Having established that DJing is exhausted as a technology platform, and adding anything meaningful and boundary pushing is unlikely, manufacturers are logically looking at other related areas in which to build their established brands. And obviously production is a logical area to extend the parameters of their DJ only remits. And Pioneer DJ has been doing that for a little while now with their Toraiz sub-brand. Of the back of that, today sees the release of another not at all DJ related product in the shape of the most wonderfully named SQUID sequencer.
If a sequencer sounds like your thing, have a read and a watch of the Pioneer DJ PR:
The Heartbeat of Your Setup: Meet the SQUID
The new multitrack sequencer in our TORAIZ production series
Connect all your instruments and create unique phrases at the touch of a button
April 24, 2019: Take control of your workflow and make new styles of music with the SQUIDTM. Named for the blend of functionality and creative stimulation it offers, the SQUID (SeQUencer Inspirational Device) is a brand-new multitrack sequencer in our TORAIZTM series of musical instruments and production gear. Connect all your instruments to use the SQUID as the heartbeat of your studio and live setup, and get hands-on with innovative features never seen before on this kind of equipment.
It’s easy to start making unique sequence patterns and phrases as soon as you hook the SQUID up to your instruments. The layout of the controls is optimized so you can effortlessly bring your ideas to life whenever inspiration strikes, and the workflow is perfect for on-the-fly music production. All this means you can spend less time looking at the unit’s display and more time creating music.
With the first Groove Bend feature ever seen on a production tool,1 you can really feel the groove and generate original rhythms in real time by simply moving the spring-loaded slider to change the trigger timing. Use Running Direction to create different phrases by changing the playback direction of sequence patterns you’ve programmed on the 16 pads and fluctuate the playback speed of sequences whenever you want using Speed Modulation. All of these features contribute to a fresh, nonlinear way of making music that breeds creativity and helps you stumble across things that sound great.
When you’ve created a phrase you love, you can use the SQUID Manager to back it up, along with all your projects. SQUID Manager is a free dedicated application that enables you to quickly import/export sequence patterns between the SQUID and a PC/Mac.
Reaching out into your setup, the SQUID simultaneously controls up to 16 instruments with its master pulse. It keeps everything in sync, from your DAW to hardware instruments such as the TORAIZ AS-1 monophonic analog synthesizer and the TORAIZ SP-16 professional sampler. You can even run modular synths and vintage drum machines/synths seamlessly alongside your other kit.
The SQUID fits perfectly into any studio or live music environment and helps you turn your ideas into music. It’s the third product in the TORAIZ series, which offers inspiring tools with unique features you can easily use to create new sounds.
The TORAIZ SQUID will be available from 24, April at an SRP of £519 including VAT.
KEY FEATURES OF THE TORAIZ SQUID
1. Step Edit section for intuitively creating sequence patterns
Have fun creating phrases by tapping the 16 multicolored LED rubber pads. Set step parameters and play in real time as if the pads were keys on a keyboard, combining various sequence functions such as Interpolation and Harmonizer to help build your sounds.
- 16 multicolored LED pads for enabling various features
Instantly switch between features using the SQUID’s 16 multicolored LED rubber pads, which are linked to independent modes. Use Trigger mode to step-record sequence patterns, and transpose your patterns on the fly with Transpose mode. Scale mode enables you to play scales with the 16 pads as if you were playing a keyboard and you can add nuanced expression to your performances by varying the strength of your keystrokes, thanks to the high-precision velocity detection. Using Scale mode, you can also record dynamic performances in real time.
- Interpolation: instantly make a phrase
Use Interpolation to arrange phrases. Set each parameter (Pitch, Gate, and Velocity) for the beginning, middle, and the end of the steps, and the SQUID automatically interpolates (supplements) parameters for the steps in between them. Without needing to set the parameters of each step individually, you can quickly set the pitch and dynamics of the sound and create a phrase while the idea is fresh in your mind.
- Harmonizer: intuitively create evolving phrases
If you want inspiration for chords, Harmonizer enables you to play them easily by hitting the Harmonizer buttons with the Pitch value set on each step parameter as the root note. Up to six chords can be assigned to the Harmonizer buttons. You can record chord compositions into steps and record real-time performances with the Harmonizer buttons, so you can intuitively create evolving phrases.
2. Phrase arrangement section for rearranging sequence patterns in real time
Use Running Direction, Speed Modulation, and Groove Bend to further rearrange phrases you’ve created in the Step Edit section. Each feature has an optimized user interface so you can intuitively try out ideas as they spring to mind.
- Speed Modulation: create unique grooves by fluctuating playback speed of sequence patterns
Periodically increase and decrease the playback speed of a sequence to create unique grooves. You can switch between six waveform shapes, such as triangle and sawtooth, and adjust the rate and amount.
- Running Direction: easily create new phrases
You can easily create multiple new phrases from one sequence pattern by changing its playback direction on the 16 pads. Try the Zigzag or Clockwise directions, which take advantage of the SQUID’s 4 x 4 pads – a unique feature never seen on a general sequencer before. By combining Reverse, Switch Back, and Flip with the six different Running Directions, you can try out 48 different playback directions and create a variety of different phrases.
