Review: Red Light District Analog Sequencer

The Red Light District Analog CV/Gate Sequencer allows you to create more detailed melodic compositions that you might expect - as Jade Wii discovered.  

If you own a Modular synthesizer and are a fan of x0x style sequencing, I have some news for you - controlling your Eurorack system just got a lot more fun with GOLT’s traditional style CV/Gate sequencer. What makes this sequencer stand out is that it replicates Rests like a keyboard would, meaning you can choose your Note Start and Note End positions, not just Gate On/Off. This allows you to create more detailed melodic compositions and makes it easy to conduct changes to your Start and End points on the fly, altering your sequence entirely without changing note position.

Eurorack Sequencers

When it comes to sequencing your Eurorack system the options are ample, and the beauty of it is that each sequencer gives you a different way of interacting with you Modular System. I’ve reviewed smaller sequencers before, but this is definitely the biggest sequencer I’ve ever laid my hands on. At 84hp this takes up the whole bottom row of my 3U 84HP case, so I would only really recommend this to someone with a lot of real estate looking for some hands-on fun. That being said, flipping switches on the RLD makes you feel like you’re about to engage a spaceship of some sort. I also consider it a very a great learning tool for those in a teaching environment, as everything is straight forward with zero menu diving. This is as analog as a sequencer can get.

To Built Or Not To Build

If you’ve been around the soldering block a few times and are keen to save a few bucks there’s two DIY kits to choose from. The ‘Bare Bones’ kit priced at $319 comes with a 2mm aluminum power coated white screen printed panel, two PCBs and three processors. The ‘Partial Kit’ priced at $539 includes everything mentioned in the Bare Bones kit as well as all toggle switches, pots, mono jacks, DIN jacks, the rotary switch, pretty much everything you would need to build a complete RLD. If you’re like me and would rather let the cooks do the cooking you can purchase the fully built version for $695, but if you want to make it a project and have the skills definitely go for the DIY version.

 

MIDI IN, OUT, And THRU

One of the main strengths of the RLD sequencer is how it interacts with MIDI. No, it doesn’t transmit note data unfortunately, but thanks to its Sync Ratio switches (1:1, 1:2, 1:4) the RLD can play with different times while never losing sync, which makes it a great performance tool because you won't solely create a sequence and change sound parameters - you can make a beat or other sequences on a different device and have the RLD be where your main performance takes place.

It’s pretty much an “all hands on deck” type of device, because you can constantly
change all parameters. That being said, I really wish there was some sort of scale mode to choose from, as those that lack the ability to tune by ear will find themselves frazzled trying to create a sequence, also changing notes on the fly isn’t something you would want to do during a live performing because you’re pretty much dealing with a very responsive chromatic scale. I found it most suitable to set my notes ahead of time and just mess with the Note Start and End points.

 

The Sequencers

Looking at a piece with so many switches and knobs can be a bit intimidating, but fear not, the RLD is fairly simple to use and pretty straightforward. The switches labeled 1-32 are our Note On/Off, there’s a switch that allows you to split the timing sequencer into patterns A and B, having pattern A be 1-16 and pattern B be 17-32, this changes the ratio of our sequence when activated, and we also get control voltage for switching between patterns. The first set of knobs, the red knobs, belong to the CV 1 output and below those there are 12 smaller ones that control fine tune. 

The white knobs below that control CV 2 and those don’t have a fine tune control, so are best left for drum parts in my opinion. Both CV 1 and 2 have a Slew knob (glide), and there’s a a Kill Slew CV in for CV 1. Now below the white knobs you will find another set of switches labeled “Gate 2” and when the switch is down “Gate 3”. So here is where things get interesting, apart from being able to send a duplicate gate from the timing sequencer to play a gate on each step you choose you can instead send a gate from either Gate 2 or 3, meaning if you send Gate 2 to the trig of your first module and Gate 3 to your second module when one sequencer plays the other one doesn’t, causing a variation between the two that can lead to very interesting results.

Directions

Remember when I said this was a great piece to play live? Apart from changing the timing sequencer during live performance there’s plenty of other parameters to tweak to spice things up. The biggest knob controls the direction of our CV sequences; the first is Forwards, then Reverse, Alternate, Mute, Skip, Vas (which is CV controlled), Brownian, and Last - we’ll take a deeper look at these in our video on the RLD. The direction for the timing sequencer can also be modified with the flick of a switch, this can go from Forwards to Reverse, to Alternate, and can also be CV controlled.

Clocks for Days

Next to the MIDI ports you will find 6 clock dividers, so this is definitely a machine that likes to play with others. Like I said before, this sequencer would benefit someone with a really big case that has lots of modules to send clocks to, but if you want to get a small skiff and put your RLD in there that’s not a bad idea either, you could always use the clocks to send CV to other parameters.

Price: Bare Bones Kit $319 AUD

           Partial Kit $539 AUD

Pros: Unique. Very Hands on. Available in DIY.

Cons: Takes up a lot of real state. Not for those with small systems.

Web: http://goltsynth.com/rld/

Learn much more about Eurorack systems and modular synthesis: https://ask.audio/academy?nleloc=category/audio/topic/eurorackmodular

JAde Wii is a self-taught keyboardist, guitarist, cellist, and Dawless Jammer. JAde has been creating music for over 10 years, but only recently has she become a synth enthusiast, and what a journey it has been for her. She enjoys to explore the realm of composition without a Digital Audio Workstation, which is becoming more and more ... Read More

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