-level sequencer with pro-level potential with an interface that looks easier but takes some getting used.

Where To Go From Here?

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