- Groove Bend: change trigger timing in real time
In addition to Swing, which automatically delays trigger timing to create grooves, the SQUID features Groove Bend – the first-ever function on a sequencer to change trigger timing in real time via a slider. This enables you to create grooves as if you’re playing a musical instrument by simply moving the spring-loaded slider.
3. Time Warp: save your “happy accidents”
Never lose the phrases you make incidentally when you’re trying things out. Use Time Warp to audition the previous phrase you created and save it as a new sequence pattern if you like it. There’s no need to stress over the workflow of practicing and recording take after take. Instead, feel free to just play around until you hear something you love, then capture it for use in a track or performance.
4. Multiple inputs/outputs: sync with various instruments
In addition to a USB B terminal and Midi terminals for your DAW and hardware synthesizers, you can sync and play with modular synthesizers using the two sets of CV/GATE outputs and CLOCK input/output terminals. DIN SYNC input/output terminals enable syncing with vintage synthesizers and drum machines. Various signals including notes and clocks are mutually converted inside the SQUID automatically, so you can easily expand your creative scope just by adding the SQUID to your current setup.
5. Import/export sequence patterns via PC/Mac
Using the SQUID’s dedicated SQUID Manager, you can quickly import and export sequence patterns between the SQUID and your PC/Mac. Easily import a sequence pattern created on your DAW to the SQUID, intuitively arrange it using the sequencer’s features, and return it to your DAW. Use SQUID Manager to back up the projects you create on the SQUID by saving them to your PC/Mac.
1 First slider-operated trigger timing feature in the music production category (according to research conducted by Pioneer DJ Corporation, as of April 18, 2019).
TORAIZ SQUID Specifications
Maximum number of tracks 16 tracks Maximum number of patterns per track 64 patterns Maximum number of steps per track 64 steps Step resolution Quarter note, Eighth note, Sixteenth note, Twenty-fourth note, Thirty-second note Maximum number of notes per step (polyphony) 8 notes Maximum number of projects 128 projects Input / Output Terminals MIDI MIDI IN
MIDI OUT 1MIDI THRU / OUT 2
USB USB (Type B) CV / GATE CV OUT 1, CV OUT 2 (V/Oct, Hz/V)
GATE OUT 1, GATE OUT 2 (V-Trigger, S-Trigger)
CLOCK CLOCK IN (step, 1, 2, 4, 24, 48ppqn, Gate)
CLOCK OUT (1, 2, 4, 24, 48ppqn)
DIN SYNC DIN SYNC IN / OUT 2 (24, 48ppqn)
DIN SYNC OUT 1 (24, 48ppqn)
Maximum dimensions (W x D x H) 374.8 × 223.9 × 72.1 mm / 14.8” x 8.8” x 2.8” Weight 1.9 kg / 4.2 lb Accessories AC adaptor, Power cord, Quick Start Guide
SQUID Manager Requirements
Mac macOS Mojave 10.14 (Updated to the latest version)
macOS High Sierra 10.13 (Updated to the latest version)
macOS Sierra 10.12 (Updated to the latest version)
Windows Windows® 10, 8.1, 7 (The latest service pack) CPU Intel® processor Core™ i7, i5, i3 Memory 4GB or more
I’ve got nothing
I’ve got a golden rule that paraphrases another golden rule of writing — don’t write about things you don’t know about. And the Pioneer Squid is a very long way off my radar, and I suspect for a great many of you too. But I’m posting the info I have here because Pioneer DJ obviously sees this as a thing that you’d like to know about.
Some of you will see opportunities to cram the Squid into your expansive setup. Our Ray aka Arkaei is a prime example, and probably came up with a dozen ways before the end of the video. But I have nothing of value to add to the PR and videos, so I’m not going even try.
The name however is awesome – I tired of strings of unmemorable and uncatchy alphanumeric strings many years ago.
What is clear is that production is the next big area for DJ companies. It’s not for want of trying — we’ve been bombarded with the dogma that DJs must also produce to remain relevant, but the same companies did little to offer us ways to do it.
Native Instruments has been ideally placed to weld Maschine and Traktor together, but has seemed hesitant to make that happen. Pioneer DJ released their first Toraiz box a while ago, and even Mixvibes has taken itself off down a more producer/performer route with their Remixlive apps too. And just this month, Serato Studio finally made it into the wild too. The one company notably absent in this move is Atomix — VirtualDJ seems to be resolutely sticking the boundaries of their brand name. Not a bad thing — diversifying isn’t always a good move. Anyone remember Colgate ready meals? Exactly.
So there it is — the Pioneer DJ Toraiz Squid is a thing, and it looks like a very useful addition to the Pioneer DJ family. And coming in at the slightly strange price of £519, it looks like it may well embed the brand into the hearts, minds, and wallets of an all new market.