Erica’s Black Sequencer combines ambitious functionality with some of the best knobs money can buy.
The Black Sequencer has been a long time coming. You get the impression that Erica Synths had some challenges to get over while wanting to release the most extraordinary sequencer they could possibly manage. I’ve had one from since about a month before the official release. From that time to now, a month after release, I have had numerous firmware updates from Erica’s chief of vision Girts bringing more and more functionality. The last one I deliberately waited for before writing this review contained the Record modes which enable the CV and MIDI inputs on the front panel. Girts says they’ve packed it with as many ideas as they could come up with without resorting to tiresome menu diving or too much double‑trouble button combinations. The result is that it’s spilling over with a festival of features and could well be the party your rack has been waiting for.
First, the knobs. These are deliciously turnable sculpted treacle toffees that click meaningfully beneath your fingers like you’re trying to crack a safe. With encoders you come to expect a bit of wobble but these are rock‑solid nodules of Bakelite that you can twist with full force to leap from value to value and dial in parameters. The clicks are not just for fun either, they relate to a semitone change in pitch or a 10‑percent increase in Gate, something you can feel while you’re engaged with something else and not looking at the display for confirmation. They have multiple uses in showing steps, manipulating data, navigation, and a firm push turns things on and off. They are fabulous; Erica Synths have aced it on the knob front.
The knobs are only half the story and make up only half the module. The other half is a cluster of patch points above and a cluster of buttons beneath the centralised glow of a remarkably lovely black‑and‑white OLED screen next to a lone but powerful Data knob.
The display is quite brilliant while flirting on the edge of being too small. It can show you the state of all 16 knobs with a clarity that only needs a glimpse while every time you move something a single parameter throws itself up large so you know exactly what’s being changed. The well‑designed labelling and icons give you...