Like the P3 before it, the Sequentix Cirklon is a fairly niche piece of musical equipment. It’s a MIDI sequencer (with options to expand to CV outputs for modular / vintage connections). And that’s it. No sounds, no samples, no effects, no audio inputs or outputs. Just MIDI and CV.
If you know anything about the Cirklon then you probably know that it has somewhat of a cult following. Cirklons are hand-made by Colin Fraser in small batches. There is a waiting list to buy one and second-hand units tend to go for new prices because customers can skip the queue. The build quality of the Cirklon is extremely high. A month ago, the LCD backlight failed in mine and because it had happened to two other users as well, Colin switched his LCD suppliers because, and I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him here, “a 1% failure rate is not good enough”. He repaired and upgraded my LCD free of charge and even offered me a choice of colors (I chose black of course).
– create patterns by either recording live MIDI input or step sequencer style programming
– patterns can be either piano roll style with high resolution (called “CK” patterns) or rigid step sequences at a division of the master tempo (called “P3” patterns)
– an individual pattern can have multiple “bars” (not necessarily one bar long) which can be individually different, chained together, transposed etc.
– patterns can contain up to four “Aux” rows which can randomize, grab values from other tracks, send out other MIDI values or generally alter the pattern or other patterns in a variety of ways
– there are up to 64 tracks, each of which can play a single pattern plus a “fill” pattern which will play when the Fill key is pressed
– each track is assigned an “instrument” which tells it is which port and MIDI channel to use
– “scenes” store all information about which patterns are played on tracks as well as tempo, key and other pertinent values
– scenes can be organized into “songs”
– with a CVIO board and break out box, Cirklon can output CV and gate to control analog equipment
– sample or synthesize – the Cirklon can make no noise by itself
– act as an editor/librarian for synths/drum machines etc. although there is a rudimentary system for setting up MIDI CC# parameters for connected equipment so some editing is possible.
The Cirklon does a number of things better than any other sequencer I know. It positively shines at creating generative, semi-generative or pseudo-generative sequences.
If you own a lot of vintage synths or a modular, the CVIO option would probably make a lot of sense. With 16 CV and 8 gate outputs which are totally configurable inside the Cirklon, it’s extremely powerful. Equally, if you’re a software user, the Cirklon has six virtual USB MIDI input/output ports so your soft synths can be integrated into your compositions. Combine the two and you have a very powerful MIDI to CV convertor.
The Cirkon has very quickly become the center of my setup. The timing is absolutely rock solid. I can only think of two sequencers I’ve used that felt this tight, the MPC60 and the Atari ST. Doubtless, if you’ve got this far through the review, you’ve probably checked the Cirklon and its sobering price. The CVIO will bump the price up even more. Whilst it is expensive, it’s worth remembering that the Cirklon is many things. I sold my Edirol UM-880 MIDI interface not long after getting it as the Cirklon not only fulfills all the sequencing I could need but also acts as a MIDI interface. I was also able to sell my dedicated Analog Systems MIDI to CV convertor: again the Cirklon took care of that. I even sold a few of the sequencing modules from my Eurorack modular setup (although I will probably reinstate these at some point).
In short, the Cirklon is a chameleon in the studio, but at it’s heart is a highly creative device that can interface with just about any modern or vintage electronic instrument. It’s complex, yet musically rewarding and built to a very high standard.
Frankly, I’m in love with it.
The user-interface is based around:
480x128 pixel full TFT screen
19 rotary encoders with push-switches
2 assignable knobs.
35 high-quality Cherry keys with integrated LEDs.
A further 35 tri-color status LEDs.
Basic model has 5 fully independent MIDI in and out ports.
USB host and device ports
CVIO option adds 16 CV and 8 gate outputs.
Movable rear panel allows desktop or rackmount use.